“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

August 14, 2011

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 

Does Giving Make You Happy?

May 13, 2011

Would you make a donation to support these children? * 

Some women get turned on by shoes. They see a gorgeous pair of stilettos gleaming and sparkling in the store window and know they have to have them. That’s how I feel when I see a great opportunity for giving. I want to possess it, invest in it, feel ownership over it.

Kiva Giving Series

This post is the second in my Kiva giving series. Read the first one here:

Meet Victoria 

 Meet Victoria Soto Choque, pictured above. Kiva tells us that:

Victoria, 34 years old of Peru, lives with her partner and four children (ages 16, 15, 13, 5). Victoria is requesting a loan to expand her small business. As a grocery store owner, she will use the loan to purchase basic staples, such as rice, sugar, and pasta, as well as items for her home.* 

For a starting price of only $25, you (the donor-lender), can give a hand in helping Victoria expand her business and improve her quality of life. That $25 that you might have spent on coffee and subway tokens goes a long way in helping Victoria and in giving you a feel-good donor experience. For a total loan of $550 (to be repaid by December 2011) you get a significant bang for your buck.

Are you in? 

Micro Giving

When I created The New Jew in 2007, my intent was not to start a blog on Jewish philanthropy. No, my goal was to start a revolution in Jewish micro-giving (that is, giving in small amounts).

I grew up in an affluent community and my youth was immensely enriched by the experiences I had traveling and volunteering both in the US and abroad. I come to philanthropy with the conviction that everyone has the capacity to give something, they just need to be inspired enough to do it.

At that time, there was no JGooders,* no IsraelGives, no DonorsChoose, or any other programs to support and promote small giving. What was lacking, I believed, was an organization to help inspire giving and channel donations on a personal level, igniting that critical spark at the moment of giving.

* JGooders is now defunct. 

The Big Goal: Israel Nonprofit Gift Catalog 

What I wanted to do was to enable those with “extra” disposable income, regardless of the amount, to donate on a person-to-person or person-to-project basis with direct results.

Ultimately what I hoped for was to work with every nonprofit in Israel to create a wish list that could be entered into a larger gift catalog for potential donors to access via the web.

The options would be beautifully endless.

– Keep Reading: I Want to Hear From You –


Can You Resist Kiva’s Siren Call? (I Hope Not)

May 12, 2011


Dear Friends,

Tomorrow you will see a new entry on The New Jew, but tonight I have a special present for you. This is my first week as a lender-donor on Kiva and I’ve found it to be such an interesting, fulfilling experience. I want you to join me.

The Offer

So here’s my offer, I will give a Kiva gift card worth $25 to the first three people who comment here and say they want to try micro-lending for the first time. My only conditions- and I won’t hold you to them, it’s only a contract you are making with yourself- are that:

  1.  If you like the experience of lending, you write and tell me why
  2.  You give a gift card to someone whom you think would likewise enjoy it

So who are my top prospects right now? I’m looking at Medhi, Evelyn.

Meet Mehdi (Salam Wa Aleikum, Mehdi)

Mehdi has one day left on his loan- at time of writing, $250 is needed- to help him expand his fruit and vegetable  business. He is interested in expanding his offerings, and hopes the loan will help grow his business, and therefore help him better support his family, whom he cares deeply about.

Here’s how Kiva gets you with the urgency (see graphic). 

Note:

Funding Mehdi was my first longer term loan. Up until now, I have strongly preferred loans that are coming due in the short term (i.e. this fall). Something you should know is that all lenders are refunded at the same time, incrementally. You don’t get one final amount back at the end, but you’re refunded small amounts according to the borrower’s payment schedule, which is outlined in detail at the bottom of the screen.

— Keep Reading: Meet Evelyn; Will You Say Yes? —

Read the rest of this entry »


Seeing the Bomb (Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Beer-Sheva)

March 25, 2011

 

Impact of a Grad Missile on Pavement (Ashdod: Week of March 23rd, 2011)

What a week. And here’s the truth of it: nothing makes you want to connect with other people more than a crisis- and for me that means writing, blogging, and Facebook.

I was contacted several times this week by reporters of the mainstream news, but I’d rather tell my own story in my own words.

The Siren Sounds

The Nearest Staircase**

On Wednesday morning, March 23rd at 5:30 am, the alarm sirens blared in Beer-Sheva. For those of you who have never been in this situation, the siren sounds for 60 seconds and you have that amount of time to get to your bomb shelter, safe room, or the nearest approximation [see footnote].

I was sleeping with my two and a half year old son (my husband was working) when the siren sounded. I grabbed the baby, my shoes, and the keys and walked rapidly toward a building across the street so that we could make it to the nearest staircase [left].

(The closest bomb shelter is more than a minute away, which doesn’t leave enough time to get there from sleep to siren. It’s been locked before, so wasn’t worth the risk. My husband and I had already decided that in case of emergency, the nearest stairway was the best bet.)

Let me tell you this. Unless you live in Sderot, perhaps, when you hear that siren, your heart stops, but you don’t think it is going to affect you directly- meaning in front of your eyes. You believe that there may be a missile coming toward you and that you need to take action to protect yourself, but you don’t believe that it’s coming straight at you. My opinion on that front has now changed.

– Keep reading —

Read the rest of this entry »


Jumo: Good for the Jews? (Guest Post: Tova Serkin)

December 19, 2010


Let’s get right down to it. Jumo is a new social networking platform that intends to improve the way nonprofits, organizations, and individuals communicate online.

