Video and excerpts from Shawn Landres's remarks from the White House Faith-Based Social Innovators Conference – July 11, 2012
I am here because my personal and professional journeys as a human being and as a citizen are profoundly shaped by faith and covenant. Judaism stands for dignity, opportunity, freedom, and responsibility. It calls us to work for the healing of the wider world. The remarkable mosaic in this room attests that our values and visions are not unique but shared by many.
L-R: Salman Ravala (Dollar-a-Day Scholarship Fund), Heather Larson (Willow Creek Community Church), Shawn Landres, Sajan George (Matchbook Learning)
…For generations, the Jewish communal sector has been at the forefront of social innovation benefiting all Americans. … Over the past 15 years, however, an important shift has occurred. The primary engine for innovation no longer is found in centralized communal institutions working to meet collective Jewish needs. Today, that energy has shifted outward to independent grassroots initiatives, many of which seek to express Jewish values through service, education, and social & civic advocacy. Put another way, if 20th century institutions ensured that Jewish Americans are seen and served as equal citizens, then 21st-century innovators are demonstrating Judaism’s unique value propositions and contributions to our nation’s open, diverse, democratic society.
…None of our impact is attributable to ourselves alone. All of Jumpstart’s work is collaborative, with partners and networks that complement our strengths and extend our reach. Indeed, Jewish tradition obliges us to work for change that is beyond any one of us to achieve independently.
One of those innovative partnerships is with Community Partners, a nationally recognized fiscal sponsor, grantmaking intermediary, and civic catalyst. …[Our] Project Partnership connects faith-based and community organizations in ways that reflect the strength of each without duplication or encroachment.
That’s because faith-based need not mean faith-bound. And secular social enterprise need not isolate itself from faith-born creativity.
…Stephen Carter once observed that religion in the public square sometimes stops conversations when it should start them. But our values can and should help shape the common good. But our values can and should help shape the common good. Jumpstart’s leave policy supports natural and adoptive parents. It honors both the bereaved and those who care for mourners. Jumpstart’s non-discrimination policy includes all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. All for Jewish reasons.
…Today’s Summit is welcome recognition that there now are more creative, passionate, authentic, and compelling ways to connect faith & community to action in the world than at any other time in recent history. We merit recognition and respect, not only to be heard but also to have a say.
Together we can harness and sustain their energy to power the transformation of our communities, our nation, and our planet. If the momentum in this room is any indicator, we have an extraordinary future ahead.