Our 100 Year Old “Startup”

Shiny new objects. Babies and even those of us a little older are attracted to shiny new objects. For some of us, it’s the latest piece of technology. For others, it could be a new watch, a new piece of clothing or even a new and exciting person. In philanthropy, many donors like funding the new and latest craze. Sometimes they are successful and other times they are not.

Our Federation is all about finding those new shiny objects and figuring out how to bring them to scale while at the same time taking care of the ongoing needs of our community by giving important financial support to the institutions that feed our hungry, inspire Jewishly, care for our elderly and connect all of us with each other.

Over the next months, two innovative and entrepreneurial programs will be brought to Pittsburgh. Both have received wide recognition in Slingshot, A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation. One is called “One Table” and the other is called “Honeymoon Israel”.

One TableOne Table uses Shabbat dinners as a platform to engagemillennials with their own Jewish identity and with each other. It provides the tools for hosts to bring together other millennials and break bread (or probably challah).

Honeymoon IsraelHoneymoon Israeltakes a cohort of newlyweds or those in very committed relationships through a program, the highlight of which is a “honeymoon” to Israel as a cohort from Pittsburgh. We will write more about the details of both of these as they launch.

It’s great that we in Pittsburgh are going to be only the 15th community in the country to adopt Honeymoon Israel and the first Federation in the country to be the main sponsor of One Table, which is only currently in seven other cities. It shows our ability to be innovative. At the same time, we are supporting our communal infrastructure so that once participants in either of these frameworks want to engage more deeply, they have a place to do so. In other words, the young adults who participate in One Table can get involved with the Federation’s Young Adult Division, Shalom Pittsburgh, JBURGH or Moishe House, all supported by the Federation.

Years ago I was asked in a mostly non-Jewish setting of nonprofit CEO’s to describe what Federation is. I said we are a 100 year old “startup”. Balancing the need for innovation while sustaining critical components of our community is the formula for an excellent Jewish community.

Shabbat Shalom.

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