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2017-03-10 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.


March 10, 2017  RSS feed

Text: T T T

My Master Plan (Spoiler Alert: You’re part of it)

Emilie Socash

My college roommate and I remain close friends, and I can still remember the day that she and I palled up. It was move-in day on the Washington State University campus, and as I hauled another box to the third floor of the Duncan Dunn women’s residence hall, I passed her in the stairwell.

“HEY!” we both said, recognizing each other from high school, and since we both shared the same terrifying sense of knowing that for the first time in our entire lives, we’d be sleeping away from the watchful eye of our parents, our friends’ parents, camp counselors, or other chaperones.

She and I had been in related and overlapping social circles when we attended North Central High School. We had friends in common, but generally resonated at different frequencies. But now, some 23 years past high school, I feel that she is one of those people who knows the true me.

Which is why her Hanukkah gift to me a couple months ago was really no surprise: it was a leather-bound, zip-close journal with the words, MASTER PLAN, embossed on the front in small, gold letters.

“You know, for all your world domination endeavors,” she said as I opened the package.

Her comment isn’t too far from the truth: I do have a bit of a passion for thinking the big “What if?” questions. Setting aside the personal ones (which include aspirational retirement ages, international fame opportunities, and the exceptional success of my children), my master plan for the Jewish community does have a bit of “world domination” flavor.

I definitely haven’t cornered the market on the big “What ifs.” A couple weeks back, Craig Sher asked, “What if we could run the Jewish community like a business?” Last week, Ron Diner asked “What if we got an extra million dollars into the Federation all at once?”

One of the largest “What ifs” that’s been on my mind for nearly the entirety of my 13-year Federation career has to do with where our communal resources are applied. Don’t get me wrong: the Federation model is strong, engaging, well thought out, and effective at distributing funds to where they are needed most.

But what if we turned the reins over to our donors and allowed meaningful input into where their gifts go? What if Federation giving meant targeted giving? (Along those lines of sharing the “What ifs,” Liz Sembler asked me this week, “What if everyone directed their giving to Jewish identity-building?” while Elana Gootson and I discussed with her all of the ways we’re redefining what our Federation can – and should – be. Our response? “That should be our biggest problem.”)

What if?

I believe that our Jewish Federation is the springboard for making amazing things happen in our community, and to that end, I’d like to invite you to share with us in doing so. We’re wrapping up our 2017 Annual Campaign efforts between now and Passover, and on the heels of a very robust 2016 fundraising response (clearing $1m for the first time in many years!), you have an opportunity to be a part of continuing to improve our community.

I’d like to hear what motivates you. Here are the current areas that the Federation focuses on:

Building Jewish Identity and Culture, which is our flagship effort in providing on-ramps for community engagement of all kinds, ranging from our PJ Library books to support of the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast and the Florida Holocaust Museum. This area of impact also includes our participation in the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival, Heritage Day with the Rays, our Young Adult Division, and support of the Tampa Bay Jewish Educators Council. And even more, we send dozens of kids and teens on Jewish summer camp and Israel experiences each year.

Israel Education and Advocacy, including programs like our Jewish Community Relations Council, ongoing community and professional training, and relationships with national organizations like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Innovative Community-Building, including our Innovation Grants program that made teen, senior, Holocaust education, and the Maccabeats concert happen in the past year alone.

Israel Programs above and beyond our core funding through our national affiliate have allowed our Federation to specify and put emphasis on food insecurity, army individual support, and nature conservancy. We maintain an active role with our Partnership 2gether region of Hadera-Eron and recently sent one community educator as part of an educator exchange to the area.

Community Education, Partnership, and Planning, which makes possible our Leadership Council, collaborative programming, planned giving promotion and leadership through the TOP Jewish Foundation, and plans for our future Jewish community.

Caring for our Most Vulnerable describes one of the most important areas of the Federation’s leadership in the community, including our funding of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, Menorah Manor, the Burial Society, Philip Benjamin Tower Foundation, and others in desperate need of basic social services.

Information Resource and Referral, serving as the central source of information on all Jewish activities through our online community calendar, weekly newsletter, and our support of the Jewish Press.

(If you’re more of a visual person, head over to our website to see the breakdown of our support in each of these areas in a chart.)

Each of our community members can play a key role in helping shape our community priorities. If you’d like to weigh in and tell us what on the list above you’d like to support, just head over to, and you’ll have the opportunity during the payment process to do just that.

Just think: what if you could change our world with just one gift? That time is now.

Liked it? Loathed it? Want to react? I would welcome your feedback and can be reached at

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