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JDC-Jewish Agency deal falls through over ORT funding

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The Fundermentalist has learned that a deal between the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee over how the two organizations split the money they get from the United Jewish Communities fell through last week – essentially because JDC does not want to fund World ORT anymore.

The Joint and the Jewish Agency divide the $180 million or so that the federation system allocates for their core budgets each year at a 75/25 percent split, with the larger portion going to the Jewish Agency.

That deal has been in place since the disaster that was ONAD was terminated in 2006. The UJC, JDC and JAFI have been renegotiating the deal since November and appeared to have one in place essentially to continue that funding split for the next two years.

But over the past couple of weeks, JDC, which is in a budget crisis, threw a wrench in the gears by telling the Jewish Agency that it no longer wanted $3 million that comes out of its budget for World ORT to come out of its budget. Instead, the JDC wants money for ORT to come off the top of the UJC’s overseas budget before the Joint and the Jewish Agency split the cash. That would reduce JAFI’s share of the money.

This was a no-go for the Jewish Agency, which has no relationship with ORT and would in essence have to pay for 75 percent of its allocation. As one source told me: “This would be like if the Jewish Agency asked that all money that goes to aliyah come off the top before we split the money.”

The three sides will now go through a mediation process. I’ll link to my upcoming story on the subject as soon as it’s published.

UPDATE: Here’s my full story on the topic.

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