Young Israel National Council Chairman Registers Opposition to Federation Funding of Theater J

On August 26, 2013 the following letter was sent by the Chairman of the Board of the National Council of Young Israel, representing 26,000 Jewish families nationwide. The original letter can be viewed in Adobe format by clicking here:

National Council of Young Israel
111 John Street
New York, NY 10038

August 26, 2013

Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
6101 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD 20852

Dear Mr. Rackitt:

As an organization dedicated to promoting public pride in Jewish heritage and the modern Jewish civilization, and solidifying the strong affinity of the Washington Jewish community with our brothers and sisters in the State of Israel, the Greater Washington Jewish Federation has been instrumental in furthering Jewish culture since its inception.

As an active member of the Washington Jewish community and as chairman of a national organization that represents approximately 26,000 Jewish families, I am dismayed at the financial support that that the Federation is providing to Theater J to subsidize the production of The Admission, a play written by Motti Lerner. The play is scheduled for performance, March 20 – April 27. As you may be aware, the play reflects a neo-anti-Israeli perspective, which is contrary to the mission of the Federation. The climatic scene of play implies a fictitious 1948 massacre conducted by a colonel in the Israeli defense brigade. You may not be aware that many of Mr. Lerner’s dramas are not performed in Israel due to their harmful message. Regrettably, Theater J is not concerned about the negative message; moreover, this is not the first time that the Greater Washington Federation has lent aid to Theater J-produced plays that advance an anti-Israel point of view.

While I fully appreciate freedom of expression and the right of Mr. Lerner to promote his political agenda, such an expression should not be financed by Federation contributors. Such financial support runs counter to the interests of your constituency and runs afoul of the Federation’s long-standing desire to affirm a strong commitment to the State of Israel and world Jewry. Artists who denigrate the Jewish State or its citizens should not be supported by the Federation.

I respectfully request that greater care be given to the selection of Federation beneficiaries and support endeavors that promote Israel, rather than demean it.


Robert M. Levi
Chairman of the Board
National Council of Young Israel

It remains to be seen whether this letter or any of our efforts will have an impact upon the Board. Unfortunately, it may well be that some members of the Board of the Federation view Israel in a similar manner to that of Theater J’s director and staff and won’t recognize a fiduciary obligation to fairly administer its funds according to the wishes of the vast majority of its donors.