discusses the challenges facing Jewish philanthropy amid the economic crisis and after Madoff
Joshua Fogelson, CEO of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation for past 11 years, has announced that he will take a new position as executive director of strategic development at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Although "the Joint" - as the relief arm of the North American Jewish community is known to Jews in many remnant communities around the world - is headquartered in New York City, Fogelson
will work from here.
Fogelson will continue to serve in his current position until Sept. 1, which will allow the Federation to launch a national search process for a new top executive.
The statement noted that Fogelson
has helped the Federation "establish a strong infrastructure to ensure a vibrant community for the future.
leadership, the Minneapolis Jewish community has adopted a national reputation for warmth, innovation and remarkable volunteerism."
In a conversation with the Jewish World this week, Fogelson
said that he
has been a "strong and active supporter of the work of the Joint Distribution Committee for many years.
Joshua Fogelson (Photo: AJW Archive)
Joshua Fogelson (Photo: AJW Archive)
In the current economic downturn, which has been compounded by personal and foundation losses in the Jewish community from the Bernie Madoff investment scam, all Jewish communal agencies have faced budget challenges.
said that the Federation had "its most successful campaign ever" in 2008, raising more than $16 million.
The 2009 figure was down about $2 million; and Fogelson
expects another "significant drop" in 2010.
Madoff - whose representatives recruited Jewish investors at Oak Ridge Country Club
in Hopkins - had "a greater influence in Minneapolis than in most Jewish communities, but the economic decline was mirrored elsewhere," Fogelson
Smaller incomes and shrunken portfolios have contributed to a "lessened sense of security," in financial terms, for many donors, he
"Feeling secure - for yourself, for your parents, for your kids - is really an essential quality," before a person can think about helping others.
Regarding the deleterious effect locally from the disintegration of the Madoff investment firm, Fogelson
said that the Federation was "extraordinarily appreciative" that all donors have fulfilled their pledges to the 2008 and 2009 fundraising campaigns.
However, the "precipitous decline" in the value of assets managed by the Federation has forced the organization to do some belt-tightening.
said that there have been three rounds of staff layoffs, beginning around Dec. 11, 2008, when Madoff was led away in handcuffs.
The second round took place about this time last year.
The administrative budget is down 22 percent; the staff count is down 26 percent, from 35 to 26 employees, according to Fogelson
, who said that the cuts have been across the board.
Informed of this e-mail message, Fogelson
said that beneficiary agencies have been told to plan for a 25 percent decrease in funding for the 2011 fiscal year.
Regarding the Bet Shalom
e-mail, which he
hadn't seen, Fogelson
said that allocations to the three Reform congregational religious schools - Bet Shalom, Temple Israel
and Shir Tikvah - and to the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis have been reduced based on a formula that involves "contact hours," or student class hours, to arrive at a percentage that each school gets from the pool of Federation funds.
In view of the Federation's rather grim financial situation, Fogelson
sounded an upbeat note about the current campaign that is winding up in June.
said that the campaign is finishing with "much more positive energy," and that "it's impossible to say what the trend will be.