The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington last February released a survey of the area’s Jews. Its goal was to determine what Washington Jews want from the community.
The Federation then turned over the findings to Jewish institutions to see the discussions and changes they would prompt.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington found four points of interest, said CEO Michael Feinstein.
First, according to the report, “people’s interest is in culture, not religion. The JCC is perfectly situated to engage people who like being Jewish and want to explore what being Jewish means to them,” he said.
But now the agency must refine its measurements on the impact of its
programs, he added.
“When we started, we said, ‘We want to set our goals. How many people are engaging? How many repeat participants are there? What is the depth of their participation?’ We need to take that model to every new thing we do. It’s putting a little bit of rigor to the analysis.”
The second important finding was that volunteering and community service topped the list of activities that area Jews want to do.
“We were surprised by this,” Feinstein said.
In response, the JCC created a social action task force to come up with volunteer opportunities for the coming program year. Feinstein mentioned affordable housing and hunger in Montgomery County as issues the agency might address.
Referring to the annual Good Deeds Day, he said the goal of new social action programs would be “to make every week a good deeds day.”
Third, survey respondents gave JCCs an enviable 90 percent favorable rating. “The question is, how do we leverage that good will?” Feinstein said. “When we put our brand on something, that’s how we leverage it.”
Last, the survey found that Israel-related programs most appeal to those who have been there and have stronger personal connections.
Feinstein said that in addition to being a gathering place for Israelis in the area, the JCC is looking to partner with BBYO in order to “bring Israel education to high school seniors who are going to be on college campuses.”