Society of Professionals builds for the future

by | Oct 27, 2016 | Other News

Greg Zittrain

Last month marked the launch of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals, a newly created collaboration between UJFT’s Maimonides and Business and Legal societies.

This new entity is the product of a year of discussions focusing on strategic goals and positioning. It had become clear that we were creating successful programming for doctors and attorneys and business owners, but felt we had an opportunity to broaden our reach, while refining our brand and mission.

Some of our past attendees were interested in educational programming. Others were drawn by the access to local, Jewish-owned businesses and practices. One consistent theme was that people were coming to events hoping to network to expand their professional circles.

We also saw significant overlap, as well as gaps, in who we were including— some of the doctors and dentists in our community are also business owners. And some people didn’t feel they fit into either of the two “business” and “legal” categories.

So we asked each other to take a step back and ask, “What are we trying to achieve…who do we want to include… and how do we engage them?”

The process of reformatting the societies reminded me of a conversation a few of us had over Shabbat dinner two years ago. One of the senior leaders in our community suggested we continue what he and his peers started doing many years ago; support each other, learn about each other, build lifetime friendships. He urged us to be leaders and give back to our community. And that’s what we’re going to do.

Society events will vary, and yet be consistent in purpose. Some will emphasize education with a focus on opportunities to learn about current events, trends and technologies in our industries both locally and abroad. Others will focus on community impact, both inside and outside the Jewish community with topics that are important to the entire Tidewater area. And every event, large or small, will encourage interaction and the building of new relationships. In this sense, the Society becomes an outreach vehicle, as we hope to see new faces because they have a tangible reason to come, and ultimately to get involved.

Our goal is simple—to bring people together.

We have a natural affinity, and that is our Jewish identity. Our professions may be similar, or they may be different, and our common interests may range from support of Israel to our community campus, from our synagogues to the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, from Jewish Family Service to Beth Sholom Village. The common denominators are United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Tidewater Jewish Foundation—entities which support all of these interests.

The Society of Professionals can serve as an additional portal to our community while strengthening the resources available to both the UJFT and the TJF.