Federated Blindness

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19 Responses

  1. lacosta says:

    while we as an O community — hareidi,MO,DL, whatever— don’t like decisions other groups make , especially as regards to the use of THEIR money , donated by THEIR donors , belonging to THEIR branches of judaism— the fact remains that regardless of how foolishly other people decide to use THEIR money , it remains just that —THEIR money!

    the federations , like the Medina, have been lambasted as long as they exist in certain religious quarters; those institutions therefore remain entities of Others, not our own… that we get any benefit at all from institutions/entities that we theologically castigate and remain uninvolved with– in lev, meod, and nefesh — should remain surprising that they dont despise us more….

  2. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken: As everyone knows, the most important issue in Israel today is the “peace process,” and the fact that it’s leading nowhere towards peace simply makes discussion more urgent. But it was entirely absent from the GA agenda

    Ori: As it should have been. We diaspora Jews don’t fight in the wars, die in the terrorist attacks, or pay the taxes. The opinions of the federal are simply irrelevant.

  3. Raymond says:

    I worked for many years at our local Jewish Federation. I better not say in which city that was. In any case, they were secular, Left-wing Jews who were extremely hostile to the Orthodox Jewish world. I have since then referred to that entity as the anti-Jewish Federation.

  4. cvmay says:

    There are Federations in many cities that give close to 25%-30% of monies raised to the Torah Academy/Hillel Academy of their cities, monies earmarked for tuition assistance.

  5. Reb Yid says:

    There is a reason why Federations were created–in the late 19th and early 20th century, everyone tried making Shabbat for themselves, and the result was chaos.

    Each organization tried raising money entirely by itself, and competed against all other organizations.

    In the larger American scene, of course, there have always been those who have hated Federations. Our nation fought a Civil War over this issue.

    But the truth is, both the Jewish world and America need some form of Federation, however much it continues to evolve over time, to provide certain safety net functions, especially to those who are the most vulnerable.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    The government can tax people to support activities they personally oppose, but a federation can’t. Anyone who objects to a federation’s orientation can freely give through other channels.

    Difficulties arise when institutions that seriously object to a federation’s orientation feel they can’t do without contributions through the federation. This is a really awkward situation, but common. Collectively, Orthodox leadership needs to think up new ways around the problem that can work in different size communities.

  7. Benshaul says:

    a few points.
    while its easy to lambast the federations’, it is worth noting that many of them give significant money to Orthodox institutions, and it is mostly money raised from non-orthodox donors. While the point of the Chofetz Chaim is well taken, at the same time -there is a new “federation” that was created for the kollelim in Eretz Yisroel, so there is a nuance to the objection. As to the lack of “democracy” in the Federation world – I don’t mean to be a cynic -but really!!! You mean to tell me that our mosdos ARE run democratically, and there is no undue influence from major donors or certain parties. (I know you were only quoting…)While many of your objections are correct, i think we need to be a bit circumspect -if for no other reason then the hakaras hatov due to them -in the instances and the cities where they are helping on some level.

  8. Nachum says:

    lacosta: Many donors to the Federations are Orthodox. I wonder if they are disproportionately represented- I wouldn’t be surprised if they were, or even the majority of donors.

    You do know that David Landau *is* Charedi, right? 🙂

  9. Bracha says:

    While I appreciate the author’s perspective on other issues, I am having difficulty understanding Rabbi Menken’s purpose in writing this article. He writes, “At the GA, they pushed the wrong issues in the wrong place, and completely ignored the most important and pressing communal priorities on both sides of the Atlantic.” However, it becomes clear as the article continues that the author was not actually at the GA and is basing his statements off of various articles he read that discussed aspects of the conference.

    Imagine for a minute that a journalist for the Wall Street Journal or NYT wrote an op-ed piece about the Agudah Convention based on a few articles he read online about various parts of the program. You can imagine how things could be taken out of context and distorted. I am not sure how this is different. While the article is very critical about how the GA did not live up to its mission, nowhere does the writer actually explain what the GA or JFNA’s mission is (or the mission of Federations in general). Without such a context, the article seems to be nothing more than a straw man’s argument.

    I have both attended the GA in the past and have been involved with our local federation in various capacities and have some awareness of both the positive and negative aspects of the Federation system. I think that the beginning of the article essentially “throws out the baby with the bathwater”. Not only does the frum community in many cities directly benefit from the Federation, but there are also things we can learn from the Federation system that might actually improve some of the way we do things in our own communities. Actually, Moishe Bane’s article in this summer’s Klal Perspectives journal seemed to advocate for adopting some of the Federations’ methods of allocations. You can read it at http://klalperspectives.org/moishe-bane-2/.

    That’s all my thoughts for now…

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken again proves that the Federation world either is grossly ignorant or deliberately hostile to the growth of both the MO and Charedi worlds, and refuses to consider what could be done to attract increased participation by MO or Charedi participants. One thing is certain-using Federation dollars and personnel to act in an Ortho bashing way via public statements, news releases and sponsors of lectures at Federation sponsored venues can’t help the perspective of Federation in the one sector of American Jewry where “Jewish continuity” is more than just an advertising slogan.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    One yearns for the day when a GA would feature as prominently as any of the would be “experts” on Jewish continuity, a simple discussion on the issue of the Jewish view of interpersonal responsibility, as reflected in Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim. Any community Kollel’s members who have ever delved into the depths of either of the first two perakim of Bava Metzia could easily discuss this topic with any interested person on such issues.

  12. Reb Yid says:

    To Steve Brizel:

    It would help if you got your facts right. Ronit Peskin, for one, was featured quite prominently at the GA:

    Imagine if Anat Hoffman was featured at an OU, YI, Bnei Akiva or Agudah conference. I won’t be holding my breath…

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-I think it is great that Ronit Peskin spoke at the GA. OTOH, why would either the Ou, Yi, Bnei Akiva or Agudah allow a self hating Jew with a strong hostility to Halacha, which was explored in depth here, to address a Torah observant audience?

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Nachum-David Landau comes from a Charedi family background. Yet, in a book he wrote about Charedim years ago, IIRC, he went out of the way to emphasize that he is not Charedi himself.

  15. Reb Yid says:

    Steve: The Federation world went on record as supporting the WoW by having a rally there headed by its CEO by the Kotel to that effect. Yet they still afford others who have opposing views, like Peskin, the platform to have their voices heard at their most prominent gathering–the GA.

    So the onus is on the Orthodox world to do the same, with the major exception being the Open Orthodox world which does this wonderfully. And the Jewish world benefits tremendously by it.

  16. Yaakov Menken says:

    Reb Yid, the difference is that the Federation is supposed to represent Jews of all perspectives, and for it to fail to invite the voice of WOW’s opposition, despite its far greater strength, would have made it no better than HaAretz is at unbiased reporting.

    Have you called upon the Reform movement to invite Peskin to speak at their Convention?

    The “Orthodox world” represents Judaism, and has preserved Jewish life specifically by not catering to every perspective a group of Jews proposes we follow.

  17. Reb Yid says:

    To Yaakov Menken:

    Check out the speakers at the upcoming URJ Biennial.

    They include, among others, Bibi Netanyahu, Donniel Hartman and Jonathan Sarna (in addition to numerous speakers who are not Jewish).

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-Donniel Hartman’s writings are merely a repeat of of late father’s post denominalist writings and positions. If Professor Sarna’s speech is akin to the recently discussed article which was an inacuurate depiction of contemporary Orthodoxy, what you have presented is nothing more than politically correct red meat for the party faithfull.

  19. Reb Yid says:


    The point is that none of these speakers are Reform Jews–they do not identify with it.

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