Federation Votes to Eliminate Membership


Citing an ongoing failure to regularly make up a quorum of 100 members at its biennial meetings, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (JFGLA) on June 12 voted to eliminate membership from its organization.

The vote, which marked the first amendment to Federation’s bylaws since the 1950s, means the organization no longer is required to hold biennial meetings, which, among other things, allow members to vote for the board of directors. 

“We believe this is a change that is in the best interest of the Federation and the community,” President and CEO Jay Sanderson told the Journal before the vote. “The Federation remains an organization that serves the best interests and needs of the community. We don’t think this element of the bylaws has been helpful toward the goal.”

The Journal was at the meeting during the vote, which was held at Federation’s headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. In a show of hands, 104 people voted in favor of the amendment, which stated: “This corporation shall have no members.” Nine people opposed the vote. 

Federation members are defined as those who have donated a minimum of $100 to the organization’s annual community-wide fundraising campaign sine June 12, 2017. They have the right to elect directors, set the size of the board and amend the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. 

Pini Herman, a demographer and former Federation employee, opposed the passage of the amendment. He organized people to turn out to the meeting with him to express their opposition. Before the meeting, he raised awareness on social media about the amendment, which, he argued, ran contrary to Federation’s community-oriented obligations.

“The way the system is currently set up, it is not a positive thing for the community and not a positive thing for us. It is a vestige of the ’50s and does not make sense anymore.” — Jay Sanderson

“I was trained to work in a much more democratic, transparent community, and this attempt to disenfranchise donor members from the corporation is an undemocratic trend,” Herman said.

Federation emailed members in April, informing them of the upcoming vote, and simultaneously posted a notice of the meeting in the Journal. Sanderson said in doing so, the organization had fulfilled its legal responsibility. However, Herman argued that Federation’s efforts weren’t enough and that it should have done more to make the community aware of the meeting. He argued that the vote was a foregone conclusion, given that Federation employees participated in the vote.  

“If the Federation has convened a meeting at the initiative of the board, there is only one item on the agenda, and it’s the Federation’s proposal, and the voting is by show of hands — do you expect any employee to vote against it?” he asked.

Membership meetings have been “a major waste of time,” Sanderson said, defending the amendment. “The way the system is currently set up, it is not a positive thing for the community and not a positive thing for us. It is a vestige of the ’50s and does not make sense anymore.”

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