Israel's Looming Crisis
Visiting Israel, we have come to expect a modern, vibrant and thriving country and while understanding that Israel is far from perfect we can’t help but be proud of all that has been accomplished.
We know that violence in the region is still rife. We know that there are very real issues with Arabs, Israelis and Druze within Israel and their ability to find common ground. We also know that the role of the Haredim (ultra-orthodox) in Israeli society is an ongoing dynamic dilemma.
An unanticipated consequence of all of these issues is the outlook for the future of Israel’s workforce and the projected dramatic increase in poverty. It doesn’t make sense as Israel is becoming the newest Silicon Valley and everywhere you look there are cranes building yet more luxury modern apartments. However, drilling down further into the educational segments within Israel an entirely different story is unfolding.
Israel has essentially three entirely different educational systems. One is for the majority, educating children who will go on to serve in the Israeli army and then to enter the university system. This group is currently the majority of the student population and has provided the bulk of the workforce in Israel’s history.
The second student body is that of the Haredim through yeshiva education. This educational system focuses on Torah study first and foremost. Secular studies are not taught and without math, science, computers and English, these students will not be able to enter university. For many there is the fear that studying secular subjects will, at minimum cause less focus on Torah study and at worst, cause some to drift away from the confines of the religious community. The result is that young Haredi men especially are not adequately prepared to even be accepted into University.
The Arab educational system, similarly, is challenged. Hebrew is taught as a second, not primary, language. This results in young Arab adults who are not adequately prepared to compete in the Israeli workplace let alone at university. Combine that with ethnic tensions and distrust and the problem is exacerbated exponentially.
A Reuters report, in Sept. 2015, noted that by “2059, people aged 65 and over will make up 17% of Israel’s population compared with 10% now. Without adjustments, such as raising the retirement age and increasing ultra-Orthodox and Arab employment rates, the debt burden will jump to 88 percent of the GDB by 2059 from (a projected) 65% in 2022.”
The birthrates underscore the issue with Ultra and Modern Orthodox women averaging 5.0 children; Arab women averaging 3.13 children and Conservative, Reform and Secular Jewish women averaging 1.5 children (Jerusalem Post, Nov 16, 2016).
What this means is that within the next 40 years, the majority of Israel’s workforce could be comprised of undereducated Haredim and Arab adults. This would have devastating consequences for Israel.
The effects are already being felt. Historically within the Haredi population parents have been able to step into to assist with down payments on homes and supplemental support. With the generations of large families begetting large families, the ability of parents and grandparents to keep up with the growing needs has disappeared. Consequently, we find more and more Haredi families moving to the West Bank for affordable housing and looking for alternatives to living in abject poverty and that, of course, creates a host of other problems.
A positive outcome of this economic distress being is that increasing numbers of young Haredi individuals are looking differently at securing higher education and entering the labor force. However, since the issue of core studies in high school is still very sensitive and faces much opposition from within, creative solutions must and are being identified to address the shifting dynamic. According to a recent study from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, the number of newly enrolled Haredi students at university has tripled in the past six years, and the total number of Haredi students today exceeds 11,000 – a third of which are men. Without adequate preparation there is still a high dropout level, but new programs and efforts are hoping to change the outcome.
The Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, identified this as an issue that needed support. This meant that we wanted to do what we could to begin to turn the tide and indeed are one of the first Jewish Community Foundations in the country to begin supporting new and innovative programs for Haredi youth. Our initial focus has providing funding for secular education.
It was not easy finding a mainstream Haredi yeshiva that offered secular studies, but find it we did. Hachmey Lev is a yeshiva in Jerusalem that does indeed offer English, Math, Computers and Science. Rabbi Betzalel Cohen decided to create a high school yeshiva as he wanted his children to have more choices than he had had, and found a partner and home in The Society for Advancement of Education. Since the establishment of the yeshiva, his family has faced ridicule, lost friendships and has even had to endure having their car tires slashed.
