Hanukkah is a holiday of re-dedication and it is fitting that the launch of our new website www.JPRO.org and proud embrace of our new name – JPRO Network – come at this time. This change does not come readily as there are many community professionals who believe that the call to community service is a sacred endeavor. In changing our name from the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America we are not abandoning the Jewish values that provide the foundation for our work. We are welcoming and promoting professional leadership on all levels and recognizing that in this 21st Century we heavily rely upon networks to advance our work and our personal success.
It is not enough to change our name if our actions and activities are not reflected in this change. While associations and networks have much in common, there are also notable differences. Networks are horizontal, easily penetrated and have wide ranges and types of participation. They bring together individuals and organizations with common interests and an assortment of backgrounds. Our spring, 2014, survey of Jewish community professionals, conducted by Professor Steven M. Cohen and Dr. Jacob Ukeles, garnered more than 4200 independent, reliable responses from Jewish community professionals; more than enough to obtain a very clear picture of our field. Our diversity is reflected in over 200 different professional associations to which we belong. Nonetheless, with all of our different backgrounds and associations, we largely identify as Jewish community professionals.
Networks also have an emphasis on peer-learning, which has been and will continue to be a hallmark of JPRO. Networks enable their nodules to succeed and develop leaders and as Ori Brafman, author of The Starfish and The Spider has described, the best networks also have centralized resources and command for assistance. It is important to note that JPRO is not only a shortened form for Jewish Professional, the PRO also stands for Professional Resource Organization. Our mission is to Connect, Educate, Inspire and Empower Jewish community professionals.
Jewish tradition teaches that the ability to name demonstrates authority or influence, just as Adam is given dominion over the animals when he names them in Gan Eden. We take great pride and pleasure in knowing that the name JPRO bubbled up from the field and has been embraced by communities of Jewish professionals across the country. Many of our local groups, known as J Pros, first adopted this name, which originated with J Pro Miami. Today, 14 local J Pros form a loose network of Jewish community professionals. As we recognize and celebrate these sources of innovation and strength emanating from our field, we are also designating the creation and support of local J Pros as a top priority.
JPRO Network welcomes partners in strengthening this network of local groups, both on the ground and as a North American initiative to provide accessible professional development opportunities. As a field-building network with a 115 year legacy, we cannot allow our history to be stronger than our future. Strengthening the leadership and organizations of our Jewish community requires nothing less than rededicating our efforts.