The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced the formation of two new “flagship” programs with the goal of improving its service to the New Orleans Jewish community as well as to broadening and deepening its connections to the New Orleans community at large.
Jewish Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow announced the creation of the Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families on Wednesday, January 8.
“I am very excited about the formation and launch of these two new Centers of excellence,” Fielkow said. “These two initiatives are critical to forming mutually-beneficial relationships between the Jewish community and the Greater New Orleans community at large, as well as tackling one of the most important topics today (interfaith) facing Judaism. We are grateful to the Goldring Family Foundation and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation for making this work possible, and are excited to continue evolving to serve the needs of Jewish New Orleans.”
The Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs will be governed by the Federation, but will be led by an advisory committee, who will oversee the work of a dedicated, full-time executive director. The Goldring Family Foundation has agreed to fund the Center for its initial three-year pilot program.
“In an era of rising anti-Semitism, bigotry and fracture, it is incredibly important that we look to the now and to the future to broaden our sense of community,” said Bill Goldring of the Goldring Family Foundation. “This is a much needed initiative, and I am excited to see where the Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs leads us over the next few years.”
The four main areas the Goldring Center will initially focus on will be between the Jewish and African-American communities, the Jewish and Latin American communities as well as to broaden its base with the LGBTQ community through its Jewish Pride New Orleans (JP NOLA) and with existing multi-faith institutions of various religions.
Bradley Bain and Ina Davis were both announced by Fielkow as being the initial chairs of the center.
The purpose of the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families will be to “provide a centralized resource and support system for interfaith partnerships and families in Greater New Orleans.” According to the latest research from the Pew Center, interfaith marriages now affect 58% of the entire Jewish community.
With such a large number of interfaith relationship already ongoing, the Leventhal Center will be looking to create opportunities to connect existing Jewish values and traditions to outside institutions and organizations. The Center will work with area synagogues and other Jewish organizations to fulfill its mission. The launch date for the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families will be July 1, 2020.
“Our hope is that Jewish interfaith couples and families in New Orleans find a welcoming manner in which to explore their Jewish values and traditions,” said Sherry and Alan Leventhal.
A new executive director position will be sought through a national search committee to be instituted shortly, Fielkow announced. Community members Teri Hunter and Alex Gershanik will co-chair its board
“We are very grateful to the Goldring Family Foundation and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation for their generous gifts to the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans to make the creation of these two exciting centers possible,” said Joshua S. Force, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Board of Trustees. “The centers will both focus on areas critical to the New Orleans Jewish community and our efforts to develop and deepen our connections to both Jews and non-Jews in our wonderfully diverse city,” he added.