Hachmey Lev has had many challenges, not the least of which is securing adequate educational space for its students. Haredi members of the Jerusalem City Council have been setting up stumbling blocks for the school to meet its needs. In November 2016, they moved into a temporary building, after outgrowing their previous location were some classes were taught in a tent, and are hoping to be able to secure a permanent home in the near future.
In addition to growing the number of secondary schools that teach general studies, the success rate in academia can be improved by providing Haredi students with adequate support systems that can help bridge the gaps. These include stronger pre-academic preparatory programs, tutoring – especially in math and English – counseling, and scholarships can all improve their chances of success of this dramatic process of change that is now occurring within the Haredi society in Israel.
The programs are burgeoning and need our support.
To find out more, contact:
Taub Center: Eitan Regev – www.taubcenter.org.il
Society for the Advancement of Education: Shoshana Becker- email@example.com
Hachmey Lev: http://www.kidum-edu.org.il/en/hachmey-lev-yeshiva/ OR http://www.matanel.org/?s=hachmey+lev
Joint Distribution Committee: Michael Novick – Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerusalem Foundation: Peleg Reshef- email@example.com
Weintraub Israel Center
Pilgrimages have been traveling to Israel for years and years and each for a different purpose.
The birthplace for three of the world's major religions have scores of Muslims, Christians and Jews arriving to follow in the footsteps of our histories. Being able to pray on the Temple Mount, at the Western Wall or at the Church of the Holy Selplechre brings a spiritual experience that is like no other.
Others come not from a religious impetus but from a cultural or historical curiosity and still others come because they love to travel and want to find the best falafel.
Whatever the reason visiting Israel leaves no one untouched.
This is my 5th trip to Israel and the 40th anniversary of my year spent living on Kibbutz. I can't believe that 40 years have gone by and the dramatic changes that have occurred in the interval.
I wholeheartedly admit that my favorite way of visiting Israel is with a mixed group-mixed in religion, background and interests. Everywhere you turn it is with a different lens, experience and enthusiasm. So it is true with this amazing group of some 44 people living in or related to Tucson.
We started our group trip in Tel Aviv with a Shechianu, the blessing for new things and experiences. Together we have been experiencing the history and religious sites of Israel.
The highlight for me in Tell Aviv was visiting Independence Hall where Ben Gurion announced the creation of the state of Israel. Let's just say it was good I came supplied with tissues.
This country never ceases to amaze me. When I spent my year here I was 20 and celebrated turning 21 on Kibbutz.
In 1976 Israel was only 28 years old. .still an infant. I didn't appreciate how far the country had come in such a short time then, but certainly do now.
Remember the old fashioned ping pong machines? With the ball popping backwards and forwards? That's how my brain is here.
As I have been writing this a housekeeper came to clean our room and as is my wantout came a combo of Hebrew and Spanish (Rick calls it Hebranish). Turns out the housekeeper is an Arab woman who lived in Spain for many years who could much more easily converse in Spanish than in Hebrew. She also speaks English. The fact that this lovely woman who speaks a minimum of three languages is cleaning hotel rooms does nothing to lessen the ping pong.
Another highlight of the trip was visiting an friend of Oshrat's who had turned her home into an Ethiopian community center. Hearing her incredible story of her year and a half struggle to get to Israel reminded us of how blessed we are.
It was then on to visit with our Shaliach's mom at her home. After meeting her I now know where Oshrat gets her inner glow!
We spent a night on a Kibbutz arriving after dark. Awakening to Yam Kinneret was breathtaking.
Next. .onto Jerusalem!
Sat, Feb 06, 2016
I have many goals for this trip to Israel, not the least of which is to visit with grantees, potential grantees and programs that might be of interest to our donors. It is also to identify potential strategic allies with whom we might be able to advance our work.
To do this we have set up a series of visits to learn and observe with organizational representatives who want us to hear not only about programs relating to our priorities but about the evolving environment within which this work is being done.
