New Jersey Jewish News
Seven-figure donation fuels emergency campaign
Buoyed by pledges large and small, the campaign has now collected $4.2 million from some 2,500 donors.
Chief among them is the gift of David Tepper of Livingston, who donated $1 million from the David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation.
Tepper, a hedge-fund manager, made the pledge last month at a parlor meeting in the Short Hills home of Steven and Lori Klinghoffer.
He talked to NJ Jewish News about his decision to make the gift. Supporting Israel is about shared responsibility, Tepper said. We all count on Israel being there. When theres trouble, we have to step up to the plate and help out.
I reached out to David to join us, said Lori Klinghoffer, the immediate past UJA MetroWest Campaign chair. He asked some key questions all relating to Why give to UJC for this emergency? With the support of our national [United Jewish Communities] office, I gathered some pertinent materials about where the money is going, giving him the picture of how we are best positioned to meet these critical emergency needs. He joined us for the meeting and following the fund-raising portion of the evening, he let us know he was going to give us $1 million.
United Jewish Communities is the national umbrella for North American federations.
Tepper and his wife, Marlene, are among 49 donors at the national level who have made a commitment of at least $1 million and will become members of a National Honorary IEC Chairs Committee, Klinghoffer said.
It is an inspiration to our entire federated system, said Klinghoffer. Tepper has raised the bar of giving in MetroWest with his leadership and philanthropy. We are all grateful for the familys generosity.
National UJC has set a $300 million target for its member federations across North America. Funds raised by the IEC will fuel the Day After Plan, a course set by the Israeli government and UJC and its partner agencies the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Projects include rebuilding damaged structures, boosting overloaded social service agencies, and repairing the economic devastation from the war with Hizbullah.
Among several donors who have given six-figure gifts to the MetroWest IEC are David and Marian Rocker of Key Biscayne, Fla., and Short Hills, who contributed $100,000.
Marian and I recognize this has been a difficult period for Israelis. Anxieties are high. The last thing they should be concerned about is support from fellow Jews overseas, David Rocker said. We who are not risking the lives of loved ones or enduring threats to our livelihoods must respond with a clear show of support.
Rocker called donations to the emergency campaign kind of a Jewish tax. The Israelis are bearing it directly. Were bearing it voluntarily, and whatever we dont give they will have to tax their own citizens. Whatever we do will make life easier for them.
Large givers are only a part of the donor base for the emergency campaign: Some 1,900 out of 2,500 donations were from people who pledged $1,000 or less.
Unfortunately, Israel is in a crisis stage again, said Allen Bildner of Short Hills, who, with his wife, Joan, contributed an amount equal our annual gift.
He characterized the recent attacks by Hizbullah as unlike other wars since 1948. This summers war, he said, resulted in an enormous human impact for which Israel will continue to need assistance for resettlement and caring for the victims and their families .
It just seemed to my wife and me and I know to many others in the community that this was something that Israel could not handle themselves, and there was a need and an opportunity for American Jewry to step up once again, Bildner said. It was as simple as that.
Although he chose not to disclose the size of his familys gift, Martin Fass of Fox Hills said he and his wife, Barbara, made their donation because Israel was under extreme pressure not only physically, but [from] the United Nations and the Arab countries. I felt it was our obligation to contribute.
No one called me or asked me, Fass added. It was something I wanted to do, and I felt it was something we all should be doing.
Stephanie Bonder of West Caldwell, who joined her husband, Alan, in making an unspecified donation, said she believes Israel is in need. We have a lot here in the States, and we need to give what we can when our homeland does not have what we have here.
Amy Cantor, assistant director of MetroWests UJA Campaign, said the current cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah may give the mistaken impression that the crisis is over.
For some people [that] makes it less urgent, but a lot of people recognize it is a very fragile cease-fire, she said. Things can happen at any time. They also recognize a lot of damage was done and we need to respond the way we always do. We need to be there and be counted and help repair what was destroyed and rebuild peoples psyches as well as the physical damage.
Cantor said she expects the collections to intensify during the period following the Labor Day holiday.
It has been difficult to reach people while many are on vacation. I feel we have a long way to go, but there is a lot of time left before the campaign ends, she said.
Cantor said there is a whole infrastructure that we are going to be using to solicit donations. Appeals will be made at UJC MetroWest agency board meetings in September as well as at community parlor meetings, following the model of four such successful gatherings held in August.
Synagogues are also involved in the campaign; 15 have made gifts to the IEC.
Among the campaign events will be a Wednesday, Sept. 20, speech delivered by an Israeli soldier at the UJC MetroWests board meeting at the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.
One week later, Dennis Ross, former American ambassador to the United Nations, will be guest speaker at a major gifts event on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston. Those invited will be donors of at least $10,000 to the 2006 annual UJA Campaign and/or the Israel Emergency Campaign or UJC MetroWest Young Leadership Division contributors at the $5,000 level.
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