The emergence of the Federation system roughly one hundred years ago responded to the needs of the times. Federations offered a way to centralize philanthropy, the prioritization of communal needs, and the coordinated allocation of resources to meet those needs. For the past one hundred years in the United States, Jewish communities have developed through a “planned economy” model of Federation and denominational movement financing as the primary drivers of Jewish life. A planned economy assumes (and sometimes imposes) some collective and shared assumptions about needs and goals. That kind of ideological conformity and expected fealty to a centralized authority has been perceived as irrelevant or too cumbersome to many of the leaders and organizations within the innovation sector. What is clear so far is that the work of Jewish innovators is much more flexible, market-driven, and individualistic than the planned economy models of federation- and denomination-based Jewish life.

Dr. Caryn Aviv, “Haskalah 2.0.” Jumpstart Report 2. In cooperation with JESNA and The Jewish Federations of North America. (Los Angeles: Jumpstart, 2010), 10.