No change in U.S. Jewish donations to Israeli charities

Online donations platform finds Western Wall and conversion row has had no effect on donations to Israeli charities.

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Two months after the public row between the Israeli Government and American Jewish organizations over prayer arrangements at the Western Wall and the issue of conversions, Israeli charities and non-profits are seeing no effect on donations from American Jewry, popular Israeli online donations platform Jgive.com said on Wednesday.

With the annual Jewish high holiday season kicking off in a month, Israeli charities and non-profits are preparing their appeals for what is traditionally the most productive period of the year for contributions, noted Jgive.

In the aftermath of the controversy, outraged major American Jewish leaders and organization members threatened to reconsider donations to Israeli causes. Israeli charities and non-profits were alarmed that this would affect their causes, which rely heavily on the generosity of the American Jewish community.

Jgive.com surveyed the over 400 Israeli charities registered and presented on its leading platform in order to evaluate the situation. Organizations, responding anonymously, reported no change in donations compared to previous years. Several respondents noted that donors informed them that the situation would not affect their contributions.

"Our commitment to Israeli causes is not conditional"; "We are not pleased with the decisions of the Israeli government but it does not mean we will punish those in need of our donations", were comments reported by the charities. Others reported that their donors expressed indifference to the situation.

"We are pleased to see that the political debate between Israel and American Jewry has had no effect on donations, but we are not surprised by this," said Ori Ben Shlomo, founder and CEO of Jgive.com.

"People committed to a cause or a charity do so out of concern and generosity. These values do not change because of politics. We created Jgive.com to help Jews in the Diaspora be actively involved in the shaping of Israeli society. We know that American Jews care deeply about Israel and as we see, that commitment will not waver," he added.

The row began after the Cabinet decided to freeze the Western Wall deal and not to renew it. Any request to renew the outline will require a new decision from the government.

The plan would have included the construction of a large and significant prayer plaza south of the Mugrabi Bridge, which will become an integral part of the Western Wall complex. Mixed prayer would be allowed between men and women at the plaza.

The decision angered the Reform and Conservative movements. Following that outrage, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to try and formulate a new agreed upon plan.

There was also outrage over the Conversion Law that was approved by the government and which forbids private bodies to carry out conversions in Israel.