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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘UJA-Federation of New York’

An Attack On Torah And Tradition

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

In a distressing development, representatives of the North American Jewish Federation system, the American Jewish Committee, and some Israel-based anti-Torah entities are collaborating in an effort to “dethrone” the longstanding and important institution of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

The idea is misguided and dangerous, and if its supporters are successful they will have created an irreparable divide within the heart of world Jewry, negatively impacting both Israel and the Jewish diaspora.

The effort is being spearheaded by the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Contemporary Jewish Life, which convened a meeting in January to discuss “working in partnership toward the ending of rabbinic monopoly,” according to the AJC’s Steve Bayme.

Joining with the AJC in the effort to undermine the Chief Rabbinate are institutions and organizations such as the Reform Hebrew Union College, the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, the National Council of Jewish Women and the self-described open-Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

A leading player in opposing the Chief Rabbinate is the UJA Federation of New York, which apparently has little or no regard for the hundreds of thousands of observant Jews in the metropolitan New York area whom it purports to serve and represent.

In Israel, heading the opposition to the Chief Rabbinate is the pluralism advocacy group Hiddush. Financial support for Hiddush comes from the New Israel Fund, known for its support of left-wing causes and groups.

Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told the Israeli daily Haaretz last month that the critical question is, “Is Israel the Jewish state for all the Jewish people?”

In the same Haaretz article, Susie Gellman, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said that weakening the hold of the Chief Rabbinate on Israeli life is not an internal issue for Israel alone. Her husband, Michael Gelman, co-chair of the 2013 JFNA General Assembly elaborated: “Israel is the nation state for all Jews wherever they are found.”

“Israelis won’t be under the tyranny of the [Chief] Rabbinate,” he added.

The individuals who attended the aforementioned January meeting “all agreed that the goal was to dethrone the Chief Rabbinate, but the question was how to get there,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by Haaretz.

Those leading the attack on the Chief Rabbinate are counting on the Torah community and its leadership to be too involved in partisan differences to respond with a strong and united voice to safeguard and protect the unity of the Jewish people.

If we remain silent in the face of this brazen attempt to undermine the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, any and all recognized standards with regard to personal status and religious identity will be hopelessly diluted, resulting in an unprecedented fracturing of Jewish unity.

We of the Rabbinical Alliance of America applaud Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, who when questioned about the AJC initiative stated unequivocally that “The RCA is very happy to be excluded from the initiative because we don’t agree with it. Jewish law has certain minimal standards in order to be married and somebody has to oversee that. An institution like the Chief Rabbinate’s office is probably good to do that.”

Rabbi Dratch also noted that “Many improvements can be made to the Chief Rabbinate to be more user-friendly in order to increase respect for religious practice. Our feeling is that it requires improvement of the Chief Rabbinate, but not an overhaul.”

We call upon the leaders of the Jewish Federation of North America and the American Jewish Committee, and all of Jewish leadership, to refocus their efforts and resources on Jewish education, observance of the Torah’s commandments, and solidifying the ties of the Jewish people with Israel by supporting the sacred foundations of our people based on Torah and tradition that are at the very core of our identity and peoplehood as Jews.

Israel Boycott Promoters Do Not Belong in Israel Day Parade

Monday, March 31st, 2014

It is incomprehensible. This year, the sponsors of New York’s annual Israel Day Parade are allowing organizations to march who actively promote a boycott of Israeli businesses and companies owned by Jews in Judea-Samaria.

The UJA-Federation, responsible for the annual parade, has given the Green Light to groups organizing boycotts against products of Jewish owners in Judea and Samaria. These groups work every day to isolate Israel and make her a global pariah, announcing to the world the names of specific Jewish-owned companies operating in Judea-Samaria they want punished.

Yet, these “Jewish” groups are being invited to infiltrate the Parade, either because of agreement with their tactics or as a way of affirming what the UJA-Federation calls an “open tent.”

Join us Tuesday, April 8, in Manhattan to tell the UJA: No. This cannot stand. Decent people cannot tolerate this perfidy. We will not accept such corruption of values, such appeasement, and public forfeiture of Jewish dignity. There is something sick about this. Imagine a St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Irishmen marching who call for boycotting parts of Ireland and Irish-owned businesses. These are marching orders no self-respecting Jew can countenance.

There is a fundamental principle involved here, which is: No Jew can accept the boycotting of Jewish businesses, the State of Israel, or the Jewish people. Period! Especially not Jewish organizations, founded to defend the Jewish people. Providing boycotters a public stamp of approval affirms and further enables the boycotting. Merely signing a paper of commitment to Israel’s existence in no way kosherizes the activists promoting the despicable, unacceptable category of anti-Jewish boycotts.

One dare not legitimize the boycotting of Jewish businesses or Jews, qua Jews, no matter his claim that he is doing it for the “right reasons” or to “effectuate necessary change.” If we do, then anyone can boycott Jews or Israel by simply stating they are “doing it for necessary and ‘moral’ reasons.”

To the world, a boycott is a boycott, east of the Green Line or west of it. Approving one leads to the other. Boycotting Israel will spur future boycotting of those “bad” Jews, for example, in Brooklyn or London.

Ironically, the ‘conscience-struck’ Jewish boycotters never boycott Arab or Moslem businesses, despite the ubiquitous terrorism and their violations of human rights. Their outrage is only against the Jewish state and its Jews.

Nazism began even before the implementation of the Final Solution. It began with boycotts against Jewish owned businesses, Jewish merchants, and Jews providing services. The Nazi idea of boycotting Jewish businesses was an essential component and standard of Nazism. Nazism was evil in all of its stages, including the limited earlier stages of anti-Jewish boycotts of the 1930s. It remains just as evil today, even when done by Jews; enthusiastically done in concert with non-Jewish anti-Semites and those arrayed against the State of the Jews, Israel.

UJA’s desire for an ‘open tent’ should not devolve into the destruction of the tent. The purpose of Jewish organizations is to promote and defend Jewish interests, not provide credence for the unacceptable, nor be part of a slow, step-by-step destruction of Jewish sovereignty. There is a big world out there where one can easily find all the available “OPEN” forums blaming Israel and seeking its destruction. Too often, we are hoodwinked by this pernicious notion that “Jewish values” demand we see only our opponent’s and enemy’s viewpoint and forgo our own Jewish survival. Strange, very strange indeed.

Besides, we know the Jewish establishment’s call for an “open tent” does not include many they consider too “right wing.” They select those with whom they ultimately share some simpatico.

Courage is not found in condemning Israel. The whole world does that.

Courage is found in standing up to in-house Jewish boycotters for the sake of something greater than their feigned liberalism, to wit, the defense of the Jewish people and Israel. We expect that from UJA-Federation. That is their duty! But too often the Jewish establishment will not to do that which goes against leftwing, politically-correct thinking. They camouflage their timidity, or concurrence, by intoning lofty but phony clichés.

Look how far some Jewish people have fallen: That which their destroyers did to them, they are now doing to their own brothers and sisters. It stems not from a higher sense of morality but a lower regard for Jewish peoplehood and nationalism….. and noxious self-righteousness. Out of a need to be accepted in their leftwing circles, as well as their unwillingness to stand up and fight the unpopular fight of our day, many are riding the fashionable bandwagon against Israel.

Too many Jews are now part of the herd sport of anti-Semitism, previously forbidden to them but now permitted under forms of anti-Israelism. Many are simply what used to be called: traitors. Traitors should be shunned, not given prominence as desired partners in our parades.

If you can’t attend Tuesday’s gathering, send your protest to UJA- Federation. There are additional instances where Federation-affiliated agencies are inviting speakers who are known to be anti-Israel, against any self-defense measures, and even anti-Jewish, posing simply as “temporary” opponents of Israel with differing views.

Let the directors of UJA-Federation and other Jewish organizations know of your concern about their silence over the beating of Jews across Europe by Moslem gangs and Knockout gangs here. Directors are not necessarily leaders. Real Jewish leaders should not be indifferent, silent, nor lend support to boycotters and others wishing to tear us down.

The directors of our Jewish organizations are not infallible. They certainly weren’t during the 30s and 40s. We’ve seen this before: blind obedience is foolish and leaving our destiny and safety to those who claim they “know best” often can be devastating. This time in history, we must not make the same mistake.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero is author of “Push Back” and was a pulpit rabbi for almost forty years. He can be reached at rabbispero@yahoo.com.

First-Ever Certification of Spiritual Care Providers in Israel

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

For the first time, a group of Israelis were officially certified as Spiritual Care Providers who counsel the dying or those battling chronic illness or other health crises with spiritual healing and support following training brought to Israel and funded by UJA-Federation of New York.

The certification ceremony took place November 5, at the 10th annual Spiritual Care Conference, entitled “The Individual, the Community and Spiritual Care: Building Resilience and Meaningful Connection,” at the Neve Ilan Hotel near Jerusalem.

The ceremony was an important milestone in professionalizing Spiritual Care in Israel.

Spiritual Care Provision, also known as spiritual support, is seen as a vital tool to support and give guidance to the gravely ill or those near death. It has been found that during a time of health crisis people are more spiritually open and reflective and seem to find deep comfort from the help of Spiritual Care providers. Spiritual Care is an established field in many countries. In the United States every hospital is legally required to offer access to a chaplain, or spiritual guide, as part of healthcare. However, in Israel, such care has not been officially recognized until now.

Thirty-three candidates applied for certification and 23 passed the Israel Spiritual Care Network of Organizations’ Criteria for Spiritual Care Providers. The training program included 800 hours of supervised didactic and clinical site-based hours. Candidates were approved by a special international certification and evaluation committee.

The Israel Spiritual Care Network of Organizations is comprised of more than 20 organizations that work across cultural, social, and religious differences to promote spiritual care work and to professionalize the field to suit the needs of Israeli society. The network is supported by UJA-Federation of New York. There has been a growing awareness that the medical and social service establishment in Israel lacks spiritual care and UJA-Federation has been working to fill that void.

