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Agency Funding Conference Calls for New Models

Delegates to the Jewish People Policy Institute conference proposed a new model for Jewish communal fundraising and stressed the importance of cooperation between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities.

At a conference session on how the global Jewish community spends its funds, former CBS executive and Fox News founder Mark Pearlman suggested that the community shift in part from focusing on umbrella Federation funding, and instead emphasize funding based on causes – though he noted the importance of Federations to American Jewish communal life.

He also said that Jewish communities should develop better online fundraising, and set up an organization that can monitor fundraising groups and direct donors to specific causes.

“It’s not about auditing,” he said. “We need to continue to support the federated system but we need to promote a marketplace like this to get funding to solve causes.”

The conference, taking place Tuesday and Wednesday in Jerusalem, is called “The Conference on the Future of the Jewish People” and brings together more than 120 Jewish leaders and experts from around the world. The Institute is a think tank focused on developing policy for the Jewish world.

Israeli President Shimon Peres also addressed the delegates on Tuesday.

Aside from the Jewish communal budget, the conference’s sessions dealt with Israeli and Jewish identity and geopolitics.

Tuesday’s keynote speaker, French Jewish public intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, praised increased unity between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities, as compared to Israel’s early days as a state.

In earlier years, “there was the feeling in French Jewry that Israel was a reality that had to be accepted but that it would probably create more problems than it would solve,” he said. “This whole debate seems over. Today it seems the Diaspora and Israel are like the two pillars of the Jewish world and one cannot work without the other.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, JPPI’s parent organization, also appeared at the conference on Tuesday.

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