Thousands of Needy Elderly Jews in Former Soviet Union to Receive Honey, Apples, Extra Food for Rosh Hashanah
Holiday aid delivered by JDC to poor, Jewish seniors via IFCJ Lifeline, Claims Conference
This Rosh Hashanah, thousands of poor, elderly Jews across the former Soviet Union (FSU) will receive extra food and traditional holiday fare, including apples and honey, to celebrate the Jewish New Year. The special Rosh Hashanah aid – provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and its partners, the Claims Conference, and the IFCJ Lifeline, an operational partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) – will be distributed throughout the region.
Volunteerism Blossoms at JDC Summer Activities in Europe, Former Soviet Union
While American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) summer activities have long combined Jewish culture and learning with camping activities, volunteer efforts to help those in need, contribute to community life, and design camping experiences are increasing throughout Europe and the former Soviet Union. This is reflective of trends here in the U.S. where the American Camp Association reports that half of American-based summer camps now offer community service activities, while also making a positive impact on the community.
JDC, Israeli Partnership for the Elderly Featured at UN Aging Conference
Professor Yossi Tamir, the Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Israel operation and a noted expert on the elderly, addressed a special gathering sponsored by the Israeli Mission to the UN on July 5, 2017 as part of the UN’s Open-end Working Group on Ageing conference. In addition, a photo exhibition – A New Look at Aging – featured original, bold, and witty photos from photographer Oren Biran taking an inventive look at the vibrant lives of Israeli seniors. Asher Kleingold, 87, who was featured in the photos,also shared his experiences as an active senior.
JDC: Kaplan Leadership Initiative Empowers Rising Overseas Jewish Communal Professionals
Philanthropic leaders Carol and Ed Kaplan provide funding to enhance leadership training, create professional networks
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced the launch of the Kaplan Leadership Initiative, a new Jewish community professional training program focusing on overseas Jewish communities. The new initiative— created through a founding gift from Carol Kaplan, a JDC board member and President of the Kaplan Foundation, together with her husband Ed—will provide the crucial tools and support needed to cultivate leadership among Jewish community professionals in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America.
JDC Responds to Massive Flooding in Sri Lanka
Sarvodaya–JDC Disaster Management Unit, founded after 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, providing food and other emergency aid
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is responding to catastrophic flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka, the result of the worst storms to hit the island nation since 2003. JDC, together with its local partner Sarvodaya, a Buddhist-inspired humanitarian organization, deployed its first responder unit to provide food, water, and other emergency aid in Sri Lanka’s five hardest hit districts, including the Galle and Kalutara districts on the coast where JDC worked extensively after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The first responders are reaching beleaguered Sri Lankans by via road and boat where necessary. As a result of the unprecedented rains, more than 500,000 people have been displaced and more than 150 killed in the last 48 hours. Donations can be made at: www.jdc.org/srilankarelief
Forgotten Jewels, A Haven in Havana with First-Ever Awarded JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant
Distinguished Finalists are GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II and Who Will Write Our History
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced today that Forgotten Jewels, A Haven in Havana, directed by Judy Kreith and Robin Truesdale, was awarded its inaugural JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant. The film recounts the story of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe for a safe haven in Cuba and ultimately, creating a diamond polishing industry in Havana that enabled thousands of Cubans and refugees to survive during World War II. The two finalist films selected were GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II, directed by Lisa Ades, and Who Will Write Our History, directed by Roberta Grossman and based on a book by historian Samuel Kassow of Trinity College.
JDC Celebrates Passover: 50,000+ Matzah Boxes Delivered, Hundreds of Passover Events in Former Soviet Union
Matzah boxes delivered by JDC to needy, elderly Jews via IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline, Claims Conference Volunteer activities, Seder meals, matzah-baking classes, and concerts mark Jewish Festival of Freedom
This Passover, thousands of Jews across the former Soviet Union will partake in festive holiday activities — Seder meals, volunteer opportunities, cooking workshops and cultural performances — sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and its network of Hesed social welfare centers and Jewish community centers.
