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.
The fact that there are economic woes in the Baltics is hardly “news” these days. But new to the media scene is how JDC is helping battle rising rates of unemployment and poverty among Jews in those countries—especially those who had managed to work their way into the middle class over the past number of years, only to find themselves knocked back down a number of rungs amidst the global financial crisis.
Young European Jewish Leaders Work Towards Bright Future
While the current economic stability of European countries is wavering, the future of the region’s Jewish leadership appears promising. Recently, a group of 20-something Jewish young adults from 12 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Switzerland) gathered in Milan, Italy for Generation Next, a JDC-supported conference on young leadership.
Appreciation Abounds During Jewish American Heritage Month
May is Jewish American Heritage Month a time to especially celebrate the contributions and history of US Jews. Marking this occasion last weekend, President Obama delivered a special statement in which he said, “As they have immeasurably enriched our national culture, Jewish Americans have also maintained their own unique identity. During Jewish American Heritage Month we celebrate this proud history and honor the invaluable contributions Jewish Americans have made to our nation.”
Young Jews and Morocco: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
Last week, sixty-five young Jewish leaders from across the U.S. visited Jewish communities in Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Rabat. As part of their study mission to Morocco, The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) National Young Leadership Cabinet engaged first-hand with JDC programs, including a Jewish old age home, the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) medical clinic, and thriving Jewish day schools, all run in partnership with this vibrant and historic community.
As Haitians seek out solid ground to serve as a foundation for their homes, their families, and their futures, JDC and its partners are working to meet their most basic needs and rebuild. Check out a slideshow depicting how we are supplying water, medical care, and even schooling for thousands of people living in both Port-au-Prince and more remote areas.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a unique Yom Hashoah commemoration event in which a few JDC Jewish Service Corps fellows shared their experiences working in communities that have had difficult histories due to war or genocide. Molly, one of the presenters, is currently volunteering in various community programs with both local and immigrant Jewish populations in Berlin, Germany. Read her recent reflections on the JSC seminar, the connection between Jewish renewal and Yom Hashoah, and how her own family’s history is woven into her experience as a fellow in a country that epitomizes the quest for a Jewish “renaissance.”
The notion of “we shall never forget” now has its roots firmly planted in Albania’s capital city, Tirana. Recently, with JDC’s assistance, Albania’s small Jewish community, funded the planting of 10 trees in Tirana. The project materialized from a few different sources. Currently, Tirana is embracing its “one citizen, one tree” initiative in an effort to green and beautify the city, and the Jewish community wanted to make a contribution.
As many of you already know, JDC’s Medical Director in Ethiopia, Dr. Rick Hodes, has been the focus of exciting media attention recently because of a new book, This is A Soul, and HBO documentary Making the Crooked Straight, about his JDC-supported work with children in Addis Ababa.
Chicago Reps Visit JDC/Federation Schools in Haiti
David Sherman, Chairman, and Steven B. Nasatir, President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago are fresh off the plane from a 36-hour fact-finding mission in Haiti, where they saw first-hand the impact of the assistance provided by the North American Jewish community to date and explored areas for continued support to this island nation.
JDC’s medical director in Ethiopia Dr. Rick Hodes is making the rounds on national media and being lauded for his work that’s featured in the HBO documentary Making the Crooked Straight (premiering tonight on HBO 2) and the new book This is A Soul (just out this week)!
As communities the world over commemorate the Holocaust, JDC’s 21 Jewish Service Corps (JSC) fellows—currently serving in year-long volunteer positions in Belarus, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Israel, Rwanda, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine—connected in Jerusalem for a week-long seminar to share their overseas experiences. This morning, following a poignant period of silence outside JDC’s Jerusalem office, the fellows memorialized the 6 million murdered Jews by gathering on the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University to recite kaddish and participate in a peer-led discussion on JDC’s renewal work in communities with dark histories.
People with disabilities living in Russia are receiving some well-deserved kudos from their nation’s leader. The country’s Paralympics team won 38 medals (the most of any participating country) at the recent games in Canada. JDC provides services to disabled populations in the former Soviet Union helping them live with dignity, rather than on the margins of society.
In Ukraine and Siberia … in Moldova and Kyrgyzstan … across the former Soviet Union (FSU) many of the poorest Jewish children and their families are set to take part in Passover seders this year, supported by the IFCJ-JDC Partnership for Children in the Former Soviet Union.
“The sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today in recognition of World Water Day, observed annually on March 22.
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