Helping to Keep Our Children Jewish

July 9, 2011
Response to Misha Galperin’s article in eJewish Philantrhopy

It appears that JAFI and much of the national Jewish community are at a loss at what to do and how to do it when it comes to the future of our People. Equally troubling is the inability to clearly and concisely say what needs to be done.

Deeply concerned about the rising rate of assimilation, the growing disconnect between Israel and the Diaspora, and the weakening of Jewish pride amongst our children, more than a decade-and-a half ago my Foundation charted a clear course of action guided by an easily understood and straightforward mission: Helping to Keep Our Children Jewish. If more Jewish communities adopted it as their guiding light, they too would discover that it works.

This mission is as relevant locally as it is globally. It is goal-oriented and action-filled. Like “building the State of Israel”, it is a mission that tells the Jewish People exactly what our goal needs to be.

It is my opinion, this is the collective approach for which JAFI and others are searching, but for reasons of political correctness, fear stating. Jewish day schools and camps, birthright israel and MASA, Federations and other Jewish organizations have failed to articulate a mission that clearly and concisely states the goal of their work. Certainly helping to keep our children Jewish is the essence of our collective future. So, why not state the obvious?

Guided by the mission helping to keep our children Jewish, my Foundation has created a plethora of programs that are successfully building Jewish pride, strengthening Jewish identity, connecting young people to Israel, and imbuing in them love and responsibility for our Jewish Family. I am aching to share them with Jewish communities across the country so they, too, can stem the tide of assimilation that is destroying our Family.

I invite philanthropists to look closely at what we are doing, and fund in their local communities a plan for success: fully-subsidized teen Israel experiences; free family-centered, home-based programs around Jewish living; free inspirational Jewish teaching courses for Jewish educators; free interfaith outreach programs; and free Jewish pride-building community events, like the Great Shofar Blowout. Packaged together, this is a holistic approach that is working. You can see a full description of my Foundation’s programs on our website at rilcf.org. JAFI can help us get the word out to Jewish communities and inform and excite philanthropists that there are wonderful, successful programs that are worth funding.

I invite philanthropists and Jewish community leaders from across the country to visit my community and talk to our Jewish teens when they return from their life-changing, fully subsidized adventure in Israel. You will have conversations about Jewish identity and Peoplehood that you never dreamed possible, talking openly and freely to them about the importance of staying Jewish, marrying Jewish, and raising their own children Jewish. This is our successful approach to building Peoplehood.

Our path is clear, and our mission is easily understood. It is doable in any Jewish community.

Robert Israel Lappin

Robert Israel Lappin is the Trustee of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, whose mission is helping to keep our children Jewish. His email is ril@shetlandpark.com.