Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Flash! There are poor Jews, and The Ark's dinner-less dinner helps them.

     Chicago has dozens of big fancy hotels. And every big fancy hotel has a big fancy ballroom, if not two or three. Many of those big fancy ballrooms on any given night hold big fancy charity dinners with crowded bars and framed Blackhawk memorabilia and baskets of wine laid out on endless silent auction tables.
     As the good hearted souls attending these dinners shout small talk at each other and angle themselves to strip chunks of prime rib off passing trays and in general passionately wish they were home watching "The Big Bang Theory," a thought forms: "Why don't we just give money to the charity and skip the dinner?"
     Good news: next year is here, and has been for 20 years.
     "It goes back to the 1990s," said Marc J. Swatez, executive director of the The Ark, which holds an annual "dinner-less dinner" to raise money for its programming. "We had a development director who saw an article about a New York charity that did it. In 1998 we did our first dinner-less fundraiser raiser and sent out a package of powdered soup, asking people to enjoy a cup of hot soup in your own home and help us. It was successful."
     This year, they sent a block of chocolate.
     "We've send out soup and tea, cookies and popcorn, luggage tags, keychains," said Swatez. "It gets people's attention. In 2008 we did our first chocolate. It's been very successful."
     Given the economics, it's surprising more charities don't do it, though Swatez noted there is a social, team-building aspect to actual dinners.

To continue reading, click here.


  1. also below 250% of the poverty line is pretty misleading . thats $76,875 of income for a family of 4. there are certainly poor jews but that aint them. and only half their clients make less than that? though thats about where my family lands on the size and income scale and its not easy. not easy to live in a 4 bedroom in Roscoe village. and have a kid attending engineering school in NY and pay insurance on 3 cars etc. . yeah that just aint poor. LOL. it not only helps to have a nudge for a parent it helps that your community is there for you to help lift you from poverty and when there is a crisis like an uncovered illness or inability to work you can draw on resources the community makes available to keep you from falling into poverty losing your home etc.
    I find it ironic that conservatives have aways found this to be the preferable model to government assistance. it works for relatively wealthy people why not for everyone?

  2. I read somewhere that a lot of charity parties--I'm talking about the swanky affairs for the super-rich--give even a smaller fraction of the money they raise to the cause they raise it for. IOW, they're basically excuses for rich people to throw a party. And all of it tax-deductible.

  3. No guarantees are attached to an education. A college degree has not been a "golden ticket" to wealth and success for a long, long time...if it ever was at all. All of the Ark's clients are poor, yet half have college degrees. Perhaps this sad state of affairs is more connected to the "huge" need for psychiatric services that the Ark provides the Jewish poor...and one of the eternal conundrums of life: Do "mental health issues" eventually lead to poverty and failure...or is it the other way around?


Thank you for your comment, which will be published at the discretion of the proprietor.