This report offers a strategic framework for the potential vision and structure of partnerships between Israeli and Diaspora communities, within the broader context of Partnership 2Gether of the Jewish Agency.
Background and Introduction
- The goal of this report is to offer a strategic framework for the potential vision and structure of partnerships between Israeli and Diaspora communities, within the broader context of Partnership 2Gether of the Jewish Agency (formerly 'Partnership 2000', hereinafter 'the Partnership(s). This report seeks to answer the question: "What does a cutting edge, 21st century model partnership look like, and how can a given Partnership become one?"
- This report is intended to offer principles and guidelines for a model partnership. Implementing these ideas would require additional work on the part of the partnership at hand.
- This report is based on the work done by the Reut Institute's team dealing with the future of Israel's relations with the Jewish world, and on dozens of conversations with lay leaders and professionals in a wide range of Partnerships.
Chapter 1: Broader Context: Major Trends Affecting the Jewish World
- The broader context for this report are the major trends affecting the Jewish world that are transforming the relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry and therefore also the work of the partnerships. The most significant of these trends include:
- A call for a renewed Zionism, which emphasizes the concept of Peoplehood and blends it with Zionism, demanding greater focus on world Jewry;
- Israel's economic success during an economic downturn in the USA replaces the 'Rich uncle-poor nephew' mindset with an expectation for synergy, mutuality and true partnership;
- Relationship between Israel and Diaspora is shaped by multiple direct people-to-people and community-to-community connections instead of the previous old-boys-network where decisions were made by a few individuals at the leadership of organizations such as UJC (now JFNA) or JAFI;
- A controversy around Israeli policies not only impedes on community-wide engagement with Israel, but also makes Israel a divisive issue in some synagogues;
- The relationship between Jewish communities is moving from relationships between institutions to partnerships around issues.
Six major issues prominently capture attention, energy and resources: Tikkun Olam, fighting anti-Semitism and Israel's delegitimization, embracing Jewish heritage, Israel, building prosperous and resilient communities and Hebrew.
In order to thrive in this changing reality, partnerships need to adapt their model. In general, organizations that will creatively embody the emerging trend will thrive, while those that will cling to the old mindset may find themselves declining in support base, resources and membership.
Chapter 2: What Does a Model Partnership Look Like?
- Hence, based on these trends, a model partnership should strive to meet as many of the following criteria as possible:
- Seek partnership, mutuality, and synergy between the two communities;
- Hold the concept of Jewish Peoplehood as its core value;
- Where possible, transcend the old 'rich uncle-poor nephew' mindset;
- Gather around the six issues that are central to the Jewish world.
- In general, the basic quid-pro-quo of a partnership is the following:
- For the community in the US, the partnership fosters a deeper connection to Israel, enriches Jewish life, and strengthens Jewish identity.
- On the Israeli side, the partnership shows Israelis the value of the Jewish Diaspora, instills a sense of Jewish Peoplehood and responsibility for the future of our people, and connects Israelis to their Judaism.
Together, the partnership model connects people and institutions in the two communities, provides a model for operational and financial partnership and gives value to surrounding non-Jewish communities as well.
Towards the Next Stage of the Partnership Model: Leveraging Unique Assets
- The Partnership 2Gether (P2G) platform has gone through two main stages: Project Renewal during the 1970s-1980s and geographically connecting between regions during the 1990s-2000s.
- Today, partnerships are challenged to evolve into their third phase i.e. leveraging the unique needs and assets of each community in a way that fosters synergy and brings mutual value.
Building a Unique Story based on Unique Assets
- Unique assets are special attributes that exist on each side of the partnership, which could be leveraged towards a healthy relationship. Unique assets can be a leading institution, a geographic feature, a specific demography, or history and culture.
- The advantages of mapping and synergizing unique assets of regions stems from the ability to bring unique value. In today's globalized world, in the absence of unique value, it is very difficult to be heard, get attention, mobilize people and raise funds.
- A unique 'story' emerges out of merging several unique assets into one coherent vision. The story then serves as compass for local entrepreneurship, determining priorities and focusing resources, branding, and for local pride and esprit de corps.
- Hence, mapping unique assets and needs on both sides is a precondition for developing the 'unique story' that brings the highest value to both communities. Naturally, if the two communities are unable to write an attractive shared 'unique story', it is doubtful they will have a prosperous future.
What is an Optimal Partnership Project?
- Realizing the unique story of a given partnership requires synergy among a critical mass of projects that are focused on the unique assets and serve the unique story. Therefore, establishing effective selection criteria for projects is vital.
- The criteria below create a scale by which the Partnership's leadership can rank each proposed project. An optimal project would meet all eight criteria; a mediocre one, perhaps three; and so on.
- The proposed criteria are: (1) leveraging of unique assets of each community; (2) promoting Jewish Peoplehood; (3) engagement of the community in the public sphere; (4) creation of links between institutions; (5) provision of unique qualitative value the community ('Only the Partnership Can'); (6) scalability; (7) synergy with a cluster of projects with the same theme; (8) potential for fundraising.
Value to the Broader, non-Jewish community
- Many partnerships take pride in the unique value they bring to the broader, non-Jewish community. This added value may be bolstered by identifying an area of expertise in Israel that is lacking or is less developed in the Diaspora, and vice versa.
Chapter 3: Recommendations for Reform
- Embark on a process (designed as a retreat or a ‘laboratory') to transition the partnerships to the Third Stage of their development by mapping unique assets, articulating the unique story, and developing ‘clusters' of projects among local institutions;
- Adapt general project criteria [specified in the report] to the unique needs of the given Partnership;
- Leadership reform - Partnerships that have a permanent lay leadership that manages operations ought to consider shfiting into a rotating lay leadership that provides strategic vision;
- Tying financial support to project criteria / 'tough Love' with the Partnership - Mutuality is a crucial aspect in any successful partnership. Therefore, Jewish Federations should make it clear that they expect some contribution to a given project (mutuality, not symmetry).