“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 — 
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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? —

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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 —

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5 Powerful Fundraising Videos (and Two Bonus)

November 20, 2010

What makes you stand up and take notice- or sit down and listen for three minutes? Here are five powerful fundraising videos that are best practices models.

You may be asking how I can call these “fundraising videos” if not a single one asks for money? My answer is that each one is a powerful motivator that brings you to a new place in your thinking about the issue, the organization, and the mission after watching. Friend-raising comes first; fundraising follows.

Other than this introduction and the source information, this is a textless entry. I encourage you to share your own favorites in the comments section or by posting at The New Jew: Microblog on Facebook. I look forward to adding a best practice sections to both this site and the microblog shortly.

Note of Exclusion:  Unpacking the White Knapsack

I chose not to include videos which feature:

  • A white spokesperson for a cause in the developing world
  • Celebrities
  • Focus on poverty and not people

For me these three items detract from the issue at hand. The point isn’t to relate to a person you’re familiar with (pretty woman, middle class white man), but to go beyond and connect with the real people whom the issues affect. I’ve chosen here films that support sustainable community growth and empowerment- and lay the gauntlet forth in doing so. Many a strong contender was excluded for an overemphasis on a Western or white perspective.

* For more information read Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (PDF, 4 pages).

Videos

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies present “The Shelter Effect” (3:57, 2,850 hits)

The Girl Effect presents “The Girl Effect” (2:23, 676,500 hits)

Companion video: “The Clock is Ticking” (3:05, 209,500 hits)

—   Click Through to See Most Best Practice Videos   —

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ROI, I Love You, But…

July 9, 2010

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

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Street Smarts: Harnessing the Creativity of Urban Activism

July 4, 2010

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Does your organization take its activism to the street? This low budget urban social movement can be done with little funding and lots of creativity.

Here are some recent examples that come to mind. I know there are lots more– and would love to hear your examples.

Scientists on the Train

Hebrew University researchers take to the train for free monthly lecture series in specially designated compartments.

Recent lectures include a profile of Albert Einstein’s contribution to humanity (in honor of his March birthday which marks Israel Science Day), physics experiments in motion, and Israel’s development of new food crops, like genetically modified tomatoes.

My favorite quote from a passenger, “It was weird, but good.”

What would your organization do to go public? Lectures on trains and singing on street corners may seem extreme, but there’s always a lesson to be had in translating your mission and objectives into hands-on contact with constituents.

— Is Your Organization Brave Enough to Sing on Street Corners and Write on the Walls? Keep Reading to Find Out Who Is —

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