Synagogues and Foundations

Lisa Eisen in her recent article on eJewish Philanthropy's website calls for the Jim Joseph Foundation (JJF) to take a lead in Jewish education. Rather than providing funding for innovative programs in the Jewish community, JJF, she argues, should take a leadership role in designing such programs.

I wholeheartedly agree yet I'd like to suggest a different tack. I am a product of the Conservative Movement and I am a pulpit rabbi of a Conservative synagogue. My point of reference has always been the synagogue and I see the synagogue as the home for Jewish learning and religious expression. It seems to me that the denominations are facing a crisis of membership - competition from independent minyanim, dues are too high, etc. - which leads to a crisis of funding. The denominations need funders to enable the institutions and the synagogues to successfully compete.

So, why can't the denominations work with JJF and other like-minded foundations? Why can't they partner to innovate and lead the community? Why shouldn't the denominations and the Foundations create the innovative and dynamic educational and spiritual programming that the community so richly deserves?