Thinking about our Jewish community as an interdependent ecosystem of organizations, synagogues, schools, and purpose-driven nonprofits — not just a landscape dotted with independent Jewish organizations — was one of the important realignments that came out of The Front Porch initiative that reimagined Jewish Atlanta. Since that time, Federation has been convening quarterly meetings of our Atlanta Jewish Ecosystem to share resources and approach issues in a collaborative manner. It has yielded some strong partnerships and insights, especially during the pandemic.
Rich Walter, who leads Federation’s Community Planning and Impact team, believes the meetings have been very productive. “The last year has amplified the importance of coming together as a community of organizations, both professionals and lay leaders. Through our ecosystem, we have engaged a broad number of people to explore issues that we all face as a community, regardless of our individual affiliations. These have included disability inclusion, health and safety, and mental health. The ecosystem is more than a gathering place for sharing ideas, building trust, and developing relationships across the system. It leads to more collaboration and stronger communal approaches to the challenges and opportunities we all face,” Walter said.
For example, Jewish Family and Career Services worked in collaboration with Federation to create a self–care survey, assessing Jewish community needs as a result of COVID-19. The survey closed last week with more than 500 respondents! The April 20 Ecosystem meeting will focus on responding to the mental health needs of our constituents, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Preliminary findings of the community survey will be presented and attendees will engage in facilitated breakout conversation to discuss how to best address the needs identified in the survey. This will be an opportunity to learn more about how organizations can build mental health resilience into future programming and discuss opportunities for community wide mental health initiatives.
We’ll be sharing the results of the self-care survey more widely and the Ecosystem’s ideas about how to respond to the challenges that surface.