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At JDC-Ashalim, Promoting Social Mobility for Israel’s Youngest
On International Children’s Rights Day, Dr. Ariel Levy reflects on why caring for all of Israel’s children is so crucial.
Global Jewish Reflections | On Simchat Torah, Celebrating Jewish Resilience in Bulgaria
Rachel Shapiro reflects on the resilience of Bulgarian Jewish life and how Simchat Torah gives Jews everywhere a chance to start anew.
In Bulgaria, One Family Opens Their Home (and Their Hearts) to Ukraine’s Jews
When the Ukraine crisis began, Bistra Titeva took her calling as a hospitality professional even more seriously: She and her husband opened their home to a family seeking shelter.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding a Modern-Day Mishkan in Jewish Bulgaria
Ahead of Sukkot, Rabbi Evan Sheinhait reflects on the mishkan — the mobile tabernacle the Israelites built in the desert — and connects it to the Jewish community of Bulgaria.
Global Jewish Reflections | These High Holidays, A Time to Speak and a Time to Listen
In this column, Sarita Robinson reflects on her own experiences, the Book of Proverbs, and how community organizing can be transformational when we intentionally create the space to ask questions and listen.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Moldova, We’re Learning to Listen to Our Own Shofar Call
For Nikita Perunov, head of JDC’s teen club in Chișinău, Moldova, Elul — along with the High Holidays that will soon follow — is a chance to reinvest in his community’s future.
Global Jewish Reflections | It’s Elul, and This Brazilian Rabbi is Asking the Big Questions
As Rabbi Fernanda Tomchinsky-Galanternik prepares for the High Holidays, she’s focusing on the Jewish values of avodah, Torah, and gemilut hasadim.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Elul, I’m Finding Inspiration in Jewish Romania
On a recent trip to Romania, rabbinical student Emma Dubin was moved by the the warmth and diversity of the country’s Jewish community — qualities she connects to Elul’s Psalm 27.
On Tu B’Av, Celebrating Love in the Baltics
Two young Jewish leaders in the Baltics share their love story — and how it all began at a JDC-supported summer camp.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Tisha B’Av, I’m Finding Hope in Romania’s Dynamic Jewish Life
For Weitzman-JDC Fellow Karen Martin, Tisha B’Av is a time to reflect on a difficult past — and her hopes for a vibrant Jewish future.
In Poland, Bearing Witness to the Ukraine Crisis
When he traveled to Poland with JDC, Jared Green got a firsthand look at JDC’s Ukraine crisis response.
In Ukraine, My Jewish Life is a Source of Strength
Amidst war, Svetlana found hope and support at her JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center.
In Bucharest, Creating a Home for Ukraine’s Jews
With over two decades of Jewish communal experience, Adrian Gueron is one face of Jewish Romania’s Ukraine crisis response.
At JCC Budapest, Building a Proud and Open Jewish Life
This JCC director works tirelessly to create an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ Jews – and all people.
In Odesa, This Jewish Elder Finds Her Home at JDC
Yelena Sorokina found a rich, vibrant Jewish life at her JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center.
In Poland, Reflecting on Jewish Mutual Responsibility
This Weitzman-JDC Fellow put her Jewish values into action when Ukraine broke out in war.
Answering the Call – From Israel to Ukraine
When a mother in distress called a JDC hotline, Pola Barkan was there to help.
In Estonia, One Mother Celebrates Her Jewish Community
One mother reflects on how the Estonian Jewish Community – and JDC – helped her and her son live Jewish lives.
Tango in Tblisi: A Life of Music, Dance, and Jewish Community
A champion ballroom dancer, David Volgust recounts his boyhood in Jewish Georgia and tells his JDC story.
Not Free Alone: In Chile, One Rabbi Meditates on the Meaning of Passover
For Rabbi Alejandro Bloch, Passover is a time to strengthen Jewish life in Santiago, Chile.
An Archive of Passover Support: Recognizing JDC’s Century-Plus History of Creating Meaningful Passover Celebrations
In this Passover reflection, take a walk through more than 100 years of JDC support for Passover celebrations worldwide.
Proud, Brave, Unbroken: In Ukraine, One Jewish Elder Reflects on Passover
For this JDC client in Melitopol, Ukraine, Passover is a bridge between the past and the future.
In Europe and Latin America, Two Jewish Women Leaders Reflect on Passover
For these two women, Passover is a call to serve their communities.
Women’s Empowerment is a Jewish Value: Reflecting on Women’s History Month
For Lela Sadikaro, Women’s History Month is a chance to empower Jewish women across Europe.
Embracing Opportunity (and Uncertainty) with JDC Ashalim
For JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps Fellow Rachel Mitchell, living in Israel feels like coming home.
This Purim, Cultivating Jewish Life in Latvia
As Purim approaches, Diana Glikman reflects on the values that power her work in Riga’s Jewish community.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Argentina, Reflecting on Purim, Tzedakah, and Jewish Community Life
For Purim, Julio Gutkind reflects on the importance of Jewish life and institutions in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Prayers for Peace: Reflecting On Jewish Ukraine
JDC Entwine’s Rabbi Joshua Mikutis reflects on the crucial role that Ukraine has played in global Jewish life.
A Global Jewish Leader: Q&A with 2022 Ralph I. Goldman (RIG) Fellow Doron Shapir
We sit down with Doron Shapir, the 2022 JDC Entwine Ralph I. Goldman (RIG) Fellow, to talk about his background and hopes for the coming year.
In Moldova, Raising a Jewish Child with Disabilities
This Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), learn how JDC helps one mother give her child with disabilities a vibrant Jewish life.
Collaborative Justice, Right Before My Eyes
While on gap year, Elisha Baker experienced JDC-Israel’s innovative and restorative approach to criminal justice.
Determined to Survive: One Woman’s Journey Across History
Zinaida Grutman was just a young girl when she fled her home. Here is her story of war, resilience, and Jewish life.
Many Ways to Be Jewish: A Szarvas Leader Celebrates His International Camp Experience
When Slavyan Kanovsky attended Camp Szarvas, the JDC-Ronald S. Lauder Foundation international Jewish summer camp in Hungary, he discovered a vibrant Jewish world.
Tamara Gotlib: With Nowhere to Turn, JDC Helped Me Live a Jewish Life
When Tamara Gotlib, 72, started having health problems, JDC provided immediate lifesaving support.
Dancing and Celebrating with My Cuban Jewish Community: A Q&A with Havana’s Susi Santana Said
In this Q&A with Susana Santana Said, a 23-year-old sociology graduate from Havana, Cuba, “Susi” discusses Jewish community life in her hometown, her passion for rikudim (Israeli folk dance), and the special message of Chanukah.
A Global Festival of Lights: Reflections on Chanukah from Around the Jewish World
Chanukah is a time to celebrate the hope and resilience of Jews everywhere. In this spirit, we bring you these Chanukah reflections from around the JDC world.
A Flame for All Other Candles: Building Jewish Life in Romania
As Chanukah approaches, Ery Pervulescu reflects on what this holiday can teach us about building Jewish community, as well as his own development as a leader.
In Estonia, Igniting a Jewish Revival
At the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Tallinn, Irina Shlick is helping to build Estonia’s Jewish future.
The Message of the Maccabees: In Argentina, Two Jewish Educators Reflect on the Meaning of Chanukah
In this reflection, Alejandra Mizrahi and Valeria Nahmias, two Jewish educators in Argentina, discuss the timeless Jewish values at the heart of Chanukah.
United and Invincible: In Kyrgyzstan, Celebrating Chanukah and Jewish Renewal
Irina Stvolova, a JDC volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, talks about what Chanukah looks like in her native city of Bishkek, and what lessons this holiday can teach us in pandemic times.
Miracles Happen Here: In Morocco, A Vibrant Jewish Community
Born and raised in Morocco’s Jewish community, Dorith Benmoha discusses the history, beauty, and strength of her community.
Yesod Europe: Serving Jewish Professionals, Strengthening Jewish Communities
As the director of Yesod, Dani Serlin is empowering the best and brightest professionals to lead Jewish Europe into the future.
On Our Feet Again: A JDC Disaster Relief Expert Reflects on the Earthquake in Haiti
As a native of Haiti, Djerhy Jn Baptiste was deeply affected by the recent earthquake that struck his home. Here, he talks about JDC’s work in Haiti, as well as what disaster relief means to him.
International Day of Older Persons: Creating Tools to Help Our Elderly Age with Grace
On this International Day of Older Persons, JDC’s Yossi Heyman discusses why he has dedicated his life to working with elderly Israelis and how we can address the issues currently presented by the pandemic.
Global Jewish Reflections | The Torah of JDC: A JDC Entwine Leader Reflects on Simchat Torah
Miriam Bader, a JDC Entwine leader, writes about the meaning of Simchat Torah and the values that guide JDC life.
Global Jewish Reflections | On Yom Kippur, Exploring the Meaning of Mutual Jewish Responsibility
Yom Kippur offers a chance to reflect on the ways Jews belong to each other and hold each other accountable, rabbinical student Sammy Kanter writes.
A Sweet New Year: Rosh Hashanah Reflections from Ukraine
Rosh Hashanah is a new beginning. In this spirit, we bring you these Rosh Hashanah reflections from JDC clients and volunteers across Ukraine.
The Meaning of Hesed: Using Facebook to Connect the Elderly in the FSU
As a trained psychologist, Irina Lebedeva uses Facebook videos and other technology to help ease the isolation of homebound elderly Jews.
The Cycle of Life: A Reflection on the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah
Mira Krapivskaya, a JDC client and lifelong resident of Mozyr, Belarus, reflects on what Rosh Hashanah means to her.
Global Jewish Reflections | Next Year in Dubai: Building Jewish Community in the United Arab Emirates
As we head into the High Holiday season, Sarah Tagger, this year’s JDC Entwine Ralph I. Goldman (RIG) Fellow, reflects on her work cultivating Jewish life in Dubai.
Intentional Accidents: A Hesed Director Reflects on Her Life’s Calling
Hesed Nefesh Director Svetlana Moskvitina reflects on a life of service, Jewish mutual responsibility, and the path that brought her back to Poltava, Ukraine.
A Home for Our Values: Alan and Marcia Leifer
Alan and Marcia Leifer have journeyed across the Jewish world. After going to some 25 countries around the globe with JDC, the Leifers talk about why they’ve chosen to support the organization that changed their lives.
Honoring His JDC Family: Steven Taub
When Steven Taub was in middle school, his father — the former JDC president Henry Taub — brought him to Morocco. Since then, Taub has traveled the world, learning about resilient Jewish communities big and small. Learn more about why he supports the next 100 years of vibrant Jewish life.
A Survivor Gives Back: Felice Stokes
For the longest time, Felice Stokes didn’t know who had saved her life, But during World War II, JDC helped rescue Stokes, as well as many other Jewish children, from Nazi violence. Seventy-five years later, Stokes talks about why she supports the organization that spirited her to safety.
Preserving the Past, Building the Future: Debby Miller
From the moment she first heard about JDC, Debby Miller knew it was for her. In the years since, Miller has honed a special interest in JDC Archives and JDC Entwine. Now she’s giving back to JDC to ensure the next 100 years of Jewish life.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Elul, Remembering to Care for Our Jewish Elderly
The High Holidays liturgy offers a powerful reminder of the need to care for the most vulnerable members of our Jewish communities, Rabbi Alex Braver writes.
Global Jewish Reflections | Everything and Nothing: This Elul, Learning to Value Oneself and Others
This Elul, the month that precedes the High Holy Days, JDC staff member Izzy Sakhaie reflects on the meaning of introspection, and why helping others also means helping ourselves.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Elul, One Young Jewish Leader in Ukraine Embraces Community
For Izya Kravchenko, the Hebrew month of Elul is a chance to reflect on how every Jew can work to power their community forward.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Elul, A JDC Leader Thinks About Jewish History and Repentance
In the month leading up to the High Holy Days, a JDC leader reflects on the meaning of repentance, and the promise of a Jewish future in the former Soviet Union.
Tikkun Olam in the Bahamas: A Disaster Expert Reflects on Hurricane Dorian
After Hurrican Dorian devastated the Bahamas in 2019, Yaron Lief helped to rebuild the island nation. Here is his story.
The Three Qualities of a Jewish Leader: A Reflection from Ralph I. Goldman Fellows
What does it mean to be a Jewish leader? In this reflection, three JDC Entwine Ralph I Goldman (RIG) fellows discuss the qualities that define Jewish leadership.
