This is a guest blog post I wrote on my last day working at Jewish Federation of St. Louis. I left my position as Vice President, Marketing, and I wrote some reflections about my time working in the Jewish community.
What a privilege it has been to work in this amazing close knit community. I am not Jewish but have been the Vice President, Marketing for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis for just over a year and involved as a consultant for year before that. When I started, I did not know much about the Jewish community and even less about Federation.
As I am changing my role, I am reflecting on all that I have loved about working in the Jewish community for the past 2 1/2 years. Here’s my “Top Ten” list of reasons to work in the Jewish Community (there are lots more reasons, but I’m trying to keep this article from getting too long):
- Jewish people have a passion for food.
There is always food available. When ordering kosher foods from Kohn’s, it’s best to get the veggie wrap or the Asian salmon salad.
- There are so many more Jewish holidays than I ever realized.
My favorite is “Schemini Atzeret” because it is simply so much fun to say. I love that Federation honors those holidays and promotes Jewish identity so strongly. That is definitely a form of personal branding!
- The polarizing differences within the community are significant, but the spirit of solidarity unity and “I’ll help you out simply because you are in this community too” is lovely to see.
I never knew there could be so many different types of Jews. While I certainly had exposure to Hasidim when I lived in New York City, it did not occur to me that there could be differences between cultural Jews, Reform Jews, conservative, modern conservative, Orthodox, ultraorthodox, Jews in interfaith marriages, LGBTQ Jews, and agnostic or atheist Jews… kind of sub-brands within the megabrand.
- The concept of tzedekah and Tikkun olam, core Jewish values, are expressed in abundance here in St. Louis.
Tzedakah is a word associated with “philanthropy” and Tikkun olam means “to heal the world.” Giving is a way of life, assumed not as an obligatory necessity but as a natural outgrowth of caring for others. Lovely.
- Being a change agent is hard and energizing.
From my first assignment to review and update the Federation brand, to the honor of being able to lead both the marketing team and serve on Federation’s Management Team, to guiding the update of the Planning & Allocation Report, to finding ways to bring in more money and share a more positive message about Federation, it’s always been about pushing for more excellence, more creativity, more energy, more fun, more inclusion, and more relevance. I urge others to keep pushing for those qualities!
- Best practices for nonprofit marketing are the same as for-profit marketing… Only not.
It’s been so much fun to apply the classic marketing and branding principles to Federation, Millstone Institute for Leadership, Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, and others. The language non-profits use to discuss and describe concepts may change, but the concept of caring for your customers (caring for your donors) is the same.
- If you care about people, coming to work is fun and easy.
The work that is most memorable to me is all people based. Whether guiding the communications effort that established Andrew as the new CEO both internally and externally to the St. Louis community at large, giving encouragement to someone who’s discouraged, frustrated or needing direction, to finding the most compelling ways to tell the stories of how Federation helps so many in the community both here and abroad, it’s all about helping people.
- Israel is stunningly beautiful and heart wrenchingly complicated.
Going to Israel was definitely a highlight of my time in this position, and I was so glad to be able to see the beauty, experience the diversity and understand some of its history better. As I write this, rockets are being fired at Israel and ground forces of the IDF are engaged in combat in Gaza. It is so sad. Racism is stupid, and it boggles my mind why there is such violent and indiscriminate hatred for the Jews. It makes no sense to me, and yet it’s undeniably something that needs to be countered
- There are so many ways the Jewish community supports everyone who has a need.
There’s so much opportunity to make a difference. There is so much good and yet there’s much more that can be done. Whether you are a donor, want to be a lay leader or if you are looking to get a job in the Jewish community, there is so much opportunity to contribute! Those in the not-for-profit world really can be a positive influence; and make a real difference.
- I’m going to miss it.
I’m so grateful for those in the Jewish community who invited me into that community and allowed me to be part of that world, that kindness, that energy. I hope to continue working with many of the people in the Jewish community on a consulting basis; I’m certain we’ll stay in touch!