The Nature of Service

At the end of November, our Director of Community and Donor Relations, Yossi Hertz, began a month-long stay in Israel. He spent several days working remotely, but the rest of the month he will spend doing miluim, reserve duty with his unit in the IDF’s Pikud HaOref, or Home Front Command. We are looking forward to his return to the office, and we are inspired by his service - and the service of the many people in our community who have participated in reserve duty here in the US or in Israel. 

I’ve been thinking about the nature of service and what it means to give one’s time, energy, intellect and commitment to a greater ideal, be it to a country, to a cause, to a principle or to a calling. Many years ago, we in the nonprofit world used to think almost exclusively in these terms. Over time, elements of corporate thinking became more prominent. Measurable outcomes, organizational strategy, metrics, key performance indicators were the yardstick by which we looked at success. Frankly, having worked at a few poorly, and several well-run organizations, I understand, depend on and appreciate the intrinsic value of metrics and a quantitative approach to success. We can never lose sight, though, that the most basic unit of measurement is one. One person, one life changed, improved or secured. 

I’m proud of our measurable successes - in the funds we raise and allocate, in the number of participants in our programs like PJ Library or Adult Education, in the number of Jewish institutions we are helping to secure. But I am even more proud when I hear, as I did earlier today, the leader of a large, lifesaving organization with county wide reach and part of an international network that he and his organization are proud to work with and support us in OUR critical security work. Four months ago, we had no relationship with this organization. Our people have in a short time built trust, friendship, and commitment with their people. And it works because it is evident that individuals in both organizations are committed to a higher ideal.  It is hard to measure relationships, trust, commitment, and friendship, but it is what weaves our entire community together. And it is done one relationship at a time, one day at a time. 

Yossi’s days in reserve duty are limited, but his commitment is not - not in Israel, and not here. 

Let’s all commit to using both a quantitative and qualitative lens when we look at how we can help our community and help each other. We’ll build a stronger community together.