“I know you do great work,” the man on the phone said. “But I don’t give to religious causes.”
Several years ago, I read an article about a substantial Jewish philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to a university. There was more where that came from he said, but he was looking for a good Jewish cause.
I found the gentleman’s contact info and phoned him. He took my call kindly, and we had a nice conversation. I’d read that he hadn’t found a Jewish cause to his liking, I said, and perhaps he’d want to consider Chabad as one worthy of his largesse.
“I don’t give to religious organizations,” he said. He explained that he preferred humanitarian causes.
“But Chabad does humanitarian work,” I assured him, pointing to the then recent tsunami in Japan, or was it the one in Thailand? It could have been Hurricane Katrina, or Wilma, or maybe I mentioned the Argentina economic crisis when every Chabad House in the country became a designated relief center. I might have pointed to the soup kitchens in South America, or Ukraine where Chabad feeds the hungry.
I don’t remember. But I did tell him that Chabad’s Chasidic rabbis were non-discriminating when they put themselves in danger to save lives during a calamity or a crisis—which, given Chabad’s ubiquitous presence, is so frequent, you might say it’s routine.
“I know, I know,” he said. “I know you do great work.”
“But I don’t give to the religious.”
The irony didn’t seem to register.
I felt the sting of unfair discrimination.
There are few Jews today who haven’t turned to Chabad at a time of need. Fewer still who don’t know a relative or friend who has. Chabad is often a first and last resort, not only because with thousands of centers around the world, it is so available, but especially because they know that coming to Chabad for help, that’s what they’ll get. And then some. Warmth and kindness flow generously. No questions asked.
So if you’re looking for a really good cause, humanitarian, life-affirming, inspiring, and also Jewish . . . consider sharing with the people who will always be there for you, wherever you are. Really.
To make your year-end gift to Chabad, contact your local Chabad center. To give to Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters, click here. Or to speak with someone about a major gift, call 718-774-4000.