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

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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...]

Is Sderot Blossoming into the Fashion Capital of Israel?

Sabina Stermklar-Davis (sixth from the left) with Sderot?s budding ?fashionistas.?

Sderot, Israel, Dec. 27 - Never mind Tel Aviv - is Sderot the next fashion capital of Israel? At least hundreds of people from southern Israel and beyond think so, after they attended a very different kind of fashion show in Sderot last Thursday night. The show highlighted the creations of a growing number of girls in Sderot who share the same dream - to become the next big thing in Israeli haute couture. About 45 of these budding "fashionistas" have actually been gathering in Sderot's community center to learn their craft for more than a year now, thanks to a new initiative by Sabina Sternklar-Davis of New York, who decided a year ago to donate her Bat Mitzvah money - 40,000 shekels - to establish a new fashion design class for girls her age in Sderot. The inspiration came from a similar … [Read more...]

Lighting and Sharing the Light: A Question of ROI

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By Maya Bernstein and Bryna Leider The Talmud in Shabbat 22b recounts a debate about the core mitzvah of Chanukah: Is the mitzvah lighting the candles (hadlaka), or is the mitzvah placing them (hanacha) where they can be widely seen? On the one hand, the entire purpose of lighting the Chanukiah is the lighting itself - illuminating the darkness, bringing that flickering light into being. On the other, if the light is hidden away, if it is not shared, what is actually being accomplished? … [Read more...]

COJECO Announces Inaugural Keystone Fellowship Participants

COJECO has announced the inaugural 18-person cohort of the COJECO Keystone Fellowship, a visionary effort to cultivate and nurture distinguished lay leaders committed to shaping the Jewish future and strengthening their nominating organizations. Sponsored by the UJA-Federation of NY, the Keystone Fellowship is a unique partnership between COJECO, the central coordinating body of the Russian-speaking Jewish community of NY, and NYU Wagner School of Public Service. The curriculum will weave the practical skills of institutional governance and fiduciary responsibilities with the most current and dynamic models of Jewish and leadership learning. Participants will explore their own identity and relationship to the larger Jewish community; learn the foundations of governance with the leading academics; … [Read more...]

UJA-Federation of New York Challenging Jewish Teens to Slam Poverty

photo courtesy UJAFed-NY

On November 16th, more than 100 of New York’s most ambitious Jewish teens participated in PovertySLAM - UJA-Federation’s first-ever event for teens focused on poverty. An interactive, hands-on summit and grant competition, the event launched a one-month grant competition for teen participants who will develop and present innovative ideas on how to slam poverty in the New York Jewish community. Winners will be announced at the end of January, and UJA-Federation will award a combined $25,000 in prizes to help those entering transform their ideas into action during the spring of 2015. First place will receive $5,000, three runner-ups will each be presented with $3,000 and all substantial submissions will receive funding. The summit featured presentations from David Eisner, President and CEO of … [Read more...]

It’s Time to Talk about Leadership

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By Jina Davidovich We’ve all seen articles and had conversations about the leadership challenges of the Jewish not-for-profit sector. Yet, despite the prominence of this topic, few opportunities have been provided to ignite a conversation about what the future of the Jewish community requires of its institutions and professionals. Often silo-ed in their own fields, leaders of these organizations seldom have the opportunity to sit together, or with professionals at various levels, to meaningfully explore the critical issues facing the Jewish communal world and discuss their visions for the Jewish future. There is also limited room for this type of strategic thinking with lay leadership, who are significant stakeholders and partners in this enterprise, and who need to play a role in shaping the … [Read more...]