Philanthropy: The No. 1 Charity

The 450 guests of the glittery Americana Hotel in suburban Miami sat down for a lunch of roast beef, string beans sautée with mushrooms, fondant of potatoes, salad, petits-fours and coffee. Neither butter nor cream was on the table; everything is always strictly kosher at the serious, elaborate dinners that open the annual fund-raising campaigns of the nation's most successful charity, the United Jewish Appeal.

Mostly for Israel. In its 22-year lifetime, U.J.A. has raised more than $1.3 billion—or nearly $250 for every Jewish man, woman and child in the U.S.—in support of Jewry uprooted by World War II. This year...

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