Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
March 13, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 4     (4 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 4     (4 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
March 13, 2009

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

The Good 30000rord By David Box-tmtein Counting change The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando is heading down an exciting but uncertain road, loaded with turns and forks and different ways to go with few street signs or roadmaps to guide the way. Thisis not as it should be but as it has to be. The ideal situation would include definite goals, understood outcomes. assumptions based on prior experiences. And while there will be goals set and outcomes to be measured, the organization is headed into new territory--the territory of change. This goes way beyond the obvious, beyond a reconfigured board, beyond rewritten by-laws, beyond budgetary constraintS. It will. it must cut to the core of the Federation's operations. how the organization does business, how it Letter from Israel Peace? Don't hold your breath By Ira Sharkansky Pardon my cynicism, but the continued, new or renewed insistence of the United States, European governments, some Israelis and other hangers-on to pursue negotiations with Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians strike me as the playthings of children. Think of the performances that elementary school children give for their parents. Aren't they all cute? Lipservice is another appropriate metaphor. One must aspire to peace, and go through appropriate motions. Correct political aspira- tions demand it. Don't hold your breath waiting for positive results. Why these damning predictions about the efforts of numerous worthies from credible countries, who otherwise do much good for their own citizens and the world at large? Considerthe ideological, religious and politi- cal constraints in all those Muslim countries. They must show unity against us infidels de- spite internal differences that produce chronic violence among them. And there is no better way to demonstrate unity than to demand all the rights due to Palestinians and insist that Israel be confined to old boundaries or be made to disappear altogether. Palestinian rights must prevail in Muslim politics despite the civil war now cool. now intense, between Palestinian factions that add to the inability of Palestinians or other Muslims to think of anything other than proposals that no Israeli government can accept. When the Egyptian head of the International Atomic Energy Agency finds no indication that Iran is doing anything to develop nuclear weapons, cynics like me are not surprised. Where is the room for compromise or sig- nificant concession on the part of all those believers? If someone out there sees it, please let me know. The playacting has gone on for the better part of a century, and will not be any more productive once the new Israeli government takes office. The likely prime minister. Ben- jamin Netanyahu, is saying that he is tired of the idea of a Palestinian state, long at the focus of hopeless negotiations. His comments have brought tough words from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. who is sticking with the sanctity of Palestinian statehood. Before long, assuming Bibi does become prime minister. she and others will accuse him of being unreli- able. Numerous Israelis already feel that way. He may be leading the country, but it will be difficult listening to him against the history of bluster, back peddling and denial. And some accusations of unreliability will be no more than expressions of "we don't like what he is saying." All politicians dissemble. It is part of governing in the midst of conflicting demands. Also interesting will be the scenarios de- veloping if Avigdor Lieberman achieves his aspiration of becoming Foreign Minister. The liberal crowd views him as an uncivilized racist. He looks and sounds like a Russian Mafioso. He is also a settler, proud of living beyond Israel's 1967 boundaries. Imagine him speakingo the GeneralAssembly of the United Nations and expecting to be received by peers in European capitals. Remind yourselves that criticizing one's looks or manner of speech is not acceptable in polite company. He would be willing to move from his family home in exchange for true peace, but one doubts that he is any more optimistic than the rest of the Israeli majority that tilted right of center in the recent election. The world is not all bad. Somewhere under the level of political posturing are technocrats and bureaucrats cooperating quietly to make life better for all sides. Israelis, Palestinians and others meet in one place or another to manage things like sewage, water, crop and animal diseases. Much of this happens with the encouragement and finance of bureaucrats inAmerican and European governments. Arab Ph.D.s and researchers trained in Israeli uni- versities, including one of my on students, are teaching in Palestinian universities. Physicians and patients cross borders to give and receive care. At times the middle- and lower-level Middle Easterners have to stop the good they are doing when the news reaches the media. Peace is not on the horizon. There will continue to be individual tragedies suffered by people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Israel will survive. Jews have been polish- ing their coping skills since biblical times. Arabs will suffer, due largely to their own follies. Westerners will continue to weep and insist on trying yet again for comprehensive agreements. Remember Sisyphus. and the rock that would never reach the top of the hill? He was a neighbor. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus in the department of political science at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. 1   CENTRAL FLORIDNSINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   1SSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards Editor/Publisher HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 30074, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER EO. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Jeffrey Gaeser Associate Editor Assistant Editor Lyn Payne Mike Etzkin Bookkeeping Paulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Colunmists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gail Simons Production Department David Lehman * Tefi Marks * Louis Baltantyne Elaine Schooping * Gil Dombrosky Editor Emeritus Gene Starn Society Editor Gloria Yousha HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 13, 2009 sets its goals and the commitment to a new process to meet them. Let's start thinking, for a moment about what the Federation does, and what it doesn't. It does raise money. It is the only local vehicle for raising money for social needs for overseas Jewry, and while the Jewish National Fund also funds projects in Israel, it is project based. not social service based. Nor does JNF fund programs outside Israel. as the'Federation does. However. the Federation does so with a great deal of volunteer effort and, some would argue, alengthy history of diminishing returns (more about that in another article). It does have an endowment arm, though that has been largely unfunded and given low priority in recent years. It does run the Community Relations Committee, which benefits the local Jewish community in numerous ways. It does provide leadership development, which again benefits many local synagogues, agencies and organizations. It doesn't have expertise in