No, this is not about how we fund the races for political office. It is about the United Jewish Appeal Federation campaign, and how you should be supportive of it.
I have always had what I consider a healthy ambivalence about these campaigns by major organizations. My proclivity, like yours, is to seek out direct recipients, rather than a middleman of some kind. Balancing that impulse is the responsibility to provide for the least and greatest alike – a goal much better pursued as a community than as an individual. No organization entrusted with charitable funds has done a better job of assessing and funding such a wide range of needs than our UJAF.
Unfortunately, UJAF has suffered from the excesses and shortcomings of others. And as people have begun to demand more control of their contributions, UJAF’s ability to allocate by consensus has diminished. The solution to our concerns is neither to reduce our contributions nor to allocate them ourselves. The solution is to become engaged in an allocation process which distributes meaningful dollars to those in need.
In these days of internal religious rivalries, support for UJAF is critical. The statement made by your efforts on behalf of UJAF – contributing and raising dollars – is a statement of community. True need should not be held hostage to partisan politics.
While I continue to encourage you to make contributions to those institutions which represent Conservative/Masorti Judaism, those contributions should not come at the expense of your commitment to community. When a coalition of secular and religious, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox, Israel-oriented and local-oriented Jews sit down with a common purse to consider needs, the real meaning of klal yisrael is evident in their actions.
And a brief aside about the people who staff UJAF: you would be inspired by the depth of their knowledge of and commitment to Jewish life. Many times, it puts me to shame.
So here is what I recommend to you:
Let us be one synagogue which counts every member a contributor to this UJAF campaign.
- increase your pledge by ten per cent, at least
- volunteer for Super Sunday and its follow-ups beginning February 1
- pursue your interests in the allocation process
- inform yourself of UJAF’s impact on our community and world Jewry
- tell your friends (and especially children) what you have done