Jewish Agency budget is $20m. short

Funding gaps hinder plan to help bring 20,000 Falash Mura to Israel.

November 1, 2005 01:15
3 minute read.
bielski 298.88

bielski 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The Jewish Agency is suffering from a $20 million budget shortfall necessitating cuts in staff and programs, while $92m. in major projects remain unfunded, according to the 2006 budget released Monday. The funding gaps come at a time when the Jewish Agency has major commitments to fund MASA, a program bringing Jewish youth on year-long projects, and to help 20,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia move to Israel over three years. "This is not an easy period for us," Ze'ev Bielski told the Jewish Agency's board of governors in his first official address since assuming the agency chairmanship this summer. He spoke at the opening session of the tri-annual, three-day board meeting. "Some of this cut is very painful because it affects things we are doing for the Jewish people." The shrunken income, leaving the 2006 budget at $285.7m., stems mainly from reductions in grants for refugee resettlement from the US government, monetary losses due to a falling dollar, and a $4m. decrease in the United Jewish Communities' funding of the agency. The UJC, which represents 155 Jewish federations throughout America, covers about two-thirds of the agency's annual budget. "The money that the UJC has sent to us is less and less, even though they've been [recruiting] more American funding then ever before," lamented Herb Gimelstob, chairman of the assets and liabilities committee, at the meeting. Bobby Goldberg, UJC chairman, responded that each federation has discretion over how donations are spent, and "they've allocated most of the increase to their local community needs." He also said the projection which came up with a cut of $4m. was "conservative," meaning the UJA could well raise more money over the course of the year. Board of Governors Chairwoman Carole Solomon noted that funding the Jewish Agency is always the top priority of the federations. UJC CEO and president Howard Reiger said that while there might be "issues" surrounding the Jewish Agency and federation systems, it was "doubtful" that they were "obstacles." "Most contributors to the campaign haven't got a clue what the Jewish Agency is. They probably haven't got a clue what the Jewish Federation is," he said. "They give because it's a Jewish imperative, because it's the right thing to do." Reiger added that new initiatives such as the $160m. Operation Promise, of which $100m. will go to the Falash Mura, could provide momentum for American Jews looking for new reasons to give money. But some agency board members expressed concern over the agency's vulnerability stemming from this new campaign. The UJC is supposed to come up with the funds, but there is no guarantee that they will do so. So far, the UJC has raised $26. The Israeli government, though, has committed the agency to facilitating the immigration of the Falash Mura. Additionally, should the Falash Mura need to stay in Israeli absorption centers longer than one year - as has been the case with many newcomers from Ethiopia - and the government does not provide funding, the agency could be exposed to another $120m. funding liability, according to Jay Sarver, chairman of the agency's budget and finance committee. "We are on a very precarious path," Sarver told the board. "One we need to be on, but one that could have dramatic implications for the Jewish Agency." Gimelstob asked, "Are we making a wise decision? What happens if the UJC doesn't come up with this money?" "There is a balance between the business decision and the moral responsibility," Solomon replied. "We believe it's the right thing to do."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery