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November 28, 2003 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Significant Challenge

The audience, which buzzed with elec-
trified chatter after the speech, seemed
to feel the same way. Many rushed the
stage to shake Steinhardt's hand.
Passing out flyers outside the audito-
rium, Jewish students stated that they
would raise $500,000 for Steinhardt's
new fund.
Federation leaders largely praised the
initiative but noted that the challenge
is significant. They rejected the idea
that the appeal might undermine their
own fund-raising efforts.
Robert Schrayer, vice chairman of
the United Jewish Communities, the
federation umbrella organization,
sounded a note of optimism.

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for young Jews. We will lose the power
of the Jewish people — educators,
philanthropists, federations, the State
of Israel — acting in unison to secure
the Jewish future.
He said each federation should view
Birthright Israel as not merely a
national initiative, but also a local
Jewish identity-building program.
The federated network raised more
than $300 million for Israel's emer-
gency needs last year, but has raised
only "a small fraction of that amount"
for Birthright, he said.
Steinhardt said his agenda would
focus on the "centrality of the State of
Israel for the Jewish soul," the "pre-
eminence of Jewish peoplehood as a
unifying ideal," the principle of chari-
ty and the "imperative of a Jewish
education."
"Our survival depends on the next
generation being educated," Steinhardt
said.

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Harlene Appelman: Inspired by speech

"Can he do it? Yeah, I think there's a
large amount of money available in
the American Jewish community for a
cause like this," Schrayer said.
John Ruskay, executive vice presi-
dent and CEO of the-UJA-Federation
of New York, praised the effort but
took a wait-and-see approach.
"We need to have more details" on
what such a plan would entail before
commenting on its chances for suc-
cess, Ruskay said.
As far as Steinhardt is concerned,
the project is an imperative.
The Jewish future of our children is
at stake, he said. "We owe our chil-
dren nothing less." L]

IN Editor Robert A. Sklar and JN Staff
Writer Sharon Zuckerman contributed
to this report.

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Michael Steinhardt also envisioned
the creation of a Newborn Gift of
the Jewish People, a voucher given
to all Jewish families upon the
birth or adoption of a child to be
used for early childhood education
and later toward a Birthright Israel
trip.
The idea would boost commu-
nity networking because entire
Jewish communities would have to
upgrade outreach to identify new-
born Jewish children.
"Today, only 15 to 20 percent of

American Jews have any federation
involvement," Steinhardt said.
"The Newborn Gift has the capac-
ity to increase substantially the
numbers of families which the
Federations reach."
He added, "The Newborn Gift
becomes a very real symbol of our
love for Klat Yisrael, our joy in
being Jewish. Parents who might
not have considered raising their
child in a Jewish way may becat-
alyzed to explore their identity."

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