Market Meltdown

an excellent and extensive report from the New York Jewish Week:

‘Genuine Emergency’ For Charities, Agencies

As one former Jewish official called for a national emergency summit of Jewish leaders to deal with the fallout from the market meltdown, Jewish charities were grappling this week for an appropriate response to a fast-moving crisis few fully understand.

The problem could be especially acute in New York City, where a tax base heavily dependent on Wall Street and the financial sector is already starting to feel the effects of the crisis. On Tuesday Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered spending cuts of $1.5 billion over two years. Those cuts could prove just the tip of the iceberg as the crisis deepens.

A key indicator of the impact on high-end philanthropy could come on Thursday, when the UJA-Federation kicks off its annual campaign with a cocktail reception hosted by former Bear Stearns CEO Alan “Ace” Greenberg. Last year, the event, which brings together an elite group of mega-givers, resulted in more than $40 million in pledges.

Mark Talisman, a longtime Jewish activist who helped guide Jewish charities through the Wall Street meltdown in 1987, has proposed an emergency national summit of Jewish leaders to respond to a crisis he said is fast becoming “many times worse.” The former Washington director for the Council of Jewish Federations (which merged with the United Jewish Appeal to create the United Jewish Communities) told The Jewish Week “our organizations face a potential emergency with donors, who are heavily concentrated in real estate, banking and finance.”

Kosher food pantries around the country have been out of food since July,” he said. “That’s the first time in memory that’s happened. That’s just one indication this is a genuine emergency.”

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