By Carol Bub Fromer and Gary Fromer
As the summer draws to a close, and we approach the Jewish New Year, we are also very excited to commence a new year for our Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. The Annual Campaign is a marathon effort by our community agencies, volunteers, professionals and donors. In our role, we are asked many questions. Frequently, we are asked why we give – both time and funds – to the Annual Campaign.
For us, it comes down to three simple but intense feelings:
• We are proud to be Jewish.
• We are proud of Israel.
• We believe that all Jews are responsible for one another.
These feelings most express our own Judaism, perhaps even more so than our own personal religious fervor or observance do. We feel responsible for each other – here and abroad, for engagement with and care for our elderly, for the health and education of our children, for ensuring a vibrant Jewish life here in the Lehigh Valley and in Israel for future generations.
Often, other concerns and viewpoints are shared with us that, in our view, are based upon incomplete information:
“Israel is the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ it is doing superbly and doesn’t need our money!”
As of 2016, 22 percent of Israelis live below the poverty line – the highest rate of poverty among the world’s developed countries.
This poverty level is despite middle-class Israelis paying 48 percent income tax, 12 percent social security tax, and 17 percent VAT – taxes aggregating to 77 percent of earned income.
“Our Jewish agencies in the Lehigh Valley are doing great independently.”
While we are blessed with wonderful Jewish institutions in the Lehigh Valley, each and every institution is challenged financially.
Our Federation Annual Campaign provides:
• • 9 percent of the annual operating budget of our Jewish Community Center.
• • 22 percent of the annual operating budget of our Jewish Day School.
• • 15 percent of the annual operating budget of our Jewish Family Service.
• • Essential funding for the Muhlenberg College, Lehigh University and Lafayette College Hillels, family education at our local synagogues, our local kashrut commission and mikvah, Jewish summer camps and Chabad Friendship Circle programs.
“There aren’t any more Jews in despair and need.”
This past year, we in the Lehigh Valley have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to emergency campaigns for Jews (and non-Jews) in despair in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Houston.
Our Annual Campaign provides support directly to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, funds deployed directly and proactively in addressing the urgent needs of Jews in distress in locations throughout the world.
Even in our own community, our Jewish agencies serve Jews challenged with poverty, addiction and despair on a daily basis.
The two of us, our Federation, our local agencies and synagogues, and Israel are far from perfect. Our collective weaknesses and imperfections motivate us to invest, innovate and improve. The Annual Campaign is one local effort in which we all strive to be better, as individuals and as a community, by taking responsibility for the well-being of fellow Jews here, in Israel and everywhere in the world.