$400,000 goes to hostage group, rape centers, healthcare

US theater charity Broadway Cares donates to Israeli groups after Gaza aid criticism

Move comes after critics said donations to humanitarian groups were beyond scope of charity’s central mission of fighting AIDS and funding healthcare, were not properly disclosed

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Demonstrators call on the government to secure the release of hostages held by terror groups in the Gaza Strip, during a rally marking six months since the outbreak of war against Hamas, outside the Knesset, Jerusalem, April 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Demonstrators call on the government to secure the release of hostages held by terror groups in the Gaza Strip, during a rally marking six months since the outbreak of war against Hamas, outside the Knesset, Jerusalem, April 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

New York Jewish Week via JTA — The theater charity group Broadway Cares donated $400,000 to four Israeli aid organizations after coming under fire for its contributions to Gaza relief.

The donations follow a pledge Broadway Cares made in February to fund aid in Israel. The philanthropic organization — known for its appeals at the end of Broadway shows — was criticized by pro-Israel voices over its donations to humanitarian aid groups working in Gaza.

The critics — the conservative Zionist Organization of America and a New York rabbi, Erica Gerson — said the donations were outside the scope of Broadway Cares’ central mission of fighting AIDS and funding health care, that the group did not properly disclose the contributions, and that donations to Gaza were compromised by Hamas’s control of the territory.

In response, in addition to pledging aid to Israelis, Broadway Cares acknowledged that it had “created confusion among our valued supporters” and said it would update its communications with theater audiences.

The group said in an announcement last month that it was donating $100,000 each to NATAL, a trauma care group; the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the leading organization, formed by relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, advocating for their release; the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, an umbrella group; and ERAN, a mental health hotline. The groups are all apolitical and based in Israel.

“These organizations are doing critical work supporting civilians in Israel suffering from trauma, both mentally and physically,” Tom Viola, the head of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, said in a statement.

“In conjunction with our recent grants helping civilians facing devastation and inconceivable loss in Gaza, we’re proud to offer humanitarian aid that doesn’t follow a political agenda, but rather provides vital resources and support to innocent civilians in the midst of devastating conflict,” Viola said.

Broadway Cares is the flagship charity of the theater world, and is often introduced at Broadway shows following the curtain call, when stars will appeal to their audiences to make a donation into a trademark red bucket as they exit the theater.

Those fundraising pitches, which happen in the spring and fall, typically focus on the organization’s core mission: funding HIV/AIDS treatment as well as health care for underemployed actors. But the group has sent contributions to international relief efforts in the past.

Most Popular
read more: