The Ghosts of JFNA Past, Present and What Yet Might Be: A Call for Submissions

JFNA logoThe Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), formerly the United Jewish Communities (UJC), is an umbrella organization representing over 150 Jewish Federations and 300 independent Jewish communities across North America. JFNA was formed over a decade ago by the merger of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Council of Jewish Federations, and the United Israel Appeal.

According to JFNA, they provide fundraising, organization assistance, training, and overall leadership to the Jewish Federations and communities throughout the United States and Canada.


Writing in eJewish Philanthropy last week, Dr. Hal M. Lewis, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, speaking of his own institution said, “The challenges confronting American Jewish life today are simply too complex to be responded to with outdated modalities. We cannot hope to address twenty-first century problems with twentieth century organizations and antiquated solutions.”

His comments had us here, at eJP, deliberating about several organizations and wondering if they are really equipped to address these realities. Or is at all smoke and mirrors. Or relying on past glories. Or …

Reflecting on this within the framework of post-GA conversations where we heard from several federation CEO’s of “missed opportunities” to discuss issues central to American Jewish life and how the federations could play a role; recognizing the long history federations have played in the American Jewish community; and combining with our stated goal to “create dialogue and advance the conversation,” eJP is launching an on-line symposium focused on JFNA and the federation world.

Contributors are asked to join the discussion on what the strategic uniqueness of Federations was, is and still might be; how privatization through foundations has impacted the model; the role Israel and global efforts do or do not anchor future success; and whether a commitment to broad institutional health competes with or reinforces the nice feel good programs that JFNA loves to highlight.

Additionally, we look to discuss the oft-stated comment that JFNA expends a great deal of effort on macro issues that have no benefit to the overwhelming majority of individual federations but yet does have a place in the Jewish world. And that JFNA is perceived by many federation owners to be ill-equipped to provide the services most needed at their local level.

Submission Guidelines

This is an open call for submissions. Submissions may be of any length but should be capped around 800 words. We will not reprint previously published articles.

We will not publish rants or personal attacks on any individual, either as stand-alone submissions or in the comments section of posted articles.

Anonymous Submissions

It is our strong belief at eJewish Philanthropy that submissions with an identifiable author make – by far – the greatest impact. That said, we clearly understand that in the federation world of today dissent is generally not tolerated, even behind closed doors. Therefore, in order to have the widest possible discussion, and not put anyone at risk professionally, we will accept submissions to be posted anonymously. However, the author’s name and a valid email contact address must be provided with the submission. We have successfully used this model in the past and while we obviously can not provide references, if we had violated that trust, you likely would have heard.


Post below or email us.