JDC Joins Google Cultural Institute, Shines New Light on Jewish History
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) joined other prestigious museums, archives, and organizations with the launch of its own Google Cultural Institute page, bringing its renowned Jewish historical collection online to a wider audience. The includes close to 70 items from the 102 year-old humanitarian organization’s Global Archives including photographs, documents, artifacts, film, and audio, along with two abridged exhibits based on the centennial exhibit, “I Live. Send Help.,” originally presented at the New-York Historical Society in 2014.
“Our collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute affords JDC the opportunity to reach even wider groups of people who may have connections to JDC’s historic work over the last century or have interest in the harrowing journey of the Jewish people during this period. By significantly expanding our digital presence and becoming part of a family of institutions known the world over for their legendary holdings, we are ensuring that our efforts to rescue those in danger and provide relief for the neediest are given new significance and attention,” said Linda Levi, Director of the JDC Global Archives.
Highlights of the collection include a letter from Albert Einstein offering thanks and praise to JDC for helping French children escape to America during the Holocaust; a photo of artist Marc Chagall at a JDC-funded children’s colony in Malakhovka, Russia, where he taught art; a pair of eyeglasses held together by string, wire, and rubber bands, with the original prescription from 1947, owned by an elderly Jewish man who did not have the glasses replaced until the 1990’s when JDC came to his aid; and rare excerpts from JDC films detailing the plight of Jews during WWII.
Officially debuted in 2011 on the heels of the Google Art Project, the Google Cultural Institute enables global visitors to seamlessly navigate through content divided by key categories, scroll through select time periods, zoom in on ancient treasures, and take 360 degree virtual tours of museum and heritage sites – with solely an Internet connection. Users can also leverage the Google search tool on the site to browse broadly through projects, artists, mediums, colors, art movements, as well as historical events and figures. Partner institutions of the Google Cultural Institute, who have made their exhibits and archival content available online, include the British Museum, Yad Vashem, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York.
Boasting one of the most important collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history, JDC Archives comprises the historical records of JDC, which has worked overseas with Jewish communities and others in distress since WWI. With records of activity in over 90 countries from 1914 to present day, the archives includes over 3 miles of documents, 100,000 photographs, a research library of more than 6,000 books, 1,100 audio recordings including oral histories, and a collection of 2,500 videos. For more information, .
JDC’s Social Impact Hackathon Focuses on Israeli Social Gaps
Microsoft, HP, and Other Tech Firms, Together with Programmers and Designers Partner to Help Vulnerable Populations
In an organizational first, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) teamed up with tech giants Microsoft and HP, among other leaders in the tech space, for the inaugural JDC Social Impact Hackathon to benefit vulnerable Israelis. Bringing together 100 programmers and designers, as well as 30 mentors from 7 global tech companies, the Social Impact Hackathon leveraged state-of-the-art technology to create apps and programs to solve challenges faced by at-risk Israeli populations like the elderly and people with disabilities. While over 95 social impact ideas were originally gathered, 21 were chosen to be developed, with three receiving top prizes. Participants worked in teams on tech solutions evaluated by judges from JDC, the tech industry, and the NGO sector. JNext -; a joint project of the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and the Municipality of Jerusalem, which aim is to strengthen and empower the technological ecosystem in Jerusalem -; was another key partner for the event. “One of the hallmarks of JDC’s work in Israel is channeling cutting-edge innovation in a variety of sectors, like the booming tech industry, to ensure a better life for Israelis whose needs aren’t met by established social services,” said JDC CEO David M. Schizer. “We are privileged to join with leaders in this field, and our government of Israel partners, to harness the enthusiasm of participants and make Israel a better place for those living on the edges of society.”
