Exciting Changes to the Givat Shmuel Community

The strong Anglo community in Givat Shmuel is one of the main reasons people choose to study in Bar-Ilan, raise their family in the area, and even opt to commute to their jobs or classes in other cities. In the last five years alone, the community has grown from 250 people to over 700 – married couples, young professionals, students from IDC, Tel Aviv Uni, Ariel, and more.

However, as great as this news sounds, it is no secret that we have experienced growing pains as a result: schisms and even animosity between various groups, the alienation of community members due to the strict requirements of organizations we inadvertently became dependent on, and top-down, narrow-minded programming that was unable to cater to the many diverse people who call Givat Shmuel their home. No longer can we rely solely on the charismatic few – the David Leitners, the Shira Woolfs and Aylana Mandels, the Rachel Sarafrazes, Shev Zacks, and Ezra Javaskys – to carry us on their shoulders. To ensure our community’s survival and success, we need to start taking care of our community ourselves.

With this in mind, we have laid out a plan to help rebuild our great(er) community – a cohesive community, where the needs of each and every group get equal resources and representation, and where everyone can keep up with what goes on in Givat Shmuel and get involved with whatever they wish. The first stage is as follows:

Communication

In a cohesive community, members can easily communicate with each other, get access to the communal resources and the support they need, and be kept up to date with what is happening in Givat Shmuel. In effect.

  • We will create a website (https://thegsc.co.il – under construction) with up-to-date resources, an event calendar and more. Similarly, a Facebook Page (http://facebook.com/thegscommunity) will be used to post real-time community announcements.
  • We will streamline online community groups. The multiple official Facebook groups will be phased out and migrated over to Camp Bar Ilan and Sam’s Hill Anglos. Additionally Biushiur will slowly be migrated to Facebook, with detailed instructions to members on how to configure mail settings to duplicate the functionality of the Yahoo! group. Note: We will obviously not be shuttering any personal special interest groups (eg. Women of CBI, IDC Givat Shmuel, etc.), only official mediums that serve duplicate populations, and only in an effort to make community-wide communication easier.
  • We will create an opt-in email newsletter with an aggregation of upcoming events, news announcements, popular discussions, and the like, from the entire community.
  • We will rebrand. No longer is the community solely for Bar-Ilan students, and regardless of the many free resources the university offers, we will rebrand as The GSC – Givat Shmuel Community, in an effort to keep from alienating all other community members. BIU students are still invited to all events, and will always be a major focus of the community, but so will be IDC students and those from other universities, young professionals, the many different married couples, etc.

Structure

In a functional community, different interest groups are enabled to cater to their own needs, while working together and getting support and resources from other specific groups and the greater community. To this effect:

  • We will be creating several activity ‘committees’ – task-groups formed around several broad focuses. They are the
    • Welcoming Committee: In charge of outreach to new community members, and facilitating overall cohesive community.
    • Torah Committee: Responsible for facilitating religious-oriented growth in the community.
    • Chesed Committee: In charge of creating and promoting volunteering opportunities in the community.
    • Shabbat Committee: Responsible for maintain an active community lifestyle on the weekends and holidays.
    • Social Committee: In charge of planning and executing all social and cultural events in the community.

Individuals will be able to join the committees they are passionate about and help create the events and develop the resources they feel are needed.

In addition, there will be a Development Board, focused on long-term communal growth and helping develop specific communal initiatives, a Treasury Committee, dedicated to managing financial resources for the community and finding new sources of funding, and a Communication Team, in charge of disseminating important information to the community as a whole.

Representatives from each committee will meet when necessary, to ensure cooperation on joint events and the reaching of long-term community-wide goals.

Funding

Strong communities are self-sustaining and not dependent on any specific external organization for their survival.

To this effect we are happy to announce that we will be cooperating with Nefesh B’Nefesh to help institute a majority of the aforementioned changes. NBN has offered access to their organization resources (and even some funding) to allow us to maintain our independence and convert some of our more restrictive partnerships (eg. Agudat Hastudentim, Bar-Ilan University, Minhal Hastudentim) into pure funding sources, during this transitional period.

We will also (via the Treasury Committee, above) be actively developing other organization and philanthropic sponsorships, to further ensure our community’s growth is not subject to the limiting mission statements of various external organizations.

What’s Next?

In order for this endeavor and our community as a whole to be successful, we need the feedback and support of everyone in the Givat Shmuel Community. Contact us with your thoughts and reservations, join a committee and help create a new community initiative, participate in the upcoming events, and volunteer to help build our website, write a communal grant proposal, edit Chadashim news articles, etc.

It takes community to build community, and we need your help and participation if we are going to save and strengthen ours.

Sincerely,
Dovid Levine