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2018-02-09 digital edition

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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.


February 9, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Federation defines focus areas from demographic study

After a months-long process of collecting and analyzing data from over 500 phone interviews, the demographic study of Pinellas and Pasco Counties’ Jewish community has been completed.

The next steps for the community are currently under consideration by synagogues and agencies, and the board of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties has now brought focus to the areas that the community service organization will emphasize in the next three to five years.

Five areas of concentration emerged from the three-hour session: Israel, Jewish culture, demographics, children and education, and public relations. Drawing from multiple findings of the study, each of these areas was further explored in terms of goals and future success.

In the early part of 2018, Federation leadership will craft a more specific and time-delineated strategic plan encompassing these areas with benchmarks for success.


As a theme, the community’s connection with Israel will deepen and expand, with particular efforts to enhance the effectiveness of advocacy and people-to-people work. This includes bolstering the current work of the Jewish Community Relations Council and continuing relationships with the Partnership 2Gether region and schlichot program. Additional expansion to engage with local Israelis and offer even more in Israel program scholarships are also on the list.

Steve Schwersky, co-host of the Sunday Simcha radio show and co-chair of the JCRC, said he looks forward to doing more to connect the community with Israel, including helping to lead a musical mission to Israel later this year.

Schwersky added that the JCRC aims to help the Federation and community “reach new heights in creating and funding programs to help not only the Jewish community and Israel, but the general communities of Pasco and Pinellas Counties.

Children and education

Several resounding findings from the study highlighted the need to continue to expand educational and identity-building programs for children (like the Jewish Community Camp and PJ Library) as well as adults. The educational needs of adults and older children will be one of the key areas of focus in the Federation’s strategic planning, with interest in developing a formal educational initiative serving the entire community.

Jewish culture

Bridging from education, the group also defined “Jewish culture” as an area of focus in the coming years, seeking to offer Federation-sponsored programs that speak to those who are intermarried and consider themselves “just Jewish.”

An increase in programming that acknowledges the community’s unique desires and demographics was of primary interest. “Very few people surveyed reported that they feel very much a part of the community, yet well over 80 percent reported having engaged in something cultural or heritage-oriented in the last year. We see this gap as a significant chance for the Federation to create collaborative on-ramps to community involvement,” said Emilie Socash, executive director of the Federation.


Addressing the demographics of the community led the group through a consideration of what the region’s average age of 62 really means.

Having an average age far higher than the rest of the country requires a special emphasis on age-based considerations for programs and weaving in planned giving and legacy giving opportunities more closely, while recognizing the top three pockets of dense Jewish population (Dunedin, Lake Tarpon, and downtown St. Petersburg) in geographic event planning will lend focus to the Federation’s efforts.

Public relations

Finally, of great interest is addressing the findings that only 12 percent of the community is “very familiar” and only 33 percent “somewhat familiar” with the Federation as a whole. The idea of public relations and awareness spawned thoughts on expanding readership of the Jewish Press and other Jewish information sources; enhancing the Federation’s visibility on non-Federation and secular events, and measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

Ezra Singer, Federation board member, noted “There are significant opportunities for the Federation to engage the hundreds of Jewish families who are new to our town and the thousands of families who have no affiliation whatsoever. If we do this right, we can enhance and grow the active Jewish community and make this that much of a greater place to live.”

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