In last week’s New York Times Magazine, “The Ethicist” had a question posed to him. The question raised was, “During a pledge drive for a public-radio station, an on-air personality made an accusation I’d never heard: that regular listeners who never contributed were behaving unethically.” Is it unethical?
The Ethicist responded that it was not unethical for someone to listen to the radio station as non donors. The ethicist said that “You can’t offer something free and then argue that anyone who accepts your offer is unethical.”
This same question is one I struggle with. When I think about the millions of dollars the Federation raises and transmits to the Jewish Community Center, Birthright Israel, our three Jewish Day Schools, the Jewish Association on Aging, our synagogue schools, Jewish Residential Services, Hillel Jewish University Center, the Holocaust Center, JFILM, the Volunteer Center, Onward Israel, our youth groups, PJ Library, One Happy Camper, Moishe House, JBURGH, Diller Teen Fellows, Agewell Pittsburgh, Central Scholarship, Jewish preschools, Israel scholarships for teens, and so on and so on, I have to admit that it bothers me just a little bit that some of those who partake of these programs and agencies choose not to support the Federation.
The end of the article says “…they should donate money – not for ethical reasons, but for practical reasons.”
In other words, if all the users of the services that the Federation helps to provide appreciate them and want them not only to exist but to thrive, they should want to give. I hope that as we educate and inform our community about the impact the Federation has on our own individual lives, the lives of our families and the lives of those around us, that more and more will come on board as supporters of this incredibly powerful enterprise. You, as someone who is already engaged and understand our collective power, can help us spread that word.