Together with leading health and human-service agencies, UJA-Federation of New York launched the field of Jewish spiritual care in Israel in 2006, and since then has already allocated over 6 million dollars in funding to several training institutions as well as organizations that provide direct services in Israel’s major hospitals in Jerusalem, the Negev, Haifa, and Tel Aviv area, along with other community settings including ones that serve the elderly, terror victims, at-risk youth, and cancer patients. The support provides training for professionals, including rabbis affiliated with all streams of Judaism, and help for those who care for individuals and families facing illness, bereavement, trauma, addiction, loneliness, and other challenges.

“At the core of Jewish spiritual care is a recognition that Jewish values, tradition and liturgy, combined with standard bio-psycho-social interventions, provide a holistic framework for individuals to cope with life challenges. It is a uniquely Jewish response to the healing process,” said Alex Roth-Kahn, Managing Director of the Caring Commission, UJA-Federation of NY.

UJA-Federation NY Campaign Nets 6 Percent Rise to $145.3 million

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The UJA-Federation of New York raised $145.3 million in its annual campaign that ended June 30,  exceeding last year’s total by $8.6 million.

Adding bequests and endowments, $6.7 million raised for superstorm Sandy relief, and capital and special gifts, the federation brought in a total of $206.5 million.

“This has been an extraordinary year of both challenge and opportunity, with Hurricane Sandy hitting us at home and the attacks on Israel,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation. “These campaign results reflect the recognition of the essential role of UJA-Federation in caring for New Yorkers in need, supporting the people of Israel, and strengthening Jewish communities around the world.”

UJA helps funds 100 beneficiary agencies, as well as dozens of other grantees and grass-roots organizations in New York and Israel, as well as more than 70 countries.

Jewish Schools Advocacy Bringing Hundreds of Millions in Public Funds

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

By Uriel Heilman, JTA

Each year, when Frank Halper is faced with the state tax bill for his accounting business in Providence, R.I., he has a choice.

He can write a check for the amount owed by his company or, as part of a state tax credit program, he can send a check to a foundation that provides tuition scholarships to students at Providence’s two Jewish day schools. His tax bill will be credited for 90 percent of the contribution.

For the last five years or so, his firm has opted for the latter.

“We’re in favor of supporting these schools,” Halper said. “We feel Jewish education is the future of the Jewish people.”

Tax credit programs are among the growing number of ways that private Jewish day schools and yeshivas nationwide are collecting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars annually. The money is helping to defray operating costs, provide teacher training, assist students with tuition bills and enhance educational offerings.

A decade ago, few Jewish schools were aggressive about pursuing federal and state funding. But as day school tuition rates have climbed, outpacing inflation and the ability of recession-weary parents to pay, schools have become much more effective not only at accessing government money but in lobbying state government for more.

“The financial crisis of 2008 had a huge effect on tuition and affordability — I think that was really the game changer,” said Darcy Hirsh, director of day school advocacy at UJA-Federation of New York, which in October 2011 became the first federation in the country to create a position for day school advocacy. “Families that were able to afford day school are no longer able, and schools’ financial aid has grown tremendously over the last five years.”

Cincinnati Hebrew Day School students attending a rally for school choice in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, April 10, 2013.

Cincinnati Hebrew Day School students attending a rally for school choice in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, April 10, 2013. Photo: Agudath Israel

The Haredi Agudath Israel of America has long taken the lead in lobbying for government aid for Jewish schools. Two years ago it was joined by the Orthodox Union, which began hiring political directors in a half-dozen states to organize Jewish schools and lobby legislators.

In New York, the state with the largest day school population, Agudath Israel and the OU have been joined in their lobbying efforts by an unusual coalition that includes UJA, the Sephardic Community Federation, the Jewish Education Project and Catholic groups.

While media attention has focused on the alleged abuse of government funding programs by Jewish schools, suspect allocations represent just a trickle of the government funding flowing to Jewish schools.

The methods used by private schools to get government money differ from state to state and range from the complex to the Byzantine.

In Rhode Island, the tuition scholarship tax credit, which is available to families with incomes of less than the federal poverty level, is capped at $1 million statewide and open only to corporate donors. The credit is calculated at 75 percent for a single year and 90 percent if they donate for two, up to a maximum of $100,000 annually. The statewide cap is usually reached annually on July 1, the first day applications may be submitted.

In Florida, a similar program last year was capped at $229 million.

In New York, a lobbying effort two years ago resulted in legislation extending an exemption from a transportation payroll tax of 0.34 percent to private and religious schools — a seemingly small change, but one that saved an estimated $8 million per year.

“Figuring out how to do better at this is going to be one of the big keys to the whole tuition crisis,” said Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of SAR Academy, a large Jewish day school in Riverdale, NY, where tuition and fees can run as high as $30,800 a year. “We’re looking to provide a quality education, Jewish and secular, and I think the solution will have to be to increase revenues. Government funding is going to need to be a major piece.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-schools-advocacy-bringing-hundreds-of-millions-in-public-funds/2013/07/03/

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