JANUARY 25, 2018 – Combined Jewish Philanthropies should be applauded for choosing Rabbi Marc Baker as its next president and chief executive officer. Baker is in a unique position to step in and run New England’s largest Jewish charity. As a native of Lynnfield, he has deep roots in the community; his late father, Steve Baker, was a president of the former Jewish Federation of the North Shore; he is a learned rabbi, a respected educator who led Gann Academy for 11 years; he’s a proven fundraiser. Most importantly, perhaps, he has deep ties to Greater Boston’s Jewish community and Israel.
Like other Jewish charities and institutions, CJP will face numerous obstacles in the coming years as it remains true to its mission of charity. As Jews have become more secular, most have moved away from joining traditional Jewish organizations. For decades, rising intermarriage rates, and a decline in affiliation with synagogues, JCC’s, and other institutions have helped erode much of the fabric of the Jewish community. In addition, a 2013 Pew Research Center report presented a scenario of the vanishing American Jew: 72 percent of non-Orthodox intermarry and just one in five of those couples raise their kids Jewish; 32 percent of Jewish-born millennials described themselves as having no religion.
CJP cannot be expected to solve all of these issues, but it can continue its mission to support Jews in need, Jewish education, Jewish institutions and Israel. In this time of great change in American Jewish demographics, CJP is needed more than ever. Let us support and congratulate Rabbi Baker, whose vision of Jewish charity, education and Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew), is needed more than ever.