Speaking Across Borders: With JDC, One Woman Forges a Cross-Cultural Friendship
Last year, Ashley Amar had to miss a planned JDC Entwine “Inside Jewish Morocco” trip. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Born a Jointnik: A Reflection on Family and a Lifetime Connection to JDC
Growing up, Dasha Dolgova encountered JDC each day. But it wasn’t until she was older that she joined the organization that had given her family so much.
Global Jewish Reflections | The Value of Public Grief: Tisha B’Av and the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this reflection, cantorial student Sam Rosen discusses the notion of “public grief” and how his travels with JDC Entwine have deepened his understanding of Tisha B’Av.
Becoming a Jewish Educator: An AJT Leader Cultivates Jewish Life in Ukraine
As head of her local Active Jewish Teens (AJT) chapter, Ilona Levit, reflects on how AJT educates and empowers young Jews across the former Soviet Union.
LGBTIQ* Inclusion is a Jewish Value: Building Queer Jewish Life in Germany
What makes LGBTIQ* inclusion a Jewish value? Dalia Grinfeld, a leading advocate for LGBTIQ* Jews in Germany, has the answer.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding Digital Jewish Community From Florida to Russia: A Tale of Two St. Petersburgs
A year into quarantine, JDC-Weitzman Fellow Aaron Torop discovered a digital Jewish world that spanned the globe.
Like Father, Like Son: Celebrating Father’s Day in Kyiv, Ukraine
This Father’s Day, we interview two families who participate in a father-son program in Kyiv, Ukraine.
In Australia, Creating Dialogue Between Jewish and LGBTQ+ Communities
For the past number of years, Jarod Rhine-Davis has been leading a dialogue that seeks to bridge the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. For Pride Month, we speak to Rhine-Davis about this valuable work.
In Moldova, Intergenerational Friendship in the Time of COVID-19
While volunteering at JDC’s volunteer center in Chișinău, Moldova, Eva Baboi made a friend that changed her life for the better.
Global Jewish Reflections | “Zikaron” in Action: A JDC Volunteer Reflects on Memory and Service
As Shavuot approaches, JDC volunteer Ishai Sinelnikov reflects on his work in local Jewish cemeteries.
Finding Community, and Each Other, at AJT FreeDom
Across the former Soviet Union, Active Jewish Teens (AJT) FreeDom – a pilot program which works to integrate Jewish teens with special needs – is breaking down stereotypes, building connections and creating community.
Global Jewish Reflections | Learning in the Time of “Corona”
For Jewish educator Rabbi David Levin-Kruss, a monthly study circle was a chance to strengthen global Jewish connections even during the pandemic.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Nepal, Balancing Curiosity and Cultural Sensitivity
When JDC Entwine’s Andrew Belinfante visited Nepal in 2018, he reflected on the challenges and opportunities of inhabiting a different culture.
The Open Door: In Belarus, A Volunteer Reflects on Service and Community
As a JDC volunteer, Sergey Ignatiev embodies JDC’s longstanding commitment to compassionate service. In this reflection, Sergey discusses the meaning of volunteerism, and how JDC has changed his life.
Global Jewish Reflections | Another Level: A Weitzman-JDC Fellow Discovers Holiness in Jerusalem
What does holiness look like? Jamie Field, a second-year Weitzman-JDC Fellow, found the answer to this question in Jerusalem.
Global Jewish Reflections | On Earth Day, Reflecting on My Roots in Jewish Ukraine
For JDC volunteer Alla Krishtal in Poltava, Ukraine, Earth Day is a chance to both remember her family’s history and write the next chapter of her own Jewish story.
Through Photography and JDC, Diving Deeper Into My Beloved Israel
For JDC Ambassador Orna Stern, trips to Israel with JDC have been a chance to explore her own birthplace in a new way.
Through Trips with JDC Entwine, Learning About Global Jewish Resilience
Dan Brotman’s trips with JDC Entwine — to India, Nepal, and virtually to Morocco — have given him a master class in global Jewish resilience, offering lessons he plans to apply to his Canadian Jewish life.
You Are Not Alone: A Jewish Communal Professional Reflects on Care in the Time of Covid
COVID-19 has changed the way we care for the most vulnerable. Jutta Josepovici, a leading social services worker in Frankfurt, Germany, reflects on the challenges and opportunities of this moment.
When Matzah Was Forbidden: A Passover Story
Nina Belitskaya, 89, remembers when matzah was forbidden. In this reflection, Nina recalls the moment she risked everything so that her family could savor a timeless Passover tradition.
Global Jewish Reflections | Processing Trauma and Staying Connected to Global Jewry — Even During a Pandemic
This week’s Torah portions, Tazria-Metzora, speak of collective healing from trauma. For rabbinical student Aaron Blasband, virtual experiences with JDC Entwine provided a toolkit for processing the pandemic.
A Joint Project: A JDC Educator Reflects on Intergenerational Education
What can the elderly teach us about Passover? Educator and youth coordinator Grigoriy Morozov reflects on the importance of intergenerational education during the Passover season.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Venezuela, Overcoming Obstacles, Just as the Passover Story Teaches
For Venezuelan Jewish educator Raquel Markus-Finckler, Passover is a chance to connect her community’s journey to the ancient story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.
The Importance of Passover: Reflections from across the Jewish World
Passover is a time to celebrate Jewish freedom and resilience. In this spirit, we bring you these Passover reflections from around the JDC world.
Living in Dubai and Working to Build Jewish Community
For JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps Fellow Reva Gorelick, living in Dubai is a chance to discover the true meaning of Jewish community.
Global Jewish Reflections | Faith and Freedom: A Szarvas Leader Reflects on the Meaning of Passover
What does Passover teach us? Niki Novák, a unit head at Camp Szarvas and staff member at JCC Budapest – Bálint Ház, reflects on what lessons this story imparts to us today.
Global Jewish Reflections | Above the Arctic Circle, My Murmansk Jewish Life is Warm and Inviting
For Murmansk teen Anton Artemenko, this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra connects to his work building Jewish life in the world’s northernmost Jewish community.
Global Jewish Reflections | Hesed Was My Home. When Jewish Life Moved Online, I Followed.
Kharkiv volunteer Irina Kalashnikova discusses the power of tzedakah and global Jewish responsibility, connecting these Jewish values to the Torah portion of Vakaykhel-Pekudei.
The Past in Translation: Piecing Together Jewish History in Rural Poland
Shoshana Weiner didn’t know that her trip to Europe would culminate three generations of Jewish history. But stepping off a bus in Poland, she meets the family who made her Jewish journey possible.
Meeting the World: A JDC Entwine Alumna Encounters Her Global Jewish Family
Jill Rubin didn’t expect to find family in India. But a JDC Entwine trip, and an unexpected encounter along the way, changed her life.
Margarita Khrapunskaya: Memories of War, and a Life Well-Lived
Margarita Khrapunskaya, 88, has witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in 20th-century history. Here, Margarita describes World War II as she saw it, with all of its chaos, hardship, and human resilience.
Nothing About Us, Without Us: A Disability Rights Advocate Fights for Accessibility and Inclusion
When Ashton Rosin went to Israel for her JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps (JSC) fellowship, she discovered the challenges and opportunities that Israelis with disabilities face.
The Struggle for Inclusion: An AJT Co-President Shares Her Fight for Disability Rights
Lisa Gurko discovered her passion when she joined her local chapter of Active Jewish Teens (AJT). For Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), we’re spotlighting her story.
In Latvia, My Disability is Just One Part of My Jewish Story
Disabled for decades, Nahum Gelfand relies on JDC and its partners in Latvia for homecare and other medical services. This Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, we’re spotlighting his story.
Global Jewish Reflections | When Communist Budapest Was Shushan: My Hungarian Jewish Purim
Growing up under communist rule in 1970s Budapest, Hungarian Jewish educator Zsuzsa Fritz knew there were things she just couldn’t talk about. Now, the themes of Purim give her a framework to explore her family’s history.
Global Jewish Reflections | Building the Tabernacle: In Moldova, a Community Embraces Volunteerism and Resilience
For six years, JDC’s volunteer center in Chișinău has worked to provide aid and community to vulnerable Jews in Moldova — so when the pandemic struck, they were ready to jump into action.
In Moldova, the Next Generation Will Make You Proud — I Promise.
Growing up, Anna Véprentseva knew she was Jewish, even if the word didn’t mean much to her. Now, catalyzed by JDC-supported programs, she’s powering her community forward and cultivating a Jewish future in Moldova.
The Soul of Abraham | An AJT Leader Discovers His Purpose
At 16, Yarik Andrienko discovered something about his family’s past that changed his entire life. Now, Yarik is a leader in his city’s AJT chapter and JDC-supported JCC, working to cultivate a strong Jewish future in Ukraine.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Cuba, Building a Resilient Jewish Community Through Hope, Faith, and Hard Work
Since 1992, Rabbi Shmuel Szteinhendler has been intimately involved with the renaissance and revival of the Cuban Jewish community. This is the story of three decades of JDC’s work on the island.
Global Jewish Reflections | “Is It Scary to be Jewish There?”: Parashat Mishpatim and the Anxiety of Diaspora
For cantorial student Stefano Iacono, a JDC Entwine trip to India helped him discover new ways of thinking about exile, community, and global Jewish peoplehood.
Global Jewish Reflections | Traveling with JDC, Packing Spare Socks and Family Stories
In her trips abroad with JDC Entwine, Rabbi Stephanie Crawley had discovered she carries with her “the inherited bones and stories and memories of my family and my people.”
Global Jewish Reflections | In Ukraine, Planting Seeds for a Jewish Future on Tu Bishvat
For Marina Kucherenko — the volunteer coordinator in Melitopol, Ukraine — Tu Bishvat is a chance to reflect on the progress her Jewish community has made since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Secret to a Long Life, From a 103-Year-Old Jew in Belarus
Born in 1917, Anna Budovskaya was a POW during World War II and returned to Belarus after the Holocaust to open her city’s first dental clinic. Now she depends on JDC to survive.
In Djerba, Listening To and Learning From Tunisian Jews
When Riki Aridan began working with educators in historic Djerba, she found teachers committed to innovating Tunisian Jewish girls’ education.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Siberia, Celebrating Miracles at a Group B’nei Mitzvah
When rabbinical student Joshua Jacobs traveled to Tomsk, Russia to lead JDC’s Siberian bar/bat mitzvah program, he discovered miracles ‘… such as has never been or will ever be again.’
Global Jewish Reflections | Moving Boulders (and Building Jewish Community) Together
This week’s Torah portion, Vaiera, reminds us of the power of the collective to tackle communal programs, Rabbi Joshua Mikutis writes.
A Love Letter to Artifacts: The Treasures Housed in JDC’s Archives
For JDC archivist Abra Cohen, objects like a DP camp tallit or a scrapbook from wartime Shanghai help tell the story of JDC’s impact since 1914.
Global Jewish Reflections | Using Torah Study to Give Back to My Ukrainian Jewish Community During the Pandemic
When the pandemic came, volunteer Valentina Limonova began recording a weekly Torah study lesson for the Jewish community of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Moldova, Building a Bridge Between Generations
When Ruth Penan traveled to Moldova on a JDC staff study trip, she got to see the organization’s lifesaving work firsthand.
Caring for Ukraine’s Most Vulnerable Elderly Jews: My Passion, My Purpose
JDC homecare worker Nadezhda Borsch cares for vulnerable elderly Jews in Kyiv, Ukraine — something she sees as a responsibility and a calling.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Georgia and Azerbaijan, Food Felt Like a Family Reunion
While on a trip to the Caucasus with JDC Entwine, Rabbi Sarah Berman discovered the importance of food in bringing communities together and helping Jews in need.
Global Jewish Reflections | Celebrating Havdalah, Community, and Connection in Havana
Havdalah is a chance not just to transition out of Shabbat but also our own power to create and build community, JDC Entwine’s Rabbi Joshua Mikutis writes.
Global Jewish Reflections | Dancing in Russia, Balancing Family Reunion and Global Jewish Responsibility
When Sarah Allen was 26, she traveled to Russia and danced with a stranger at a Passover seder in Tver — an encounter that continues to inspire her today.
Global Jewish Reflections | Far From Home, Celebrating Chanukah in Spain
Now living in Spain, rabbinical student Becky Jaye describes how she’s found comfort and community in the country’s Jewish history.
