The Anglo-Israeli community likes to criticize; must be in their blood. And all to often the recipients of their venting appears to be American philanthropists. You see, these judges of others are miffed at where generous individuals choose to spend their own money. Last year, Sheldon Adelson was roundly criticized for largely underwriting The Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. In the minds of many, if the participants didn’t have the well catered meals, complete with wine and souvenirs, to enjoy we could eradicate poverty in Israel. That the Adelson’s could also have donated to fight hunger was irrelevant to this group.
This summer, the recently concluded ROI Community Summit is in their sights.
Here’s one example from the blog-o-sphere: “The truth is that ROIcom is just one of many lame Jewish organizations busily promoting nothing much while wasting resources that could make a difference had they been dedicated to places that really need them.” As if the author of this comment is knowledgeable about the current state of the Jewish world, and the effects of the philanthropic dollars spent, to even voice an opinion. Get real!
Do I believe innovation is the silver bullet that will unleash the next golden age of Jewish communal growth? No. Do I believe organizations such as the ROI Community, PresenTense and Birthright Israel (just to name three) are making significant contributions to our future? Absolutely.
To the naysayers, I say begin with reading the research on Birthright alumni being prepared by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandies University. Next, show-up at a series of events sponsored by some of these organizations. Meet the attendees. Learn about the communities being built and the significant amount of interaction among participants. Understand that our future really is in their hands. Only then will you have earned the right to criticize. And if any philanthropist chooses to provide nice meals, so be it. After all – it’s their money.
But what do I know. I’m only a lonely blogger – albeit one who takes the time to meet, speak with and learn from, the leaders and the participants who invest their time and money helping to shape our future. Kol HaKavod to every single one of them.