Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why am I in Argentina?

I’m here in Buenos Aires, staffing a JDC Strategic Partnerships Mission with a small group of dedicated and inquisitive JDC supporters and philanthropists. 
I’ll write some mission notes up over the next few days, but I wanted to write down at least a few introductory thoughts ….

I wanted to bring a mission down here because, for me at least, Argentina is a microcosm of the Jewish world and the work we do. Our values of community empowerment, mutual responsibility, repairing the world … all are at play here and reflect our ongoing commitment. And the vitality and resilience of this community are amazing qualities to see and absorb.

What I found fascinating so far is that our definition of community here rests on a unique blend that takes into account both individuals and institutions. And here in Argentina, the institutions have always been the backbone and strength of the community. 

And then you think about the 2001 economic collapse, as a result of which the Joint scaled up its programs to provide employment programs, welfare programs and community renewal.

When you think about how quickly the Joint had to turn on a dime in late 2001 here, there's another message too. JDC’s total Latin America staff went from 12 to 150, and the budget grew from $100,000 fiftyfold as a result of the massive economic collapse! What it means is – I think – when we’re called upon to serve, we need to answer the call. And when the work is done, we can phase down, and empower local partners to step back up again.

All of this is happening here in Argentina. So I’m privileged to be staffing this mission. 

Incriminating photos of tango dancing, wonderful hospitality and more may yet be forthcoming …

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