On Monday, President Trump signed a new executive order blocking citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was one country notably missing from this new order. The order also bans all refugees from entering America for a period of 120 days.
The Reform movement slammed the executive order, calling it “discriminatory and unjust.”
“The Jewish community – like all Americans whose ancestors arrived as refugees and immigrants – was given opportunities to access education, join the workforce, and contribute to their communities and their country. Let us not now allow fear to overwhelm our nation’s capacity for compassion,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religion Action Center, said on behalf of the movement in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League “strongly condemned” the order, calling it “an appeal to xenophobia and fear.”
“While some of the initial executive order has been revised, the message is the same: that Muslims and refugees who are fleeing for their lives are not welcome on our shores,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director.
HIAS, a refugee resettlement agency formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, urged Jews to fight back against the order.
“We will resist all attempts to vilify refugees,” the group wrote on Twitter. “The U.S. Jewish community owes its very existence to a tradition of welcoming refugees.”
The National Council of Jewish Women called Trump’s order “merely a renewed Muslim ban,” and its CEO, Nancy Kaufman, said it was “simply a way to codify xenophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.”
“As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. It’s imperative that we continue to open our communities to those fleeing violence and/or seeking better lives in the United States,” Kaufman said in a statement.
The CEO of social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action said, “This is not about national security — he is targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees purely out of spite and fear, but national security experts agree that his action today will not keep us safer."
In an incredible display of Jewish solidarity with the principles of tolerance and peace for all, members of the Jewish community in Florida banded together to show support for a local mosque that fell victim to a sporadic arson attack. On Feburary 24, a community mosque called the Islamic Society of New Tampa suffered significant damage after being torched by arsonists in what seems to have clearly been a hate crime. Mosque leader Adeel Karim said he first noticed something was odd when the Mosque's crowd funding page started receiving a noticeable spike of donations in uncommon sums - instead of the typical donation amounts of multiples of 5 (like the recommended $25, $50, $75, $100 donation suggestions), Karim noticed that most donations followed the pattern of $18, $36, $72, and $90. After taking a deeper look and seeing that these donations were coming from family names like Avi, Cohen, Goldstein, and Rubin, Karim said it came by surprise to him that his mosque was benefiting from the Jewish practice of donating in multiples of 18 as a form of Chai - which wishes the recipient a long life. Chai is a Hebrew symbol that represents both life and the numerical value of eighteen. Fundraising efforts subsequently exceeded the $40,000 goal and ultimately reached $65,000.
The Jewish community is no stranger to hate crimes, especially after the recent wave of antisemitic incidents that includes the toppling of more than 100 headstones in a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery. Following this incident, members of the Muslim community traveled from other states to help repair the headstones in a show of interfaith solidarity. At a time of heightened conflict and political turmoil, acts of solidarity and commitment to the principles of helping your neighbors and those less fortunate become increasingly important. I urge others to look at this example from Florida as a model for how they can donate in the denomination of Chai to show the impact that Jewish teachings can have on those around us and to represent the good deeds of the Jewish community.
A recent article in Blogher titled "How Individuals are using the Power of Philanthropy to Develop Closer Communities" features my commentary on how philanthropic giving and charity can be used to combat community fragmentation. More specifically, I talk about how the type of giving in the Jewish community can be seen as a model for communities of all types to strengthen their unity and impact.
University of Cambridge researcher and social psychologist Dr. Sander van der Linden has published a recent report in the journal Nature Human Behaviour that attempts to outline the psychological factors that underpin the recently wave of "viral altruism" that we've all seen in out social media feeds. Campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the once popular KONY campaign have seemingly risen as fast as the fell back in anonymity.
These psychological factors include the influence of social norms, particularly the nature desire to join a social consensus and the appeal of conforming to prosocial behaviour (such as appearing charitable), having a clear ethical incentive to act, and the appetite for a 'warm glow': the positive emotional benefit derived from feeling compassionate.
The most important yet hardest to achieve factor is what Dr. Sander van der Linden calls 'translational impact': the conversion of a digital gesture of support, or 'clicktivism', into tangible contributions, whether they be financial donations or going beyond the call to action to raise funds and awareness from others.
Despite the fact that we're coming closer to understanding a 'formula' or 'recipe' for orchestrating viral charity campaigns, the irrefutable positive impact that these trends have is counterbalanced by their extremely short life span. Van der Linden found that the Ice Bucket Challenge was one such example that was high in popularity but extremely short in duration. Online interest and donations reverted to pre-viral levels in a matter of a few weeks. Van der Linden also found that the engagement was superficial - with about 25% of participants not mentioning the ALS charity in their Ice Bucket Challenge videos and only 1 in 5 even mentioning donation to a cause.
Although the money raised from these viral campaigns is undoubtedly an incredible opportunity for the charities that can pull it off, people should be wary of the extremely temporary engagement they have with these trends. Rather than fostering a sporadic and impulsive donation habit, you should consider engaging in a more consistent and longer-term donation pattern, like allocating a small percentage of your income to a charity budget that allows you to have a more sustained impact over time.
