In the three years since Keshet began holding the telethon, organizations seeking funding have applied to a public committee established by Keshet that distributed the donations. However, this year it was decided that the entire sum would be transferred to the Jewish Agency for its projects that handle at-risk children and youth.
Advocacy groups argued that while the Jewish Agency raises more than $200 million abroad every year, local nonprofits struggle to raise funds and are very dependent on the Yomtov donations. They also charged that the Jewish Agency is a semi-official entity and its receiving the funding is tantamount to the state conducting a collection from the public. Critics also charged that the Jewish Agency programs are not diverse.
"The good of the children requires increasing and varying the projects to reach more children and more frameworks," said Jewish Agency chair Zeev Bielski. "The nonprofits do good and important work, and it is important to help them."
It is still not clear how much of the money will be distributed to organizations that are not affiliated with the Jewish Agency. Applications will be submitted to a public committee comprised of business and public figures, replacing earlier committees that consisted mostly of social workers.
The Second Authority for Television and Radio chair, Nurit Dabush, said yesterday that the council does support the Keshet venture but expects a substantial portion of the funds to go to other nonprofits, particularly those operating in outlying areas.
Nonprofits yesterday continued to comment to the Jewish Agency and the press. The director of an advocacy group for children in group homes, David Koren, said: "Dozens of organizations that have benefited in recent years from Yomtov donations feel hurt by the decision to transfer money to the Jewish Agency, a decision that was not publicized. This step diverges from the spirit of the Yomtov venture until now."
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