5 Ways Tech Entrepreneurs Can Finally Turn Their Business Around

If you look at Silicon Valley you’ll notice lots of Jewish entrepreneurs taking the world by storm. Thousands of people want to follow in their footsteps, but they’re not quite there at the moment. Maybe in the future, their businesses will be able to reach new heights.

There must be a reason why so many people who run a technology company can’t step up to the next level. We’re going to discuss a few ways they’ll be able to turn things around. Pay close attention if you’re in the same kind of situation right now.

Maybe You’ll Need A Quick Loan


The reason why people say you need money to make money is that it’s true. There are definitely other ways to succeed, but a lack of money in your bank account will quickly stop you from growing.

Have you ever thought about looking into a working capital loan? You need to be making money before you can apply, which means you’ll already be making sales. The extra money can speed sales up considerably.

Try To Find A Suitable Co-Founder


Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can do everything on your own. Lots of people work with co-founders, so taking one on is nothing to be ashamed of. They’ll bring lots of new skills to the table.

It could be the boost you’ve been waiting years for. If you’re lucky they will invest lots of money into your business too. Just be careful and spend time finding the right person for the job.

Tweak A Few Things On Your Site


There are lots of elements on a website you can tweak to increase your conversation rate. It could be the words on your sales page, but it could also be as simple as changing the color of your ‘buy now’ button.

When you’re tweaking things use the split testing software. It will let you compare one thing to another. Keep changing everything around until you stop seeing results and you’ll make more every month.

Dig Into Your Savings Account


Sometimes you need to throw your own money into the equation before you’ll turn things around. You might be scared to spend it, but it’s going to make more in your business versus accumulating interest in the bank.

If you don’t have much money you could ask family and friends. This should work if they truly believe in your entrepreneurial skills, plus it’s unlikely they’ll want as much interest as the banks.

Start Raising Your Prices Now


There is a good chance you would make more money within days if you increased your prices. It’s a lot easier when you’re offering your services, but it works when you are selling physical products too.

You’ll likely have to work hard to improve your brand name. People will always pay a premium if they think something is worth more. Raise your prices soon and change them back if you don’t like the results.

You Should Take Action Straight Away


It’s a horrible feeling when you’re always a couple of moves away from true success. If you use the tips we’ve talked about today there is a good chance things will begin to change.


Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, speaks to Unistream participants at the Unistream Akko Center in Israel. Photo courtesy of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Israeli nonprofit gives youths a leg up in growing their business savvy

Let me ask you something,” Yehuda Ben-Uziel said, spinning to face the audience. “What is a hero? A hero is someone willing to save another person’s life.”

Three years ago, Ben-Uziel, now an Israeli high school junior, couldn’t have delivered this five-minute presentation about an important product he’s helping to design, or about anything else. Back then, his confidence lagged and he had few friends. Ben-Uziel tended to observe classmates bantering, not participating himself, considering being an outsider to be normal. When the school day ended, he would head home to read and listen to music.

But getting involved with Unistream, a nonprofit organization that cultivates entrepreneurial skills in Israeli youth living in remote areas and coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, has given Ben-Uziel the self-worth he lacked.

And so, there he was, late in the afternoon on June 8 in the northern Israel coastal town of Akko, talking to 19 American visitors — members of a delegation from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles — and his Unistream peers.

He spoke assuredly and in flawless English about Doclock, a wristwatch that stores medication and alerts its wearer when to take the pills — something he and seven other Akko high schoolers developed in the igloo-like structure that serves as their innovation center and hangout den. One-third of Israelis fail to properly ingest their prescriptions, including a glaucoma sufferer who lost an eye as a result, a female in Ben-Uziel’s cohort explained.

The speakers passed around a Doclock prototype they had assembled. Another group of students presented its project: strips that enable diners to test food for ingredients they’re allergic to.

The members of the Federation delegation were visiting Israel to see some of the difference-making projects the organization supports, including Unistream. Akko is one of Unistream’s 13 youth-entrepreneurship centers throughout Israel.

Federation’s involvement with Unistream began with a $45,000 donation in 2015; by this year, the allocation increased to $1 million, Aaron Goldberg, the director of Federation’s Israel office, told the Journal. Representatives of the two bodies speak daily and jointly attend meetings with municipal officials, he said.

Federation’s role arose from its decision to embrace grass-roots organizations striving to improve Israelis’ lives — particularly efforts combatting poverty, Goldberg said. In January, the two bodies announced a strategic partnership.

“To us, the dollars are inconsequential,” he said. “We have a shared mission. We’re committed to bringing additional resources to the table: government, municipalities, philanthropists.”

Unistream was founded in 2001 by entrepreneur Rony Zarom to expose Israeli youth to the business world and thereby boost their prospects in life. The organization’s programs serve 1,500 adolescents annually, and local governments provide the centers free of charge.

Students commit to coming to the centers two afternoons per week, three hours each day, throughout the three-year program. Corporate executives volunteering with Unistream serve as mentors and teach the youth to identify market opportunities, write business plans, build prototypes, seek investment and market products. Participants must raise their competency in English to prepare for careers. The program also involves leadership training and voluntarism. 

Local and national competitions sharpen participants’ focus. Unistream’s national entrepreneurship competition will be held July 19 in Tel Aviv.

“Our goal is to narrow the gaps in Israeli society by educating kids to be entrepreneurs and business people. They learn everything about business, about finance,” said Batsheva Moshe, Unistream’s CEO. “They have a chance to be part of the Startup Nation and to better their future.”

Aiming high isn’t limited to the youth. At the Akko event, Jay Sanderson, Federation’s president and CEO, announced that the 13 entrepreneurship centers will grow to 50 in the next few years.

“It’s a long-term partnership we have at Unistream,” he said. “We spoke with a number of economists in Israel who said we can only reach our goals if we stayed in it for years. We are in it for the long term. … Resources are the least problematic piece. When you see the cost-effectiveness of it, it’s very appealing.”

The head of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, an American organization that was a pioneer in showing youth the possibilities of a better future, sees the value of Unistream’s work, as well. That New York-based nonprofit was launched more than three decades ago by industrialist Eugene Lang, who mentored students in the Manhattan school he had attended and pledged to fund their college tuition if they graduated from high school. Lang died in April at age 98.

“A big component for him was having a personal relationship with these dreamers. The whole idea of engaging them and exposing them to resources around social capital is critical because they don’t have these opportunities in their communities,” said Donna Lawrence, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s very important to give them real work experience and get them ready for the jobs that will be out there.”

The Akko youth already envision those possibilities. They introduced themselves to the Los Angeles visitors by presenting their titles, acronym-style, in the startup ventures: CEO, COO, VP. The Americans were startled by the precociousness in their midst — and came away impressed.

“They’re an inspiration,” Valerie Salkin, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, said afterward. “It’s something when you see teenagers doing presentations that are better than some lawyers I see in my court.”

“These kids are doing real product development and business plans. I know college graduates who couldn’t do these presentations,” Sanderson said to the group. He later told the Journal that Federation will raise funds to triple Unistream’s annual budget to $9 million.

As part of the event, the Americans and Israelis collaborated in an exercise, dividing into five groups. The challenge: Devise innovative ways to connect Diaspora and Israeli youth.

The groups brainstormed for 10 minutes, then made short presentations on their ideas, including an app, a website and virtual-reality glasses.

The hosts walked the visitors toward their chartered bus. On the lawn, group photographs were taken, and back inside, the youth stacked the white chairs and put away the refreshments.

Ben-Uziel was among the last to leave this place where he already has become a fixture. Instead of three hours each day, he usually stays six. The boys and girls here are his friends. Even when not collaborating on their startup projects, they enjoy one another’s company. That means hanging out in the igloo to talk, playing cards and computer games, and studying for class. Other times, they go out for coffee and take walks.

Ben-Uziel, with an endearing smile and ponytail bun, folded one leg over another and sat Buddha-style, projecting confidence.

“Unistream helped me a lot in understanding who I want to be. I realized that I want to be a musician. What school doesn’t do, that Unistream has done, is to develop one’s creativity and thinking. In Unistream, searching for solutions [in business] developed the creative side of me,” he said.

“It took me out of my small box and placed me in society.” 

Romney: U.S. ‘not a kibbutz’

America is not a kibbutz, Mitt Romney said in a bid to underscore his commitment to individual liberties.

“It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said at a Chicago fundraiser Tuesday in remarks first reported by BuzzFeed. “What America is not (is) a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we’re all in some little entity. Instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others, and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.”

Romney returned from a visit to Israel last week and praised the country’s culture as a critical element in boosting its economy.

Kibbutzim, although internally adhering to varying degrees of collective principles, long ago adjusted to interacting with Israel’s free-market economy.

Mega-millionaire, Age 95, Says, ‘You Can Do It!’

Mega-millionaire Stanley A. Dashew, 95, has some words of wisdom for anyone trying to make it in today’s tough economy: You can do it.

It’s no secret, he says. In fact, it’s the title of the book, “You Can Do It!: Inspiration & Lessons From an Inventor, Entrepreneur, & Sailor,” written with Josef S. Klus.

Filled with anecdotes and distilled wisdom, the book, by a man who played a key role in the creation of the plastic credit-card system, is the culmination of years of writing in between business projects.

“I spent the better part of the last decade trying to capture in the pages of my book the key events of my life in the hope that what I’ve learned in love and work may provide inspirations—and some guideposts—for others to realize that, yes, they can do it!” Dashew, a resident of Westwood, said in an e-mail interview.

One might not expect such optimism from a Harlem, N.Y., native whose father escaped deadly pogroms in Odessa as an infant. His mother settled in New York after her Orthodox father brought the family from Lithuania.

In some ways, the seeds of Dashew’s success were planted when his family moved from the big city to the country, where his father owned a small legal practice and summer resort. It was there in Pomona, N.Y., that Dashew became an inventor from a young age out of necessity.

“I came across serious problems that could not be solved by stock items,” he said. “For example, I had to figure out a way of getting fish out of a swimming pool. I had to figure out how to clean septic tanks attached to the bungalows of my family’s property.”

An aspiring writer, Dashew’s desired career path changed course with the Great Depression. One day, on the way to interview for a sales job that he was sure he’d turn down because he considered it beneath his talents, something changed his mind.

“I was walking in Manhattan toward Fifth Avenue when I heard a loud noise. I looked across the street to the Empire State Building, where I saw the body of a nicely dressed young man—about my age—on the sidewalk,” Dashew said. “He had just jumped from the world’s tallest building. I proceeded to my meeting somewhat numb, but no longer conflicted about the offer. I accepted the job.”

This sales job with Addressograph-Multigraph Corp., which produced machines that could address envelopes, magazines and more, turned out to be a perfect match. Soon, by adapting the company’s machines to new uses, he was its top salesman and poised for even greater success.

“The knowledge and contacts from my experience there became the foundation for my own company and my first fortune,” Dashew said.

That would come after he and his family—including his 7-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter—pursued the adventure of a lifetime. In 1949, they hopped onto a 76-foot schooner and sailed from Chicago, through the Great Lakes, down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal, and around to Los Angeles.

This would be his home as he created Dashew Business Machines. Its revolutionary imprinters and embossers could handle more than one character at a time and laid the groundwork for the first bank credit card system.

“We could emboss 2,000 plates an hour,” Dashew said. “This gave birth to the plastic credit-card industry.”

The machines, he continued, “enabled Bank of America to mass produce and distribute the BankAmericard, and they enabled merchants to imprint the card when customers made a purchase.”

Other enterprises followed, including work in the offshore oil industry. Over the years, Dashew has received 14 U.S. patents for his contributions to banking, shipping, mining, transportation, water purification and other areas.

This isn’t to say that it was easy. Before it could reach its greatest success, Dashew Business Machines nearly succumbed to financial collapse in the 1950s, and it cost Dashew his first marriage and his beloved boat.

Aside from telling his personal story, “You Can Do It!” includes dozens of tips to help readers overcome life’s modern—yet timeless—challenges. A few examples include:

  • Focus on just one or two ideas at a time. Otherwise, none of your ideas that could be great will get off the ground.
  • Don’t quit just because you don’t have all the skills or resources to implement an idea. Team up with someone who has what you lack.
  • Innovation means not just creating new products or services, but also finding new ways to utilize them.

A spiritual person and cultural Jew, Dashew said he contributes locally to Jewish Vocational Service and is a strong supporter of Israel. Outside the Jewish community, he and his second wife, Rita, who died in 1994, are well known for their involvement in the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, which aims to foster cross-cultural understanding through intellectual exchange.

Today, Dashew remains as busy as ever, developing ideas for new products and services despite the challenges of Parkinson’s disease. And while he calls a 4,000-square-foot penthouse home, he continues to be just as comfortable at sea on his eighth boat, a 72-foot cutter named Deerfoot II. To him, sailing is more than just a passion.

“I tend to see the people, places and events in my life—and the world—through the lens of the boats that I have owned and sailed through the years,” he said.  “My love of boats started when I was 10 years old with a canoe that I would use in the swimming pool of the summer camp that my family owned and managed. … Today, I’m still adventuring.”

Ice cream entrepreneur taps into the ‘spiritual aspect’ of business

After Ben Cohen and business partner Jerry Greenfield completed a course on ice cream making, they established their first ice cream shop in 1978 and went on to build Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream ­—a $300 million empire and one of the largest ice cream businesses in America. 

Choosing ice cream over bagels as their vehicle to prosperity, they initially lacked location. “We figured if it was going to be ice cream, it should be a warm, rural college town,” Cohen noted. But their analysis revealed that competition had already beaten them to the hot spots. “So we decided to throw out the criteria of warm and ended up in Burlington, Vt.,” where cold and snowy winters are legendary. Cohen still calls Burlington home.

Cohen, preferring social activism to the daily business grind— a throwback to his hippie youth— resigned as CEO in 1995 but continued to serve as board chair and then on the advisory board because he believes strongly that business has a “spiritual aspect” that should be recognized by the business world. “There is a spiritual aspect to business just as there is to the lives of individuals. As you give, you receive. As you help others, you’re helped in return,” Cohen asserted. He didn’t come to this conclusion overnight. Cohen’s business philosophy evolved as the company grew.

Ben & Jerry’s faced many early challenges. Banks were wary about financing those who lacked business experience, collateral and credit histories. To get a bank loan, they needed a business plan. Without knowing how to prepare one, they used a template for a pizza parlor that sold pizza by the slice, simply plugging in “ice cream cone” wherever “pizza slice” was mentioned, and got their initial seed money.

They broke even in their first year, but two years later, things started changing. According to Cohen, “We were at the very end of our rope and losing money … and finally, in a last-ditch effort to survive, we decided to pack our ice cream in pint containers,” which revolutionized their business in the 1980s.

Entering Boston, their first major U.S. market, nearly brought their business to an end. Häagen-Dazs, owned by Pillsbury, was fierce competition, and Ben & Jerry’s’ distributor wanted to drop the Vermont-based company as a client. Ben & Jerry’s quickly printed banners and flew them around major Boston sport stadiums, and rented signs on Boston transit buses that featured two pudgy hands squeezing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, saying, “Don’t let Pillsbury’s dollars strangle Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. What’s the Doughboy afraid of?” 

This proved a successful act of chutzpah. “Pillsbury was getting such a black eye from their tactics of trying to keep us out of distribution that they relented and allowed us to continue distributing our ice cream,” Cohen said.  

Annual sales rose into the millions, and the two spent most of their time hiring, firing and meeting financial advisers. “We felt like we were becoming just another part of the economic machine that tends to oppress a lot of people,” Cohen lamented.

Then a friend told Cohen, “If there’s something you don’t like about business, why don’t you just change the way you do it?” For Cohen, this was genius. Venture capitalists wanted desperately to invest. “We decided to use this need for cash as an opportunity to make the community the owners of our business,” he recalled.

In an unusual move, they held the first in-state Vermont public stock offering, which made many Vermont residents part owners of the company. A national public stock offering followed, with the formal creation of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The offering prospectus stated that the Foundation would be getting 7.5 percent of pre-tax profits, the highest amount of any publicly held company that gives to charity.

