Editorial: Give Now, Ask Later

We all have our preferences for how our Jewish community should spend its money.  But if there isn’t enough money to spend, how to spend it will be the least of our worries.

That’s why whatever your personal preferences, you should give to the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign, and give generously.

As reported last week in the Jewish Light, the Federation is facing a significant shortfall in its annual campaign fundraising. The campaign is at risk for finishing the year below $10 million for the first time since 1997, and for a third year of declining revenues.

This shortfall would have a major deleterious effect not only on the community as a whole, but on agencies that depend heavily on the Federation campaign to fund services and programs that benefit the needy, build Jewish identity and community and cultivate next generation Judaism. (As a Federated agency, the Light receives roughly one percent of the total funding from the campaign).  Many agencies’ funding has already been decreased due to the previous years’ recessionary woes, and another hit will be particularly tough.

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The willingness of a number of substantial donors to offer challenge grants to encourage giving, matching new or increased donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000, is particularly helpful. Many of these leading donors in this effort are those who have given so mightily on so many occasions, and their generosity must be matched by the rest of the community for there to be a successful campaign.

And if you want to engage in debate about how the community spends its funds, by all means do so.  The Federation has a well-defined committee process to review and recommend allocations, analyze agencies’ finances and operations, and chart future planning for the St. Louis Jewish community.

But don’t for a minute confuse that debate with whether or not to give. Right now, the burden is on us to give and give well. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the end of the analysis at this particular moment. The rest we all can discuss later. Assuming, that is, that there’s enough money about which to have a discussion.

To contribute, call 314-432-0020 or make a gift via www.jewishinstlouis.org/donate.