“Our mission in Federation is to produce philanthropy and build a thriving Jewish community,” says Rabbi Ari Witkin (he/him), Director of Leadership Development with Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. “I think if you ask any American Jew in 2022 ‘what’s the quintessential part of their identity as a Jew?’, they will give you an answer that includes service. And I think the Repair the World partnership gives us the ability to help people put those values into action in very tangible ways.”
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit works to take care of those in need and to build a vibrant Jewish future in Detroit, Israel, and for Jews around the world. Ari explains, “We’re here for our collective Jewish family, including many individuals we will never meet. And thanks to the generosity and commitment of our Detroit community, we’re here for good.”
Ari says that Repair the World plays a “unique role” in providing opportunities for members of the Jewish community in Metro Detroit to make a meaningful impact in their neighborhood and the broader community. Among the many examples of the impact of this partnership on the Detroit Jewish community, one, in particular, in particular stands out to Ari.
“Federation and Repair worked together to implement a racial justice training for white identifying Jewish professionals—and Repair was really the driving force behind it,” Ari explains. “I’m grateful for the graciousness and urgency with which Repair the World pushed our organization to think about the importance of addressing how racism shows up in our community. Because of this, we’re now creating a pipeline for our professional leadership to ensure that they can help to make organizations and communities more welcoming and inclusive.”
As Repair and Federation work together locally, Ari also sees how Repair works nationally to serve to meet pressing needs in support of social change, which he thinks can undo structures and systems of oppression that are built into the DNA of every organization and institution in America. He adds, “Repair the World reminds me that service should be a given; it should be an inherent part of what it means to be Jewish.”
On a more individual level, Ari has also watched relationships grow, change, and strengthen through acts of service. Intensive physical or group service experiences create a special type of bond. People serve together and, in the context of the partnership between Federation and Repair, build deeper relationships among themselves and deeper relationships with Federation.
“The relationship development is incredibly important and valuable to Federation as a convener of community,” Ari says. “I’m grateful that there’s an organization in our community and a partner for us that solidifies that and provides us the opportunities to serve so meaningfully.”
Rabbi Ari Witkin is the director of leadership development at the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. A graduate of Goucher College, Ari also holds a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, and rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Raised in Minneapolis, he has lived and worked in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Uganda and Jerusalem. At Federation, Ari combines his love of Jewish tradition and community. He is passionate about building diverse leadership pipelines that represent the full spectrum of Jewish life. The great joy of his job is supporting Metro Detroiters leadership in the work of building and strengthening our community. In addition to his role at Federation, he currently serves as the part-time rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Bay City. He and his wife, Liz Traison, live in Huntington Woods with their son Hadar and three backyard chickens.
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit is here for our Jewish community. For those who need housing and food. For those who need mental health and job support. For older people. For younger people. For safety, socializing and so much more. We’re here to take care of those in need and to build a vibrant Jewish future in Detroit, Israel and for Jews around the world. We’re here for our collective Jewish family, including many individuals we will never meet. And thanks to the generosity and commitment of our Detroit community, we’re Here for Good.