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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘development’

The Importance Of Strong Management In Day Schools

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

One of the hottest topics across all spectrums in the Jewish community is the financial sustainability of Jewish day school education in America. Schools have invested a lot of time and resources to train their professionals in the art of fundraising, developing donor relationships, and launching effective capital campaigns. And there has been a concerted effort among Jewish educational organizations to establish programs to assist day schools in improving their governance and developmental practices.

In early 2011, the AVI CHAI Foundation, along with local foundations and federations in various Jewish communities, provided support to Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership (YUSP) to launch a broad-based program to improve growth and performance. The goal of the program was to collect data from a pool of approximately 35 schools and then use that data as a comparative benchmarking tool to identify opportunities for revenue enhancements and expense reductions at a minimum of 10 percent of their respective budgets. Collectively these schools have a budget of $225 million, so a 10 percent improvement translates to $22.5 million.

In addition, Torah Umesorah is scheduled to begin a training program to educate yeshiva day school executives in effective leadership and management skills, including an emphasis on board development and fundraising.

And the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) recently announced the launch of MATCH, for the fourth time since 2004. This program, which went into effect on August 1, is designed to strengthen Jewish day schools by broadening the community of donors. To accomplish this, the program provides first-time donors the opportunity to leverage a donation of $10,000 or more at a matching rate of 50 cents to the dollar, up to $50,000.

These approaches are highly innovative and have the potential to be successful and helpful to many schools. However, programs that focus on fundraising and development can only be effective if there are no cracks in the school’s administrative foundation. A ship can only set sail once there are no leaks in its hull; otherwise it will not get very far.

I know of a school that found itself in dispute with local storekeepers for thousands of dollars in merchandise. There was general confusion concerning what was purchased and what was owed. As is the case with many schools, principals and teachers would purchase goods on credit, often forgetting to submit the bill to the finance office. At other times, the stores would mail the invoice to the finance office, which was unaware a purchase had been made. The invoices would not be paid right away so the store would then fax in the invoice. Over time, no one knew what was ordered, what was actually received, or what was paid. Sometimes the same invoice would be paid twice, even three times.

All this could have been avoided had some simple and easy internal controls been in place. Ultimately, that is exactly what the school did. First, it authorized one person to do all the purchasing of goods and services for the school and put a strict ban on all staff from making any purchases on credit. A letter was then sent to local stores informing them of this new policy. Storeowners were warned that if they accepted a purchase on credit from anyone other than the school’s authorized purchaser, they would be sent a tax receipt for the “donation.” Faxes would no longer be accepted either. Payments would only be made from the original invoice.

A requisition form was also introduced for all purchases of goods and services. Approval from the executive director was required before any purchase was made. When goods arrived at the school, they were counted and matched to both the invoice and the approved purchase requisition form. The school’s administrators were surprised to see how many times the quantity of items stated on the invoice was greater than what was actually received. A lot of money was saved by catching these errors. Even the shopkeepers were happy when they started getting paid on time.

To be clear, there are a great number of schools that do operate at a very high level of competency. Their administrations take seriously their fiduciary duty to parents and donors to operate their schools in the most professional and financially efficient manner. They have their finance offices humming along like well-oiled machines and their lay leadership is to be commended. For these schools, the YUSP benchmarking and strategic planning program, as well as other pioneering programs, would not only work but could ensure their viability and sustainability for decades to come.

Jake Goldstein

Why Economic Development as a Panacea for Middle East Problems is a Myth

Sunday, October 28th, 2012
Visit Rubin Reports.
A reader asks:
“I agree that democracy and economic development are not panaceas for the Middle East, just as they are not for any other location on the planet.  But aren’t they a start?  And since it is possible to chew gum and walk at the same time, does it hurt to at least pay lip service to doing things to bring the rest of the Middle East into the 21st century? And what would those things be in your opinion?”
As you noted, both candidates in the presidential election spoke of economic development as a top priority in their Middle East policy. This sounds good to voters but is pretty meaningless.

A typical example of this meme is given by Obama in his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech:
We…know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  That’s why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who’ve been displaced.  That’s why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.
 But almost four years later none of these massive expenditures have either changed the situation in those countries or even brought much benefit to their people.
A Western viewer might accept Obama’s claim that people just want good jobs, nice housing, and higher living standards for themselves and their children. Yet the appeals of radical ideology overcome material considerations. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini dismissively referred to this theory shortly after he took power in Iran by remarking that the West seemed to think the Iranian Islamist revolution was about the price of watermelons but that wasn’t true of all.It does make sense to the Western mind that material conditions will determine the political beliefs and loyalties of Arabs and Iranians. Yet over the span of the last century things have simply not turned out that way in practice. This was partly due to the fact that nobody  delivered major increases in living standards except in the Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and in those places it was a highly traditional and religious way of life being reinforced.Elsewhere governments mustered loyalty not by making the pie bigger but by controlling who got what. So if you had the option material well-being for the urban middle class and certain ethnic segments meant supporting the dictatorship and getting some reward. That will also apply if the dictatorship is an Islamist one, which can offer spiritual exaltation as well. And at least for some years many voters–where people have the opportunity to choose–will believe that Islamism is the best chance for a stable, just, and relatively prosperous society.

There are lots of people who would like their children to grow up to be suicide bombers or prefer piety to prosperity. Even though many don’t think that way, they might be persuaded that radicalism is the best route to better lives. And finally, when people and rulers see no real way to achieve prosperity, both the governments and the masses will turn to demagoguery, scapegoating, and foreign adventures.

Countries are not prepared for progress due to ideology, worldview, institutions, political culture, and many other factors. In particular, the presence of such large and powerful radical forces—willing, even eager, to use violence—is a huge problem. Demagoguery is potent. Such factors can override the kind of materialistic orientation and enlightened self-interest that Westerners expect and that underpin the belief that democracy can provide stable polities and ensure moderation.
It should be stressed that every country is different. In general, though, the problem with economic development is that it does not trump politics. The countries of the region can be divided into those that have oil wealth and those that don’t. The wealthy countries don’t need American programs to engage in economic development. In some cases, radicalism and instability keep getting in the way. In others—think of Iran or Iraq under Saddam–economic development is managed within the framework of an extremist regime and ideology.
It is true that the wealth of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have made them more cautious and—often in practice but not in rhetoric or domestic policy—more pragmatic. But one must be cautious here. Saudi Arabia’s wealth and the high living standards of many citizens has not made the country a paragon of democratic values at home and moderation abroad.
Saudi money has been used to spread Islamism and back radical Islamists, most notably in contemporary Syria and in Iraq a few years ago. Qatar has aligned itself with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, engaging in mischief as far afield as Libya. Iraq and Algeria need stability but the problem is not economic development as such but merely pumping more oil and doing something about bureaucracy and corruption.
Certainly, though, these countries do not need Western governments to promote economic development.
Radical regimes, like Libya under Muammar al-Qadhafi, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or Islamist Iran use some of their wealth for development and much of it for projects like building nuclear weapons and subverting their neighbors.
So regarding the wealthy countries there isn’t much for the West to do in promoting economic development. What about the non-oil states? Let’s look at the specific cases. Lebanon, famous for its merchants, had a self-made multi-millionaire as prime minister who focused on economic development. But he was forced out and assassinated. Internal conflict, ideology, and engagement in foreign adventures wrecked the chance for economic development.
The same applies even more to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, which is more interested in fighting Israel than in raising living standards. How can the West help when the local impetus is lacking?
This brings us to Egypt. The truth is that Egypt has a lot of people but few resources and a terrible structural and cultural situation regarding work. Here’s one example. A leading British supermarket chain opened stores in Egypt. Traditionalists, radicals, and competitors (the owners of small stores) spread rumors that the supermarket company backed Israel and was anti-Muslim. Despite the store’s efforts at denial and appeasement, the pressure became so great that it had to close and leave the country.
In a Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt, with Salafists engaging in anarchic violence, is U.S.-backed economic development going to make any differences. As for the Palestinian Authority, vast amounts of aid money have flowed in and despite some apparent successes—a lot of luxury apartments have been built and people kept employed in the government bureaucracy—no lasting progress has been made. A lot of the money has ended up in the political leaders’ foreign bank accounts. At any time, Hamas could take over or the Fatah-led regime turn back to a war against Israel.
Economic development sounds good but in practice it is more a way to keep Western citizens happy than to make a real difference in the Middle East. For example, when discussing his economic development policy in the foreign policy presidential debate, Obama cited his government’s “organizing entrepreneurship conferences.” And in reality a lot of the money is simply a pay-off to local regimes or a way to shore them up. It has nothing to do with real development.
The story of the battle of factions and corrupt leaders in the Palestinian Authority over awarding a mobile phone contract; how EU-financed public housing turned into luxury apartments to reward regime supporters; or the sabotage against building an improved sewer system in the Gaza Strip—even though foreign aid was paying for the whole project—are wonderful case studies in how economic development campaigns that look good in the West amount to a joke on the ground.
There are, however, three countries that could benefit from economic development efforts if they were to be focused. Those are Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan. Tunisia, of course, is currently ruled by an Islamist-dominated regime. Whether that government will remain cautious or turn increasingly radical—pressed on by rampaging Salafists—is not clear. Strengthening the moderate forces in Tunisia, which are more proportionately substantial than in any other Arabic-speaking country, is a worthwhile effort but it might not work.
Ironically, Morocco and Jordan are led by moderate regimes threatened by a public opinion that is often radicalized due to poverty. Even there, however, this is not the sole factor. Jordan, for example, has a powerful opposition Brotherhood and a potentially radicalized Palestinian majority. The Palestinians who came there after being expelled from Kuwait in 1991 (because of the PLO’s support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion) brought in a lot of riches and business skills. Amman has become a much wealthier city but Jordanians generally don’t seem to have benefited much.
But Jordan is relatively small, weak, and doesn’t cause trouble, while Morocco is not a factor in the region’s international affairs. So the places where a real economic development effort could really make a difference get neglected. For a while, the Saudis talked about admitting Jordan to the rich man’s club, the Gulf Cooperation Council and giving a billion dollars in aid. But nothing came of it in the end.
Remember that the United States gave tens of billions of dollars in aid to Egypt without getting gratitude or popular moderation. Similarly, the United States gave or helped organize an effort for the Palestinians that constituted the most aid money given per person in history. Yet this brought neither progress on the peace process, a transformation in Palestinian thinking, or gratitude.
At any rate, while “economic development” sounds like a great idea, a fine way of making people happy, getting them to love America, and undermining radicalism, in practice it isn’t so effective.
Originally published at Rubin Reports.
Barry Rubin

Son of Ultra-Orthodox Founder of ZAKA Joins IDF

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Ariel Meshi Zahav, the son of Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the Chareidi man who founded the Zaka organization, was recently drafted into the IDF. It’s reported that he was placed in the Golani Brigade.

Many in the Chareidi community were shocked by this development, and some within the community have come out and stated that Ariel Meshi Zahav is not Chareidi.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Touro L.A.: Teaching Teachers

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

In a creative initiative, Touro College Los Angeles’s new education concentration for working teachers is designed to meet the professional development needs of teachers in the Greater Los Angeles area by providing education courses each semester.

This fall TCLA will offer EDU 311: Principles of Early Childhood, beginning September 12 at Ohr Hachaim Academy, and PSY 203: Child Growth and Development, starting September 2 at the Cheder of Los Angeles. Students can earn three credits per course while learning from an experienced instructor.

According to Tamar Andrews, Ed.D., education instructor at TCLA and preschool director at Temple Isaiah, “The field of early childhood education is quickly moving up the ranks as a legitimate profession. Teachers, as the professional practitioners, must welcome this opportunity for recognition and rise to the challenge by educating themselves, as do practitioners in other fields. We will only become equals to lawyers, doctors and others when we, ourselves, are willing to go beyond the minimal requirements of licensing and towards ‘professional.’ ”

To reduce educators’ financial burdens, TCLA is offering a 50 percent tuition discount to teachers. For more information about this program, call Samira Miller at 323-822-9700 x 85155, or e-mail samira.miller@gmail.com.

Jeanne Litvin

How Peer Pressure Could Help Your Investments

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

While generally peer pressure is viewed as a negative trait, emulating successful people may help increase your own chances of success. Indeed, if you want to build your wealth, look at successful businesspeople and copy their secrets to success. Try following these golden rules in order to increase your net worth:

1. Have patience. Build your wealth carefully and patiently. As any successful businessman will tell you, wealth doesn’t grow overnight. Each decision was weighed carefully and thoughtfully, without making any rash or impulsive mistakes.

2. Create a financial plan. Successful businesspeople don’t just make random decisions. They have a specific business plan, and they employ others (money managers) to help them. You can do the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.

3. Invest carefully. Successful companies reinvest their profits in their own development. Keep building your business rather than taking out dividends and resting on your laurels.

4. Consistently monitor. Don’t just open a portfolio and walk away. Keep an eye on your levels of risk and asset allocation, consulting with your financial advisor on a regular basis. Markets and personal circumstances never remain static. So monitor the changes and make sure that your investments keep apace with your changing world.

If you would like some more great ideas on how to build your wealth, consider emulating successful businessmen. I heard a number of great ideas when I interviewed Verne Harnish who wrote a book called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which is endorsed by over 100 CEOs. Listen to that interview and please let me know what you think (doug@profile-financial.com).

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Broader Lessons from Genetic Studies of the Ashkenazi Jewish Population

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the influential paper published by a Mount Sinai physician, Dr. Burrill Crohn, and his colleagues that for the first time characterized a disease associated with severe inflammation of the intestine. Patients with what was later named Crohn’s disease develop diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, and often lose weight. Crohn’s is now classified as an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks its own healthy tissue in the gastrointestinal tract, causing chronic inflammation. It affects young individuals, and, even though it is not curable, it can be treated and controlled by medications and surgery.

Epidemiology and origination of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s is considered to be a complex disease with both genetic and environmental risk factors. There is extensive evidence to support the role of genetics in the development of Crohn’s disease. Having a relative with Crohn’s disease is the greatest risk factor for other family members. Also, studies of twins have shown that identical twins, who share almost 100% of their genetic information, were more likely to both have the disease than fraternal twins.  The differences in the prevalence of Crohn’s in various racial and ethnic groups further indicate that genetic factors contribute to the risk, even though shared cultural factors, such as diet and lifestyle, might also explain these differences. Specifically, the prevalence of Crohn’s disease in European countries ranges between 1 and 12 per 100,000 individuals, whereas this disease was until recently virtually unknown in the developing countries.

The major genetic risk for Crohn’s disease identified so far is conferred by 3 rare mutations in the NOD2 gene. NOD2 plays an important role in the immune system, as it enables immune cells to recognize bacterial molecules and stimulates an immune reaction. While the frequency of these mutations ranges between 1% and 4.5% in the general population, about 40% of Crohn’s disease patients carry at least one copy. This translates to a 2 to 4-fold risk of developing the disease in carriers of one copy and a 10 to 40-fold risk in those who carry multiple copies of these mutations. Recent advances in the field of genetics have allowed identification of an additional 160 genetic variants associated with Crohn’s disease in individuals of European ancestry. However,  a sharp increase in the occurrence of the disease in children of immigrants from the developing countries who move to Western countries, as well as the well- established effect of smoking on Crohn’s disease risk, suggest a prominent role for environmental factors as well, most likely diet and lifestyle.

Crohn’s Disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish Population

Interestingly, Jews of European descent (Ashkenazim) have a 4 to 7-fold increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease compared to non-Jewish Europeans. Genetic risks alone could not explain why the prevalence of Crohn’s disease is so much higher in Ashkenazim than in surrounding populations. To investigate this phenomenon, researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have recently conducted the largest study which compared 1,878 Ashkenazi Jews with Crohn’s disease to 4,469 Jews without the disease, using DNA samples to evaluate their genetic make-up. They discovered five new genetic risk regions associated with Crohn’s disease in Ashkenazim. Armed with this new information, they can begin to pinpoint additional causal genetic mutations, discover the nature of the malfunctions they create,  and hopefully eventually develop new treatment approaches. That study also demonstrates the value of genetic studies in isolated populations, like Ashkenazi Jews.

 

The Role of Commensal Bacteria in Crohn’s Disease Risk

One possible explanation for the origination of Crohn’s disease is the hygiene hypothesis which suggests that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents causes the immune system to wrongfully recognize its own non-pathogenic microorganisms as imminent risks and to act against them, causing substantial damage. This notion is particularly interesting in light of accumulating evidence suggesting that the identity and relative abundance of members of bacterial communities, or microbiota, normally residing in the human body and referred to as “commensal”, or non-harmful, bacteria, can be associated with different disease states. Microbial cells that live on (skin, eyes) and inside the human body (digestive system) may outnumber the quantity of human cells by 10-fold. This means that we may be carrying more bacterial genes than our own. Some commensal bacteria are essential for our health and provide a wide range of metabolic functions that the human body lacks. They help break down, absorb and store nutrients that otherwise cannot be digested, fight pathogenic bacteria, and play an important role in the development of the immune system.

Dr. Inga Peters

Saudi Will Shoot Down Israeli Planes to Iran

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

The US has passed a message on to Israel that Saudi Arabia informed them they will shoot down any Israeli planes that flies over their territory on the way to attacking Iran’s nuclear weapon development facilities.

Some Israeli officials believe the idea for the message was instigated by the US in order to place additional pressure on Israel to not attack.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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