Change is so hard. What one is accustomed to (a house, a building, a route to work, etc) becomes ingrained into our memories and into our actions. Yesterday morning, as an example, my intention when leaving my house was to stop to buy a cup of coffee on my way to work. Without thinking, I went into “automatic pilot” and unconsciously started driving right to the Federation office. I had to remind myself of the change in my routine to actually get that much needed morning cup of coffee.
It’s so human to get into rhythms and patterns. Disrupting them takes effort. We know that doing the same thing over and over again typically gets the same results. That’s why change is so important, especially at a time like now of rampant change and adaptation.
Yesterday, the Federation completed the sale of its building on McKee Place. Since 1958, for exactly 60 years, our Federation has been situated on this same spot in Oakland. In that time period of over half a century, Pittsburgh Jewish history has taken place here: successful campaigns, the launch of a Jewish Community Foundation and the raising of dollars to build agencies and to secure Israel. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised and expended on critical needs. Thousands of volunteers and staff people have walked through our front doors.
Our Federation needs have changed since 1958. The scope of Federation work has expanded, and the idea of what a modern office looks like to be a collaborative and friendly environment has shifted. And, it’s just a building! It is merely a place to make all our good works happen. The building is not “what” we do.
In this week’s parsha, Beshalach, the Jewish people are making their way through the desert with Pharaoh and the Egyptians in hot pursuit. The Israelites say to Moses:
“What is this that you have done to us to take us out of Egypt?
Isn’t this the thing about which we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, leave us alone and we will serve the Egyptians, because we would rather serve the Egyptians than die in the desert.”
Change and the unknown is hard. There is definitely risk involved.
On February 20th the Federation-funded Jewish Community Study will be released to the entire Jewish community. Demographic trends will be revealed in the form of objective data. We all have emotional connections to what we’ve been doing, but are they the right things for the Pittsburgh Jewish community of today and tomorrow? Will our community, our agencies, our synagogues and our Federation have the strength to be able to look at the facts and determine changes that are necessary to move our community forward?
P.S. You can register for the February 20th session here: https://jfedpgh.org/unveiling-the-findings.