Bracing for Cuts, Federations Hold Tongue on Taxes

As 'Fiscal Cliff' Looms, Worries About Social Service Spending

Cuts Looming: Jerry Silverman, chief of the Jewish federations umbrella group, is staying out of the fight over higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
ROBERT A. CUMINS/JFNA
Cuts Looming: Jerry Silverman, chief of the Jewish federations umbrella group, is staying out of the fight over higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 16, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

But others in the Jewish community see no need to dive into the political dispute surrounding revenue sources even as they advocate for increased social services.

“My feeling is that the Jewish community should focus on the ability to provide service in an effective way,” said William Rapfogel, CEO of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. “I don’t think we need to be in the other discussion.”

Details of social service cuts are still unknown, but the federation system has stated its support for a compromise — albeit without endorsing tax increases as a means to cut the national deficit. “JFNA wants to be part of crafting a middle-ground approach, and, to the extent that this is a bipartisan solution that recognizes tradeoffs, we want to be part of it,” said Daroff.

Steering clear of political disputes was the order of the day at the G.A., which, despite proximity to the presidential election, hardly discussed political issues. In one session in which the impact of election results on the Jewish community was debated, the concerns of participants focused more on President Obama’s policy toward Israel in his second term than on the economic and social issues that were central to the campaigns.

Still, the JFNA did try to convey its commitment to social justice by making a call for tikkun olam, Hebrew for “repairing the world” — or social justice — a centerpiece of the gathering. Organizers set up a special discussion track devoted to examining ways of engaging the Jewish community in helping developing countries. Other forums discussed programs devoted to helping the vulnerable in society.

Communal leaders described the tikkun olam as a concept that was as important for building Jewish identity as it was a way to help those in need. “This could be the biggest doorway for young people to be Jewish,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, told the Forward. In surveys, he noted, seven in ten Jewish Americans say their sense of Jewish identity is built on the core call of repairing the world.

Jacobs, who was this year’s scholar-in-residence at the G.A., delivered a passionate speech at the opening plenary, in which he described tikkun olam as the solution to the problem of declining interest among the younger generation of American Jews in communal involvement. “Against a secular culture that places each individual at the center of the universe, young Jews want to find a way to connect beyond themselves,” he told the crowd of 3,000.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.