Additional Articles

Jewish Community & Jewish Future

Strong Social Networks are Key to Turning Around Communities
What is the difference between communities that are able to recover from disinvestment and those that cannot? The answer, according to recent research from MDRC, are the presence of strong social networks.

Out and About in the Jewish Community: The Questions Jews are Asking
Traveling around the country, certainly one hears an array of concerns. The audiences that I encounter are generally older, usually synagogue, center or federation-based; these are the questions that they are asking:

Old Models of Jewish Legacy Institutions No Longer Working, Experts Say
The research and statistics are in, and the message to Jewish legacy organizations – those longstanding community institutions that historically have held fast to the status quo – is loud and clear: To be viable into the 21st century, the template must change.

The Jewish Marketplace: Introducing the New American Jew
As the pages of this website are constantly reminding us, there are new structural and social realities that are reshaping the contemporary Jewish story. How might we describe the current “state” of the American Jewish enterprise?

Changing Character of American Religion: Implications for American Jewry
Over the past number of years, numerous articles found on this site and elsewhere address questions related to American Judaism. Beyond those studies that examine specific elements of Jewish life, there is a growing body of research examining the impact of religion in general on the lives of its adherents and on the behavior of the larger society. In examining this research about American religion, how might these findings inform us about the Jewish experience?

A Conversation with Jewish Professionals: Insights on the Jewish Future
At the second cohort gathering of CEO Onboarding-Leading Edge, I had occasion to address this extraordinary group of some 15 newly appointed Jewish professionals. Coming to the Jewish community from an array of diverse backgrounds, they shared concerns that sparked not only a thoughtful dialogue but reminded me that these individuals, better than most, will be confronting on a daily basis the demographic, policy and social realities that are redefining Jewish life in the second decade of this century. As the boundaries and borders that may have at one time more conveniently identified and separated “Jews,” in today’s social environment, these definitions no longer appear to be appropriate, as we embrace a culture where each person must make their own choices about what it may mean to be Jewish.

Federations Past and Future

Federations and the Jewish Marketplace of the 21st Century
This coming week, as federation leaders gather in LA from across North America for the 86th GA (General Assembly), it represents another opportunity to revisit the case for federations. Beyond such stories as the one that appeared on these pages some days ago, it is essential to take a deeper look at the evolution and impact of the 148 federations on Jewish life.


This Grantmaking Pyramid Strategy Ensures That Nonprofits Won’t Topple
Too many philanthropic grants focus on expanding new programs at the expense of nonprofits’ internal structure and stability, but a new initiative is looking to put the focus on building organizational strength from the ground up.

New Report on American Jewish Philanthropy shows Donors Rely Less on Established Organizations
A new report on American Jewish philanthropy details an increased focus on Jewish engagement, more giving with social or systemic change in mind, less giving to older institutions, and more collaboration among major foundations. Giving Jewish: How Big Funders Have Transformed American Jewish Philanthropy, commissioned by The AVI CHAI Foundation and authored by Dr. Jack Wertheimer, explores how the philanthropic landscape has changed fundamentally over the past quarter century and what challenges confront this field, estimated to include $5.5 to $6 billion in annual gifts.

Giving Jewish: How Big Funders Have Transformed American Jewish Philanthropy
Though some may wax nostalgic for the blue and white pushke (charity box) carried door-to-door to collect small change for the nascent State of Israel, and others fondly recall the Super-Sunday phone-a-thons by Federations to solicit a donation, however small, from every Jewish family, today’s Jewish philanthropy is primarily about the largesse of big donors. Major local institutions, such as Federations of Jewish philanthropy, Jewish Community Centers and museums, increasingly rely upon large gifts, as do synagogues and educational institutions engaged in capital campaigns. Big giving serves as the lifeblood of national Jewish non-profits, such as the large defense organizations whose mission is to combat anti-Semitism; Birthright Israel, which sends young people on free trips to Israel; and the Hillel organization and its campus affiliates. Foundations are key to launching new start-ups of national scope, such as Moishe House for Millennials, PJ Library for families with young children and start-ups engaged in “repairing the world,” to take a few examples. All the more so, Israeli institutions ranging from yeshivas to hospitals, cultural centers to universities—all rely predominantly on big gifts. As a rule of thumb, most institutions refer to the rule of 80/20 or even 90/10: between 80 and 90 percent of the funds they raise come from a small minority of their donors.

To Save Retail, Let It Die
The store of the future will become the most powerful media channel available to a brand, offering
customer experiences that are the most profitable product a retailer can sell. But to get there, retail as we
know it must die.

The Impact of Major Gifts and the Importance of Broad Participation
Imagine that you are the president of one of our Jewish communal institutions, e.g., a synagogue, Jewish community center, etc., which has identified $10 million in capital and endowment needs. Your organization moves forward with a major fundraising initiative to secure the necessary funding and as you begin your campaign, two donors step forward, each making a $5 million dollar commitment. Now, having met your identified needs, your campaign is complete, right? Wrong.

More Articles

Expanding Opportunities in America’s Cities: Forward Leaning Regionalism
The link can be made between urban community renewal to Jewish community renewal. While Detroit and our Jewish community are not comparable, the lessons in this speech resonate as we explore our collective strategy and community engagement endeavors.  They raise important questions and challenge Federation’s current operating model and governance assumptions.  Aren’t we supposed to be challenging the status quo?  How might we apply these lessons in our strategy work?