What Makes a Community?

By Judy Alperin

One definition I looked up said “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Another said “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” The Greater New Haven Jewish community is so much more than a collection of zip codes and mailing addresses, so I believe that the first description that speaks to kinship, shared values and goals defines us better.

At the risk of sounding like Tevye, zip codes and addresses matter, too. In fact, one of the unhappy discoveries I made as I began to settle in (already a year and a half ago!) was that our database and our data were dreadfully out of date. Our system was installed in 1990 and is such an antique that we are working to convert to a new and highly specialized product. Blackbaud partnered with Jewish Federations to create the customer relations manager and we expect to be operable by March of 2018. However, due to the age of our current database, the engineers involved in converting our data are struggling to understand the program. I cannot help but make the connection to one of my favorite movies,” Space Cowboys,” where old geezer astronauts jump back into action to solve a problem in space stemming from the Russian’s pirating of 1960’s NASA technology. Paging Clint Eastwood…
When completed, our new database will be integral to our ability to understand our community and strengthen our connections. This will only be so if we verify the information we currently have and expand upon it. To accomplish this, we will be reaching out to those known to us to ask that personal information be updated through an online or paper form. We are asking for help in alerting those who may not currently receive Shalom New Haven or other Jewish community events information to connect to us and with us. 

With the support of better information, we will continue to focus on building the community of the first definition—those who feel a part of something special derived by our shared Jewish values, history and hope for the future. 

Community may start at home but as Jews, we know that it extends throughout the globe. As you read this column, Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven Executive Director Lisa Stanger, Jewish Foundation Chair Dr. Steven Fleischman and I will be representing you as we connect to the world Jewish community on the Jewish Federation of North America’s FRD Mission. We begin our travels in Kiev, Ukraine, where we expect to visit with rescued Jews displaced from the fighting in Eastern Ukraine as well as learn about programs that are revitalizing and sustaining Jewish life through our overseas partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel. From there, we will travel to Israel to explore more programs supported by the Jewish 
Federation’s annual campaign and Lisa and I will wrap up our visit in the Afula-Gilboa region, our Partnership2Gether sister community. As much as I’m looking forward to this trip, refreshing my knowledge of the incredible impact our Federation makes in the world and especially meeting the people in Afula who are by extension a part of New Haven, I am just as excited to return home to share with you my stories of people and places where we are making a real difference. 

As the 2017 campaign draws to its close on July 31 I offer this appeal—if you have not yet had the opportunity to make your increased commitment—please do so as soon as you can. And, if you have made a pledge, kindly pay it by July 31. Summer is a sensitive time in our fiscal calendar and with the added stress from the impact of the fire and its aftermath, cash collections are needed and necessary.

Thank you so much for being a part of our special community and ensuring its future.


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