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Young Girls
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman


When I was in graduate school, I took a course on the works of John Milton. In addition to the weeks we spent on "Paradise Lost," we spent a little time on some of Milton's other poetry and prose. We know from "Paradise Lost," in particular, that free will was a favorite topic. The basis of freedom was also something that concerned Milton, and in his tract, Second Defense of the English People, he said "[k]now that to be free is the same thing as to be pious, to be wise, to be temperate and just, to be frugal and abstinent, and lastly, to be magnanimous and brave." Now, I don't know about the frugal and abstinent part, but the rest is something a scholar like Milton could readily find in his study of Torah.


This week's parashah, Mishpatim, is the real beginning of the code of laws given by God to Moses and the Israelites. Although, many of the commandments may seem restrictive, Torah is not at its core a confining code of conduct. Rather, it is a framework for living in freedom. Remember, that the individuals receiving these laws were recently slaves in Egypt, having lived their entire lives in bondage. And so, at its heart, Torah is a code of moral conduct, a new model for a just society. "You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt." 23:9.


The new found "freedom" of the Israelites is not to do anything that they wish, but to act responsibly, justly, and morally. It is a valuable lesson for us and for those across the world who are just now finding themselves "free." Whether for the Israelites over 3,000 years ago, Milton in the 17th century, or us today, freedom is just another word for having Torah (apologies to Kris Kristofferson).


Shabbat Shalom

Could Philanthropic Equity Revolutionize the Nonprofit Sector? 

Could Philanthropic Equity Revolutionize the Nonprofit Sector?February 13, 2012, About.com Guide, by Joanne Fritz 

Welcome to guest blogger, Nell Edgington! Nell is the President of Social Velocity, a consulting firm that helps nonprofits grow their capacity and become financially sustainable. When a new report recently appeared about philanthropic equity, Joanne Frtiz asked Nell to comment and explain what it all means.

 social velocity

nell edgington
Nell Edgington 

There is a fairly new concept in the nonprofit world that has the power to completely transform the sector. "Philanthropic equity" (or "growth capital") is just a fancy term for the money many nonprofit organizations desperately need.


Philanthropic equity is a one-time infusion of significant money that can be used to strengthen or grow a nonprofit organization. It can be money that grows a successful program to other clients, other cities, other regions. Or it can be money that strengthens the organization and makes it more sustainable.

But before you can understand philanthropic equity properly, you must understand a critical distinction about money. There are two kinds of money.


Read the entire article and Nell's thoughts on philanthropic equity in the nonprofit sector.


ajfca logo-resizedYou're invited to learn more from Nell at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference where she will give expert advice at two Monday workshops: (1) Board Presidents/Lay Leaders:  Engaging Your Board in Fundraising; (2) Financing Not Fundraising. To learn more about AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference please visit the AJFCA website

resource library
FCA's Resource Library

As an additional benefit to being a member of AJFCA, we are pleased to announce that AJFCA's Resource Library has been updated and is accessible through the Members portion of the AJFCA website for your use. The library is currently composed of documents that have been shared between agencies either through a former medium or through the current forums, in addition to several documents from affiliate agencies. Our hope is to continue to build the Resource Library as a valuable tool for your agency.


Please take a look at the Resource Library index. If you would like to contribute documents to the Resource Library please send them to Megan

Crisis of Employment in Disability Community

Crisis of Employment in Disability Community, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, February 7, 2012

February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. As the unemployment rate continues to plague the U.S., it has and even harsher affect on the disabled community. jdam 2012 logo

  • The average unemployment rate of the total U.S. population is 8%.
  • The average unemployment rate of Americans with disabilities is 13.5%.
  • There are 54 million Americans living with a disability.
  • Of the 54 million Americans living with a disability, 35 million of those people have a "severe disability"

In a December op-ed in the Washington Post, Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, wrote of "the civil rights issue we need to talk about" - the rights of people with disabilities. The Ruderman Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization that focuses on the full inclusion of people with disabilities into Jewish life in the Boston area and in Israel.


