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Monday, March 14, 2005

Forget the past, Forget the future and bring on the 'vision thing'

The good ole JP (Jerusalem Post) has an op-ed piece countering Michael Steinhardt's complaints that jews seem to prefer to fund Harvard over jewish charities. This is a rather noticeable phenomenon in which jews seem to prefer to fund anything and everything but actual jewish causes. The op-ed piece though first claims,

We need to stop treating philanthropy as a zero sum game. We're not talking about divvying up a single pie here. The totality of available Jewish philanthropic dollars is staggering. The reality is that there is no scarcity of supply or lack of money.

Alan Greenspan and most economists will be glad to hear that I'm sure being that they were under the false impresison that money was a limited commodity, however various neo-nazis and anti-semites will rejoyce to discover that what they thought was true, really was true all along and jewish money is unlimited.

Philanthropists are not ignoring Jewish causes because they have used up all their money with donations to Harvard. If someone endows a university program for millions of dollars, it's likely that he or she will move on to endow their next project. The challenge for us is to entice these philanthropists with creative, large projects that will attract their interest. They are ignoring specifically Jewish causes because we have not presented visions worthy of $100 million investments.

Essentially then 'selling' a philantropical project becomes a lot like making a movie, find a 'vision' worthy of the investment. Forget about helping people and find a 'creative' project. At some point not only did Hollywood celebrities get into philantrophy but they seem to have defined philantrophy on their own terms in which it is not the helping people part that matters but the vision you bring to the table.

Additionally, we need to begin a dialogue with those Jewish philanthropists who have generously funded higher education and the arts in America, while they have yet to engage formally in Jewish life.

Here's my idea of dialogue with them. Give to Tzeddakah or we'll set the Shmira guys on you!!!!

Rather than bemoan their generosity of spirit; we should celebrate the authentically Jewish impulse that has inspired them to use their capital to effect change and enhance society

I see little to celebrate in jewish millionaires who are prepeared to pay to provide food to hungry africans, hindus and thais and not to their fellow jews. Such a state of affairs is a fundamental failure, both ours and theirs. It is not philantrophy itself that is noble but the purpose and intentions behind it. Giving alone is not meaningfull, giving wisely and well is.

Do we want them to invest in the perpetuation of Judaism for Judaism's sake? To what end?

It's hard to find a clearer demonstration of the failure of jewish education then that the author has not only asked this question but doesn't know the answer. To what end do we perpetuate Judaism? To what end should we be jewish? Some communal leaders at least struggle to answer the question, Why Be Jewish, to others apparently it's a question not even worth answering except in the negative.

Tribalism is not a good sell and besides, increasingly, we are not their tribe. Jews today, and younger Jews especially, see themselves as members of multiple communities. We hope that they count ours as one of them. But to use that as a claim to their financial support often rings hollow to them.

Ah and we want what 'sells' and judaism just doesn't 'sell' neither does even jewish ethnic identity. The jews who began by discarding judaism have gone on to discard ethnicity too. Now they're members of 'multiple communities'. What are these other communities one wonders?

In former days it might mean secular nationalistic allegiances to the country. With the modern secular liberal jew this is unlikely so what's left? What are these other communities that being jewish is competiting with? Progressive? Gay and Lesbian? Jews for Jesus? Macaw Breeders Association of Connecticut? Jews for Progressive Gay and Lesbian Macaw Jesus breeders?

I am a strong supporter of the centrality of Jewish education, but we cannot keep sending messages to the next generation asking them to take seriously the tradition that many of us did not. Yes to greater funding for Jewish education. Far, far greater. But are we promoting it as a means or an end? There have to be current issues to struggle for that reach beyond memory on the one hand or the survival of future generations on the other.

Yes after all improving the next generation and making certain our children do better than us is completely incompatible with the whole principle of education, jewish and otherwise.

What current issues one wonders are there beyond jewish continuity, beyond the jewish people, beyond caring and building the next generation of jewish life?

The objective is not simply to get the gift, but to articulate a mission and reason that attracts new Jewish energy and excitement, the consequences of which will be enriching to American and world Jewry.

So what super-duper mission are we articulatin here? Saving the world from being destroyed by a giant falling tortoise? stopping lex luthor? Ressurecting the dinosaurs? Which of these missions is worthy of that 'newish jewish energy and excitement'?

We know the framework; it's that timeless notion of tikkun olam, the Jewish dictate to repair the world. The challenge is turning that from a bumper sticker into a viable action plan. Can an investment in Judaism lead to a profoundly better world for all of humanity?

Timeless of course meaning a few decades. since liberals tried to warp judaism into support for their progressive politics. And now we can see what it is that will enrich us and attract funding, 'making a better world for humanity'

His solution then to jewish philanthropists donating to non-jewish causes is to have jewish charities focus on non-jewish causes

Sadly though jewish charities have long ago come to this same conclusion, just look at the annual projects of the UJA as american jews continue their lemming-like rush away from judaism and into an embrace of a secular world that as in Germany in 1933 increasingly no longer wants them


1 comments:

scionofzion said...

misplaced chesed (kindness); what can one say?

If we want these Jewish philanthropists to contribute to Jewish causes and welfare, then they are going to have to be sold on the Jewish vision which is...?
It's gonna take a lot of educating.

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