An Ode to Community and Draniki, the Humble Belarusian Latke
In tracking down recipes for draniki, the Belarusian potato pancake, JDC’s Marina Gatskan discovers powerful story of Jewish community revival.
Global Jewish Reflections | For Bulgarian Jews, JDC Serves as the Best Kind of Big Brother
Jewish educator Maxim Delchev reflects on the story of Joseph and his brothers, connecting it to JDC’s role in the Bulgarian Jewish community.
Through Travels with JDC, Connecting My Family to the Global Jewish Story
When Kathy Kanter took a family heritage trip to Belarus, she found herself forging even deeper connections to her global Jewish family.
Global Jewish Reflections | Entwining Our Jewish Lives with Worlds of Difference
Rabbi Jesse Paikin connects Parashat Vayishlach to the importance of travel in expanding our worldview — something he learned in the Caucasus with JDC Entwine.
Global Jewish Reflections | In Ukraine, Living a Jewish Life My Ancestors Couldn’t Have Imagined
Living and working in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jewish educator Artem Okun is committed to building a Jewish future in the former Soviet Union.
Despite the Pandemic, Our Work Creating Opportunities for Israelis with Disabilities Continues
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for Israelis with disabilities, but JDC and Israel Unlimited are committed to bridging opportunity gaps.
In Moscow, Developing Leadership Skills and Building a Jewish Life of My Own
For Anna Okshevskaya, JDC’s Active Jewish Teens (AJT) youth movement is a chance to chart the course of her own Jewish journey.
In Moldova, Volunteering to Build a Better World
As a volunteer in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, Igor Chepoi works with vulnerable populations through his city’s JDC-supported volunteer center.
This International Children’s Day, Working to Build a Better Future
The pandemic underscores the need to guarantee all Israeli children have the opportunity to thrive.
Global Jewish Reflections | When We Speak Up, We Take Charge
This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, speaks of the dangers of silence and the necessity of speaking up, AJTorah counselor Misha Basin writes.
Bringing Jewish Europe Together Virtually for Learning, Connection, and Community
There’s a power to communal gatherings, even in the age of COVID-19. That’s what makes an upcoming virtual summit of European Jewish leaders so critical.
Global Jewish Reflections | Uplifting Digital Sparks: Innovative Judaism in the Digital Age
Jewish text and tradition has much to offer us in this digital age, SHIUR founder Micki Weinberg writes.
In Latin America, Partnering with Local Communities to Build a Vibrant Jewish Future
For JDC Board Member Susan Knapp, virtual missions are a chance to engage with the global Jewish community even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global Jewish Reflections | “You Shall Be a Blessing”: Parashat Vayera in a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic demands action, and looking to this week’s Torah portion of Vayera can provide a helpful model for how to help, writes Ariel Kleiner, a Brazilian rabbi.
In Vienna, Volunteers Unite Austrian Jewish Community During COVID-19
When the pandemic began, Austrian Jewish activist Robin Kratz mobilized a network of volunteers to assist Vienna’s most vulnerable Jews.
Global Jewish Reflections | Lekh Lekha Teaches Us to Grow Authentically
When Rabbi Zsolt Balla discovered Camp Szarvas, he found a place that would help him grow but still stay true to himself.
JCDR: Coming Together to Help Communities Recover From Disasters
Learn all about the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR), which brings together humanitarian organizations like JDC, AJWS, HIAS, IsraAid, AJC, and World Jewish Relief.
Global Jewish Reflections | Noah: The Bible’s First Influencer
The Biblical story of Noah can teach us how to adapt to moments where we feel subject to forces beyond our control, says Rabbi Ari Sigal, a Kaplan Leadership Fellow in Chile.
For One Szarvas Alumnus, T-Shirts Help Bring Camp Home
For Andras Paszternák, his large collection of camp T-shirts is a way to show his love for Szarvas, the JDC-Ronald S. Lauder Foundation international Jewish summer camp in Hungary.
In Warsaw, Building Polish Jewish Identity Through Celebration and Exploration
Growing up, Kaja never knew she was Jewish. Now she serves as the Warsaw JCC’s teen coordinator, educating the next generation of Polish Jews.
In Kaliningrad, Jewish Community Comes Together During Pandemic
When the pandemic began, the Jewish community of Kaliningrad answered the call, caring for its most vulnerable. Learn more in this post from the Russian city’s Hesed director.
Finding Community in Los Angeles and Around the Jewish World with JDC Entwine
When Sarah Herman got connected with JDC, she realized the organization was already part of her family’s post-Holocaust Jewish journey. Now, through travel, she’s found Jewish community around the world.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding Hakafot in the COVID Era
As a JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Helsinki, Jake Berger discovered the joy of the Simchat Torah hakafot celebration. This year, with communal celebration impossible, he considers the meaning of the tradition.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Shemini Atzeret, Volunteering to Remember
In honor of Shemini Atzeret, Sasha Nazar, head of the JDC-supported Lviv Volunteer Center, writes about his work cleaning Jewish cemeteries in small towns where there have been no Jews for more than 70 years, and why he finds it so meaningful.
For One Kaplan Leadership Fellow, Strengthening Her Community Starts With Its Children
As the director of the JDC-supported Jewish Family Service in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Irina Oksenenko is building her community’s future by helping children in need. Thanks to the Kaplan Leadership Initiative, she has the training to do it.
Global Jewish Reflections | Living Richly, Even in a Fragile Sukkah
In the midst of a year of crisis, Brazilian Rabbi and Kaplan Leadership Fellow Ari Oliszewski considers what it means to be truly rich.
One Israeli Social Worker On Helping Families Face Coronavirus
Nitza Kamil reflects on the women she serves as a social worker with JDC’s Families First program in Israel, and how their lives have changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Ukraine and Back Home in England, Volunteering Deepens Jewish Identity
Andrew Williams learned about community and responsibility when he volunteered with JDC Entwine in Kharkiv in 2018-2019. When the pandemic struck, he jumped at the chance to continue volunteering, this time virtually.
Global Jewish Reflections | These High Holy Days, Considering New Beginnings
In honor of Shabbat Shuvah (the ‘Shabbat of Repentance’ between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), Camp Szarvas Program Director Mina Pasajlic asks us to look forward toward new beginnings.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding Gratitude and Responsibility in Isolation
In honor of the High Holy Days, Rabbi Alex Braver shares a talmudic story of isolation and offers a contemporary complement — the story of Liudmila Starikovich, who has been unable to leave her home in Belarus for over a decade.
Global Jewish Reflections | Honoring My Grandparents’ Jewish Journey to Australia
For a Yom Kippur unlike any other, Taryn Silver brings the Yizkor memorial service home, sharing her grandparents’ story of surviving the Holocaust and journeying to Australia. It’s one that inspired her to explore Jewish Europe and brought her back to her hometown of Melbourne.
Global Jewish Reflections | Teshuvah, Tefillah, Corona: Marking the High Pandemic Days
In this final Elul reflection, JDC-Europe’s director of Jewish education considers three Jewish lessons we can take from the coronavirus pandemic.
In Israel, Hebrew as a Second Language Unlocks Opportunity
JDC-Israel staff member Saeed Diabat has helped build a program to empower the Arab community in Israel with Hebrew language skills. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the program had to quickly adapt to the new reality.
Continuing the Cycle: How One Belarusian JDC Staff Member Discovered Her Grandparents’ JDC Story
Marina Gatskan grew up wondering about her grandparents’ lives in Moldova. As a JDC staff member, she delved into the archives and made an incredible discovery.
Global Jewish Reflections | Dismantling the Borders of Our Hearts This Elul
Rabbinical student and Weitzman–JDC Fellow Anna Calamaro traveled to Romania and Russia with JDC Entwine. Along the way, she discovered the power of opening ourselves up to one another, instead of closing ourselves in.
From Sarajevo to Szarvas and Back Again: How JDC’s Jewish Summer Camp Inspires Volunteerism
Blanka Nicevic found her Jewish identity at Camp Szarvas. When COVID-19 hit her home of Sarajevo, her camp experience inspired her to help her community.
Thinking Outside the Box: How AJT is Bringing Jewish Teens Together, Remotely
Active Jewish Teens — powered by partnerships with BBYO and Genesis Philanthropy Group — has become masterful at developing ways to attract and inspire Jewish teens in the former Soviet Union. But since the coronavirus pandemic began, it’s had to shift everything online.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding Unity and Diversity with India’s Jewish Community
When Rabbi Joshua Mikutis traveled to Cochin to visit its Jewish community, he encountered both the commonalities and differences that make the global Jewish experience so meaningful.
Helping Israeli Families Fight Poverty, Even in a Pandemic
Families First tackles Israeli poverty, working with 13,000 families in 113 cities across whole spectrum of Israeli society. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, that work has become more difficult, but no less important.
Global Jewish Reflections | Finding Sinai Consciousness in a Zoombombing
When mindfulness teacher Martin Schubert discovered his virtual meditation session had been ‘zoombombed,’ he turned to Jewish traditions for support.
From Fears to Peers: How One Russian Teen Found Community in His Jewish Heritage
Three years ago, Leonid Rud was afraid of being Jewish. Now, he’s the co-president of Active Jewish Teens, a network that reaches more than 3,200 Jewish teens in 63 cities across the former Soviet Union.
At Szarvas, Summer Camp is the Gateway to Jewish Leadership
For Rebeka Mucheva, a summer at Camp Szarvas was her first step toward becoming a Jewish leader in both her home of North Macedonia and the global Jewish community.
Global Jewish Reflections | This Elul, We Are All Each Other’s Beloveds
In Jewish tradition, Elul — the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah — is a particularly sacred time of preparation for the new year. To commemorate its start, rabbinical student Rachel Simmons explores a verse from Song of Songs.
In India, Helping Self-Employed Women Overcome Coronavirus
In honor of World Humanitarian Day, we share the stories of three women who’ve been helped by JDC’s partnership with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Cooperative Federation in India.
Helping Young German Jews Navigate a Complicated Identity
For Benjamin Fischer, reconciling his German and Jewish identities has been a lifelong project. Fortunately, JDC has been there to help.
Fighting Israeli Elderly’s Coronavirus Loneliness with Socially Distanced “Parties”
In the face of coronavirus, JDC and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation have organized a series of socially distant parties in Israel, bringing happiness and joy to isolated elderly.
At the Warsaw JCC, Coronavirus Can’t Stop Jewish Cooking Classes
Maria Kos of the Warsaw JCC shares how she brings Jewish cooking to her community, even when it has to happen over Zoom.
Tu B’Av: A Jewish Love Story Over a Decade in the Making
For Tu B’Av, we share the love story of two young Moldovan Jewish people whose romance was interwoven with their participation in and leadership of the JDC-supported Jewish community of B?l?i.
Tu B’Av: From Szarvas, a Summer Camp Love Story
In the spirit of Tu B’Av, we share Hanga and Szoszo’s story of finding love at Camp Szarvas, the JDC-Ronald S. Lauder Foundation international Jewish summer camp in Hungary.
On Tisha B’Av, Mourning Tragedy and Building the Jewish Future
In honor of Tisha B’Av, Rabbi Joshua Mikutis reflects on a trip to Latvia that brought him face-to-face with Latvian Jews’ tragic history and hopeful future.
In Georgia, JDC’s Active Jewish Teens Network Has Become a Family Tradition
As a counselor for JDC’s Active Jewish Teens program in Tbilisi, Duka Kakiashvili is helping build the next generation of young Jewish leaders — alongside his mother.
Amidst Coronavirus, One Jewish Teen in Moldova Rallied Volunteers to Feed the Homebound Elderly
When coronavirus hit Moldova, Katya Rybak had an idea: Her family could use their restaurant to cook for elderly Jews who could no longer leave their homes.
JDC’s Ralph I. Goldman Fellow Reflects on Jewish Responsibility and Resilience
JDC Entwine’s Ralph I. Goldman Fellow considers what he’s learned since the Coronavirus pandemic began through the lens of Ralph I. Goldman’s own words.
In Israel, Adapting Rehabilitation to the Reality of Coronavirus
When Covid-19 transformed her family life and her geriatric rehabilitation work, Amanda Klahr found ways to make the challenges into opportunities.
