MONTREAL (Nov. 15)
The quality of lay and professional leadership of the North American Jewish communities and the extent of their involvement in decision-making processes will determine how effectively the urgent tasks of the next decode will be dealt with.
This, in essence, was the message and focus of the keynote address last night by Morton Mandel, president of the Council of Jewish Federations to the 2600 Jewish community leaders from the United States and Canada at the CJF’s 48th General Assembly meeting here at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel According to Mandel the planning and the implementation of the agenda for the 1980s on the national and local levels will require the development and expansion of a lay and professional leadership in each community and the involvement of local communities to a degree much greater than in the past. In addition, he said, there will be the need for closer cooperation among major national Jewish organizations, service organizations, community relations agencies, and national synagogual and rabbinic bodies.
“Expanding our reservoir of leadership must become a high priority in Jewish communal life,” Mandel declared. “We need to be as all inclusive as is practical. Our leadership should be widely representative of all elements and groups in the community. Do we have enough men of thought? Enough capable women in top spots? Enough young active people?”
The efforts of the CJF, which Mandel viewed as a catalytic agent and the motor force for spearheading the necessary community activities and integrating them nationally, will be aimed at helping local communities extend and deepen the opportunities for talented volunteers. But he added, the lay leaders feel “that strengthening our professional ranks” is “their greatest single need.”
STEPS TO ATTRACT QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS
Basically, Mandel explained, it will mean strengthening the CJF’s Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program (FEREP) and will involve the introduction of two new concepts. The first, which he termed “the alternative track plan,” essentially expands “the talent search to the fields of law, education, the rabbinate, business and government thus, we will recruit in new career areas. Once a qualified candidate is recruited, he or she will be provided with an intensive ten-month training program, followed by a year of direct supervision and consultation on the job.”
The second concept calls for a continuing educational process “that will enable our professionals to stay abreast of management and technical advances in their fields;” Mandel said. “We want to incorporate the concept of continuing education into our job performance criteria and assure, through training centers, supported by local grants, that these criteria can be met.”
EXPANDING FINANCIAL RESOURCES
In addition to a quantitatively and quantitatively more inspired and innovative leadership, geared to meet the challenges of the 1980s, a major thrust of the CJF will be an “ambitious program to help Federations develop and expand their financial resources. We simply need more funds,” Mandel said. Unlike in the past, when enough money was somehow raised to meet basic responsibilities, this has not always been the case in more recent years. “We are finding ourselves, in a number of communities, cutting up the same differently… shifting dollars from one deserving recipient to another inflation. Soviet Jewish emigration, desperate needs in Israel, and other issues have all combined to produce a growing sense of frustration as we see our campaigns not quite up to the challenge,” Mandel said.
Focusing on this problem, he said. “Simply stated, the problem facing our communities is: how do we raise enough money to meet Jewish needs wherever they exist? To meet this challenge head-on, we have begun a major long range effort to boost our campaign achievements, in a close working partnership with the national United Jewish Appeal.” In this partnership, he explained, the UJA will have the basic responsibility for providing campaign services and assisting communities to conduct the annual campaign, while the CJF will serve in an advisory, planning and evaluation capacity. A process will be organized, he continued, in partnership with the UJA that will help communities to define their specific campaign problems, identify specific opportunities for improvement and set realistic goals for raising more money.
RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL
Another area of emphasis in the coming period, Mandel stressed, will be “to even more fully develop our relationship with Israel; to create a true partnership, in every sense of the word.” Noting that Israel has become central to Jewish life, Mandel observed that despite its record of miraculous achievement in its short 31 years, Israel “is still a fragile state, desperately in need of strong friends, understanding friends, willing friends, and generous friends.” The strengthening of Israel’s social framework, the renewal of its neighborhoods, the development of its institutions, the sharing of knowledge and skills with the North American Jewish community, “are at least as helpful to the State of Israel as are the financial resources we make available.” While Mandel did not specify an agenda for the 1980s, in terms of economic and social priorities and goals, he alluded to them by referring to the goals set by the CJF at its special General Assembly in Denver last June. At that meeting, Irwin Field, UJA national chairman, stated he and Mandel in consultation with the top professional leadership of the CJF and UJA concurred that the priority agenda items for the next period would deal with the transition to peace between Israel and Egypt Jewish migration, inflation in the United States and Israel, Project Renewal and the relationship and delicate balance among all these commitments.