NEOhio Jewish community gets $833K in Ohio budget

Today’s Cleveland Jewish News outlines items within the Ohio budget, about to be signed by Governor Ted Strickland, that will benefit Ohio’s Jewish community, and, specifically, NEOhio.

One item that caught my eye in the approximately $833,000 for Cleveland Jewish non-profits (out of a total of $1.6 million statewide for Jewish organizations) was this:

• $200,000 in each fiscal year to Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau for its Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) program. SAY places counselors in east suburban high schools and some Jewish day schools to provide substance abuse prevention, mental health counseling and early intervention services.

Full disclosure: This program began at Bellefaire in 1999, just before I left (2000). I worked for Bellefaire from 1992-2000.

Likewise, State Rep. Josh Mandel, while consulting with Bellefaire prior to becoming a state rep, has previously told me that he worked with the program. I believe he has given up his consulting work with the agency due to his election to the Ohio legislature.

Despite this connection, however, it’s important to know and note that Bellefaire has had lobbyists for as long as I’ve been familiar with the agency, and has received local, state and federal monies for decades. So there is no reason to assume that Josh had anything in particular to do with this allocation. Only that as a Jewish state rep from an area with an agency like Bellefaire in it, it’s a nice thing if he did have a hand in it. That kind of impact is what I would expect most constituents expect from their reps, at a minimum – right?

On a separate but related note, read that article highlighted after Mandel’s name. I would love to see a follow-up article, now that it’s been almost 18 months since that article was written, that compares what the article said the candidate Mandel said then, to what he’s been able to accomplish since January 2007. Including that bar exam…(good luck!).

Actually, that might make a nice new website page.

4 thoughts on “NEOhio Jewish community gets $833K in Ohio budget

  1. Yup = everything you just wrote. :)Seriously though – I can only speak for Bellefaire when I worked there. I cannot say for sure that it’s even considered a faith-based org. Not even 10% of its budget comes from the Jewish community – seriously. It’s budget is well over $20 million I think, and it gets something like $1.5 or so million from the Jewish Community Fed. It’s clients are NOT primarily Jewish, and haven’t been for a very long time, though it varies from service to service.Bellefaire simply has no “we want to expose our faith” element to it and never really has. BUT – Judaism, except for a couple of branches that are in the minority, pretty much forbids proselytizing. Christian denominations, from what I know – and I should be corrected if I’m wrong/where i’m wrong, DO promote promotion of their faith. SO…when you’re giving public dollars to them, there’s a concern that they will be used to promote or establish the religion.This is a very very reduced statement of what I see as one of probably many issues related to giving public moneys to entities whose primary purpose is religion.Frankly, I think it should all be hands off. Otherwise we’re just drawing too many mutable lines.But I don’t know if that’s realistic, or desirable. It just sounds as though it would be simpler.

  2. I haven’t educated myself about the funding of programming through faith-based organizations, whether state or federal, and therefore don’t know the current extent of it. I’m just exploring how this situation fits into the discourse regarding the separation of church and state, particularly in a school setting.Seems like schools hold a special place in that dialog, perhaps because kids are required to attend school, and therefore the exposure might not be entirely voluntary. That makes it different than funding a soup kitchen in a church or synagogue, where the exposure is purposeful.So it would seem that funding a counseling service in a school via a faith-based organization would cross that line, if that is indeed the line of distinction.What if a congregation wanted to set up and fund a counseling service in a school, staffing it with licensed counselors? Should it be able to apply for government funding? I know of a case where a latch-key program run by a congregation, in their building, received state/federal money. But a latch-key program is still something different than a school.PL

  3. Paul – maybe for an email exchange, but think about what I left out: I didn’t say or ask, how much of the millions reserved for the Governor’s faith-based office is going to which orgs. I didn’t ask whether this money is in fact coming from that office’s budget. I don’t actually know the answer to those questions, but they did cross my mind.The reason I didn’t raise the questions is because I know the history of BEllefaire and most of the child caring agencies – almost all of them have some religious connection in their background. However, most of them do not serve any one group exclusively except, sadly, for kids who’ve been abused or neglected. And that’s not something the some of these agencies even like to talk about.So, I can say with great confidence, if I’d read in an Evangelical Christian weekly newspaper that the state was giving Evangelical organizations x amount of money and here are the orgs that are getting the money, I only would have written about it if my rep had also worked there and I wanted to raise the idea that he may or may not have had a hand in getting that allocation.That was my point. But your comment is absolutely legitimate.

  4. I wonder how you would have reacted to an announcement that read like this:”One item that caught my eye in the approximately $833,000 for Cleveland Evangelical Christian non-profits was this: $200,000 in each fiscal year to Bellefaire Evangelical Christian Children’s Bureau for its Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) program. SAY places counselors in east suburban high schools and some Evangelical Christian day schools to provide substance abuse prevention, mental health counseling and early intervention services…”PL

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