A Two-Part Strategic Plan for JDC Success – June/October 2018

2018 Survey on JDC Success, Part 1: Summary of Results

An ad hoc Committee was formed at the end of the Jewish Deaf Congress (JDC) conference, August 2017, to work on a strategic plan to revive, revitalize and update JDC to meet the needs of modern-day Jewish Deaf Americans. The Committee members decided to seek input from stakeholders from all over the United States, as well as from some in Canada. In May 2018, the Committee disseminated a survey to inform JDC’s strategic action plan on how to transform and strengthen JDC. The survey would be sent in two parts: 1) to determine the pulse of Jewish Deaf Americans regarding JDC, its purpose, its priorities and ideas for the future, and then 2) to revitalize JDC by determining current directions including possibly restructuring it.  Part two of the survey will occur by the end of summer 2018.

The first part of the survey was posted on SurveyMonkey and emailed to the JDC mailing list, consisting of participants in recent JDC conferences, local Jewish Deaf groups who were encouraged to share this within their groups, and some individuals. It was also posted on the JDC page in Facebook.  Approximately 6 weeks were given for responses. 79 people responded to the survey.  It should also be noted that some people did not know about the survey.

Below is an executive summary of the Part 1 survey results.

Respondent Demographics: 68% said they were Deaf or hard of hearing.  50% were between 51-70 years old; 28% were 70+; 19% were 31-50; and 3% were under 30 years old. 50% indicated that they were part of a local Jewish Deaf group and that they met several times a year.

·        Key Points: JDC needs to attract more people under age 50,  especially, in the 21-35 age range. Also, there are isolated people who are not members of a Jewish Deaf group, whose the national conference as an opportunity to meet other Jewish Deaf people.

JDC Purpose: Given a summary of JDC’s purpose as stated in its bylaws, 54% of the respondents believed that the purpose as is was satisfactory while 46% felt the purpose should be updated, expanded and made more specific.

·        Key Points:  Given that just a little over half of the responders expressed support of the current mission, JDC should maintain its purpose and update it to meet current and future needs and desires of Jewish Deaf Americans.

JDC’s Strengths: This was an open-ended question: nearly 75% of the respondents wrote comments.  The responses were grouped around some common themes, in ranked order:

  • Conferences/Programming
  • Gathering, Serving the Community
  • Valued for Its History
  • About 10% stated they were clueless.

·       Key Points: JDC

  •  is viewed and valued as a “home” for Jewish Deaf Americans to meet, learn, socialize, and network in a Deaf-friendly environment;
  • unites the Jewish Deaf community of North America;
  • provides full visual language access to Jewish life and is Deaf-centered.

As JDC is the only such organization to bring together Jewish Deaf adults together, it serves an important need. JDC should make every effort to continue providing these conferences.

JDC’s Weaknesses: This was an open-ended question: nearly 75% of the respondents shared their thoughts. The common themes in the responses, in ranked order, were:

  • Lack of Communications/Marketing/Outreach/Newsletters/Visibility
  • Need Volunteers/Leadership/Voting process
  •  Membership (including Youth and Singles)
  • Operations/Processes
  •  Diversity/Values Conflicts

Others commented on the need for funds, educational programs, and advocacy. Several mentioned the dichotomy between Orthodox and more liberal groups, particularly concerning food during the conference. 

·       Key Points: JDC needs to improve its communications to the JDC membership and develop better relations with external groups. JDC needs to focus on developing future leaders and bringing in more members. As JDC desires to be inclusive of different Jewish perspectives and practices, it needs to examine the best ways to include and accommodate them.

Desired Information from JDC:  For the question: “What should JDC provide information about?” respondents could check one or more checkboxes.

TopicPercent Selecting TopicRank
Judaism and Deaf people80.61
Improving access to Jewish programs/services70.82
Judaism and Jewish traditions69.43
How to improve your local Jewish Deaf group38.94
History37.55
Preparing for Mitzvah at any age30.66
How to organize your local Jewish Deaf group29.27
Other (Unspecified)23.68
Family/Children20.89
Women11.110

·       Key Points: The first and third choices relate to programming topics. JDC should find ways to provide this information in Deaf-friendly format(s). The second choice involves JDC advocacy to gain more access to and support from Jewish non-Deaf organizations.

Near-Term Issues: For this open-ended question, “What are the issues you think JDC will face in the next 2-3 years?”, 70 respondents wrote their answers. Common themes emerged, in ranked order, as follows:

  • Membership/Youth, Families, Seniors: Increasing Memberships
  • Volunteers/Leadership/Motivation
  • Loss of Jewish Identity/Mainstream, Assimilation/Apathy
  • Conference/Targeted Programming/Location/Cost
  •  Finances/Grants/Sponsors/Collaborations
  • Diversity/Values Conflicts: 3 responses 
    • Rhetorical questions were raised – should JDC be a neutral Jewish Platform? “We are Jews – One Label – One Group. We are not Orthodox, Conservative, Reform. A name change along with a strong emphasis on socialization and fun Jewish learning. JDC needs to focus on attracting the many Deaf Jews – young and old – who consider themselves Jewish but non-practicing.”  Should JDC try to “unify Reform/Conservative/Orthodox Jewish Deaf at conferences?”
  • Miscellaneous comments touched upon technology, Jewish Birthright, 1-2 Deaf accessible camps, access (on site and on line) for Deaf youth to be bat/bar mitzvahed, educating rabbis about our needs, JDC restructuring, self-exploration as a Jew.

·       Key Points: JDC will address these issues while developing the JDC Strategic Plan/Goals that will be discussed/prioritized during the next JDC conference.

JDC Near-Term Priorities: “What should JDC’s top 3 priorities be from now until 2020?” elicited 68 responses.

PriorityPercent Selecting PriorityRank
Communications and info to members55.71
Conferences and events50.02
Fundraising, donations, and grants44.33
Advocacy and networking with other Jewish orgs44.33
Networking among local groups and members42.94
Organizational structure and management37.45
Educational programs27.16
Other (unspecified)17.17
Volunteers training14.38

·       Key Points: JDC will develop ways to communicate with the members.  JDC will look at conference locations and host organizations for the next JDC conference. The next two priorities involve working with and getting money from other Jewish organizations, and identifying these organizations and developing relations will be one of JDC’s longer-term goals.

Respondents’ Interests: 66 respondents shared their interests that JDC could provide or they could help provide:

TopicPercent Selecting TopicRank
JDC updates (3 x year or more)64.71
JDC conferences (1 x every 2-4 years)45.62
Communications/Social44.13
Networking36.84
Volunteering to help JDC on a committee26.55
Education22.16
JDC presenters17.67
Membership16.28
Technology and website16.28
Other (unspecified)16.28
JDC training modules14.79
Fundraising10.310

·       Key Points: Again, the members indicated high interest in getting communications from JDC at a minimum of 3 times a year and were interested in JDC conferences. It is also good that some want to help with networking, programming and volunteering.

Comments?  Ideas? Issues?  Please do share with us.

Watch for Part 2 of the survey on JDC structure and operations.

Please do add names of Jewish Deaf people who would be interested in getting information and providing input. 

Thank you.

Compiled by Iris Mars and Roz Rosen  

6/30/18





2018 Survey on JDC Success, Part 2: Summary of Results
Iris Mars and Roz Rosen
October 18, 2018

An ad hoc Committee was formed at the end of the 2017 Jewish Deaf Congress (JDC) conference, to work on a strategic plan to revive, revitalize and update JDC to meet the needs of modern-day Jewish Deaf Americans. The Committee members decided to seek input from stakeholders from all over the United States, as well as from some in Canada, on how to transform and strengthen JDC into a viable and vital organization.

We did two (2) surveys, using SurveyMonkey. The first survey focused on perceptions regarding JDC’s mission, goals, strengths and weaknesses and the engagement of the respondents. The first survey was completed last June and reported via emails and the JDC page in Facebook. The second survey focused on JDC’s purpose, memberships, services, structure and future. This report is on the second survey and includes some observations for future JDC restructuring.

79 people responded to the 2nd survey; a total of 106 people responded to one or both surveys. Below is an executive summary of the 2nd survey results. See FB JDC for the report on Part 1 or email us for a copy at jewishdeafcongress1956@gmail.com.

Respondent Demographics for 2nd Survey: 80% said they were Deaf or hard of hearing. 47% were between 51-70 years old; 34% were 70+. 60% indicated that they were part of a local Jewish Deaf group and that they
met several times a year, and 81% have attended a JDC conference. 67% stated they also responded to the first survey.

  • Analysis: JDC needs to attract more people under age 50. Greater networking and outreach efforts are needed to reach Deaf Jewish individuals who may not be aware of JDC or are isolated in their communities. JDC conferences and media are two outreach strategies.

JDC Purpose: Given a summary of JDC’s purpose as stated in its bylaws, the respondents were split between stating that the current purpose was satisfactory and stating the purpose needed to be updated and expanded. There were considerable differences in opinions about what the statement should include.

  • Analysis: JDC’s Strategic/Structure/Priority and Mission/Goals Revision Committee(s) will work on this using the comments from the survey for guidance. Comments touched upon expanded purpose, membership, activities/services, and communications/public relations. The updated and expanded purpose statement draft should be presented to the JDC Ad Hoc Committee for further discussions and incorporated into the JDC Strategic Plan to be shared with JDC stakeholders and the public.

JDC Services and Priorities
As in the first survey, 88% of the respondents view JDC as a two-prong organization to provide information and resources to its membership and to assist or advocate for more Deaf-friendly or Deaf-based access to local
services.  Some of the respondents had further suggestions.

  • Analysis: Comments ranged from informational services and content on Deaf People and Judaism, online resources about organizational development and legal/programmatic access, advocacy, education, and ways to reach the Deaf Jewish community. “Dream Bigger!” was one comment made.

