Rules for giving
Sir, – I fully agree with Arnie Draiman’s “Hanukka gelt,
Hanukka guilt” (Comment & Features, December 13) in that the charity scene
in Israel is full of dubious organizations with fancy letterheads, websites and
long lists of board members meant to boost their credentials.
I manage a
modest registered trust fund that distributes money to worthy causes and have
established the following rules:
1. I never respond to phone requests. If
someone wants to be considered I tell him to send a fax or a website address. I
recall one who did – he foolishly sent me the organization’s balance sheet, from
which I learned that the director was paying himself a salary of NIS.25,000 per
month. Needless to say, it got nothing.
2. Although the majority of our
trustees are Orthodox, we do not support yeshivot, no matter how impressive
their list of rabbinical sponsors, unless they are a mechina, which aims to
strengthen a boy’s Judaism before he enlists in the IDF.
3. I am
extremely chary of those involving the emotive combination of “children” and
There seems to be so many that I wonder why they cannot
amalgamate and minimize their expenses.
4. Even if you are legally
registered, be prepared for some probing questions, as Draiman
There are many honest, dedicated charities that deserve
It’s a shame there are so many reprehensible organizations that
trade on our good nature.
No room for him
Might Douglas M.
Bloomfield (“Evading peace,” Washington Watch, December
13) be mocking Groucho or Harpo Marx as he incessantly grouses that our leaders
alone can create peace? Despite the urging and actions of all our founding
fathers to liberate and reestablish our home millimeter by millimeter on its
proven foundations, Bloomfield harps on blaming us for failing to agree to
land-rich Islamic bloodthirstiness for our tiny land sliver.
decades-long subscription regrettably may contribute to the fee of the
threatening distant critic Bloomfield, his attack on all of us living here does
not deserve any space whatsoever.
Sir, – I read Ira Youdovin’s “A response to Ambassador Michael Oren”
(Comment & Features, December 13) with great sympathy.
As an Orthodox
rabbi and former president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, comprised of nearly
60 rabbis of all flavors, I found that many of his comments resonated,
especially when he highlighted the disdain of Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi for
the non-Orthodox. Isn’t the chief rabbi the spiritual leader of all Jews in
However, it’s time for Reform Jews to get better educated about what the
settlements are and why they are every bit a part of Israel as are Jerusalem,
Tel Aviv and Haifa. So much of the American Jewish leadership has demonized
settlers as crazy, lawless loonies.
I am officially a settler, but that
doesn’t describe me or the 40,000 other Jews who live in Ma’aleh Adumim. We are
here to make a statement – that all of Israel, the only Jewish state, belongs to
The other aspect of Youdovin’s remarks that I didn’t agree with
is what he said about Israel accepting Reform marriages and
There are so many Reform rabbis who insist on no standard of
Jewish observance, and many who perform intermarriages.
How is that good
for the only Jewish state? Finally, the author is absolutely right about the
shameful way that women are treated at the Western Wall. There is nothing fair
or Jewish about placing them in 20 percent of the space or arresting them for
wearing a prayer shawl as if it were a criminal offense.
Sir, – Kudos to Rabbi Yuval Cherlow (“Leading
national-religious rabbi calls for state recognition of non-Orthodox
denominations,” December 12). Each of our forefathers felt a different and
unique relationship with God, and God spoke to all three of them.
not agree with how other Jewish denominations see God (and sometimes even how
our own denomination views “what God wants”), but we need to accept that there
is a multiplicity of roads to bonding with the Creator. The alternative is to be
like all the other countries that surround us.
Sir, – The recent ruling by a Supreme Court justice to grant a
21-hour reprieve to Eyal Shani to deposit almost NIS 190,000 or face
imprisonment over debts (“Court to celebrity chef: Pay part of bankruptcy debts
by Monday or go to prison,” December 10) is a prime example of a misguided,
anachronistic approach to debt enforcement.
Rather than introducing
innovative measures, our legislative and judicial branches are prepared to send
a talented chef to prison, where perhaps he could prepare gourmet meals for
fellow inmates. A more enlightened approach would involve a ward or guardian who
would be given full control over the debtor’s finances and assets until his or
her creditors are paid in a controlled manner. This would save significant
amounts of time and expense in pursuing costly appeals and motions to stay
It’s high time to take a fresh look at our
system of debt enforcement.
The writer is an
attorney practicing commercial and corporate law.
Sir, – It is
unfortunate that NGO Monitor, which purports to foster honest and robust debate
about NGO reporting, has once again offered criticism that is at best misguided
and at worst deliberately misleading.
In her recent op-ed “Bigger fish to
fry: Balancing human rights and security” (Comment & Features, December 10),
NGO Monitor’s Avigail Sugarman accused Gisha, the Israeli human rights group
promoting freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza, of “ignor[ing] the
flagrant threat to national security” that Israel is facing from Gaza.
proof, Sugarman quoted a sentence from a statement in which Gisha described the
current situation as “an opportunity [for Israel] to finally end the civilian
closure of Gaza and enter into regional arrangements that will allow residents
of Gaza the freedom of movement to which they have a right.” To make her
argument, however, she inexplicably omitted the second part of the sentence that
she quoted from Gisha: “…while protecting the security to which residents of
Israel are entitled.”
This kind of deliberate omission is neither new nor
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, recently
published an article on the Algemeiner website in which he accused Gisha of,
among other things, ignoring the threat posed by rocket fire.
Monitor were more honest in its portrayal, it would note that Gisha has
repeatedly referred to the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza at Israeli
population centers as a war crime; pointed to the responsibility of Palestinian
authorities with regard to restrictions on movement and access; and regularly
referred to the highly complex security challenges Israel faces vis-à-vis
We share NGO Monitor’s stated concern about fairness. But willful
mischaracterization – by NGOs or their monitors – obscures the possibilities
that could emerge from an honest and rigorous debate about how to ensure
security while protecting human rights.
The writer is
executive director of Gisha.