Rumors circulated earlier today, but now it’s official: Daniel Sokatch, who only last summer left PJA to take over the San Francisco federation, is leaving to run the New Israel Fund.
Sokatch’s letter to the federation’s president and staff:
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I am writing to let you know that I will be resigning my post as CEO of the JCF in order to assume the leadership of the New Israel Fund. This was not an easy decision for me, as I am genuinely sad to be leaving the Federation and its rich history of 100 years of tikkun olam and tzedakah, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead a global organization at a particularly critical time for Israel.
Still, I feel completely confident that I leave the organization in capable and passionate hands . I am so very proud of the Federation and all we have accomplished together over the past year. I take great pride in our mutual and committed efforts to accomplish our goal that the Federation-and our Jewish community-remain relevant, vibrant and dynamic in the 21st Century. It is my hope that our meaningful progress continue ever onward.
Thank you so much for sharing in this most-important and vital cause; you should all be justly proud. I will miss each and every one of you.
Sincerely, and with heartfelt appreciation,
The Fundermentalist says Sokatch was not pushed out. And I believe it. He just had too promising a future to hold down.
When Sokatch left LA, he gave me this exit interview. An excerpt after the jump:
Jewish Journal: PJA has prided itself on getting Jews who don’t identify to affiliate with being Jewish. What makes this a Jewish organization?
Daniel Sokatch: We are a bunch of people who choose to do this Jewishly for whatever our reasons—whether they are ethnic or ethical or religious or spiritual or historical or familial—we all understand our personal obligation to get involved in the work of building a better community for everybody.
It’s not coincidental that those three pictures I keep on my wall—Gandhi and King and the Dalai Lama—are all progressive religious leaders who led or lead great social movements that have at their core universalistic messages from their particular religious places.
JJ: Over the years, you have operated outside the synagogue and religious community.
DS: We are interested in going where the Jews are, and the first place you find Jews is in synagogues. I’m sure that at least half of our membership and probably more belong to a synagogue. But what is interesting is, around half don’t. Where we have been really successful is finding those unaffiliated Jews, those Jews no one can engage, and engaging them. I’d like to say we have some brilliant marketing plan to reach them. What I think happened was that we just did good social justice work, and as our reputation grew, those people found us.
JJ: Sort of a Jewish “Field of Dreams.”
DS: It was. We often say that, “If you build it, they will come.”