Tom Allon

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment -

IT IS per­haps no sur­prise that in a city like New York there should be a Jewish can­di­date for mayor to suc­ceed the ex­ist­ing Jewish in­cum­bent, Michael Bloomberg. And Tom Allon is very Jewish. He has a He­brew name (his Holo­caust sur­vivor fa­ther changed it from Eichen­baum, which means oak tree, to Allon, the equiv­a­lent in He­brew). He has a large fam­ily in Is­rael, speaks He­brew and was ed­u­cated at a yeshivah. Allon is also a staunch sup­porter of Is­rael — in fact he vis­ited the coun­try last week

Allon de­fines him­self as a Cuomo Demo­crat — a ref­er­ence to a for­mer New York gov­er­nor — and he has the sup­port of the city’s Lib­eral Party. Although an out­sider at present, he feels he has a re­al­is­tic chance of win­ning one of the world’s high­est pro­file may­oral races.

He is a suc­cess­ful businessman in the me­dia in­dus­try but he is not in Bloomberg’s league. Allon’s early back­ground was in jour­nal­ism. He worked at the New York Times be­fore mov­ing to the West Side Spirit news­pa­per. It was there, when in his late 20s, that he was of­fered the chance to be­come the pa­per’s pub­lisher, in charge of the busi­ness. This he did with such aplomb that he led the group as it ex­panded to 23 ti­tles, then over­saw a man­age­ment buy­out of four of those publi­ca­tions.

Allon, who is 50, is run­ning for mayor pri­mar­ily, he says, be­cause he is con­cerned about ed­u­ca­tion in the city. In an in­ter­view with the Times of Is­rael, he said: “I feel that New York has been very good to me. My par­ents ar­rived with no fam­ily and no money. They were ben­e­fi­cia­ries of New York’s ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing laws, in­clud­ing sub­sidised hous­ing for new im­mi­grants. They got a good ed­u­ca­tion. New York helped them and it helped me. Now it’s time to give back.”

Allon is a hus­band and a fa­ther of three. He met his wife, Janet Wick­en­haver when at The West Side Spirit, where she was an as­so­ci­ate ed­i­tor. To­day, he lives very near to where he grew up on the Up­per West Side. He says he con­sid­ered liv­ing away from New York, but de­cided that the city was the best place for work and fam­ily.

His visit to Is­rael has given Allon the op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on mat­ters of con­cern to Is­raelis. They will like

much of what he has to say, as will Zion­is­tic New York­ers. As he stated on Twit­ter: “New York needs a mayor like me who thinks like an Is­raeli. Tough and al­ways ready to de­fend his peo­ple.”

In this vein, he be­lieves that Is­rael should not be con­demned should it choose to strike against Iran’s nu­clear re­ac­tor. “If Is­rael’s vi­tal in­ter­ests re­quire a mil­i­tary strike I would sup­port that.”

With a Jewish pop­u­la­tion of one mil­lion, Allon thinks he is preach­ing to the con­verted. He also be­lieves that it is sym­bol­i­cally and prac­ti­cally im­por­tant for the city to have a Jewish mayor.

As the child of im­mi­grants, he sup­ports open borders, com­ment­ing that, with­out un­fet­tered im­mi­gra­tion, he and his fam­ily would not be where they are now.

Fundrais­ing will be more of an is­sue for Allon than for Bloomberg. He is ex­pect­ing to raise six to seven mil­lion dol­lars, which is about a tenth of what Bloomberg was able to de­ploy. How­ever, if there is to be a Jewish mayor of the Big Ap­ple next year, Allon is, at present, the only show in town.

My fam­ily has long fol­lowed an Is­raelistyle start to the week. We ac­cepted years ago that Sun­days firmly be­long to Camp Sim­cha, whether we are run­ning an event for chil­dren and fam­i­lies, a speak­ing en­gage­ment beck­ons or, as this Sun­day man­dates, an es­sen­tial hospi­tal visit.

The day will surely be high on the emo­tion­ally de­mand­ing scale but I gladly make my way to Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal, where, sadly, I am a fa­mil­iar face. I visit a fam­ily who ad­mirably find the strength to live through a par­ent’s worst nightmare — watch­ing their son Jake un­dergo heavy doses of chemo­ther­apy with par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult side ef­fects.

I weigh in with a range of cru­cial, pos­i­tive sup­port, en­cour­ag­ing Jake’s fam­ily with de­tails of some up­com­ing feel-good ac­tiv­i­ties for him and his sis­ter. I also check that both of their Big Brother and Big Sis­ter vol­un­teers are giv­ing the chil­dren one-onone at­ten­tion and fun and I’m de­lighted to hear both chil­dren are ben­e­fit­ing hugely from this and ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing their next vis­its. I’m al­ways truly amazed at how our 120 vol­un­teers — aged be­tween 18 and 23 — have an in­de­scrib­able magic and sparkle that con­nects these young chil­dren to hope.

Mon­day kicks off with a staff meet­ing — even though our team is pre­dom­i­nantly part-time and vol­un­tary, they all wish to know and sup­port the lat­est de­vel­op­ments. Job done, I just make it on time to dis­cuss de­tails with a Camp Sim­cha sup­porter who is host­ing a “Mad Hat­ter’s Tea Party” later this year.

That evening, our med­i­cal ad­vi­sory panel con­venes. The panel is com­prised of vol­un­teer se­nior doc­tors and spe­cial­ists — they are yet an­other group of vol­un­teers who never fail to leave me in awe. As a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion that ex­ists to help chil­dren with life threat­en­ing ill­nesses, we care­fully dis­cuss and as­sess whether po­ten­tial new re­fer­rals meet the cri­te­ria set by our trus­tees. Wed­nes­day brings yet an­other new re­fer­ral when a so­cial worker in­forms us about a baby re­cently born with a se­ri­ous ge­netic dis­ease. I im­me­di­ately make con­tact and ar­range to visit the fam­ily. Later, I pop into the “House” to wel­come our new troupe of “hospi­tal clowns in train­ing” who are itch­ing to start their work. Yes, yet an­other group of in­spi­ra­tional and tal­ented peo­ple who suc­cess­fully bring smiles to hun­dreds of chil­dren ev­ery year across many hos­pi­tals.

Mas­sage, hair, and make-up, are not ex­actly the type of pas­times I nor­mally con­fer over but Thurs­day af­ter­noon finds me dis­cussing the in­gre­di­ents of a unique spe­cial spa day for the moth­ers of Camp Sim­cha’s chil­dren. I’m in­spired by this event, which will take place in June, be­cause it’s about ac­knowl­edg­ing the con­stant stress that many of our par­ents live with, and about do­ing some­thing to give them strength and respite.

One last round of meet­ings on Fri­day and a visit to one of our par­ents with one of our doc­tors to dis­cuss her child’s on­go­ing needs and then Shab­bat ar­rives. It is a plea­sure to re­view a week mak­ing such a dif­fer­ence to the lives of so many peo­ple. “ Neville Gold­schnei­der is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Camp Sim­cha

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