Shalom Life reports that the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel voted to provide emergency aid to the Jewish community of Greece, in order to address immediate needs in the wake of their country’s crippling financial crisis.
Agency Executive Natan Sharansky convened the urgent leadership meeting of the organization’s leadership, which decided to provide around $1 million over two years to help the Greek Jewish community prevail.
Earlier this month, the Jewish Press reported on salary levels at JAFI, and from that report it appears that the agency’s current emergency support for the Greek Jewish community each of the two years will be just $250,000 short of the agency’s chief fundraiser, Dr. Misha Galperin, who will be taking home $750,000 a year.
Shalom Life reports that the funds will enable communal institutions to continue operations, including programs to strengthen their ties with Israel and the development of unique aliyah tracks for those wishing to immigrate to Israel.
The aid package will be funded by the Jewish Agency and by its partners, Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal (UIA) and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Around 7,500 Jews live in Greece, with 3,500 in Athens and an additional 1,000 in Thessaloniki. The Jewish community operates synagogues, a Jewish school, a museum, and a soup kitchen.
The Jewish Chronicle reported last week that “the main reason for the tanking incomes of Athens community members is that many rely for business on the property market, which like elsewhere in Europe, has come crashing down. Rents have tumbled along with property prices.” The JC explains that tenants demand a 30 per cent reduction in rent from their landlords, and many leave, breaking their contracts, since their businesses had gone under.
Perhaps the JAFI Board of Governors should be encouraged to spend their vacations near these two Jewish centers and trickle down some of their income, which is alleged to be among the highest in the world of Jewish fund-raising, into the pockets of the near-bankrupt Greek Jews.
JAFI officials could visit the Jewish museum in Athensn (see image) – and maybe leave a nice tip for the staff.