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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - March 2010
From the Rabbi - March 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends:

There is a Jewish saying: “Even the poorest person in Israel is obligated to give alms, if only one penny [as there is always someone poorer than he/she].”

I was reminded of that saying the other evening as I sat at the opening meeting when the Combined Jewish Appeal offers each of us an annual opportunity to do the mitzvah of tzedakah.  I was reminded of this saying because I learned the shocking statistic that only roughly half of Corpus Christi’s Jews make any contribution to the CJA drive.  That means, of course, that approximately half of our residents do not fulfill the basic obligation of a Jew to give charity through the CJA.

Why is this important?  Let me recall a few of the points made by Jim Lodge, our guest speaker.

    In 2008, our contributions helped feed 220,000 needy Jews in the former Soviet Union.  This year, because of declining contributions (The economy is having its inevitable impact.), roughly 60,000 of these people have had to be dropped from the rolls.  This is the equivalent of every Jew in either Dallas or Houston not having even one decent meal a day.  This is an enormous amount of new suffering.

    You may remember that Israel brought a large number of Ethiopian Jews to Israel a couple of decades ago.  Their integration into Israeli society has moved forward, but there is still a long way to go.  And now it appears that there are an additional 8,000 Jewish refugees near Addis Ababa who will need to be airlifted, housed, fed and taught.  We are proud that this movement represents the only time in history that a black population was moved from one country to another for a purpose other than enslavement.  But we can only sustain that pride if we now take the necessary step of making sure that these people are offered the same privileges as other Israeli citizens and move up the economic and social ladder like everyone else.

    Jim also told us about the Jews in South America (100,000 in Argentina, alone) who face economic problems and sometimes serious anti-Semitism.

What’s the point?  Roughly half of your CJA contribution goes to alleviate these dire conditions.  You can make a difference – a real difference.  The other half stays right here in Corpus Christi.

So, here’s the deal.  If a volunteer solicitor calls you for a pledge, make one.  Make a pledge that is as generous as you can afford; every dollar makes a difference.  If no one calls you, unless your index finger is broken, pick up the phone and call the CJA at 855-6239 and ask them to help you perform a mitzvah.  If you can commit a dollar-a-month (Everyone can do at least this much.) or five or ten, you will have done something special; you will have fulfilled a sacred obligation.    And more is always welcome!

If you don’t step forward, I’m going to ask the CJA for a list of members of CBI who have met their Jewish duty and those who have not.   I won’t get the amounts, but I’ll know who’s who.  Sometime in the Spring, those who have not given can expect a personal phone call from me.  I don’t think you want to get this call, so do what is right now and help Jews around the world and in Corpus Christi to whose needs you can respond.

When you sit down to your next meal, remember Jews who do not even have that.  You’ll feel gratified knowing that you were part of the solution to their desperation.  Thanks in advance for your participation in our communal mitzvah.
                                Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi

 

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