Thanks to the community
There are no words adequate enough to convey the thanks I owe to the community for the outpouring of love, affection, and support that has been provided to us since Chuck?s sudden death on May 8. To the hundreds who attended his funeral and the shiva minyans which followed; to those who have made meals for us and enabled me to say Kaddish during sheloshim and beyond. To those who sent cards, called, just stopped by to see how we were doing, and to those who have made a contribution to the fund set up for our benefit ? you have all helped to make this incredible tragedy that has befallen not only us but the entire Jewish community, more bearable.
Knowing there are so many people who care about our well-being helped put my parents? minds at ease when they returned home at the end of shiva. They left knowing that the kids and I would not be left alone to deal with the heartbreak and reality of Chuck?s passing ? that there was a support network ready, willing, and able to step in and care for us in our time of need.
We have a long road ahead of us, in which we will need to deal with our grief, figure out how to live this very different life now thrust upon us, and create a new path for ourselves. The kids and I all know we are not alone ? the entire community is here for us.
With much love, affection, and our profoundest gratitude, we thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts for everything you have already done ? both the big and especially the little things ? and for those we know you will do in the future that will help make this journey easier for us over the long term.
Harry, Ariel, and Gillian Simpson
An outdated model
Reading your story (?A Slight Downturn in Federation Campaign Totals,? July 7), it is not surprising that the financial involvement of the Jewish community is declining, even though the Jewish population in Washington State is steadily growing. This decline is being felt throughout the United States and also raises fundamental questions regarding the basic philosophical orientation of the Jewish community and its organizations.
The model adopted for organized Jewish life as well as its fundraising component is an elitist one. Generally, a few wealthy Jewish families and individuals dominate most Jewish organizations. Policy and direction of most Jewish organizations is determined by these chosen wealthy few. If a Jewish individual is not wealthy, he or she will be automatically shut out of the decision-making process. Most Jews endeavor to have more of an impact in an organization of which they are members.
More and more Jews resent the narrow parameters that the organized Jewish community has established for their involvement. As a result, memberships in all Jewish organizations declined by 20 percent in the 1990s, and the number of Jewish households contributing to all Federation campaigns declined by one-third during the same time period. (Source: ?Whatever Happened to the Jewish People?? Cohen and Wertheimer, Commentary magazine). Those numbers far outstrip the numerical decline of the Jewish community, which in Federated-sponsored studies was determined to be at 5 percent for the same time period.
At the same time, Jews are flocking to, volunteering and contributing to non-Jewish organizations in record numbers. In non-Jewish organizations Jewish individuals can be involved in a real and meaningful way. There they are appreciated as valued human beings ? and that value is not directly proportional to the size of the financial donations they make.
If the Jewish community doesn?t radically change its approach to members of the Jewish community, it will see not only donations but, more importantly, membership and involvement decline. Unhappy laments about less funding for Jewish organizations will not be enough to motivate people ? financially or otherwise. Jewish individuals will be too involved making a real impact in non-Jewish organizations to care about the Jewish community and its declining organizations.
Eric S. Soll