Keren Hayesod Fires Its New CEO on First Day of Job

Polly Bronstein, 45, was considered a surprising choice for the high profile job at Israel's largest fundraising organizations ■ Organization's chair says termination is result of financial strife caused by coronavirus

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Polly Bronstein
Polly BronsteinCredit: Polly Bronstein - Facebook
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Polly Bronstein, the first woman ever appointed to the position of  chief executive officer of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, was notified on Monday, the day she was supposed to step into her new job, that the position has been scrapped as part of new cost-cutting measures.

Keren Hayesod is one of the largest fundraising organizations for the Jewish State.

The rather startling announcement came in a message sent by Sam Grundwerg, the chairman of the board of Keren Hayesod, to workers in the organization. He said that he would fill both positions.

In the message, Grundwerg wrote that Keren Hayesod could no longer afford to fill the CEO position because of severe financial difficulties it faced in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. “Despite the difficulty and the unpleasantness involved in this decision,” he wrote, “we must show responsibility and stabilize the organization in the coming period, with the limited resources at our disposal. In the emergency situation in which we find ourselves, we are forced to save wherever we can and operate under a different format.”

In the message, he apologized to Bronstein and said he was convinced “she would have done an excellent job leading the organization.”  Grundwerg wrote that the decision to let Bronstein go was taken by the entire board of directors.

A social activist known as an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bronstein, 45,  was considered a surprising choice for the high profile job. Her appointment was announced in late March.

Bronstein, who could not be reached for comment, was the founder and former director of Darkenu, a grassroots movement that describes itself as representing the “moderate majority” in Israel.

The movement, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, organized a huge online demonstration several months ago against what it described as government attempts to undermine democracy during the coronavirus crisis.

Grundwerg, who sat on the selection committee, is known to be close to Netanyahu. The American-born chairman served previously as Israel’s consul-general in Los Angeles. Typically, senior appointments at the major Zionist organizations are made in consultation with the prime minister.