Faced with a growing chorus of criticism from across the Jewish community and heart-wrenching news stories of survivors unable to pay medical bills, the organization that handles the allocation of Holocaust restitution funds is to re-examine its disbursement policy at its July board meeting here.
The chairman of an organization of blind Jews contends that the major publisher of Jewish religious material for the blind and visually impaired has de-emphasized the publication of Braille prayer books.
Harold Snider said the publisher has neglected the religious material in favor of large print books for recreational reading already available through the Library of Congress.
Snider heads the National Federation of the Blind in Judaism, which he says has 50 members.
In response to concerns that the Jewish community may be paying higher insurance premiums because of terrorist threats against it, state insurance regulators have called for a meeting of insurance company officials and Jewish leaders to discuss the issue Sept. 4.
New York State Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio requested the meeting after Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, raised concerns in letters to the White House and congressional leaders.
To avoid having to lease its land to Israeli Arabs in violation of its covenant, the Jewish National Fund has agreed to sever ties with the government and swap half its land in developed areas with barren government land in the Galilee and the Negev, The Jewish Week has learned.
As a private organization, JNF would be free to continue its Jews-only land policy as it seeks to settle 250,000 Jews in the Negev in the next five to 10 years and 100,000 Jews in existing Jewish communities in the Galilee, according to fund officials.
As a global recession looked increasingly likely this week, officials at UJA-Federation of New York said they were prepared to dip into their reserves to help sustain vital services here for those in need.
“The reserves will be available during acute crises, whether to rescue Jews globally or to assure that those in our community can live in dignity,” said John Ruskay, the organization’s executive vice president and CEO.
Think of the American Jewish community as a business — a more than $10 billion annual business.
If our organizations and leaders made programming decisions based on that notion, perhaps they would be building a stronger, larger and more effective Jewish community.
In further signs that the deepening recession is having a major impact on Jewish universities and institutions, two major seminaries here announced tuition freezes and budget cuts, the city’s largest Jewish cultural institution laid off nearly 10 percent of its staff and Brandeis University is taking the highly unusual step of selling off its prized contemporary art collection.
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, may have lost $90 million invested with Bernard Madoff, but over the last 20 years it withdrew $130 million from that account, The Jewish Week has learned.
“We had no idea how much we had pulled out until a few days ago,” said a source close to the organization.
The source said Hadassah “went back through its books, year by year, to check all the records” to learn how much was withdrawn after receiving many calls from members upset with the $90 million loss.
For the first time, UJA-Federation of New York will provide scholarship money to Jewish day school students.
The $1 million in scholarships, to be awarded next year based on need, will be granted through the 280 yeshivas and Jewish day schools in the city, Long Island and Westchester. The minimum scholarship would be $5,000; the maximum is to be determined based on the number of eligible applications received.
Just hours after the arrest last Thursday of legendary financier Bernard Madoff, the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation in Boca Raton, Fla., began receiving calls from major donors who had lost huge sums in Madoff’s $50 billion fraud scheme.