The first thing I want to say here is that I have nothing against Toronto’s UJA-Federation. Jewish Federations, part of an institutional system set up in the last century to serve the North American Jewish community, do important work.
That being said, a new 2011 fundraising campaign video for Toronto’s United Jewish Appeal (UJA) has given me whiplash. It’s the same sore neck – or more precisely, eye and brain – feeling I get from reading the daily deluge of articles that streams through my Facebook newsfeed from the Jewish and general press by Jewish writers, or about Jews and Jewish issues. With Jewish Facebook friends on both ends of the political spectrum, I am constantly darting between doomsday scenarios and reassurances that everything is coming up roses. And don’t assume that it’s only the conservatives, focusing on things like the Iranian nuclear threat and growing anti-Semitism, who are always the Debbie Downers. There are plenty of left-wingers, especially in Israel, who are depressingly pessimistic these days.
In no way should we bury our heads in the sand, but it would be great to have some more moderate, nuanced views of the state of the Jews and the Jewish State right now. For the sake of our younger generations, it would be more helpful to focus on celebrating and strengthening Jewish communal life for the good things it can bring to us and the world, instead of solely as a countermeasure against those who would seek to destroy us.
As burned out as I am on all those “We Are The World”-inspired feel-good anthems, I can still basically deal with them. I even get a little teary-eyed while watching them (I’m a sucker for children’s choirs). But please, stop pairing them with the “They hate our guts” videos. While the older people who commission these fundraising pitches may think that this stark juxtaposition will make people reach for their checkbooks, I am quite sure that younger Jews will be turned off.
And people are wondering why Jews in their 20s and 30s, and even 40s, are not affiliating with established Jewish institutions…Go figure.
© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.