And it isn't just Chabad.
The JTA reports:
Though we always keep our overhead low (-- our editors and writers do their jobs for comparatively little, as theirs is a labor of love), we’ve had to make some painful cuts.
Yet, we are still hundreds of thousands of dollars behind. Some of our largest donations were canceled due to the economic crisis. We simply cannot continue much longer.…
Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, on behalf of
THE CHABAD.ORG TEAM
Across the Jewish world what is happening is sad. The alphabet soup Jewish organizations still overlap each other's mandates and still do very little.
At the same time, duplication in yeshivot, day schools, seminaries and other Orthodox organizations is rife.
Few organizations are transparent, and the employees laid off, cut back or fired are almost always the ones without connections.
Who keeps their jobs?
Relatives and close friends of board members and senior executive staff. (How many of Marvin Hier's family work for the Simon Wiesenthal center? Four? Five?)
Chabad is no different.
Not very many Shmotkins will be out of work. Lots of non-Shmotkins will be.
I've spent more than 25 years railing against the nepotism that sucks the blood out of organized Jewish life.
Even the biggest financial crisis in 80 years isn't enough to stop the nepotism.
Jewcy, the iconic online Jewish magazine, took a hit late last week when its multimillionaire funders pulled all support and evicted staff. No two-week notices or gilded severance packages for these writers, editors and artists. Just a week to pack up and get out. (The staff gets to own the Jewcy name and content, so at least there is some hope.)
In Jewcy's case, positive change should have come long ago. Instead, the most talented staff had been forced out or fired. (Jewcy's last editor was fired on Erev Yom Kippur, no less.) Rather than try to enhance the quality or move to end funding on a workable schedule, funders first opted to turn a cutting edge magazine into a Jewish blog portal on the theory that the increased page views created by hosting 100 or so Jewish blogs would raise advertising rates and revenues.
That those 100-plus blogs would also smother higher end content and destroy Jewcy's uniqueness and its community went missing in their calculation. Now Jewcy is missing in that calculation, as well.
I keep hearing about small and midsized Jewish foundations which have money and were not directly (or even indirectly) hurt by the Madoff scandal but have still stopped granting. They pay their staff (often relatives or friends), and meet some longstanding commitments (also often involving relatives or friends), but they refuse to help people who need it – even people who were promised help pre-collapse.
This is not a good time to be a Jew in need, and it is not a good time to have devoted yourself in any form to the Jewish community – unless your name is Hier, Shmotkin or "child of founder."
[Hat Tips: Joel Katz, BD.]