“Decay of Jewish Federations” Article Exempts Bham
There was a story posted recently on the website eJewish Philanthropy. It was a bleak article written anonymously by someone who works for a Jewish Federation. It contended that Jewish Federations have seen their better days. The piece was headlined “The Continued Decay of Jewish Federations.”
Some of the criticisms were fair — such as many Federations not having kept up with the times. Other observations were off base — such as minimizing the impact that Federations individually and collectively have on Jewish life.
In fact, in general, the story was downbeat and kind of depressing. (It is linked below.) The main thrust of the article was that Federations, like many other organizations and entities in general, are struggling, perplexed by changing times and an inability to think creatively and boldly.
But there was this one passage that stood out: “To be fair, and to acknowledge great institutions, there are Federations which buck the trend and continue to grow. The Jewish Federations in Birmingham, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and of course Cleveland to name a few.”
Observed the writer: “…the vibrancy of these Federations are a reflection of strong, multi-generational communities who still care deeply and identify as Jews, with a central urban city as a geographic hub.”
It felt good to see Birmingham singled out this way and lumped together with some of the greatest and much larger Jewish Federations in the country. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and that, in essence, is what this story is about.
Federations today are challenged, donor patterns are shifting, leadership profiles are evolving, and we are living at a complex and turbulent time. Jewish Federations were birthed as entities premised on the idea of “the collective” — organizational structures that could uniquely bring the entire Jewish community together. This has become increasingly difficult with the advent of technology which often drives us apart.
Nonetheless it is heartening to be mentioned in such a positive way in this story. Yet it’s a reminder that we must never take our Federation for granted and remain committed to providing it with the financial and volunteer support we need to keep leading our community forward.
— Richard Friedman, Executive Director