It’s Not (Just) About the Numbers

By Rabbi Adam Greenwald and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson In our last piece in eJewishPhilanthropy we argued for the necessity of investing in conversion preparation programs as a response to our communal demographic crisis. We are a small - and as the studies all suggest - dwindling people and so it is a numerical imperative for our survival that we not only retain the Jews we already have, but open the doors to add in all those who are potentially interested to join our family. … [Read more...]

A Three-Pronged Approach to Boosting Day School Enrollment in a Low-to-Slow-Growth Market

3 prong approach

By Dr. Harry Bloom Jewish day school growth is getting harder and harder to come by these days. According to a 2006-2010 survey of 50 cross-denominational schools across nine communities, enrollment declined by 14% in non-Orthodox schools and was virtually nil in Modern and Centrist Orthodox schools. 2012 enrollment research by The AVI CHAI Foundation directionally supports these findings. In a low- or no-growth context, schools face an inexorable rise in costs-per-student despite attempts to hold down spending, which further pressure enrollment. In this environment, some innovative approaches are emerging as savvy Heads of School and Boards recognize that remaining passive in the face of these pressures will surely lead to decline. What are they doing? An increasing number of these schools … [Read more...]

Part Three, Sustaining Our Synagogues, Sustaining Ourselves

By Dr. Amy Alfred The final article in this series will focus on conflict resolution. It is truly a whole topic in and of itself, but it is worthwhile to look specifically at how different conflict styles will help you (or not!) with setting appropriate boundaries. Although many people are scared of fighting, resolving conflict successfully can actually bring people closer together. In addition, it is important to examine how different work cultures also impact various choices on how to set and maintain boundaries. What is standard or tolerated in one synagogue may not be accepted in another (for example, an executive director who chooses to turn off her/his cell phone on days off). We will start by discussing different styles of conflict resolution, followed by how each style can help or … [Read more...]

Southern Israel Comes Back to Life Thanks to the Jewish People

Children from southern Israel participate in a special summer camp run by The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror. Photo credit: Sarah Bronson for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

By Rany Trainin At the conclusion of Simchat Torah, I had the opportunity to experience a truly moving event. More than one thousand people spanning four generations, all of them members and residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the past and the present, gathered to celebrate the end of the kibbutz's sixtieth birthday year. As residents of the Gaza border region, the kibbutz members also took the opportunity to mark a return to normalcy after a turbulent and difficult summer. As Deputy Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel and a longtime resident of the region, I was overcome with emotion upon being asked to greet the gathering on behalf of the Jewish world. The event took place thanks to the support of The Jewish Agency and the entire Jewish people, whose contributions made the emotional and … [Read more...]

Leichtag Foundation Announces Winner of National Sukkah Design Competition

Sukkah competition 2014

San Diego, Calif., October 22, 2014 - The votes have been tallied and Sasha and Chris Varone of the North Park community of San Diego, Calif. are the winners of the Sukkot at the Ranch Design Competition, sponsored by the Leichtag Foundation. The Sukkah was chosen by the people’s choice in online and on site voting. The design competition invited members of the community to reimagine the ancient structure known as a sukkah, which has been built during the Jewish harvest of Sukkot since biblical times. The local husband and wife architecture team designed their modern interpretation of the sukkah using plywood. From their submission: “The seven sides of this Sukkah structure represent the seven days of the week and the seven year cycle. Once inside the Sukkah, one’s awareness of the outside world … [Read more...]

Moscow’s Nikitskaya JCC Renamed In Honor of Ralph I. Goldman

Moscow JDC_Ralph

October 22, 2014 - One of Moscow's largest Jewish community centers, the Nikitskaya, was renamed today in honor of Ralph I. Goldman, one of the Jewish world's most accomplished leaders who died, at 100, in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The institution - which opened in 2001 with support from the the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and caters to hundreds of members of the Russian capital's bustling Jewish community each month - was rededicated as the Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center in a ceremony on October 22. The Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center, located in a 19th century mansion in the center of Moscow, offers a wide array of activities to local Jews of all ages. One of its keystone programs is Tapuz nursery and pre-school, consistently ranked … [Read more...]

On Community Building: What Can Be Learned from the Hong Kong Protests

copyright Erica Lyons

By Erica Lyons In the Jewish communal world, we spend a great deal of time analysing community. We engage in community building workshops and we attend conferences designed to build community. We speak broadly of the Jewish community and we allocate generous periods of time dedicated to how we can expand our definition of community and make our communities more inclusive, more pluralistic. I have spent a considerable part of the past three weeks, chagim aside, observing students of Hong Kong engaged in protests. As I walk the streets and watch their actions, I am certain that I must have run into them somewhere - ROI? WJC? AJC? Somewhere else on the Jewish conference circuit? And though it is highly doubtful that they have been to one of these conferences (or that they are able to … [Read more...]