Of course it is hoped that the visit will result in financial support, but it isn't just that. It is hoped that we will walk away more educated and with greater undertaking of the issues and complexity surrounding the work and that we will be emissaries on their behalf helping to further educate American Jews and the need for our support and influence.
On Thursday Rick and I were picked up by Peleg Reshef and Udi Spiegel from the Jerusalem Foundation for a half day tour of a few of their projects.
The Jerusalem Foundation was founded by long time former mayor Teddy Kollek to help with the development of the city.
Our first stop was at the YMCA right across the street from the King David hotel. I had never been to the Y but it is world famous and has been serving the diverse communities of Jerusalem since 1933. The building is stunning and while certainly showing its age one can't but be impressed walking through its doors.
As impressive as the building is and the view from the rooftop, even more impressive is the peace pre-school and the multi-ethnic theatre arts program.
Both programs have a balance of Jewish, Christian, and Arab participants and teachers coming from all over the city.
I was not surprised to hear that it was the parents of the peace pre-school program who founded the Hand to Hand school. Known as Yad l' Yad in Hebrew, this school is being expanded to other parts of the country as more and more Jewish, Arab and Palestinian parents are focusing on that which unifies rather than that which divides.
Next it was on to the Kerem Institute for teacher training where we met with the innovators of a new program aimed at increasing the number of Ethiopian teachers in public schools in Jerusalem.
Throughout the Jerusalem school district there are currently only eight Ethiopian teachers. This is terrible on so many fronts, the lack of Ethiopian role models, the lack of teachers who look like many of the students, and the resulting perpetuated racism.
We also heard from representatives from the Yeru-shalem coalition, a coalition of non-profits and community councils founded to promote a pluralistic and inclusive society.
When one thinks of Jerusalem one immediately thinks about the tensions between the Israelis and Arabs. Not so readily apparent to those of us living outside of Israel is the tension between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews and the political and economic overtones effecting every day life.
Finally it was on to Hachmey Lev, the first Haredi (ultra orthodox) mainstream Yeshiva to offer core curriculum classes including English, math, science and computers. JCF is the first Jewish Community Foundation to support this two year old school.
Rabbi Betzalel Cohen, the Rosh Yeshiva, (head of school) is a truly courageous visionary).
My brain is expanding and feeling a bit overwhelmed, but that is as it should be. Each day will bring new opportunities that will expand and deepen our understanding of the realities of living in Israel.
From Pushke To Philanthropy
From Pushke To Philanthropy
(originally published in the Arizona Jewish Post on November 7,2014)
When we were little, my friends and I put our coins in a pushke, a little metal box with a slit in the top to raise funds for the Jewish National Fund. I remember thinking that I was personally helping to plant trees in Israel. It filled me with pride. Would the trees have my name on it? Would there be a plaque?
The world of philanthropy has evolved in many ways and we now have strategic and tax-advantageous ways to make contributions to worthy causes. It really can get overwhelming.
One of the challenges in working for the Jewish Community Foundation is language. We use so many different phrases for the same thing, it is no wonder that there is confusion.
So what’s the difference between a bequest and an endowment? And what the heck is legacy planning?
A bequest is when you leave something in your will. You bequeath Aunt Martha’s ring to your daughter, your pool table to your son, and your house and cash assets to all of your children divided equally, with maybe a little something going to the grandkids.
As you are thinking about this, you might start to think about your synagogue or alma mater or to that camp you attended growing up, “Hmm, I wonder if there is a way to provide ongoing support to that camp for future generations?” There is indeed.
Think of a bequest as an outright gift. In your will, along with Aunt Martha’s ring, you can give a gift of whatever amount you’d like to the camp. They will be thrilled and most likely spend it immediately.
If, however, you’d like to give an annual gift in perpetuity to the camp, you could set up an endowment fund with the Jewish Community Foundation that grows over time.
