The Week That Was: July 22-28

For those following the Jewish media, it is probably no surprise that three of our most read articles last week involve Camp Ramah Canada and their handling of a situation concerning a blind camper. From conversations we’ve been having, what is surprising is how many Jewish organizations – of all sizes – still believe they are an unpenetrable fortress and the surrounding moat will drown all critics. These organizations do not recognize we live in a 24/6 world (Jewish organizations generally receive a pass on Shabbat) and the days of dictating the story are over.

As Allison Fine writes in Another Fortress Caught in Social Media Firestorm,

I had a lovely visit to Sarasota, FL last week sponsored by the Community Foundation. I spoke with development directors of nonprofits while there and inevitably the concern about losing control of one’s reputation online came up. What happens when a wingnut spreads false and harmful rumors about us, they asked. It is an understandable question and concern when you’re standing behind your fortress walls and peek out only to see competitors, crazy people, and others who mean you harm. Put the walls up, protect your reputation, every fiber of their beings shout.

But these default settings are what get organizations in trouble, not what save them from trouble.

On a different note, our top stories from last week were rounded out with inside looks at two prominent foundations.

Here – in alphabetical order – are the most popular posts on eJewish Philanthropy last week:

A Personal Reflection: Five Years at the Jim Joseph Foundation
by Adene Sacks

This past February marked the end of the fifth year of grantmaking at the Jim Joseph Foundation. This milestone has led us to consider our own evolution over the first five years, during which we made more than $265 million in grants to the field of Jewish education. What is our “inside story?”

Did You See That Post on Facebook?
by Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu

A parent is upset about how their child is treated by a summer camp, and wants the situation rectified. In 2012, how does a parent deal with this situation? By blogging about it, of course, and sending the link to the blog out to all of his friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

Making Motherhood Work – With Work
by Deena Fuchs

In April 2006 I learned that my husband and I were expecting our fourth child. My first thought: thank G-d for another blessing. My second: this 2 bedroom rental on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was not going to cut it anymore. It was time to move to the suburbs. My third: how am I going to make this all work – with work?

I was clearly not the first working mother to worry about that, nor will I be the last. In truth, I think the same thought almost daily. The truth is: being a hands-on mother with real career ambitions is just plain hard.

The Collective Consequence When Inclusion is Perceived as Optional
by Naomi Brunnlehrman

There have been emails, blogs and emotions about a situation that occurred last week at Camp Ramah in Canada. It seems to be that all of us are missing the bigger picture. The unfortunate report of a talented camp director who was juggling limited staff and a host of other challenges while at the same time a family and specifically their teenage son who needed accommodations is not an isolated story. This situation which was brought to our collective attention by the heartfelt blog of a dad who is also a rabbi highlights the consequences to all of us when the wider Jewish community continues to perceive access and inclusion as optional and not an integral part of what it means to be a sacred Jewish community.

Tipping the Balance
by Rabbi Mitchell Cohen

Over these last few days, the social media firestorm around inclusion at Camp Ramah has had some interesting outcomes. First, it has stirred up and added more passion to the communal conversation around inclusion in the Jewish community…