Poverty is hardly beautiful, but we are commanded not to look away from it.
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky
There is a folk saying quoted in the Talmud and Midrash, which some sources even ascribe to Rabbi Akiba, “Poverty is as fitting to the Jews as a red bridle on a white horse.” It’s sweet, if a little fatalistic. Do we really think that poor Jews are so attractive? These days, it is not a small question, as greater and greater numbers of Jews find themselves jobless. That great alphabet soup of Jewish organizations has tightened its collective belt a notch or two, so even our Jewish professionals find themselves scrambling to make a living.
Twitter may very well be the social media site that everyone counted out as not having any utility, but is actually thriving. That is because Twitter users are finding new and innovative ways to use the application.
Two bat mitzvah projects hit close to home for a couple of local teens, and help kids here and in Israel.
He was a distant cousin — literally; he 6,000 miles away in Israel, she on the Upper East Side.
But Katy Mayerson, 13, had grown close to Noam Mayerson over her many trips to Israel to see family.
“I really, really liked him and everybody liked him,” Katy said of her cousin. “I don’t know one person who didn’t — he was really smart and nice and loving, and there wasn’t really any bad aspect about him.”
My grandmother sometimes complains about charitable organizations. She’s a very generous woman who donates to many charities, but she often gets frustrated by the amount of solicitations she receives. With each complimentary pen, notepad, wall calendar, or other complimentary gift sent in the mail (so she’ll remember to donate again), she remarks that these organizations would be better off saving their money and using it to fulfill their mission. She also expresses angst when a solicitation envelope arrives only days after she already sent in a contribution.
As a succession of disasters strike, Jewish relief organizations struggle to raise enough funds to respond.
Almost four years after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, relief and rebuilding efforts in the affected areas are far from over.
But in the years since, disasters and crises in other areas of the world have also demanded attention and humanitarian aid, including the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in Sichuan, China, both of which hit in May of this year, and more recently the war in South Ossetia, Georgia. Add to that the damage on U.S. soil from a succession of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Tel Aviv — A revolution of sorts is taking shape in Israel. First it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise two years ago to wean the country of American foreign aid. Then last month he surprised many North American Jewish federation leaders with his pledge to spend Israeli tax dollars to subsidize educational trips to Israel for every Jew age 15 to 26.
Now, a newly created Israeli philanthropy is planning to spend some of the money it raises here to support Jews in distress overseas.
Bookstores are having a tough time deciding how to categorize Julie Salamon’s new book, “Rambam’s Ladder,” a slim but compelling volume on what motivates people to give charity.
Some stores display the book in the Self-Help section, others under Philosophy or Judaica, explains Salamon, who writes on culture for The New York Times.
Her preference? “Just put it out on the table near the entrance,” she laughed during a recent interview.