PEACE TO OUR ,
The Growing Pains
As reporter David Zeman's Page 3 article reports,
Yad Ezra is looking at its future. Part of that fu-
ture involves taking control of administrative
costs and getting a higher percentage of the dol-
lar to its clients.
All of this, as director Ellen Goldman accu-
rately said, is "tricky." It's tricky because the state
of the national economy and the resulting pro-
grams for those in need are also looking at an
In five years, Yad Ezra has gone from serving
zero families to serving 1,000 families. It has
grown from two basement rooms in an office
building to its own warehouse facilities. It offers
an environment where Jews from all zip codes
can feel they are with friends while suffering no
Yad Ezra is one of those unique facilities that
also offers many unique stories of caring and of
success. Its founding. director, Jeanette Eizel-
man, would become teary-eyed when she talked
of the clients who got their lives together and lat-
er returned with donations of money and vol-
unteer hours. But then she also knew stories of
volunteers who needed to become clients.
So, Yad Ezra is experiencing its share of grow-
ing pains. There's nothing out of the ordinary
here that cannot be remedied by director Ellen
Goldman and the Yad Ezra board. We're glad
that Yad Ezra is looking to take on the future in
a business-like way that doesn't deviate too much
from its heimishness.
At the same time, while we're looking forward
to Yad Ezra improving the amount of money that
directly benefits its client base, we'll never lose
sight of something very important. Six years ago,
there was no such organization getting any per-
centage to any client base, even though the need
Now, we and the Jewish community are grate-
ful that Yad Ezra is here even as it goes through
its growing pains.
Many of us remember a time when a govern-
ment job was not necessarily the one that paid
the highest salary but did offer a degree of se-
curity. Plenty of retired government employees
, can recall working even through the Great De-
The budget impasse that has furloughed
260,000 federal workers has diminished the feel-
ing of security for career government employees,
who have become puppets in this political
Unlike past government shutdowns, this one
has exacted a toll from the federal workforce. As
the debate has dragged on, the government has
been forced to delay $600 million a week in pay
to about 760,000 employees, about 40 percent of
the civilian federal workforce.
A veteran government economist for the Corn-
merce Department told the Wall Street Journal
this week: "We don't live paycheck to paycheck.
You work hard to put out good numbers. To be
a pawn is very frustrating. I can appreciate the
subtleties of balancing the budget, but this all
seems very political."
The nation has indeed long since tired of this
very political show — a show which at its low-
est low point included a tiff over which Air Force
/ ISRAEL IS
I /, t
Discernment, the ability to
judge between right and wrong,
between the acceptable and the
reprehensible, is also a Jewish
I was appalled to learn of the boy-
Now is the time for Jews, our or-
cott of the recent rally in memory
and communities to
of Yitzhak Rabin at Madison
Square Garden in New York, ini- apply this lesson. Until these two
tiated by two "major" organiza- national organizations and their
tions, the National Council of constituent entities throughout the
Young Israel and the Zionist Or- United States repudiate their dis-
ganization of America. This was gusting behavior, they should not
due to the fact that, in their view, be allowed to participate in local
the program did not invite speak- or national communal activities.
Let us make an end to passivi-
ers from the opposition Likud Par-
ty to provide alternate political ty and a beginning to forthright ac-
tion that upholds Jewish honor.
points of view.
The fact that there is little, if
any, precedence for such a posi-
tion (during Likud administra-
tions, Prime Ministers Begin and
Shamir hardly ever shared such
a platform with their political op-
ponents) is overwhelmed by the
political opportunism and abject
insensitivity of these organiza- As a board member of the Sinai
tions' behavior. To be motivated Hospital Guild, and a regular
by petty political maneuvering weekly volunteer, I-was pleased
during a period of national mourn- to help with the annual Christ-
ing for Israel and the Jewish peo- mas holiday volunteer program
ple is beyond belief.
(sponsored by Federation) at
If the decision makers of these Sinai. We had a large turnout,
organizations really had nothing and everyone pitched in and had
more elevating with which to con- an enjoyable experience.
cern themselves, if they really had
I was surprised when I read
to publicly insult Leah Rabin, Shi- that Federation had too many
mon Peres and Al Gore, just not people for the overall program,
attending or co-sponsoring the pro- and not everyone who wanted to
gram might have been enough. volunteer got the chance to do so.
But it wasn't. They sought a wider Frankly, we had to shift things
arena for their hilul Hashem, so around at Sinai to accommodate
they advertised in the New York the larger-than-expected num-
?Imes to call even more attention bers of people we received. While
to their misguided cause celebre. giving of yourself on a holiday is
If the murder of a prime minis- important, the true need for vol-
ter of Israel is not enough to put unteers is 24 hours a day, 365
an end to this kind of senseless in- days a year.
ternecine bickering, the Jewish or-
Many local organizations —
ganizational world is — and hospitals, soup kitchens or home-
should be — doomed to crumble. less shelters — have people in
By publicly opposing the consen- need the entire year. I wish I had
sus developed by the Presidents' more people willing to help me in
Conference, one of the sponsors of July, or at any time, and not just
the event, these organizations on Dec. 25. While the help that is
have placed themselves beyond given on that day is useful, it
the pale of acceptable behavior.
sometimes gets lost in the push
For too long, the Jewish orga- to make that the only time one
nizational world has harbored un- can volunteer.
der the yoke of consensus — a
I urge people who are truly se-
desirable value but one that has rious about volunteering to con-
often paralyzed the decision-mak- sider making it a year-round
ing process and deterred needed commitment. Not only will you
action. To our dismay, we have be helping others, but you'll find
learned that inaction in the face it will help your "self' as well.
of extremism, intolerance and in-
herently un-Jewish behavior lead
Sinai Hospital Guild
One door congressional leaders had to use on the
flight returning from Israel Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
Republican presidential candidates are fond
of joking on the campaign trail that the govern-
ment is slowly closing down without the country
Well, the joke is over — or at least the laugh-
ing has ceased. Beyond the inconvenience of not
being able to enjoy a national park or not having
your application for a visa, a student loan, or a
mortgage processed, is the reality of lost wages
for government workers and the injured econo-
my of small businesses dependent on the gov-
ernment and its employees.
The budget debate should continue. It should
continue with more attention paid to what the
smaller government of the future will do instead
of all the rhetoric about what it won't do. And it
should continue with those dedicated to public
service back at work.
We need to remember what happened here —
the government that is sworn to protect our fel-
low citizens has hurt many of our friends and
neighbors. A balanced budget is a good goal, but
you don't get there by stepping on people who
have faith in you.