Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

August 19, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-08-19

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

Community Views

Editor's Notebook

Keep The Jewish
InFamily Service

Mission A Success,
But Memories Warn Us



Many Jewish fam-
ily service (JFS)
agencies across the
country are con-
templating drop-
ping the "Jewish"
label in their
4 names because it
creates marketing
difficulties for non-
Jewish business or in order to ap-
pear as non-sectarian as possible
to successfully vie for secular
Is this the only option we have
to make ends meet and cover op-
erating expenses in a climate
where charitable dollars are
harder to come by? The assimi-
lation of Jews and intermarriage
have been of major concern to our
communities nationally. We rely
upon these agencies to help in-
still Jewish values and connect
people with their Jewish her-
itage. If these agencies them-
selves become assimilated and
are no longer able to fulfill this
role, Jewish communities across
this country stand to lose a pre-
cious resource.
This article provides an insid-
er's perspective on the dilemma
and challenges of trying to keep
the "J" in Jewish Family Service.
T ast year, the JFS Board of Di-
rectors held its very first board
retreat. A central issue for the
board and staffis that of defining
the "J" in Jewish Family Service.
This was, in many ways, the
same question asked of me when
I first met with the search com-
mittee five years ago when the
position of executive director of
the agency became available.
Is there such a thing as Jew-
ish social work? What makes an
agency a Jewish agency? Is hir-
ing staff with Jewish names (a
discriminatory practice to which
the agency does not subscribe),
or having a Jewish board of di-
rectors sufficient to make the
agency Jewish? As with most im-
portant questions, there are no
easy answers to any of the above.
In fact, no solutions were reached
during the retreat. We raised
more questions which were thor-
oughly debated for almost eight
months following the conclusion
of the retreat.
The resulting policy statement
reinforces the agency's commit-
ment to integrate Jewish and pro-
fessional values with the agency's
mission. Specific suggestions were
made as to how this can be ac-
complished, including creating a
Jewish atmosphere within the
JFS offices; developing specialized
programs that target changing
Jewish community concerns such
as intermarriage, child rearing,
celebrating life cycle events, di-

Alan D. Goodman is executive
director of Jewish Family

vorce, bereavement, child and
Jewish Child Care Association
spousal abuse, needs of the elder- in New York City, for example,
ly; participation in the provision is one of the largest providers of
of informal Jewish family life ed- residential services for children
ucation through coalitions with in the city, serving only a very
synagogues and other communal small number of Jewish children.
The board of directors of the
We feel proud of the results of agency is exclusively Jewish, a
our deliberations and look for- fact that has created major pub-
ward to working with the staff lic relations problems for the or-
over the coming year to imple- ganization. Is this not a
ment these recommendations legitimate role for a Jewish
and to make the agency a place agency? The agency could argue
which the Jewish community can that the contract pays fixed costs
be proud of. Why, we ask, have for other needed services which
so few JFS agencies nationally do benefit the Jewish communi-
done the same thing and at- ty. How else can a not-for-profit
tempted to refocus on the needs provider raise the operating
of their own communities? The funds needed if the Jewish com-
answer unfortunately lies in the munity does not pay the full costs
reality that as agency executives of service?
and boards of directors, we face
Managed care and the new na-
a dilemma. The needs of the Jew- tional health plan have already
ish community are greater than started to impact our agency and
the resources available to address other mental health providers.
Agencies are forming coalitions
Unfortunately, unless human to capture market share and en-
needs become a major priority for sure their viability once the
the Jewish community, this is not health care reimbursement pie
likely to improve, only worsen over is carved up. This will mean (it is
time. The more we reach out for said) the demise of the single
other sources of funding, the less practitioner and potentially the
Jewish we can be. The more de- not-for-profit sectarian and even
pendent we are on governmental non-sectarian providers who have
and non-Jewish sources, the less not positioned themselves strate-
distinguishable we become from gically to retain their client base:
every other service provider in the As is currently the case, we may
human services arena.
be called upon to provide subsi-
Many of our sister agencies dized care for people who have
across the country have aban- only minimal coverage or who
doned the hope that the commu- have used up their lifetime ben-
nity will support the growth in efits allowable under their plan.
services for Jews in need. Most However, we may not have the
realize that even sustaining the ability which we now have to bal-
same level of program on Jewish ance these lost revenues from in-
dollars alone is not a realistic ex- surance reimbursements and
pectation. They understand that full-fee payments. How then does
the more non-sectarian the agen- a Jewish agency position itself
cies become, the less responsive strategically in this climate to
they can be to the needs of the continue to grow and retain its
Jewish community.
Jewish identity?
Another concern raised by the
In the'final analysis, I believe
JFS agencies is that in many that any Jewish organization
communities, when the commu- must tread a wary path between
nity pays the tab, the agency pro- the two extremes. We must em-
viding the service very often loses brace our Jewish heritage but
control of how the service is of- must simultaneously become
fered and what the service prior- part of the health care system as
ities should be. This becomes the it is evolving in our country. To
purview of the budgeting and al- quote an African proverb, "When
locations process in the federa- you have your hand in another
tion where people who have but man's pocket, you must move
a nodding acquaintance with the when he moves."
service have the power to decide
Our mission must change as
what is offered, who is served and the needs of our Jewish commu-
how much service is given.
nity evolve and change. I believe
When the funds come from that the board of the JFS must
governmental sources, the prob- constantly evaluate with each
lems are different and the com- new grant initiative or new pro-
petition is fierce. Becoming gram direction whether we are
eligible for the funds most often functioning in accordance with
involves opening services to the our mission. We must, as Jews,
general community. A specific advocate for our right to utilize
population can be targeted by ge- public monies to serve our own
ographic parameters but not by community. To be true to our
ethnic or religious ones. Jewish Jewish heritage, we must also be
agencies may find themselves willing to serve others and lend
managing large non-sectarian our expertise where public funds
programs as sub-contractors of are available. El
cities and municipalities.

