Fundermentalist on the loose in Israel

I’ll be in Israel for the next week and a half blogging from three major federation-related conferences: The Lion of Judah Conference of the UJC’s National Women’s Philanthropy in Tel Aviv from Nov.12-16, the UJC’s system wide General Assembly in Jerusalem Nov. 16-19, and the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors meetings Nov. 19-20.

If I survive, it will be my finest feat thus far as the Fundermentalist. Let’s just say these eight days won’t be Chanukkah.

The philanthropically grueling stretch got started for me last night with the opening plenary of the Lion of Judah.

More than 1,000 women who give at least $5,000 annually to their local federation through the system’s National Women’s philanthropy are here for the four-day conference centered at Tel Aviv’s King David Intercontinental Hotel.

Unlike next week’s G.A., I don’t anticipate a whole lot of hard news coming out of the LOJ. It’s not really that kind of conference, it seems.

The federation system is more successful per capita than almost any other general philanthropy in terms of raising money from women (if you haven’t seen it, check out the story I wrote last week about women’s giving). This conference seems less about news, and more about thanking the women who give to the federations, and about getting them together in one place and trying to inspire them to give more.

Unlike the G.A., which is more geared toward a split between workshops for professionals and informational sessions for lay leaders, this is more a morale booster and moment of sisterhood. At least that is my take on it after 24 hours. And that is not a knock at all.

Consider this: The United Way raised $4.2 billion system wide in 2007 and took in $102 million from women. In the same year, the federation system raised $908.1 million through its general campaigns, $193 million from women.

I’ll trust that they know what they are doing.

If you have some time, check out this link to the UJC’s promo video on women’s giving, “Women who get It,” which was released Wednesday night at the plenary.

Aside from being wonderfully packed with double entendres, the video provides some really fascinating stats about women’s economic power.

I’ll have video from the conference up within the week once we get some techincal whatnot worked out.

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