The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as the ADA, was made into law in 1990, with the full support of the Reform Movement and Religious Action Center. Under the ADA, places of employment may not discriminate in hiring, firing, or promotions on the basis of disability - just as it may not do so on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or county of national origin. The ADA and a slew of state laws that came after it are responsible for disability-friendly building accessibility in the form of chairlifts, ramps, Braille signs, and other physical adaptations.


But contrary to popular belief, ensuring disability rights goes far beyond installing ramps and Braille signs. Read the full article and more about Jewish Disability Awareness Month

White House FY 2013 Budget Proposal  capital 

This week, the Obama Administration released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013. The programmatic and funding level changes described in the budget set the stage for Congressional action in the months ahead. The Jewish Federations of North America has developed a detailed analysis of the programs and funding levels in the budget that affect our work as social service agencies. We encourage you to set up meetings with members of Congress to share with them your work and highlight the programs in the budget that affect you the most. Please review the detailed budget analysis and contact Shelley Rood with any questions.

Creating a Jewish Culture of Inclusivity

Creating a Jewish Culture of Inclusivity,February 14, 2012, by eJP, by Lynn Schusterman
Jews everywhere - in Israel, in the U.S. and in countries around the world - feel excluded from the Jewish community because of their sexuality. Despite some progress, the pace of change within the faith-based world in general has simply been too slow in this area.

ejewish philanthropy 

AJFCA helped the Human Rights Campaign Foundation develop the Jewish Organization Equality Index Survey (JOEI), an effort to analyze and rate U.S. Jewish non-profitJOEI logos on their policies, practices and programs as they are pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees and members. We encourage all agencies to participate in the survey, so our network can serve as leaders in the area of equality and inclusivity. With a little less than two months until the extended deadline of April 6th, please visit hrc.org/joei and take part in the survey.   

It is time we stand up and demand change. Read Lynn Schusterman's article to learn more about the JOEI, led by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the non-profit, educational arm of the nation's largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.  

Organizing the Board to Support the Revenue Strategy

Organizing the Board to Support the Revenue Strategy, February 9, 2012, Board Cafe, Blue Avocado, by Jan Masaoka 

Instead of focusing only on how board members can raise individual donations (or not!), think more broadly (and effectively) about how board members can support the key aspects of your organization's business/revenueblue avacado strategy:


Pursuing a new funding stream for which you may not have the right people and competencies already is usually not the best place to start. Instead, Blue Avocado recommends that you see how you can boost and leverage the funding streams and people you already have in place.


Read the entire article to learn more about organizing your board to support your revenue strategy.  

Ten Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (And How to Avoid Them)

Ten Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (And How to Avoid Them), Idealware, February 2012, by Robert Weiner 

You want a donor database that will provide clean data, solid reports, and happy staff, but the software itself is only half the story. How do you choose the right system, and how do you maximize its capabilities? Fundraising technology consultant Robert Weiner walks through 10 common mistakes that get in the way of selecting the right database-and using it properly.


Picture two nonprofits-the first has a donor database full of bad data. Donors are getting the wrong receipts, or no receipts at all. The organization cannot use the database to plan fundraising strategies or track its effectiveness. The few reports it can get are useless. Staff members complain that no one trained them, and they get no technical support. For obvious reasons, they hate the system. 


The second organization loves its database. The data is clean, donors get timely, accurate mailings, the organization has a good handle on its fundraising activities, and staff get the reports they want. New personnel are trained on the database before they ever log in, and someone on staff helps them resolve any problems and questions that come up.


Both nonprofits are using the same software package. How can this be

Improvements to PurchasingPoint Portal  

PurchasingPoint, a program that enables AJFCA and member agencies to purchase products and services at substantial discounts, is now offering a new and improved sign-up process for member agencies. Starting February 15th, member agencies will be able to register for the PurchasingPoint program using DocuSign - an online tool that allows you to "sign" documents online. Your portal URL and invitation code stays the same-the only change is the way member agencies "sign" the terms and conditions for proNA logogram participation.Improvements are based on your network's feedback and needed changes to accommodate the exponential growth of the program.
Please visit AJFCA Partner Programs, on the AJFCA website to sign up for PurchasingPoint and begin saving money on office supplies, food, furniture, shipping, copiers, postage equipment, facility maintenance supplies, employee and volunteer screening, rental cars, web and audio conferencing services, and more.