strategic planning, though it would like to be seen as the focal point for local planning and vision. Even though it is known as a fund- raising agency, agencies don't defer to it as a fund-raising leader. In fact. the Federation has little clout or influence with our local agencies. (Whether it should or not is a whole 'nother agenda item.) It does manage and own the community campuses in Maitland and south Orlando. Should it be a property manager? Highly doubtful. So now the Federation takes a long look at itself and asks what it can do. and do well. OK. community relations, leadership development. funding overseas Jewry, and in some way, fund- ing local needs, too. Would it like to be the hub of vision and leadership in our community? Sure. but it's not capable of doing so at the present. Would it like to be the fund raising/ financial expert for individuals and agencies alike? Of course, but again, not today. Not yet. Not until it's reborn with tools in hand. Here's what it can do: retrench, focus on what it doeswell, and redefine itself by reinventing its fund-raising mechanisms, which in turn will redefine its staffing requirements, relationship with agencies and with the Federation parent organization, United Jewish Communities. The model being proposed will, if accepted and implemented by the board, over time turn the Federation philosophy and operations on their heads. The organization will no longer be based on the old shtetl model of giving, in which the community was generally taxed and the "elders" decided how the funds were eked out. The new model revolves around the donor asking first how the donor views his/ her philanthropy concerns and helping that individual successfully fund their interests, hopefully shaped around and within commu- nity needs. It will include endowments and a general community priorities campaign. But it also will encourage philanthropy through donor-directed "giving circles." where donor groups determine the recipients of their monies. And it will all be built upon a new, dynamic, highly flexible, technologically savvy, web based charitable giving arm designed to fund specific programs in our community and around the world. That special model, and why our fund-raising needs such serious revamp- ing, are the topics for the next Good Word. There will be bumps in the road. There is no way of telling how far the annual campaign will decrease before it begins to rise again. There are dangerous blind spots and potholes that must be maneuvered around as we figure out how to ensure that important commu- nity needs are not overlooked. But the upside is tremendous, the attraction for the next generation of philanthropists significant, the growth potential staggering. That's what the Federation must aim for as it steers a course towards a re-imagined future. And that's the good word until then. The opinions in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other individual agency or organization. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to the Heritage or email Recalling, and preparing for, a depression By Gary Rosenblatt New York Jewish Week NEW YORK I've just finished reading a book called "New York Jews and the Great De- pression." Sounds all too current. I know. but it's a study of the Jewish community here in the 1930s how it suffered from and responded to the economic crisis that plunged this Country into the depths of destabilization. Much of the story is frightening, depicting how financial chaos and blatant anti-Semitism (so prevalent at the time that the New York Times routinely published "Christian Only" Help Wanted ads) prevented so many Jews from finding work and kept them on the edge of survival, fearful of the future. But there is also inspiration in reading how the voluntary network of Jewish social services at the time worked valiantly to sustain and reinvent itself to meet the increasingly dire needs of the community. The book was writ- ten by Beth Wenger. an assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. where she holds the Kate Family Term Chair in American Jewish history. Although published by Syracuse University Press in 1999. almost a decade before our current crisis, it's well worth the read for historical insights into the past and sobering lessons for today. A compilation of extensive research that relies heavily on oral histories, newspaper articles and communal records, Wenger's work focuses on the struggle of Jewish institutions. including charities and synagogues to cope with the extraordinary economic, spiritual and social necessities of the almost two million Jews who lived in New York in the '30s. mak- ing them the largest ethnic group in the city. I learned of the book from several profes- sional leaders of UJA-Federation of New York who came upon it recently and are recom- mending it to others. In his most recent weekly message to staff and others, John Ruskay, the CEO and executive vice president of UJA- Federation. highlighted the book and noted the key role that the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies--one of the predecessors of the current federation played at the time, even mortgaging its own building in an effort to continue the American Jewish bedrock tradi- tion of Jews taking care of their own. As Wenger notes, that practice in the U. S. began not voluntarily but as a requirement. Before Jews were allowed to settle in New Amsterdam in 1654. Peter Stuyvesant. the governor, forbade their entry. But his superiors. the Dutch West India Company, allowed Jews to settle in the colony "on the condition that 'the poor among them shall not become a burden... but be supported by their own nation.'" That obligation became a source of pride over the centuries, and Wenger describes the fierce-and emotional debate within the New York Jewish community's leadership in the '30s over whether or not to accept FDR's New Deal program of public welfare in light of the strong sense of obligation to take care of one's fellow Jews. The debate was made more complex by the concern that endorsing such aid would undermine the very purpose and future of Jewish charitable organizations. making it more difficult for them to raise funds for other purposes. In the end. though, the crush of reality was too great for federation and other Jew- ish charities to bear alone, and they chose to accept government aid. adjusting their focus from direct relief to other areas, like helping Jews find employment. Synagogues expanded their reach from simply being houses of wor- ship to becoming centers for social activities, and later, for promoting Zionism. One striking parallel to today: Almost eight decades ago, the federation and the syna- gogues, though key institutions working to offset the crisis, were frequently criticized as being too elitist. Both venues were perceived as concentratingon top donors and not caring sufficiently about the masses, whether it be in terms of wealthy men leading the federation board, or synagogues maintaining pay-to-pray policies for the High Holy Days. And both institutions reached only a minority of the Jewish population. The struggle to broaden and deepen com- munal involvement continues. Wenger writes that despite great deprivation, Jews on the whole appear to have suffered less than many other Americans during the De- pression, in part because of the efforts of our social service agencies leading to criticism of the community as "clannish" in Fortune magazine at the time--and the fact that the traditional emphasis within Jewish families on education found many of the children of Rosenbltt on page 19A