NewsBits: Around the Jewish Web

new-website-iconTouching the world of Jewish philanthropy, here are a few recent items you may find of interest.

from Haaretz:

Will U.S. Jewish organizations survive the economic crisis?

The economic crisis didn’t spare the Jewish federations in the United States. Across the country, they are trimming their budgets and firing parts of the staff; introducing emergency programs to meet the growing demand for social services, coping with the uncertainty of what lies ahead and hoping it will all be over before the situation demands more serious sacrifices.

“Many federations are cutting, and it hurts for people that have been laid off and it’s sad, but most organizations can stand and go through a one-time cut”, said Joe Kanfer, chair of the Board of Trustees of United Jewish Communities. “But they haven’t been cutting historically, so for some it might be the way to stop doing activities you probably shouldn’t have been doing.”

from The Jerusalem Post:

Mouths to Feed

Last Pessah, Meir Panim, the country’s largest network of “soup kitchens,” distributed boxes of Seder meals to 24,000 people. It also gave out NIS 250 grocery coupons to 6,700 people. This Pessah, only a few hundred people will get those coupons. And the number of those who will receive Seder meals-in-a-box? Zero.

“Our Pessah campaign has been all but canceled,” says Dudi Zilberschlag, founder of Meir Panim and the leading fund-raiser and power-broker in Israel’s haredi world, while multitasking with aides in his office at Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim Hospital. In late 2007, his donors, who include the wealthiest Jews here and abroad, began reducing their contributions, but since Lehman Brothers went bankrupt last September and it became clear that the world was in the grip of something much worse than an ordinary, cyclical recession, these contributions have simply dried up.

“The big Israeli corporations are out of the game,” says Zilberschlag, in his 50s, a gentle-spoken man who takes hard times philosophically. He mentions a couple of super-rich Israelis, saying that they used to give him about $100,000 each before Pessah. “This time – nothing,” he says.

In the last year, Meir Panim has closed five of its 17 soup kitchens, while Koah Latet, its affiliated charity for clothing and household goods, has closed down two of 14 branches. The organization’s NIS 50 million budget has been cut by 30 percent; 41 of its 134 employees have been let go.

from the New Jersey Jewish Standard:

Tuition crisis spurs ideas for ‘new model’

In light of rising day-school costs, parents and educators are examining several options to address what is clearly a tuition crisis. As one local proposal stalled, another idea to address the problem took a small step forward Saturday night.

The proposal, laid out in a Powerpoint presentation, called for fewer layers of administration, higher student-teacher ratios, mandatory parental involvement, and fewer co-curricular activities. [Parents committee member Abby] Flamholz said that the ideal class size would be 23.5 instead of the current model of approximately 18 students. Special education, she emphasized, would not be offered in this model, because of its higher costs.

Based on these parameters, annual tuition could be as low as $6,500 per student. “If people are willing to take this model for what it is, then it’s worth moving forward,” she said.