C h a n g e o v e r 2 0 1 6
The President's Vision for 2016-2017
Friends Romans Countrymen – lend me your ear…
(I did not come to bury …nor to praise anyone).
As I am the only matter that stands between you and our dessert – I won’t make it long…
Looking ahead to the coming years, Rotarians’
around the world are concerned with the future of
our glorious international organization in view of
this fast changing era.
Paul Harris and his business associates in Chicago of 1905, aimed to form an organization "in fellowship and friendship" for local professionals. They had no access to the modern technology of communication prevalent today. They had neither computers, nor Internet and couldn’t dream of the promise/perils of Facebook, Twitter and the likes. They formed a Gentlemen’s Club (which took long to offer equal rights and acceptance to the ladies…).
Over 100 years of cultural and demographic changes as well as modern communications that followed – have caused substantial changes in the way people socialize let alone communicate. I trust that it may be easy to establish that many if not most people spend more time facing the screen of their computers, I-phones, I-pads and the likes than facing each other.
However, while contemporary technology has facilitated communication among individuals, offering new media of spreading views and messages in the public domain, it has also unfortunately provided very efficient tools to spread animosity, hatred, incitement and dehumanization of the “others” resulting in xenophobia and agitated nationalism in various parts of our world. Recent events in Europe and the US -let alone the Middle East-, bear witness to that process.
Zooming in on the future of our own club, we seem to be a dying breed. Are we a bunch of pleasant members who manage to hang on to their “fellowship and friendship”, while the professional element has been mostly replaced by retirement? It is indeed a warm and friendly meeting place which finds itself in perpetual competition with alternative meeting places such as the local Matnas, religious and cultural communities and the likes.
However, I believe that the essence of Rotary, as a global humanitarian organization, epitomized in its annual themes such as “Service above Self”, “Rotary Serving Humanity” etc., should play a more distinguished role in the life of our club for more reasons than one.
The majority of our membership consists of individuals who have reached the stage in their lives where one is ready and able to give back to the community rather than be on the taking end. This is perhaps one of the most gratifying periods in a person’s life. Furthermore, if we are looking to establish a future and a lifeline to our club, attracting a younger membership to join us, we need to be realistic and ask ourselves what attractions there are to further “fellowship and friendship”, which most younger and middle-aged individuals mostly have already attained elsewhere.
The way I see it, our attraction to this group of candidates lies in our being part of an international NGO with 1,350,000 members and
34,000 clubs around the world. A fact which renders itself to sharing international interests and projects whether here or abroad.
Furthermore, meaningful projects - either initiated by us or by those with whom we join, local or international partners - are key attractions that offer a “raison d’etre” to our club membership and to such new candidates. Rotary offers its members a phenomenal platform to challenge their social and entrepreneurial skills in the service of communities at large.
The laurels of past worthwhile projects, crowned by our long-standing scholarship initiative, may decorate our public relations campaign but is not enough. This year we are about to embark on one of the largest and most ambitious social projects ever undertaken by this club, our Rotary Peace Education Initiative. It is a project that aims to inspire dialogue, tolerance and hope among Jewish and Arab Israeli youth; an initiative to develop a youth leadership team that shall contribute towards advancement of peace and the development of a joint society.
I am very proud and grateful to you my fellow Rotarians, club members, for having joined me and our international partners, including six District Governors from Australia, the US and Germany, on this trip, supporting it whole heartedly (and financially). I would also like to acknowledge the extraordinary patience and dedication of our two lawyer friends Dick Fine and Nezar Tannous, who have fought an uphill battle attempting to open a local bank account. (It seems rather easier to raise over $100,000 for our project on three continents than to open an account that will receive this money).
I trust that we in the coming year will be willing and able to initiate and share in additional meaningful projects, both locally and internationally and I expect our Community Service Committee headed by our tireless and determined Ruth Harris to lead us there.
And now I look forward to an exciting Rotary year, one that shall incorporate achievements, fellowship, friendship and fun.
Thank you for your trust.
Jerusalem Rotary Club