If you are among that core minority of people who support Jewish causes but refuse to confuse those values with Leftist ones, you may occasionally find yourself becoming frustrated with some of the priorities of the Jewish establishment groups. You don't have to be a conservative or a Republican to feel that way. You may just be one of those intellectually honest people who's uncomfortable with money collected ostensibly to help Jews and Israel being diverted into some bureaucrat's pet 'save the [rest of the] world' project. (Not to be confused with real Tikkun Olam.)
It's usually pretty difficult to quantify these things, but fortunately, the local JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston - an agency of Combined Jewish Philanthropies) has provided me with one convenient metric -- my email inbox.
I have gone through all the emails I have received from the JCRC (NB: that I thought to save and which I managed to find in my email pile) over a one year period. That period runs from November 1, 2007 through October 31, 2008. After isolating those emails, I have applied a number of filters using my best judgment and placed the messages into categories. If I have missed any emails I welcome corrections and additions to the data.
The focus here is on those emails which call the recipient to take some form of action. JCRC does send out emails labeled specifically as "Action Alert"s, but I have broadened the criteria to include all calls for some sort of performance, i.e., call a legislator, send an email, make a phone call, send some money, or even attend an event. I then examine what percentage of those emails have something directly to do with Jews or Israel, and compare them to the number of messages which are purely political that could just as easily be sent out by a non-religious group.
The results of this examination follows.
On a personal note I want to mention that I do not mean this posting as a personal attack on any of the individuals at JCRC or CJP, none of whom I have any reason to believe is less than well meaning and hard working. I do mean it as an examination of their priorities, their judgment calls and as advice that those considering donating their dollars to Jewish charities may want to take into account before writing those checks.
A few notes on the methodology and terminology:
Positive items: Relate to Jews or Israel. These are to JCRC's credit.
Negative items: Do NOT relate to Jews or Israel, particularly those items having to do with controversial subjects that tend to divide the community unnecessarily (taxes, illegal immigration, etc...)
If a number of emails were all invitations to the same event, I put them all in the appropriate column. Multiple email reminders are an indicator of priorities after all and deserve to weight the score. If an email announced a non-controversial but important (to the Jewish Community) item, such as a non-partisan Presidential forum, I counted it as neutral. If an email contained both neutral and positive or negative items (i.e., invitations to multiple events) I put it in the column that had an effect on the count (I moved it out of the neutral). For (I hope obvious) reasons outside the scope of this posting, I have counted Sudan-oriented messages in the Positive column.
Positive (Total Items: 49):
- 11-13-07: Israel Update ('Updates' which also include event reminders are included in the count.)
- 11-29-07: Read the November eNews
- 11-30-07: Israel Update
- 1-4-08: Israel Update
- 1-9-08: Read the January eNews
- 1-16-8: Please join us for these special events!
- 1-31-08: Israel Update
- 2-21-08: Thank you for Supporting Sderot - Tell your friends!
- 2-22-08: Essay Contest
- 2-28-08: Please Join Us on March 13th (Darfur awareness at the Bruins)
- 2-29-08: Israel Update
- 3-3-08: Investors Against Genocide
- 3-7-08: Read the March eNews
- 3-20-08: Israel Update
- 3-20-08: Please join us for these special events!
- 3-26-08: Support Arab Jewish Refugees (HR 185 and SR 85)
- 3-28-08: Don't Forget Innovation in Israel @ 60 This Sunday!
- 4-1-08: Holocaust Essay Contest Reminder
- 4-4-08: Join us June 11 for JCRC's 64th Annual Meeting
- 4-4-08: JCRC Israel Update
- 4-7-08: Come to the State House! Help Stop Iran's Nuclear Program
- 4-17-08: Remember Israel's Captive Soldiers This Passover
- 4-18-08: Action Alert: Two actions for Darfur
- 4-24-08: JCRC Israel Update
- 4-24-08: Yom Hashoah Holocaust Commemoration 2008
- 4-29-08: Watch Tzipi Livni Address the MA Legislature
- 5-1-08: Bring your family to this year's Yom Hashoah Commemorah at Faneuil Hall
- 5-2-08: Please Join Us - Community Screening of Refusenik
- 5-6-08: JCRC Events: GBIO 10 Year Anniversary || JCRC Annual Meeting
- 5-28-08: Join JCRC at our 64th Annual Meeting || Celebrate Israel's 60th Birthday!
- 6-6-08: Brandeis spotlight: Jewish State or State of the Jews?
- 6-13-08: Join us for an art exhibit, a film premiere and a talk on Israel!
- 7-17-08: help comfort the Regev and Goldwasser Families
- 8-4-08: Community Vigil for Victims of Terror
- 8-6-08: Take Action for Darfur
- 9-10-08: Rally to Stop Iran. Now!
- 9-12-08: join us Monday for an insider briefing on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- 9-17-08: Register Now to Join the Rally to Stop Iran!
- 9-19-08: Update: NYC Rally Against Iran!
