The Mash Up: Moving Beyond the Legacy vs. Startup Bifurcation

moving beyond

by Maya Bernstein, David Bryfman, Leora Isaacs, Aliza Kline, Bill Robinson, Toby Rubin and Jonathan Woocher The 2012 General Assembly is already a few weeks behind us, but many of the pressing issues raised in Baltimore continue to vex the Jewish community. Yet we believe we made an important start in understanding some of the questions that have the potential to drive significant change across the landscape of Jewish organizational life. Over 120 people attended the session entitled “Legacy Versus Innovation: A False Dichotomy.” The interactive session presented multiple perspectives from the Jewish communal landscape. Three speakers from very different organizations - a start-up, a large federation, and a facilitator of nonprofit innovation and philanthropy - shared their experiences within the … [Read more...]

Things I Learned in Baltimore

by Andrés Spokoiny Until the JFNA General Assembly, earlier this month in Baltimore, I didn’t know that the famous Exodus ship, the one that brought the world’s attention to the plight of Jewish Holocaust Survivors trying to break the British blockade into the Land of Israel, was built in and fitted in the Baltimore shipyards. The crew was even partially composed of Baltimore Jews. But beyond that neat bit of trivia, I learned lots more in Baltimore - in particular some things that successful funders should be aware of: … [Read more...]

Sharansky Urges Soviet Jewry Freedom Movement’s Inclusion in Jewish Education

In a Jewish Federation GA conversation with Elie Wiesel, arguably the world’s best-known Holocaust survivor, Natan Sharansky - perhaps the best-known “refusenik” - laments what he perceives as lack of educational material being conveyed to youths on the success stories of their parents in the movement to free Soviet Jewry. … [Read more...]

The Federations’ GA: Through Israeli Eyes

by David Breakstone How many Jews does it take to change the world? At last count, somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000. That’s more or less the number of participants taking part in this year’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the annual premier communal event of Diaspora Jewry which opened this week in Baltimore with a plenary dedicated to no less ambitious a theme than “Changing the World.” Keynote speaker and GA scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, enthusiastically embraced the daunting challenge, referring to “tikkun olam as no less a religious practice than prayer.” The same sentiment was expressed by Jacqueline Levine, a veteran leader of the Jewish Federation of MetroWest, New Jersey. She animated those assembled with her inspiring reminiscence … [Read more...]

A Cheaper Judaism

desert island

by Daniel Libenson Wayne Gretzky, by most accounts the greatest hockey player who ever lived, famously explained his greatness by saying, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." As delegates gather this weekend for the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, I hope they are asking what it would mean to take Gretzky's advice seriously with regard to the economics of the Jewish future. … [Read more...]

Tips for Tackling the GA

Naomi Korb Weiss, co-Director of PresenTense Group, shares some suggestions for mastering the upcoming GA (or any other similar large multi-day conference): Networking sometimes gets a bad rap. Maybe the word is just getting cliched. But despite today’s digital accessibility there is simply nothing that replaces in-person relationship building. So if you’re planning to attend the GA, take advantage and meet whom you can. Take a look at the conference schedule in advance - and download the app for real-time schedule and speakers. Make note of those sessions and events you know you don’t want to miss. Feel free to follow in the neurotic footsteps of us at PresenTense - create a shared Google document with your colleagues (whoever they may be) and keep track of who’s going where. Divide and … [Read more...]

GA Curtain Raiser: Looking for Answers


The federations need a serious conference to tackle their challenges; will the GA be that conference? eJP will be asking the hard questions at the GA. First up, federations’ overseas giving: A look at the hard numbers reveals there has never been a better time to raise money for Israel outside the federations, or a worse time to depend on the federations’ overseas largesse. … [Read more...]