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.
Some 3,000 delegates from Jewish welfare federations across North America convened in Jerusalem on Nov. 16 for the yearly General Assembly of their roof body, the Council of Jewish Federations. It's the first assembly held in Israel in the council's 66-year history.
There's going to be a national Jewish population survey in the year 2000, and it's got researchers in one heck of a pickle.