Sunday, April 8, 2007

How does one sell Judaism? Creative destruction...or a major Jewish organization for every potential President?

From Haaretz::

Can an investment banker from Wall Street, who specialized in buying failing companies, teach the leaders of the community how to turn Judaism in America into an attractive brand?

Scott Shay answers both questions is in the affirmative. Shay, 49, the co-director of a private capital fund in New York, has in the past few years felt deep concern about the continuity of American Jewry.... Shay picks up the surgeon's scalpel with Jewish philanthropy, claiming Jews contribute less and less to Jewish causes. ...The research revealed that only 6 percent of [mega-donations] had been given to Jewish bodies and institutions.

Shay does not have a plan to stop Jews from giving their money to universities, cultural institutions and medical research. The practical steps he recommends mainly relate to the Jewish organizations. He calls for 'creative destruction.'

'The time has come for there to be fewer organizations,' he says. 'We have to kill organizations that do not have an aim and to transfer their financial resources to objectives that are crying out for money. In every competition, there are winners and losers, and there are those who go bankrupt and close their doors. That is an important and good process but it doesn't happen in the Jewish world.'

In the world of American Jewish organizations it is customary to say that 'no Jewish organization has ever closed down in the U.S.' Against this background, Shay's approach appears especially courageous, and perhaps even naive.

Shay proposes integrating organizations with similar aims, such as the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress, to do away with duplication. He also proposes cuts in one of the most successful and strongest organizations in the U.S. - the Anti-Defamation League. Groups like the ADL "have pretensions to represent the Jewish people but in effect act to further the personal interests of their fund-raising mechanisms...

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