92Y Raises Eyebrows With Appointment of Non-Jewish Henry Timms as New Chief

Manhattan Arts Institution Seeks To Put Scandal Behind


By Uriel Heilman

Published May 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Is restricting the executive positions at Jewish institutions to Jewish candidates arbitrary and limiting, or does having a non-Jewish executive detract from the mission of a Jewish organization – and, potentially, its attractiveness to Jewish donors?

“Most organizations that identify themselves Jewishly know that a significant portion of their support is going to come from Jewish philanthropists, the Jewish community, so they try to hedge it both ways,” said Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

“Do I believe it’s impossible for someone not Jewish to take on these jobs? No. But you have to be passionate about building the Jewish people to be involved in any of these organizations,” Sanderson said. “The 92nd Street Y didn’t make being Jewish a high priority. To me it’s a little disappointing. As organizations choose to become more universal and less particular, more secular and nonsectarian, this is going to happen more and more.”

Jewish nonprofit leaders long have bemoaned the dearth of future leaders prepared to step up and take the reins of Jewish nonprofit institutions. Some blame a lack of talent, others a lack of leadership training; many complain that executive jobs in the Jewish nonprofit world are not sufficiently attractive or lucrative to retain top Jewish talent.

Yet in the world of federations, JCCs and groups that deal with Jewish content, there’s practically no willingness to entertain the possibility of a non-Jewish executive at the helm, according to David Edell, president of DRG, an executive search firm that specializes in Jewish nonprofits. The Jewish institutions that have been most open to non-Jewish leadership, he said, are groups that focus on health care or human services, such as Jewish family service organizations and Jewish day schools.

Marc Kramer, executive director of Ravsak, a network of Jewish community day schools, said interest in hiring non-Jewish executives arose years ago, when the day school movement was growing quickly and there was a shortage of quality talent. These days, day schools by and large have turned away from gentile leadership, according to Kramer.

Within the Jewish schools that still have non-Jewish heads of school, the lead professional position usually is more akin to CFO or COO than principal.

“In communities where we have had gentiles in the lead professional role, they often have a Jewish partner who holds the cultural and religious portfolio,” Kramer said. “What we’ve heard from the schools is that it is tricky; it’s not a hole-in-one kind of move.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • J.J. Goldberg doesn't usually respond to his critics. But this time, he just had to make an exception.
  • 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.