Misguided Advice on Israeli Aid

By Wendy Belzberg

Published November 14, 2003, issue of November 14, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Recently it came to my horrified attention that my Forward e-mail has been disappearing into the void of virtual reality — by the ream. Hundreds of letters were delivered into my mailbox but never came out the other side; many e-mails never made it into the mailbox in the first place. Last week the dedicated IT team at the Forward retrieved the correspondence that had piled up, much of which dated from months ago. I am a meticulous correspondent and answer all queries (not always in the most timely of fashions), even if a particular response is not published in my column. For any of you who have written to me and not received a response, I apologize. I believe the electronic wrinkles have been ironed out. I hope those of you who have written in the past will write again — and those who have always wanted to but never have will do so now. Advice to self: The problem was not one that you caused, or knew to address. Your readers will forgive you.

* * *

In a recent column I advocated sending charitable donations directly to Israel. I received several letters explaining why this may not have been the best advice. Here is an excerpt from my response:

If you want all of your money to go to people and causes in Israel, then any amount that remains in the United States is too much. And by definition some funds will remain. If you are looking for a 100% overlap between your generosity and the Jewish people, there is only one address for those checks.

The following are reader responses.

Your readers should be aware that if they wish to obtain a charitable deduction, they must make donations to U.S. charities. “Friends of…” organizations have been organized for just such purpose. Your readers should also know that there is oversight of U.S. charities — by the Internal Revenue Service and, for example, by the New York Attorney General (for N.Y. charities). This might not be the case for foreign charities.

An excellent Web site is www.guidestar.org (which contains financial information, including tax returns, for many charities). And for some interesting and unusual programs in Israel, Argentina and the former Soviet Union, I can recommend www.jdc.org, the Web site for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Nina Krauthamer

New York City

There actually are good reasons to make the contributions to the organizations titled “American Friends of.…” They usually have been certified by the IRS as charitable organizations, which means that the contribution is tax-deductible. A direct contribution to the Israeli parent organization is probably not tax-deductible. Also, the American affiliate is subject to American regulation.

Chester Katz

Silver Spring, Md.

In the same column I offered to provide a list of worthwhile charities in Israel. The Giving Wisely Web site (www.givingwisely.org.il/) lists nonprofit organizations in Israel and profiles the services they offer. My favorite charities in Israel include One Family (www.onefamilyfund.org), which provides financial, legal and emotional support to victims of terror and their families and Shalva (http://www.shalva.org), which provides support for mentally disabled children and a respite for their families. Another organization active in terror relief is Yad Sarah (www.yadsarah.org.il), which lends medical and rehabilitation equipment to those in need.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • 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.