After 23 years, we have spent a lot of time of late thinking about the name of our organization. Perhaps it is the end of the secular year that is motivating the discussion—a time for review. Or maybe it is the recent in-depth discussions with regard to a new strategic plan that will take JOI into the next five or ten years, and most certainly create a new iteration of our work that will help us grow and nurture a more inclusive Jewish community.
Last week, I noticed that we had been called JOI—the Jewish Outreach Initiative—by someone who was reporting on our work. It got me to thinking. The original name chosen by our founders really referred to the fact that JOI was a research institute housed in a university (City University’s Graduate Center). And research continues to be a significant part of our work. But it is not all that we do. We offer direct programs and services such as our signature Mothers Circle program. And our training initiative such as our recent webinar series and upcoming conference reach a lot of people. Moreover, our advocacy platform called Big Tent Judaism has nearly 450 organizational/institutional members. It is clear that we do initiate a lot of new things. So maybe such a name makes sense.
So I am asking you, our blog readers, our supporters. Should we change our name or keep it as JOI (which some people pronounce as JOY) irrespective of the growth and evolution of our mission?