But what value does it have given how many others options are already available? Does it offer us something beyond the benefits of Facebook? And most importantly, is it good for the Jews? I asked Tova Serkin, a leading expert in Jewish peoplehood and nonprofit fundraising to find out.

Tova’s Take on Jumo

Prospects for Jumo’s Success

I want Jumo to succeed – I really do – but I wish I were more optimistic. The newest social network to break into the field, Jumo was launched last week as a platform for those interested in social change and charitable organizations.

Created by one Facebook’s founders, Chris Hughes, the site has already garnered tremendous press – and the pressure for success is on. Because of Hughes’ extensive experience both with Facebook and Barak Obama’s online fundraising campaign expectations, also in the from of venture capital, are high.

But through my time at JGooders, I have seen first hand how difficult it is to engage even the most committed activists in e-philanthropy of any sort. Here is my take after a few days of exploring the site.

A Quick Glance

Screenshot: Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. Best practice model for Jumo. Gives you an idea of how a Jumo page looks if you aren’t already a user

If you don’t look carefully, at first you might think Jumo was just another Facebook redesign – the similarities are multiple and conscious. Creators figure that if we are familiar and comfortable with one platform, some of that might transfer to them.

And in fact, you must have a Facebook account to use the system effectively. Essentially, social causes open pages, and users choose to follow the projects and charities that interest them. The focus is on relationship building as opposed to soliciting donations, but recognized charities in the US are able to raise funds as well.

Overall, barring some initial kinks in the Beta version, the site is clear, easy to understand and heralds a new way of interaction with organizations – at least in theory. But Jumo faces some tremendous uphill battles before it can truly take off – while on paper it the idea of building community around specific social causes is compelling, in my experience, it is virtually impossible for most organizations.

– Keep reading to learn about Jumo’s utility to Jewish organizations and for comparison shots of how one organization operates across its website, Facebook, and Jumo —

Read the rest of this entry »


Amplifying Women’s Voices in Israel and Palestine (TEDx HolyLand)

December 11, 2010

There’s no question in my mind that women do it best when it comes to relationships.

We’re more giving with each other, more intimate, more talkative, and more forgiving. That’s why hearing and amplifying women’s voices is so important to the process of Middle East peace. After all, the essence of meaningful coexistence is strong, healthy relationships.

If you care about women and the Middle East, it is essential that you listen to the voices of the women in these videos.

TEDx HolyLand

This morning I came across TEDx HolyLand- the only TEDx conference in the world devoted to women’s voices and narratives. (Note that the full name of the conference is TEDx HolyLand: It’s Time).

In the conference’s opening video, co-organizer Israeli Liat Aaronson explains:

“We want to have women’s voices heard in an effort to progress toward the end of Occupation and the end of violence in our region. That’s what we’re about.”

Co-organizer, Palestinian Hanan Kattan asserts:

“The Palestinian people and the Israeli people have many individual challenges they have to work on separately. And yet, ultimately, a truly sustainable future relies on both sides understanding that they cannot do it alone. This connection to each other, this working together, is essential to make anything truly worthwhile happen.”

Kattan explains that the HolyLand conference was sponsored by a Palestinian (lesbian) woman who wishes to remain anonymous. As someone who cares about these issues, I can’t think of a better use of funding to forward peace.

Treading on Transboundary Identities

Here I also want to note how many of these women tread the borderlines of mixed identities, as you will hear below. They are Arab, and Israeli; they are Muslim, and sometimes lesbians; they are Middle Eastern, but occasionally educated in Europe or the United States. It is my belief that the power of their voices comes from their experience with transboundary identities and the spiritual beauty that comes from exploring all aspects of the self.

— Keep reading to hear the powerful voices of women in Israel and Palestine as well as extended resources for recommended reading and viewing —

Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Needs Your Help: Forest Fire Devastates Haifa

December 3, 2010

Israel needs your help. The worst fire in the nation’s history erupted yesterday from the forests of the Carmel in Haifa.

International aid from Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece was offered almost immediately to help quench the flames as Israel’s resources were quickly depleted.

As of early Friday morning, Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters updated:

More than 15,000 residents evacuated, flames near Haifa. Mass evacuation continues into night as fire ranges in northern Israel, thousands of Haifa residents ordered to leave homes. At least 40 dead; casualty information center reopens for first time since Second Lebanon War.

Here’s How You Can Help

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

The Jewish National Fund has established a Forest Fire Emergency Campaign.

Here’s how your donations can help- and keep in mind here how many of our physical resources were lost in the fire and that Israeli firefighting sources will need extensive funds to recuperate from the loss of equipment:

  • $100- Hose
  • $500- Helmet
  • $1,000- Hose Nozzle
  • $5,000- Masks and Tanks
  • $7,500- Camera
  • $10,000- Equipment
  • $50,000- ARV
  • $125,000- Fire Truck

The JNF has also organized an international conference call on Friday, December 3rd for 12:00 EST with CEO Russell Robinson and several of their chief executive officers, as well as Shimon Romach, Chief of the Israel Firefighters, and Tim Tidewell, US Chief of the Forest Service. Click here to register and log-in information will be sent to you.

Note also JNF’s projects to Help Alleviate Israel’s Water CrisisForest Management and Fire Prevention, and Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters. You can learn more about them here.

— Keep Reading: Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross), JGooders, Role of Social Media in Breaking News —

Read the rest of this entry »


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