In Bulgaria, a New Jewish Day School Faces Coronavirus
The Jewish community in Sofia, Bulgaria accomplished something incredible — opening their own Jewish day school. But just as they found their sea legs, the coronavirus pandemic hit.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fighting Breast Cancer and Coronavirus the Jewish Way
Former JDC employee and ThinkPink founder Nela Hasic shares how coronavirus has changed the work of fighting breast cancer but leaves her hopeful for the future.
World Refugee Day: A Jewish Recipe from One Woman Making a New “Warm Home” in Ukraine
In honor of World Refugee Day, we share the story of Meri Zegelman, an Internally Displaced Person in Ukraine, who has become a vital member of her new home community in Kharkiv. Plus one of her recipes!
Betting on a Jewish Future: How the Kaplan Leadership Initiative Supports Young Jewish Leaders
Sasha Gutenberg, Hillel director in Novosibirsk, Russia, writes about how the Kaplan Leadership Initiative has empowered her to join an international community of young leaders who are building the Jewish future.
Vulnerable and Isolated: A Whole New Meaning
One JDC staff member reflects on how the coronavirus pandemic has given her new insight into the plight faced by the elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union that JDC serves.
In Ethiopia, a Long Walk to a Healthy Spine
Bires Gashu used to be mocked for his spinal deformity. Here, he shares the story of his long trek to receive live-changing care from Dr. Rick Hodes.
The Bulgarian Jewish Community, Coming Together While Social Distancing
The CEO of the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria reflects on how COVID-19 has brought her community together, even as they’ve been forced to remain apart.
Jewish American Heritage Month: President Truman Celebrates JDC
In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, we’re sharing a letter President Harry S. Truman sent to JDC Chairman Edward Warburg in 1945, expressing his praise for JDC’s post-war relief effort.
In a Pandemic, Providing Care from a Distance
Liliya Tarnopolskaya, case manager for the JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center in Kiev, shares how she and her team are adapting to COVID-19 and providing care to their elderly clients from a distance.
Jewish American Heritage Month: The Enduring Bond Between JDC and the USA
JDC’s historical advisor explores JDC’s century-long history of partnership with the US Government and Americans to provide aid to those in need.
In the UK, Learning How to Build Jewish Community Resilience
For the past few years, the Leeds Jewish Community has been building structures for community resilience. Now, in a pandemic, they’re putting their preparations to use and rising to the challenge.
On the 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, Celebrating JDC’s Lifesaving Post-War Relief Effort
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, JDC Writer and Historical Advisor Ilana Stern explores JDC’s lifesaving post-war relief effort, as well as how it can inspire hope during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus Updates from the Essential Workers on the Front Lines
In honor of #GivingTuesdayNow, we’re sharing two coronavirus updates from the front lines of JDC’s essential work.
Coronavirus Lessons on Life and Leadership
One JDC staffer reflects on the lessons that are guiding her through the coronavirus crisis.
In Ukraine, Volunteering Continues Despite Coronavirus
Over the past two years, Olga Afanasyeva of Dnipro, Ukraine has focused her attention on volunteering at JDC’s elderly call center. Now, under coronavirus, her work is even more vital.
On Yom HaShoah, Remembering What We’ve Been Given
To commemorate Yom HaShoah, Alex Weisler shares the story of the time he spent with Ukrainian Holocaust survivor Asya Seredenko.
Finding Her Community: Ana’s Story of Global Jewish Discovery
23-year-old JDC Entwine Community Representative Ana Omelchuk reflects on a journey to find her Jewish community that took her from Kiev to Tel Aviv with stops in Nepal and Argentina.
5 Ways to Make This Year’s Seder More Global
This Passover will be unlike any before, but you can make the most of it by introducing some new traditions to your already-unusual celebration.
How Was That Night Different? Bringing Seders Back to the USSR
On the 30th anniversary of Operation Passover, discover how — nearly two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union — JDC helped thousands of Jews celebrate public Passover Seders for the very first time.
“Judaism at its Best”: JDC in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, there are 105 million people. Rick Hodes is the only spine doctor for the entire population.
Volunteering for the Future
How Yulia Zhigailova found her place in a new community by kickstarting its volunteerism movement.
INSIDE TOV: Israel’s Role in Transforming Ethiopian Farming
In honor of Tu B’shvat, we’re taking a deeper dive into one aspect of Tikkun Olam Ventures (TOV),JDC’s innovative program that combines Jewish philanthropy and Israeli agricultural know-how to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.
After the Liberation: The Hard Work of Relief and Recovery Begins
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, learn how JDC, acting on behalf of the Jews of North America, sprang into action as one Nazi death camp after another was liberated.
In Ukraine, Seeing Through New Eyes
Arin Kahan’s trip to Ukraine was a chance to see the work her father is so passionate about, and see her father in a new light.
At AJT, Young Leaders are the Jewish Future in the Former Soviet Union
We talked to newly elected Active Jewish Teens Co-Presidents, Irina Kozak of Kharkov, Ukraine and Leonid Rud of St. Petersburg, Russia about their new roles, their personal connections to their Jewish heritage, and what they hope to accomplish as leaders within the AJT community.
Spotlight on Sarajevo: An Epic Rescue from a City Under Siege
JDC is the global Jewish 9-1-1, putting Jewish values into action when the world needs it most. The 1992-95 Bosnian War was one of those times. The way JDC responded to the siege of Sarajevo is a story that needs retelling—to educate a new generation, and inspire us all
One Farmer at a Time, TOV Changes Lives
Launched one year ago, TOV is JDC’s program that focuses on improving the lives of farmers in Africa through access to Israeli agricultural technology and Jewish philanthropic loans.
Battling Breast Cancer in Bosnia Means Changing the Narrative
With the support of JDC, Nela Hasic and her team in Bosnia-Herzegovina her own breast cancer-fighting NGO called THINK PINK.?
A Global Experience Around the Shabbat Table
On September 13th, JDC Entwine and OneTable brought young Jews in eight cities together for a Global Shabbat Experience that combined the personal with the global.
In Conversation: The Organizers of JDC’s Global Women’s Summit
We sat down with the Imagine More co-chairs — Jayne Lipman, Michele Rosen, and Susie Stern — to find out what motivates them and why they’re so passionate about women’s issues and JDC.?
Part of Something Bigger: How Volunteering Builds Community
As a child raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish community in the United States, volunteering was a tenet taught to me from a young age. But when I graduated high school and life became busy with other engagements, my commitment to volunteering fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until I attended a volunteer conference in Kiev, Ukraine this past May that I realized what I had been missing.
Building a Flourishing Future: A Conversation with Ilia Salita
In this Q&A, Ilia Salita of Genesis Philanthropy Group shares his thoughts on the Russian-speaking Jews, philanthropy, and the future of the global Jewish community.
Voices from the Far Side of the World
We’re launching the new JDC Voices, a space where you can hear from members of the JDC family — staff, volunteers, clients, donors, and friends from all over the world. There’s no more fitting way to start than with a story we received from JDC Board member Amir Halevy, who recently visited Siberia with the photography group, Jdocu.
In Minsk, a Week of Good Deeds
In Minsk, volunteers proved again that it doesn’t take much to give back. Whether by contributing your time, skills, or money, you can make a difference in someone’s life starting today.
Sharing Traditions is One of Our Jewish Values
This Passover, we invite you to bring some of the global Jewish community’s traditions to your Seder table.
Jax’s Superheroic JDC Mitzvah Project
For his bar mitzvah project, Jax Zemachson wanted to honor his mother and best friend.
Q&A: Leading Travel Guru Sets Sights on Jewish Europe
Talking Jewish Europe with Travel Guru Ben Frank
Explore the Revamped JDC Archives Site
The JDC Archives, one of the most important collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history, holds the institutional records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee since its founding in 1914, showcasing the organization’s key humanitarian work over the past 104 years. Now, after a major revamp, the JDC Archives website is being unveiled with a crisper and cleaner look. In addition, the site’s functionality has been modernized, making it more user and mobile friendly.
JDC’s HOME: Lens on Israel, a New Photo Exhibit, Debuts in NYC
Beyond the latest headlines on Israel is an unseen world of people who make up the country, now celebrating its 70th birthday.
JDC Staff, Researchers Head to Ukraine to Witness Jewish Community Development in the FSU
As we approach the building, we are greeted by the gleeful squeals of small children clad in colorful snowsuits, at play in mounds of bright Ukrainian snow. Kindergarten is in session!
In Time for Yom HaShoah, JDC-Eshel’s Witness Theatre Program Ensures the Stories of Holocaust Survivors are Never Forgotten
On the 27th day in the month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, Jewish people will begin to observe Yom HaShoah worldwide, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yom Hashoah pays tribute to the lives and heroic efforts of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust during World War II through lighting memorial candles, reciting the kaddish (a prayer for the dead), and holding commemorative ceremonies or events.
The International Youth Seminar with a Rock-and-Roll Twist that Came to Romania
When you think of famous stars who forever changed music like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, do you also think of the Babylonian Talmud? If not, after reading about the various Jewish activities that just happened at the “Rock, Reggae, and Rebellious Royals: The Rhythms of Jewish Life as Seen through the Rhythms of Popular Song” international youth seminar, from March 15-18, in Timisoara, Romania, you just might.
Here’s How JDC and Jewish Communities Celebrate Purim Across the World
From February 28 to March 1, vibrant festivals and events will be held globally to commemorate Purim, the holiday that recounts the heroic efforts of Mordecai and Esther, the twosome who foiled Haman’s evil plan to kill the Jews in the ancient Persian Empire.
In Israel, a Love Story Brings Home Disabilities Plight
For 30-year-old Israeli couple Lior and Lotem, who met on a dating website, Valentine’s Day is especially meaningful as it marks Lotem’s birthday, which is also the same day the couple got engaged. Lior, who works at a pharmacy, and Lotem, who works at her father’s business, were married this past September in an emotional ceremony with 300 guests in attendance.
With the Last Day of Chanukah, Hope for Poor Jews Burns Bright
In a 200-year-old home in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikolaev, an elderly woman sits alone, looking out the window at the passersby. Perhaps her mind has wandered to happier times as she’s watched the hustle and bustle of the last week when fellow Jews celebrated Chanukah.
An American in Kharkov: Visiting AJT
As one of the few American participants, I felt a special bond and closeness with these amazing young people and their journey, which is far from over.
Spreading Chanukah’s Miracle of Light
Each year we celebrate Chanukah by remembering the miracle of light. Left with only one day’s worth of oil, the Maccabees found themselves with eight days of light.
Nothing About Us Without Us: Ruderman Inclusion Summit 2017
When we hear of someone who is different, someone who has a physical or mental disability, many people feel uncomfortable and create barriers in their perception. The Ruderman family has devoted their considerable time, skills and resources not only to helping people with disabilities, but also to helping everyone else to understand how much we gain by incorporating them into our lives instead, and not pushing them away.
Celebrating IFCJ and a Life-Saving JDC Partnership
Sitting with Vera, it is her tearful eyes that first grab your attention.
At 62-years-old, her struggles have been endless. But it is her inability to get through the month, the grinding poverty she experiences, that occupies her thoughts.
Natalia Finds Miracles in Simple Gifts this New Year
At Rosh Hashanah, Natalia B., a 63-year-old widow in Sumy, Ukraine, reminds us that people should always live with hope. She says ‘we must believe in the good in this world, and in miracles.’
From the Hamptons to the Berkshires, JDC’s Getting Out the Word
Besides being major summer hotspots and beautiful locations, the Hamptons and the Berkshires were recently the destinations for two not-to-miss JDC events. The Amagansett-based Next Wave event hosted in the home of the Rosen Family, including JDC Board Members Leslie and Michele Rosen, and husband Stan, and the West Stockbridge-based special event held in the home of JDC Emeritus Board Member Helene Berger informed new audiences about JDC’s present and past relief work.
Fostering Joy for FSU Elderly
At face value, 85-year old Morris, who lives alone in a remote, rundown cottage he built himself in Zhitomer, Ukraine is a mirror of the tragic circumstances of his life.
UN Event Brings JDC, Israel Partnership for the Elderly to the Forefront
When you think of the elderly living in senior living facilities, do the words “vibrant” and “exciting” immediately come to mind? If they didn’t before, they will after seeing the New Look at Aging photo exhibition, a collection featuring original, colorful, and compelling photos of active seniors from Israeli photographer Oren Biran.
My Grandmother’s JDC Story
I’m grateful to JDC for having such an important mission and working hard to help Jews around the world like, once upon a time, my grandmother.