Let’s say you have given $500 to the camp every year, and you’d like to keep doing that after your lifetime. If you set up an endowment fund in the amount of $12,500, the camp will receive a distribution of approximately $500 from your endowment fund each year in perpetuity. The chances are good that the amount the camp receives will grow as investments grow because the Foundation uses a very prudent approach.
A legacy plan is what we call the document that is crafted to carry out your charitable wishes. Legacy planning is the process that leads to the development of that document. We’re experts in this arena! During this process, we learn about you, what you care about, and your goals and because JCF is a community foundation, we can offer you a lot of flexibility. You can, for example
fund one-time or perpetual gifts to charitable organizations and/or synagogues,
fund your areas of interest, such as camperships, senior services, or trips to Israel, and/or
set up a scholarship or award fund to honor someone important to you.
We help you fulfill your philanthropic wishes, during and after your lifetime. You probably have a CPA and an attorney; why not consider a philanthropic advisor as well? We would love to be your partner.
Tracy Salkowitz is CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (JCF), an organization devoted to turning the inspiration of charitably minded people into reality. Experienced JCF experts help donors make a difference today through donor advised funds and plan their legacy via endowment funds and life income funds. Tracy blogs about making a difference at www.tracystreks.com. More JCF information: jcftucson.org, Facebook, Twitter and (520) 577-0388.
Embracing the Mensch Within
In 1984, I was appointed the Regional Director of the American Jewish Congress in Washington, D.C. At 28, I was the youngest person ever to have been appointed to this position. I was young and energetic and with my spanking new Masters in Social Work (MSW), I was ready to take the world by storm.
I began by meeting with colleagues to get acquainted and position myself as a partner in the field of what was then called human rights work (now we'd call it community relations or civil rights). So I started my series of get togethers with the guys−and yes, they were all guys. Not only was I by far the youngest person in the group, but I was the only woman as well. I took a deep breath and readied to charm.
One of my first lunches had such an impact that I've never forgotten it. I figured I'd start out with my Jewish colleagues, so met with a rabbi who was the regional director of the American Jewish Committee. I asked him how he got in to the work and when did he realize he wanted to become a rabbi.
He gave me an overview of his early days and basically said that one journey became another and he became a rabbi. It was a story that I hear often, that happenstance often dictates our next step. I did think it was a little odd in that becoming a rabbi is kind of a big cosmic religious step, but just stored it away for the future.
He then asked how I came to be where I was. I remember telling him how even as a little girl injustice always disturbed me greatly and that I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be in a position where I could make a difference.. Becoming a community organizer was the best way I knew how to do that.
He stopped and sort of stared at me. "Tracy, you do not want me leaving this table thinking that you are as naive as you sound right now."
"Oh, of course not," I fumbled thinking frantically how do I get out of this one, "I mean what I meant was...ummm, well .. " Now I'm generally pretty good thinking on my feet, but I was stumped. I couldn't come up with a cool answer or one that would have him taking me more seriously. Good grief, this was my first lunch and already I'd shot myself in the foot.
I sighed, embraced the Pollyanna that is me, and said "Gee, I guess you are going to have to. That is why I became a community social worker and it is at the essence of who I am. I'm not brilliant, nor do I have illusions that I will cure cancer, but I do hope that the world will be a little better off for me having been in it."
I've replayed the conversation over and over in my mind through the years and I wouldn't change a thing. I've embraced the Pollyanna within me. And I wish that for all of you. When we reflect on our lives during this High Holy Day season I hope one of the questions you ask is "Where is my Mensch?" "How can I make a difference today and into the future?"
I wish you and the Mensch within you, a wonderful year, a year of joy and happiness and a year of remembering that the Mensch within is your Legacy.
L'Shana Tova tikatevu-
I’ve been doing non-profit work now for more than 30 years−yikes! Or as my daughter would say, “Well you are kind of old…” It’s true and it actually is comforting in that there isn’t a whole lot I haven’t seen. So with all of this experience, I have developed a profile for my ideal board and committee member.
