giving_tree.jpgOkay, I was going to write a clever parable about Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, where as you all know, the selfish boy takes and takes and takes while the selfless tree gives and gives and gives until it becomes a stump on which the selfish, ungrateful old man sits.

But, in this story, which may be a little too mushy for my taste and could probably become a better after-school special movie than a big-screen epic, Jakob Silberstein actually has his life saved by enlarging the hollow core of a tree. He hid in it while Nazis came to search the home of the Czech woman, Jana Sudova, who was hiding him – at great risk to her own life.

Jakob hid in the trunk of a tree, survived the Nazis, moved to Israel and spent his life searching for the tree and the woman who saved him. Ultimately, he found her daughter and half of the tree…which will now be part of Yad Vashem’s museum. It’s a nice story, but the real “giving tree” here is the righteous gentile, Ms. Sudova, who hid Jakob and three other Jewish youths, for no money, despite her realization that they were Jewish and not partisans as they claimed. Fortunately, Jakob was also entirely unlike the selfish boy in the Giving Tree and spent many years of his life searching for this great and brave woman.

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  • One fifth? Four-fifths to anything that happens to be a nice idea, in a general sort of way?

  • Speaking of giving. This link seems to say that major Jewish organizations give only 21 percent of their grant money to specifically Jewish causes, and rest to nice causes that are not specifically Jewish, such as general medicine and general education. But then why not give grants Supersol and Gristedes, where you can get kosher chickens for soup? Why not endow dry-cleaners, so we can look nice to honor Shabbat? Is that dumb? So is this.

    This is a huge undefended flank, legally. These organizations have charters. They send out mailings with pictures of Jews on them.

    And then there is the huge cost of specifically Jewish schooling, which that money could help with, as well as unmet needs for Jewish outreach, and on and on.

    EIGHTY PERCENT to non-specifically Jewish recipients???

    Maybe the executives need to go on birthright to get interested in their heritage.

    Maybe I am misunderstanding the article. Probably.

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