The beautiful thing about being a Jewish communal CEO with a weekly newsletter to write is that when you’re lost for words or ideas there is one text that will never fail you – the Torah. And thanks to the brilliance of serialisation, the storyline changes every week. So let’s go to written scroll:
This week’s parsha, Balak, is a good one. It features the world’s most famous talking donkey (other contenders were Eddie Murphy in the Shrek franchise, and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and a minor, non-Jewish prophet, named Balaam. The story will be familiar: Balaam, enlisted by the Midianite King to curse the Jewish people, instead offers the blessing we now say every morning:
Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkenotecha Yisrael . . .
How good are your tents, Jacob, Your dwelling-places, Israel . . .
Often it takes an outsider to see how good our tents are. I felt that this week when I got an email from Philanthropy Australia. They are making policy recommendations to the federal government and want to use JCA as an example of a model which could be more broadly adopted in local philanthropy.
This is what they had to say about our tents:
JCA is an organisation which connects funders within the Jewish community with charities operating within the Jewish community. It is a trust jointly “owned” by 22 member organisations the Presidents of which serve as Trustees. Funders within the Jewish community … donate to JCA so that it can then distribute the funds based on the needs of the various charities which make up the “community chest”. The needs of these charities will vary year by year and JCA is in a position to ascertain these changing needs and direct donations accordingly. Consequently, rather than undertake their own detailed research and make multiple grants to charities operating within the Jewish community, funders … use JCA’s expertise and skills by making one donation to JCA’s fund each year, with JCA then determining where these funds go. The charities want this too as it leads to better coordinated and more strategic philanthropy.
As JCA president Stephen Chipkin and vice president Michael Graf said at our recent campaign events, no other community in Australia, Jewish or non-Jewish, does what we do.
Almost 3,000 pledges have been made, and almost $9.5m has been gifted to our community so that we can ensure that it is sustainable, vibrant and secure – that certainly translates into some very good and sound tents.
Of course, we still have a way to go to raise our $13.5m target, but thankfully we are building from a very strong base. So now, the focus of the JCA office shifts slightly to the planning, facilitation and allocation function.
And on that note, what are you doing on Thursday, 30 July at 10:00am?
If you’re free, why don’t you join us for a guided tour of the Wolper Jewish Hospital with president Daniel Goulburn, and also hear from Danny Hochberg, president of Maccabi NSW?
These ‘Community in Action’ tours give you an opportunity to learn more about JCA’s member organisations and to speak to people who are delivering the services and programs we fund through your donations. To join us, email our community relations coordinator Ruth Nissim via email@example.com.
This tour, and others like it that we hold throughout the year, is a unique chance to see another one of our beautiful JCA tents.
P.S. If you, or more likely some youngster you know, would like to develop some sweet, actual tent building skills, then look no further than our own 3rd Rose Bay (Judean) Scout Group. Leon Waxman will be happy to show you the ropes (and pegs – keeping with the tent analogy). Though, without wanting to sound judgmental, I think the kids these days have it a bit easy with lightweight pop-up dome tents. No way we’d have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years if we’d had them…