Robbins: Forgiving Federation

Robbins: Forgiving Federation

By Eric Robbins | Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta 

One of the many things I love about being Jewish is the inner spiritual work we are called to do during the month of Elul. This year I am doing that personal work and leading the same process for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

I am looking closely at our history — what we were built on and what we have become today. It has meant doing a lot of listening to our internal team, the organizations we partner with in the community, our donors, and individuals who have never found a place to connect with us.

Eric Robbins receives a standing ovation at Fed Talks on May 5 after the announcement of his hiring as Federation CEO.
Eric Robbins, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

Jewish Federation has been an integral part in building this incredible community, and yet it has been challenging and sometimes painful because we clearly have flaws and some fractured relationships. For real change to take place, we must connect with the ways we fall short, understand them and emerge with inspiration for what the future should look like.

Personally, as I gain firmer footing as your chief executive officer and begin to live in my new role, I have also been looking inward. I feel renewed excitement about how being Jewish makes life richer, fuller and more purposeful. I believe that Judaism offers an amazing template for living a meaningful life, and I love that it is not a prescriptive template — it is actually open and flexible.

For me, being Jewish is a blueprint for living a life of community, core values and the openness to explore spiritually. Federation is the perfect vehicle for tapping into this template, offering unlimited opportunities to make the world better and invest in our community.

And finally, because Elul and the holiday of Yom Kippur are a time of forgiveness, I am asking for yours — both personally and for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

This is a difficult job, and I am still new at it. If I have missed the mark or said something upsetting or hurtful, please forgive me. If we as a Jewish Federation have failed you, or have not been there for you in the way you want us to be, we also ask for your forgiveness.

For Federation to flourish in a new world, we all need to change our expectations. We will never be all things to all people, but we can be a place that welcomes all people and respects and nourishes their perspectives.

My ultimate goal for 5777 is to partner with you to build a more resilient community where the next generation will always find meaning and connection.

As our tradition says, mitzvah goreret mitzvah — doing good leads to more doing good. I would take it one step further and say that building a community that allows Jews to connect more deeply with their identity can only make more good people and create more good in the world.

Eric Robbins is the chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

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