By, Briana Holtzman, JTFN, Director
I’d like to pose a Hanukkah challenge: this year, rededicate your network. Devote time, energy, and resources to the interconnected people and things that matter most to you. What makes the "network" in Jewish Teen Funders Network? In our office we zoom in and appreciate the intersection of Jewish (identity, education, life), teen, and philanthropy. That's one network. We zoom out to recognize the impressive collections of programs, professionals, supporters, fans, and more of our field. That is another network. What transforms each of these things from unique points into a network? It's as easy as connecting the dots, asking the question: "What matters?"
When we take a moment to ask someone what matters, we issue a challenge and an invitation. A challenge to stop and really think about it. “What matters to you?” An invitation to become connected, interconnected, networked. I am incredibly grateful for the multitude of networks of which I am a part. I recently had the honor of participating as a fellow at UJA Federation of New York’s Ruskay Institute. What started as a cohort of 24 unconnected people shifted quickly into a network, into a community. That transformation happened when we started talking about things that mattered, about the change not only that we wanted to see in the world, but our actions for bringing about that change.
I’m struck by how similar my experience was to that of the teens in Jewish philanthropy programs around the world. The spark is not when teens share their names, but their values. They decide on an issue, one that matters. When the opportunities of their work come to life interacting with non-profit organizations, they use their funds to bring that change to life. The spark is in the moments when teens ask, and answer, “as a member of the Jewish community, what matters to me?” A challenge and an invitation.
The Hanukkah story is one of dedication, the season is one of giving. This Hanukkah – ask the question, extend an invitation to rededicate your network, give back.