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Friday, March 2, 2012
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman


Next Wednesday evening, we begin the celebration of Purim. It is a holiday of costume, disguise, and drinking until we can no longer distinguish between Mordecai and Haman, between good and evil. It is a celebration for kids of all ages, but Purim is not only a party.

Purim is also a time when we are instructed to give gifts to our friends, mishloah manot, and, more importantly, gifts to the poor, matanot l'evyonim. There is an instructive distinction between the manner in which we celebrate the holiday with abandonment, and how we acknowledge the essence of the holiday with acts of tzedakah.

The story in Megilat Esther shows us that life can take funny turns, and that many things are beyond our immediate control. And so, at Purim, we may laugh at our place in this sometimes absurd world. But, we can control how we act toward those around us and how we confront the social injustices that we see every day. That part of Purim is something we can and should continue throughout the year.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

AJFCA Joins JWI in Calling Attention to Domestic Violence JWI

This week, Lee Sherman and Lori Weinstein, Executive Director of Jewish Women International, co-authored an op ed highlighting the issue of domestic violence in the Jewish community and calling for advocacy for continuation of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To read the article on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website and find out how you can join AJFCA and JWI in asking Congress to reauthorize VAWA, please read here.

2012 conference logo

AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference

Registration is open for AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference. A friendly reminder to book your Houston flights and hotel room at the Houston InterContinental Hotel. We are excited to report that early next week you will be receiving an updated program schedule. Additional conference information can be found on the AJFCA website

HHS Announces New Assistance to States: More Resources, Transparency, and Flexibilityhhs logo

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced more assistance to states as HHS implements three new provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The announcement gives states help by:  

  • Providing a new round of Affordable Insurance Exchange Establishment Grants, totaling $229 million to 10 states, to help states build new health insurance marketplaces;
  • Promoting transparency and meaningful public input into the Medicaid demonstration process, and streamlining the federal-state consideration process as states test new models of care;
  • Supporting innovation and implement the health care solutions that work best for them.

"We're taking important actions that will give states more resources and more flexibility, and ensure transparency thanks to the Affordable Care Act," said Secretary Sebelius. "All Americans will have access to quality, affordable health care once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, and today's steps are important measures that ensure that States have the help they need to administer their Medicaid programs and oversee their insurance markets while assuring meaningful input for consumers and beneficiaries." 

 ajfca logo-resizedTo learn more about what HHS has planned for the future, refer to the entire article. Additionally, you're invited to learn more from Teresa Niņo, Director of The Office of Public Engagement, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference where she will give expert advice at Monday's Plenary Breakfast. To learn more about AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference please visit the AJFCA website

Two Sides of the Jewish Philanthropy Coin

Two Sides of the Jewish Philanthropy Coin, March 1, 2012, eJP, by Sarah Indyk 

Exploring what it means to give Jewishly is a core component of Rose Youth Foundation. Each year, 23 teenaged participants in the program are charged with the responsibility of granting $60,000 to help solve community problems they identify in Greater Denver and Boulder. While the grantmaking process and funding decisions are entirely in the hands of the teens, there are a couple of rules.

ejewish philanthropy 

First, they must grant all of the money. Second, their grantmaking must support nonprofits serving Greater Denver and Boulder. Finally, they have to make grants that are primarily Jewish in nature - and in order to do so, the 16-, 17-, and 18-year old participants must grapple with the question, "What is Jewish philanthropy?"


The answer or answers determine the impact of the group's grantmaking, but the process of answering the question provides a unique opportunity to explore the intersections of Jewish and personal values, community need and communal responsibility, thousand-year-old teachings and contemporary issues.


According to Sarah Indyk, Jewish Life Initiatives Manager at Rose Community Foundation, there are always young people in the group who ask, "How can we fund programs for Jewish teens when there are people sleeping on the street and it is our responsibility, as Jews, to support those with the greatest needs in our community?" But there are always others who answer, "Funding programs to connect people to Judaism will help ensure there are always people who, like us, feel a responsibility to care for those who have the greatest needs."


Read more about Jewish giving in this article

Organizational Memory: When Remembrance Isn't Enough

Organizational Memory: When Remembrance Isn't Enough, February 22, 2012, eJP, by Stephen G. Donshik 
Many organizations depend on employees to remember decisions that were once made and the implications of those decisions for the organization. That is a mistake. Even if we trust in our staff, there is always a risk involved in depending on the memory of any one person or even of several people in an organization.

ejp full logo 

Not too long ago Stephen Donshik received a telephone call from "Sarah," an administrative staff person at ABC organization that had leased space to the nonprofit he worked for years ago. Stephen was asked if he remembered principles of the last lease agreement between ABC and the nonprofit that he had directed. Stephen found it quite interesting that no one in the organization he worked for or in ABC had documented the details of the lease agreement. It was fascinating to Stephen that Sarah was calling on him, a former employee, to inquire after six years about the lease agreement.