So many requests for help came in that only 5 percent of the applications could be funded, a common problem for foundations throughout the world.

How did Cohen react? He and Greenfield developed a new definition of business from “an entity that produces a product or provides a service” to “the combination of organized human energy, plus money, which equals power.” For Cohen, business was the strongest force in society, but unlike religion and government, whose purpose was to improve quality of life, “Business has never had that as part of its brief.”

Cohen believed that only if spiritual concerns are integrated with business, which possessed the resources to actually make a difference, could positive change happen.

He felt the very definition of success was an obstacle because it is measured “by profit, how much money is left over at the end of the month or at the end of the year.” Instead, Ben & Jerry’s decided to change the way success is measured by measuring success through a “two-part bottom line”—by how much the company has helped to improve quality of life in the community and how much money it has made. However, their managers had bad news: When company energy was devoted to improving the quality of life in the community, it took away from improving profits.

Cohen and Greenfield were astonished. They recognized that money is a means, not an end, but values combined with social purpose should be their focus, integrating social concerns with an eye on profits.

The company bought coffee from a Mexican cooperative, improving Mexican coffee farmers’ quality of life by purchasing their beans. It bought blueberries from a Native American tribe, which helped benefit them. It purchases $3 million worth of brownies annually from Greyston Bakery, which provides employment opportunities for those in need. Ben & Jerry’s recently committed to making all of its ingredients Fair Trade certified by the end of 2013.

According to Cohen, “Our actions are based on deeply held values, that it’s an integrated and holistic effort to meet another set of our customers’ needs—the need to solve the social problems of our day—and that it provides added value. It’s a unique selling proposition. It motivates our employees. It helps with recruiting, and it builds tremendous consumer loyalty that’s based on shared values.”

Cohen believes business should take responsibility for the common good rather than focus on self-interest. He believes that business, as a powerful social force, can integrate social concerns throughout its activities, while supporting service organizations in order to help people.

According to Cohen, “As your business supports the community, the community supports your business. We are all interconnected, and as we help others, we cannot avoid helping ourselves.”

Arthur Wolak is a Vancouver-based freelance writer.

Young entrepreneurs earn gelt for the community good

“We call these tchotchkes,” Keith Wasserman says, examining a snow globe. The 27-year-old founder and president of Gelt Inc. talks into a video camera as he walks around the furnished unit in a Bakersfield apartment complex, which the company purchased in 2009.

The video is featured on Gelt Inc.‘s YouTube channel, Gelt TV. In addition to videos, the company uses blogging to raise its profile and fulfill its commitment of transparency to its investors and clients.

“I’ve always been very entrepreneurial,” Wasserman said in an interview.

Gelt Inc., named for the Chanukah chocolate coins, wears its Judaism proudly and has made charitable giving an important part of its mission. In addition to Jewish charities, such as the Jewish Home, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Gelt Inc. also supports charities that aid the communities it invests in, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County.

The business plan for Wasserman’s San Fernando Valley-based company consists primarily of investing in 75-  to 500-unit distressed apartment complexes in California and Arizona and renovating them to add value before renting the units out to individuals and families. Founded in 2008 during the height of the recession, Gelt Inc. now owns 15 buildings, representing nearly 1,000 multifamily units.

Wasserman’s partners include Damian Langere, the company’s 31-year-old co-founder and Wasserman’s cousin, and Evan Rock, 26, its vice president. The three young professionals don’t have the purchasing power or the experience to pay for the buildings and run the business completely on their own; Gelt Inc. has investors. Wasserman and his partners take advantage of current low interest rates by borrowing from banks, and they brought aboard two “gray hairs,” Wasserman said, referring to Steve Wasserman, his father, a successful transactional attorney in Tarzana, and Adrian Goldstein, a 50-something commercial real estate maven.

“We have a good combination of youth and energy and new ideas, and we have Adrian and my dad, who bring the experience and wisdom,” said Wasserman, who grew up attending L.A. Jewish day schools.

Goldstein said that the members of the team complement each other, and he values the core members’ tech savvy.

“A lot of new technology for the business, new ways of communicating with our investors and with our consumers—whether it’s social media or new applications that help us keep track of our contractors, our bids, schedules—we have a seamless platform that is made all that much better by young people who grew up in the technology age,” Goldstein said.

