The Best of The Year: 2013

Top 10 articlesIn case you missed any, here – based on site analytics, and in alphabetical order – are our Top Ten posts from 2013:

40 Plus and Screwed: More on Less Young Adult Engagement
by Michal Kohane

Building a sustainable community can’t be just about paying for buses full of young people in hopes they will make Jewish babies.

Eight Giving Rituals for Your Family: Making the Most of Thanksgivukkah
by Stefanie Zelkind

Here are eight suggestions of how to use Thanksgivukkah as a launch pad for learning, giving, and values-based family activities.

From Pew Will Come Forth Torah
by Arthur Green

Judaism is in trouble in America. Almost a third of young Jewish adults consider themselves to be people of no religion. Yes, they still identify as Jews, even expressing some pride in that heritage. But they call themselves non-believers or secularists, Jews by descent or identification, but not by faith.

Introducing the Slingshot Class of 2013-2014

Among the hundreds of organizations that applied for inclusion 50 were selected, along with 17 “standard bearers” – organizations included year after year as models in innovation.

Pew Survey Examines Changing American Jewish Identity

The Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project has published the findings of a comprehensive survey that examines changing Jewish Identity in the U.S.

The $54,000 Strategy: A Bold Solution to Undervaluing our Jewish Professionals
by Mark S. Young

What if entry-level Jewish communal professionals earned $54,000 plus attractive health benefits, and received effective managerial guidance and visible opportunities for career growth? What if starting middle managers earned $108,000, plus meaningful opportunities to improve their professional, managerial, and leadership skill sets? What if?

The Cost of Criticism
by Dan Brown

A professional at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco is terminated for publishing an article.

U.S. Jewish Giving: Who is Giving What to Whom

Today, Jewish community leaders face a strategic crossroads as a new generation of young adults emerges in an America – and a world – that is fundamentally different from what previous generations faced.

U.S. Jewish Population Substantially Larger Than Previously Estimated

The Steinhardt Social Reseach Institute and Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University have released new estimates of the American Jewish population.

What One Chabad Rabbi Can Teach Synagogues About Money
by Dan Judson

Rabbi Peretz Chein, the Chabad Rabbi at Brandeis University, is doing something completely unusual for a Jewish religious organization when it comes to money: he is completely transparent about it.

Honorable Mention

What eJP found particularly noteworthy is that four of the posts in positions 11-15 dealt with the same theme, synagogue finances. Coupled with one post above, it is apparent that the cost of being Jewish in America is a hot topic with our reader community:

Can Synagogues Live By Dues Alone?
by Barry Mael

Across the synagogue world there is one topic high on every board and staff agenda: financial sustainability.

Dues Are Not The Sole Stumbling Block for Young Families
by Mitchell Shames

In this season of t’shuvah, rather than simply bemoaning the cost of synagogue membership let’s turn to the more pressing question: are our synagogues engaging vibrant communities?

From Purchase to Partnership: Removing the Price-Tag from Synagogue Membership
by Michael Wasserman

In the American synagogue, dissatisfaction with the standard dues-for-membership financial model is growing more widespread.

Scrapping Synagogue Dues: A Case Study

For three years running, this case study [by Dan Judson] on how one synagogue altered their dues system and found more money, more members and more harmony remains one of our most well read posts.

Print Friendly
Pin It
Send to Kindle


  1. says

    Thanks for this terrific list – could not help but notice that of the 10 pieces only one was written by a woman journalist 1/9……maybe we should do better in 2014 on the side of gender parity in Jewish journalism?
    Best wishes and continuation of your stellar work!

  2. says

    Let’s count our blessing for Michal Kohane and Stephanie Zelkind..the top two pieces read on ejewishphilanthropy were women’s voices. Notably the next 8 in line were the views of men.
    This disparity coupled with the list of top paid Jewish professionals recently published that included only a few women are stark reminders of the Jewish professional glass ceiling. What gets in the way of that ceiling being broken? What would it take for 2014’s list of most often read and highly paid professionals to better represent the number of women in the field?

  3. says

    While the disparity across gender with respect to salary is concerning and evidence of a still existing glass ceiling that we must work to break permanently, it is not clear how a disparity across gender with respect to most read submissions is further evidence of that same glass ceiling, particularly when the top two entries point otherwise.

    To investigate that further, it would be interesting to know the gender comparisons for the following:
    a) numbers of readers
    b) numbers of submissions
    c) numbers of published
    d) numbers of those make the decisions whether to publish or not

    I can only speak for myself, but my selections of what I have chosen to read or not has everything to do with with the title and short description of the piece and how that fits with my interests. In all cases, I have never paid any attention to the name or gender of the author.

  4. says

    I appreciate your thoughtful response. It would be interesting to see what we could learn from more careful analytics.

    Perhaps in the future, you may be aware of gender and see what is revealed. Often a sensitivity to disparity will open new way of seeing the world.

  5. says

    Interesting perspective. Do you think it shows an insensitivity concerning gender disparity to not first know the author’s gender before one chooses to read her or his piece? And if so why?

    I share your interest in more careful analysis and wonder what it takes to move from an interest to actually have that happen.

  6. says

    This is a conversation better had over coffee. I’d be happy to meet.
    I am pondering:
    When one voice becomes the majority (men) despite being the minority participant in a field (Jewish communal life) is it because that voice is better ..or are there are other forces afoot?

  7. JP says

    Perhaps I misunderstood, but there was no indication (that I saw) that the minority participant had become the majority voice. As I understood it, two of the top ten were from the majority and eight were not. It is not clear where those two fall in the top ten since the list is reportedly in alphabetical order. Nor is it clear whether or not more people read submissions (in totality) by the majority or by the minority. I suspect very little can be gleaned from the simple listing of 10 popular submissions with respect to gender bias. It would never have occurred to me to think that one voice was quantifiably better than the other. I just don’t look at gender that way. However, while I would not assume there are other “forces” at work, I would concede without hesitation that it is quite possible given the biases that still exist. Hopefully, someone who has access to the underlying data will look at the metrics such as those previously proposed so as to quantifiably measure the merits of claims of bias and more importantly come up with steps to counter it.

  8. JP says

    Just a quick question … five of those listed do not even show a specific author so how does one know the gender?

  9. says

    A few points:

    1. Where no author is identified, the article was most likely written in-house by eJP staff and was not the type where a byline would be appropriate (i.e. the information was sourced from a press release or was complied from various media sources).

    2. While we do not track our newsletter subscribers, article views, or Website visitors, by gender it is assumed by many that females comprise over 50% of the employee base in the Jewish world (non-withstanding their dismal presence in the CEO suite). Those responding to eJP‘s newsletter subscriber surveys have been 3:1 female. However, it would be a mistake to assume the gender mix of readers on any particular article or the Website overall.

    3. eJP does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, sex, race/ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression in hiring decisions (staff or freelance) or in determining the publishing suitability of any proposed op-ed.

  10. says

    Thanks for the clarifications.
    So from your comments
    #1 We have 2 female, 4 male and 4 unassigned for the top ten (not as lopsided as 1 or 2 out of 10)
    #2 Not much more analysis based on gender seems possible/likely
    #3 There is the expected policy of non-discrimination (but of course one could always ask does reality reflect policy)
    Thanks again.

  11. says

    Take a look at recommendations for books to be read by leaders in the Jewish community on your website. Look again through the gender lens. Do you notice a trend?

  12. says

    Hopefully, most people would not refute the evidence that much (gender and other) bias still exists today. And hopefully we will all continue to work toward eliminating those biases. However, while the existence of bias in one place does not automatically mean the existence of bias in every place, it probably does indicate an increased likelihood of it. I still do not see how the top ten read list where 2 were written by females and 4 were written by males (and 4 unknown), indicates bias and if it were to indicate bias it is not clear where that bias is located (authors, publishers, readers). That being said, I still think it is worth doing the appropriate analysis to investigate so that assumptions and conjecture can be bolstered by quantitative evidence.

    As per the separate (but related) track as to gender bias in the recommendations for books to be read, any bias could be found in a number of places (pool of authors, pool of books and pool of those making recommendations). A topic worthy of further analysis, discussion, and action to be sure. What were your top ten recommendation?

  13. says

    I genuine appreciate the conversation.
    This counting of top tens has been a reminder to me of the biases that I sometimes grow to believe no longer exist. So it is stirring my imagination and commitments. What is in my power to do in the coming year? I’m not sure yet but hope I can turn words into action.

    In the meanwhile: I recommend to all educators Rachel Kessler’s book, The Soul Of Education. It is map to engage the inner voice of learners. It is a guide for hearing the precious inner voice that can so easily get lost when we are only watching activities. And right now I’m reading an updated version of Tupper Cawsey, Gene Deszca and Cynthia Ingols book Organizational Change-An Action Oriented Toolkit which is a good guide if you want to do the change we all are seeking.