Commitment to Renewal


Published January 27, 2010, issue of February 05, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Even if the reasons for doing so are prosaic, there’s a welcome symbolism in the decision by the Jewish Federations of North America to move its annual General Assembly from Disney World to the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Federation officials say that there wasn’t enough space in Orlando to accommodate the thousands of expected attendees. Still, they had to be aware of the message a meeting in New Orleans sends — one of commitment and renewal, just what an organization struggling with its own identity and mission must convey.

Welcome, too, are some of the priorities set by Jerry Silverman, the new president and CEO, especially the emphasis on growing the talent pool of potential federation leaders. Would that the rest of the Jewish communal world shared that commitment.

Since early November, when the Forward published a major survey showing that only 11 of the 75 largest communal organizations had a woman leader, the gender gap has, unfortunately, grown. Silverman’s former employer, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, replaced a female acting CEO with a male appointee, dropping the overall percentage of women to 13%. Meanwhile, the only woman to ever lead any of the major federations — Jennifer Gorovitz in San Francisco — is still doing so in a temporary capacity.

To address his new priority on talent, Silverman told JTA that his organization is considering creating a professional training program to recruit talented recent college graduates. That builds on what he told the Forward last November: “I don’t know that we’ve put enough emphasis on grooming women, building their capabilities, expertise, leadership.”

Silverman seems to get it. Perhaps by the time the G.A. meets in New Orleans next November, there will be something to show for it, too.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.