Friday, August 27, 2010


Since my strong (my word) and "sarcastic" (others) take on this year's 15th Annual Jewish Leadership Forum, I have learned that 2010 represented a year of real and positive change for the JLF -- the kind of change that were it happening elsewhere at JFNA, we would have an organization in which to take great pride.

I kvetched that after 15 years, it was long past time for there to be a plan and a purpose for the JLF that has heretofore been lacking. I learned that new leadership, with no knowledge of my suggestions, and having examined at the least the 2009 Aspen JLF, determined to effect changes and did. The JLF Plan included:

Objective: Present a world class conference to continue the education and development of committed philanthropists with regard to their Judaism (especially reinforcing the commandment of tzedakah) and philanthropy. There will be an element of reward/recognition for participants’ contributions to the Jewish community, and the conference will also serve to re-energize participants’ commitment to tzedakah.

Description: A three day conference, in a compelling venue, with a mix of: presentations and discussion panels led by experts (some of whom may be drawn from the participants); group discussions and workshops/working sessions led by participants; and Jewish study/spirituality. A significant portion of the programming will be designed to foster connections amongst participants so they can help, advise and support one another, and share philanthropic ideas and best practices.

Target Audience (30-100): Tzedakists (philanthropists motivated by the Jewish commandment of tzedakah) who have demonstrated a commitment to generously giving of both their time and financial resources, ideally in a leadership capacity.

With a careful selection of participants and a strong and lengthy "message from our sponsor," and a well thought-out survey post-JLF, I, the cynic, have every confidence that the JLF, part of JFNA's "Operation Breakthrough" can be a building block upon which to construct the bridge to the next generation of federation leaders and philanthropists. (More on Operation Breakthrough in a Post next month.)

How did this happen? A committed lay Chair of Operation Breakthrough, Gil Palter, Gil's wife, one of this year's JLF Co-Chairs, and a brilliant young JFNA professional, Danyelle Neuman, took the bit in their teeth and did it themselves. Perhaps that's the way that change will finally take place within JFNA.

Kal ha'kavod.


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