Celebrate Freedom with Fair Trade Chocolate

A few movies have affected me so deeply that I knew a new journey was opening for me. One of those was “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” which I saw at the Fair Trade Federation conference in fall 2010. It explicitly documents child labor’s role in the cocoa fields of the Ivory Coast.

I was stunned to learn that this delicious and heavenly food was being produced by slave labor. Within 30 minutes of watching the film, the idea to launch a Passover campaign featuring this issue as a contemporary form of slavery was birthed, thus expanding Fair Trade Judaica’s mission beyond solely Judaica products.

Why Passover? Because every year at this time we gather as family and community to celebrate our people’s freedom. We are obligated to tell the story of the Exodus, our journey from slavery to liberation.

“In every generation a person is obligated to see him or herself as though he/she had personally been redeemed from Eqypt,” we read in the Haggadah. In recalling our people’s experience in Egypt, we are urged to remember that we were once slaves.

Though we may not be actual slaves ourselves today, our history moves us to ask, “Where does slavery exist today?” “Who is enslaved?” “What is that slavery like?” “What can I do about it?”

To honor that question, for the past four years, my family has added a fair trade chocolate bar to our Seder plate, symbolizing the dire situation of trafficked and enslaved child labor used in the production of cocoa, documented in Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire — this leading supplier accounts for around 40 to 50 percent of production — Guinea and Nigeria.

Hundreds of thousands of children work in these cocoa fields, many of them exposed to hazardous conditions, where they spray pesticides and apply fertilizers without protective gear; use sharp tools, like machetes, to crack open the cacao pods; sustain injuries from transporting heavy loads beyond permissible weight; and do strenuous work like felling trees and clearing and burning vegetation.

This situation has been documented by the State Department’s “2010 Traffic-king in Persons Report,” Tulane University and a variety of journalistic movies and reports. Chocolate companies voluntarily agreed to improve this situation back in 2001, but recent reports show little progress.

But more and more companies are beginning to source fair trade certified cocoa beans due to customer demand. Cadbury has converted their top selling chocolate bar in the United Kingdom to fair trade and extended the Fair Trade Certified Dairy Milk bar to Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand. Green & Black’s product line has been fair trade certified since 2012. In the United States, there are about 20 small companies fully committed to sourcing fair trade cocoa beans.

This Passover, we can say Shehechiyanu, as fair trade kosher for Passover chocolate bars are now available and included in the Conservative movement’s “Rabbinical Assembly Pesach Guide.” My organization, Fair Trade Judaica, has joined together with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights to encourage individuals and congregations to use only ethically produced chocolate this year.

This year, I hope you’ll join me by choosing fair trade kosher for Passover chocolate for your Seder table with the hope that one day all chocolate will be child labor-free.

Ilana Schatz is the founding director of Fair Trade Judaica, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a fair trade movement in the U.S. Jewish community.

Times Gets It Wrong on JNF and Bedouin Arabs

In a March 1 op-ed for The New York Times, “The Two Israels,” Nicholas Kristof made a rather broad accusation stating that Jewish National Fund plants forests on land owned by Bedouin Arabs. Unfortunately, Kristof chose to subscribe to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s diatribe against Israel and used JNF as a straw man to do so. We take exception to such reporting.

Red flags should be raised when considering the fact that no Israeli governmental official was interviewed by Kristof to either discuss the Jewish state’s laws, to identify any specific property disputes or to cite legal history on the subject.

JNF is not a political actor in Israel, but rather a 501(c)3 charity and a United Nations-approved nongov-ernmental organization. Our mission betters the Land of Israel for all of the country’s people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

What Kristof did not report on was JNF’s multiyear work with the Bedouin community in the Negev, which has improved Bedouin lives. Witness our efforts at a project called Wadi Atir, near the village of Hura, where the Bedouin community combines its traditional medicinal herbal practices and animal herding with modern farming techniques — the effects of which provide Bedouin men, and most importantly, women, with the tools to empower, educate and bring long-term financial and professional success.

