I surprised myself yesterday. I received a call from the local Jewish Federation soliciting my annual donation. I came close to telling them off in the colorful language recently employed by Teresa Heinz Kerry. Frankly my reaction shocked me. I used to be one of those individuals who sit at the phones and make those calls.

I come from a family of Federation workers. But my doubts about Federation’s values began many years ago when my kids were little. My husband came to me one day demanding a divorce and I didn’t know where to turn. I now live in California where everyone is either a therapist or seeing one. However in those days and in that city my options were more limited. So I turned to the Federation for help.

Silly me. They told me they were busy settling the Cambodians and could give me an appointment in six months. I pleaded with them – the situation being what it was six hours might be too long. I got nowhere. My plight failed to move Federation’s family service department and I was left waiting for them to get around to me after they finished with the Cambodians.

I’ve since spoken with too many others who’ve had similar experiences. One friend recently told me I was widowed with no income and they told me that since I wasn’t a minority they wouldn’t help. It’s just appalling to me that the bureaucrats who staff Jewish Federations across this country think that Jews are not a minority – or the wrong minority.

The funding of this country’s Federation network as well as how and where the money is spent cries out for investigation and accountability. Maybe I’ve become cynical and suspicious after years of dealing with the Michael Eisners of the world who live like kings on the dividend checks of stockholders. Or maybe I’ve simply lost patience with the people in charge of Jewish organizations too may of whom seem to have the IQ of an eggplant.

Whatever the reason it’s reached the point where I don’t want to give them a dime until I know beyond a doubt where that money is going. And from what I already know too little is going to Jewish education.

My children were given a background in Judaism. Now my daughter thankfully wants to continue to see that her children are able to have what she had. However she has to face the fact that if she wants to have her three young children get that Jewish education she must pay a tab of thirty-six thousand dollars a year to keep them in Jewish day school. Thirty-six thousand dollars a year!

My other daughter and her husband are planning a family. They once spoke of three or four children but it’s been cut back to two. This so they can see to it that their children receive the Jewish education they want to give them. 

I asked the girl on the phone who wanted my donation to tell me about the programs being promoted by Federation. I wasn’t surprised when she waxed enthusiastic over plans to help ‘inner city’ kids. I wonder – what black group has ever worried about having a joint program with Jewish kids? Can someone name one ‘minority’ organization whose benevolence extends to Jewish youngsters?

Federation types loudly proclaim their support for Israel. Some may be more dovish others more hawkish but all agree that a strong Israel is vital to the future of the Jewish people. Listen I’m a strong believer in protecting Israel. But let me tell you something: The key to a secure Israel is raising future generations of proud knowledgeable Jews who love and identify with the Jewish state.

But proud knowledgeable Jews don’t just spring up like magic. The learning process must begin at an early age. The leaders of the Islamic fundamentalist movement understand this and they train their children in hatred beginning with their nursery rhymes. Why do the leaders of American Jewry have such a difficult time grasping this concept?

If Federation doesn’t take the lead who will? The Hollywood Jews among whom I live and work? Forget it. Israel means nothing to them and their trophy wives. Why? Probably because most of them grew up in a Federation world where AIDS victims in Africa and non-sectarian children?s hospitals in Los Angeles were the prime objects of concern. 

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