Don’t believe everything you read. While a recent article in eJewishPhilanthropy proclaimed with confidence that “Less is More” when it comes to Federations’ overseas giving – and made certain declarations about it – the statement is simply not true. As 2020 came to a close, 146 Jewish Federations and 300 small, networked communities throughout North America concluded their annual effort to raise funds – exceeding their $100 million Israel and Overseas goal by over 4 percent.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID, which pushed North American Jewish communities to address unprecedented local needs, Federation communities continued to give generously around the globe. In total $104.1 million in unrestricted funds – and tens of millions more in designated funds – were raised to support the work of the network’s global partners The Jewish Agency for Israel, the Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT.
Our priorities are clear. Federations build and sustain flourishing Jewish communities at home, and we care for our Jewish family around the world. And we maintain that commitment even during these exceedingly challenging times. In the face of rising antisemitism and physical threats, Federations are proud to have invested in the security of Jewish communities locally, and throughout Europe and elsewhere. And with the pandemic threatening the lives and well-being of so many, Federations doubled down to help care for thousands of individuals and families in need within local communities and around the world.
These impressive accomplishments have been recognized and praised by Federation’s international partners (Read full Jewish Agency thank you letter here) (Read full JDC thank you letter here) (Read full World ORT thank you letter here), and welcomed by our Jewish brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins who have been the direct recipients of that generosity.
We often repeat our commitment to safe and thriving Jewish communities, and we are justifiably proud of our record of success. But to see our North American Federation communities step up so boldly and generously as they have in as challenging a year as any of us can remember is an inspiring way to end 2020 and head into 2021. We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and are humbled by the generosity of our donors.
Our organized North American Jewish community is definitely not saying “Less is more.” What we are saying – and showing – is that we can and will do what is needed to support Jewish life EVERYWHERE. Let’s be proud of what we have accomplished. Let’s celebrate this commitment. And let’s praise our work together. Less is not more. We need to do more, if we can.
This article was originally published in eJewish Philanthropy. David J. Butler is Chair of the JFNA's Israel & Overseas Committee.