In my meetings and visits with JNF’s wonderful volunteers, board members and staffers in Israel, I am often overwhelmed by the caring and love they share for that country’s people, in both good times and bad. Last summer, when thousands of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, JNF helped protect all of Israel’s residents on that border — including the Bedouin. Our partner organization, Green Horizons, responded to Bedouin villages to calm children with a variety of programs and bomb shelters meant to ensure their safety.

JNF contributors understand that inclusiveness is the key to Israel’s future. The small 8 percent of Israel’s population that lives in the Negev resides on some 60 percent of the country’s land. Since they are so far removed from the central part of the country, they are often shortchanged for services, even when it comes to emergency treatment. To meet the demand for urgent care, last year we opened a medical center deep in the Negev Desert, alleviating the two-hour drive residents used to make.

For more than a century, JNF donors worldwide have taken part in a time-honored tradition and planted more than 250 million trees in Israel to commemorate important milestones, memorials, or living testaments to loved ones. This act of taking care of the land has also served to create a green lung throughout the region.

JNF’s history is one of love, nation building and industry that has reduced poverty, encouraged women’s rights and created economic opportunities for all. That’s the story that is Israel and JNF. That’s the story that the world needs to know.

Jeffrey E. Levine is president of the Jewish National Fund.

Twisted Logic

In political arenas, both domestic and international, logic does not always prevail. In fact, emotion, wishful thinking and just plain spinning the facts to meet one’s needs seems to have become more and more prevalent.

A case in point is the Armenian diaspora’s insistence that Jews throughout the world publicly support Armenian claims related to the traumatic events of 100 years ago . . . during WWI. Yet, seemingly, Armenians dodge the questions regarding their own conduct over the last 100 years.

Before backing up others, however, as Jews we need to be reminded of Armenian collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. Clamoring for recognition of the traumatic events of 1915, Armenians seem to exhibit amnesia about their brethren’s participation in Nazi regime propaganda efforts and in the Waffen SS extermination squads during that horrifying era.

Well documented, in early 1930s, Hitler began cultivating Armenians to use their long-standing and strong anti-Semitic feelings in his plans and policies. Armenians, through their publications, radio broadcasts and meetings, supported the Nazis’ attacks on Jews.

The short-lived Armenian Republic, established in 1918, in the southern Caucasus by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (the Dashnaks) was conquered by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1920. During World War II, the Dashnaks saw a golden opportunity to regain these territories via collaboration with the Nazis.

To that end, on Dec. 30, 1941, Armenians formed a battalion of 8,000 soldiers known as the 812th Armenian Battalion of Wehrmacht under the command of Dro (Drastamat Kanayan), a seasoned guerilla leader who had fought against the Turks in the first two decades of the 20th century. Later, under Nazi leadership, Dro became the supreme commandant of the Armenian Army in the short-lived Armenian Republic.

This infamous 812th Battalion later developed into an “Armenian Legion,” 20,000 soldiers strong. The troops of this legion were trained and led by the SS and its Security Division and then became a part of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen “extermination squad” during the invasion of the Crimea and the North Caucasus.

In Aug. 19, 1936, Hairenik published the following in an Armenian language daily:

“Sometimes it is difficult to eradicate these poisonous elements [the Jews] when they have struck deep root like a chronic disease, and when it becomes necessary for a people [the Nazis] to eradicate them in an uncommon method these attempts are regarded as revolutionary. During a surgical operation the flow of blood is a natural thing. Under such conditions dictatorship seems to have the role of a savior.”

In the summer of 1942, the Armenian National Socialist (Nazi) movement called Hossank (Lightning) was organized. This organization spewed forth anti-Semitic and racist vitriol through the broadcasts of Radio Berlin.

Sadly, the present-day Armenian regime continues to feed its domestic public with anti-Israel propaganda and stirs anti-Jewish hysteria, suggesting that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora.

Is it not twisted logic, then, that enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi regime are asking the victims of the Nazis to support claims of Armenian victimhood?

Alexander Murinson, Ph.D. of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, also serves on the International Advisory Board of Outre-Terre. He is the author of many articles and books, including the “European Journal of Geopolitics,” “Turkey’s Entente with Israel” and “Azerbaijan: State Identity and Security in the Middle East and Caucasus.”