First prize went to Connected Community, an app for managers of senior communities to efficiently follow-up with clients, prioritize goals, and manage emergencies. Second prize went to Yad2All, a platform for people with disabilities to access rental apartments via the Web. And third prize went to IRemember, an app to help the elderly track daily medication schedules and family members’ birthdays. The winning groups will continue the development process via the new social entrepreneurship hub powered by JDC-Israel and the National Insurance Institute, with the potential to be adopted by JDC on a larger scale as well. “We saw some great ventures that hold potential for serving populations in need and can truly become valuable tools for JDC professionals in their work at the Social Impact Hackathon. The atmosphere enabled everyone to engage in open, non-formal efforts to identify real life needs and find matching solutions that can solve their target population’s needs,” said Elion Tirosh, an early stage investor, tech entrepreneur, and JDC Board member, who served as a judge. Additional judges of the Social Impact Hackathon included: Professor Mimi Ajzenstadt, dean of the Paul Berwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Gali Konky, vice president of product management at LivePerson; Yossi Tamir, director general of JDC-Israel; Professor Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central; Ilan Cohn, Ph.D, patent attorney, and senior partner at Reinhold Cohn and Partners Patent Attorney; and Dr. Michal Tsur, co-founder, president and CMO at Kaltura. “Israel is considered to be the start-up nation as well as one of the countries with the worst inequality in the OECD. Combining JDC-Israel’s social innovation with Israel’s brightest technological minds is what JDC’s Social Impact Hackathon was all about. We must incorporate cutting-edge technology into the planning and development of social services, whether in Israel or worldwide. We achieved some great solutions during this Hackathon-some of which we might even implement on a large scale. There are tons of new technologies out there and it’s up to us to make better use of them for Israel’s most vulnerable populations,” said Yossi Tamir, director general of JDC-Israel. JDC-Israel partners with the government of Israel and the NGO sector to create innovative strategies, solutions, and pilot programs to combat the country’s biggest social challenges and empower Israel’s most vulnerable groups.
Kiev Jews, JDC Debut New Jewish Community Center in Ukrainian Capital
Holistic Facility Combines Lifestyle, Jewish Culture, and Social Service Offerings
Despite ongoing challenges in Ukraine, Jewish life is thriving and was given new expression with today’s official dedication of the Halom Jewish Community Center (JCC), a new 17,000 square foot facility located in central Kiev. The center — a project of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Kiev’s Jewish community — serves as a multi-generational hub for Jewish cultural, educational, community, and social service programs and activities.
Days After Hurricane Matthew, JDC Increases Aid to Haitian Victims, Deploys Relief Expert
Less than a week after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is now helping provide hygiene kits, water purification tablets, and other basic aid to hundreds of people and has dispatched its veteran disaster relief expert/emergency field medic to help coordinate JDC’s on-the-ground response and directly assist in emergency medical care with JDC partner Heart to Heart International’s medical team in Jeremie, a town decimated by the Hurricane. JDC’s partnership with UNICEF ensures relief for hygiene and water needs.
“As the death toll in Haiti continues to rise, our efforts to aid the hardest-hit communities are vital as needs like shelter, food, water, medicine and medical services have dramatically increased,” said Mandie Winston, Director of JDC’s International Development Program “Our response is especially crucial as concerns about the public health situation and fear of diseases like cholera continue to further underline the need for rapid care of the most vulnerable victims. ”
Following the Hurricane, JDC’s relief work in Haiti — in the form of emergency medical aid and care –has been directed towards the most impacted areas located in the south of the island where hundreds have been reported dead and widespread destruction has taken a toll on tens of thousands of homes, livelihood, critical infrastructure like cell communications, key bridges, and roads, as well as food supplies and long-term food security.
A fourth JDC-supported medical team from Heart to Heart International was dispatched yesterday to Fondwa, a small community village in the Western Department of Haiti. JDC has a history of working in this area, having built a school and created livelihood projects there in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
JDC’s Haiti relief partners include Heart to Heart International and UNICEF.
JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC coordinates its relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Interaction, and the United Nations.
In Global First, JDC Entwine and HUC-JIR Announce Graduate Fellowship for Global Jewish Leaders
Jane Weitzman – distinguished Jewish community and philanthropic leader – provides founding gift to foster activism on global Jewish issues among HUC-JIR rabbinic, cantorial, and Jewish education students
In a first initiative of its kind, JDC Entwine -; the growing young adult initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) -; and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) announced the establishment of the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship for Global Jewish Leaders. The pioneering graduate fellowship -; founded by Jane Weitzman, a JDC Board Member and Jewish community and philanthropic leader, together with her husband, shoe designer Stuart Weitzman -; will provide HUC-JIR rabbinic, cantorial, and Jewish education students significant expertise in Jewish needs around the world and in Israel. “While all major U.S. universities today have top graduate programs developing the next generation of leaders to face the challenges of our changing world, there is a desperate need in the North American Jewish community to immerse our up-and-coming leaders in issues confronting Jews internationally,” said Jane Weitzman. “I am proud to combine my passions for Jewish life and education worldwide to ensure that our rising rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators understand the complex world that Jews live in.” Over the coming five years, the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship at HUC-JIR will train fifteen fellows to bring a deep understanding and passion for global Jewish issues to their congregations, classrooms, and communities across North America. These fellows will travel to some of the 70 countries that JDC works in today. The fellowship will also have significant impact on the wider HUC-JIR student body with increased opportunities to engage in international Jewish issues as part of their HUC-JIR course work. The intention is that future Jewish leaders will emerge with an expanded awareness of these issues in congregations and beyond. “This inspired, creative and exciting collaboration will offer our students ever greater opportunities to influence the global Jewish community, and bring Jews together in shared purpose around the world. When Jews face challenges anywhere, we must feel a deep sense of responsibility that transcends national borders. We are exceedingly grateful to Jane and Stuart, and to our partners at JDC, for helping to build this compelling new paradigm of global training for our students,” said Rabbi Aaron Panken, President of HUC-JIR. Weitzman-JDC Fellows will work from a special curriculum developed with HUC-JIR to foster the concept of global Jewish responsibility and activism on Jewish issues among their congregants, students, and the wider North American Jewish community. “We believe in investing in our rising Jewish professional and lay leaders, setting them up for high-impact, fearless leadership in a complicated, shifting world that also has so much potential and opportunity for meaningful Jewish life. It is inspiring that philanthropists like the Weitzman family, and institutions like HUC-JIR, are as excited as JDC to pioneer new models of global Jewish leadership,” said Sarah Eisenman, Executive Director of JDC Entwine and JDC Assistant Executive Vice President. Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America’s leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR’s scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement’s congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR’s campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. For more information, visit .
More Than One Week Later, JDC Provides Critical Aid to Hundreds in Ecuador
More than one week after the devastating earthquake in Ecuador, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and its partners are providing aid to hundreds of people, including food, water, medical equipment and supplies, water filters and purification tablets, solar panel lamps, and post-trauma kits for children. JDC’s assessment team, comprised of its veteran disaster relief expert/field medic and Latin American community development expert, is on the ground in Ecuador, deploying and coordinating JDC’s response as well as distributing food to quake victims in an effort organized by the President of the Jewish Community in Guayaquil. “While the headlines on the disaster in Ecuador have faded, our efforts to aid beleaguered earthquake victims and communities are critical as needs like shelter, food security, and access to income and education sharpen,” said Mandie Winston, Director of JDC’s International Development Program “Our response is especially poignant at this time as it embodies Passover’s message to do all one can to alleviate great suffering.” JDC joined the aid distribution operation organized by noted CEO and Guayaquil Jewish Community President Johnny Czarninski to distribute 800 food packages and water to scores of people living in San Isidro, badly hit by the quake. This food distribution will continue in the coming weeks. You can read more about JDC’s response in this blog by JDC’s team on the ground:
“I am encouraged by the solidarity of the people of Ecuador and their willingness to help one another in this time of crisis,” said Czarninski.
JDC’s Ecuador relief partners include the U.S.-based Afya Foundation; CADENA; and UNICEF. JDC’s disaster response and recovery efforts are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Jewish Federations as well as individual donors and foundations. JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.
One Year After Nepal Quake, JDC Empowers Women to Build a New Future
In the year since Nepal was hit by its biggest earthquake in 80 years, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) relief efforts have directly impacted over 49,000 Nepalis, with a special focus on empowering women in the areas of livelihood and health. Five new community centers have been established by JDC with local partners, serving hundreds of women and their families with childcare, psychosocial counseling, and tools and skill training. Recent seminars trained women to weave local materials into rugs and cushions for purchase by Kathmandu businesses and instructed local women community health volunteers in safer motherhood and neonatal care methods. To date, 80 percent of the $2.4 million raised in donations from the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors has been invested by JDC in Nepali emergency and recovery efforts.
“As we’ve learned from our experiences in other disasters, women, though hardest hit by a crisis, are critical to the recovery of families, communities, and nations in challenging times,” said Mandie Winston, director of JDC’s Disaster Response and International Development Program. “Together with our local partners, we have deployed a variety of programs including these new community centers to bring Nepali women together in the spirit of mutual support and empowerment.”
When the earthquake hit Nepal, 63-year-old Bimla, a farmer, returned from the fields to find her home destroyed. Living in a temporary shelter for the past 11 months and unable to return to farming, she recently completed weaving training at a JDC-established community center. “This training has brought me new joy. To be able to be with other women in the community and share common experiences have given me strength,” said Bimla. JDC has long deployed a community center model — where a variety of human and cultural services are developed around vulnerable and evolving communities — among Jewish and non-sectarian populations. These include a network of Jewish Community Centers developed in emerging Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union as well as Community Cafes for displaced people in Japan after the tsunami and earthquake in 2011 and a series of multi-purpose community centers developed in Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.
JDC has also focused on livelihood development, disaster mitigation, public health access, and education in Nepal. JDC, working with local partners, has built resiliency among more than 3,000 people in over 20 vulnerable villages in the event of future disasters through youth leadership, strategic disaster planning, and community empowerment programs. JDC is additionally supporting the reconstruction and upgrade of two medical clinics in the Dolakha district. The clinics, scheduled to open by June 2016, will serve more than 4,700 Nepalis, providing maternal care, orthopedic treatment, and other services. To date, JDC has delivered shelter supplies, hygiene items, medical supplies, clean water, and food to over tens of thousands of people living in the country’s most remote and hard hit areas.
JDC’s Nepal relief partners include: The Afya Foundation, All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, Heart to Heart International, Homenet, IDF Field Hospital, Integrated Development Society -; Nepal, Israel Trauma Coalition, Magen David Adom, NATAN, Possible Health, Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Teach for Nepal, Tevel b’Tzedek, and UNICEF.
JDC’s disaster response and recovery efforts in Nepal are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Jewish Federations of North America as well as thousands of individual donors and foundations. JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.
JDC Responds to Ecuador Earthquake
Collecting Funds, Coordinating Relief -- Emergency Grant Also Distributed in Japan Following Major Earthquakes
In the wake of a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador, killing at least 272 people and injuring more than 2,500, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has begun assessing needs and coordinating relief efforts with both the Jewish community of Ecuador and long-standing partner Heart to Heart International focusing on medical care, medical supply provision, and water purification efforts. Donations for these efforts can be made at
“As devastating images from Ecuador surface, JDC extends its deepest condolences and joins our partners to deploy a speedy response that ensures relief to survivors at their greatest time of need,” said JDC CEO Alan H. Gill. “Our response in Ecuador, and in Japan, are proud expressions of the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world, and are fortuitous as we lead up to the Passover holiday when we celebrate our redemption from great odds. May all those impacted by these crises experience the same solace and strength that can be found in family and community.”
In Ecuador, the earthquake devastated coastal areas nearest the epicenter, including the cities of Manta, Portoviejo, and Pedernales, a major tourist destination, but damage was widespread throughout the country. Members of the Jewish community, mainly located in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil, are actively involved, like their neighbors, in earthquake relief efforts.
In addition to JDC’s response in Ecuador, a $25,000 JDC grant for emergency supplies including food and non-food items was made to JDC’s longstanding partner, Japanese humanitarian agency “JEN,” to aid people impacted by the recent earthquakes in the Kumamoto province. JDC, with a long history of working in Japan, provided emergency relief and long-term recovery aid following the 2011 earthquake and Tsunami.
JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions. JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC coordinates its relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Interaction, and the United Nations.
U.S, Israeli Experts Gather to Advance Next-Gen Disability Services
JDC, Government of Israel, Ruderman Family Foundation, Ted Arison Family Foundation, and U.S. Embassy in Israel
At a time when the Israeli Government is planning a strategic restructuring of its welfare services with the aim of making them more inclusive, Israel Unlimited -; a disabilities-focused partnership of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Israel, the Israeli Government, and the Ruderman Family Foundation -; is cooperating with The Ted Arison Family Foundation and the United States Embassy in Israel to bring a renowned delegation from The National Leadership Consortium at the University of Delaware to address a seminar tackling the most pressing issues in the field of disabilities today. The confab, which will be held on February 8 in the central Israeli city of Ma’ale Hachamisha, is focused on promoting cutting-edge innovation among Israeli leaders and decision makers in the field of disabilities.