Forging Hungary’s Jewish Future
The support of American Jews, at this crucial times are so needed and so greatly appreciated by those of us who understand well the realities – both the challenges and the opportunities – in Hungary right now.
Holli Rafkin-Sax: My introduction to JDC
My route to JDC was less direct than others I assume. I came from a very reform Jewish family in Boston area where history and tradition were important but we were not very observant.
JDC Entwine Trip Participants Celebrate Lag B’Omer Moroccan Style
This past weekend marked Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day of the Omer, a light-hearted Jewish holiday that marks a break in the mourning customs associated with the counting of the seven-week period from Passover to Shavuot. Jews traditionally celebrate the holiday with outings, bonfires, weddings, and other community ceremonies.
What My Trip to Russia Meant to Me
We left Moscow at the crack of dawn this morning and headed out for a trek to the edge of Siberia to a town called Yekaterinburg. There are about 62,000 Jews in this rural central region of Russia, which comprises about 20% of Russia’s territory. This includes some 11,000 elderly Jews (many of whom are Holocaust survivors) that JDC supports with food, shelter, and medical assistance. JDC is also active in helping organize and sustain the Jewish community, including a variety of youth programs
My Thoughts After Visiting Cuba with JDC Ambassadors
I have known about and spoken about the amazing work JDC does on behalf of the Jews all over the world, but not until a recent trip with JDC Ambassadors to visit the Jewish Community in Cuba was I was able to witness the rebirth of a Jewish community first hand
JDC and Partners Bring Trees, Books to Filipino School
As people around the world gear up to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday, April 22nd, the recent work that JDC, the Jewish Association of the Philippines (JAP), and Israel did by planting trees to absorb flood waters still present at the Mambusao Elementary School in the Philippines has important resonance.
Healthy Parenting Transforms Israeli Families
The program helps families change old habits, make new healthier lifestyle choices and achieve their family goals.
Learning from Hungarian Jews
Despite many challenges, including anti-Semitism and the rise of extremist nationalist groups, many Jews in Hungary are proud to express their Jewishness and we can support them and learn from their experiences.
A First Trip “There,” Forever Ingrained
As I started putting everything together that I would need for my first trip to Ukraine, my initial venture to the former Soviet Union that I’ve heard inspiring narratives about nearly every day for a year, my eyes drifted to the power converter set my grandmother lent me. Opening it, I saw my grandfather’s name etched inside. He’d passed away nearly three and a half years ago, and I was extremely close with him, so my mind was at ease knowing that no matter what experiences awaited me, Grandpa Leon would be with me every step of the way, especially as his parents were from that part of the world.
Passover: A Moment to Come Together
I’m so proud to be co-chairing JDC’s Passover Journey Campaign, which gives us Board members an opportunity to share with our networks our passion for the lifesaving work JDC carries out around the globe.
An Insider Look into JDC’s Relief Work, Women’s Livelihood initiative in Nepal
“Namaste,” said Bandana Rana, one of the key leaders of the women’s movement in Nepal, her country of origin and the home of her fellow activists Suvekchya Rana and Uma Shah.
A Purim Roundup: JDC and Europe’s Jewish Communities Celebrate with Activities
Despite challenges like anti-Semitism, far-right political extremism, and terrorism, European Jewish communities celebrated Purim with pride.
Israel Unlimited Making Strides to End Disabilities Stigmas
While Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month in coming to a close, the work of JDC’s Israel Unlimited — a partnership between JDC, the Ruderman Family Foundation, and the Government of Israel — continues at full speed, providing the opportunity for people with disabilities to live independently and lead rich fulfilling lives.
Celebrating Chanukah with Ashalim and Better Together
Last week, Jews across the world came together to light candles and revel in the miracles of Chanukah. Different cultures even celebrated the holiday according to their own centuries-old traditions. Across the State of Israel, Jewish communities began nurturing new Chanukah traditions, too.
JDC, Jewish Community of Romania Hosts Countrywide Tu B’Shevat Celebrations
Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish Arbor Day occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, is known for its various rituals like eating a new fruit on this day, conducting a special Seder, and eating from the seven species (shivat haminim) such as– wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates –that originally grew in Israel.
Migdal JCC of Odessa Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Some 600 people converged on Odessa, Ukraine, on Feb. 5 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s Migdal Jewish Community – the first JCC in the former Soviet Union (FSU).
The four-hour celebration’s guests included leaders of the city and region’s Jewish organizations, local rabbis, former and current JCC members, staff, volunteers, and families.
On World Cancer Day, JDC’s WHEP Battles Breast Cancer and Empowers Women
As millions of people around the world mark World Cancer Day on February 4, Itai Shamir, Program Director of JDC’s WHEP Program, recalls the power of community when thousands of women in Sarajevo gathered for the annual Race for the Cure.
Bulgaria: Small Jewish Community, Big Impact
I can’t say I’ve ever spent much time thinking about Jewish Bulgaria, past or present. But if I had, I probably would have made the following assumptions based on what I thought I knew about Eastern Europe: (1) Bulgarian Jews were Ashkenazi; (2) they were shomer Shabbos (Shabbat-observant); (3) Their community was decimated by the Nazis, with plenty of assistance from local anti-Semites; (4) Those few who survived immediately set about rebuilding their cultural and religious Jewish lives.
When Deadly Cold Sets in, JDC’s Winter Relief Warms the Most Vulnerable
As this week saw an unprecedented cold snap for people in Europe and the former Soviet Union (FSU) resulting in the deaths of more than 60, JDC’s Winter Relief program was well underway. Now in its 25th year, the critical aid program ensures that thousands of poor Jews, including homebound elderly — without the resources or ability to secure appropriate supplies — get the critical support they need to survive frigid temperatures in places with little local support to help them.
When Deadly Cold Sets in, JDC’s Winter Relief Warms the Most Vulnerable
As this week saw an unprecedented cold snap for people in Europe and the former Soviet Union (FSU) resulting in the deaths of more than 60, JDC’s Winter Relief program was well underway.
AJT Conference Showcases Surging Jewish Teen Life in FSU
Today’s teens often spend their time navigating the world of adulthood, learning about the world, and themselves, through fast-paced information channels, and ultimately establishing their own unique identity. To support this journey on a global scale, JDC has prioritized supporting Jewish teen life around the world, largely through our global partnership with BBYO, the largest Jewish pluralistic teen movement.
Q&A with JDC CEO David Schizer
The mission is 102 years old, but it’s very simple to describe: We save Jewish lives and we build Jewish life. In so many places in the world, Jewish people are living in really difficult conditions. I’ve been to Ukraine, and I’ve met elderly people who live on pensions that are $2 a day, because the currency in Ukraine has declined so much in the last few years. These people depend on us to live meaningful lives, to be able to function. We also are so committed to the idea of helping Jewish communities become better organized, so they can provide for themselves.
Act Now: Jewish Response for Aleppo Evacuees
As the world is focused on the plight of those being evacuated from the besieged city of Aleppo, the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR), chaired by JDC, has swiftly moved to meet the needs of these beleaguered civilians.
Experiencing the Flavor of Jewish Life with JDC
Different foods tell a myriad of stories through their ingredients and spices, bringing together Jewish people from around the world for generations through the joyful process of cooking and the shared eating of these dishes.
JDC FSU and Israel Departments Team Up to Promote Volunteerism
You might think JDC’s Former Soviet Union (FSU) department would have little in common with Ashalim, our partnership with the Government of Israel to address children and youth at risk.
Carrying Ralph Goldman’s Legacy Forward
Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson and Israel Supreme Court Deputy President Eliyakim Rubinstein were among the distinguished guests today at the opening of the Ralph I. Goldman Center for Social Welfare, Ethics, and Judaism at the university’s Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, where Prof. Yedidiya Stern presented the opening lecture.
Fires in Israel Draw JDC Response
As raging fires in Israel caused scores of injuries and widespread fear, the evacuation of more than 70,000, and the destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, JDC mobilized its Israel emergency response system and wide-ranging network of government of Israel, local municipality, and NGO partners to assess needs and ensure the most vulnerable Israelis aided by JDC are safe and cared.We remain proud of Israel’s stalwart response to this crisis, the aid offered by neighbors and other nations to fight the fires, and especially the outpouring of support by everyday Israelis for their fellow citizens facing so much loss. Included among those offering such help were Lev Echad – the leading national Israeli NGO providing volunteers that JDC has long supported – which deployed 100 volunteers in Haifa and a group of Arab and Jewish mayors from JDC’s Mayor’s Forum and from the Beit Ha’Kerem region in Israel’s north who rallied to host evacuated families, organize volunteers, and ensure various kinds of assistance.Reaffirming our support for those most in need in of critical services in times of crisis, we also activated our ‘Center for Independent Living’ online platform for people with disabilities to receive real-time help around the clock. This web-based interactive portal of Israel Unlimited – the JDC partnership with the government of Israel and the Ruderman Family Foundation — is providing services, including support to calm concerns, and emergency information, for people with every kind of disability.
2nd Annual European Jewish Resilience Conference Helps Strengthen Tenacious Jewish Communities
As European Jews continue to face challenges including terror attacks, growing nationalism, rising anti-Semitism, the Syrian refugee crisis, and complex socioeconomic challenges, JDC believes strengthening Jewish community resilience and planning for the future are key to ensuring thriving Jewish life across the continent.
Life is But a Dream at New Halom JCC in Kiev
Despite many ongoing challenges in Ukraine today, Jewish life is thriving. Yesterday, Kiev’s Jewish community and JDC held a special dedication for the Halom Jewish Community Center (JCC) in a ceremony that highlights the incredible revitalization of Jewish life since the fall of Communism, and even in the face of the current crisis.
Romania’s Bereshit Event Turns 13
‘Imagine getting to meet with 400 Jews who we don’t get to see every day in a reunion that is positive and energizing,’ said Luciana Friedman, President of the Jewish community in Timisoara, Romania.
A School, a Shofar, and a Question
Penny and Claudio Pincus recently traveled to Israel and visited a school that’s part of a JDC program called ‘Schools With a Heart,’ for which they have been providing vitally important funding.This unique endeavor is testing an approach to identify, diagnose, assist, counsel, and guide children at risk of poor performance given either social, psychological, or cognitive difficulties.Penny and Claudio visited Kadima, a primary school in Kiriat Bialik, an area of Haifa. The school was selected to be a pilot and embraced the opportunity; the major, principal, and teachers personally mobilized the city in support.
Haiti Update: Recovering From Hurricane Matthew
As Floridians brace for Hurricane Matthew, and our thoughts and prayers are with them, the people of Haiti are already grappling with the storm’s devastating impact.In fact, with Hurricane Matthew, Haiti — the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and one of the world’s most impoverished countries — has experienced its biggest humanitarian disaster since the 2010 earthquake.
Hesed and Moishe House Team Up in Minsk
Residents of the Moishe House in Minsk recently partnered with JDC’s Hesed social welfare center in the Belarusian capital city for a special Shabbat event. To get a taste of the event, we checked in with 80-year-old Vera to see what made it so extraordinary.
JDC in a Changing World
The following is a speech given by Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein at a JDC Schiff Society meeting on September 26, 2016. It is a tremendous honor to be with you this evening and a special joy to again have the opportunity to personally salute you who are involved in and support JDC. I’ve said before but it is never sufficient enough to thank you for your furthering the mandate of one of the great heroic organizations of Jewish life. I have seen your work in action around much of this world and continue to marvel at the outreach and goodness emanating from the firmest of Jewish values as they are embodied in this organization. I especially thank Phyllis Hattis Rubin for hosting us and Rebecca Neuwirth for her tenacity in getting me here. I also want to recognize though he could not be here this evening your new CEO-designate David Schizer. He is brilliant, eminently decent and wise, and devoted to the best of Jewish life. I congratulate both David and you for your decision to move on together.
Jewish Families Come Together to Celebrate Shabbaton in Style
For the first time, 33 at-risk children and their families, with the youngest child less than a year old, traveled to a retreat center outside of Odessa for a celebratory Shabbaton — a chance to rejoice and make lifelong memories.
How a Small Initiative Became a Lifeline for Refugees
I’m walking around Belgrade, it’s the summer of 2016, and a global humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before my eyes.
In Cuba, Blending Fun and Jewish Community
For most people, summer vacation is a chance to organize trips, family outings, and visits to parks and cultural attractions — in short, some much-needed rest.
Odessa Horse Therapy Program Helps Children In Need
13 year-old Egor is one of five at-risk Ukrainian Jewish children with special needs from the Odessa community who recently visited the city’s Horse Club for a special therapy program.
