July has provided a happy breather for me. Coming off our incredibly successful 2020-21 fundraising year, I am exhaling a bit, but also feeling challenged to do even better in 2022. Knowing that the new fiscal year has just begun and that the 2022 Community Campaign launches in a few weeks makes these waning July days even sweeter. So, I have been treasuring time in the north Georgia mountains for hiking and hanging with friends and doing some traveling. I am looking forward to our Federation professional retreat at Ramah Darom next month and am also excited that Limmud Atlanta will be back at Ramah Darom in August (August 27-29).
And I’m reading. This summer my focus is on books about Israel, organizational accountability, and racial justice.
Our leadership is engaged in training on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) — a set of concepts and practical tools that provide an accountability and management system we will roll out to the entire organization. The executive team has been engaged since May. We are working with a consultant and learning the tools we’ll use to improve our operations. For this work I’m reading “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business,” by Gino Wickman. It asks CEOs to define their values and build a culture around their core values. It’s a call to always let these values guide you when you hire, fire, review, and reward people, as well as a push to a more data-driven organizational culture.
I’m having fun reading “Coming of Age: The Atlanta Jewish Federation 1962-1982,” by Max C. Gettinger.” Max (Mike) Gettinger grew up in New York City. Like me, he practiced social work and went on to become a Federation professional. Mike moved to Atlanta in 1962 taking on the role of Assistant Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and shortly after became the Executive Director when Ed Kahn retired. He served in this position until 1979 when he retired. Mike continued two years past his own retirement to launch Federation’s first endowment program. It’s been illuminating to learn more about the philanthropic foundation of our community and see how our Jewish leadership structure developed in those critical years of growth.
Mike Leven, who stewards the Jewish Future Pledge, urged me to read “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” by Noa Tishby. Tishby is an Israeli actor and activist. She blends memoir and advocacy in this tribute to her beloved Israel, bemoaning how little the rest of the world actually knows about Israel. If you’re looking to counter social media “misinformation” about Israel, this is a helpful and inspiring read.
Also on my nightstand is Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. This was last year’s big book on the roots of racism in America. Wilkerson approaches race differently than other writers, using the framework of a skin-color-based caste system, to explain how slavery compounded inequality and lack of social movement. She analogizes America to an old house that needs repair. “We can never declare the work over. Wind, flood, drought, and human upheavals batter a structure that is already fighting whatever flaws were left unattended in the original foundation.” The idea is, we ignore the urgent renovations at our own peril. An important book.
Enjoy these last lovely days of summer. Let’s hope that we’ll be healthy and ready for in-person events in August and during the September Jewish holidays.
P.S. If you are reading something powerful and memorable, please send me an email and tell me about it.