JCC Head: “We need to change the rules of engagement”

Ruth Eglash in The Jerusalem Post:

JCC president: Diaspora groups must reform to weather storm

The organized Jewish community in the Diaspora must make critical structural changes in order to make it through the current economic crisis, Allan Finkelstein, president of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, told The Jerusalem Post

Finkelstein presented his blueprint for the organized Jewish world Wednesday at the Global Conference of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers taking place in Israel. He warned that 2010 would be a tougher year financially for the organized Jewish world than 2009, but said that the new reality engendered by the economic crisis would hopefully be a better one.

Among the suggestions made by Finkelstein, who will also present his ideas Sunday at the United Jewish Communities’ (UJC) annual General Assembly in Washington, are for Jewish institutions to pool resources and streamline their services, as well as to rethink the current organizational norms that dominate the Jewish world.

“During the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, the Jewish community was focused on building institutions and placed less emphasis on building communities,” stated Finkelstein. “We did nothing to sustain those institutions except to rely on [financial support from] the Federation system. When the economic crisis hit, people suddenly realized they could no longer maintain what they had created.

“We need to change the rules of engagement. I think the Jewish community, particularly in North America, has operated under certain unwritten rules that are no longer relevant or that simply don’t work anymore.”