“It’s time to advance and adapt our system to focus on individuals with disabilities and tailor services to his or her needs. Together, we can help the million plus Israelis with disabilities fulfill their dreams and fully and robustly participate in everyday life, including work, housing, education, leisure , creating families, and fostering friendships, ” said Avital Sandler-Loeff, JDC’s disabilities expert and Director of Israel Unlimited. “We’re excited by the opportunity to bring together Israeli and American policy makers, leaders with disabilities, and all of the other relevant stakeholders to learn about and implement significant change. An inclusive society, after all, is a better and stronger society.”
Seminar workshops will include creating individualized plans for the disabled, personal budgeting, independent living, developing leadership roles within the field of disabilities, alternatives to guardianship, and addressing systemic changes in employment, relationships, recreation, and education. Additionally, best practices from the U.S. that have enabled the country to improve its level of disability services will be highlighted. The one-day seminar is a part of a wider week-long conference in which leading professionals will discuss up-to-date policies and services in the sector with Israeli officials and advocates, including housing and independent living solutions.
“The issue of housing in general, and for people with disabilities in particular, demands a big revolution in Israel. The conference’s purpose is to promote the securing of resources for one, and a revolution in the perception of someone with disabilities as worthy and entitled to live in the community. Finding the answers will also facilitate solutions for additional target populations, and generate a quality of life that enables real inclusion and a change in attitudes among the general public,” said Shira Ruderman, Israel Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
Speakers will include Steven Eidelman, the University of Delaware’s H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership; Lynne Seagle, Executive Director of Hope House Foundation; Professor Nancy Weiss, Director of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware; and Ari Ne’eman, President and Co-Founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The group has led over 30 leadership workshops in the United States that have led to significant changes within the leadership of senior government officials, non-profit organizations, and disabilities foundations and leaders. Ne’eman, nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to the National Council on Disability, is Jewish and autistic. He will tell his personal story, as well as stress the importance of using community integration concepts in residential, employment, and day services.
“Disabilities has been one of the foundation’s main fields of operation in all its years of philanthropic activity in Israel, rooted in its aspiration to advance an equal, tolerant and inclusive society by supporting organizations and projects that raise awareness and assist children, young people, and seniors with a wide spectrum of disabilities. The foundation’s activities stem from our firm belief that inclusion of people with disabilities constitutes the cornerstone for independent living within the community, based on the values of respect, innovation, and creativity,” said Shlomit de Vries, CEO of The Ted Arison Family Foundation.
Currently, Israel has 10,000 people with disabilities living in institutions and one of Israel Unlimited’s goals is to create services to allow people who want to leave these institutions or their parents’ homes to live independently.
Noted Business and Philanthropic Leader Stanley A. Rabin Elected New President of JDC
Stanley A. Rabin, the distinguished business and philanthropic leader from Dallas, Texas, has been elected the 17th President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Rabin — a past Chairman of the Board of Commercial Metals Company where he served as CEO for 28 years — has been a member of the JDC Board of Directors since 2007, serving most recently as the organization’s Treasurer.
“I’m truly honored to serve as JDC’s President and ensure this storied organization can fulfill today its historic mission to save lives and build a strong Jewish future. Together, we will continue to confront and overcome the daunting challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel and create innovative opportunities that foster confident, resilient Jewish communities and leaders eager to put into action the ideal that we are all responsible for one another,” said Rabin.
Along with his work at JDC, Rabin is Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and serves on the boards of the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Temple Emanu-el of Dallas, the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, and the Dallas Holocaust Museum. He served on the Board of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee. He is a past President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Temple Emanu-el, and the Jewish Family Service. He and his wife, Barbara, have two children and five grandchildren.
“JDC’s ability to carry out its critical work over the last 101 years has been grounded in its visionary leadership — we are therefore extraordinarily proud that Stan Rabin will be carrying forward that legacy as our new President. His passionate dedication for JDC’s work, the Jewish people, and Israel, will help guide our endeavors and bring hope to a world where it is sorely lacking,” said JDC CEO Alan H. Gill.
Rabin, a first generation American born to parents who fled pogroms in Eastern Europe, feels a deep connection to JDC’s Jewish humanitarian aid program in 70 countries around the world: “As time passed and the older I got, I began to connect deeply to this idea of a global Jewish people and being collectively responsible for Jews around the world,” Rabin said.
