Jewish Bmore Gives

112213_jewish-baltimore-givesWhether it’s for a new iPad, the just-released Mario game, a diamond choker, a Rolex watch or a shiny new Lexus with a big red bow (if we believe what we see on TV), its seems there’s no limit to what people will shell out on holiday gifts.

Americans have long lamented the commercialization of the holiday season, yet each year, the pressure to spend exorbitantly seems to begin earlier. While it’s true that Chanukah has little in common with Christmas and doesn’t actually call for extravagant gift-giving, American Jews have been part of the commerce-driven holiday season for generations. For better or worse, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now permanent additions to our collective calendar.

But in 2012, thanks to the 92nd Street Y, a highly respected Jewish organization in Manhattan, a new day and a new movement, with a decidedly less acquisitive mission, is also on the calendar for many, including for people in Baltimore — and Jewish Baltimore.

Giving Tuesday, which occurs right after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encourages Americans to give to those in need. On Nov. 27, 2012, 2,500 charities, volunteer organizations, corporations and foundations in all 50 states embraced this philanthropic effort. The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, a founding partner of Baltimore’s Giving Tuesday effort (Bmore Gives More), raised $1 million that day — more than any other
campaign in the country.

Jamie McDonald, president of GiveCorps, a Baltimore startup that combines philanthropy, community activism and technology, estimates that last year’s Bmore Gives More campaign raised between $2 million and $2.5 million on Giving Tuesday [including the funds raised by The Associated]. This year’s goal is $5 million. McDonald says she wants Baltimore to be known as the “givingest” city in the country. In fact, she says, “We’ve been singled out by the national campaign as having the most groundbreaking city campaign. They are seeing what we’re doing in Baltimore, and they want other cities to take note.”

While McDonald, whose organization is a convening partner for Bmore Gives More 2013, realizes that $5 million is a lofty goal, she believes it is possible. And she predicts that just as it did in 2012, The Associated will once again play a major role in the campaign’s success.

“The Associated is a pivotal partner for Baltimore and in making Giving Tuesday happen here. They are exceptional fundraisers and smart, strategic thinkers who really know how to garner support and enthusiasm for giving,” says McDonald.

Leslie Pomerantz, senior vice president of development for The Associated, says Giving Tuesday is a great vehicle for the organization to remind people to give back to Baltimore and the Jewish community.

“It’s a tool to do what we do anyway, and it’s a great time of year to do it,” she says. “People are just coming off Thanksgiving, they have been eating good food, being with family — maybe they do some shopping; It’s a time when people say [to themselves] I’m very fortunate, I want to give.”

Pomerantz continues: “We know that as human beings we all want to feel connected to others, to community. I would like to think that is why The Associated is so successful. We all rally together to make the community strong. We also love Baltimore whether we grew up here or not. We’ve chosen to raise our kids here. So we love being part of a Baltimore coalition.”

Pomerantz points out that Giving Tuesday will not replace Mitzvah Day, which is sponsored by The Associated and its agencies annually on Christmas Day.

“We see philanthropy as a combination of time and money,” she says. “On Giving Tuesday we ask people to give dollars. On Mitzvah Day, we ask them to give their time.”

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