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Second Jewish Ecosystem Meeting Looks to Strengthen Community Through One-on-One Engagement

Community leaders from 16 different Jewish community agencies across Southern Arizona met Thursday, October 27, at the second Jewish Ecosystem of Southern Arizona meeting in an effort to “build an infrastructure to promote collective decision making and learning,” according to Todd Rockoff, Tucson J. President and CEO.

The Ecosystem was created this year to build on existing work and create new initiatives supporting the results of the 2019 Community Plan, a plan designed to help foster and grow engagement across the Southern Arizona Jewish community. The Ecosystem provides a forum for community organizations and lay leaders to work together to develop strategies to move the community forward, ensuring that Jewish life here remains vibrant, compelling, and accessible, while providing for the most vulnerable.

The meeting, held at the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona and hosted by Tucson Jewish Free Loan, introduced Ecosystem members to a new partner, Gather Inc., a Washington, DC based non-profit, and pioneers of Relationship Based Engagement (RBE), a model designed to both foster and increase one-on-one engagement between community members.

Seven community projects or organizations will form the first pilot cohort to explore and apply RBE in their respective settings. “We need to think of our community as a campus, and all our roles (in it) as concierges,” said Michelle Blumenberg, Kol Ami Interim Executive Director.

Ecosystem attendees were then divided into four groups and tasked with visiting and analyzing four separate data stations throughout the room. Each station highlighted both local and national data trends related to engagement in Jewish life, Jewish education, and vulnerable populations.

Groups were asked to review the data at each station and ask themselves what stood out most to them, and what implications this data would have for the Community Plan going forward.

“Understanding these important data trends will help our Community Plan more effectively for a Jewish future that is sustainable for many years to come,” said Amy Glass, VP of Strategy and Community Impact at Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona.

A key theme echoed by many at the conclusion of the Ecosystem meeting was the importance of both developing and strengthening relationships within the Jewish community.

“Everything that we’re seeing is about relationships”, said Lori Shepherd, Executive Director of the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center.  “Everything we see in each of these areas comes back to how we connect.”

For more information on the Jewish Ecosystem of Southern Arizona, click here.