Knowing How to Say Goodbye: The Process of Letting Someone Go

you're fired

Terminating employees is a part of our professional lives in the Jewish community, and we should strive to handle what needs to be done in the most professional and sensitive manner. By Stephen G. Donshik There is no question that it is easier to hire someone than it is to fire someone. Similarly it is more comfortable to be hired than to be fired. However, the firing process is less painful and more responsive to the sensitivities of the laid-off individual if it follows principles of appropriate professional practice informed by Jewish ethics. In terms of Jewish ethics, denying someone employment is something that should be done only in the most extreme circumstances. However, a reality of our world is that sometimes people find themselves in the wrong job, one that is suited neither to … [Read more...]

The Limits of Multi-Tasking: Living and Working in the Present

Making a commitment to the here and now requires focused concentration and dedication to the human interaction going on in any activity - whether it is a class, a staff or board meeting, or a gathering of community leaders. By Stephen G. Donshik Most of us who work within the Jewish nonprofit sector find ourselves spending most of our professional careers multi-tasking. Often we juggle as many as ten different tasks at the same time. For example, we might be responsible for handling our own assignments, working with other staff on special projects, supervising staff members and/or student interns, working with volunteer leadership on board committees, and even reaching out to the community as a liaison with other agencies. If we have been able to be successful in working this way, we have … [Read more...]

Investing in Professional Development of Agency Staff Members


Assisting a staff member who wants to pursue further education and training is not only a benefit to the individual professional but also has added value for the nonprofit organization. By Stephen G. Donshik I often receive phone calls from professionals in the nonprofit sector who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees and applying to Hebrew University’s MA Program in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. I have been struck by how many of them tell me that their employers will neither provide any tuition assistance nor give them release time so they could earn a related advance degree. Let me tell you about a call I received just this week. It was from one of my colleagues who works for the Israel office of a major American Jewish institution of higher learning and wants to continue … [Read more...]

Knowing the Meaning of Community

Often we take the concept of Jewish community for granted and just assume that certain services and support systems will be in place when we need them. Last week, when I was sitting shiva for my mother, Pearl Donshik, z"l, I had the opportunity to learn about the real meaning of community. I would like to share a few recollections of the emotional rollercoaster that I experienced over the last week and how the supportive response of the people around my mother and me helped ease the pain and put me on the road to mending. About ten days ago, my mother fell out of bed around 3:00 AM, and I called the community’s emergency medical service. As I walked up to the front door of my mother’s apartment, the x-ray technician who works at the local medical clinic and is also a volunteer with Magen David … [Read more...]

Dotting the “I’s” and Crossing the “T’s” When You Are in Negotiation for Possible Employment

check box

Organizations that are hiring new staff need to be very careful about the circumstances under which the employment discussions and negotiations are taking place. Let me illustrate this with the recent experience of a colleague of mine, Bob, who had been offered a position by a known and established nonprofit organization that has an excellent reputation. He was shocked when the professional position he was offered was withdrawn because of what the organization referred to as a technical problem. Here is some background. Bob was contacted by a colleague who suggested he contact Gimmel (not the real name), an organization serving the elderly at risk, because it was looking for additional staff in its department of marketing and communications (M and C). Bob immediately called the contact person at … [Read more...]

Transitions Are Challenging To Senior Staff Members

Transitions are usually very anxiety producing both for the new person who is coming into the organization and also for the senior professional staff that has been employed by the nonprofit organization. Many articles focus on the impact on the CEO who is leaving the position and on the new CEO who is coming into the organization. However, the key senior professional staff that may have been employed by the organization for a long time are not the primary concern when there is a change in the top leadership of the agency. It is generally assumed that people who have been engaged in their work for a considerable amount of time will aclimate themselves to the new CEO and the CEO will be wise enough to bring the present staff along as the change in leadership takes place. The process of changing … [Read more...]

The Added Value Provided by Creating a Council of Community Nonprofit Organizations

round table discussion

In most Jewish communities in North America the Jewish Federation acts as a convener of local Jewish organizations. In Jewish communities outside of North America this role may be assumed by the recognized central institution in each community. In Israel it is not uncommon for a municipality to either establish or coordinate with a council of nonprofit organizations. In some communities those Jewish organizations joining together include the synagogues and educational institutions, and in others only those organizations that receive allocations from the umbrella organization come together. This seems like a relatively easy concept that might be colloquially referred to as a no brainer. However, when community politics are involved simple ideas and issues can become very complicated. Unfortunately … [Read more...]

Is the Choice Really One of Judaism or Democracy?

An old issue - how does Israel define itself - has now been resurrected and has come to the fore in the Knesset. Is Israel a Jewish state? Is it a democratic state? Is it a pluralistic state that represents the plurality of its citizens and, if so, should it make any pronouncements as to its ethnic, cultural, or religious identity? How is Judaism defined in the state? What role does Turkish law, HaMaharah, play in the modern Israeli society? These are all questions that are being debated in light of the Cabinet’s recent approval of the “Jewish state” bill and its consideration by the Knesset. To some people these questions may reflect an exercise in semantics, and their response may be, “This is such a waste of time.” Yet, what they should realize is that both the body - the political borders of … [Read more...]