UJA President
Joel Tauber has
witnessed a
amount of dra-
matic history in
recent years.
He's hopeful he
will see even
The view of the continuous
traffic moving along Detroit's
suburban highways seems a
million miles away from the
landing of Israel's first Ethiopi-
an immigrants.
But Mr. Tauber drifts a bit
and remembers what he calls
one of the greatest experiences
he ever had.
Then there were the feelings
he had on the White House
lawn, seeing the unimaginable
handshake between Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
and PLO" Chairman Yassir

happening almost immediate-
The word he used was "mu-
tuality." It's a word that keeps
coming up more and more in
discussions with community
leaders such as Mr. Tauber.
Yet, it's not reserved for just
American leadership. Mr. Ra-
bin talked about a change in
this relationship last Novem-
ber in Montreal. Israeli concern
for American Jewish assimila-
tion is entering in discussions
and gaining in importance.
"As far as the Jewish world
is concerned, the vision is much
different, and I think the ABCs
of the whole relationship be-
tween the American Jewish
community and Israel will
He sees it as a goal of the cur-
rent generation and the next
generation to clean up the
stereotypes. If there can be a
generation not accustomed to


Joel Tauber with WA National Chairman Richard Pearlstone and Crown
Prince Hassan in Amman.

This month, Mr. Tauber,
himself, shook hands with
Crown Prince Hassan of Jor-
dan in Amman as 85 American
Jewish community leaders
again experienced the power of
"They mean it," is how Mr.
Tauber explained the convic-
tions of the Jordanian officials
he met. "They are serious about
peace in all of the same terms
as Israel. They met with us,
they want us to begin the
process of normalized rela-
Mr. Tauber was part of a
Prime Minister's Mission to
Morocco, Jordan and Israel that
raised some $11 million in 44
family gifts.
Mr. Tauber said that per-
haps even more history is yet
to be made, that being in the
area of peace with Syria. Even
more important, he sees a
change in the relations between
Israel and the United States

killing, then it might work.
Mr. Tauber remembered the
forced handshake between Mr.
Rabin and Mr. Arafat, and how
filled with appreciation the
handshakes were between the
Israeli Prime Minister and
King Hussein of Jordan.
It's that first "handshake"
that has many still worried
about peace. The PLO still
must work harder at holding
down the acts of terrorism.
Don't forget that even though
these behind-the-scenes peace
meetings happened, Jordan has
a recent record for being soli-
tary in its decisions.
Iraq's two allies in its Persian
Gulf failure were the PLO, the
people of the shaky handshake,
and Jordan, the people of the
firm handshake.
While it's wonderful to have
this history of peace and be se-
rious about it, we still need to
remember the history of the im-
mediate past as well. CI

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan