By unanimous vote this morning, the Jewish Agency (JAFI) approved part 2 of their new strategic plan. The vote took place at the Agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem following a two hour discussion focused around the next steps.

Some initial observations:

Back in June when the strategic plan was presented for approval, JAFI’s Chair of the Executive, Natan Sharansky, spoke about Jewish Identity and how that organizes the work of the organization. In reviewing both the original document, and the work of the past few months, it is clear this concept has taken center stage. In a well thought out process, and presentation, JAFI is clearly focusing not on the past, or even the present, but on the Jewish Future. They, unlike too many other organizations, are clearly taking control of their own destiny, and looking to grow. To accomplish this, they are structuring themselves around bringing more to the table in order to do more – not on how to get by with less. Refreshing.

Also refreshing, the development of the plan implementation has been a reasonably open and transparent process.

What’s on tap for the next three months? JAFI’s professional staff will be taking each piece of the new strategic direction and realigning the organizations’ budget around it. Following approval in February, 2011, programmatic changes will begin to take shape with complete implementation targeted for 2012.

Sixteen months ago, Natan Sharansky was elected JAFI’s Chair of the Executive and over the following months, several other high-level professional staff changes were put in place. Working in coordination with Richie Pearlstone, JAFI’s Board Chair, the needle has clearly moved in the right direction. In fact, despite many valid concerns – and honest differences of opinion – surrounding JAFI’s new strategic plan, in the six years I have been attending JAFI meetings, never before have I witnessed such an open, honest, and respectful discussion among the different parties, regardless of issue. Amazing what can be accomplished when the will is there – and in only a year.

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