Celebrating Shabbat Together in Turkey
Our Shabbat event was amazing! We had so much fun. I got the idea when I was sent to a Tzeadim Yesod training program in Jerusalem, and we went to an amazing Kabbalat Shabbat event. I wanted to have an experience like that in my community, and we did it! Now we have people celebrating — congratulating us, saying they didn’t understand the concept before and asking when we’ll hold another one. I’m so happy.
From the CEO: Memory in Action – Elie Wiesel, JDC in Poland
The persistence, and power, of memory in Jewish life is undeniable. It is a driver of many great achievements and gives us pause when brazen acts of inhumanity interrupt our daily routines in the form of terrorism, hate, and persecution.
Remembering Elie Wiesel
The death of Elie Wiesel has hit me particularly hard, as my last surviving uncle is only one year younger and ill. The last survivors of the Holocaust are dying and as a child of survivors, I feel as though we are losing the connection to that Jewish world that was destroyed by the Holocaust.
NYC Interfaith Volunteer Effort for Syrian Refugees Underscores Partnership for JDC
For three years now, the civil war raging in Syria has produced millions of refugees fleeing violence, presenting a global humanitarian challenge to nations in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.
JDC Participates in “Israel Opens Doors” Exhibit
In the heart of Russia’s capital city, in the Manezh exhibition hall, the ‘Israel Opens Doors’ exhibit — running through June 12 — celebrates the 25th anniversary of the resurrection of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Jewish state. JDC’s ‘Privilege to Help’ project is a key component of the presentation.
Entwined: Me, Sabah and JDC
Growing up as the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor always seemed normal. Just like the slight Polish accent I couldn’t detect or the fact that my 100-year-old grandfather exercised every morning, none of it seemed weird, special, or out of the ordinary. As I grew up I learned that my grandfather and his life were not normal or ordinary at all. Everyone didn’t have a Holocaust-surviving, money-donating, business-growing, daily-exercising, 17-grandchildren-loving, or book-writing grandfather, or Sabah as I called him.
World Humanitarian Summit Reflections
Sam Amiel, JDC’s Senior Program Director, International Development Program and Asia/Africa Region, discusses his participation in the first-ever UN World Humanitarian Summit, an event bringing together global organizations to share best practices related to improving humanitarian aid.
On the Ground in Ecuador, Delivering Critical Aid
More than a week after the devastating earthquake in Ecuador, 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.
NFTE Takes Bite Out Of Big Apple
Living in Jerusalem, 17-year-old Yaron Ohayon cares for his elderly father when he isn’t in school. Before enrolling in the Amal Lady Davis High School, Yaron dropped out of four other schools.
Gratitude and Action: Coming Together to Do Good
As we prepare for Passover, I want to call out some people in the JDC orbit whose actions seem to put into practice so much of what Passover is about.
Seeking Refuge: From Immigrant To Immigration Advocate
My mom and I pressed our faces against the large store window as we hid from the freezing cold in Moscow, while my dad stood in line behind the fence that shielded the U.S. Embassy. After hours of waiting, I saw him running down the street waving a piece of paper in the air, as if he had won the lottery. The winning lottery ticket granted us refugee status and permission to leave the USSR. It was my mother’s biggest dream to leave for the U.S. as the Soviet Union was falling apart. Her desire grew even more when civil war broke out in Transnistria, a region fighting to gain its independence from Moldova, our home country.
In Moscow, Powerful Play Bridges Generations
As the 60 elderly clients of JDC’s Hesed social welfare centers in Moscow entered the city’s ORT Moscow Technology School, they were swarmed by students. Delighted, they began answering dozens of their questions – thrilled to be back in school again.
Building Connections Between Jewish Communities in the Former Soviet Union
More than 150 Jewish professionals from across the former Soviet Union recently participated in JDC’s sixth annual Jewish Educators’ Conference, held at the Hesed Eliyahu social welfare center in Tbilisi, Georgia.
What Drought Relief Looks Like in Gondar, Ethiopia
As you read this blog, several regions of Ethiopia are witnessing a major drought – the result of lack of rain caused by El Niño weather – leading to malnutrition in rural areas where villagers don’t have adequate access to water, food, or medical care. As this crisis is still evolving and the needs of those affected are growing daily, JDC is working in cooperation with the Ethiopian government and regional authorities to provide assistance.JDC Ethiopia staff members and volunteers recently traveled to the affected region in Gondar to assess and respond to the situation.
Behind the Story: Israeli Arab Tech Expansion Prompted by JDC Partnership
A New York Times story published on January 9 highlights the growing inclusion of Israeli Arabs in the tech industry and job market in Israel.’Israel, with a population of about eight million, has long been a global leader in high technology. But the country’s Palestinian Arab minority, which makes up about a fifth of the population and includes the Bedouins of the arid south, one of the poorest and most neglected sectors of Israeli society, has been largely left out,’ the piece said, setting the context for the increasing numbers now being employed in Israel.But what you may not know is that JDC – in partnership with the Israeli government, local NGOs, and Israeli Arab leaders – created the pilot program, Excel HT, that was developed to enable Arab programmers, engineers, and graduates in high tech to become part of Israel’s rapidly growing tech space.
Back to the Future: Active Jewish Teens
Lvov, in Western Ukraine, is just a few hours away from Rovno, the city where I was born and spent the first years of my life. In the early ’90s, my mother was always eager to take us to Jewish events there, but the truth is: None of us really had an idea about anything, not about Chanukah, Yom Kippur, or lightning candles on Shabbat. For us, being Jewish was a very abstract thing. It wasn’t connected to traditions and religion; rather, the ‘J’ in our passports indicated a different nationality and meant discrimination, harder access to universities, worse job opportunities.It’s been 21 years and now I’m a JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps fellow, back in the same country my parents once felt forced to leave. Loud Israeli pop beats are all around, and wherever I turn my eyes, hundreds of Jewish teens are bustling about, looking for their friends and their assigned hotel rooms. The AJT (Active Jewish Teens) conference in Lvov is on fire and people came from all over: Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, and ‘my’ new country: Georgia, where I am currently serving as a Fellow in the community.It has been less than two years since AJT began as a grassroots initiative, but here in Lvov I encounter a huge and powerful youth movement with self-confidence, agenda, and drive. For almost all my seven Georgian teens, the conference is their first-ever opportunity to meet up with Jewish teens outside of their own national borders. Some cities – like Kharkov or Dnepropetrovsk in Eastern Ukraine – came with huge teen entourages, while others – like us in Tbilisi – brought just a few. I hear how ideas are shared and projects presented. Teens and youth club coordinators from all over discuss their communities.
At Szarvas Summer Camp, Finding My Own Jewish Identity
Szarvas gave me an understanding of how precious Judaism is, what an asset it is to my identity.
Empowering Grassroots Innovation
Innovation, effectiveness and compassion are hallmarks of JDC’s important work caring for Jews and others in need. As JDC enters its second century of work, it is at the vanguard of the movement to foster grassroots innovation – lending its experience and infrastructure to promising social innovators and supporting local leaders as they activate their visions and create lasting social change.
Building Community in Jewish China
For the fourth year in a row, the Chinese Jewish community met to discuss a vast selection of educational topics — ranging from Jews living in occupied Shanghai to ‘Gematria for Dummies’ — at the Limmud conference in Beijing.
Making Meaningful Connections in Houston
Ukrainian and Hungarian Jews, Israelis, and American Jewish leaders converged on Houston for the first-ever Global Symposium in Texas, organized by JDC and the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston on November 1.
Helping Syrian Refugees Study and Smile in Turkey
Last week, I had the privilege of working with our partner International Blue Crescent (IBC) and Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, president of Turkey’s Jewish community. We were in Gaziantep, Turkey’s sixth-largest city with about 1.25 million people and now the home of an estimated 250,000 Syrian refugees.
JDC Responds to the South Asia Earthquake
In the wake of a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake in South Asia – impacting Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan – JDC has made two emergency grants to partners who will provide medical and emergency aid in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Celebrating 10 Years of Limmud Keshet Bulgaria
Over the past 10 years, Limmud Keshet here in Bulgaria has changed significantly. Every year, we see more and more sessions – but what’s more important is that every year more and more volunteers want to be a part of Limmud.
From the CEO: On Jewish Unity and Inclusion
It seems to be an oft-cited truth that the Jewish community is, at many levels, divided.
Dispatch: Standing With Israelis During Troubled Times
As Israelis continue to face increasing terror attacks, Prof. Yossi Tamir, JDC’s Israel Regional Director, sent the following dispatch on JDC’s role in addressing the tensions and fears among Israelis at this time of uncertainty and violence: ‘Israel is yet again going through a difficult time.
Finding My Global Jewish Family in “Georgia (Europe)”
It all started by trying to figure out what ‘Georgia (Europe)’ even was. That’s how they wrote it in the letter that everyone interested in traveling with JDC received. To my surprise, this Georgia wasn’t in the United States – instead, it was a recently independent country, a country with an area half the size of my Argentinian province, but with a Jewish community 10-20 times bigger.
Building a Bridge to a Better Future
There are many ways to travel, but seeing the world with JDC has to be one of the most meaningful — an inside window into the fascinating and often challenging life of Jews in diverse societies in the past, an intimate glimpse at what the future may hold and, perhaps even more importantly, what we have the power to do about it today.
On Crimean Peninsula, Building Jewish Community
Despite the political crisis that has plagued Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula since 2014, JDC’s activities in cities like Sevastopol and Simferopol continue unabated.
Award-winning novelist David Bezmozgis, whose family was assisted by JDC on their emigration from Latvia, is a master storyteller at the height of his powers. His latest novel, ‘The Betrayers,’ tells the story of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident turned disgraced Israeli politician who flees scandal by running to Yalta, on the Crimean peninsula.
On Visit to the Field, Challenging Easy Assumptions
‘In late June and early July, I spent a week in Tbilisi and a handful of other Georgian cities. Embedded on a JDC Entwine service trip for young professionals, I crisscrossed this country of about 5 million people – and approximately 8,000 Jews – with a cohort of 15 young adults from all over the world, visiting Jewish communities everywhere from relatively thriving cosmopolitan cities to depressed former Soviet factory towns plagued by near universal unemployment.
A Summer Respite in Troubled Ukraine
Nikita Danilenko and his family were never JDC clients before Ukraine’s violent political and economic crisis erupted last year.
The Jewish Response to Disaster
Ram Tripathi gave a searing presentation about Nepal to JDC donors, giving circle members, JDC Entwine members, and friends who gathered at the beautiful carriage house studio of JDC Circle member Linda White in Greenwich Village on Wednesday, June 17. He spoke about growing up in poverty and how his parents insisted that he and his three brothers attend school. But there was only one pair of shoes, so the brother who was dressed and ready first in the morning would get to wear the shoes on that day.
From the CEO: In Europe, JDC Prepares for the Future
The cities of Lisbon and Madrid are separated by about 300 miles, a distance similar to New York and Boston or New York and Washington, DC.
Moscow Soccer Tournament Blends Jewish Identity, Volunteerism
Four Jewish soccer teams from Russia and Israel came together in Moscow for the Inter Maccabi Cup, a two-day tournament marking the 25 anniversary of the revival of the Maccabi community in Russia.
QandA: On the Ground in Nepal, Finding Hope and Heartache
Gideon Herscher, JDC’s Director of International Partnerships, traveled to Nepal weeks after the country was struck by the worst earthquake in decades as part of JDC’s emergency response and assessment team.
Judafest Celebrates Hungarian Jewish Pride, Identity
For eight years, the JDC-sponsored Judafest festival has brought thousands of members of Hungary’s Jewish community to the streets to celebrate their culture and share their pride in their identity. The festival is especially remarkable in the face of Hungary’s unsettling rise of right wing, anti-Semitic political rhetoric.
On the Ground: Delivering Relief in Manikhel, Nepal
Today’s visit to a very tight-knit community that lost a daughter was heart-wrenching. We brought our condolences, visited with each family to understand how they are surviving, and delivered critically needed aid.
JDC Responds: Team in Kathmandu, Packing Aid Supplies in NY
After a day on the ground in Nepal, JDC’s veteran disaster response expert and emergency field medic Mike Attinson said he’s struck by the devastation in the city.
JDC Joins World Bank’s Faith2EndPoverty Initiative
JDC joins the World Bank and the faith community to end poverty by 2030.
