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Give Money
My Point of View, Dec 17, 2004
© Rabbi Jack Moline

At this time of the year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington turns to the Jewish community of greater Washington and blatantly asks you for money.

You should give it.

We like to couch this activity in euphemism, as if we were talking about something private or scatological. Instead of fundraising, we say development. Instead of money, we say gift. Instead of giving, we say endowing, dedicating, donating, contributing, bequesting, or any of a dozen other terms designed to put some rhetorical distance between the asker and the giver. We do a carefully choreographed dance around a simple fact: in order to meet the needs of our community, we have to pay for them. Just as lawyers, doctors, business people, laborers and rabbis are unwilling to exist on good will and platitudes, the educators, social workers, advocates, caregivers and administrative personnel of the Jewish community prefer to live among us on more than our gratitude.

And that means we have to ante up.

If you want to know more about what Federation and its beneficiary agencies do, visit their website at But you shouldn't need convincing. Federation continues to be our major vehicle for funding social services, public affairs, community chaplaincy and education. Federation is our outstretched hand to Jewish communities in less prosperous lands, and to suffering communities in our own land. Federation puts into action the support for the people of the State of Israel that you express in your heart.

What's holding you back?

Is Federation perfect? No. Is it comprehensive? Impossible. Is it an accurate reflection of exactly the priorities that you yourself feel are essential to Jewish life? Get real. Federation represents the best efforts of good and dear volunteers and professionals who want it to be perfect, comprehensive and properly prioritized. You couldn't do better if they put you in charge.

So when you get a phone call or a letter from someone just like you in the community who is asking you to give money, with whatever language he or she uses, just say yes and be as generous as you can possibly be. And you might take a moment at the end to express your gratitude for the effort and your apologies that you had to wait for the phone call or letter before you did what you know you have to do.

And then, volunteer yourself.

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