The Hamptons—New York’s most desirable beach destination—is playing host to an exciting summer event: the JDC-supported Limmud FSU, an educational experience designed to grow cultural identity among Russian Jews. On August 15, The Hampton Synagogue will welcome numerous speakers from around the Jewish world including Matthew Bronfman, Dr. John Ruskay, and guest presenter, Jewish NASA astronaut, Dr.Garrett Reisman.
NPR’s “Morning Edition” program recently aired a piece about a common situation experienced by India’s elderly citizens. Many Indian children ride the wave of globalization to Western countries where they pursue academic and job opportunities. While their successes are a major source of pride for the parents, their decision to start their adult lives outside of their homeland leaves aging parents in a precarious situation; no one is around to help when older family members can no longer take care of themselves.
It’s widely accepted that a nation’s prosperity depends greatly on the activity and viability of its workforce. To that end, a recent Bloomberg article raises the concern that high levels of unemployment among the growing Haredi (ultra Orthodox Jews) population in Israel—currently at more than 60% among Haredi men—pose an untenable economic burden on the State and Israeli taxpayers.
For the first time in JDC’s 27 years of field work in Ethiopia, a team of Short-Term Service participants touched ground to support our humanitarian work running in the country. Currently, a group of students/Hillel members from the University of Washington are volunteering their time with various JDC programs in Addis Ababa and Gondar, including the medical clinic in Gondar run by the renowned Dr. Rick Hodes.
In times of sadness or crisis, the saying that “all Jews are responsible for one another” always seems to ring true. The tragic crash of an IDF helicopter in Romania was met with a response from a nearby Jewish camp run by JDC. Campers brought food, coffee, and other snacks for the Israeli search and rescue teams. This small gesture, much appreciated in a time of need, is a fitting reminder that anywhere in the world, Jews are intertwined, interconnected.
Prague’s joining the kosher party? Perhaps. In a city of just a few thousand Jews, two brothers are working to ensure that there is enough babka and kreplach to go around. The NY Times travel section recently featured a blog post about the Gunsberger brothers and their new kosher shop, King Solomon’s Bakery and Deli, the first of its kind since WWII. The brothers are hoping their store services anyone looking for “a taste of something Jewish.”
Congratulations to our JDC colleague, Dr. Aharon Weiss who recently received the very prestigious, “Blessed Holy Martyr Omelian Kovch Award” for his remarkable efforts to promote Holocaust education for both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. Aharon works as JDC’s coordinator of community programs in the former Soviet Union and as an adviser at the JDC-supported Tkuma Center for Holocaust Studies in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. His work with Tkuma extends beyond the lessons of the Holocaust as he is committed to fostering a greater understanding and sense of tolerance between different generations, cultures, and religions in both Ukraine and Poland.
As an organization with deep, historical roots to the European Jewish experience, especially during some of the most challenging times of the 20th century, we here at JDC are excited about a new online resource that depicts the story of Eastern European Jews from the nascent days of their lives in the region right to the present.
What do you get when you cross the largest global Jewish humanitarian organization with one of the world’s leading Jewish youth movements? (No, this is not a joke). The answer: teenagers engaged in meaningful overseas Jewish experiences that will change their lives and the lives of Jews on every continent.
Six months after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti, JDC, working with its partners on the ground, is bringing hope to Haitians suffering from physical disabilities. Together with the Afya Foundation and Magen David Adom/Tel HaShomer Hospital, JDC’s rehabilitation program is ensuring amputees and others who have suffered severe injuries as a result of the natural disaster are receiving physical and occupational therapy to help them perform daily activities and live independently.
We were pleased to come across this headline, “Medvedev Follows Limmud FSU to Birobidzhan” on eJewish Philanthropy‘s website. Seems that President Medvedev made a trip to Russia’s Far East, specifically to visit the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, the capital city of the area’s Jewish Autonomous Region. The community is home to more than 2,000 Jews, some of whom JDC supports in partnership with two local Jewish organizations.
Back in January, about two weeks after the Haiti earthquake, Jacky, JDC’s VP of the Board of Directors, went on the first JDC Haiti mission to the devastated country and, while there, blogged about the birth of a new project formed in partnership with Haitian NGO, PRODEV.
We recently received some encouraging news from Taub, a research institute that studies and makes recommendations concerning Israel’s social policy. One finding: increasing numbers of Israeli women are entering the workforce and procuring gainful employment to help support their families. Among the most important factors contributing to this positive change is an increase in access to education, which is making it easier for more women to pursue university degrees. Other explanations for this improvement include more accessible/affordable child care, anti-discrimination laws, subsidized maternity leave, and the expansion of Israel’s service sector.
Sri Lanka Floods: JDC Responds and Prepares for Future Rains
Last month, a severe series of heavy rains and subsequent flooding hit Sri Lanka, affecting hundreds of thousands of people living on the coast in the southwest part of the country. Sarvodaya (a partner since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami), plunged itself into relief activities on the ground, coordinated by the Sarvodaya/JDC Community Disaster Management Center. They focused on meeting pressing needs—food, clean water, and medical care.
The Jewish Week recently announced its third annual “36 Under 36” list, “highlighting new innovators in the New York area who are reshaping Jewish life here and abroad.” We here at JDC are so pleased to announce that Jessica Balaban, Executive Director of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF), is one of the honorees. Jessica is the founding director of IATF, a coalition of North American Jewish organizations, foundations, private philanthropists, and international affiliates—of which JDC is a leading member—committed to the viability of Israel and equality for all its citizens, both Jews and Arabs.
In light of the heightened ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, JDC has expanded its welfare services, including providing extra food and medicine, to ensure that the region’s neediest Jews receive the care that they need under these unpredictable circumstances. We’re also continuing to monitor the safety of the local Jewish community clients every day.
This week, some of the Jewish world’s best and brightest—past Ralph I. Goldman fellows—hopped over to Israel on a study trip. Tops on the itinerary was priceless time with the fellowship’s namesake and JDC Honorary Executive Vice President, who posed for a photo with some of the 20 young trailblazers who have brought their wisdom and ingenuity to overseas Jewish communities during the past two decades.
Among the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews was the confiscation of property, including synagogues, Jewish schools, cemeteries, other land, art, jewelry, and anything else of value. Worse still, in some cases, proceeds from the sale of this property by the Nazis actually helped fund war-related activities that we know all too well took the lives of 6 million Jews and many others. After the Holocaust, these properties were nationalized by the communist governments that were in power for more than 40 years. Since that time, efforts have been made to achieve some small measure of justice by helping both individuals and communities get back this wrongly seized property (or more often, financial compensation in lieu of the property).
Whenever the conversation about “where JDC works” begins and India is mentioned as one of the 70 countries benefiting from Jewish programs, we usually receive an incredulous, “There are Jews in India?” The answer is: YES, there are Jews in India–and not just the ones who are backpacking through from Western countries. India is home to a close-knit and colorful community of 5,000 Jews who take pride in their unique culture and heritage.
Community Building in Russia Takes Off with Knafaim Program
“It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to…the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility…and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.” This quote, from Robert F. Kennedy, speaks to a new JDC-funded program for Russian Jews, Knafaim (wings), which seeks to build Jewish communal life by engaging young professionals with educational opportunities to learn about Jewish culture in addition to offering seminars on general management and leadership-skills building.
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