JDC and Ukraine’s Jews Celebrate Chanukah Despite Crisis
Amidst the protracted crisis in Ukraine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and its network of Hesed social welfare centers, Jewish Community Centers, and youth groups are helping Jews in the beleaguered nation celebrate Chanukah through a variety of activities for thousands of people, including both internally displaced Jews (in their new communities) and Jews in the separatist-controlled regions. JDC cares today for 65,000 Jews throughout Ukraine, has been providing a robust response to the ongoing crisis, and provides a variety of programs related to Jewish holidays, identity, and culture.
“Our work in Ukraine is emblematic of Chanukah’s message to light up the darkness. By providing these celebrations for Jews and Jewish communities in distress, along with the ongoing relief we’re deploying for the crisis, we are enabling those who need it most to find comfort in their Jewish community. As winter sets in, the warm glow of the Chanukah candles, and of our solidarity with those in need, is critical for the longterm,” said Michal Frank, Director of JDC’s Former Soviet Union Department.
Chanukah activities include:
In Lugansk and Donetsk, inside the separatist-controlled region where JDC cares for more than 7,000 needy Jews, Chanukah activities are happening uninterrupted.
The Lugansk Hesed is holding a Chanukah educational program to teach community members of all ages about the holiday and its observance; a party for teens and members of the local family club that will include the traditional candle lighting and Chanukah foods, games, a light show, and a dance program; and children from the community will participate in a performance of “Malishock Mazal Tov” preschool program, featuring a costume show, games, children’s performances and an illusionist show.
The Donetsk Jewish Community will celebrate Chanukah at a holiday performance in Shahtar Plaza which will include games and other activities. The “Eight Hanukkah Miracles” food fair — organized by the JDC-supported Donetsk Hesed social welfare center — will offer a variety of sweet Chanukah foods prepared by elderly Jewish Hesed clients of different ages. Additionally, the Donetsk Hesed created an interactive Chanukah card for use on social media that allows participants to send the card to friends and Jews around the world (an especially important feature for a Jewish community that has been impacted by the crisis).
Chanukah events arranged by JDC’s Hesed social welfare centers and Jewish Community Centers in the region include: holiday concerts in the cultural, musical, or theater spaces in Chernigov, Khmelnitsky, and Chernovtsy; family-focused celebrations offering workshops on making sufganiyot (traditional Chanukah jelly donuts) and Chanukah candles, holiday-related games, concerts featuring Yiddish jazz and drumming, and traditional menorah lightings in Kiev and Lvov.
The “Juice” young leadership group in Kiev is holding a Chanukah charitable event with a proceeds from the gathering will fund medicines and treatment for a 9-months old girl from Vinnitsa with leukemia. Additionally, a Chanukah-related awards ceremony for Kiev’s young Jewish adults will recognize the community’s major Jewish public figures in the social and cultural spheres.
The renowned Dnepropetrovsk JCC is offering Chanukah holiday events for families including menorah lightings and holiday workshops, games and holiday quizzes, dancing and music with a DJ, and a comedy show. The JDC-supported Dnepropetrovsk Hesed social welfare center is organizing a large concert with performances by local actors and a special Chanukah meal for elderly Jews and displaced Jewish families. Volunteers — young Jewish adults and displaced Jews new to the city — will organize and run a holiday concert and activities for elderly Jews.
In the cities of Zaporozhe, Krivoy Rog, and Kremenchug, JDC-supported groups will hold Chanukah concerts and holiday food offerings. Additionally, over 100 young Jewish adult leaders will gather for a Chanukah Shabbat weekend seminar that will draw particpants from Zaporozhe, Krivoy Rog, Dnepropetrovsk, and Melitopol.
The JDC-supported Zaporozhe JCC is holding a traditional Chanukah volunteer ball, which is dedicated to both International Special Needs Day and and International Volunteer Day. The program includes a holiday concert and traditional Chanukah foods.
In Kharkov, the JDC-supported Beit Dan JCC is hosting a is holding a large-scale Chanukah event to support children with special needs. The event will bring together more than 100 families with children with special needs, the general public, and representatives of different organizations. It will include holiday workshops for children with special needs, a festival performance, and a bubble show.