To learn more about the new registration procedure now enhanced by DocuSign review the step by step instructions: DocuSign Procedure & Instructions. If you have any questions please feel free to contact PurchasingPoint at  nghent@nassembly.org or amayo@nassembly.org.

Choose Peace 

The Swastika in Our Neighborhood, February 8, 2012, New York Huffington Post, by Barbara Becker, Founder, EqualShot; Faculty, Columbia University

Across the nation, anti-Semitic bias cases have been capturing news headlines. Last month, two men from Farmington, New Mexico were  sentenced to time in federal prison for branding a swaspeacetika on the arm of a Navajo man who suffers from mental disabilities. Swastikas were found graffitied on storefronts and homes across the New York metropolitan area, and a teenager has been charged with throwing Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in New Jersey, igniting a fire in the residence of the rabbi and his family.


The recent rash in anti-Semitic incidents prompted many leaders to talk about the need to "speak up and condemn these vulgar crimes" and to "respond forcefully." But how do you respond to bias when you're with your young child, and the crime is in your own neighborhood?


Learn how blogger Barbara Becker, explained anti-semitism to her son.


Bolder Giving

How can you encourage your donors to promote your organization's work and help raise money to support your mission?


The Chronicle of Philanthropy will be holding a live discussion, Turning Your Donors Into Fundraisers with two experts in working with donors. They will take your questions on how to enlist your donors to help your organization grow.


Guest, Jason Fchronicle philanthropyranklin is executive director of Bolder Giving, a group that encourages people to give more. Tracy Gary, guest speaker is a philanthropist and philanthropic adviser who helps others give to causes they care about. Through Inspired Legacies, her nonprofit, she advises individuals and organizations on ways to improve philanthropy and volunteerism.


Engaging Your Donors as Fundraisers

Tuesday February 21st, 12:00pm ET 


COA's PQI Webinar Series 

The Council on Accreditation (COA) is delighted to announce a discount to all member agencies who are interested in attending the upcoming three-part Performance Quality Improvement (PQI) series. Members can access this webinar series for only $75 (normally $200). The discount code is SPONSORS.


COA's PQI Webinar Series

Part One: An Introduction to COA's PQI Standards

Tuesday, February 21st ,3:00pm-4:30pm ET


Part Two: Outcomes and Measures

Tuesday, February 28th, 3:00pm-4:30pm ET


Part Three: Closing the Loop

Tuesday, March 6th, 3:00pm-4:30pm ET



National Center for Benefits Outreach & Enrollment - Winter Webinar Series

Benefits and Legal Non-Citizens

More thancoa logon 5 million older adults living in the U.S. today were born in another country. While the majority of these older adults eventually take the path to citizenship, some retain their status as legal non-citizens who, depending on their economic circumstances, may be eligible to apply for and receive certain public benefits.


Join the National Council on Aging in their February webinar series as they explore:

  • Who are legal non-citizens and why does this population matter to benefits counselors?
  • What benefits are available to legal non-citizens and what are the rules regarding eligibility?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities facing benefits counselors in serving this population?

This training will be offered at two different times to suit busy schedules.


Benefits and Legal Non-Citizens

Friday, February 24th, 2:00pm-3:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE

Wednesday, February 29th 2:00pm-3:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE


Please contact abctraining@ncoa.org if you need further assistance. Find more information about NCOA'S webinars at www.ncoa.org/ncboewebinars.


Accessible Transportation Webinar

The webinar Connecting Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Mobility Managers to Enhance Accessible Transportation will provide an overview of the Mobility Management Independent Living (MMIL) program, developed by Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) in partnership with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living and the National Council on Independent Living (CIL). Through the program, CIL professionals and mobility managers collaborate to strengthen relationships between their groups and raise awareness of the issues people with disabilities face as they seek the transportation they need.  


Presenters will share information about strategies that help to establish and foster strong relationships between the partners. In addition, they will offer suggestions on ways organizations, mobility managers and transportation professionals can replicate the MMIL program. 


Connecting Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Mobility Managers to Enhance Accessible Transportation

Wednesday, February 29th, 2:00pm ET


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