Together as One, Forever United

“Together as one, forever united.”The importance of these words has recently, in the face of constant anti-Semitism, stood out to the global Jewish community. During Presidents Day weekend, more than 2,000 Jewish teens from around the world gathered in Atlanta for BBYO’s annual International Convention to demonstrate how, when taken to heart, these words have the ability to shape a movement. Participants had the opportunity not only to listen to a variety of speakers, attend leadership seminars and learn about the future of the Jewish community, but also to form connections with teens from around the world and to advocate for the future of the Jewish people.

For me, as well as many of the other teens present at the convention, the most unique opportunity that this convention gave us was the chance to meet and bond with teens from countries around the globe. Speaking with teens from countries where anti-Semitism is predominant, such as Turkey, it was shocking to hear some of the precautions individuals must take to hide their Jewish identity. While I proudly advertise my involvement in Jewish youth organizations, many of my peers are forced to hide their participation in BBYO, unable to tell even their closest friend about their attendance at the International Convention in fear of a violent response.

As important as it always is to learn about the effects of anti-Semitism around the world, having a connection to someone who experiences this anti-Semitism really allows an individual to understand these effects. At this International Convention, teens from around the world were drawn together by their similarities: age, religion, involvement in BBYO. While talking, teens would discover that, despite the thousands of miles between their home countries, they watched the same TV shows, listened to the same music and even shopped at the same store chains. In the span of a few days, these individuals can become some of your closes friends, and this is when their stories of their Jewish identity stand out. You can finally understand how the life of someone, who is in many ways so similar to you, can be affected so greatly by anti-Semitism.

It is these experiences that make international BBYO events so unique and meaningful. As a teenager, it is often difficult to feel your connection to the global Jewish community, but personally, BBYO has given me the experiences to ensure that I feel this connection. The five days I spent at BBYO’s International Convention provided an opportunity for me to attend programs that have given me a new perspective on my Jewish identity, so that I know I will do my best to ensure that the global Jewish community is truly together as one and forever united.

Alyssa Weiss is a senior at Pikesville High School and is secretary of the BBYO Baltimore Council for 2014-15 and an active member of Achot BBG. To learn more about BBYO, contact BBYO Baltimore Council Regional Director Danielle Hercenberg at 410-559-3549 or bmore@bbyo.org.

Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy

landauRarely has a speech given by a foreign international leader received such a voluminous ocean of words, warnings and dire consequences as that given to ally and friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. He is only the second leader — the first was the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — to have addressed the joint Congress three times for a political Olympic record. Whereas the English leader was formulating the need for America to assist its ally in a looming world war, the second prime minister was trying to avert yet another conflagration in his part of the world.

When all the political opinions, insights and distractions are put to rest and silenced, and the mixed responses and reactions to the speech disseminated, we can get down to the matter at hand: Did the Israeli leader flout political etiquette by questioning the terms of a proposed treaty with Iran just a stone’s throw away from the home of its chief negotiator, President Barack Obama, and did he have anything substantial to say on the matter?

What must never be forgotten is that the entire Middle East is a tinderbox waiting to explode out of control. It is a topography with failed states; in Libya and Syria, leaders are still massacring their own peoples, while an ever-increasing litany of terrorist thugs and murderers create havoc and destruction wherever they happen to be roaming. And then there’s Israel and Netanyahu, who, more so than any other leader in the area, realizes that the one country that is pulling the strings on so many players in the region is Iran. And let’s not forget the so-called Islamic State, whose murderous intents are similar.

So the question of history is which side will succeed?

Iran’s leaders are not nice people. They spew hatred for Israel, target the Western world for destruction and help their co-religionists neutralize the presence of anyone not of their same religious persuasion. And they will support terrorism around the world that targets Jews and Americans and a vast assortment of innocents in order to pursue their political goals and religious endeavors.

