Rebranding Jewish organizations without the ‘Jew’ in the name


It’s an axiom of Jewish organizations that you’ve got to have something in your name to suggest you’re Jewish: American Jewish World Service, Jewish Agency, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, America-Israel Friendship League, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — you get the picture. It’s why the letter J is worn out on our keyboards.

But Jewish Heart for Africa — a five-year-old organization started by Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari that raises money among Jews and delivers Israeli technologies to rural Africa — announced Thursday that it was dropping the Jewish from its name to become Innovation: Africa.

Also, on Thursday, the London Jewish Chronicle reported that London’s new Jewish Community Center was dropping the Jewish from its name too. It now will be known as JW3, the postal code where the center is located.

Could this be the beginning of a trend of Jewish organizations downplaying their ethnic nature to appeal to a wider audience?

Jewish Heart for Africa says it’s case is unique:

For five yeas, we have been doing something incredibly simple. We’ve been bringing technologies from Isael to African villages that need it. But the name Jewish Heart for Africa confused people.
O They thought we worked only with Jews in Africa.
O They thought we were trying to convert people in the villages.

Hence, the rebranding. Innovation: Africa comes with a new tagline: “Bringing Israeli innovation to African villages.”

At London’s JCC, set to open next fall, officials told the Chronicle they were inspired to change the name by the 92nd St. Y on Manhattan’s Upper East Side:

Dame Vivien Duffield was inspired by the JCC in New York to launch the scheme in London, and it was New York’s Y on 92nd Street, known as 92Y, which inspired the name-change.

Debbie Klein, chair of the JCC board, said: “I love the name. It reflects our aspiration for the building to be a home from home and a cultural destination.”

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