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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2007 / 24 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

Adding to Your Data Base

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Can we solicit recipients of condolence cards from our charity?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: People sometimes make donations to our organization in someone's memory and ask us to send a condolence card to the bereaved. Can we add the recipient's contact information to our data base in order to request a donation in the future?


A: This is fundamentally a question about information security — do you have the right to reveal, in this case to yourselves, private information about the recipient, in this case the address? In order to answer this question we have to ask exactly what the information is. After all, it is no secret that a particular family lives at a particular address; this information is available in any telephone directory. The valuable information you have obtained from the donor is that this particular recipient is likely to be favorably disposed towards your organization — otherwise he or she would not esteem a condolence card you dispatch.


This is a complex question. In general Jewish tradition is very protective of people's privacy. The laws of forbidden speech prohibit not only outright slander but also many kinds of seemingly innocent speech which could bring sorrow on someone. However, our tradition is also very solicitous for charitable organizations, and they are often exceptions to the rule. We find a similar situation in secular law, which in many states allows families to put themselves on a "no telemarketing" list but exempts charitable organizations from the prohibition on phoning restricted numbers.


The Talmud makes the following inference from a Biblical verse:


What is the meaning of the verse (Proverbs 27:14), "Who blesses his fellow in a loud voice early in the morning, it is considered as a curse"? For example, someone who is taken in as a guest and treated well, the next day he goes out to the marketplace and proclaims, G-d bless so-and-so who so exerted himself on my behalf, then people will hear and pressure him. (1)


Revealing someone's private information, in this case that he is a soft-hearted host to strangers, can be a curse since it exposes him to unwanted pressure from other prospective guests, some of whom will not be particularly needy. People are not always thrilled to be praised for their willingness to help strangers.


However, the recent authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes that since giving charity is an obligatory mitzvah (religious duty), it is always permissible to tell a worthy recipient that a particular person is likely to help them out. The reason is that soliciting charity in a non-pressuring fashion is doing someone a favor, since it gives them an opportunity to fulfill the obligation to give charity. The exception is when the donor explicitly conditions to make his generosity anonymous. (2)


The application of these principles in your situation is open to judgment. You are a legitimate charity organization, and the fundraising materials you send will probably be a modest solicitation letter, which is not as intrusive as the insistent houseguest discussed in the Talmud. Even so, my conclusion is that you should refrain from keeping the recipient's address. In the case discussed by Rabbi Feinstein, the donor himself did something to give the impression that he is interested in giving charity; he gave generously to one recipient who then spread the word. This gives at least some indication that he is content to be recognized as a generous donor. But in your case the recipient took no action at all; it is the donor who sent the card who favored your organization. Furthermore, given the generally high standards of data security held by reputable organizations today, I think the donor has a reasonable expectation that the recipient's address be used only for purposes of sending the card. It is as if the donor stipulated that the address should not be used for fundraising, and in this case Rabbi Feinstein agrees that contact information may not be passed on.


There is also a practical reason to refrain from this practice. Soliciting the recipients is likely to backfire; they are likely to resent solicitations and blame the donor for exposing them. When word gets out donors will refrain from sending condolence cards through your organization so as not to annoy the recipient. This consideration is valid in any context but particularly so in the case of a condolence message; the donor and recipient may feel that they are being taken advantage of at a particularly vulnerable time.


In general these questions should not be left to chance. Every organization which deals with private information should have an explicit and transparent privacy policy. My advice is to commit yourselves not to retain contact information for recipients, but if you decide you to want to keep this information your policy should be known to donors. Your literature and website should state, "We may retain contact information of card recipients for the purpose of future solicitation."

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Archin 16a and Rashi's commentary. (2) Responsa Igrost Moshe Yoreh Deah III:95

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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