Top Jewish Agency Executive Outside Israel Quits

Barely two weeks after Isaac Herzog takes over, head of fundraising steps down

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog, August 10, 2018.
Emil Salman

In the Jewish Agency's first shake-up since its leadership change, Joshua Fogelson, the CEO for international development, has stepped down.

Fogelson, who is based in New York and served as chief fundraiser for close to three years, tendered his resignation this week during a visit to Israel. He was the most high-ranking Jewish Agency official in North America. According to Jewish Agency sources, Fogelson did not provide any explanation for the decision beyond a general interest in moving on.

Contacted via email by Haaretz, Fogelson sufficed with the following statement: “It was my honor and privilege to serve at the Jewish Agency for Israel, whose critical work strengthens the Jewish people each and every day.”

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Privately, both Isaac Herzog, the new Jewish Agency chairman, and his predecessor, Natan Sharansky, have expressed concerns that the international fundraising operation was not bringing in enough money to justify the large overhead it required.

Fogelson headed a staff of about 25 employees, spread out between Israel and the United States. 

A former director for strategic development at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, he assumed his position at the Jewish Agency in October 2015. He has also served as CEO of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. Fogelson was brought in to replace Micha Galperin, another former federation executive, whose exorbitant salary at the Jewish Agency was the subject of considerable controversy.

The Jewish Agency used to receive virtually all its funding from two key sources: the federation system and Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal). That has changed in recent years, however, with donations from private foundations and individuals covering a growing share of its spending. The organization’s annual budget is about $370 million and has remained more or less static over the past 10 years. 

Another major source of income for the Jewish Agency are payments it receives for the “shlichut” (community envoy) services it provides outside Israel. 

Herzog, the former opposition leader and head of the Zionist Union faction in the Knesset, assumed his new position at the Jewish Agency on August 1.