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By Rhonda Spivak

In light of the recession, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has taken  some cost-cutting measures to ensure that it can weather the difficult economic climate.

“While our CJA campaign this past year reached the same amount as the year before, we didn’t meet our targeted goal, which was higher than last year,” said federation CEO?Bob Freedman.

“Given the economic recession, I made a decision to freeze all salaries.... The federation [didn't] send anyone to the [Jewish Federations of North America] General Assembly in Washington this year as a result of the cuts.”

Brenda Tessler-Donen, director of B’nai Brith Camp, said that although the federation’s allotment to the camp went up “a little bit” in 2009, overall, the camp received “about 15 per cent less funds from grant applications to different funding bodies than the year before.”

Tessler-Donen added, “Certain funding bodies that we regularly apply to had less to distribute. One application we made was to the [Massachusetts-based] Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which gives out money for Jewish camping. This looked very promising initially, but our application was rejected, since that body had been affected by the Madoff [Ponzi] affair.”

Francis Barett, managing director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, said that her organization is “definitely feeling the effects of the recession.

“Although our federation allocation wasn’t decreased last year, I anticipate we will get less this year. The major fundraiser, the Sol Kanee Lecture, which we had last spring, was down. Most people gave half of what they gave the year before, meaning we were down about $30,000, which is about 10 per cent of our budget.”

Emily Shane, executive director of Jewish Child and Family Services, said her agency is also feeling the effects of the downturn.

“Although our allotment from the federation stayed the same this past year, the price for us to deliver our services went up,” she said, adding that there have been fewer donations to the food bank that the agency runs.

“For the first time ever, we sent staff to buy food to fill the pantry, because not enough donors donated it. We also give out food cards, and the amounts have gone up dramatically,” Shane said. “I worry that the money coming in from donors could decrease in the coming year, while our clients’ needs are increasing… The immigration and resettlement grant we received from the government also went down a bit.”

Rory Paul, CEO of the Gray Academy of Jewish Education, says that, luckily, so far the Hebrew day school hasn’t experienced any real effects of the economic recession.

“We actually have 11 more students this year than last year, and our allocation from the federation remained the same. That is the case, even though we have fewer new immigrant families, which means that more Winnipeg families chose to go to our school than previously,” Paul said.

“But my gut is that in Manitoba we may not have felt he full effects of the recession, so we’ll have to see if families are feeling the effects of less disposable income and whether that will affect us next year.”

Gayle Waxman, executive director of the Rose & Max Rady Jewish Community Centre, said that “thankfully, we have not been hit by the recession.”

She attributed this to renovations to the facility last year.

“We expected our membership to go up after the renovations, and it has. We are in growth mode. Our allocation from the federation wasn’t decreased, and we got a one-time grant of $20,000 last year from the federation to offset costs associated with the renovation,” she added.


A version of this article has previously appeared in The Canadian Jewish News

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.