What do you think about spying on others? This week’s parshah contains the famous story of Moses sending the twelve spies into the land of Canaan. Ten of them return to falsely describe how terrible the land is in order to scare the people from wanting to travel there. Two, Caleb and Joshua, appropriately and correctly say that the land is conquerable.
Sending out emissaries to explore possibilities is smart business. Next week, a group of us are traveling to Detroit to learn about how their Federation has successfully put a model in place to engage young adults. We do a terrific job in this area in Pittsburgh (through the Federation Young Adult Division, Shalom Pittsburgh, JBURGH, Moishe House, synagogues and Repair the World) and should be extremely proud. At the same time, we can always learn more and perhaps can take those learnings and apply them to our own practice. I know our trip to Detroit would not be considered true spying (it is all coordinated with their Federation), but it is all about going into a “distant land” and to do as Moses instructed the spies, “You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land.”
Being a learning organization is critical to success. It is easy to rest on our accomplishments, and we have so many. To learn from those successes and to continue to evolve is how an organization, company or individual can always stay ahead and not become stagnant.
Our Federation has been sought out by others as a source of learning. Our Community Scorecardhas intrigued so many across the country as a model for becoming a data driven community. Our Fundraising strategy and structure has been highlighted at national conferences. Several communities have wanted to understand how we operate our Volunteer Center. Our allocations process has been held up as a model.
We promise to continue to be “spies” into other communities and to allow other communities to “spy” on us. Not only will we help strengthen our Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, we will help make the North American Jewish Federation system the strongest it can be.