Detroit Dollars At Work
HARRY KI RS BAUM
he hope last year at this time among Jewish communal
leaders was that there wouldn't be a need for another
emergency fund-raising campaign for Israel, but things
in the Jewish state have only become worse.
"The real problem is in the very social fabric of
Israeli society," said Robert Aronson, chief executive
.officer of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit. "The economy is literally in crisis, and the people who get hurt the
most are the underclass of society — and it's getting worse and worse. Things
haven't been this bleak in a long time."
The Federation has designated the month of March and a bit beyond
for its Israel emergency campaign, just as it did last year. Campaign recipi-
ents include terror survivors, children at risk and other vulnerable Israelis.
In 2002, when faced with a budget crisis from months of escalating
Palestinian violence, Israeli social and humanitarian relief agencies saw
much of their funding diverted to military spending. Federations across
North America rallied to the cause, including the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit, which raised $37.75 million during the 2002
Annual Campaign. Of that amount, $7.5 million went toward the Israel
Federation's 2003 Annual Campaign goal is $35.5 mil-
lion. That includes the Nancy and Stephen Grand
Challenge Israel Emergency Fund goal of $4 million, where
each one-time gift will be matched dollar for dollar, said
Andrew Echt, Federation campaign director.
"Our goal for a challenge fund each year is different,"
Echt said, citing $26.65 million raised so far for the 2003
Annual Campaign, with an additional $3.5 million going
to the Grand Challenge.
All money raised in March for the Grand Challenge and for
the balance of the 2003 Annual Campaign, which ends in
December, is ticketed for Israel emergency needs only, he said.
Fund-raising in March will be achieved through mail solicitations, ads
in the Jewish News, Israel advocacy programs and the culminating event:
Campaign Countdown, a five-day phone-a-thon starting March 30.
"Our goal is to get as much participation from the community as possi-
ble," Echt said. "We feel it's important for everybody to participate in sup-
porting the-needs of Israel at this time."
Does he think that using words like "crisis" and "emergency" every year
to raise money causes them to lose their power?
"Unfortunately, we are in a worldwide crisis in the Jewish community,
and if we don't target our efforts as urgent, then we're not really being
honest," Echt said.
"Israel's crisis is our crisis," said Nancy Grand of Bloomfield Hills, who
co-chairs the 2003 Annual Campaign with Douglas Bloom of
Birmingham. "Beyond the reports of the attacks, the terror, the desertion
of the tourists, the empty streets and shops, we're hearing firsthand from
Detroiter's visiting Israelis how desperate life has become."
Two community fund-raising initiatives highlight the Grand Challenge
The School-to-School Program will link congregations and day
schools with schoolchildren in Israel. Congregation dollars will help provide a
haven and a hot meal for 2,100 children enrolled in the extended-day pro--
grams in Jewish Detroit's Partnership 2000 region of the Central Galilee. This
program will run from Purim to Passover and, with support from the
Michigan Board of Rabbis, will encourage 100 percent participation of each
congregation in hopes of raising $500,000.
Israel Children's Camp Fund II will draw from the success of last year's
program that brought more than 300 Israeli teens to Michigan's Tamarack
Camps for a summertime respite. This year's goal is to bring 190 teens
and support staff in two three-week sessions at $2,500 per person.
The Grand Challenge Israel Emergency Fund also will be tapped for the fol-
lowing programs in Israel:
• Fund To Aid Victims of Terror. So far, $500,000 from Detroit was
3/ 7 distributed to 315 victims of terror and their families.
According to the committee that oversees the fund, there is enough
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