Keeping Passover Spirit Alive in Ukraine
Against the backdrop of a crippling humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, JDC is ensuring that Passover continues uninterrupted for thousands of Jews at Hesed social welfare centers and JDC-supported Jewish Community Center on both sides of the ceasefire line throughout Ukraine.
Celebrating Transformative Educational Seminars in Romania
They gathered together at the Great Synagogue of Bucharest, 350 Jews from 31 communities around Romania braving slush and rain to pay tribute to the 10th session of Bereshit, a JDC-sponsored weekend of Jewish learning and text study.
Q&A: Masha Shumatskaya
When the daily shelling began to be too much to bear last June, 23-year-old Masha Shumatskaya packed up her belongings and left her hometown of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine for the safety of Kharkov.
In Donetsk Under Fire, Caring For Those Who Remain
On a recent morning, Sophia, one of JDC’s Hesed social welfare caretakers from Donetsk, was visiting a 97-year-old client of hers near the center of the eastern Ukrainian city when a massive explosion shook the building.
In Eastern Ukraine, Fostering Hope
As Ukraine’s crisis continues, marked this past weekend by dozens of deaths in the Sea of Azov coast city of Mariupol, JDC doubled down on its efforts to care for the most vulnerable Jews still living in the conflict-laden eastern part of the country.As indiscriminate artillery fire slammed into a market, schools, homes, and shops in the city, JDC’s local Hesed social welfare center, in cooperation with JDC’s office in Dnepropetrovsk, engaged in round-the-clock monitoring of the nearly 600 Jews it aids in the city as well as the general Jewish population.
Nous Sommes Juifs
JDC stands together with the hundreds of thousands of people, including world leaders, who gathered in Paris to stand up to terror and demonstrate their solidarity with the French people — and mourns the loss of all those who were murdered in cold blood by the terrorists.
In Moving Memoir, Connection to JDC
Carol Jean Delmar has written the recently published Serenade, a moving memoir of her parents’ love story and their journey from Vienna and Prague to Cuba and the United States as they fled the Nazis. Her father was an opera singer and his musical talent kept him and the author’s mother one step ahead of the restrictions and violence against European Jews. Ms. Delmar relied on her father’s taped account as well as diligent research and travel to relate her parents’ struggles and triumphs as refugees. The book contains detailed documentation of passports and letters, photos, and extensive musical references, but reads more like a novel than a typical work of non-fiction.
Dispatch from Odessa: Winter is Coming
Every Chanukah for the past two decades, a giant menorah has lit up the central square of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, bringing a little festive cheer to Jewish and non-Jewish locals during the long winter nights.
On the Ground in Ukraine
This week, I returned from Ukraine after a week-long trip visiting JDC’s programs, clients, and staff in both Odessa and Kiev. It was the first time I was personally exposed to the crucial work JDC does in the former Soviet Union.
From the CEO: Around the World, Snapshots of Jewish Hope
Jewish tradition is prolific in advice offering. And one of the gems from this lexicon of do’s and don’ts comes from the Talmudic tractate Kiddushin.
In Germany, Volunteering for Ukraine
Kharkov, Ukraine, is more than 1,100 miles from Berlin, but on November 16, the German Jewish community will celebrate the shared bonds of the global Jewish people through its participation in the international Mitzvah Day initiative.
Donetsk Jews Celebrate Sukkot
Earlier this month, the Jews of besieged Donetsk — the city in eastern Ukraine caught in the crossfires of much of the tension and violence plaguing the former Soviet republic — celebrated a very special Sukkot.
Moscow JCC Renamed After Ralph Goldman
One of Moscow’s largest Jewish community centers, the Nikitskaya, was renamed today in honor of Ralph I. Goldman, one of the Jewish world’s most accomplished leaders who died, at 100, in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The institution — which opened in 2001 with support from JDC –caters to hundreds of members of the Russian capital’s bustling Jewish community each month.’Throughout his long, storied life, Ralph Goldman dedicated himself to the well-being of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,’ said JDC President Penny Blumenstein and JDC CEO Alan H. Gill. ‘In a career spanning eight decades, he helped alleviate the tragedies that visited the Jewish people in his lifetime, and contributed to their triumphs. Renaming this institution in his honor is a fitting tribute to a man whose story was so inextricably bound with that of his people and who was one of the visionaries who helped rebuild Jewish life in Russia.
Ebola Crisis: JDC Responds
Against a backdrop of growing global fear about the Ebola virus disease, JDC has moved quickly to contribute to responses, working with two partner organizations — the Afya Foundation and Heart to Heart International (HHI) — to tackle existing gaps in aid.
Faces of the Ukraine Crisis: Aza Grigorenko
This isn’t the first time Aza Grigorenko, 88, has been a refugee. It’s not the first time she’s been forced to leave her home because of war.
History Meets Technology: JDC’s ‘Shared Legacy’ Archive Launch
For the first time in its history, JDC has made its incredible collection of historic records and photographs from the Holocaust period available online on its Shared Legacy website.
Teen Seder in Tallinn, Estonia
It may be Next Year in Jerusalem but this year, a not-to-miss seder graced Tallinn, Estonia. Esther Burson, the JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellow serving that community, brought together local teen volunteers and her JSC Fellow peers from Argentina and Israel for a unique yet traditional Pesach celebration.
New JCC in Kharkov Shines Light on Growing Community
When communism fell and the Soviet Union broke apart, Kharkov’s Jewish community was faced with the huge challenge of finding all of its members scattered and hidden by decades of anti-semitism. No one could have imagined 20 years later there would be a community 40,000-strong and in need of a new JCC to serve its thriving membership.
Giving the Gift of Sight in the Maldives
It’s been said that vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. And recently we teamed up with the Israeli humanitarian organization Eye From Zion and MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, to actualize just that.
Honoring a Woman of Valor in Buenos Aires
On the heels of International Women’s day we tip our hats to Marisa in Argentina for being a woman of remarkable strength and loving-kindness.
Now Accepting Applications: Young Pros Service Trip to Belarus
If you’re a young Jewish adult interested in a life-changing overseas service experience, we’ve got news for you!
Apply Now for JDC’s 2011-2012 Jewish Service Corps
’Tis the season! We’re excited to announce that JDC is now accepting applications for its 2011-2012 Jewish Service Corps (JSC) through March 15, 2011. This unparalleled fellowship is a year-long, paid, professional opportunity for recent college graduates and young professionals to directly engage with JDC’s global mission and to turn the Jewish value of responsibility into action through international service.
White House Blog Highlights JDC in Haiti
We are excited to share a White House blogpost recognizing JDC’s work in Haiti and our partnership with USAID (the US Agency for International Development). The post, penned by Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, follows the one year anniversary of the tragic January 12th, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Groundbreaking Agreement on Center for Disabled in Serbia
Last week, as the European Union (EU) ratified the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities—the first time in history the EU has become a party to an international human rights treaty—JDC celebrated its own small victory promoting these rights in neighboring Serbia.
RIG Fellowship Inquiry Deadline: TOMORROW, 12/30
You may know–or may be–the next Ralph I. Goldman Fellow! If so, there’s still time to submit a letter of intent for this premier fellowship opportunity in global Jewish service with JDC, the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization.
“Thank You, JDC” from Tirat HaCarmel
Four years ago in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War, JDC – with the support of the JFNA Israel Emergency Campaign and others – launched its New Galilee Initiative, a broad endeavor to bring long-term strength, resilience and preparedness to Israel’s north.
Through one family’s story — see JDC’s impact
Here’s a video showing the dramatic impact of JDC’s Supportive Community for the Elderly program in Tirat HaCarmel in the fire emergency.
Fleeing Ein Hod
We caught up with a group of evacuee families in temporary accommodation in Neve Yam who had fled the ahead of the fire that ended up burning their homes. We were impressed and moved by their hope and optimism despite all they had lost. One evacuee, Niv Horovitz, told us that they didn’t want to ask for help, “but sometimes you need to.” The goal isn’t just to fix the damage “but to make things better.”
Heading towards Carmel Fires
We’re heading north to rendevous with our teams on the ground — as we pass the Hadera power station, an elongated brown smoke cloud is clearly visible over the Carmel range.
JDC Participates in Emergency Meeting with Mayor of Isufiye
The Mayor is telling us that that “entire physical and emotional and landscape has changed.”
JDC Receives Assessment from the Minister of Agriculture
We just spoke with the Shalom Simhon — Israeli Minister of Agriculture — he not only talked about the devastating impact of the fire on the communities of the Carmel, but the vital need and importance for support from Jewish communities abroad at this critical time.
JDC Supported Centers are Playing a Critical Role in Emergency Evacuation and Relief
We’ve just met with some of the remarkable leaders and volunteers at the JDC supported Young Adult Center of Tirat HaCarmel. These young folks went into immediate action on Thursday night as the fire intensified, heading into danger zones to rescue the elderly and others in need. Check out the video.
Physical Rehabilitation Clinic Dedicated for Haiti’s Amputees
Yesterday marked a tremendous stride forward for Haitian amputees and others severely injured by the earthquake: the dedication of a rehabilitation clinic and prosthetic workshop developed by JDC together with Israel’s Magen David Adom and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital as well as the Haitian Red Cross and the HUEH (l’Hôpital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti). These modernized facilities are the first of their kind in Haiti.
JDC Remembers Kristallnacht
Today’s is a date not easily forgotten: November 9th, 1938 marked the beginning of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass), the series of pogroms committed by Hitler’s stormtroopers and civilians alike against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria. Jewish homes, stores, and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed, leaving streets filled with the glass that gives this event its name.
Jewish Learning Goes Global
This coming Sunday, JDC proudly participates in the Global Day of Jewish Learning, reaffirming its 20-plus year relationship with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and his bold mission to make key sources of Jewish knowledge accessible to Jews of all backgrounds worldwide. The Global Day, a project of Steinsaltz’s Aleph Society, celebrates the completion of the Rabbi’s 45-volume annotation and translation of the Talmud into Modern Hebrew, with parts also translated into four other languages.
JDC Fights Breast Cancer in Jerusalem and Sarajevo
Today, more than 5,000 people participated in Jerusalem’s first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. A JDC delegation of Board members and staff from the U.S. proudly participated in the Race, which brought together people of multiple ethnicities and faiths for a common cause: to tackle breast cancer.
London Hosts 4th Pan-European Conference of JCCs
This past Sunday, more than 370 participants from 31 countries descended on London for the 4th Pan-European Conference of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Communities, and Jewish Organisations. Designed to connect Jewish leaders from geographically and culturally diverse communities, the conference effectively helped build a common ground for the future of European Jewry.
JDC is Key Player in Multi-Faith Conference on Social Services
This past week, if you wanted a hands-on feel for JDC’s important role in building not only Jewish life but community and leadership across Europe and beyond, London was the place to be.
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.
JDC Goes to Washington
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.
Romania Celebrates Opening of 4th JCC
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.
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.
Celebrating Jewish Culture in the Streets of Ukraine
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.
JDC & Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promote Breast Cancer Awareness in Bosnia
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.
There’s No Place Like Home
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.
NY District Attorney’s Office Hands Over Rescued Torahs to JDC for Overseas Communities
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Szarvas is More than Summer Camp for Albanian Jewish Teen
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.
Happy 96th Anniversary JDC!
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.
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.
JDC Sends Aid to Pakistan’s Flood Victims
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.
Helping Heal Haiti
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.
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.
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.
JDC Creates Emergency Relief Fund for Victims of Pakistan Floods
In response to the massive floods spreading across Pakistan, leaving destruction and desperation it its wake, JDC is collecting donations for its emergency Pakistan relief fund. Equipped with extensive disaster relief expertise, including humanitarian and development work after the 2005 and 2008 earthquakes in Pakistan, JDC is working closely with our partners on the ground to assess the most pressing needs in the affected areas.
JDC Field Report on Russia’s Heatwave
Recently back from Russia, Asher Ostrin, JDC’s Former Soviet Union Regional Director, gives us an exclusive firsthand report on the impact of Russia’s eco disaster on people in the region, and what we’re doing to help.
Limmud FSU in the Hamptons
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.
Understanding the Plight of India’s Elderly
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.
Haredi Employment Challenge in the News
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.
Ethiopia Service Volunteers Settle In
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 Romania, JDC Campers Provide Solace During Tragedy
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 Becomes a Bit More Pareve
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.”
