The Jewish Agency Speaks on Their New Vision

As our regular readers know, when JAFI’s Board of Governors convenes next week a new strategic plan will be presented, discussed and [while there may be revisions] voted on. There has also been a great deal of discussion and speculation in the Jewish and Israeli media of what some of the changes are.

Now, for the first time, the Jewish Agency has officially commented. This from Richie Pearlstone, JAFI’s board chair:

Jerusalem, June 17, 2010

Dear Members of the JAFINA Council,

I am pleased to announce that one of the leading philanthropists and communal leaders in the Jewish world, Charles Goodman, has agreed to serve as chairman of the board of the Fund for the Jewish Agency, the new name for what was until recently called JAFINA. Jay Sarver will serve as treasurer, Jane Sherman, Natan Sharansky and I will serve as members of the board.

I am also writing to update you on new and important developments regarding our lay structure in North America and to clarify some issues which have come up in recent days.

The name JAFINA is being changed to reflect the global nature of our external affairs efforts. Some structural changes in the composition of the existing board and its bylaws are being made, such as expanding the number of directors and frequency of its meetings.

It is for this reason, that JAFINA Board members were asked to step down so JAFINA could be reconstituted into this new body, to be called the Fund for the Jewish Agency (FJA). It is our hope that members of the JAFINA Council will agree to serve on the new board of Fund for the Jewish Agency

Just as JAFINA before it, the Fund for the Jewish Agency is registered as a 501(c)3 US not-for-profit organization.

Over the past year, the Jewish Agency has been evaluating its financial resource development and external affairs. A task force on financial resource development, which includes members of the federations in North America, Keren Hayesod and the WZO, is now completing a report which will be presented to the Executive at the Board of Governors next week.

In March, we announced the appointment of Dr. Misha Galperin to head the Jewish Agency’s global public affairs and resource development effort, shifting the center for resource development to North America, from where, indeed, we raise the majority of our contributions. It has been clear to many of us for a long time, and made clearer by the significant budget cuts we’ve faced over the last two years, that we need to strengthen our financial resource development efforts in North America and around the world.

Our goal is to expand and attract new lay and professional leadership from North America and beyond. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing JAFINA Board members for their dedicated and outstanding service. A special thanks goes to Carole Solomon for her devoted efforts on our behalf and to Maxyne Finkelstein for her years of service, hard work and impressive professionalism. We are seeking to build on the work of Carole, Maxyne and their team and upon the infrastructure they created to strengthen our presence and capability in North America and throughout the world.

As you know, we are in the midst of an important strategic change which we hope will significantly enhance our resource development effort in North America and worldwide. In making the changes we have implemented so for we have consulted extensively with JFNA and federation leadership and they have given their support for our new direction. I know that you, as members of the JAFINA Council, understand how important and necessary this undertaking is.

I appreciate your advice and support as we move ahead.


Richard Pearlstone

update: the complete proposed strategic plan, Securing the future: Forging a new Jewish agency for Israel and the Jewish people, can be found here.