- 9-23-08: Please join us for a Brown Bag Lunch with Mara Rudman
- 9-26-08: JCRC Upcoming Events
- 10-2-08: Please read about Holocaust-related events in the Boston area
- 10-2-08: Please join us on Tuesday for a Brown Bag Lunch with Mara Rudman
- 10-30-08: Please read about Holocaust-related events in the Boston area
- 11-16-07: Contact Your Legislators (Comprehensive Energy Legislation)
- 12-4-07: Ask Your Congressmen to Vote in Favor of the Energy Bill
- 1-8-08: Join us at the State House (Massachusetts Interfaith Climate Action Network)
- 1-24-08: CARE for Youth: Action Needed on the Health Education Bill
- 1-28-08: Reminder to Join us at the State House (Interfaith Pledge for Climate Action: A Day of Prayer and Advocacy)
- 3-5-08: Global Warming Solutions Act to be voted on tomorrow
- 3-17-08: Write to Governor Patrick (Tuition discounts for illegals)
- 3-20-08: Call Governor Patrick Today (Same)
- 4-18-08: Earth Day Action!
- 4-22-08: Act Now for house amendments - Help yourself or others in need! (Tsedaka is what you do with your own money, not taxes.)
- 4-23-08: Act Now for house amendments - Immigrants need your help
- 4-23-08: Support is needed for Elder Services
- 4-24-08: Support is needed for Affordable Housing
- 4-25-08: Support is needed for Workforce Development
- 4-28-08: Join us and support immigrants (Event with MIRA!)
- 5-15-08: Action Alert for individuals with disabilities
- 5-15-08: The Immigrant Community Needs Your Help
- 5-16-08: Action Alert for housing programs
- 5-28-08: Act Now to support the Global Warming Solutions Act!
- 6-4-08: Support the Climate Security Act!
- 6-13-08: Help defeat the ballot initiative to eliminate the income tax
- 6-25-08: Join Us on July 2nd (Global Warming Rally)
- 6-30-08: Please Join Us (Welcoming MA Kickoff Event)
- 7-21-08: Please Join us for a Press Conference (Global Warming Solutions Act)
- 7-31-08: Global Warming Solutions Act News!
- 8-12-08: Action Alert (ADA Amendments Act)
- 9-18-08: Vote NO on Ballot Question No. 1
- 10-10-08: Join us at these exciting events! (includes 'defeat the Question One')
- 10-24-08: please join JCRC in opposing Question 1
- 11-27-08: JCRC Statement on Annapolis (Not an action item, though generally a 'plus')
- 12-14-07: Israel Update (no events)
- 7-3-08: Our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday's attack (not an action item)
- 7-8-08: State Budget Update (no action items, though generally a negative)
- 7-16-08: JCRC Statement on Israel's Exchange of Prisoners for the Remains of its Fallen Soldiers (Not an action item, though generally a 'plus')
- 10-7-08: Spotlight Forum: Blacks, Jews and Obama (A plus topic with a minus twist: why do we want to restore the old 'Liberal' alliance?)
- 10-16-08: Please Join us for Presidential Forum 2008!
I did not count the 'Neutrals' in the overall ratio, though if I wanted to broaden the criteria I might count 4 of these in the Plus column and 1 in the Minus.
Here's the tally:
Positive:Negative = 49:29
Bottom Line: 37% of all JCRC emails calling upon the community to take some action had nothing to do with Judaism or Israel. Viewed conversely, of course, 63% of all JCRC emails calling upon the community to take some action had at least something to do with Judaism or Israel.
[By the way, a search of all emails containing the words 'action' or 'alert' was much worse: 6:12 Positive:Negative, or 2/3 having nothing to do with Judaism or Israel.]
The trouble is that the negatives are far more destructive, since they divide unnecessarily. They are the proof that there are those for whom their definition of 'Liberalism' has become their religion. I can already hear the objections: 'But global warming is a Jewish issue [insert tortured justification here].' The thing is, no, it's not. It's a political issue upon which reasonable people may disagree, both on remedies and the basic data. It's not Judaism.
'But giving charity to the poor is a Jewish issue!' Yes, it is, but taxing people to do it, including non-Jews and those unwilling or unable to give, is not. What is disturbing is how many messages are delivered prodding people to strong-arm government officials to spend money, and how few encourage people to give on a private basis.
None of this may matter to you, but if you are not so keen on JCRC's advocacy for illegal immigration, tuition discounts for illegals, global warming hysteria, more government control over private business, tax increases, or you don't share their priorities on any of a number of other government policies, you may be one of those who will want to consider more targeted giving in the future. [link]
The solution is remarkably simple. Current JCRC's budget should be diminished by 37%. With the saved money community should fund an organization that would be dealing with Jewish issues and Israel. Now, are you planning to send a check to JCRC? Deduct 37%, this money in their budget should be coming from the Democratic party and MoveOn.org.
Why the Jews should be funding it? Simple? We thought so!
posted by: jrtelegraph