Sunday, April 19, 2009

Consequences of OJ to non-OJ tzedakah?

A guest post by TikunOlam

My children's Jewish day school, like most these days, has dramatically increased its fundraising efforts. With many parents losing their jobs or otherwise needing to tighten their belts, the need for financial assistance at this school has increased. The Director of Development at the school, who is in charge of fundraising, happens to be a close friend of mine. Our families shared Shabbat dinner recently and we got into a discussion about her office's increased efforts to reach out to grandparents, available grants and philanthropists in the Jewish community.

She told a story of calling a grandmother of two students in the school and asked my husband, her own husband and me (all ex-OJs) to help her understand the conversation she had with the grandmother. She explained that when the grandmother was called, the grandmother raved about the school and said that both she and her husband thought it was doing an excellent job. However, she explained, her husband is a rabbi in the Orthodox Community and she is uncomfortable with making a donation using a check that bore his name to a non-OJ Jewish day school. She said that she would like to make a donation in her name only and asked that her husband's name not be found on the donation record. My friend, of course, graciously thanked her for her pledge and said that she would respect her wishes to have the donation recorded in her name only.

When I heard this story, I wondered if there was a reality based reason for her to be concerned about negative ramifications if it came out that her husband supported his grand children's non-OJ day school. I wondered, or maybe just hoped, that she was just being a silly, paranoid older woman. I have been too far removed out of the OJ world for too many years to make sense of this one. I just know it made me so sad to think that this is where the Jewish world is, that an OJ would have to feel concerned that there would be negative consequences to openly supporting a non-OJ institution, even if he or she believes in its mission and the work it is doing.

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