Too often we take our Jewish communal successes for granted and focus on our problems. One of the ongoing success stories is the work and reach of UJA-Federation of New York, the world’s largest local philanthropy, with its more than 100 constituent agencies providing social services for Jews and others in need here in New York as well as in Israel, the Former Soviet Union and communities around the world.
Jacob Strumwasser, 24
Young hedge funder who grants micro-loans to Jewish Argentineans
For Jacob Strumwasser, it all began with a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip when he was studying at the University of Michigan. The trip helped him connect with his Jewish past and inspired him to take an active role in building the Jewish future in Argentina.
A rabbi and a private equity guy walk into a Starbucks in Times Square around 8:30 p.m. on a Monday. The rabbi, sporting a dark beard and a pocket-sized Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), orders a grande coffee with soymilk. The private equity investor grabs an iced coffee and a turkey sandwich, and pays for them both.
Financial headlines are heralding hard times and Jewish newspaper headlines are, too; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief agency, is cutting 60 jobs, the Jewish federation umbrella group United Jewish Communities is slashing at least 37, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall, may trim its teaching staff.
Does the collapse this week of Bear Stearns, with its long history of strong philanthropic ties to UJA-Federation of New York, mark the beginning of a major tailspin affecting Jewish charities?
Voicing concerns that parallel worries over the impact of the Bear Stearns’ buyout on the market in general, Jewish officials say it is too early to assess the impact but recognize that the coming period will be marked by uncertainty and belt-tightening.