Communications and Outreach: Regarding how JDC should provide information and resources to its membership, the respondents checked up to 4 preferences from 9 options.

  • Analysis: The top three priorities are: JDC website (78%), national conferences (59%) , and emailed newsletters (53%). Also popular choices were Facebook (47%) and other media such as YouTube and vlogs (42%). JDC will consider these a priority.

Governance – Respondents were asked to choose among 3 options for governance: 1) Maintain the status quo of voting for officers at periodic JDC conferences, 2) develop a different voting system, or 3) want further discussion.

  • Analysis: The responses were somewhat split among the 3 options. Maintain the status quo of voting for officers at periodic JDC conferences (28%), develop a different voting system (30%), or want further discussion (42%). Comments included online voting, regional conferences, council of representatives, a better system for nominating officers with nominations and steering committees. This topic will be addressed as part of the JDC restructuring and strategic plan.

Transition for JDC Board/Officers – Respondents were asked to choose among three options for nominating/electing the next board and officers. The 3 options were: 1) leave it to the JDC ad hoc committee to nominate a slate of future board members at the next JDC conference, 2) in addition to the ad hoc committee’s slate, allow additional members to be nominated from the floor, 3) keep the status quo of nominating individuals from the floor at the JDC conference.

  • Analysis: The majority of the responders (57%) preferred to have a slate of candidates nominated by the JDC ad hoc committee, in advance of the next JDC conference, as well as nominating additional candidates from the floor. 31% felt that the JDC ad hoc committee should present a slate at the next conference for approval. 12% wanted to stay with the status quo of nominating officers from the floor only. Comments included the need for a nominations committee, an expansion in the voting process from conference-elections only to other means such as online or regional elections. The JDC ad hoc committee will discuss this further and propose 1) a way to elect the next board and 2) long term election process and possible revisions in the bylaws for action by the members.

JDC Structure – respondents were asked to think about what the JDC structure and general governance should be like in the future.

  • Analysis: The options and results were:
    1) Continue as is: conference participants vote for the JDC board and officers for the next term (14%),
    2) Strengthen the JDC governance system with representatives from local/national Jewish Deaf groups as JDC affiliates. JDC would then become a council of affiliates (39%) or
    3) Strengthen the JDC governance system with both local/national affiliates and individual memberships (47%).
  • There is clearly a desire to see some kind of affiliate representation. JDC will explore how to handle affiliate membership, as there are issues of voting rights involved, as well as defining affiliate and
    individual memberships. Comments included support for the affiliates council concept, being mindful of Deaf Jews in geographical areas where there are no affiliates, and need for new leadership.

JDC Membership: Possibilities for increasing JDC memberships, leadership and diversity included the options of 1) Continue the current practice of membership through conferences only. 2) Find a way for people to join JDC as individuals, in addition to the current practice of membership through conferences. 3) Find a way for people to join JDC as individuals; membership is separate from conference attendance.

  • Analysis: The majority (57%) wanted some kind of individual membership option as well as becoming a member by registering for a conference; 34% wanted to separate membership from just being at conferences, and 9% wanted to continue the current practice of membership through conferences only. Comments included ways to participate, membership fees, fundraising, ensuring a cross section of the membership, networking or collaborating with affiliates and temples.

JDC Needs Your Help: Respondents were asked to check 3-4 ways they could help JDC.

  • Analysis: The choices on the survey and the results were as follows:
    • Attend the 2020 JDC Conference (more info will be shared later) 66.67%
    • Get people to join JDC 35%
    • Help with JDC leadership and advocacy 32%
    • Share names and emails with JDC for networking (all names held confidential) 30%
    • Personally donate $$$ to JDC (tax write-off for you) 27%
    • Help with developing educational materials for JDC 26%
    • Help with the JDC website (e.g., articles, list of resources, list of vlogs, list of captioned videos, website assistance, etc.) 23%
    • Host a local social/service with friends/family, JDC collaboration with a local program 20%
    • Help with the JDC Presenters Bureau 14%
    • Do local fundraising for the 2020 JDC Conference 11%

The largest response for “help” is to attend conferences, followed by networking for new members, assisting with JDC leadership and advocacy, and donating money to JDC. It is hoped that JDC will have the help it needs to lead JDC, to set up and maintain a website, amplify its presence via media and community networking and fundraising. We will ask and we will count on you, along with others you may recommend, with great appreciation. We need good people to help lead each task.

Please also share or forward this report to all your Jewish Deaf friends and allies.   The survey summary will also be posted on the JDC Facebook page. If you have ideas or issues, please contact jewishdeafcongress1956@gmail.com or rozrosen@gmail.com. 

Keep a lookout for the next updates from the JDC ad hoc committee about possibilities for the next JDC conference where some of the recommendations for restructuring JDC will be proposed and acted upon.

Thank you!!


The JDC ad hoc Committee on JDC Success