The ongoing fear of these nuclear talks, which Netanyahu could not have stated to Congress, is that when it comes to America’s foreign policy initiatives, Obama has failed. In Syria, he drew the red line so many times regarding Bashar Assad’s use of chemical warfare on his people that the line itself became indiscernible. In Ukraine, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has been dancing circles all around Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry without being prevented from continuing his own personal war in the region. The picture that emerges is of a president who lacks the luster of a master strategist, who is seen as being weak and whose word cannot be trusted because he lacks the international authority to impose any kind of American power anywhere in the world.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and indeed the entire region have no faith at all in the current American leader or his policies. Wouldn’t it be somewhat ironic if all these countries came together in an alliance with Israel because of the shared depressing understanding that America (and Europe) created a vacuum of weakness in its dealings with Iran that forced them to fend for themselves?

Rabbi Chaim Landau is the president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis.

Time to Diversify

I am optimistic about the American Jewish future. But I am worried about the future of extant Jewish communal institutions, primarily because of what I see as limited examples of adaptive leadership. While the synagogue is the most ubiquitous of all American Jewish institutions, it too is vulnerable and at risk.

The synagogue does not speak to the millennial generation the way it once did to its boomer parents. The synagogue made a different statement in former generations than it does to this current generation of fully American, American Jews. Moreover, the pediatric Judaism we created after World War II is focused on families with young children, risking the alienation of the various other segments of the community.

Affiliation rates have declined (15 percent in the last decade) to approximately 30 percent, as people are seeking other vehicles for all kinds of Jewish expression. And in response, too many synagogues are assuming an even more survivalist posture — searching for new members who will fit their model of Judaism rather than looking for new ways to serve the needs of the people who have voted with their feet not to participate in the synagogue.

The American synagogue was built on the backs of three-day-a-year Jews, those who supported institutions in which they didn’t, or rarely did, participate. The diminution in synagogue membership is mostly among that segment of the population.

Synagogues are rightfully looking at alternative membership and revenue models. Approximately 30 synagogues from various movements and of different sizes and locales have already moved to a voluntary dues model. (This is particularly appealing to the large number of intermarriages in the Jewish community since the partner who comes from a Christian tradition may find such an approach more appealing.) This movement is laudable, and we will see a growing number of synagogues adopt such a model, because it is low risk.

There are other models for synagogues to consider as well. But only those synagogues that are mission-driven — and whose mission speaks to the needs of the individual — will survive into the next generation. It is insufficient to label a synagogue Reform or Conservative and think that it describes its mission. Furthermore, we have to move away from a discussion concerning the obligations of membership to one that is more persuasive: the benefits of membership.

And we can’t speak about synagogues without talking about clergy. Too many rabbis have neglected to sufficiently communicate their own value-added to the equation. It’s one of the reasons that we see fewer and fewer weddings officiated by ordained Jewish clergy. And this doesn’t account for the increased number of so-called destination b’nai mitzvah, those events that are taking place at a local hotel or event space so that the family can shape the event in such a way as to address their own needs.

I don’t believe there is one right answer. Jews in America are growing increasingly diverse, and our institutions need to reflect that by diversifying their offerings and models. Doing so will mean a brighter future for organized Jewish communal life.

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky is executive director of the Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute and author, with son Rabbi Avi Olitzky, of the new book “New Membership & Financial Alternatives for the American Synagogue: From Traditional Dues To Fair Share To Gifts From The Heart” (Jewish Lights Publishing).

Countering OPEC’s Power

The national average for a gallon of gasoline is $2.41. For this, drivers can mostly thank the highest level of domestic oil production in four decades — more than 9 million barrels per day.

With American energy production booming, it’s difficult to imagine a return to the shortages that characterized the 1973 Arab oil embargo. But Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the rest of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have recently launched a price war to force Americans back to a dependency on foreign energy. They are being aided by an outdated U.S. policy prohibiting the export of domestic crude oil.

The best way for American legislators to combat OPEC’s aggression is to lift this ban. Scrapping this outdated policy will secure American progress toward energy independence.

It’s easy to see why OPEC is scared. Innovative extraction techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have boosted U.S. oil production by 4 million barrels per day in just the last six years. Consequently, U.S. demand for OPEC oil has dropped to its lowest level since the Reagan administration.

OPEC can’t stand to see one of its biggest customers move toward energy independence. But the cartel might not be able to endure the self-inflicted wounds caused by rock-bottom oil prices for very long. Of OPEC’s 12 member countries, only Qatar can balance its budget with prices at $60 per barrel. Six OPEC members need the price to stay above $100 to avoid fiscal ruin.

