web analytics
July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Federation’s Troubling Generosity To Left-Wing Activists


Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), the George Soros-funded activist group that recently made headlines for its high-profile war against Fox News host Glenn Beck, has received over $1 million from the UJA-Federation of New York since 2008.

Over the past three years, at least seven Federation grants have been awarded to the JFSJ, ranging from $75,000 to $219,000. Some of that money has gone toward JFSJ’s Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts. But, according to Federation spokesperson Samantha Kessler, the bulk of the funding has gone toward the group’s “Congregational-based Community Organizing” programs.

“Congressional-based Community Organizing” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – Chicago-style community organizing, except in the synagogue.

According to the Federation website, the JFSJ program was designed to “develop strong and effective social-justice networks in up to eight Manhattan synagogues.”

In an e-mail, Kessler explained that the goal was to “strengthen synagogues by building meaningful relationships among their members, attracting additional Jews and Jewish families to congregational life, and developing more robust leadership for synagogues.”

The Federation felt the JFSJ “had a proven model for congregation-based community organizing that provided a unique way to accomplish this.”

The JFSJ’s community organizing expertise may explain how it was able to quickly coordinate 400 rabbis to sign an anti-Glenn Beck letter published in the Wall Street Journal in January. The letter was criticized by Commentary magazine as well as prominent members of the Jewish community, who called it a partisan attack.

“[The Anti-Defamation League] does not support this misguided attempt to embarrass Fox News,” ADL Director Abe Foxman told the Forward. “[S]urely there are greater threats to the Jewish people than the likes of Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch, who are professed and stalwart friends of the Jewish people and Israel.”

In a letter to the Forward, Deborah Lipstadt, professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University, wrote that “One need not minimize the danger of Beck’s rhetoric in order to wonder why JFSJ – which has significant credibility among progressives – has not mounted an equally passionate critique of misbegotten analogies on the left. Is this about principle, or is it about politics?”

Despite calling itself a non-partisan group, JFSJ officials and members often weigh in on politics on the organization’s blog.

In one post, the group’s senior vice president of philanthropic giving, Jeremy Burton, dubbed President George W. Bush “our hatemonger-in-chief,” and accused him of “spreading fear and loathing of other Americans as a tool for political gain.”

Other posts supported calls to impeach Bush and labeled former vice president Dick Cheney a racist.

Needless to say, it’s difficult to imagine the Federation funding a right-wing activist group that made similar statements about President Obama or Nancy Pelosi, and ran a prominent campaign targeting MSNBC.

The appeal of Jewish Funds for Justice’s work has been rooted in its commitment to helping the poor and providing Jewish communities with a distinctive way to help. This has given it credibility and made it an attractive venue for Jewish philanthropic giving even among mainstream groups like Federation whose major donors may not share the JFSJ’s left-wing sensibilities.

However, the decision to go political in a big way with an attack on Beck and Fox News makes it more difficult for the group to position itself as a non-controversial forum for Jewish charitable fundraising. The point is, if it is going to be soliciting and getting huge grants from mainstream groups like federations, then maybe it should stick to what it does best and stay out of politics.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Some federations have alienated members of the Jewish community with other controversial funding decisions, such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s financing of the anti-Israel Theater J. And the issue isn’t just the funding – it’s also the lack of transparency.

Federations are already considered to be in decline due to most donors preferring boutique causes rather than umbrella philanthropies. But unless federations reestablish trust with the Jewish community, this trend will only get worse.

Alana Goodman is online editor for Commentary magazine, where she covers news and politics for its “Contentions” blog, where this originally appeared.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Federation’s Troubling Generosity To Left-Wing Activists”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Graffiti found on a building in the village of Duma.
Arab Infant Killed in Arson ‘Price Tag’ Attack
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Alana Goodman
James Baker

He said the goal of negotiations should be to limit Iran’s program in a way that can be verified by outside observers.

There was a lot of attention given to a Gallup poll last week showing Jewish approval for President Obama has remained fairly steady at around 60 percent since the beginning of the year (though it has also dropped by 20 points since 2009).

Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), the George Soros-funded activist group that recently made headlines for its high-profile war against Fox News host Glenn Beck, has received over $1 million from the UJA-Federation of New York since 2008.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/federations-troubling-generosity-to-left-wing-activists/2011/04/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: