By Andrea S. Arbel
For nearly 15 years, I had the privilege to lead the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel. Starting as the Director of Partnership 2000 to leading what evolved into the Partnership Unit as we know it today. I gained so much both personally and professionally. As I sit in my moshav in Corona Quarantine (quite a poetic way to conclude 18 years “chai” at the Jewish Agency), I have had some time to reflect.
So dear Partnership Family and beyond. I want to share what just might be my last P2G lecture. Well, maybe….
Our most veteran Partnerships are celebrating their 25th anniversary. A program electively funded. Twenty-five years in an environment where communities are constantly searching for the next new and shiny thing or a new story and narrative. So what are the spices in the secret sauce of Partnership2Gether? There are many, but for the sake of brevity, I choose here the most succulent of ingredients.
P2G: The Ability to Evolve
The power of partnership lies in what it is not. P2G is not a program that starts over every September, with a tweak here and a change there. The power of Partnership2Gether is that it has the capacity to appropriately respond to changing opportunities and challenges in your glocal (local and global) landscape.
The result is that Partnership consistently evolves over time, assuming different relevance and fulfilling new roles. This does not happen in an all or nothing fashion, but in a nuanced way. In a determined but meandering way. For example, changes in why a partnership does what it does; responding to a specific crisis – Corona being the most recent and powerful illustration; identifying a new target population; setting sites on new goals. From creating a new message to creating a new vision and strategy.
Partnership2Gether is like clay in your hands. Enjoy reshaping it a bit here and there. Then, once in a while, throw it on the potter’s wheel to feel and kneed every bit of grain in the clay. It is entirely up to you – the professional and lay leadership – to shape the future of P2G. If you mix into the clay relevant elements of your glocal Jewish polity, then you will have a relevant and intelligent partnership for years to come.
P2G: A Playground for Engaging Your Community with Israel
Every community in Partnership2Gether has its own playground for engaging with Israelis. Smart communities invite into that playground as many friends as possible (e.g., JCCs, schools, JCRCs, synagogues, Hillel, to name a few). Meaning, through P2G, every community can strategically and purposefully engage as many Jewish communal organizations and initiatives via P2G programs, missions, etc. You can identify and engage strategic target populations. You can include Israelis from your P2G community in shlichut, summer camps, holiday festivities and more.
A measure of a strong and resilient community is, in part, a derivative of the level of collaboration among its local Jewish communal organizations. If each organization is an island onto its own, then each will be as strong or weak as it is. But if organizations collaborate together, so much more can be developed and leveraged, and so much more good can be accomplished together.
Partnership2Gether is uniquely poised for Jewish Federation and Keren Hayesod Communities to engage as many of the Jewish communal initiatives with Israel and Israelis. Invite them into your P2G playground. Be inclusive. Just plan it and do it.
Zoom Out: P2G Reflecting the Long Term Plan of Your Community
If your community has a strategic and/or long term plan (e.g., 5 year plan), then add this as another lens to understanding the potential of your Partnership. How are you connecting P2G to the underlying building blocks of your future plans? Are you being thoughtful about this?
As a first step, understand the potential locally. Then, educate the P2G Joint Steering Committee (JSC) on two things. The details of the grand plan to best understand how P2G can be an engine for its advancement. Two, what was the basis for your plan. For example, was it based on a community survey? If so, share the results of that survey with your JSC so they can truly understand the trends and sea changes in your community. This way, they can be truly effective and good partners.
P2G: Both Professional and Emotional
The true power of partnership is that we create togetherness. We have created a home away from home for literally hundreds of thousands of people. We create new friendships. We create family. Year after year. Experience after experience. One shared meal after another. And of course the not so secret spice of home hospitality.
Do our programs have to be the best and most professional? Absolutely. But, that is not what brings people back time and again to the far north and south of Israel. After a long flight from Australia, our friends from down under don’t travel to the Arava just because of an excellent program. All of our P2Gnikim travel time and again to towns not on the grand tour of Israel because they have family and friends there. That is the true power of Partnership2Gether. That is how P2G builds of a more united Jewish people.
These are just some of the reasons why Partnership2Gether is 25 years and still going strong.
Andrea S. Arbel is Former Director of the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel.