Rabbi Carol Davidson is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Class II. Rabbi Davidson is the Associate Executive Director for External Affairs at the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services.  Rabbi Carol Davidson can be reached at: cdavidson@jbfcs.org. 

Once a year, UJA Federation of NY sends the email to our CEO and me, telling us it’s “that time of year again.”   For once, they are not referring to a fund raising campaign. Rather, they are pointing our attention to the upcoming “Executive for a Day” program which they sponsor annually.  The day is designed to let UJA donors know what their support is doing and gives them time in the hot seat of a network agency in order to gain a better understanding of what keeps the CEO up at night. At least, that’s the UJA perspective. I can tell you that from an agency perspective, we know this day as also our chance to show our best work.  At JBFCS, UJA funds approximately $7 million of our $168 million dollar budget and it’s important for them to know the real impact those dollars have on our services.

Showing our best work means introducing people to our clients. They talk the talk in a way that no one getting paid for their time can do with as much authenticity.  Part of my job is to decide who to bring to the table and in an agency our size, there are lots of choices.  I chose a woman we’ll call “R.”  A young Albanian mother of two children, “R” was stabbed 17 times by her husband, nearly killing her, but not quite. After testifying against him in court and receiving extensive mental health services for herself and her children, she now speaks out as an advocate for other battered women not strong enough to speak for themselves …. yet. 

I chose “R” because of what she represents: resilience and courage. I chose her also because of her deep drive to give back to her community and beyond. And lastly, I chose her because as a Jewish agency, we need to keep reminding ourselves and others just how big being Jewish really is. Being Jewish is so much more than talking Jewish. Personally, I’m happy to have played a role in helping to get our Jewishness defined right there in the JBFCS tag line: 175 programs, one mission, to get help to those who need it.