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2015-06-19 digital edition

TODAY in the Jewish World:

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


June 19, 2015  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Mark's Mensches

The next chapter

Over these past months, I’ve truly enjoyed writing this column. Sadly, this is the final submission for Mark’s Mensches. I say sadly because there are so many more stories about our community’s mensches I had hoped to share with you. With that said, I’m confident those stories will eventually be told in one fashion or another.

After a little more than three years serving as the executive director of your Jewish Federation and the previous five years at the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation, my last day in this role is June 30. It is important to me that you know what an honor it’s been to be placed in a position to help lead the Jewish community.

My decision to resign was not an easy one. My daughter leaves for college in roughly three years. With that in mind, my family and I made the decision to make it a priority to spend more time together. I have found it to be an extremely rewarding role, however the time commitment required more sacrifices to the quality of my family life than I’m willing to make at this time. I’m returning to banking, the career at which I began my professional journey right out of college in the late ’80s.

I’m so pleased that the board saw fit to choose Emilie Socash as my successor. Emilie and I have worked closely together over the past eight years in her various roles at the Tampa JCC & Federation and TOP Jewish Foundation and we have been implementing a transition plan that will ensure she’ll be in position to hit the ground running on July 1. Emilie is one of the brightest and most accomplished Jewish communal professionals I’ve worked with and I have complete confidence that she’ll help take the Federation to new heights. With that said, please allow me to share some suggestions and observations that I hope will be valuable to the community as whole.

• It’s time to leave the past behind. Yes, the loss of our Jewish day school and JCC were disappointing and downright painful but we must move on and focus on what’s necessary to reach our potential. There will always be bumps in the road – some bigger than others – but we must learn from our mistakes and use those lessons to achieve success in the future.

• I know most of you believe strongly in Federation and the good work it does, but for the few that have suggested to me the community doesn’t need a Jewish Federation or that the other local Jewish organizations could pick up the slack in the absence of a Federation, I challenge you to identify a thriving

Jewish community in the entire country without a Federation presence. If you’re unsure or unclear about the role of Federation and all it makes possible, please contact the Federation office (727-530- 3223) to schedule a time for a team member to share our story and answer all your questions.

• Please don’t wait for someone to ask you to give or to serve. The Federation staff and lay leaders have very limited resources and, although we try to schedule one-on-one time with as many community members as possible, we simply can’t meet or speak with everyone. If the long-term survival of the Jewish community is important to you, this is absolutely essential.

• The definition of what it means to be Jewish is quite fluid and the subject of much debate. All Jewish groups, from the wholly secular to the holy orthodox, must focus on what we have in common. Representing less than 2 percent of the country’s and world’s population, we cannot afford to go our separate ways, yet alone fight among ourselves. Despite our differences, what we share is so much more and the Federation is here to facilitate bringing everyone together.

• Although I’ve already mentioned how vital it is that you support Federation – both in time and treasure – I can’t emphasize enough that the work of Federation cannot continue without increasing the annual campaign. I recognize that not everyone has the resources to be a major donor or Lion of Judah – generously contributing $5,000 or greater each year – but I do believe almost everyone can contribute something or at least volunteer their time to help the Federation pursue its mission of growing and strengthening the Jewish community.

My personal journey toward taking on a professional position at the Federation began with my first Super Sunday phone-a-thon in Atlanta nearly 20 ago. That led to my volunteering at the Tampa JCC & Federation and eventually being asked to serve on its board of directors. It’s my intention to continue serving as a lay leader in whatever capacity I’m needed in addition to also supporting the Annual Campaign. If you’re not doing the same already, I challenge you to join me. If you are, I hope you’ll consider how you can do even more.

Thank you again for the trust you placed in me. I look forward to working with you as a “civilian” to ensure the continuity of Jewish life and culture.

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