January 24, 2008
Briefs: UC ‘study in Israel’ program draws Sacramento attention; Gold officially the man at the Fede
The effort to reinstate the University of California's study in Israel program entered the state Legislature last week.
Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) introduced a resolution on Jan. 17 that urges the UC to adopt a policy similar to those at other universities, which allow study in countries under U.S. State Department travel warnings. Since the UC suspended its program in Israel in April 2002, during the Second Intifada, countless students have had to officially drop out of school and enroll directly in an Israeli university or through a third-party provider.
The move cost some students their financial aid and had to be made without the guarantee that credits earned during their semester or year abroad would be recognized by their UC campus. The same has been true for those wanting to study in the Philippines.
"The UC EAP policy does a disservice to interested students by judging potential programs without weighing the potential academic benefits against the potential nominal risks of traveling in a country subject to a less severe travel warning," Migden, who is Jewish, wrote in SR 18.
Such resolutions have already been passed by the student bodies at Berkeley, Davis, San Diego and Los Angeles. In the meantime, UC Provost Wyatt R. "Rory" Hume has asked campus chancellors to at least simplify the process of studying in Israel or the Philippines by providing counselors to explain which courses would count for credit, allowing students to keep their university e-mail and facilitating re-enrollment without reapplying.
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Riverside Jewish Family Service to Close
Jewish Family Services of the Inland Communities, the only Jewish agency in the city of Riverside not affiliated with a synagogue, is shutting its doors on Jan. 31.
"Because we don't have a Jewish federation to fund us, we were unable to get that base amount of money," said Ilene Stein, the group's manager.
The office on 10th Street served nearly 100 clients from western Riverside and San Bernadino counties, offering services to Holocaust survivors, organizing grief and health workshops, visiting Jews in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes as well as providing gifts on Jewish holidays.
Stein said that the organization was dependent on grant money, and in the last two years its income dropped from $46,000 to $31,000.
"In the last four years, the grant cycles played against us," she said.
Jewish Family Services of the Inland Communities was incorporated in 1995, and board president Margie Orland told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that some volunteers would continue to serve people on their own.
"There's a lot of need in the community. We hope some of this continues, perhaps through the temples," she said.
Jewish Family Service of the Desert, which receives steady funding of almost $1 million from the Jewish Federation of the Palm Springs/Desert Area, has yet to discuss the possibility of expanding into the area covered by JFS of the Inland Communities.
In the meantime, Stein says Riverside congregations are struggling, and she worries that unaffiliated and secular Jews in the area are losing a critical resource.
"Where the biggest hurt is going to be is looking for Jewish information," Stein said. "It's going to be hard for new people moving into the area."
-- Adam Wills, Senior Editor
New Federation Chair Shares Vision at Hebrew Union College
Stanley P. Gold took over lay leadership of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles on Jan. 1 with high hopes for a new future for the umbrella organization for L.A. Jewry.
"Have we made any progress?" he rhetorically asked about 30 students and faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) last week. "A little bit. I've been on the job two weeks."
Gold's talk, which focused on his vision for The Federation, was the first in a series of dean's lunches. He began by telling the students why he took the volunteer job even after his wife and rabbi and friends and children counseled him otherwise.
"The one thing I am good at," said Gold, who serves on the board of governors for HUC-JIR and is president of the private-equity firm Shamrock Holdings, "is I am a change agent."
And certainly that is something The Federation could use. Jewish umbrella organizations across the country are suffering from decreasing involvement from younger Jews who no longer see the central model as integral to Jewish life. Locally, annual campaign revenues have been practically flat since the early 1990s (not including the $20 million Los Angeles raised in 2006 for the Israel Emergency Campaign).
"The Federation finds itself -- and this is not a disparagement of past lay leaders or communal leaders -- but it finds itself with a model and culture that was probably terrific 50 years ago, but society has moved on. Jewish life has changed," Gold said. "It needs to change in order to accommodate."
He had reiterated the three areas on which he has said he wants to direct The Federation's focus: making Federation headquarters at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles' premiere Israel address; strengthening community relations, particularly with Latinos; and improving leadership and education programs. He also emphasized that The Federation needs to stop performing services "where we are sixth or seventh or eighth best. We don't need to offer programs that other people in the community are doing better. We need to support them."
Gold said he's given himself six months to change The Federation's culture and governance, and also said he expects to increase campaign revenues by at least 10 percent this year.
"Quite honestly, quietly we have an even bigger number in mind. But at least 10 percent," Gold said. "And if we don't achieve it, somebody ought to call us on the carpet about it. We ought to be held accountable."
His first big test will be Feb. 10, when The Federation hosts its Super Sunday fundraiser.