April 1, 2020

Empty Gestures

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO
Empty Gestures

I’ve heard a lot of talk these past few weeks about “empty” social media gestures.

It’s true that showing solidarity by applauding healthcare workers at a set time, or thanking them in Facebook posts, does create positive feelings. But words of encouragement like this don’t make change in a tangible way.

Actions do.

One commentator noted specifically how, of the 17 million people who shared their A.L.S. “Ice Bucket Challenge” videos a few years ago, 14.5 million didn’t contribute to the A.L.S. Association or even know there was a cause!

So let’s be completely honest here.
Our Jewish community institutions won’t survive if we only post about them on social media.

The community won’t last if our expression of solidarity is limited to a post about how important being Jewish is for us.

Our synagogues, our agencies, our day schools need each and every one of us.
Right now.
Not for kind words and not for likes and shares and retweets.
To put it bluntly, they need cold, hard cash to survive this.

I know this is a rough ask.
And I’m also well aware that many of us may be pulling back philanthropically because of the uncertainty in the economy.

But please remember — through good times and bad, Federation and its partners have been there for every one of us.
Here in New Jersey, in Israel, and around the world.

Your Jewish community has run covert operations in the dark of night to rescue Jews from dangerous situations; has provided food and medicine for elderly Holocaust survivors in the far-flung corners of the world; has helped those in need of support, or assistance.

All these things happened because we got together and made them happen.
Because, day in and day out, thousands and thousands of donors and volunteers and professionals dedicated their time and energy and precious resources to care for those in need. To build community. To save the world – one person at a time.

Your community needs you now.
The community that has made you so proud over the years needs you now.
The community that supports you and your family and your neighbors needs you now.

Your JFSs, JCCs, synagogue security initiative, JDC and JAFI, JSDD, JESPY, ABLE, CARES, JTEEN, Chaplaincy, Day School Initiative, One Happy Camper, PJ Library, Birthright, Masa, Holocaust Council, Rishonim program… are all funded by you.

We’re watching as institutions and agencies just like these are collapsing in other communities, possibly never to come back.

We can’t let that happen here. We just can’t.

Now’s the time to show what you really stand for… what you actually believe in.

If you really love this community, if you believe in it, we need you to join me and make a gift to the UJA Annual Campaign now.

And if you’ve already made a gift, trust that your contribution is making a difference, but this crisis is not over, we need you to consider making another gift, right now.

By all means, please share this message, retweet it, and like it.

But also, make it more than an empty gesture.