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Dear Friends,

I want to draw your attention to three recent articles that appeared this month on e-Jewish Philanthropy by Barry Rosenberg, Joel Frankel, and Marci Mayer Eisen. The first two involve the centrality of Israel experiences to the engagement of our community; the last shows how a commitment to professional excellence can have dynamic results. All of them showcase the tremendous work of Federation to build our community.

Barry’s article, “Building Community Leadership Step By Step,” focuses on the transformational role of the Rubin Trip in developing committed Jewish leaders.  The Rubin trip, led since its inception by Margo Newman, provides a free Israel experience to ten 27-40 year olds from St. Louis. As he describes, the trip is already strengthening our Jewish community. As the past CEO of our Federation, Barry’s vision and leadership was central to the program’s development. We are grateful to him, along with the vision and dedication of Ron and Pam Rubin, whose support and continued engagement have made this trip possible.

Joel’s article, “Engagement Doesn’t Happen by Accident,” focuses on the hard work that follows once participants in Birthright come home. Joel, who serves as Federation’s Israel Engagement professional, reminds us that the spark of inspiration that participants feel in Israel needs to be cultivated and nurtured once they return. Joel demonstrates that structured engagement and cultivation of leadership are hard but immensely rewarding work. Thanks to Joel’s work, whose position is made possible by a generous grant from the estate of Bernard Goldstein, we are translating the excitement of these trips into lifelong engagement with Jewish life.

Directed by Marci Mayer Eisen and Karen Sher, Federation’s Millstone Institute supports the kinds of efforts that both Barry and Joel describe to cultivate engagement and community.  In her essay “Building Jewish Community,” Marci focuses on the importance of cultivating professional excellence within the Jewish community and the work here in St. Louis of JProStl to effect change.  Marci’s article illustrates the role of Federation to build, secure and cultivate our Jewish community by supporting our professionals and volunteer leadership. We recognize the work of the Millstone Advisory Committee and the JProStl board and are grateful to the Lubin-Green Foundation, Mont & Karen Levy, Bob Millstone and Bill Solomon, whose generosity has made this program a national model.

Thanks to Barry, Joel and Marci for bringing these programs to the attention of an international audience. And thanks to the vision and support of all of you who make this work possible.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.
President and CEO