Accolades for Dr. Aharon Weiss
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.
Tapping Jewish History, Today
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.
JDC and BBYO Launch Overseas Service Fellowship
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 Later: JDC Creates Hope in Haiti
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.
Medvedev Visits with Far East’s Jews
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.
Haiti Communicates in Bright Colors
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.
Benefits of JDC’s TEVET Employment Programs Reinforced by Recent Research Report
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.
Young Pro Gets Kudos for Commitment to Israel’s Citizens
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.
JDC Expands Social Services for Kyrgyzstan Jews
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.
Ralph I. Goldman Fellows Reunite in Israel
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.
Post-Holocaust History Made in Prague
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).
JDC: In Service; Location: India
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.
Job Centers Bolster Baltics Employment
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.
Jewish Krakow Takes a Bow
The Jerusalem Post is featuring an insightful profile of the Jewish community in Krakow that colorfully illustrates what JDC has known for quite some time: Jewish life is thriving in Poland.
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.
Just Picture It – JDC: Helping Rebuild Haiti
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.
Reflections on Renewal Continue
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.”
Gifting Goes Green in Albania
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.
NYC Book Signing Spotlights JDC’s Dr. Rick Hodes
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.
“Dr. Rick” Makes Media Splash
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)!
JDC Fellows Commemorate Yom Hashoah
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.
Dr Rick Hodes: JDC Hero
One of jewels in JDC’s crown, Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s Medical Director, has delivered comprehensive medical services in Ethiopia for more than 20 years.
JDC CEO on the Air
As part of his busy travel schedule, JDC’s CEO Steven Schwager recently visited with the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh.
Rebuilding Young Lives in Rwanda
Sixteen years after the devastating genocide in Rwanda, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a special project of JDC, is creating a supportive educational community for Rwandan youth.
Paralympic Games’ Victories are Coup for Russian Athletes with Disabilities
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.
Passover Prep in Motion Across the FSU
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.
JDC Promotes “Clean Water for a Healthy World”
“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.
Penn State Meets Baltic States
As we write, 17 Penn State Hillel students are prepping for an unforgettable Shabbat in Lithuania. This latest group of JDC Short-Term Service participants is experiencing first-hand the community’s economic struggles and the cultural vibrancy of Jewish life in the Baltic states. Share their adventure and learn more about JDC in the region.
Celebrating Women Worldwide
It’s not every day women are celebrated for their contributions around the globe—but it is at least once a year. International Women’s Day, celebrated today and every 8th of March since 1911, is the perfect opportunity to showcase JDC’s Eshet Chayil program, one of dozens of JDC projects empowering women worldwide. First piloted in Israel in 1994 and currently part of JDC’s cutting-edge TEVET employment initiative with the Government of Israel, Eshet Chayil orients immigrant women from Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, and beyond to the Israeli workplace, helps them acquire job readiness, and teaches them to harness the power of networking to successfully enter—and advance in—the working world. Happy International Women’s Day!
JDC Passover Recipes for Your Festive Meal
You can heat up that matzah-ball soup and whip up grandpa’s famous firehouse horseradish, but make room for new Passover tastes from India, Estonia, and Israel.
JDC Service Dispatch from Berlin
Molly, the 2009-2010 recipient of the Roslyn Z. Wolf Cleveland – JDC International Fellowship, is also the first Jewish Service Corps fellow to work in Berlin, Germany. Here she shares a few thoughts on Jewish life and recent Purim festivities hosted by the JDC-supported Bambinim program.
Jewish Life in Ukraine – A Video by Graham Cannon
Wedding anniversary celebrations, children’s recitals, Bubbe going grocery shopping…sound like a typical day in your local Jewish community? Actually, because of the work of JDC it’s a typical day in reemerging Jewish life in Ukraine. Watch this video by Graham Cannon (JDC’s new AEVP, Global Marketing and Communications) that captures his experience visiting our extensive programs in Dnepropetrovsk and Krivoy Rog, Ukraine–a trip that proved both eye-opening and heartwarming.
JDC Responds: Chile Earthquake
In the wake of today’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile, JDC announced that it will collect funds for relief efforts.
JDC Haggadah Recalls History of Rescue and Renewal
In Every Generation: The JDC Haggadah is hot off the presses in time for your Passover seder. This new haggadah retells the biblical tale of Jewish freedom and redemption utilizing newly released photographs, letters, and documents from the celebrated JDC Archives.
JDC Next Gen in Morocco
JDC’s Next Generation program is spanning the globe to introduce young leaders to JDC from new perspectives. And just this week, Inside Jewish Morocco, JDC’s first-ever National Jewish Young Professionals Trip to North Africa, got underway!
From Haiti, With Thanks
Numerous partnerships, two field missions, and more than $5.7 million raised encompass JDC’s ongoing response to the January 12th earthquake that devastated Haiti. Our work has been captured in a video depicting scenes of heartbreak and glimpses of hope—hope made possible by JDC’s generous supporters.
Helping FSU Children Brave the Cold
For many, this winter delighted with beautiful snow showers, bonus days-off for sledding, and glimpses of stellar athletes giving their all at the 2010 Winter Olympics. But in the former Soviet Union, there are many Jewish children who must go without, whose lives are deeply impacted in a different way by the cold, harsh winter and a frozen economy.
Memories of Sarajevo
Memories of Sarajevo prompted Yechiel B., now JDC Country Director for the Czech Republic, Tunisia, and Algeria, then JDC Country Director for the Former Yugoslavia, to reflect on his work during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Family Ties … from New York to Odessa
Violetta, a New Yorker who is JDC’s Ralph I. Goldman Fellow working with the Jewish community in Odessa, recently had the opportunity to blog about her heartening reunion with her great-aunt, an Odessa resident. This family visit presents another reminder about the importance of JDC’s Jewish renewal work in the former Soviet Union and how one Jewish family, oceans apart, view their identity and traditions. Young Jews are increasingly interested in global service and Violetta, through JDC’s prestigious Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship, has become one of many who are heeding the call to serve those in need through JDC programs.
One Month Later: Haitians Hold Vigil
JDC’s Chief Operating Officer Judy Amit shares her observations from the ground on the one-month anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated more than 3 million of Haiti’s residents.
Helping Haiti Text by Text
JDC’s Next Gen mobile giving campaign, launched at a Haiti earthquake fundraiser attended by young professionals, was just featured in The Jewish Week. Text “JDCHAITI” to 8-5-9-4-4 to donate $10 via cell phone.
A Moment with JDC CEO Steven Schwager
In his capacity as JDC executive vice president and CEO, Schwager travels extensively to such diverse locations as Australia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine—a sure reflection of the scope and reach of JDC programs assisting Jews and others in need around the world. He’s logged so much flight time on behalf of JDC, in fact, that Schwager was recently inducted into the “million miles club” of an airline he frequently travels with.
Lend Us Your Ears: JDC in Haiti Podcast
“Nothing had prepared me for what I witnessed in Haiti during the four days on the ground.” Heartbreak and hope filled the sights, sounds, and smells of JDC’s recent field mission to Port-au-Prince. Listen to Sam, a member of JDC’s Haiti team reflect on his experience.
JDC “Got Milk” to Haitian Children
While all of the people of Haiti were affected by the January 12th earthquake, children are among those in greatest need. Helping to ensure their daily nutrition, JDC supported convoys carrying milk to Haiti through Chabad-Lubavitch of the Dominican Republic. Mandie, one of JDC’s team members on the ground, was on site as trucks were loaded before they left for Haiti.
Tae Kwon Do for Haiti
The situation in Haiti has certainly unleashed heartwarming generosity across all spectrums of age, income, and faith. There’s no question that it has set their creativity soaring, as well—especially when it come to raising money. Check out this article from The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio about unusual, but heartfelt, student-driven charity. Matthew Rodier, a seventh-grader at Columbus Torah Academy and a black belt in tae kwon do, brainstormed a martial arts exhibition to raise funds for Haiti relief.
Seeing Haiti Through a Jewish Lens
The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia published an op-ed on the Jewish response to the crisis in Haiti by JDC Board Member Betsy R. Sheerr. Here’s some of what she had to say:
JDC Haiti Mission: Tanks of Hope
Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, continues reporting from Haiti.
From the Archives: Haiti Helped Holocaust Refugees
With the Haiti crisis continuing to dominate our thoughts, we’d like to highlight a little-known piece of JDC history that connects Haiti with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated yesterday and each year on January 27.
JDC Haiti Mission: Resilience Amidst Rubble
Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, continues reporting from Haiti.
Feeling Haiti’s Pain from Chicago
JTA published a moving op-ed by Steven B. Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, on the crisis in Haiti. JUF is a JDC federation partner whose generous donation to JDC’s Haiti Relief Fund is helping to aid victims on the ground.
JDC Haiti Mission: H2O to Haiti
Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, continues reporting from Haiti.
JDC Haiti Mission: Landing in Port-au-Prince
Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, continues reporting from Haiti.
Power in Partners
As reports are coming in “hot off the blackberries” of JDC representatives on the ground in Haiti, we here in NY headquarters are learning that there is an almost instant connection and sense of camaraderie among the aid groups working in Port-au-Prince and the outlying areas. This is encouraging, since a united front will be a key to success in the impending rebuilding efforts of the weeks, months, and years ahead. Shortly after the earthquake hit, we were able to connect two of our field partners, the Israel Defense Forces’ Medical Corps and Heart to Heart International—a move that benefited many quake victims, especially babies. Watch this video to learn more about the collaboration.
Blessings for the People of Haiti
Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, wrote the following post en route from London to Haiti, where he is accompanying JDC professionals in their meetings with field partners and on-the-ground assessment of the situation in Port-au-Prince.
Working Against Clock & Hunger in Haiti
Food is reaching people in need in Haiti, as relief efforts struggle to overcome nearly insurmountable odds that threaten more lives.
Beyond Haiti’s Capital
JDC partner Heart to Heart International was the first relief group to arrive at Fondwa, Haiti, the epicenter of the most recent 6.0 magnitude quake. Our partner’s “extreme teams,” small groups consisting of two doctors, a nurse, and two operations personnel are bringing medical assistance to those suffering in outlying areas. Indeed, Heart to Heart is one of the few relief agencies venturing outside the capital to remote communities that, to date, are not seeing any other kind of assistance.
JDC’s partners the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Medical Corps and Heart to Heart International are making a life-saving impact on the people of Haiti. Above are two photos from the IDF field hospital in Port-au-Prince. See more photos from our Haiti relief efforts.
Reaching Haitian Victims Near and Far
It goes without saying that in the wake of a disaster, stories of survival offer a glimmer into the devastation and the capacity of humans to overcome unbearable odds; our partners on the ground in Haiti are part of these stories, performing work critical to the lives of victims throughout the island.
A New Life in Haiti
Even when hope seems lost, especially in the most desperate of situations like those in Haiti, we would be remiss if we did not share this heartwarming story of a healthy baby boy who was delivered at the field hospital run by the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces.
HELP HAITI NOW Benefit Rocks SOB’s in NYC
“What else can I do?”—that’s what many young professional volunteers who are connected with JDC’s next generation programming said after they donated to support JDC’s disaster relief efforts in Haiti.
Coming Together During Crisis
As phones here at JDC headquarters in NY are ringing off the hook and we’re getting a steady flow of emails from people offering to donate everything from medical supplies to mattresses to money and manpower, we have to stop for a moment and say thank you. The outpouring of support and concern for the victims of the Haiti quake are a poignant reminder that amidst the chaos of our daily routines and across geographic, economic, and cultural divides, caring about our fellow human beings—especially in times of crisis—brings us together. That spirit of partnership is paramount at JDC.
Aiding Victims of Haiti Earthquake
Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti who have suffered as a result of the worst earthquake on the island in more than 200 years. As we did following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, JDC is now collecting funds on a non-sectarian basis for relief efforts following this catastrophic disaster. The efforts are part of JDC’s International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters. Thank you for your support!
Casting Our Vote for the “Humanity Sector”
You have to hand it to Dan Pallotta over at the Harvard Business Review who blogged about the need for nonprofit organizations to reclaim the roots of their work and embrace the label “humanity” sector.
Now Boarding Flight JDC
Whether you’re a long time supporter or have only recently heard of us, here is what you need to know about JDC: in more than 70 countries, in countless languages, JDC feeds the poor, aids the sick, rescues and supports those in crisis, and rekindles Jewish life around the globe. And we have been in this business for 95 years.