Jewish World Review

December 10, 2009

To My Friends:

You cannot begin to realize how much your mail has meant to me --- how much it has lifted my spirits, coming as it has from literally all over the world! As I began (and to a certain degree continue to) question my future, your words have kept me focused. I think about what has been and can yet still be.

Exactly twelve years ago today, I launched JWR. I was 29. Having worked in print media, I was ready to take on the world in a brand new venue and begin to do things my way.

I was young and naive. I was willing to make sacrifices.

And I did --- apparently more than I ever realized.

For the last few months, I have been feeling extremely weak. It got to the point that every few hours I needed to rest. The daily JWR newsletters, as I'm sure that you noticed, were arriving in your inbox later and later. I wrote of "situations beyond my control" and "technical difficulties". That was my failing health. The likelihood is on some unconscious level I didn't want to admit to it; not to myself and not to you.

Last week, I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. I was suffering severe breathing problems. The doctors initially thought it was bronchitis, then pneumonia. In the end, they concluded that I have a serious heart problem. I am sick --- VERY sick.

Sometime soon, I will be having a procedure that doctors hope will help protect my heart, because they believe if another incident happens, as it now stands, I won't survive.

Were I the type of guy who scurries away from challenges, this situation would be a dream. I'm seriously ill after giving an undertaking way more than I should have. I initially defeated the odds --- and, apparently, the odds have now defeated me. Game over; I lose.

But this is not who I am. I'm a fighter, particularly for causes in which I believe. I intend to move forward.

But I can only do so with your help.

Over the years, I've envisioned JWR as a site that informs as it transforms. It's a place that encourages growth --- intellectual, spiritual, and personal. JWR is among the oldest non-corporate sites on the web. When I started it with a prayer and not much more, there was nothing like it. After all these years, there still isn't.

Sure, there are some who try to copy what JWR does. But you come back to JWR because you gain from it. You value it.

I'm going to tell you a secret: For the entire 12 years, I did all of the work that brings you JWR by myself --- that's all the work that would nornally be done by a staff of professionals.

But at this point, I can no longer do it alone. I must make immediate changes or face even more severe consequences.

  • A technical overhaul, which will save me hours of work daily, is underway.

  • So, too is a site redesign to make your daily reading experience a more comfortable one.

  • As soon as possible I intend to change the company that delivers the daily update. Some JWR readers receive their newsletter HOURS after it is mailed. That is unacceptable.

  • But the MOST IMPORTANT change that must be made is my hiring of assistants to help me produce JWR. If I don't get the help that I need, I will be forced to fold. This isn't some crazy talk. It's just, sadly, the way it is; the way it will be.

I've gained considerable insight about fundraising over the years.

One lesson that I learned from experts is that most folks -- about 98% -- benefiting from a project don't actually give money to support it. Many mean to give, but don't. There lives are busy, they push off donating for a few minutes, the moment fades, and so does the memory. And they never give. Others don't give and think that the slack will be picked up by somebody else. But it is not true. Others don't pick up the slack and the best of intentions don't pay bills.

Before this, I just worked harder and did the work of more people and hoped that next time, things would be better. But now there is no choice --- even if I wanted there to be one.

At this point, if enough money doesn't come in to run JWR, there will be no JWR. I can't pick up the slack any longer and JWR can't survive on the best of intentions. My body won't let it be so.

Please make a tax deductible charitable contribution of ANY amount by clicking here or by making out a check and mailing it to the sponsoring organization at:

Keren Yehoshua V'Yisroel/JWR
125 Carey St.
Lakewood, New Jersey 08701

Tax ID: 22-3209160

Please note on the "memo line" of your check it is for the Internet educational project.

Don't be embarrassed to send what you may consider a pittance. To JWR, it's a lifeline. Any expression of your gratitude and support will be as appreciated as it is so very much neeed.

At the age off 41, I can take pride in knowing that I have accomplished a lot. I've certainly made a difference in our world through JWR. It's my hope and prayer that I will be given the health and financial ability to continue to do so.

Thank you very much for your prayers, for reading and for your support.

                   Binyamin L. Jolkovsky