The Beit Dan JCC will also host a Chanukah Shabbat event for its members, displaced Jews, and elderly Jewish clients and families of JDC-supported local Hesed social welfare centers. The gather will include a menorah lighting, Sabbath worship, and the sharing of the Chanukah story. Additionally, the local Jewish youth association is leading a Chanukah program — including educational components and entertainment — for Jewish children.
JDC-supported Hesed social welfare centers, Jewish Community Centers, and youth groups are engaging in a wide variety of Chanukah programs, including educational programs for people of all ages. Other events include exhibitions of Chanukah books and craft items made by participants of Hesed and JCC hobbying groups; volunteer visits and Chanukah gift deliveries by young Jews to displaced Jewish families and homebound elderly in Kherson and Nikolaev; and Chanukah gatherings for groups of needy Jewish elderly in individual homes. JDC’s flagship JCC Beit Grand in Odessa is holding numerous Chanukah programs, including: a Chanukah jazz concert, an art exhibition, and a charitable concert to raise funds for children in Odessa orphanages. Hundreds will also attend the Beit Grand’s annual “Mishpa-Hanukkah” fair, a large-scale Chanukah event including a parade of cars decked in Chanukah decorations delivering sufganiyot (traditional Chanukah jelly donuts) and gifts around the city to educate the city’s Jews and general population about Chanukah. At the same time, holiday performances and workshops for children will be held within the Beit Grand Building.
The JDC-supported Migdal JCC is hosting a guest performance by the Jewish soloists of “Tal Tal” ensemble visiting from the JDC-supported Kedem JCC in Kishinev, Moldova. The JDC-supported Odessa Hesed social welfare center is holding two large Chanukah concerns for elderly and family clients that will include performances by members of Hesed’s cultural club, local Odessa theaters, the State Conservatoire, and Stolyarsky Music School.
JDC Responds to South Asian Earthquake
Immediate Emergency Grants to Partners Working in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
In the wake of a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake in South Asia — impacting Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan — the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has made two emergency grants to partners who will provide medical and emergency aid in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In addition to the grants to the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute and International Blue Crescent, experts from JDC’s Disaster Relief and India teams are consulting with local and global partners to assess damage as the situation unfolds and ensure survivors’ immediate needs are addressed. Donations can be made at
“As we anxiously await details on the tragic loss of life and extent of the damage in South Asia, we are drawing on our vast experience, network of partners, and standing presence in the region to deploy a speedy Jewish response that ensures relief to survivors at their time of need.” said Alan H. Gill, JDC’s CEO.
The earthquake — which is believed to have caused widespread damage and a growing death toll — hit northeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border and caused large tremors in India, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.
JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC coordinates its relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Interaction, and the United Nations.
Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief Collects Funds to Aid Refugees and Migrants in Europe and Middle East
In light of tragic events involving a swelling population of migrants and refugees in Europe and the Middle East, the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) has acted to expand the scope and mandate of its Jewish Coalition for Syrian Refugees in Jordan to include refugees and migrants in Europe and the Middle East. The Coalition is assessing needs on the ground and raising emergency funds for humanitarian aid. “As horrific images from this crisis flood the news, social media, and our inboxes, we have been moved to action, reminded of Jewish tradition’s deep value for a single life in crisis. As we have learned from our decades of work with refugees and displaced people, the humanitarian toll and needs will be massive and we must respond now,” said Alan H. Gill, CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the lead convener of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief. The Coalition — comprising a now growing group of Jewish organizations — previously aided thousands of Syrian refugees through more than $500,000 in grants to humanitarian groups operating in Jordan and its efforts led to the founding of the MutliFaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, an interfaith movement that advocates for the needs of Syrian refugee populations. To make a contribution, visit: www.jcdr.org. Or make a check payable to the “Jewish Coalition for Syrian Refugees” and post it to: JDC, P.O. Box 4124, New York, NY 10163.Over the past several years, the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief has responded to major crises in Sudan, Haiti, Japan, Philippines, Nepal, and the Horn of Africa.About JCDRThe Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) brings together the experience, expertise, and resources of national, primarily North American Jewish organizations that seek to assist victims of natural or man-made disasters outside of North America on a non-sectarian basis. JCDR maximizes the use of financial resources, coordinates the activities of its member agencies, educates the members’ constituencies and the general public about current disaster situations and the Jewish response, and demonstrates the long tradition of Jewish humanitarianism.