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The umbrella organization for North American Jewish federations is undergoing a massive reorganization, dropping a major policy initiative that was created in the wake of the surprisingly high intermarriage rates announced in the early ’90s. What this will mean in practical terms is anybody’s guess.
Since 1999, the United Jewish Communities, which links federations that have raised more than $4 billion in recent years, has been organized around four policy pillars. One is the Renewal and Renaissance pillar, which is focused on Jewish identity-building activities like summer camps and trips to Israel. While the abandonment of this pillar may make it sound like the UJC is discontinuing those efforts, that’s highly unlikely. More likely is that UJC feels that those kind of efforts are better left to local federations than a national organization.
A more important piece of the UJC’s restructuring is a proposal to create an office in Israel with the goal of raising money from wealthy Israeli and Russian Jewish philanthropists. While international donors have less interest in outreach to the intermarried–and probably are more unfriendly towards this issue than their North American counterparts–I don’t know if their politics will have any impact on what federations in the U.S. are doing.
So is the restructuring of the most important Jewish organization in the Western Hemisphere good or bad news for the intermarried? We’ll just have to wait and see…
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