Here’s why MIP and MIPsy are such great partners:
Listen and hear. MIP attends meetings and really listens not only to what is being said, but to what the speaker means. Being able to pull out the nugget of intent and review it without prejudice and bias is an invaluable talent; hearing what is being said for its own sake and not through an already-made-up mind opens up possibilities.
Solve Problems. MIPsy has the ability to always keep the goal in mind, pull out the issues of concern from every prospective, and either come up with the solution or identify the questions that need answers before we can do so.
Have My Back. MIP is my partner in every sense of the word. If there is something I need to know, he shares it; if I’ve screwed up, he lets me know in the kindest of ways. If I have a problem, MIP helps me think it through and come up with solutions. If MIP disagrees with me, he does it respectfully and never embarrasses me or other Board members publically. I have a committee member who met with me the day before my budget was to be presented to our Finance Committee. He ripped it to shreds and said, “What were you thinking?” He then proceeded to help me problem solve and come up with strategies to defend my budget. When presented, he was the biggest cheerleader.
Ask Questions. Some of the greatest ideas come from new committee and board members when they ask questions that they worry are going to be stupid or ignorant. First of all, it forces all of us to take a breath and make sure that everyone is on the same page with the same amount of information. Asking hard questions makes my life easier because perhaps I missed something, something doesn’t make sense, or it is unrealistic. Secondly, I can’t tell you how many times a newbie has asked a question that hadn’t occurred to anyone because that’s not the way we’ve been doing it. Gems come out of many newbie questions.
Value Time. MIPsy takes on an assignment and does it within the agreed upon time frame! MIPsy also respects staff time and is as responsive as possible to emails and surveys. I can’t tell you how many staff I’ve had to pull off the ceiling because committee members don’t respond to meeting surveys/doodles and it holds up meeting planning and moving the work along. Of course, MIPsy is on time for meetings, too!
Kind and Supportive. MIPsy tells me when I’ve done a good job (even if she assumes my ego is so big I don’t need the compliment). MIPsy is kind to staff, thanks them often for the hard work completed and appreciates good work. She doesn't let staff know that she thinks she could really do the job better if only she weren't so busy!
Realistic Expectations. MIP is always mindful of work/life balance and keeps his eye on the highest priorities. Historically, non-profits have prized workaholics and have turned a blind eye to stressed out, exhausted staff. MIP wants a happy and well-rounded staff, knowing that they will work harder and be more loyal if their job descriptions are actually doable.
Provide Financial Support. MIPsy gets that while non-profits can’t work without volunteers, they also can’t work without being able to turn the lights on. MIPsy and MIP are both generous to their capacity, understanding that helping to support the organization’s core operations is critical.
Bring Other People to the Party. MIP introduces me to his friends and colleagues for committee involvement, potential contributions or support (in our case legacy planning), leadership development or simply to spread the word to make sure that more and more folks know about our good work.
Have a Wonderful Sense of Humor. MIP and MIPsy are serious about our mission and celebrate doing good things with humor and joy. Volunteers and staff put in long hours of intense work. Laughing together makes the work fun and helps forge wonderful relationships that may get tested during stressful times.
I’ve been blessed to work with many MIPs and MIPsys over the years. They are a joy and they keep me at my absolute best.
Waiting for Godotsky
In the non-profit world, there is a never-ending cosmic search for the ideal Board member. Sometimes you hit gold and sometimes you can't believe you were so clueless. When I offered to teach a session at the YWCA Tucson’s 26th Annual Women's Leadership Conference about the qualities of a good board member, I thought it would be fun to look at the question from the other side. Rather than look at what non-profits want and need, how about some self evaluation? Do you have what it takes to make a good board member?
What kind of volunteer are you or would you make? Are you shy? Do you need to be the center of attention? Do you like to throw things during meetings? Are you bold or brash?
