Jewish Journal


November 25, 2008

Israeli reporter: American Jews are ‘obsessed with money’


Jewish federations, like all nonprofits, are feeling the hurt from the economic downturn. Months ago cutbacks led many organizations to pear down their travel budgets. But the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, an annual gathering of North American Jewish federations, remained scheduled for Israel, where it is held every five years. The GA ended last week, and I have to wonder if UJC leaders wished they’d stayed stateside this year.

There were some worthwhile speeches, but the four-day event went largely unnoticed by its hosts. In fact, Hebrew-speaking journalists were not only absent from most of the conference but had a few choice words—words that coming from a non-Jew might be perceived as anti-Semitic—for their American brethren. Check that: At least one of these reporters wouldn’t consider many American Jews to be members of his tribe.

Speaking to journalism students this week, Ma’ariv Diaspora affairs reporter Eli Berdenstein admitted he did not know a great deal about American Jewry, but in any case rejected the idea that US Jews who claim they are “Jews by choice” are authentically Jewish.

Danny Ababa, Diaspora reporter for Israel’s largest daily, Yediot Aharonot, told The Jerusalem Post that “this whole business [the GA] is one big kiss-up to rich people. American Jews are not authentic; they’re obsessed with money; there’s something annoying about them.”

Read the rest from the JPost here. Considering all the money American Jews pump into Israel—whether we’re entering into, stuck in or coming out of a recession—it amazes me that Diaspora affairs reporters, of all people, could have so much disdain for such an important part of the Diaspora.

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