Throughout the past few years, Evites have become extremely popular as a means of event planning using existing online social networks. Due to such high popularity, a lot of people have come to think of them as overwhelming or annoying. Nonetheless, a small social enterprise start-up called Pledgeling has found away to convert a pesky source of notifications into a way to raise over $1 million for charities.
Pledgeling is a mobile-centric donation processing company with fifteen employees. CEO James Citron says the company hopes to double the staff within 18 months. Evite, the collaboration partner, provides digital party invitations. Lots of them. CEO Victor Cho says the company has sent over 2 billion event invitations. The company now sends about 20,000 invitations every hour and has over 100 million annual users. By implementing a functionality that allows you to invite your friends to donate to a cause rather than invite them to a physical event, this partnership has found a way to use a functionality that we're all used to in order to support philanthropic activity .
I think this is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit addressing a demand that was always there. The easier it is to do something, the more likely more people will do it - particularly with donating. Also, positive peer pressure is also put to work here to encourage donations because you're more likely to support a cause that your friends support as well. Philanthropy generally isn't one of the fields that comes to mind when thinking of areas that are ripe for tech disruption, but this example shows that start-ups have great potential when it comes to bolstering charities and non-profits.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is conducting a national survey to examine funding practices that advance nonprofit health. Directors of staffed foundations are invited to take the 2017 survey to benchmark “progress in supporting nonprofits in ways that allow them to be successful.” Results of the survey will be compiled into Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?, GEO’s triennial report.
Take the survey here.
The Global Irish Summer Camp, Ireland’s answer to calls for an initiative similar to Birthright, the Israeli program that has brought 400,000 young Jewish people between the ages of 18 and 26 to Israel since 1999, will take place from July 20 – August 4.
The pilot program will offer 20 spots to Irish American high school students between the ages of 15 and 17. In order to be eligible applicants cannot have spent time in Ireland before.
Similar to Israeli Birthright programs, this program will include classes and workshops on Irish history, language and culture in addition to field trips to important sites across the island, including day trips and outdoor adventures. As someone who has contributed to Birthright programs that address issues stemming from diaspora, I think the proliferation of these type of programs contributes positively to the ability of people to reconnect with their cultural and ethnic identity.
The arts-based nonprofit Ka Joog, which serves Somali youth in Minnesota, has refused a $500,000 federal grant from the Countering Violent Extremism program of the Department of Homeland Security in response to the Trump administration’s recent immigration restrictions. Executive Director Mohamed Farah, who was featured as an IDEA LAB arts leader at the 2016 GIA Conference, stated that the grant was declined on principle and believes that Somali and Muslim communities are being unfairly targeted by government policies.
What do you guys think about this decision?
Art and finance are two words you usually never see in the same sentence together. Coming from a background in finance, it’s not hard to understand why. I often see the inherent value of art being dismissed by many in this field because most iconic works of art are either high-value collector’s items or public works. On first impression, art doesn’t generally lend itself to the things that investors look for – mostly returns. As a result, most members from the finance and investment community don’t pay much attention to the art community unless they have a hobby or personal interest in the field.
However, according to the 2014 Deloitte Art & Finance Report, seventy five percent of art collectors or buyers purchase art with an investment view. As a result, it’s no surprise that art auctions generated $15.2 billion in 2014. If you’re somebody who would enjoy the prospect of learning more about art and you have the capital to participate in high-stakes art auctions, this could be a fun and lucrative community for you to be involved with, but this isn’t the type of participation I’m interested in with the art community. Under the glamour and flash of the multi-billion dollar art collection industry exists a world of non-profits and charities that work hard to enable talented artists to continue their work.
The phrase ‘starving artist’ has become a household term because of the notoriously unforgiving nature of being an upstart artist. Artists with raw talent who are working their way to recognition often have very unstable and temporary streams of income, live paycheck to paycheck, and are baited into doing work for free all the time. Every day, talented artists on the verge of success are giving up their passion in order to take on entry-level employment that will make their ends meet and pay their bills. Due to the inherent vulnerability and fragility of this community, it’s important to pay extra attention to the organizations that provide support to flourishing artists. Organizations like Free Arts NYC provide grants and funding to promising talent in order to foster their growth and development.
It’s my opinion that donating to organizations like these does much more for the art community and the proliferation of the arts as whole than investing in high-stakes artworks at art auctions. The next generation of artists who produce the type of work that goes for millions of dollars at auctions are being fostered today by organizations like Free Arts NYC. As tempting it may be to invest in a high-profile wall piece for your home, I’d challenge you to consider how much more of an impact can be made on the art community if you were to donate that money to art charities. These charities are the often-forgotten building block and predecessor of the glamorous multi-billion dollar art auction industry, so perhaps we ought to give them some well-deserved recognition.
Renato Negrin Travels
As a world traveler, Renato has developed a truly globalized perspective. Him and his wife Siu care deeply about issue that affect people around the world and want to focus on contributing to organizations that can drive positive change.