North American federations could and should be doing much better than they are. They matter. They are important. They embody the ideas of community, common cause and the ability to respond to collective concerns. They are vital institutions, and we want them to succeed. Federations have been the hub of a vast system that involves community centers, family services, bureaus of Jewish education and so many more organizations. But this system is becoming unglued, and changes need to be made.
Stanley P. Gold wastes few words describing the status of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. "It is largely irrelevant," he said last week. What makes Gold's remark so stark is that on Jan. 1, the sharp-tongued and fast-paced Gold, a 65-year-old self-described "monomaniac on a mission," will take over lay leadership at The Federation as chairman of the board.
Even as its executive board starts a search to replace its top administrator, the Jewish Federation of Orange County will intensify its annual fundraisng drive over the next two months.