01 May 2009

Release the Names II

Head of Birthright Next, Rabbi Daniel Brenner, responds to my brief opinion piece yesterday.

Op-Ed: The myth of the ‘Birthright List’

By Daniel S. Brenner · May 1, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Ever since I’ve been steering “post-programming” for Birthright Israel NEXT, I’ve had the frustrating question “Why can’t I get the list?” thrown at me by well meaning organizational leaders, rabbis, and fundraisers -- as well as folks who are trying to sell various Jewish books, films and kitschy T-shirts. They all sense the great potential in engaging the 200,000 Birthright Israel alumni. And my response to them all is basically the same: “Sounds great, but, sorry, we don’t give out the list.”

Rabbi Andy Bachman, who I’ve known since my college days, added his name to those who would like to see the list released, even going so far as to write a recent opinion piece for JTA. While I am tempted to give him the same “Sounds great, but…” response, his thoughtful questions demand a more thorough answer.

Thanks for writing, Daniel!

You can read the full exchange, including my response to Rabbi Brenner, here at JTA.


Anonymous said...

Andy, Daniel seems to think you're something of a nihilist, blowing off his invitations to Monologues and criticizing his events to boot. What sayeth you to that?

Daniel, Andy clearly wants the list of people that you know are living in Brooklyn (as a new board member at CBE, so do I!). Sure, some of them may actually be in Florida because they graduated from LIU, but clearly you know that some of those addresses are real and up to date.

I hardly think the world will end if we invite those folks to an event. Can we please have the list? If not, why not? Why can CBE, specifically, not have the list?

And BZ, from yesterday's comment -- I hardly think that it's an egregious breach of privacy to send follow-up communications about Jewish life to people who benefited from a free trip to Israel. Do you honestly think that those people never expected to hear from a Jewish organization again? Or that they'd be mortally offended if they had to (God forbid!) click a "Remove" button on an e-mail from a Jewish organization that got their address from Birthright?

-- Ron Lieber

Anonymous said...

Riding the Peter Pan bus on Sunday, sitting next to a college student. He glanced over at the laptop I was working on and saw a folder of photos labeled "Israel April 2009." We looked at the photos that I took 2 weeks ago, while he reminisced with incredible enthusiasm about his Birthright trip LAST MAY, as if it was yesterday. The kids on his trip came from all over the country, save just one fellow who lives close enough visit. Andy, you're spot on. Those who do the kind of work you do with this demographic are smart and creative and can generate great, actionable ideas for the post-Birthright crowd. People like the guy I sat next to want to be contacted and involved. It certainly wouldn't hurt if the participants knew about groups like Brooklyn Jews before the trip ended. As for religious persuasion, the trips themselves seem to sort that out.