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Slingshot Salutes Innovation of Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues

This week, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF) was named among the Top 50 Jewish innovators in Slingshot’s 2010-2011 guidebook. The Task Force, proudly co-chaired by JDC’s CEO Steve Schwager and housed here at JDC headquarters in NYC, is a diverse coalition of over 90 Jewish organizations dedicated to educating the Jewish community about issues facing Israeli Arabs—20% of Israel’s population—in support of a secure, just, Jewish, and democratic state.

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JDC Goes to Washington

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As part of JDC’s work in Washington, Board members and staff traveled to our nation’s capital for meetings, culminating in a session with White House officials. Susan Sher (First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Danielle Borrin (Associate Director of Public Engagement), who serve as President Obama’s liaisons to the Jewish community, engaged with JDC representatives to learn about our work.

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Romania Celebrates Opening of 4th JCC

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This past Sunday, October 10, the city of Timisoara opened the doors of a new Jewish Community Center (JCC)—the fourth in Romania following others in Bucharest, Oradea, and Iasi. More than 300 people attended the opening celebration, which included a concert followed by an “after-party” for local Jewish youth.

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Celebrating Jewish Culture in the Streets of Ukraine

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It’s not every day you see a sign promoting Jewish activities on a busy street corner in Ukraine. But this week in Kharkov, an estimated 10,000 people are experiencing the sights and sounds of Judaism in the city’s Days of Jewish Culture celebration—a project run by the local JDC-supported Beith Dan Jewish Community Center. The festival, running October 3-10, highlights the richness and variety of Jewish culture through music and dance performances, workshops, concerts, art exhibitions, and other engaging activities for all ages.

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In Belarus, the Face of Jewish Poverty

Here at JDC we often stress the fact that we endeavor to save lives every day, one person at a time.

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JDC & Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promote Breast Cancer Awareness in Bosnia

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Today, more than 3,000 Bosnians will hit the streets of Sarajevo in honor of breast cancer awareness month. JDC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are hosting their third annual Race for the Cure. The event brings together people of all backgrounds including those from the Bosnian, Muslim, Croatian, Jewish, and Serbian communities. The funds raised at the 2010 Race will be used to distribute immediate post-surgery medical kits to women and provide free mammogram checkups for those who are uninsured.

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There’s No Place Like Home

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As we reported last week, two Torahs handed over to JDC by the New York District Attorney were to make their way to new homes in Sofia, Bulgaria and Belgrade, Serbia. Timing is everything and government representatives in New York for the UN General Assembly enthusiastically offered to personally escort the Torahs back to Europe.

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NY District Attorney’s Office Hands Over Rescued Torahs to JDC for Overseas Communities

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In time for Simchat Torah next week, Jewish communities in Sofia, Bulgaria and Belgrade, Serbia will each get a very special delivery about which to rejoice: a torah. The two Torahs, which were stolen by a Brooklyn man and ended up in the hands of the New York District Attorney’s office, are being donated by JDC to these Eastern European communities. In Sofia, the Torah will help replace scrolls stolen from the synagogue 10 years ago. In Belgrade, it will be the first kosher Torah used since the breakup of Yugoslavia when Jewish community assets were divided.

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From Stanley Abramovitch: Yom Kippur in a DP Camp

As Yom Kippur descends upon us, Jewish communities around the world prepare for the traditional holiday customs: pre-sundown meal, synagogue services, fasting, breaking the fast…and of course, intense personal reflection. However, Day of Atonement rituals were not always so easily understood or embraced.

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Hasidim Make Rosh Hashanah Pilgrimage to Ukraine

We at JDC know well that Rosh Hashanah traditions can take on their own unique flair from one country to another. A recent article in Slate shares that for the 35,000 Hasidim (ultra Orthodox Jews) that embarked on the annual pilgrimage to Uman, Ukraine (125 miles south of Kiev where the Breslov Hasidic sect’s founder, Rabbi Nachman, is buried), it was an inclusive and nearly 200-year-old “pray, eat, love” fest.

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New Year Reflections from Steve Schwager

During this week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jewish communities around the world are taking the time to reflect, recount, and reenergize for the year ahead. We here at JDC are no exception. Steve Schwager, our CEO, shares his own thoughts about the legacy of JDC, what we’re doing to help Jews in need, and who is still in need of our support. Excerpts below.

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Seeing Haiti Through New Eyes

Trying to imagine that you are transforming someone’s life in another country is no match for actually meeting the person whose life you’re changing. That’s why we were heartened that participants on the Jewish Federations of North America’s recent mission to Haiti created a blog to share the impact that their generous donations—and that of tens of thousands of others—is having on the Haitian people. Echoing that sentiment, Gideon Hersher, JDC’s representative in Haiti, reflects in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles on the progress being made on this devastated island as Rosh Hashanah approaches.

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WSJ Covers JDC Board Member and Disabilities Advocate, Jay Ruderman

For Israel’s 700,000 adults with disabilities, this year will be brighter because of JDC’s special-needs partnership, Israel Unlimited, which was found together with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Government of Israel. The goal of the collaborative effort: to successfully integrate these Israelis into society and live productive and healthy lives. The program is crucial as people with disabilities comprise 20% of Israel’s population.

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Szarvas is More than Summer Camp for Albanian Jewish Teen

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Not ready for summer to end? Neither is Besart, a 15-year-old from Albania whose exhilarating experience at the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/JDC International Summer Camp at Szarvas, Hungary, has helped cement his Jewish identity. And that’s no small feat, considering that Besart is one of just 30-some Jews currently living in Albania. Prior to attending Szarvas, he didn’t have a single Jewish friend; now he has a whole community.

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Happy 96th Anniversary JDC!

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On August 31, 1914—96 years ago today—two men, Jacob Schiff and Henry Morgenthau, exchanged an urgent cablegram in an effort to help Palestinian Jews who faced an existential crisis due to resources from Europe being cut off with the outbreak of World War I. Little did they know (or probably even imagine) that this single action would give birth to the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization that today comprises hundreds of staff working in more than 70 countries, and ensuring that just shy of $1 million per day goes to helping needy Jews everywhere.

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An Inside Look at GuideStar Israel

Earlier this month, we shared the launch of GuideStar Israel, a comprehensive database and resource on the 30,000 registered charities in Israel realized by JDC, the Israeli Ministry of Justice, and Yad Hanadiv (The Rothschild Foundation). NP Tech (established by JDC and Yad Hanadiv), the operating organization behind GuideStar Israel, helps these non-profit organizations further their missions by making information and communication technology more accessible to them. That means helping NGOs use comms and info tech tools to fundraise, mobilize volunteers, focus the public debate on specific issues, and more.

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JDC Sends Aid to Pakistan’s Flood Victims

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As the floods in Pakistan show no signs of dissipating, JDC is executing emergency relief assistance in collaboration with partners on the ground. We are working with Heart to Heart International, the Afya Foundation (both of whom serve as our partners in Haiti), and the International Blue Crescent (with whom we collaborated after the 2005 and 2008 earthquakes in Pakistan). Interested in supporting our efforts? Make a donation to JDC’s Pakistan flood relief fund.

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Helping Heal Haiti

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Leyla Sandler, a social worker based in Washington D.C. and a member of JDC’s Next Gen steering committee, took her expertise to the field, volunteering alongside JDC-supported aid efforts in Haiti. Read her account of the trials and triumphs at the Bel Air clinic in Port-au-Prince.

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JDC Next Gen Event Bridges Past and Present

Last week, JDC’s Next Gen group held an event: Inside Jewish Ukraine, in partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies (Boston’s Jewish Federation). JDC, through the experiences of two speakers—one JSC fellow and one RIG fellow—who recently lived and worked in Ukraine, shared the realities of modern-day Jewish life in the former Soviet Union. While the purpose of the evening was to discuss JDC’s current efforts to bolster Jewish cultural life in the region, our history working in the FSU through both World Wars and then post-communism seemed to resonate with attendees as well.

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JDC Continues Legacy of Providing Aid to Pakistani Disaster Victims

Pakistani flood victims who will be helped by JDC will join the ranks of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens whom JDC has reached with humanitarian assistance following natural disasters in Pakistan within the past five years alone.

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