Advice on donor-advised funds
Your editorial “Don’t mess with donor-advised funds” (June 24) mentioned that more than 80 Jewish organizations oppose legislation requiring time limits on the distribution of DAF contributions. Your editorial incorrectly states: “it is illogical for an individual to donate large amounts of money to a DAF and never actually distribute them, since there is no circumstance under which the funds will ever be returned to the donor.”
This statement overlooks that (1) unlike a charitable distribution or a qualified charitable donation from an IRA, DAF contributions provide immediate tax deductions without requiring that any sum go immediately to charity; (2) a wealthy individual can deduct from taxes both a larger total amount and a higher value of appreciated assets to a DAF than to a private foundation; and (3) a DAF can accumulate assets without making charitable donations even long after the death of the DAF’s creator, providing an end run around the requirement that a private foundation distribute 5 percent of its assets yearly. Whatever the view of 80 Jewish organizations and your editorial, many Jews think Jewish values are furthered by legislation that would increase and accelerate actual donations to charity from DAFs that provide charitable tax deductions to mostly wealthy donors. And Jewish and other charitable organizations in an emergency already know who their donors are.
A memory in a soda fountain glass
I want to thank Rachel Ringler for a trip down egg cream memory lane (“What is an egg cream and why is it so Jewish?” June 24).
I can remember an event when I attended The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) during the late 1960s. Some friends and I (all from Long Island and New York City and, with one exception, Jewish) finished a heated game of basketball and decided to frequent a pharmacy on Hertel Avenue.
We knew that the pharmacy had the marble counter and tall stools included in most Brooklyn pharmacies. We ordered egg creams, but were surprised when the proprietor had no idea what we were talking about. We then proceeded to inform him how such a beverage was created. Since the owner had all the ingredients (sadly without the U-Bet), he was happy to oblige us and made our drinks.
Suffice it to say, we returned to that pharmacy a number of times after basketball for that wonderful libation. We also felt good that we were able to add a little bit of Brooklyn to the remote reaches of Buffalo.
Are Jews who oppose Zionism antisemitic?
In “When it comes to anti-Israel attacks on Jews, it’s time to name the enemy” (Opinion, June 24), Gil Troy seems to equate opposition to Zionism with antisemitism. He even criticizes what he refers to as “an increasingly loud minority of rabbis and Jewish studies professors” who “feel comfortable bashing Israel and repudiating Zionism.”
Antisemitism is always to be condemned and attacks upon Jews should be regarded as a threat to our free and open society. But criticism of Israel and opposition to Zionism is not antisemitism. Troy ignores the long tradition of Jewish opposition to Zionism.
In 1885, Reform rabbis meeting in Pittsburgh declared: “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”
Troy seems not to understand that the vast majority of Jewish Americans are not Zionists. Zionism tells us that Jews living outside of Israel are in “exile” and that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews. Does Troy believe that most Jewish Americans would support such a position? As far back as 1841, in the dedication of the first Reform synagogue in Charleston, S.C., Rabbi Gustav Poznanski told the congregation, “This country is our Palestine, this city our Jerusalem, this house of God our temple.”
Troy and others who share his views seem not to recognize that making the State of Israel rather than God “central” to Judaism is a form of idolatry, similar to the story of the Golden Calf in the Bible. Judaism and Zionism are separate and distinct ideas. It is a disservice to confuse them in this way.
ALLAN C. BROWNFELD
The writer is editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism.