Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jewish community professionals -- what are they so happy about?

A new survey of Jewish communal workers (comprising of "rabbis, educators, agency executives, fundraisers and clerical workers employed at synagogues, day schools, federations and advocacy groups") has been released.
“The Jewish Sector’s Workforce,” ambitious in its breadth, showed that the larger the job’s Judaic component, the higher the level of employee satisfaction
Hardly surprising -- just means that workers in the field are happier than the fund-raisers and the desk-bound clerical workers.
Leonard Saxe, director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis and a co-author of the study, said many respondents said they were “willing to give up money and mobility to do meaningful work” in the Jewish community.
In fact, this finding means nothing. Since most Jewish organisations pay so little, especially compared to other popular Jewish professions, those who go into communal work almost by definition are willing to give up money for meaning. So let's hope communal leaders don't latch on to this as the archetype of the Jewish communal professional -- or as an excuse to channel funds everywhere but towards salaries. Unfortunately, there are thousands of very worthy young people who most certainly would have gone into communal work were poor pay not such an important factor.
In fact, the most interesting thing to come out of this survey is simply how happy employees in community organisations seem to be:
aside from widespread dissatisfaction with pay and benefits, most Jewish communal employees say they are “very satisfied” with their jobs; and the overwhelming majority — 88 percent to 99 percent in various job categories — say they are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.”
This completely belies the popular image of Jewish organisations as particularly hard to work for.

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