Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Challenging "Checkbook Judaism"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Challenging "Checkbook Judaism"

Article excerpt

Reform Rabbi Bruce Kahn from Chevy Chase, MD, has founded a new philanthropic organization to challenge what some Jewish critics of the American Jewish fund-raising establishment have termed "checkbook Judaism." Kahn decided to create AMCHA, which means "Your People" in Hebrew, after becoming alarmed about the spread of prejudice among Jews and after reading a new book by Jerusalem Post correspondent Charles Hoffman.

In The Smoke Screen: Israel, Philanthropy and American Jews, Hoffman argues that in their overwhelming zeal to "write checks" for Israel, American Jews have become blind to the inner workings of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization -- the two institutions which have received most of their financial contributions. As a result, US Jews have helped create a "smoke screen" which has" shielded an anachronistic, highly politicized system that has wasted millions of dollars and brought considerable harm to Israel-Diaspora relations."

AMCHA for Tzedakah (Justice) would serve as an alternative philanthropy to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), which sends money to the Jewish Agency in Israel through the United Israel Appeal. (Since 1948, according to Hoffman, American Jews have donated over $7 billion to Israel. …

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