NewsBits: Around The Jewish Web

It has been a busy few days in the Jewish world. The Zionist General Council (Va’ad Hapoel) has concluded their meetings; the Lion of Judah and KolDor Conferences are underway, and in a few hours, JAFI’s Assembly and Do the Write Thing (Student Journalists’ Conference) will open. And that’s just what’s happening here in Israel.

Around the world, with the Chaggim now behind us, the Jewish community is well into their fall programming, with fundraising a particular concern this year.

We bring you a number of stories this morning appearing on other Web sites: from leadership development in the U.K. to the Forward 50. And of course, the economic crisis and politics in the Jewish world.

And while we realize the financial health of Israeli yeshivot are not high on the agenda of all, the interplay between needs at home and needs abroad is turning out to be worth paying attention to.

from The Forward:

Forward 50, 2008: Lessons in Leadership

One of the benefits of the never-ending presidential campaign that Americans were treated to this year was a lesson in leadership. On stage before us were aspiring leaders of different races, genders, backgrounds, temperaments, debating skills and political persuasions. That the final winner was a man with an uncommon intellect and breathtaking rhetorical skills, unnerving calm and a bracing vision for the future says a lot about this nation. That Jewish voters supported Barack Obama’s historic election in overwhelming numbers says a lot about this community at this time.

both from Haaretz:

Battling over the blue box

(eJP note: for an update related to this story, see our post KKL and JNF (U.S.) at Peace)

Although 2008 has not quite come to a close, it seems clear that this year’s fundraising figures for the Jewish National Fund in the United States will make grim reading. The downturn was already evident last year, when fundraising stalled at about $44 million – down from between $50 million and $60 million just two years before.

The malaise that has been eating away at JNF-USA donations is not just an outgrowth of the global financial illness – it is a gradually worsening side effect of a bitter legal feud between the Jewish National Fund’s historic base in Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and its two oldest and largest affiliates, the JNF branches in the United States and Britain, over who has the rights to the JNF trademark.

‘Let’s make sure there are no hungry Jews on the street’

Major Jewish organizations that rely on funds contributed by American Jews are gearing up for cuts in donations as the financial crisis takes its toll, raising the possibility that U.S.-based groups will be moving Israeli causes to the back burner as they struggle to cope with an increasingly dire situation at home.

from the 5Towns Jewish Times:

Fundraising Crisis?

A report surfaced this week saying that one of Israel’s most prolific chareidi fund raisers recently returned from a trip to the United States with only $15,000 instead of the $700,000 he was planning to raise. As a result, there was a series of hastily called meetings that included leading rashei yeshiva and Torah sages in Israel dealing with the rapidly unraveling economic situation that has left over 6,000 kollel families in Israel facing new levels of poverty and hardship.

from The Jewish Chronicle (London):

Chiefs groom UK Jewry’s next leaders

A review is to be carried out into the future funding of British Jewry, the Jewish Leadership Council announced this week.

The inquiry will be the first project of the JLC’s new leadership network, a group of activists in their 30s and 40s who are being groomed to be the “leaders of tomorrow”.

from Times Online (U.K.):

Doing a Mitzvah

…In Los Angeles, for example, tens of thousands of Jews mark the day by giving time, rather than money, to support not only their own community but their neighbours.

I was so impressed by the spirit and philosophy behind Mitzvah Day when I lived there that, when I returned to the UK, I decided to bring it with me. Now, in its third year, Mitzvah Day UK has spread from Exeter to Glasgow and to every town and city where there is any Jewish community of note.

As a result, this Sunday, over 10,000 British Jews will give a little time to do a good deed, may be cleaning out an overgrown garden, collecting recycling, visiting an elderly or disabled person, or in one of 250 other ways, reflecting the 250 projects taking place around the country.

from The New York Jewish Week:

Birthright Faces The Chopping Block

There will be 17,000 fewer young people accepted to the Birthright Israel program in 2009 as the organization slashes its budget by $35 million due to increased costs, an unfavorable exchange rate and a decline in fundraising, according to the president of its foundation, Jay Golan…

Golan said the organization is now trying to build on its success by “trying to ramp up additional support now that we have 191,000 alumni. Birthright should become a national priority for Jewish life, and there are a number of funding sources that are eager to see what can be done to [make it] a national priority.”