Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
April 10, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 18     (18 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 18     (18 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
April 10, 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.

- . . _ ,. &apos; _- -"i I  _ _  _ . PAGE 18A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 10, 2009 Sinking economy casts shadow over philanthropists' parley By Jacob Berkman For many of those in at- Jewish nonprofit start-ups, ST PETERSBURG (JTA) It was a telling moment at the annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network in March. a gathering of phi- lanthropists who give away at least $25.000 per year to Jewish causes and. in most cases much. much more. Harold Grinspoon and his wife, Diane Troderman, who have donated tens of millions of dollars to Jew- ish and non-Jewish causes over the past two decades. had just received JFN's Sidney Shapiro Tzedakah Award. For Grinspoon and Troderman. it amounted to a lifetime achieveroent award. recognizing the huge sums of money allocated by the Harold Grinspoon Founda- tion to dozens of programs and organizations. But with her husband flanking her at the Vinoy Hotel here as they accepted the award, Troderman an- nounced that they would be scaling back. Going forward, she said, the couple would concentrate most of their philanthropic efforts on their signature program, the PJ Library, a Jewish literacy program that helps distrib- ute Jewish books to young children and their families. Most of the rest of their money, Troderman said, would not be given away until after their deaths. "We are really thinking about legacy," she said. invoking the term used in the philanthropy world to describe bequests. Officials at the foundation declined to discuss details but. according to several sources. Grinspoon has been hit hard by the recession. NEW YORK It worked with Bono. Looking to inspwe and motivate the public to make a positive impact on the environment, Jewish rock performer Rick Recht and Jewish National Fund are teaming up. The organization and the musician share a passion: making the world a cleaner, greener place. ,So their part- nership, dubbed "Rock the Planet." is borrowing a page from the secular world in which the influence of music and celebrity are regularly leveraged together to support the efforts of environmental oanizations. Said Recht: "I'm truly honored to be a partner with JNF to literally rock the en- vironment with music, the energy of youth, and one of the most essential values of Judaism the challenge tendance, it was a sobering image: The Grinspoons, Iongtime pillars of the Jewish philanthropic world right up there with the Bron- fmans. Schustermans and Steinhardts standing be- fore the creme de la creme of Jewish givers, being honored for what they had done in the past. tacitly acknowledging that the present was not that bright and making clear that in the future they would have to be more strategic. To boot. the event's key- note speaker, noted Holo- caust writer and Nobel laure- ate Elie Wiesel, had most of his personal and charitable wealth stolen by Bernard Madoff in his Ponzi scheme. They are not alone. Foun- dations have lost on average 30 percent of their money during the recession and. according to the JFN's president. Mark Charendoff. family foundations could end up cutting their grants by up to 60 percent. It showed at the JFN conference, where wallets were lighter and attendance was down to 220 from last year's 350. In years past, the parley has been one where funders and their entourages of foun- dation staff gather gleefully and congratulate each oth- ers' philanthropic victories while playing a game of charitable one-upsmanship, and where casual meetings in hotel suites and fine restaurants often lead to multimillion-dollar partner- ships to fund grand Jewish projects. Along those lines, the of- ficial focus of the conference was on funding Jewish inno- vation and giving money to to make our world a better place. This is what Judaism is all about. Music has such a unique and powerful ability to motivate communities to action and this is the perfect vehicle for connecting youth and young families with our fundamental responsibility to the environment." The partnership will launch live May 31 at the Salute to Israel Parade in New York City when Recht and his band climbs aboard JNF's float and performs for the crowds that line Fifth Avenue. Recht <http://www.rickre-> is one of the top- touring musicians in Jewish music, playing more than 150 concerts a year in the United States and abroad. He is widely recognized for his appeal to youth and family audiences not only as an exceptional musician, singer/songwriter, and entertainer, but as a role with the catch phrase being "social entrepreneur." But this year, according to the heads of several large foundations, the backroom dealings focused less on how to create new bold and broad initiatives, and more on how to form strategic funding part- nerships to maintain existing programs. "I basically heard from people a few different reac- tions: I don't want to hear the word new project for a year, which I heard from a lot of people, to quite a few people who said to me I can make it through 2009 in terms of my obligations, but there is no way I can keep up this level of giving in 2010 and have no idea what the nonprofits that count on me aregoing to do," Charendoffsaid."Many people are just struggling with what they ought to do more than what they can do." Just as the Obama adminis- tration continues to struggle with the question of how to unlock the credit markets. funders roamed the halls at the JFN conference trying to figure out how to jump-start a Jewish phi!anthropic world that has been stabbed in the back by the collapse of world markets, only to have the dag- ger twisted by Madoff's bilking of hundreds of millions of Jewish charitable dollars. A recurring question was whether the flow of philan- thropic dollars has slowed be- cause there is no money left to give or because, even though they are still wealthier than 99 percent of the country, the biggest givers have seen their stockpiles dwindle and now feel financially strapped. Officials at the Milwaukee- based Helen Bader Foun- - " Gil Lavi Lisa Eisen of the Sehusterman Foundation and Nir Tsuk of Ashoka were among 220 participants at the Jewish Funders Network conference March 22-24 at St. Petersburg. an $11 million emergency gift to help five communities deal with the high cost of Jewish education. But sources with intimate knowledge of Jim Joseph said they sensed from the foundation a frustration at the "lack of urgency" at the conference and only limited progress in getting other large foundations moving. Some attendees, like Steven Lear, a financial adviser from Minneapolis who gives tens of thousands of dollars per year to his local federation. synagogue, camps and Jewish advocacy groups, said they would try to maintain their level of giving even though their businesses have been hurt. "I decided I wasn't going to cut, that I would work longer. .I'll woi, k until I am 80," said Lear, 52, who has decided to donate 10 percent of his post-tax income, no mtter dation announced at the conference that they would probably not be giving any more money away this year, even though the foundation has more money now than when it was started with $90 million in 1991. "You have people who are coming to terms with the shock. This is right after the cold water has been spilled," said Joe Kanfer. the chairman of the United Jewish Commu- nities and CEO of GOJO Indus- tries, the maker of Purell hand cleanser, during an interview in an empty conference room between sessions. Despite the anxiety, he said. "There is still plenty of capacity." One mega foundation--the Jim Joseph FQundation. worth about $800 million tried to inspire others to step forward by announcing just before the conference that it had made Recht is right for JNF model for involvement in Jew- ish life. Recht has become an icon for Jewish youth in the United States. elevating the medium of Jewish music as a powerful and effective tool for developing Jewish pride and identity among the masses. Throughout the last cen- tury, Jewish National Fund has been known for greening the land of Israel by planting 240 million trees and creating over a thousand parks and recreational areas. The JNF GoNeutral program (www.jnf. org/goneutral) allows people to offset their impact on the environment by planting trees in Israel In addition to tree planting, JNF has become a global environmental eader by performing comprehen- sive. cutting edge work to help solve the problems that are plaguing the planet. Today JNF grapples with the challenge of balancing Israel's Help Wanted Advertising Sales phenomenal growth and development over the last decade with maintaining n ecologically sound environ- ment. As such, JNF sponsors conferences on battling land degradation and coinbating desertification, shares affores- tation andwater conservation techniques across the world. funds research on grappling with avid land management, invests in alternative and solar energy projects, and leads the world in water desalination and purification techniques. A Jewish celebrity environ- mental activist, Recht will serve as a musical spokes- person for JNF, utilizing his music, merchandising, edu- cational materials, website, videos, social networks, and established organizational Ties From page 2A Jewishdialogue alongwith an imam from the nearby town of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi. Last September, Jews joined Muslims for a Ramadan break- fast meal hosted by the city. But Israel's Gaza offensive set back dialogue efforts. Bouskila said. In mid-January, several Muslimmembers of the French ]udeo-Muslim Friendship Association quit, citing the Jews' "total ab- sence of condemnations" of Palestinian casualties during the Gaza war, according to a spokesman for the Grand Mosque of Paris. Bouskila was troubled by the move. "Jews here are especially worried to see even moderate Muslims walk away," he said. He attributes Muslim reti- cence to engage with Jews to a fear of disapproval from the majority of French Muslims. who are angry about Israel's actions in Gaza. Chaighoumi, Bouskila's Muslim dialogue partner, has received threat- ening phohe calls and had his car doused in alcohol right after French media showed photos of him embracing a rabbi whose synagogue was firebombed in January. Another local imam. Larbi Kechat. said he preaches respect for non-Muslims but also discusses "injustices" in the Middle East. "AMuslim has noanimosity toward others because of their religion." Kechat said. "But what can aggravate tensions is what happens in the Middle East. That's a political ques- tion that weighs on the whole social environment." Despite the relativeabsence of violence recently, young Jews and Muslims still have too little interaction on the streets of the 19th. says Raphael Haddad, who heads the French Jewish Student Union. UEJF. Full or Part Time Call Jeff at 407-834-8787 what. "You don't go to zero. For me. going to zero is like giving up." Kanfer tried to sum up the situation with an old Chasidic story: Two brothers, good in business, both make a lot of money. Hard times h their community. One spends all he has trying to help others and quickly ends up impoverished. The other squirrels away all his money and helps no one, not even his brother. A rebbe asks each of them why they have behaved so. The first says, "There is so much to do now, and who knows how long I will live? I am afraid I won't be able to help those in need." The second says, "I am afraid to be very old and to be left with nothing." The rabbi's blessing to both, according to Kanfer: "I hope you are both spared your fears." partnerships to inspire the public. "We are every excited about this partnership with Rick," said Jason Feirman, JNF senior marketing manager. "It's a great way to educate and energize young people about the Israel, the environ- ment and their responsibility and role in the future of this planet." It wasn't always this way, said Haddad, who grew up in the 19th arrondissement, but the surge in violence against "Jews earlier this decade, during the second intifada, scarred French Jews. The 19th was not spared from that violence. Bouskila says much of the local Orthodox Jewish com- munity fears Muslim youth because they associate them with anti-Semitic crime. and this has encouraged communities to circle the wagons. "What do you expect? Every one of them has experienced, or has someone close to them who has experienced, some form of anti-Semitism," he said. To Foussenou. who sits hunched on a cold bench out- doors, such insular habits are another reason to dislike Jews. "They would never sit and talk to you like this," he told a JTA reporter.