Metro Grapevine: Holiday Giving

News briefs from around Israel.

Arye Deri
■ IN THE weeks leading up to Passover and Rosh Hashana, mailboxes throughout the country are filled with requests from charitable organizations.
With so much competition going on for the generosity of the public, some organizations also tend to resort to gimmickry to attract public attention. One such organization is Latet, which is among a growing number that provide food for the needy throughout the year, but especially during major Jewish festival periods.
In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, Latet suspended a huge table set empty for a holy day meal to symbolize the fact that for many families it is unclear how they will celebrate and what they will have on their table.
The purpose of the display which concludes at the end of this week, is to create greater awareness of social gaps.
Findings in a survey conducted for Latet by the Rotem Research Institute indicated that one out of every five Israelis reports a lack in nutritional security due to financial distress; 19.2% say that they are afraid that the food they have will be depleted before they have sufficient money to buy more; 14% say that the food they bought was insufficient, and that they couldn’t afford to buy more; 78.4% of the people polled saw the government as being responsible for reducing poverty, whereas 66.7% believe that the government has not made reduction of poverty a national priority.
While few would doubt the good intentions of any of the food distribution organizations, the question of surveys and statistics always arises. Latet was founded by Gilles Darmon, who is the organization’s chairman. Among members of the board are Prof.
Rafi Walden, Tali Lipkin-Shahak, Nissim Bar-El and several other well-known personalities. The essential problem is that, technically, the distribution of food parcels or vouchers for food is based on information supplied by social welfare services of local authorities, and if one adds up the figures of recipients as given by each of the food distribution organizations, the overall figure comes to more than the total population of Israel. This creates a crisis in confidence and demands an audit on the part of an independent auditor who, it is to be hoped, would come up with the correct figures so that members of the public who want to help will have a better idea of the genuine need.
One also has to wonder about the cost factor in suspending this huge table high in the air over Rabin Square, and whether the gimmick succeeded in bringing in more money than was spent on this effort.
■ SINCE 2006, Netanya has consistently been among the municipalities which have received the Interior Minister’s prize for good management of financial resources. Netanya was also listed among this year’s winners, but at the prize-giving ceremony this week, no representative from the Netanya local council was called to the stage. Interior Minister Arye Deri decided to suspend the award to Netanya but not to cancel it. As a former convicted felon himself, despite his own and his followers’ protests that he was innocent, Deri can empathize with Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar, who is under suspicion of various corruption charges related to building permits that facilitated the extraordinary development of Netanya during her period of office. Deri has decided to wait and see the outcome of investigations before making a final decision on whether the prize will be awarded.
■ A LEISURE park was in inaugurated in Lod last week in memory of Danny Gonen, who was murdered by terrorists in June last year when he and his friend Netanel Hadad sought to go swimming in a spring near Dolev in the Binyamin region. Neither of the two were armed. Gonen’s funeral was attended by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.
The Danny Park in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood was inaugurated by Lod Mayor Yair Revivo along with members of the municipal council, fellow Torah students of Gonen, friends and members of his family. There is also a corner of the park dedicated by members of the Head Start project in memory of Gonen’s niece, Talya Lober, who was killed in an accident when she was only one year old.
Gonen’s mother, Devora, said that her son was only 25 years old when killed and had not lived to bring a family into the world and to see his children playing in a park. But in his memory, there is a park in which many other children can and will play.