By contrast, most U.S. producers still make a profit below $60 per barrel.

That’s why, in late November, the governing board of OPEC decided not to cut oil production despite a global surplus of 2 million barrels per day. Instead, OPEC maintained its production levels to push prices down in hopes of driving American firms bankrupt. The cartel believes that American energy firms will break under pressure.

Congress can strengthen our domestic economy while countering these plans. It should lift the ban on crude oil exports. Domestic firms could then sell oil to the many overseas buyers eager to reduce their own energy dependence, thus reducing the power of OPEC to maintain a throttle on U.S. and global oil supplies.

Fortunately, the effort to repeal the ban is gaining traction. Texas congressman Joe Barton has introduced bipartisan legislation to lift it. However, some lawmakers argue that permitting crude exports might contract local oil supplies and push up the price paid by domestic drivers at the pump.

They needn’t worry. In a new report, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office finds that allowing U.S. crude exports will actually save American drivers up to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. The CBO explains that the price of gas depends “primarily on the world price of crude oil, which would decline slightly once lower-priced U.S. crudes were available in the international market.”

If Congress lifts the ban, crude exports could add 300,000 jobs and $38 billion to the U.S. economy by 2020.

J. Michael Barrett is former director of strategy for the White House Homeland Security Council. He is a principal with Diligent Innovations.

Our Legacy, for Better or for Worse

2013ftv_oshry_aleezaSustaining evolution or submitting to extinction? This isn’t a line for tree-hugging environmentalists.  This is about you.  And me.  And whether we have a vested interest in our learning and our future or if we are resigned to acquiesce to the fate of our complacency and greed.

The advantage to being human is that we evolve; we have the free will to change. We can choose to take risks, invest, create, serve or “play it safe” by doing nothing.  We are a species that invests in learning.  We have learned how to use and change the world to suit our needs: We assess and extract what we like and quash what we don’t.  The more we learn, the more we change and evolve to use our knowledge to become more productive, efficient and wealthy.

We also expend a lot of energy and resources in the form of passion for our beliefs.  Politics, religion, ethics and values, protection of assets and power.  The more we are invested, the more effort we take to ensure nothing changes but the continued growth and pro-liferation of our investments. In other words, we’re complacent with our accomplishments and status.

When we ignore scientific evidence that clearly outlines the egregious ramifications of a particular action, we choose — willfully — to be ignorant.

Yet, people can impact change quickly, with purpose and meaning, as with the stop-smoking campaigns.

Our supply of air and water is cyclic.  What we use is recycled back to us, through Earth’s natural filters.  And when we disrupt those filters, we contaminate our supplies.  We don’t have the option of acquiring untainted provisions from some other pristine planet.  It’s like the air in an airplane — it’s limited to that space and recycled to be used by all of the people confined there.

While development is often seen as a boon of progress, what is not so well advertised is the resulting land fragmentation that has destroyed the habitats of hundreds of species, many of which are on the verge of extinction without human intervention.   Without comprehensive environmental impact studies, these development practices also contaminate our air and water supplies.  Environmental impact is directly linked to a rise in respiratory and other diseases, causing an increase in health care needs and ultimately costs.

It is often the rising costs that grab attention the fastest, bringing into focus the implications of our impact on Earth’s connected systems that sustain life.  There is a need to learn from these repercussions to ensure that our actions are for the betterment of society, because our actions are not a personal decision that affects only one.  Our actions literally affect the air we breathe and the water we drink and the food we eat.

Are we content with the legacy of what could have been, or are we committed to learning from the past and sustaining our future?

Aleeza Oshry is a local geologist, educator and sustainability consultant.

Our French Connection

022715_LindaHurwitzAs I rushed into our local kosher market to pick up the remaining items I needed for Shabbat, my thoughts turned to Sophie and Sandy who were among the Jews held at gunpoint in the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris on Jan. 9. I could not help but think about the connections made and the relationships formed on a solidarity mission to Paris earlier this month.

