The Changing Needs of Our Community

Gary Rosenblatt in The Jewish Week:

The Push-And-Pull Within Jewish Philanthropy

One of the fascinating dynamics in American Jewish life today involves the complex and evolving relationship among three key groups: the Establishment organizations, symbolized by the federations, the primary engine that drives the organized Jewish community; the family foundations, which have generated great sums of philanthropic money in recent years; and the hundreds of emerging start-ups, or small, independent and youth-driven nonprofit ventures that have become increasingly popular in the last decade, especially among Generations X and Y.

A strong but subtle combination of admiration, support and resistance among those groups was just under the surface of a number of discussions – public and private – last week in Washington at the GA (the annual General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America).

… So consider: start-ups look to federations and foundations for funding but don’t want to be associated with federations (too old school for them); federations may support the new start-ups as part of their effort to attract younger donors and be innovative, but resent that the start-ups keep their distance; and family foundations may play in both camps but are seen as unpredictable, and maybe too independent.

Meanwhile, these three key groups are interdependent as well at times, relying on each other for funds, ideas and/or credibility. And the dance goes on.

from The Jerusalem Post:

Gov’t may fill Jewish Agency’s coffers

For the first time, the government is considering becoming a direct funder of the Jewish Agency.

Now, The Jerusalem Post has learned, the government is developing a practical plan for covering any budget shortage caused by a years-long decline in donations and the global financial slowdown.

According to a government source, the Finance Ministry is preparing to contribute up to $12 million toward the shortfall. While Finance Ministry officials oppose the plan, the order to make the funds available came from the Prime Minister’s Office, the source said.

from an editorial in The Jewish Week:

Tackling The Tuition Crisis

Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about the economic crisis in Jewish day school education, with rising tuitions and shrinking family incomes combining to make the prospect of enrollment an increasing hardship for many.

What is promising, though, is that more people are becoming aware of the importance of day school education as one of the community’s most effective means of ensuring Jewish continuity. And there is a growing recognition that the economic burden should not be solely the responsibility of day school parents.

from The Jerusalem Post:

For first time, Jewish Agency to meet in the Diaspora

For the first time, the Jewish Agency is considering holding some of its thrice-yearly leadership meetings outside the country, to better acquaint its leaders with the world’s Jewish communities.

According to the plan, the first overseas board meeting would take place as early as this February. It’s tentatively slated to take place in St. Petersburg, Russia, though plans with the local community umbrellas are not yet finalized.

An agency official joked that planning a February conference in St. Petersburg shows “that [agency chairman] Natan Sharansky’s idea of a ‘corporate retreat’ is to take us all with him to experience the frozen gulag.'”

… The tentative plan calls for the subsequent visit, in February 2011, to take place in France, followed in February 2012 with a gathering in South America, probably in Argentina.