Missed Opportunities for Jewish Life in Renewed Urban Neighborhoods


What if various larger Jewish nonprofits saw their role as focused not exclusively on funding existing operations through grants, but rather in investing wholesale in communal growth and creating the facilities and infrastructure to allow that to happen? [This essay is from Contact, a publication of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. Reprinted with permission.] By Steven I. Weiss One hundred years ago, Harlem was among the largest Jewish population centers on the planet. Some 175,000 Jews called Harlem their home, and synagogues, Jewish schools and communal organizations dotted the landscape. Several of New York’s most prominent congregations - such as Ansche Chesed and Ohab Zedek synagogues - were once located right in the heart of Harlem. Due to a range of economic and social … [Read more...]

First Ever Israel Experience Program for Teenagers from Interfaith Families Launches

The Big Tent Judaism/Interfaith Israel 2015 Summer Teen Fellowship is the first ever Israel experience for teenagers from interfaith families. The fellowship will launch June 29, 2015 through July 12, 2015 and will focus on exploring Israel through a multi-cultural and multi-faith lens. The 12-day educational adventure is designed to support teenagers from interfaith families as they navigate their unique religious identities. The Interfaith Israel Teen Fellowship will provide an immersive travel experience that allows teenagers to explore their complicated religious identities in an intellectually mature way and educates them about the multiple faith traditions. Significant scholarships are available to off-set the trip cost of $3,650. These scholarships are available for qualifying Fellows … [Read more...]

To Thrive, Day Schools Need to Make Parents Feel Heard

By Chavie N. Kahn Would you recommend us to a friend? Every business or nonprofit that pays attention to customer satisfaction would hope for an enthusiastic “yes,” and day schools should be no exception. The Jewish community needs day schools to thrive because research shows that day school graduates are more engaged in Jewish life and constitute a larger portion of communal leadership than people who did not attend day schools. And parent satisfaction is key to helping day schools thrive. Daniel Held’s study, “Learning From Parent Voices,” found that positive word-of-mouth communication by parents encourages enrollment more than the amount of tuition or the quality of the school facilities. Word-of-mouth recommendations, rather than advertisements, drive 75 percent of new admission … [Read more...]

Foundation for Jewish Camp Awarded New Grants for Day and Overnight Camping

URJ Six Points Sports Academy; courtesy URJ.

The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has received four new grants to pilot innovative programs supporting both overnight and day camps. Consistent with FJC’s new strategic plan, these four grants have been developed as scalable models that can be expanded as additional funding at the national and local levels becomes available. The first two grants will support overnight camps. New Camp Accelerator: Based on the continued success of FJC’s Specialty Camp Incubators, funded by The Jim Joseph and The AVI CHAI Foundations, FJC has created the “New Camp Accelerator”, designed to provide a platform and structure for the continued growth of the field. The Accelerator will fast-track the creation of new camps, encouraging and leveraging significant local investment with FJC’s well-honed consulting … [Read more...]

Hebrew Version of Peoplehood Education Toolkit Launched

Peoplehood Heb:Eng logo

In conjunction with the "Israelis and the Jewish People conference," to be held February 9th at Beit Hatefutsot, the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education launched a Hebrew version of the Jewish Peoplehood Educational Toolkit created in collaboration with the UJA-Federation of New York. The Toolkit can be viewed at jpeoplehood.org/he/toolkit/ or through the Center's website www.jpeoplehood.org … [Read more...]

Are Voluntary Dues Right for Your Synagogue? A Practical Guide

Many synagogues are struggling with their membership and dues models, but recently, a growing number of synagogues have started to try a new approach: the voluntary commitment model. In a nationwide study commissioned by UJA-Federation, they identified the 26 synagogues, as of September 2014, that have eliminated dues and are allowing members to make voluntary financial commitments. Researched by Beryl Chernov, Debbie Joseph, and Rabbi Dan Judson, the guide details why synagogue leaders moved to this model, how the adoption process worked, and data and case studies about how revenue, membership, and giving patterns have changed since the switch. The report is now available for download here. … [Read more...]

2nd UJA-Federation NY Beneficiary Agency Closing

A Crain's rendering of an image posted during Tuesday's storm on the Federation Employment and Guidance Service Inc.'s Twitter account.

According to Crain's New York, Federation Employment and Guidance Service (FEGS) is closing its doors due to a $19.4 million loss last year. FEGS Health & Human Services, established in 1934, is one of the largest health and human services organizations in the U.S. In partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, local and state governments, and others, FEGS serves more than 135,000 people each year. A $250 million agency,  FEGS provides job training, housing and home health care for the sick, disabled and elderly. Crain's reports, "The city is trying to find nonprofits willing to take over all 28 of its contracts with FEGS, according to sources. Meanwhile, the state had already started searching for nonprofits to absorb FEGS’ contract to provide services to the developmentally … [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...]