Wasserman speaks excitedly about the way everyone works together. Rock is “more of our numbers guy—he oversees the new acquisitions, prices the deals, deals with the financing, the refinancing. … Damian, my cousin, he’s more on the ground, deals with the contractors, oversees the rehabs. … I’m more of the marketing, the networking and investor relations. Adrian oversees all of us, and he’s our mentor … and my dad just knows a lot of people.”

In April 2011, Gelt Inc. bought its largest building yet, a 415-unit, 257,000-square-foot apartment complex in Phoenix for $16 million. With the next acquisition, Gelt Inc. hopes to reach its milestone of owning more than 1,000 apartment units.

Wasserman said that the 2009 purchase of Vernon Vista, a 78-unit complex in Bakersfield, was the turning point for the company, which, for some time, had mainly acquired and renovated four-plexes, as opposed to larger complexes with dozens of units.

“It became more professional, more of a real business. We took it to the next level, going from $150,000 deals to $4 million deals,” Wasserman said.

The company’s rapid growth makes Wasserman hungry for more, and he’s thinking ahead—way ­ahead. Ten years from now, he would like to see the company running 10,000 units, with properties in Los Angeles as well as more in Phoenix.

Wasserman, who got his start running a successful eBay store out of his college apartment at USC, is serious about his commitment to his faith and using the business to serve the larger Jewish community.

“Going to a Jewish school since fifth grade”—he attended Stephen S. Wise Temple and Milken Community High School—“has really instilled in me a sense of pride about being Jewish. A lot of the organizations we support are Jewish organizations,” he said.

This love for the Jewish community also translates into support for pro-Israel organizations, including AIPAC, StandWithUs and the Israel Leadership Council.

Wasserman says he has heard complaints about the company name. His critics believe it feeds the stereotype of Jews “being money-hungry.”

He insists, however, that the name reinforces the company’s positive intentions.

“We want to have a platform of making money for the good,” he said.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Let’s hear it for lemonade stands!

Forty-two percent of entrepreneurs surveyed in a study said their first business venture was during their childhood.

The current three richest people in America are all entrepreneurs

Bill Gates – $54 billion net worth

Warren Buffett – $45 billion net worth

Larry Ellison – $27 billion net worth

Does the gentler sex make for “gentler” entrepreneurs?

One institute’s study determined that female entrepreneurs have a greater tendency to focus on the well-being of both their employees and customers than do their male counterparts.

Pass your resume to David, not Goliath

Small businesses (not corporate giants) have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.

Try, try again

“I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to not make a lightbulb.” — Thomas Edison

Microsoft, Disney, McDonald’s, Southwest Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, and Krispy Kreme.

All these companies were founded during recessions, depressions or bear markets.

98 of surveyed business founders cited the following barrier to entrepreneurial success:

A lack of willingness or ability to take risks.


Nine out of 10 new restaurants fail within the first year.


Research and statistics indicate that restaurants’ failure rate is actually pretty close to that of new businesses in any industry: about 60 percent.

Earning that paycheck

Of the 400 people included on the 2010 Forbes list of richest Americans, those with self-made fortunes amassed more than twice the amount of those who had inherited their wealth: $920 billion combined versus $450 billion combined.

Q: Approximately how many patents did the United States Patent and Trademark Office grant in 2010?

A) 35,000 B) 460,000 C) 220,000 D) 12,000

Answer:  C: 219, 614 patents were granted (according to a reputable research firm)

Useful resources and inspiring tips for entrepreneurs can be found at:


Craig Prizant, philanthropreneurship and evangelicals

Craig Prizant

As a former fundraising professional at the Jewish Federation, I read with interest your story about the firing of Craig Prizant (a gentleman I do not know) (“Federation May Face Lawsuit Over Fundraiser Prizant’s Firing,” Feb. 27).

There has been a revolving door of development professionals, those at the top of the department and lower level staff, which, to my mind, shows either an appalling lack of management or a lack of appreciation on the part of the exec.

