Jewish Not for Profit Organizations – Flourishing and Floundering


Yiddish non-profit organizations fall under the umbrella of Jewish non-profit organizations. They, along with Jewish Day Schools, Temples, Synagogues, B’nai B’rith, JWI, Hadassah, Hillel, BBYO, ADL ORT, etc. They all have had two strikes—first the depressed economy and the Madoff Matter.

While every organization is feeling the pinch of “bad times” and layoffs, downsizing and lowering salaries are standard across the board, some are faring better than others. Which ones have drowned, are drowning or weathering the storm?

In a sense the analogy is the same for the broad spectrum of all non-profit organizations. Fiscal responsibility has always been the order of the day. It is no problem to do well when there is a rising economy, and one does not have to be a financial genius.

We have not learned the biblical lesson of the 7 lean years following the 7 fruitful ones. We have forgotten the Great Depression and the lessons it taught.

The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) cancelled its 34th conference and closed its doors. The primary push now is
to raise funds to pay off its debtors.

CAJE has been the primary organization of and for Hebrew schoolteachers and administrators. Several years ago Fishl did a presentation at the Hofstra conference. Marcia Gruss-Levinsohn has been the chair of the CAJE Yiddish Committee. Marcia and Hilda Rubin are the only ones who have attended every IAYC conference.
Where does our International Association of Yiddish Clubs (IAYC) stand? We are rare in the Yiddish community. There is no executive director, there is no paid secretarial staff, and there is no owned or rented national office with utilities, office equipment, or insurance.

Every one of the 17 members of the Board of Directors and officers attending pays for his or her expenses to and at the IAYC conferences.
No member of any IAYC committee receives a salary or reimbursement for time spent, supplies or phone calls.

There are 100 Yiddish clubs that are members of the IAYC including ones in Canada, Israel, Spain and South Africa. The annual dues are only $25 irrespective of the size of the club membership. Clubs receive 3 mailings a year of program materials costing more than the $25 membership fee. Clubs wishing to join may do so by sending a $25 check with the club name, leader’s name, address, phone number, and e-mail. Individuals may join for $10 if there is no Yiddish club in the area.

At the last conference, the 12th at the Marriott Hotel in La, Jolla, California, the IAYC reached out to the Yiddish teaching community and facilitated the formation of the International Association of Yiddish Teachers. There were
4 teacher workshops and 3 lectures geared by and for Yiddish teachers.

Lori Cahan-Simon, a teacher at the Cleveland Workmen’s Circle shule, moderates an online list of Yiddish teachers around the world. The list has over 200 members. The Forward had an article about Lori and the IAYT organization.