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Hadassah lays off quarter of its staff

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NEW YORK (JTA) — Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America has instituted massive layoffs.

The organization began the process Tuesday of laying off 80 employees across the country, roughly a quarter of its national staff, a spokesman for the organization confirmed.The cuts are coming at all levels of the organization.

Hadassah recently announced that it had in total $40 million invested in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scam, as well as another $50 million the organization thought it had made in the scam. It was a significant hit to its endowment, which now stands at $412 million.

The layoffs, however, were not solely caused by the Madoff losses. The organization had been discussing streamlining for nearly two years. The downturn in the stock market and the Madoff losses accelerated the process, the spokesman confirmed.

Last September, the organization hired McKinsey and Co. to help implement a strategic restructuring plan, the preliminary components of which were approved by Hadassah’s executive committee the week before the Madoff scandal broke, Hadassah President Nancy Falchuk said in a letter to her board in December.

That restructuring plan, which included massive layoffs, was intended initially to be implemented over 18 months. The Madoff scandal “turned it into a 30-day plan,” said a former Hadassah employee who was notified that he was laid off Wednesday morning.

Employees were notified starting Tuesday that they were being let go immediately.

The employees were given two months’ pay, as well as two weeks’ pay for every year they worked at Hadassah, the source said.

“This was a painful and difficult step for us,” Hadassah’s national president, Nancy Falchuk, said in a statement regarding the layoffs. “Staff reduction is among a number of measures our organization has been taking and planning this past year as part of an overall restructuring plan to decrease expenses and to protect our core mission of supporting Israel and strengthening the Jewish people through our projects. This reduction was accelerated by the ongoing downturn of the current economic environment.

“As a responsible not-for-profit organization, and in light of economic conditions, Hadassah felt the need to review and reduce its administrative costs. Hadassah has always been able to count on a talented and committed staff. We are grateful for the dedicated service provided by outgoing staff members and wish them well.

“Hadassah remains strong as an organization, focused on the future and actively committed to supporting its pacesetting programs in medical care and research, education and youth institutions in Israel.”

 

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