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...]

In the Footsteps of Rabbi Regina Jonas

Dr. Zola and the Four Pioneers at plaque dedication ceremony

By Dr. Gary P. Zola One month ago, I was standing in the Terezin Memorial in Terezinstadt - the former Nazi concentration camp in the Czech Republic. There, dozens of people had gathered from around the world to dedicate a plaque in memory of the world’s first female rabbi - Rabbi Regina Jonas - who was ordained in 1935, and then murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. I was representing the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which sponsored this special ceremony. Rabbi Jonas was deported to Terezinstadt in 1942 from Berlin, yet she continued her ministry there by providing mental-health care to her fellow prisoners - helping them cope with the shock of the horrific experiences that they experienced there daily. As I approached the podium to offer my remarks, I recall … [Read more...]

The Case for Giving in the Russian Community

By Samantha Shokin My first encounter with the concept of personal, charitable giving took place when I was a small child, walking through the streets of Brooklyn with my grandfather, an immigrant from Ukraine. As we made our way through the cluster of stores in the neighborhood center (back when Waldbaums was its crown jewel), we walked past a man sitting on the curb with his hand outstretched, asking for money. “Don’t give to them,” my grandpa said, and continued walking. And that was that. I didn’t question. Living in low-income housing at the edge of East New York, my grandparents weren’t in much of a position to give. But that didn’t hinder the immense sense of generosity they bestowed upon their loved ones. My childhood memories are colored by feelings of sustained, harmless … [Read more...]

An “Iron Dome” Needed to Protect Jews in Europe

By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi When Hamas rockets pummel Israel, Iron Dome protects Israel’s citizens and visitors alike. However, when Israel defends itself by trying to knock out the rocket launchers and terror tunnels in Gaza, it’s the Jews in Europe who are most at risk. We need an “Iron Dome” to protect them. More than a million Jews live in Europe. Many have been there for countless generations. Others immigrated from the FSU or the Magreb when they faced Anti-Semitism. For decades they have raised their families and been a part of the fabric of Europe. However, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), which has a helpline for British Jews to report anti-Semitic incidents, such incidents in the UK rocketed by nearly 500 per cent since the start of the latest conflict in Gaza. … [Read more...]

Emergent Philanthropy: Applying Concepts from Complexity Theory to the Jewish World

emergent philanthropy

By Simone Friedman Rones There is a growing realization that human societies are no different than any other complex living organism and hence are affected by similar factors such as emergence, in which new patterns arise from interactions among individual components that are more than just the simple sum of those components added together. When applied in the context of philanthropy, the awareness of emergence within complex systems has given rise to the idea that traditional strategic philanthropy (i.e. philanthropy that uses logic models to predict specific outcomes given specifically identified inputs) may not always be the best approach. In a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Kania, Kramer and Russell argue that for social problems with complexity, i.e. those that are … [Read more...]

A Jewish American in Budapest

Holocaust survivor Manny Lindenbaum with his son at Me2We

By David Katz Ever since attending the 2009 ROI conference in Tel Aviv I have been intrigued with the concept of Jewish young adult communities in Eastern Europe. Upon seeing the opportunity to be able to attend the From Me 2 We conference this summer in Budapest, I was excited to be able to network with, learn first hand from, and share my own experiences with colleagues working within the global young adult Jewish community. The conference was an inspiring experience from which two specific themes resonated with the work I am doing here in Pittsburgh. The first theme is that of particularism v. universalism. As Jude Williams described in her opening plenary, “religion has changed from the idea of Pilgrims on a voyage, to window shoppers in a mall.” With the changing landscape of our global … [Read more...]

Coming Clean as a Rabbi: Understanding Addiction and Embracing Jewish Spirituality

By Paul Steinberg For the rabbi, August is the calm before the storm. Jews have recently mourned the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av and, although the rabbi shares in the historical sadness of this tragedy, he or she must now awaken from the ruin and find inspiration in order to spread hope and purpose at the High Holidays. This year, I do not have a pulpit from which to speak. I lost my opportunity, along with my prestige, my pride, and my entire station due to the wreckage of my disease - alcoholism and addiction. Last year, during this same cycle in the calendar, I was in the throes of mental obsession, “on a run” as reckoned in the halls of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous). Like most alcoholics and addicts, however, I developed an expertise in hiding, lying, and … [Read more...]

Just How Big Is Intermarriage? You Don’t Really Know.

By Paul Golin Even if you’re a very casual observer of the U.S. Jewish community and a friend who knows nothing about it asks you, “How big a phenomenon is Jewish intermarriage?” you’d probably be able to answer, “It’s pretty big.” There is a pantheon of proudly Jewish celebrities from Jon Stewart to Natalie Portman to Michael Douglas to Scarlett Johansson who have intermarried. (Douglas and Johansson are also children of intermarriage themselves.) If you’re more than just a casual observer of American Jewry, let’s say you’re a rabbi, you may know a bit more about the magnitude of Jewish intermarriage. You may know the rate at which Jews intermarry. The intermarriage rate is a number that the organized Jewish community has fixated on for decades, at least since the 1990 National Jewish … [Read more...]