Two Differing Narratives - December 2, 2022

The Jewish Federation’s 2023 Campaign for Community Needs continues to push forward. We have raised over $2.5 million in just 75 days! Our current average increase is 8% on all gifts and the campaign pace is 30% ahead of last year. This is an incredible start and we are grateful to everyone who has made their commitment to the campaign.


As I have shared before, we can do far more when everyone in our community makes a gift to the annual campaign. During these challenging times, our community needs you. Your contributions go to support some 50 Jewish organizations and make a tremendous impact in the lives of so many. Please give generously.


One program I am very proud of at the Jewish Federation is Jewish Free LoanAs we like to say, this interest free loan program is for the "oys and joys" in life. I mention it because we are seeing a sharp increase in the number of loan applicants for a variety of (positive and challenging) purposes, including:


  • Pay for an Israel experience
  • Enable a disabled individual to pay off four "payday loans" that were charging 36% interest
  • Help a family facing eviction pay off pandemic related rent
  • Assistance with wedding costs (talk about joys)
  • Moving costs to get a person out of a dangerous living situation
  • College tuition
  • Consolidate credit card debt from high interest cards
  • Help a young woman start her own business


It is important to remember that these no interest loans are available for up to $5,000. Applicants go through a thorough background credit check, require a co-signer (in most cases), and an oversight committee interviews each prospective borrower before any loans are granted. To date, we have provided over $206,000 in loans with only one default.


Donations to help grow the loan fund are always welcome.





Something must be said. Yesterday, Kanye West, or Ye, did an interview with Alex Jones of Infowars. He continued his antisemitic and hateful comments, including his appreciation for Hitler and the Nazis. Moreover, his Twitter account was suspended after posting a swastika inside a Star of David.


Ye’s latest comments and use of "the airwaves" continue to amplify antisemitism and hatred. It is time for those major platforms to realize they are complicit when they give this type of stage to people -- public figures especially -- to spew their hateful rhetoric.




This past week marked a very important historical event. On

November 29, 1947, 75 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 (II) to partition Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, with Jerusalem being controlled by an international regime. The vote was 33 in favor, 13 opposed, and 10 abstentions. This decision essentially launched the birth of the State of Israel.


The Jews, represented by the Jewish Agency and Zionist factions, quickly accepted, while the Arab League and every individual Arab government rejected it. They announced they would refuse to be bound by this decision, which they claimed was made under duress, and vocally expressed their opposition to what they declared was a violation of self-determination.


To “honor” the 75th anniversary, the United Nations held an event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. The Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour blasted the partition plan, saying the UN had not “understood the consequences” of the outline in 1947. “The plan was, and in many cases still is, to displace our people on their ancestral land,” he said, claiming “75 years of Israeli policies aiming to uproot our people” since the plan’s adoption. He repeatedly referred to Israel as a colony, denying Jews’ ancestral ties to Israel and roots in Israel and the Middle East.


Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan responded, “Try to imagine the international community commemorating your country’s Independence Day by calling it a catastrophe. What a disgrace. This General Assembly, this body, voted to adopt Resolution 181 – the Partition Plan. My people, the Jewish people, accepted this resolution without hesitation. But the Arabs and the Palestinians did not. Five Arab armies, together with the Arabs living in Israel, tried to destroy and annihilate us.”


To emphasize how different the narratives are between Palestinians and Israel, note what happened the following day.


The UN voted to adopt a pro-Palestinian resolution to commemorate the “Nakba,” the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” which Palestinians use to recall the displacement and dispossession they experienced during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.


That same day, Ambassador Erdan unveiled an exhibit at the UN on the “Jewish Nakba,” the expulsion of some 850,000 Jews from Arab countries and Iran in the 1940s and 1950s following the partition plan and establishment of the State of Israel.


This reminds me of arguments at home – two people with differing views and the challenge of listening to and trying to understand and empathize with someone else's narrative.


On the topic of Israel, there was an interesting interview with Israel’s next Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by journalist Bari Weiss on her podcast, Honestly with Bari Weiss.


As Weiss puts it, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a polarizing figure. For some, he's the ultimate defender of the State of Israel, willing to do whatever he thinks it takes to protect the one Jewish state located in the most volatile region of the world. For others, Bibi symbolizes everything that's wrong with 21st century Israel: the state's rightward turn and its never-ending conflict with the Palestinians.”


Regardless of what you think of Netanyahu or whether you agree with him or not, it is worth the time to listen to his perspective on a wide range of issues.


Chanukah will be here before we know it on Sunday night,

December 18. I am pleased that so much programming is planned. Click here to learn more about upcoming programs and celebrations. And shop for your Chanukah “goodies” at OJMCHE's Museum Shop, the newly opened Jewish Oasis in the Pearl District, Eastside Jewish Commons (pop up fair this Sunday), or synagogue gift shops around the community.

Shabbat shalom.


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