To my brothers and sisters in the Holy Land of Israel,
Over the last seventy years, we, the Jews of America and the diaspora the world over, have had the privilege of sharing in the miracle you’ve built, the miracle of Israel. Whether through sponsoring the planting of trees or investment in education, social programs, infrastructure, and defense, the financial contributions of world Jewry, alongside the support of myriads of loving non-Jews, has played a vital role in the stability and growth of the Jewish homeland. It has been, and continues to be, our greatest pride, joy, honor, and mitzvah.
Last week, something monumental occurred in the realm of Israeli philanthropy.
Dinush (Dina Rivkin) is four years old, born with a congenital defect that has prevented her from eating and digesting food. She’s suffered every day of her young life, attached to a feeding tube, unable to live the normal life of a healthy child. So last Tuesday, at noon sharp, we united once again — only this time something was different.
The life-changing surgery in America would cost the family 1,500,000 NIS ($450,000). Because the procedure was abroad, the family’s insurance would not cover any of the cost. With little idea of what to expect, her family, desperate for a miracle, launched a crowdfunding campaign that would hopefully raise the critical funds.
The campaign exceeded all expectations, amassing a total of 1,741,250 NIS ($450,000) to not only enable the surgery, but to compensate for all travel expenses and any additional fees that may arise. What was revolutionary about this campaign was that this sum was not raised by the government, foundations, or other philanthropic institutions. It was not culled from the American Friends of Herzog Hospital nor from a check from the Upper West Side, it was raised by 5306 average men and women, most of whom are from the hills and valleys of Israel.
And it was breathtaking to see all these people come together for a common cause and accomplish something truly tremendous by engaging innovative methods of crowdsourced fundraising. It inspired me and made me wonder, what new possibilities linger on the horizon for Israel to achieve?
At the time of the campaign, I had just returned from the General Assembly of the Jewish Federation in D.C. While I was there, Netanyahu addressed all of us via a live hookup, sharing his optimism for the future of Israel as a leader in technology and the sciences. Now, more than ever, foreign nations are turning to Israel for technological inspiration and guidance. Through pioneering technological advancements, Israel has become a country that is relevant and respected.
It is a new path we now tread.
But it shouldn’t end with technology. Imagine for a moment, a reality in which Israel is no longer at the mercy and political whims of those who give to her financially, but instead, is the heart that pumps life to the entire world. Imagine a society that approaches philanthropy in the same manner it revolutionizes technology: exploring, engaging, and experimenting with new ideas and methods.
What else could be more appropriate than for the spiritual center of the world to now set forth as a global leader within the landscape of giving? To not only be stable enough to support its own people but to launch groundbreaking initiatives that will improve the wellbeing of the entire planet?
The Talmud teaches: save one life, and you’ve saved a world.
Last week you, the people of Israel, saved the life of a little girl.
Last week you, the people of Israel, saved an entire world.