Jewish movements unite to raise emergency funds

NEW YORK — In a rare show of unity, the four major Jewish streams are folding their individual fund-raising efforts for Israel into the broad emergency campaign sponsored by the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group of North American Jewish federations.

The effort is a "show of unity among the streams of Judaism that is not seen often enough," Harvey Blitz, president of the Orthodox Union, said at a news conference announcing the joining of forces last week.

Leaders of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist movements pledged their support of the UJC's Israel Emergency Campaign, which aims to raise $300 million.

Since its launch on April 8, the campaign has raised $120 million, according to UJC officials. The funds are being directed to child safety and recreational programs, hospitals, security measures, aid to terror victims, and immigration to Israel by Argentine Jews facing severe economic challenges.

Between $750,000 and $1 million of those funds will be apportioned to each of the four streams to carry out services through their branches in Israel.

For the UJC, the united campaign provides a chance to partner with the different religious movements, said Rabbi Eric Lankin, director of UJC's religious and educational activities.

The Reform movement was the first to wed its fund-raising campaign to the UJC's on April 29. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said when UJC officials said they would finance the Reform movement's programs in Israel in the interest of unity, "there was every reason to join together and no reason not to."