Years ago I was working for an agency that desperately needed new board members. I went out to lunch with a woman, let's call her Joan, and was blown away by how bright and articulate she was. I asked her to join the board, I figured she'd be great. She was a great person, but she turned out not to be such a good board member. My daughter had a friend who was an inveterate chatterer. My favorite t-shirt that she wore said "Help me, I can't stop talking!" I wanted to have one made for Joan. Consequently, I am a huge fan of organizations that are big enough to try out prospective volunteers on a committee first!
Another board member, we'll call him Sam, never spoke during meetings. He was shy and didn't feel comfortable speaking up. After meetings he'd come up and say "You know... if you tried this it might work." It drove me crazy because here Sam had great solutions but didn't bring them up during the meetings which caused an inordinate amount of work on my part, because we'd then have to redo and re-meet and re-decide. Oy. He became a terrific board member after he felt more comfortable speaking up during board meetings.
Have you ever thought about how you would be as a Board member? Or how you are as a Board or Committee member? Let's have some fun. Fill out the brief survey below and see if you have what it takes. Mind you, this is non-scientific and the lens is my own (albeit with 30 years plus of experience!) Circle one response for each question.
1 -When you are in a group setting do you:
a) Make yourself the center of attention?
b) Encourage everyone to participate in the conversation?
c) Sit quietly and observe what is going on?
d) Wish you could sit in the corner with a book because you are shy?
2 -If a disagreement among peers or friends arises, do you:
a) Get in the middle of the fray and make sure your point is heard?
b) Try and make sure that no other point of view is heard because you know you are right?
c) Avoid confrontation and disagreement all together?
d) Try to make sure that every viewpoint is heard, including your own?
e) Just try to keep the peace, perhaps by suggesting the discussion be postponed?
3- If you don't understand something, do you:
a) Ask for clarification?
b) Wait until after the meeting to prevent calling attention to yourself or be embarrased that you don't know the answer?
c) Offer an opinion even though you don't know what you are talking about?
4 - When in a restaurant and you have to wait forever for your meal, you:
a) Flag the waiter and calmly ask what the status of your order is?
b) Flag the waiter and let them hear your frustration?
c) Not leave a tip?
d) Huff and Puff and blow the whole house down?
5- When receiving an email invitation to a meeting you respond:
a) Within an hour?
b) Within 24 hours?
c) Within a week?
d) Figure folks will be happy if I just show up...
Question 1: 1) 4; 2) 1; 3) 2; 4) 3
Question 2: 1) 2; 2) 4; 3) 4; 4) 1
Question 3: 1) 1; 2) 2; 3) 4
Question 4: 1) 1; 2) 3; 3) 4; 4) 3
Question 5: 1) 1; 2) 2; 3) 3; 4) 4
If you scored 5-10 points you are someone who has great potential as a board member! You speak up, are inclusive and willing to risk. You are also respectful of others.
If you scored 11-15 points you could be a good board member. Perhaps you are initially shy and don't want to speak up, but might if you feel more comfortable. Or you may be a little too outspoken at times, but with coaching might learn to reign it in.
If you scored 16-20 points- perhaps you should consider taking up knitting or golfing... just sayin'....
Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how this all fits together with non-profit volunteering!
Aleph Bet Matzo Ball Soup
Oy Gevalt. JFNA, UIA, UJA, JAFI, CJF, JCF, JF&CS, JFSA. With all the acronyms in our Jewish world I think we are at the point that we can't remember who does what and why. This really struck home when I participated in a number of Conferences recently and folks I met had no idea who was responsible for what.
I think this is a challenge especially for the Jewish Federation movement as it is such an institution but as many younger Jews approach their philanthropy differently than did their parents, they don't understand the nuances of our Jewish community. Let's see if we can unravel it a bit.
Let's start with the JDC, or the Joint. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was founded in 1914. They are celebrating their 100th year and they are remarkable (See the exhibit and the NY Historical Society). Did you know that the Jewish people have their own rescue and relief organization? That we have airlifted entire Jewish communities out of distressed regions? That is the JDC. During the Holocaust they smuggled in food and supplies to suffering Jewish communities. They helped with transportation and resettlement and absorption in Israel. Today they make sure that home bound elderly Jews in disappearing Jewish communities receive food and visits. They also are working to see to a resurgence of Jewish engagement in the former Soviet Union.
The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), who along with the JDC, is one of the two major beneficiaries of Federation overseas support. Founded in 1929, JAFI has managed and funded Aliyah for Jews wishing to move to Israel from around the world. You may think that is is a shrinking effort, but think again. French and Ukrainian Jews are able to move quickly because of these two agencies that have been working on the ground for generations and have internationally connected networks.
The United Jewish Appeal or the UJA is and has been the fundraising arm for the Jewish people. In larger communities the fundraising arm is the Jewish Federation system. In many smaller communities it is the United Jewish Appeal. The United Israel Appeal or UIA, on the other hand, has been the funnel through which funds from around the world are funneled to support absorption and social welfare programs in Israel. This includes funds from the U.S. government.
Are we confused yet? So how does this all fit together? How do Jews as a community get it all together to support world wide Jewish relief, rescue and continuity?
For 153 communities, Jews turn to their Jewish Federation. Jewish Federations were created to provide a centralized fundraising arm for local communities. The hope was that through a combined campaign that donors could make one gift and it would meet the needs of the local Jewish community along with global Jewry needs. Indeed, when one makes a donation to their local Federation part of the gift stays to meet local needs, part goes to help Israel grow and thrive and part goes to wherever it is needed around the world to make sure that the needs of our Jewish people are met.
In 1999 the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel Appeal and the Council on Jewish Federations first merged into the Untied Jewish Communities and more recently into the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). The aim of merging these organizations was to develop a more cohesive and holistic approach to national and international fundraising. JFNA brings best practices and models to the 153 Federations and 300 smaller communities that provide support for our global Jewish fundraising effort.
The new piece of this fundraising puzzle is the Jewish Funders Network. Founded in 1990 by a group of Jewish Community Funders, this group wanted to focus on private and community foundations that were looking to have an impact with their philanthropic dollars. Up until this point the planning for the community was really the purview of the Jewish Federation movement and certainly Jewish federations do centralized planning for their local communities, but just as many younger donors want to feel and have a more direct connection with the organizations that receive their dollars, so too are a growing number of baby boomer donors. They found that by joining together to look at local, national and international trends, they could work together, leverage support and have a greater impact with combined grants.
The challenge now is to keep up with our changing community and the changing nature of our donors and funders. Our community has an extraordinary opportunity to create intersections of creative philanthropy. We just have to make sure that we don't trip over our own feet by thinking that one model is better than another model, or that our leadership is the true leadership of the Jewish community. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone and we need to celebrate and leverage each other's talents and energy.
Personally, I love that we have the JDC and JAFI and that the Federation makes sure that elderly Jews in Cuba are receiving visits and that young Jews in Budapest are given an opportunity to connect with other young Jews and the wider, global Jewish network. I also love that Funders can leverage dollars by working together. We just have to make sure that members of our community keep up with the changing landscape and don't get lost along the way.
The final acronyms above? Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Family & Children's Services and Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona just to see if you were paying attention!
It's About YOU!!
So you are finally sitting down and updating your will. The last time you did it your kids were in elementary school and they are now all have jobs and are doing well. You have a pretty good sense of divvying up the financial assets. Then you go through the task of figuring out who gets the artwork and jewelry.
You can't help pausing and thinking - wow, this will be after I'm gone. "What do I want my legacy to be?" Is it just financial assets and jewelry? How do I want to pass on my values? Can I continue to inspire after I'm gone?
There are a number of ways to do this. You can leave an ethical will or a letter detailing what your values are, what you've held dear during your life time and what you hope for your children, what lessons they will learn and what kind of people they will be as they get older.
You can also embrace caring for the community in your will. Leaving a percentage of your assets for community needs is a wonderful way to keep your inspiration perpetual. It is doubtful that your children would miss five or 10 percent of your assets. In fact when we've checked with our donors, their children love the idea that funds will be flowing into the community and that Mom and Dad will be remembered in the days to come.
