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August 20, 1993 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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HILLEL page 33

and continuing professional
education so our people can
stay on the cutting edge," he
said.
Those were wrenching
changes in an organization
that had been just getting
by for years.
"It was hard, at the begin-
ning," he said. "When we
began talking about quality,
people had it in their hearts
and in their programs —
but not with any consisten-
cy. We began by saying that
this profession was too
important to have anybody
who is tired in it. So people
who were tired knew they
had to find a different rest-
ing place."
All of this sounds good on
paper, and it has clearly
raised morale in the Hillel
trenches.
"There has been a
change," said Evan
Mendelson, executive direc-
tor of the Northern
California Hillel Council. "I
must admit, I've gotten
totally taken in by the possi-
bilities and the vision
Richard has presented. And
I think a lot of my col-
leagues share that view."
But this new optimism
will not mean much unless
Mr. Joel can stabilize the
group's eroding financial
base and build a foundation
for the growth he sees as
necessary for the group's
long-term survival.
The most immediate con-
cern is a $1.5 million short-
fall for thecurrent fiscal
year.
B'nai B'rith, he said, has
helped by "frontloading" its
contribution to Hillel — giv-
ing its yearly contribution
in one lump sum, rather
than in installments.
He is also looking to other
major Jewish organizations
for economic aid.
But if that relief is not
forthcoming, Mr. Joel could
find himself scrambling to
patch holes in the Hillel
ship rather than building
the sleek new superstruc-
ture he envisions.
In the longer term, Hillel
needs to quickly increase its
budget from a precariously
thin $18 million annually to
somewhere in the neighbor-
hood of $35 million, Mr. Joel
sa;d.
To reach- that goal, Mr.
Joel and his cadre of Hillel
revolutionaries are turning
to direct mail and aggres-
sively pursuing endowment
money, helping local Hillel's
expand their own fundrais-
ing, as well as strengthen-
ing economic ties with other
national Jewish groups.
"We can't sit here like
mendicants, with our hands

out," he said.
"We have to aggressively
pick pockets."
Mr. Joel, with help from a
number of other Jewish
leaders, has assembled an
independent panel that
includes philanthropic
heavy-hitters like Edgar
Bronfman. The goal is to
raise some $5 million every
year for the next five years,
to "build the infrastructure
of development, marketing
and quality assurance that
it will take to get up to
speed," Mr. Joel said.
"In five years, if we can't
reach this goal, we should
close up shop and declare
campus unsafe for Jews."
But that concept is not
without its risks; there is
always the danger that the
financial high-rollers will
demand too much control of
the organization.
"That's always a concern,"
he said. "But these are peo-
ple who don't need more
glory. If they're responding,
they're doing so only
because they're concerned,
and they see that we have a
vision and a plan that
makes good, solid business
sense."
Hillel directors around
the country are aware of the
enormous gamble that will
shape the future of their
organization. But there is
also a widespread belief
that if anybody can turn
Hillel around, Richard Joel
is the man.
"None of us knows how
this will fall out," said
Michael Brooks, executive
director of the University of
Michigan Hillel — one of
the most successful pro-
grams in the country. "The
mood is very different. Part
of it is Richard himself, and
part of it is timing."
Still, he said, "it is a high-
stakes gamble. If Hillel is
going to go out of business,
it ought to go out in style. I
don't think there's any real
danger of that. But Richard
believes that sometimes you
have to go for broke, if you
really believe in what you're
doing." D

Emanu-El
College Dinner

The college subcommittee of
ribmple Emanu-El will hold
its first End-of-the-Summer
College Dinner 5 p.m. Aug. 22
at Kerby's Koney Island, Ten
Mile and Northwestern
Highway.
There is no charge for Tem-
ple Emanu-El college
students. Reservations are re-
quired; call Rabbi Bigman,
967-4020.

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