The sanctity of life was shattered for Jews in Paris when customers in the market were taken hostage and four men were murdered during the siege. As we all did, I followed the horrible story of this terrorist attack on the news from afar. When I had the chance to go to Paris to personally show my support and understand the plight of the French Jewish community from its view, I was compelled to be part of the intensive two-day trip organized by Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Though the Jewish nation is dispersed all over the world, what happens in France, in Denmark, in Israel or in Baltimore affects us all. Our care for each other transcends oceans and continents.

Caring for Jews around the world is core to the mission of the Federation system and central to the values embraced by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. In addition to supporting needs at home, The Associated works with our overseas partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), to ensure that Jews around the world receive the assistance they need to live with hope and dignity.

When I left for this trip, I expected to hear about the grave dangers facing Jews in France and the rise of both acts of anti-Semitism and the number of French Jews making aliyah. Despite the presence of armed guards at Jewish institutions throughout Paris and very real threats around them, I left Paris with faith in the people and the power of a Jewish community rooted in history and tradition. France is home to the third-largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the U.S., with an infrastructure that sustains more than 500,000 Jews and dates back over 1,000 years.

Yes, in 2014, France has seen a 104 percent increase in the total number of the hate crimes, and, while Jews represents less than 1 percent of the population, 51 percent of all hate crimes were directed at Jews. Yet, Paris has over 100 day schools with 30,000 students and more kosher restaurants than New York and Tel Aviv. Jewish life continues to flourish there. With JDC and JAFI listening and responding as our partners, I am confident that, with open dialogue, combined efforts and strong bridges across waters, we can be there for our people in need.

This trip left me with enormous gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy in Baltimore. I will not take for granted my life as an American Jew or the opportunities our ancestry and federations have built for us. We are blessed to live openly and freely, with less anxiety and more tolerance. And we must continue to work tirelessly for our brothers and sisters all over the world to make their lives free from fear, pain and violence.

Linda A Hurwitz is chair-elect of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and national campaign chair for Jewish Federations of North America.

Time to Reconsider Jewish Love Affair with Buildings

The halls of the Omaha Jewish Community Center are often empty, but not because there is no Jewish life here. Quite the contrary. On any given day, we have an impressive number of Jewish activities for a community of 5,500 Jews. So why the empty hallways?

Because we have invested considerably more in our buildings than we have in the Jews who are supposed to occupy them. The size of some of these buildings is a tribute to the largesse of our donors, but they have not been effective in getting increasing numbers of Jews involved in our community. These structures are, at least in part, a triumph of feeling good over doing good.

To be clear, our community has one of the most successful federation campaigns per capita in the United States. Our donors have performed remarkable acts of kindness privately and publicly, on scales large and small.

Yet, the investment of both money and time into some capital campaigns in Omaha has detracted from the Jewish experiences — day schools, summer camps, compelling educational programs — that Jews need to remain connected to their community. What’s more, given the powerful demographic trends away from organized Jewish life in North America, much of this infrastructure is unsustainable.

Yes, I know that capital campaign dollars that aren’t spent on buildings will not automatically fund Jewish schools or summer camps. But reconsidering our current levels of capital spending could lead to some very productive results. At a bare minimum, we might avoid saddling future generations with the responsibility of maintaining excessive and expensive infrastructure.

In Omaha, the Reform congregation Temple Israel raised approximately $25 million for a new building even though Friday night services are now generally held in its small sanctuary. In spite of the fact that its membership has been in general slow decline for more than 10 years, the new building is approximately one-third larger than the one it replaced.

Some $22 million was raised for an expansion of our senior citizens home several years ago. While the home remains very profitable, it is doubtful that such a large amount of money was required to properly care for approximately 100 residents.

Are we taking the long view of
how much Jews will actually use the structures now being built? Is a large synagogue building truly necessary for a membership that attends services only one or two days a year and rarely attends programs? We can fool ourselves into believing that “If we build it, they will come.” But that model has continually proven to be a nonstarter, particularly with the younger generation. Instead we should be in the business of creating more compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences.

While that is admittedly tough to do, it should be our communal goal to a far greater degree than it is right now. Unless we act more responsibly, many of our buildings may well outlast the people they were built to serve.