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JCF Blog

Why Is This Blog Different From All Other Blogs?

Posted by: Michael Johnston on 5/10/2012

  “I think history is inextricably linked to identity.  If you don’t know your history, if you don’t know your family, who are you?” - Mary Pipher

According to Wikipedia, a blog is a personal journal published on the web, consisting of discrete entries from an individual or small group often themed on a single subject.  I admit, in the abstract it doesn’t sound all that exciting.

Yet I hope this particular blog will be worth your time.  Why is this blog different than all other blogs (to paraphrase a famous Jewish holiday)?  I think it’s going to be a place where we (The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford) can express our thoughts, our hopes and our aspirations for this community.  On occasion it may also give us a chance to address challenging issues in our community and the broader Jewish world and to consider our purpose in making this a better place.

But where to begin?

Perhaps we should start with identity.

We seem to be living in an era in which we identify ourselves by age (“the Millenials” or baby boomers), affiliation (political party or sports team), or institutional connection (synagogue, college, etc.).  While much of this is healthy, identifying ourselves this way can sometimes be polarizing (if I am of one thing, then I cannot be of the other).

There is, however, one thing that we have in common and that can unite us – our Jewish heritage.  Whether you are observant or unaffiliated, young or old, engaged or indifferent, your Jewishness informs your identity as a member of the Jewish community.  And this unique identity brings with it a perspective influenced by seeing the world through a Jewish lens.

Robert Hyfler recently wrote a blog post on the uniqueness of Jewish philanthropy as opposed to secular philanthropy.  In it he says “All of us the Torah implies have talents and powers that might falter, an abyss we may fall into.  The beneficiaries of our efforts are like us – they are us.  What is more is that we do for others in order to do for ourselves.  Our community is a value in itself and when the pain and suffering of misfortune separates the individual from her or his community we must bring them back whole and productive.”

That is our heritage as a people.  It’s not about us individually; it is about us as a community.  Our faith requires a community to pray, to mourn, to celebrate – we are commanded to face life together.  And to a large extent, community is the purpose of JCF.  (Dare I say that community is our middle name?).

Because we think long term – building endowments to support the community long into the future – I think most people in the community think of us as some type of financial institution.  A big savings account if you like.

But our mission is not money.  Our mission is to assure the long term future of the Jewish community here in Greater Hartford and to facilitate our donor’s desire to leave a lasting impact on the community they care so deeply about.  We are about repairing the world and assuring that the Jewish people are strong and robust for eternity.  We are about making a positive difference in the lives of those in need and about sustaining a community built on a model of Jewish values and ethics.

As an institution we are encroaching on middle age (we are in our 40th year).  As often happens at this age, we are thinking about what the future holds for us and we are seeing life a little differently than we did when we were twenty.

Whatever the future may hold, we recommit ourselves to the vision of a vibrant Jewish community in perpetuity.  May this be our legacy as an institution.

What do you think about this blog?  Give us your feedback below.

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rob fishman
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good start.. I would love to have Michael tell us how fortunate we are to be born into the religion. He has a unique perspective on this that most of us take for granted.
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