The JCC says it isn't giving up on South Philly's seniors and, a reader argues, the most inclusive Israel advocacy serves the community best.
JCC Isn't Giving Up on South Philly Seniors
I am writing in response to the outpouring of community concern in recent letters published by the Jewish Exponent.
The decision to close the Stiffel Senior Center was a painstaking one. There is a serious funding crisis. The center faces close to a $200,000 deficit annually, in addition to capital repairs which are estimated at close to $400,000.
The decision to close Stiffel was not something we wanted to do, but something we had to do.
The Board of Klein & Stiffel JCCs has mandated that all the necessary accommodations will be provided to ensure that clients will not be lost in the transition. We want the community to know that our seniors will not be abandoned.
The Cook For A Friend Program, which delivers meals to homebound elderly through a dedicated team of volunteers, will continue. And seniors who keep kosher will be able to receive a frozen kosher meal, prepared by Betty The Caterer, at other local senior centers.
There are four senior centers within a short distance of 6th and Porter streets. It is important to note that many of the seniors already attend programs at other senior centers, so for them the transition will not be as difficult.
We will also work with the other senior centers to include Jewish holiday programming specifically for Chanukah and Passover. With our partners, we are exploring the creation of a supplemental program that will provide Shabbat programming, holiday celebrations, kosher lunch and a chaplain.
We are sympathetic to the plight of our South Philadelphia community and we will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the seniors there.
G. Raechel Hammer
Vice president, Klein & Stiffel JCCs
Inclusive Israel Advocacy Serves Community Best
I applaud the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council for including a broad spectrum of voices in the new Israel Advocacy initiative (Cover story: "Looking for New Paths for Israel Advocacy," May 19).
I am excited that the initiative includes J Street because the organization seeks the preservation of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state by promoting the two-state solution.
In fact, J Street's policies are supported by a majority of American Jews, Israeli Jews and Palestinians. I am eager to see more steps toward peace that will come from this inclusive Israel Advocacy coalition.
Head of Israel Advocacy Must Cut Ties to Fund
It's ironic that the person tapped to chair a newly created Jewish Community Relations Council Israel Action Committee, Joel Sweet, calls for efforts to counter the Jewish state's detractors when the organization he belongs to, the New Israel Fund, is one of Israel's most hostile detractors (Cover story: "Looking for New Paths for Israel Advocacy," May 19).
According the NGO Monitor, NIF has funded NGOs that reject the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish democratic state, and are active in boycotts and similar campaigns. One organization, Adalah, calls for eliminating Israel's Jewish framework, based on the "one-state solution."
A quick look at the NIF website reveals only condemnation of Israel with regard to status of Israeli Arabs. There is not a single positive word about the freedoms Arabs enjoy living in Israel, such as the freedom to attend the best Israeli universities, be members of the Knesset and serve as judges. For the most part Israeli Arabs enjoy a high standard of living, certainly higher than their brethren in other Arab countries. But you would never know this truth from the New Israel Fund.
NIF activities are so questionable that Knesset member Otniel Schneller, from the centrist Kadima party, submitted a proposal for a parliamentary inquiry into NIF's activities.
If Mr. Sweet wishes to maintain credibility as a chairman of an Israel advocacy group he should disassociate himself from the New Israel Fund and repudiate its scathing, one-sided attacks on Israel.
Co-President, Zionist Organization of America, Greater Philadelphia District