Learn more about why memory isn't enough. Read the entire article here.

How to Avoid the Two Killer Mistakes of Fundraising


Nonprofits have to navigate their way between the Scylla and Charybdis of fundraising: The two errors in thinking that can sink your fundraising effectiveness.


1: Hating everything that's been done before

You'd rather do anything than direct mail fundraising. It's just so old hat, so tired. Email, which in marketing terms has yet to come in to its own, and is growing at explosive rates -- to you, it's dead already. Even Facebook is a tired old steam locomotive.


If you think this way, you miss the big opportunities. Because the big ones are the older ones. You're also an easy mark for con-artist consultants who prey on your particular attitude by offering half-baked, exciting-sounding schemes.


2: Needing guaranteed success for everything you do

You can't do a thing unless there's an iron-clad performance pro forma and documented best practices. You're not so much a late adapter as a never adapter.


No innovation is possible if you insist on guarantees. Every successful thing ever done started as a risky, unproven idea. If you never innovate, you find yourself in an ever narrower hole, less and less able to keep growing.


Either extreme is bad. But there's something worse. Some organizations actually embrace both of these destructive tendencies at once

Flying Horses and Major Gift Fundraising

Flying Horses and Major Gift Fundraising, February 28, 2012, eJP, by Sherri W. Morr 

Jews have been making major gifts to critical Jewish needs way before Flying Horses. It's been consistent; major gift fundraising has not disappeared, or taken a back seat or a lull, perhaps ever. As long as there were issues, Jews in trouble, or Jews lacking resources, Jews have always responded to the requests.ejewish philanthropy


As Jewish agencies, you are a part of a community. The point is you are not flying off the ledge landing into a sea of names. You are part of a community of people who care regardless of whether you are working for Jewish Day Schools or the Jewish Family Service. You know that to sustain Jewish continuity our agencies and organizations not only have to survive, they have to strive for excellence. That can only happen with quality major gift staff and leadership.


 Read the entire article to learn exactly what flying horses and major gift fundraising have in common.

Jewijfsa las vegassh Family Service Agency of Las Vegas has redesigned and launched their new website. Check it out here.

Please Help Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit win $250,000!  

project build 

Thank you to everyone who helped Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit's Project Build! win $25,000 in January 2012 in The Home Depot Founjfs detroitdation's Aprons in Action Facebook contest. As a result of that win, JFS Detroit is now in the championship round and needs your help throughout March to bring home the grand prize of $250,000.  


Project Build! provides essential home repairs and modifications for people who have low-incomes and/or physical challenges. Because we need you to vote every day in March, we want to make it easy by signing you up for a daily email reminder (you do need a Facebook account to vote). Just click here to visit the voting page. Here's the link to the voting page. Thanks for your help and stay tuned for more details as the competition continues.


PerformWell: Helping Practitioners Deliver More Effective Programs

PerformWell (formerly the OEPP) is the result of a collaborative effort by Urban Institute, Child Trends, and Social Solutions. A free, online resource, PerformWell provides practical knowledge that human services professionals can use to manage their day-to-day performance. The goal of PerformWell is to help human services practitioners deliver more effective social programs.


This webinar marks the long awaited launch of PerformWell. Attendees will get a tour of this valuable new resource, gain insight into planned future developments, and be able to ask questions of members of PerformWell's executive committee.



Tuesday, March 6th, 2012. 3:00pm ET



Health Care Conference Calls

The Health and Human Services Partnership Center continues to host a series of interactive conference calls discussing the benefits and provisions of the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.


All calls are open to the public and include a question and answer session where you can ask HHS staff any questions you may have about the health care reform law. You are also encouraged you to submit questions you would like to have answered on the calls to ACA101@hhs.gov.


To participate in one of the conference calls, please select your preferred date from the list below and submit the necessary information. Call-in information and Power Point slides will be made available 24 hours in advance.


PowerPoint slides for the Health Care Law 101 calls can be found by clicking here.


The Health Care Law and Behavioral Health (Mental Health and Substance Abuse)

March 8th, 3:00pm ET  



The Health Care Law and Wellness

March 14th, 3:30pm ET  



The Health Care Law 101 (in Spanish)

March 27th, 2:00pm ET  REGISTER HERE 


Tour of HealthCare.gov

April 5th, 12:30pm ET  



Health Care Law and Health Care Disparities (in Spanish)

April 24th, 2:00pm ET


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