And Jewish Nonprofits Rested, And It Was Good

By Rachel Cyrulnik The US Travel Association recently released a study that found Americans are taking fewer vacation days today than they did at any other time in the last forty years. Employees’ efforts to please their employers - or at least not to rock the boat - make an obvious statement about the increasing demands in today’s office culture for workers to go above and beyond the expectations set by the official policies of America’s places of employment. … [Read more...]

This Hanukkah a Synagogue (Re)Dedication


By Rabbi Ben Greenberg and Andi Rosenthal In the long, holiday-free stretch between the end of the High Holidays and Hanukkah, it is easy to lose sight of one's sense of purpose in the Jewish world. The commitment and inspiration of the New Year and the Day of Atonement fade with the transition of days from the high and holy to the typical and ordinary. … [Read more...]

Women’s Philanthropy – Change Is In the Air

By Phyllis Teicher Goldman and Nancy Schwartz Sternoff We read with great interest the re-printed piece by Susan Weidman Schneider that appeared in Lilith in 1993; we have applauded Susan for many years for her outspoken and determined advocacy for Jewish women. Yes, the Jewish community is still plagued by structural inadequacy, the “Male Model” described by Susan, that inhibits both women’s giving and women’s leadership. The recent 2014 CEO salary survey issued by Jane Eisner of The Forward attests to egregious gaps in leadership roles and compensation by gender. However, there have been significant advances that we hope Lilith will examine and publicize. The most promising shift has been promulgated by the proliferation of Jewish women’s funds and foundations across the spectrum of … [Read more...]

The Jewish Federation System: A Conversation for the Future

By Denis Braham and Lee Wunsch For more than 100 years, the Jewish Federations have been at the epicenter of the most significant events in the modern history of the Jewish people. From the birth and nascent years of the State of Israel through the liberation of Soviet and Ethiopian Jewry, the Jewish Federations represented and embodied the spirit of K’lal Yisrael and Am Echad. Through the force of their leadership and philanthropic prowess, this national collective of North American Jewish communities propelled American Jews forward. The golden years of the Jewish Federation system were an inspirational and visionary era led by individuals whose lives were shaped by the Six Day War and many transformational Jewish events of the last fifty years. Jewish Federations embodied the very spirit of … [Read more...]

Dispatch from Odessa: Winter is Coming

photo courtesy JDC (Odessa, December 2014)

By Gil Shefler Every Chanukah for the past two decades, a giant menorah has lit up the central square of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, bringing a little festive cheer to Jewish and non-Jewish locals during the long winter nights. But this year’s holiday season may be a bit dimmer. Ukraine’s ongoing crisis has made the price of food, medicine, and utilities sky high while the conflict in the east has displaced large and growing numbers of people. With planned power outages and the mandated lowering of thermostats to a frosty 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the coming winter is bound to be one of the harshest in living memory for all Ukrainians, including hundreds of thousands of Jews. I caught a glimpse of these challenging times when I visited Odessa - Ukraine’s third-largest city - with my … [Read more...]

Rabbinical Schools Need Money to Breed and Teach Entrepreneurial Leadership

By Rafi Cohen I enjoyed and appreciate reading “Can Rabbinical Schools Teach Entrepreneurial Leadership?” by Rabbi Hayim Herring. I also read the responses written by Rabbis Jason Miller and Danny Nevins. Somewhere at the beginning of my training in the rabbinical program at JTS I heard the saying, “the role of the rabbi is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” The saying is likely familiar to many of us in the clergy and I think about this both in terms of my role (former role) as a congregational rabbi and with regard to both innovation and entrepreneurship. I’ll leave the first part of the statement alone because I think it’s one hundred percent correct. The second part is more challengeable because there are degrees to which we are both trained and capable of afflicting … [Read more...]

A Great Way to Kindle Jewish Continuity

Birthright NEXT Shabbat dinner in Washington, DC.

The best way to jump start Jewish life in non-Orthodox Jewish communities would be for the non-Orthodox movements to reclaim Friday Night Shabbat Dinners. By Dave Neil In their insightful article “The Pew Survey Reanalyzed: More Bad News, but a Glimmer of Hope," Steven M. Cohen and Jack Wertheimer point out how the future for non-Orthodox American Jewry is very much in peril. In light of that fact I would like to make a suggestion. Since according to current population projections, the Orthodox Jews who are keeping Shabbat are doubling in number every generation, and the non-Orthodox Jews who are mostly not keeping Shabbat are seeing their numbers cut in half every generation, it behooves the non-Orthodox movements to make a national effort to promote the observance of 'Friday night … [Read more...]

W(H)ither the Jewish Federation

The data are in and the results are clear: Jewish day schools make a difference. By Barbara Davis Smellovision and Odorama didn’t do it; 3D and 4DX aren’t doing it. The great movie-going demographic just isn’t going to the multiplex like they used to. Books are no longer printed; ebooks are replacing them. Drone cameras capture your most precious moments from marriage proposals to births, and perhaps other moments that you don’t want immortalized. Cars drive themselves and Siri will fly your plane. Why would we expect Jewish organizations to be exempt from these radical changes? The Jewish Federation movement is a product of a time and place that no longer exists. So what is its role in the present and the future? Historian Edward Shapiro identified two broad themes in the history of … [Read more...]