July 26, 2007
Israeli, Iranian and Russian immigrants learn the American way of giving
(Page 2 - Previous Page)The recent rounds of terror in Israel, beginning with the second intifada through the Lebanon war, have also inspired the Israeli community to donate.
"I think the experience we had during the war last summer brought Israelis together," Fishel said. "I think it's a reflection [of] a maturation, voluntary giving as an act of tzedakah as opposed to relying on state for the provider of all service."
Last week, at the launching of the Israeli Leadership Club (ILC), Delshad spoke to 60 top Israeli-American businessmen in real estate, banking, business, technology and jewelry.
"We want to realize the potential of the Israeli community here," Danoch said. "There is no doubt their influence can be greater."
The ILC will initiate projects and encourage participation of the Israeli community to strengthen ties to Israel in all sectors.
"When we're talking about the biggest Israeli community in the world outside Israel, it has to be proactive," Danoch said.
Even when it comes to giving money to Israel, Fishel said as a generalization each community prefers giving to specific causes. The Russian gala, for example, benefited Sorasky hospital in Tel Aviv, named after a Russian. The Israelis, he said, are very "hands-on" and like to give to very specific, targeted causes, like the Israeli firefighters or people who were in the military or to purchase specific equipment.
"I think they were concerned that their giving [should go] to programs and projects they identified with; as native-born Israelis they understand how the system could work, and wanted to know their money got to the place that it should," Fischel said.
The Iranians, he said, like to give to individuals: "Their giving during the wake of the war was directed at personally making an impact on individual lives."
But those are all generalizations, said Fishel. "In all these groups, you have individuals who have [given to all] sorts of causes."
One thing that has been generally true, though, is that immigrant communities usually don't donate to local Los Angeles Jewish causes.
"They don't get involved in too may nonprofit organizations that are local -- whether it's a hospital or fundraising," Delshad said.
Frumkin agreed this is true of the Russian-speaking community. The Association of Holocaust Survivors from the Former Soviet Union, which raised $10,000 for Israel last year, "will not give to local causes. It's not interesting to them. They are very concerned with Israel and Israel's survival."
But as immigrants learn to adapt to their home country, there may be signs even this is changing. Magbit, when first founded, was donating 100 percent of its scholarships to Israel. That has shifted to directing 20 percent to American institutions. At the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood, which has donated much money to Israel as a community, there is one Iranian family that wants to do the same for America.
"There was a young Persian couple of means who just got married and wrote in their wedding invitation that any gift received they are going to give to charity," said Sephardic Temple's Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, who could not divulge the donors because it is not yet public. He said they were happy there were so many organizations donating to Israel, and they wanted to do tikkun olam here.
"If we're supposed to be a light onto the nations, this is a great way of doing that," they told him.
However or wherever immigrant communities are donating their newfound wealth, there is one thing that unites them and may differentiate them from native-born Americans, Frumkin said: "Everybody loves this country. I've yet to go to an event and not toast the United States of America. Real Americans don't do this."
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