Maintaining the Gold Standard

The October issue of the JCSA Newsletter carries an exchange of letters between Dr. Misha Galperin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and a long-time career professional that arose from the new icount study on Jewish communal professionals.

Here’s an excerpt:

career professional: “As Federation funding is further reduced, the new government contracts will force agencies to increasingly tack on responsibilities to those remaining staff members who are supported by Federation dollars. The reason is that Federation dollars are not audited as closely as government funding and government funding is always insufficient to meet the contract requirements. Therefore, staff from other departments where “Jewish money pays” will be quietly co-opted to work on the government grants. Someone needs to carry this message to the Federations.

That is, if there is any desire left to have quality services for the Jewish community.”

Dr. Galperin: “The most serious issue has to do with the fact that fewer and fewer donors, especially the ones who are contributing significant amounts, see such programs as the responsibility of Jewish philanthropy in an environment where government funding and insurance payments are available to cover a great deal of the expenses. Most also do not see the Jewish population as being in as much of a “need” as it often really is. Younger people by and large certainly do not relate to federations as places to contribute to for social services. While much can and should be done to reverse these trends through education and marketing, it is the erosion of the understanding of the Jewish values that underline our historic commitment to social justice that – I believe – is our critical problem. And that, in turn, may have something to do with the fact that we have done much to professionalize the idea of caring for one another. That had the impact of creating great institutions, train fabulous professionals, affected the overall development of the field of social services, helped advocate for government funding and … made most Jews disconnected from the idea of having a responsibility to each other…”

You can read the entire exchange in the JCSA October newsletter.

icount refers to The 2009 Survey of Jewish Communal Service Professionals currently underway. The survey is examining such questions as,

  • Who are the professionals who work for Jewish communal organizations today?
  • What are their views, concerns and experiences these days?
  • How have they fared in the midst of the recent economic downturn?

issues that are critical to policy makers, philanthropists, the Jewish public and Jewish communal professionals themselves.

The survey is sponsored by the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America and the Berman Jewish Policy Archive [NYU/Wagner], with grants from The Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

If you are working in the field, in any capacity, we encourage you to take the survey.