To the Editor:
In last week’s issue of the JLNJ, Tamar Snyder wrote: “JCF [The Jewish Communal Fund] reinvests in the Jewish community by providing an annual gift of $2 million to the UJA-Federation of New York to find worthwhile projects in the Jewish community. In addition, JCF has granted more than $10 million from its endowment, the Special Gifts Fund, to Jewish organizations locally and in Israel, including Jewish Community Centers, the Masbia Kosher Soup Kitchen, Ramapo Camp for Children, and the MJHS Hospice. When you give with JCF, you are also providing support for these important communal institutions.” It appears to me that the JCF surcharge of 0.15 percent goes to fund these causes. While these are worthwhile charities, anybody can contribute to them either directly via check or from any other Donor-Advised Fund and avoid the JCF surcharge—or if one so chooses, he/she can pay the added fee to the JCF to contribute to these charities.
JCF performs a valuable service to our community. Most of my clients, however, prefer to personally select the charities to which their tzedakah is being distributed, rather than those listed above, which are selected by the JCF. If one so prefers, she/he can easily select any or all of these JCF-selected charities and contribute to them directly. Furthermore, the JCF charges approximately 25 percent more than many other Donor-Advised Funds, thus reducing the funds available for one’s personal charitable distribution. Anyone who feels that this surcharge provides sufficient, added value, should select them.
I do not want to engage in a debate with Ms. Snyder, as she does represent a very worthwhile Jewish communal organization. However, as a Registered Investment Advisor agent, I have a fiduciary responsibility, and it is thus mandatory for me to inform my clients and readers that using the JCF carries an added expense that reduces the total amount they can grant to charities of their choice. This surcharge information was omitted from Ms. Snyder’s letter. Anyone who feels they are receiving worthwhile added value from the JCF, as outlined in Ms. Snyder’s beautiful letter, can and should contribute via them.
Norman Sohn, MD
To the Editor:
I was alarmed when I heard that (1) the Teaneck Fire Department is obtaining special equipment to deal with the derailment or explosion of a train carrying extremely volatile crude substances, God forbid, and (2) CSX [the train company] is paying for Teaneck firefighters to go to a special training facility out of state where they can learn how to deal with the above-mentioned situation.
Less than three years ago, a train derailed in Quebec, Canada, resulting in 47 deaths and more than 30 buildings destroyed, and the fire burning for nearly two days.
Concerns about the trains are many: (1) disturbing horn-blasting in the middle of the night; (2) individuals, especially young children, accessing the tracks from an area that does not have fence protection; (3) trains passing through the Oradell Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to 750,000 people in Bergen and Hudson counties; (4) accidental derailment and (5) someone with evil intent, armed with knowledge about the volatility and explosive nature of these trains. This last item is of particular concern when there are trains idling in one spot for an extended period of time.
Solutions: One end of the spectrum will say that the crude should remain in the ground where intended by nature, others will suggest we transport it via underground pipelines. Yet others will say to just reroute the tracks, or build blast-proof walls along both sides of the tracks. While these may be lofty goals, there are serious questions about their feasibility.
This coming Sunday, May 17, there will be a 1.5-mile march starting at Sagamore Park at 1 p.m. and ending at Votee Park. We should not be alone in this matter, as there is a significant number of neighboring towns that share the same challenge as us. However I am glad to see that there is strong initiative happening in Teaneck to address these issues.
Even though you may not agree with all the concerns and solutions of those who are organizing the march, there should be at least one of the above concerns that gets under your skin. If you have better ideas for solutions, we welcome your opinion. I urge everyone in the community including entire shuls and schools to nevertheless come out and stand together and march. The more noise we make about this issue, the greater the chances we can slowly but surely address this monstrosity.