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Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Israelis could learn from Uncle Moshe

Haviv Rettig has a very prescient comment in Thursday morning's JPost about one thing Israelis could learn from Morris (Moshe) Talansky. Here's the bottom line.
American Jewish giving, like American philanthropy generally, is based on a culture of personal generosity that Israelis have never encountered and don't understand. The American philanthropic industry is so large and sophisticated that an entire profession of highly-trained professionals, with advanced degrees in economics and management, exists to assist wealthy people (and literally thousands of American Jewish foundations) in giving away hundreds of billions of dollars each year in effective ways.

For American Jews, becoming wealthy is assumed to carry with it the responsibility to share the wealth and to enable others to make their own way. Couldn't Israelis, who clicked their tongues this week at Olmert's American Jewish contributors and alleged corruption, learn something from this American Jewish culture, particularly now that a "Hebrew tiger" era of strong economic growth has forged a new cadre of wealthy locals who have barely begun to follow American Jews on the road to generosity?
He's 100% right. The nouveau riche here are not people who give away vast (or even small) amounts of money to charity. There is little or no sense of communal responsibility among them. Social services here are funded through the generosity of American Jewry and by a government that is inefficient and insists on giving money to everyone (at everyone's expense) rather than to those who really need it at the expense of those who really don't. And by those who actually have the least but feel an obligation to do what they can anyway. Something ought to change.


At 8:03 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Something ought to. People in Israel figure Ehud Olmert did favors forMorris Talansky and it disgusts them. What no one there gets around to asking it what the politicians do for the country except watch it burn down to the ground. There are favors for people who don't live in Israel and then are the favors that aren't done for people in Israel. I'm thinking here of the nobodies in Sderot and Ashkelon. They aren't heard in the Prime Minister's Office. But an American like Talansky, he gets all the meetings and attention he wants from Olmert. I guess that's called "taking care of your own," Israeli-style.


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