United Jewish Communities of MetroWest, N.J., has launched a new endowment campaign that will match community needs with donor interests. MetroWest Tomorrow, which was launched last week, has raised $70 million toward a $100 million goal in programmatic endowments over the next several years.
In the coming days, the leadership picture of the central organization of the North American Jewish federation system is expected to become clearer.
Howard Rieger, the top professional of organized American Jewry as president and chief executive officer of the national organization United Jewish Communities (UJC), figures that criticism comes with the territory.
"Any time you make changes, some people will admire you and some will not," he said in a phone interview. "If you can't keep that in perspective, you become immobilized and don't belong in this position."
A self-described professional Jewish lesbian. A Web guru who calls himself the Orthodox Anarchist. A young, Oscar-winning producer.
The United Jewish Communities (UJC) looked to this group and their disenfranchised peers for help at its annual General Assembly (GA) in Nashville in November, giving them an entire plenary to talk about themselves, what they need from the North American federation system and why they have a hard time becoming a part of it.
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.
For generations, the North American Jewish federation system has stood as the central address of Jewish philanthropy -- demonstrating from generation to generation the power of our collective to build our community.The 155 federations of United Jewish Communities and 400 smaller networked communities boast an annual fundraising campaign nearing $900 million and endowment assets of more than $13 billion.UJC's lay and professional leadership recently set out to look at our philanthropic landscape. In June, the UJC launched a strategic plan that tackles the major challenges and opportunities facing Jewish federations and our entire community.
And as we've seen this week, God -- or human resourcefulness -- has blessed a quick reconstruction of northern Israel. But Olmert's comments seemed particularly ungrateful because he spoke not only to the American journalists, but also to some top officials of the United Jewish Communities (UJC).
Nearly two weeks ago, Ted Koppel contributed some desperately needed perspective to the irrational debate about Iran and its so-called nuclear threat. It was something we did not hear days before, listening to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert at the General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities in Los Angeles.
Moscovitz is one of the tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors living in abject poverty in the United States. These witnesses to the 20th century's worst atrocity are enduring a second nightmare, often struggling just to feed and clothe themselves.Their wartime experiences, which included malnutrition and physical and psychological abuse, have made them prone to costly medical and mental problems as they age.
Jewish groups look to The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of top 400 fundraising organizations to see how well Jewish philanthropy is doing.
John Fishel took his seat on the jetliner and glanced across the aisle. Seated near the president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles was an Ethiopian woman. Resplendent in traditional garb, she cradled an infant in her arms and looked lovingly at her toddler son seated beside her.
Perhaps no single party outside the Israeli government is as vital to Ethiopian aliyah as the American Jews committed to help paying for it. So this month, when the United Jewish Communities (UJC) brought a group of 100 people from America's wealthiest Jewish communities, including Los Angeles, to the straw-and-mud huts of one of the poorest countries on earth, it was a signal to the Israeli government that American Jewry is serious about its own role in bringing Ethiopians to Israel.
I have a perfect record in setting up my friends on dates: I have struck out every single time. I am 0 for 20, maybe worse. Only one relationship that I tried to initiate made it past the first date. That one lasted for four years and ended in tears, anguish and confusion. The only thing those two friends agreed on in the end is they would never accept my offer to set them up again with anyone, ever.
Frankie Muniz, star of the TV show, "Malcolm in the Middle," had little idea what he was making as he glued colored cotton balls and beads onto a metallic container with a slot on top.
American Jewish leaders who created the United Jewish Communities (UJC) umbrella organization out of three separate ones in 1999 are largely frustrated and disappointed by the outcome of their labor, with some scoring the missed chance to form a truly representative and forward-looking voice for American Jewry.
Benjamin Brown found out a master's degree in Jewish history didn't help him much in finding a job. So a few years ago, Brown, 29, launched an employment Web site for the Jewish community, which he named JewishJobs.com. The initiative seems to have been a success: Brown not only secured a job at the now-defunct United Jewish Communities' (UJC) Trust for Jewish Philanthropy, he has attracted more than 6,000 job seekers to his service, which boasts a testimonials page of happily matched employees and employers.
There is unanimity on one point only: Two young Irvine women, who are midway through a 10-month subsidized stay in Israel, will return home next June speaking conversational Hebrew.
But little else is certain as both girls' parents predict their offspring will return changed by the immersion in voluntary social service, language training and civics lessons.
If, like 82 percent of American Jewry, you are unaffiliated with a temple or synagogue, but still desire a rabbi to officiate at your special occasion, then telecommunications engineer David Segal of Phoenix, Ariz., has designed a Web site just for you.
I spent most of this past week at the United Jewish Communities (UJC) General Assembly (GA), the annual gathering which, this year, brought nearly 4,000 Jewish communal representatives (and journalists) from North America, Israel and elsewhere overseas.
The North American Jewish federation system has designated five priority areas for allocating funds from its Israel emergency campaign.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel and a who's who of prominent community leaders and New York politicians participated in "We Stand With Israel -- Now and Forever," a live telecast co-sponsored by United Jewish Communities (UJC) and New York's 92nd Street Y.
The outgoing chairman of the United Jewish Communities (UJC), Charles Bronfman, has challenged the UJC leadership to "change the perception out there that rich, old guys who write big checks are the only ones who count."
"There are rich young men and women, who may or may not write big checks but who may have a wealth of ideas," he said. "They may even have a desire to become more involved with the Jewish community. Will we give them the opportunity to lead?" Bronfman, said in his departing speech to the North American Jewish federation system.
On the surface, they may not seem to share much in common. Victoria Gendel is a charming, pixyish Russian woman. Elias Inbram is a tall, photogenic Ethiopian male. However, both are Jewish 20-something college students who grew up in small, isolated villages and are now living in Israel.
Gerald "Jerry" C. Lasensky describes himself as the Jewish community's traveling salesman, road warrior and itinerant emissary.
In a sign that the new Jewish buzzwords of "renaissance and renewal" are intrinsically linked to education, a top Jewish education professional has been tapped to oversee a national push to infuse Jewish life with more meaning.
There was a sort of informal poll conducted among the delegates who gathered in Atlanta last week for the annual assembly of America's Jewish welfare federations.
The agency that convened them, the newly-designated United Jewish Communities, had scheduled a series of discussions for the assembly's second day on the four "pillars" that sum up its mission: Jewish renaissance, social services, Israel and overseas needs, and fundraising. Delegates were free to pick their "pillar."
Next month, Prime Minister Ehud Barak will travel to Atlanta for the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, the central philanthropic and service organization in the American Jewish world.
On May 3, filmmaker Daphna Edwards Ziman accompanied a delegation from United Jewish Communities on a humanitarian mission to help the Kosovar refugees. The group brought food and medical supplies to the refugees and airlifted mothers and children from the camps in Albania and Hungary to absorption centers in Israel. This is her account: