Two stories making news in a very quiet week…
The North American Jewish federation system’s overseas partners are warning of a brewing financial crisis facing the organized Jewish community in the former Soviet Union.
Steven Schwager, the chief executive officer of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and Irv Smokler, its president, sent a joint letter last Friday to the top professionals at Jewish federations across North America saying the JDC was in dire need of more money from them. The JDC, which focuses its efforts in the former Soviet Union on delivering social services and community-building activities, is facing a significant budget deficit, according to the letter. The organization already has had to cut services overseas, specifically in the former Soviet Union, and it might have to cut more, the letter warned.
The federations’ other overseas partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel, which focuses on formal Jewish education and Jewish identity building in the former Soviet Union, also appears to be facing major challenges.
an opinion piece from The New York Jewish Week:
The Syrian Jewish community has been the most successful diaspora Jewish community in the world at building an infrastructure that keeps it cohesive and practically immune to the social mores that have compromised most Jewish communities in America. Besides the typical community cemetery and synagogues, we have schools, community centers, social service programs, senior citizen housing and programming, youth programming, job training centers, a drug education program, medical referral service, a small-business agency, mikvot and much more. Much of this infrastructure was built with private funds, and it is the infrastructure that makes this community successful. It allows us to be comfortable with who we are – a community with unique traditions that developed from centuries of living in the Arab world – and obtain what we need among our own.