By Olga Yorish
Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando 

Collaboration, cooperation, coordination and communication


As I am out in the community, a recurring theme that comes up in many meetings and conversations is a lack of a unified Jewish community. This problem has been articulated by community members, volunteers, rabbis, and communal professionals. There is also a feeling that this Jewish community used to be united years ago, but that somehow we’ve lost our way and have become polarized and divided. Some of the strife among agencies and synagogues is a symptom of the competition for limited financial and people resources. Some of it is a reflection of the general societal trends toward individualism and pursuit of self-interest. Whatever the reasons, most people agree that it is the Federation’s job to fix the problem.

I have always been a believer that the role of the Federation is to bring the community together, and if it is indeed polarized and divided, there is so much more for the Federation to do. In the past several months, we started taking steps to address the issue. As the first step, I have started meeting with agency executive directors. Our meetings are focused on issues of common interest. At each meeting, I seek input on how we can work together and how the Federation can be more helpful to the agencies. Recently, Federation Chairman of the Board Michael Soll and I met with a group of agency presidents and executive directors, and what we discovered is that the new generation of community leaders are ready and interested in moving forward and working together. We also met with a group of community religious leaders to seek their input and more active participation in community affairs. Again, we were very encouraged by their interest and desire to help the Federation bring the community together.

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing that collaboration has become the buzzword in the Jewish community. Some even call it the “next big Jewish idea!” Although it’s certainly not new, I am glad that people and organizations are beginning to see the advantages of sharing resources, eliminating duplication, learning from one another, and pooling assets.

Collaboration... cooperation... coordination... communication. We tend to use these words interchangeably; however, each term describes a distinct experience.

Communication is how persons or organizations understand each other and how information (facts, policies, etc.) is transferred. The lack of communication and miscommunication seem to be serious issues for our community, which we are trying to address by inter-agency meetings and conversations and increased media presence. One of the ideas that came out of the rabbis’ meeting was a Federation “corner” in synagogue bulletins. I think this idea would improve communication.

Coordination looks to inform different entities about how and when to act. Coordination ensures that disparate forces take each other’s actions into consideration. Federation’s community calendar is the best example of such coordination.

Cooperation describes how people or organizations perform together and meet mutual needs and requirements, while working on their own goals. There is much cooperation happening locally on the ground. Unfortunately, it’s often not well known. On Maitland campus, I see cooperation in action every day. The Jewish Academy of Orlando regularly uses the JCC’s Physical Education resources. The JAO and JCC’s Early Childhood Learning Center merge several times a year to hold joint Shabbat programs on Friday mornings. The Jewish Academy students visit seniors at Kinneret Senior Apartments, and Jewish Family Services helps to stock the Kinneret pantry. Kinneret and the Jewish Pavilion are co-funding the learning socialization group. Hillel at UCF has made its new state-of-the-aft facilities available to other communal organizations for meetings and functions. All these partnerships are building blocks for bigger and better things.

When collaborating, people and organizations work together on a single shared goal. Collaboration is about creation: two or more entities with complementary skills interacting to solve problems and create new products or events.

At the top of my mind, several issues are bubbling over awaiting new ideas and collaborations. As I have said many times, we do not do enough for our elderly. There is an opportunity for the Federation, working with the Jewish Family Services, the JCC, the Jewish Pavilion, and Kinneret Council on Aging, to design and implement a comprehensive program of serving the Jewish elderly.

Similarly, we as the Jewish community should do more for the Jewish education of our young, bringing together day and supplementary religious schools, synagogues, and Jewish pre-schools in our community.

Last summer, JFGO partnered with the JCC to bring two Israeli emissaries to Camp J. It is my dream and goal to bring a year-round Shaliach to Orlando. This project would be collaboration among all community organizations with the shared goal of bringing Israel to Orlando.

Next month, JFGO is launching RAISE, a collaborative project that connects our community agencies and constituents around a common goal of improving the lives of adults with special needs by providing them with part-time work opportunities.

I have always been a believer in and a practitioner of all the four Cs: communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration. The new economic realities dictate that we minimize duplication of services, pool resources, and work toward common goals. We have to talk and listen to each other in order to break institutional barriers. We have to look beyond the narrow institutional interests and toward the brighter future of the Jewish community.


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