WHY THEY GIVE: American Jews and Their Philanthropies by Milton Goldin

WHY THEY GIVE: American Jews and Their Philanthropies

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Jewish-American generosity-and intramural bickering--from the first Sephardic settlings (which convinced Peter Stuyvesant that impoverished Jews wouldn't schnor--beg--at Dutch doors) to the $10-million answer given Israel when the Arabs' 1973 surprise attack threatened Armageddon. Inevitably Goldin dwells on the incessant waves of immigration, the Nazi terrors, and the struggle to carve out and safeguard a Jewish homeland--crises that demanded outpourings of American cash. But celebration of menschlichkeit, the charitable, cultural imperative that gives rise to koved (honor-from-goodness), is overshadowed by exhaustively detailed factional wrangling: Park Avenue Jews against Lower-East-Siders; traditionalists against assimilationists; Zionists versus anti-Zionists; Louis Brandeis v. Chaim Weizmann; David Ben-Gurion v. just about everybody. Lively romps through the archives ensue, but the major disappointment here is the tameness of Goldin's present tense. Names aren't named, givers and getters haven't been interviewed, and the controversial mechanics of current fundraising receive tantalizingly short shrift. Instead, irrelevant chunks of oft-told Jewish history occupy unwarranted space. These digressions may well kindle curiosity (what worthier service from a survey study?), and a lavish bibliography--22 entries under ""G"" alone--invites all manner of illuminating sidetrips. Goldin's firmly partisan chronicle of labyrinthine, record-setting philanthropy delivers neither exclusive scoops nor much elucidation. But the plain facts, decently styled and sprinkled with footnoted Yiddish and Hebrew, won't go begging for an audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Macmillan