When you have staff coming and going on a frequent basis, you lose institutional knowledge of the various fundraising divisions, and, what I think is most important, you lose the relationships to people and community that your professionals make while at the Fed. Since the early 1990s, people have come and gone (sometimes with alacrity and with no respect to the individuals) in a manner that I don’t think you find in other American Jewish communities.

It was heartening to read in your article that finally the lay people are taking a stand. Perhaps the Prizant issue is just the tip of the iceberg? Perhaps the community would be better served by better oversight by the lay board and volunteers? And why is 6505 going through staff so quickly while the Valley Federation is not? These are issues that should be addressed.

Roxann Smith
Beverly Hills


Toronto’s accomplishments are even greater than Gary Wexler may realize (“Think ‘Philanthropreneurship,’ Like Canada,” March 2).

A couple of years before Gary was hired by the Toronto federation, and before the present executive was there, I was in Toronto for a week, training boards and staff people. I had been there a few times over the years and found it a progressive, vibrant Jewish city as Gary describes. Alan Reitzes was still the federation CEO.

Alan informed me that before my presentation at the federation board meeting, one matter of business was on the agenda. That item was the plan that Gary described in his article. At the time it was a two-track proposal.

The second part of the proposal was to establish a $100 million community fund. The proceeds were to be made available to any Jewish endeavor in the city deemed worthy of support by virtue of its contribution to the upbuilding of Jewish life in Toronto. This plan to raise $250 million over a period of time was passed unanimously and was “kicked off” by a single $35 million contribution.

Subsequently, the community leadership did commit to the new floor for the annual drive but the $150 million goal was raised to $300 million, as Wexler reported. I sat there silent, overwhelmed by the plan’s visionary challenge and scope, and immediately thought of Los Angeles and its potential to become a truly great Jewish city.

Upon my return home, I approached a dedicated and devoted lay leader and told him the Toronto story. He, too, was impressed and took up my challenge for him to initiate some beginnings to initiate a comparable plan in Los Angeles. He felt he could call 10 people together and begin the process with $10 million in new money. I thanked him but urged him to think in larger numbers and he agreed, ultimately feeling he could raise $25 million. I was elated but then made a great mistake. I should have urged him to go ahead, raise the money and then present the check as a challenge gift to The Federation, coupled with a visionary plan of how to jump start the development of a comprehensive scenario for consideration by all segments in the community.

Alas, I did not. My visionary friend brought the idea to a few community leaders who provided all manner of discouraging reasons as to why the idea would never get support in Los Angeles. The rest is history.

Los Angeles remains a fragmented community, raising money for great purposes under many auspices but never coming together to act except, in emergencies, to move to some exciting, energized and stimulating approach for tomorrow’s Los Angeles.

Wexler was undoubtedly trying to challenge those great visionaries among us to turn their thoughts, imaginations and energies to the end that this magnificent place in flux called Los Angeles set some overarching priorities for the community’s benefit and flowering.

Gerald Bubis
Founding Director
School of Jewish Communal Service
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Former Board Member
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles


Regarding Tom Tugend’s interview with Zev Chafets (Evangelical Support for Israel — Good for the Jews?,” March 2), who is promoting his book “A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance,” there is much that Jews need to learn about Christian Zionists.

The first is to appreciate that in many quarters they are considered neither Christian nor Zionist. They are the hard-core religious right and no amount of their support for Israel justifies what they would like to do to America.

Tugend asked all the right questions, but Chafets kept saying he wants American Jews to shut up about the theocratic domestic agenda of Christian Zionists (prayer and creationism in the schools, for example).

Chafets’ expressed contempt: “All I’m advocating is that you cut out the sneering, patronizing behavior toward evangelicals, and you don’t need to patrol every town square in Alabama for religious symbols…important to Christians.”

It’s some consolation that this interview appeared for the comedic Purim edition. We recommend that Chafets take his own medicine and begin campaigning for an Israeli government run by Satmar.

We bet he likes it!

Jane Hunter
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak

Correction:An article about Gila Almagor (Israel’s ‘Grande Dame’ Grows Up on the Big Screen”) had an incorrect byline. The author of the story was Jessica Steinberg. The Journal regrets the error.

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