Friday, June 14, 2013

You haven't made it big until you have been dissed in the press

I'm feeling kind of big and important today.
Julie Weiner wrote in ejewish philanthropy
about the trends in naming Jewish organizations:

"Acronyms, including those in which English initials spell out something in Hebrew. Think CLAL (Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership) which means “community,” and LOMED (Learner Outcomes and Measurement for Effective Educational Design), which means “learn.” Message (for the non-Hebrew ones): We are complicated and do a lot of things. Message (for the Hebrew ones): Isn’t this cool that we sort-of spelled something in Hebrew? Status: Out." -

So the good news is our work is big enough to sit next to CLAL. She may not like their name but they do cool stuff. I'm feeling pretty good about  the status that "Hebrew Schools" are now sitting in big league comparisons to congregations, and communal work that reaches across borders! An organization with alphabet soup said to me "Hey we weren't even on the radar enough to make the 'out list'."

On the other hand "ouch" Julie, our name is "OUT" of trend?

I agree the acronym thing was a clumsy try the first year we launched and by the way to be truly au current, it hasn't been used in four years. But ok, clumsy start awesome finish-over 3000 children experiencing powerful and meaningful learning because of LOMED.

 Names are important. My name is Cyd. Guess what it is like growing up with my name? "Are you a guy?" "What's that short for?" "What's your real name?"

 I was named for my Uncle Sidney. He was a nineteen year old, skinny blonde boy, not yet a man, who excitedly put on navy wool pants with anchor buttons running up the side and across the front for the sake of his country. When I was a kid I wore those Navy pants. Uncle Sidney, a medic in the pacific, landed on an island just to be shot in the stomach left to die in the underbrush while others forged up a hill. Uncle Sidney was buried in Hawaii. For twenty five years a cross was on his grave until my mom found out and navigated the paper work to get a white magen david to mark his life.

Now I wear his out of trend name. And that is more special to me than being called 
Susan or Michelle or Karen like most of the girls were when I was growing up. I carry his life spark and always have. I've lived for me and to some degree take steps in life he didn't. I am close to this young Uncle, although I never met him. 

Julie, names do matter a lot. We struggle with a language to describe the what and why we do our work. You are right to call us out on a clumsy start. Hebrew School, Complementary Eduction, Supplementary Education, New Models, Alternative Models, Sulam, Masa, Beit Midrash, Shorasheem, Every term seems to miss the mark and yet...

Is it the name that misses the mark --the trend--or what is associated with it?
I am going to suggest that what's most important: the name AND the images, spirit and RESULTS associated with the name. The accomplishments that go with the name are what make a Shem Tov.