So how do you go about it? Let's say you want to leave funds to your Alma Mater, your synagogue or church, a youth literacy program and something for future emergencies. You can go to your Alma Mater, who will be happy to work with you to figure out where within the university you would like to leave funds; to your synagogue or church to determine what program you'd like to support and look around for the best literacy program that might be worth funding. At this point you've probably given it all up and decided to think about this tomorrow.
OR, you can make an appointment with someone at a Community Foundation, who will sit down with you and make it all happen for you. Those working for community foundations have no vested interest in one organization or another. It's all and ONLY about YOU.
The only thing that goes into your will is that X percent or X amount goes to the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (for example) for charitable purposes. That's it.
Then you sit down with us - or with someone at your local Community Foundation and walk through where you'd like the funds to go. The Foundation invests the funds and then a portion of the interest is sent each year to your beneficiaries. As in, forever. The reason why only a portion of the interest is distributed each year is that this allows for your fund to grow while hedging against downturns in the economy.
If you want funds to support what is most needed at the time, emergencies or capacity building in a given program area, Community Foundations can do that too.
And, if you change your mind at any point, there are no legal fees, you just come in and we do an amendment.
The Legacy Conversation, as we call it, is fun. We learn about you and what you care about, and we get to brainstorm together to make sure that those causes you care about are supported in the days ahead.
This way, you are not only investing in our community, but you are role modeling for your children and others in the community about the importance of making a difference now and always. It's about your legacy. It's about You.
As we near the beginning of Passover I can't help but think about Moses. He is a hero to the Jewish people because he led us out of slavery. To me, though, he is a hero because not only did he lead the Jewish people and take on Pharaoh, but he did it with a horrible stutter. Can you imagine what it took to overcome his insecurity to tackle such a task!?
I would love to have Moses on my board- although we'd have to have a special place to put that staff. Why? Let me explain.
1) Humility- Moses never assumed he knew everything and continually struggled to do the right thing. He consulted with others in addition to God. He analyzed and strategized.
2) Questioning- He asked questions. If something didn't make sense, he sought out answers- including the biggest one of all- "You want me to do WHAT???" There is no such thing as a stupid question. Truly.
3) Compromise- He looked at every side of the question. He approached Pharaoh with an open hand and tried to negotiate. It wasn't my way or the highway from the get go.
4) Buy-in- Moses actually was one of the original community organizers. He understood that you have to get everyone bought in to a common goal. When he first returned after his self-imposed exile the Hebrews didn't trust him or believe that he'd had a change of heart. It took a long time for him to gain the trust he sought.
5) Partnership- Moses understood that working together, respecting each other in an interdependent relationship was the way to go. That trek for 40 years in the desert didn't happen without a lot of hand holding and support for one another.
(And why didn't he just ask for directions?)
6) Courage- Good Grief! Can you imagine the courage it took for Moses to believe that he could change the Jewish world? I love it when Board members speak up (respectfully) to ask hard questions, those I may have not thought of. And how wonderful when a Board members suggests something to make sure we have all of our bases covered and/or to make sure that I'm protected.
7) Compassion- Moses was very human. He made mistakes, he wasn't perfect. He never made it to the Promised Land (I'm still annoyed with the Big Guy over that one). He got it though, he felt the pain of others and therefore treated others with respect.
8) Dedication- Of course the biggest one that we share is our love for the Jewish people. Community continuity is not an exact science. It isn't black or white. Being present, asking questions, volunteering, smiling and laughing is what it is all about. It is saying "Hineyni," I am here to do my part to the very best of my ability.
May your Passover be blessed with family, friends, yummy food and reflection about the amazing journey of the Jewish people.
With apologies to God and our forefathers if I messed up any of the story!
Tracy Salkowitz is the CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, a Community Social Worker, Devoted Mom and obsessive crafter.