But that's not what this letter was about. They're looking for contributions to the Fund for Reform Judaism to support "Outreach". The climactic paragraph says:
As our Movement continues to grow, so does our obligation as Reform Jews to reach out to the unaffiliated and disenfranchised Jews, to intermarried couples, and to all those on the margins of the Jewish community, communicating to them the power and beauty of our Jewish heritage. We are committed to opening our arms as wide as possible to welcome the stranger into our sacred communities.
I filled out the reply card, writing $0 for the contribution amount, and writing this note at the bottom:
I believe this solicitation was misdirected. I am not a member of a URJ congregation; I am one of those "unaffiliated and disenfranchised Jews", not part of the "we" who are welcoming "them". Asking for money is not the best way to start attracting "them".
And I'm sure I'm not the only non-URJ-congregation-member who contributed to the Katrina Relief Fund -- at the time, lots of people were looking for ways to make their Katrina donations through Jewish organizations. If they had done a more refined search of their database before sending this letter, they would have figured out that I'm not on any of their other mailing lists, and they thus have no way to assume that I'm part of the "us" who are taking up the white man's burden. When it comes to Jewish institutions, I think of myself as that "stranger", the huddled masses, the "them", not one of the people who are already in the door. Like many Jews my age who grew up in the Reform movement, I have not belonged to a URJ congregation since I moved out of my parents' house and went to college. If they insist on drawing this dichotomy between "us" and "them", they should be more careful about where they send the internal memos that are just intended for "us".
Another "us"/"them" gem from the same letter:
Today, about 1/3 of the interfaith couples in our midst choose to affiliate with synagogues, a number that continues to grow. These are families each of us knows. They are our friends, our relatives, our children and grandchildren -- and we cannot imagine our congregations without them.
Ok, it is correct that I am not part of an interfaith couple, and I have friends and relatives who are (no children or grandchildren). However, this phrasing assumes that the recipients of the letter do not include any interfaith couples -- "we cannot imagine our synagogues without them" -- which cannot possibly be true, especially given how indiscriminately the letter seems to have been sent. And I can't imagine that the interfaith couples reading the letter appreciate being addressed in the third person.
The URJ's heart is in the right place: they get credit for giving lip service to welcoming interfaith families, rather than talking about intermarriage as a boogeyman that is coming to eat us. However, this "us"/"them" mentality ensures that the people being "welcomed" are always the Other, always at arm's length.