“Going Away Makes Me Want To Come Home”

     “Going Away Makes Me Want To Come Home”
    By Richard Friedman,
    BJF Executive Director

    One of the best ways for a Federation director to learn is by spending time in another community. For me, that’s sure been the case this week as I’ve been out West helping the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.

    It’s the first time that I’ve spent extended time in Arizona. It’s beautiful and the weather, except for a couple of peak heat moments, has been great.

    What’s more important though is the people have been great — and this typically is the case when you meet lay and professional leaders from other Jewish Federations. They are warm, caring, dedicated to improving the Jewish world and committed. 

    I was asked to come to Phoenix by our national organization, Jewish Federations of North America, to help their new director, Marty Haberer, with some coaching and to help the Federation institutionally navigate some challenges.

    The Phoenix Jewish community is vastly different from the Birmingham Jewish community — much larger, not as rooted, spread out and not as unified. Yet there is great potential here.

    I’m writing this on Thursday, having arrived last Sunday. It’s been great so far, the people are lovely, and the challenge is motivating. But today, as I started to write this, I got the same feeling I always get after I’ve been away a few days — I can’t wait to get back to Birmingham.

    Going away always reminds me that we have a great Jewish community in Birmingham — interconnected, dedicated, determined and driven by a collective set of values. We have passion and a commitment to one another that is rare and to be treasured.

    Going away also reminds me that we must never take our wonderful Jewish community for granted. We must seek continued excellence with determination and drive, be even more loving toward one another, dream with our feet on the ground and always be the best that we can be.

    Shabbat Shalom from Phoenix.

    See y’all next week.

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