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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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 —

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Israeli Water: Innovations and Challenges in 7 Videos (Blog Action Day 2010)

October 16, 2010


No issue is more critical in the Middle East than water. But what does that really mean? Water is a transboundary issue that affects the environment, geopolitics, social, and health concerns.

Today is Blog Action Day for the environment and this year’s theme is water. I’m on a quest to learn more- even if it only means bolstering my knowledge incrementally- and I’m happy to take you along for the ride.

Water and the environment are a vital issue. But where to begin? I decided to consult the experts using videos from Israeli universities, the Jewish National Fund, Israel21C, and more. I encourage you to post your own links in the comments section so that we can learn from each other.

Post Preview

Here’s how this post is organized.

  1. Introduction: Get acquainted with the issue of innovative water technologies in Israel and overview of the challenges we face
  2. Best Practices:  Meet students and alumni from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies who are becoming global scientific ambassadors on water-related issues
  3. Next Steps: Learn from a case study in the Bedouin community of Um Batin. One of Israel’s next steps in water management is in bringing basic resources to all the citizens of the nation

Innovations in Israeli Water Technology

Straight from Israel’s new YouTube channel comes this overview of Israeli water technology that focuses on Israel’s role as a scientific ambassador to governments around the world. It additionally covers:

  • Water purification, desalination, and reclamation
  • Drip irrigation as a technique to maximize crop yields while simultaneously decreasing water usage

— Read on to learn more —

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Exodus to Empowerment (Guest Author: Dana Talmi)

July 8, 2010

Dana Talmi profiles Avraham Nega Admasu for
PresenTense Magazine’s recent “Heroes” issue

Name: Avraham Nega Admasu
Home: Rishon L’Tzion, Israel
Profession: Material engineer, father, community leader
He’s a hero because: He’s empowering Ethiopian youth

Who is Avraham Nega Admasu?

A 38-year-old father of three, material engineer, and community leader, Avraham Nega Admasu empowers Ethiopian youth in Israel to connect to their culture and to integrate into the broader Israeli community.

Admasu is part of a garin—a Hebrew word that means “seed,” a collaborative community working together for the betterment of society, under the umbrella of the Friends by Nature.

The nonprofit organization works to empower and educate the Ethiopian community in Israel. Committed to planting the seeds for a successful and vibrant Ethiopian community in the town of Rishon Letzion, the garin is one of 10 such communities dedicated to strengthening the Ethiopian community from within.

Ethiopian Beginnings

Admasu’s path as a community leader is informed by his life story. He grew up among 11 siblings in Kabazit, a small village in northern Ethiopia.

During his childhood, he tended livestock with his father and helped the women bring water from the nearby well. In 1984, his family sold their livestock and bribed the necessary local officials, enabling 52 family members to leave the country secretly and make the 12-day trip to the Sudanese border by foot.

— Don’t stop reading now. Continue on to Israel. —

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Why Israelis Don’t Give– Or Do They?

June 18, 2010

Shekels Credited to "MichaelPlump" on Flickr

Earlier today I posted a link on The New Jew: Microblog to an article in Ha’aretz called “Why Israelis Don’t Donate.” We got a good conversation going and I wanted to highlight the ideas that we discussed.

So, according to the author, Lior Dattel, why don’t Israelis donate? He provides three reasons:

  • Governance: there’s no incentive in the tax structure
  • History: Diaspora giving heavily outweighs national giving
  • Social: Little personal culture of giving, as evidenced by low numbers of volunteerism and personal giving

What the Author Missed

But readers, is this valid? Two of my commenters, Joe Brown Leer and Shai Litt thought otherwise.

Joe writes:

“The first and foremost issue is that of taxation. In Israel, where taxes reach almost 50% for those who you would want to be giving your “regular” donations (the “standard small” donors of over $1,000 a year to a cause) mean that they don’t have the luxury to be giving MORE to society.

It’s not just that there’s no incentive – there’s a NEGATIVE incentive when taxes are that high.”

He adds:

“… ‘Little personal culture’ does not take into account the issue of compulsory army service, and its effect on the balance of  ‘how much have I given the country already.'”

Shai remarks:

“Under the circumstances, Israelis are a pretty generous people.

But I’d add – Wouldn’t it be that the ‘socialist’ mind-set is that you donate to the government so that THEY can do the things that you’d donate to voluntarily that causes the perceived shortfall between what is and what we’d expect?

This first occurred to me a few years ago when I spoke to an Israeli (a man I respect a great deal, by the way, as an idealist in the realm of architecture and city planning) about volunteerism here (in conjunction with my Bronfman project that was first described on your original blog) and he said, ‘I think you American’s have it wrong – you shouldn’t be taking the role of government – you’re allowing the government to get away with not doing it’s job. I won’t give money to beggars because the government should be taking care of them, not me. ‘”

— Continue reading: Can we measure Israelis and Americans by the same standards of giving? —

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The New Jew: Microblog– An Experiment in Social Media

June 17, 2010

Reflections via Luis Argerich on Flickr

In December 2009 I took fingers to keyboard and wrote with a heavy heart that I was signing off from The New Jew. Thing is, it was harder to leave it than I anticipated.

Let’s ignore the fact that my page views and subscription numbers are higher than ever (proof that it’s not always the front post that matters), the deep devotion that lead to the founding, development, and ongoing creation of The New Jew are still very much with me.

While I recognize the fact that I in no way have sufficient time to dedicate to full-time blogging as I once did (and what a true joy it was), I am embarking on an experiment in microblogging with Facebook as my platform. Join me at The New Jew: Microblog— an experiment in social media (http://tinyurl.com/TheNewJew).

New Beginnings

What does this mean? Well, let me back up and tell you how I came to this idea. In the fall of 2009, I began work at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Department of Donor Affairs (you won’t hear me talking about this frequently as I think work issues deserve to stay internal, but in this case it provides a general context for discussion).

Coming from a blogging background and understanding the importance of a good social media presence, I encouraged the university to create a Facebook fan page and Twitter account (which I co-administer and run, respectively). Working with Facebook fan pages helped me understand how versatile they can be– and how easy they are to use as a social media platform, especially in relative terms.

During this time, I’ve been investigating how organizations, and bloggers in particular, were using Facebook fan pages to reach their audiences or provide a different channel of communication to their readers. My overwhelming conclusion is that they are not. The two seem to be binary: there’s either a blog or a fan page, but not both.

— Read more about the experiment and what you can expect —

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