Tidewater Jewish community works together to build first-ever database

by | Feb 8, 2013 | Other News

“We want to work together, we want to communicate together and we want to build and strengthen our community together! We want to do it, we need to do it and the technology is there to do it, so let’s move forward and finally do it! Let us build a community data base together!”

This was the unanimous and collective decision of the leaders of Beth Sholom Village, Jewish Family Service, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Simon Family JCC, Tidewater Jewish Foundation and the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater approximately 10 months ago.

They all agreed, given their shared goal of bringing important programs and services to the community in the most costeffective and efficient manner possible, that the development of a community database was clearly required and a failure to do so was to fail the community.

“The creation of a community database has been a discussion at so many budgeting, funding, marketing, strategic planning and board meetings only because everybody believes that as a community we can do so much more once we have one,” says Alvin Wall, UJFT president. “The beauty of it is that while it is administered by UJFT, all the participating organizations share equally in the establishment of business rules and in its access, reporting, and utilization of the shared information.”

“It was clear at our most recent strategic planning meetings that it is important, for instance, to have the names of as many preschool and school age children and their families as we can so that we can make sure that we inform them of the programs and services that are important and essential to them. We could be so more effective if we made sure that the right information was sent to the right party. The same could be done for the mature adult or any other demographic group we want to serve,” says Abbey Horwitz, past president of the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and the UJFT. “The beauty of it is that all the money we could save by targeting our communications well would be then channeled into more services for our community.”

The value of the enterprise is not really built on technology, which is merely the vehicle, but it is rather built on trust, cooperation and community. The information has long been stored in all the agency databases with the largest and most comprehensive, by far, being UJFT’s database.

These agencies have never violated the trust placed in them and through the creation of the community database will never violate that trust by selling the information or otherwise transferring the information outside the community database participants.

Any information covered by HIPAA or other privacy laws will not be distributed to any community database participating agencies without a person’s prior written permission in accordance with those applicable laws. In fact, the information that is currently being sought will primarily be demographic in nature such as name, date of birth, occupation, contact information, relationships, etc.

“I know that we guard our data very carefully and we did the same when I was executive director of Jewish Family Service,” says Harry Graber, UJFT executive vice president. “You don’t build a community as wonderful and as admired as ours by letting people down. On the contrary, you take that trust that is generated from the notions of a Jewish people and that all Jews are for one another and have it serve as a proud foundational principle for further innovation and community building. We want to marry technological capability with our aspiration to serve our community well.”

Graber continues, “I take inspiration from Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz of Temple Beth El who has been in our community for little more than a year when he states, ‘Our synagogues, our Federation and our agencies enable us to achieve far beyond what anyone would expect us to achieve and the reason we can do this is because the Jewish people here work together.’ We want to accomplish great things and this database will certainly help us do it.”