Compounding One Mistake With Another Mistake

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The failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones. By Stephen G. Donshik If it were not so sad, it would seem be a comedy of errors. First the Israeli government announces the initiation of the World Jewry Joint Initiative (the Initiative), to be developed by it in a partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). The next thing we hear is that the government is moving ahead on its own and does not seem to be engaging JAFI in planning the strategy and the developing the Initiative program. Using a tongue-and-cheek perspective, you could say that one mistake is being compounded by another mistake. … [Read more...]

Event: Present and Future of Philanthropy in Israel

IsraelGives butterfly

On September 10th Israel Gives is hosting the Israel NonProfit Summit, to be held in Tel Aviv, from 9am to 4pm. The theme of the conference is the Present and Future of Philanthropy in Israel. Panels include: Examining the real numbers of Israeli giving (with representatives of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics) Family philanthropy in Israel (with Joseph Gitler and the Recanati Family) Corporate giving (Gil Kalian of Calcalist, Shirley Kantor, Zion Regev of Gazit-Globe, CSR rep of Bank Leumi, and Gilles Darmonde founder of Latet) Eric Fleisch of Brandeis University will talk about American Jewish giving to Israel Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein will talk about the IFCJ’s success in fundraising from American evangelical Christians Whether social bonds will bring the capital market … [Read more...]

Strategy Over More of The Same

By Dvir Kahana The Jewish people are once again facing enormous challenges. From Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip to the firebombing of synagogues in France and Germany, our nation is under attack. What should give us hope though is the amazing resilience, unity and solidarity we are witnessing across the globe - from Israelis who refuse to surrender to Hamas terror, to the thousands of Jews in Paris and Johannesburg who took to the streets in recent weeks to demonstrate their support for Israel despite the surrounding hostile environment. This sense of unity and solidarity is exactly what we are striving to foster with the establishment of the Government of Israel-World Jewry Initiative, launched to ensure the security and growth of the Jewish people while enhancing the … [Read more...]

The Student Operation to Bring Sderot Back from the Edge

The construction site of an abandoned elementary school in Sderot which Ayalim is using to build a student village; photo courtesy.

By Tsvi Dahan JNS.org Many continue to pray that Israel’s recently completed Operation Protective Edge will finally bring an end to the rockets that have rained down on the Negev city of Sderot since the second Palestinian intifada broke out in 2001. Yet for residents of the beleaguered town that is only a Qassam’s-throw from Gaza, victory is not measured by military gains. The people of Sderot want to win back their city. They want to find a way of restoring its beat and rhythm. But even if the immediate threat of rockets is curtailed, a city with a sordid history of terror stands little chance of ever being revived. And terror is only one variable in the equation. Sderot remains one of Israel’s most impoverished cities, with a disproportionately large number of welfare recipients, many of … [Read more...]

Marrying Off the Sister They Never Knew: NCSY Summer Program Hosts an Israeli Wedding

photo courtesy

By Zvi Volk It reads like a scene out of a novel. The setting is Israel during the summer of 2014 just after the fighting in Gaza subsides. A wedding is being prepared in Bet Shemesh. The bride, Leah, and groom, Moshe, are from Kazakhstan. They are chozrei b’teshuva (newly religious) and have no family in Israel. Several hours before the chuppah, the groom rushes into the wedding venue straight from his army. He is still in his uniform and has to find a place to secure his gun before he can take a shower. The bride is having her makeup touched up for the last time. The chuppah finally arrives. Leah is beautiful. Moshe is nervous. They are both beaming. Meanwhile, there is a flurry of activity in the courtyard and dining room as a group of young women make the final adjustments in the … [Read more...]

Young Israelis Moving to Sderot Will Live in Shipping Containers!

Ayalim village in Sderot built from shipping containers (illustration).

An Ayalim student village all built from shipping containers is under construction in Sderot. The Sderot village, which will house over 300 students, is being built in an innovative method that will allow Ayalim to complete the village construction in a few months on a relatively low budget. The students who will move to Sderot will give new hope to this beaten city by infusing young and vibrant energy. Each student will volunteer 10 hours weekly with children, youth and seniors, which means that 3,000 hours a week will be given to the citizens of Sderot - just imagine 300 enthusiastic young Israelis going through the city for 10 hours every week and “renovating” whatever is needed - physically, socially and educationally. Construction is already underway and the village will be ready … [Read more...]

Reflections on Life in Israel

NFTY-EIE High School in Israel summer 2014; courtesy NFTY.

Throughout their struggle, the citizens of Israel have formed a unique identity of national pride of which I, as an American, am jealous. By Gabi Aklepi I just returned from an incredible summer on the Union for Reform Judaism’s NFTY-EIE High School in Israel Summer Session. Being in Israel during the war with Hamas had an unusual effect on me. I thought I’d be afraid, but truthfully, I had never felt safer. Beyond feeling safe, I felt proud to be in Israel. In fact, I’ve never before felt more connected to Jewish history or the Jewish people. I have never been very patriotic. In fact, very few of my peers show any affection for America. In America, citizens may fly flags on a few national holidays, but in general, outward patriotism isn’t the mainstream - amongst my friends, disliking … [Read more...]

Finding a New Homeland

Kyle Price is third from the left. His friend, Jacob Herstein, is on the far right; courtesy BBYO.

By Kyle Price When someone asks me where I live, I immediately respond, “Scarsdale, New York.” One month ago, if someone had asked me where my home was, the answer would have been the same. Now I hesitate when asked this question. What does this person mean by “home?” Is home where my house is? If so, my home is Scarsdale. But what if the person were to ask where I feel most comfortable and secure? In that case, my home is Israel. At the end of July I returned to New York from a three-week BBYO Summer Experience in Israel called International Leadership Seminar in Israel (ILSI). This marked my seventh trip to Israel. I already knew that I loved the land and connected to it deeply, so I didn’t expect a life-changing experience. Then again, I also didn’t expect a war to break out while I was … [Read more...]