Our world is still reeling from the news in Orlando (the shootings and even the alligator attack). I am still incredulous that it happened in my home town. This Shabbat I have several relatives from Orlando coming here for my son’s bar mitzvah (34 years to the day since my own). Amidst the joy and celebration I'm sure we'll reflect on these hometown tragedies.
Last week, I proudly shared much of our local core funding* to agencies. Beyond these allocations, we also provide support to partner organizations overseas.
As part of the Jewish Federations of North America, we have a longstanding historical relationship with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and World ORT. For decades we have provided unrestricted funding to these organizations that perform life-saving and community-building work in Jewish communities around the world, in partnership with 153 other Jewish Federations. This year we will provide $110,000 in core support.
Beyond our “overseas core funding,” the Jewish Federation has been making direct allocations to special projects in Israel for the past 19 years. Our focus is on smaller organizations where our resources will have a large impact, reach a broad and diverse segment of Israeli society, and perhaps build connections with the Greater Portland Jewish community. Here are the projects we will be supporting:
1. YEDID -- $10,000: Since 1997, YEDID has been leading the fight against poverty in Israel. It empowers Israelis to become self-sufficient, active members of society by promoting social and economic justice. Our support expands YEDID’s capacity to cultivate and deploy volunteers, as well as enhance its services overall to better meet the needs of the residents of Kiryat Malachi.
2. Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center-- $10,000: The crisis center was founded in 1978 as the first such entity in Israel and remains the largest. It handles over 10,000 calls annually -- approximately 33% of all calls received by sexual assault crisis centers in Israel. Its education programs have reached over 100,000 teens, women and men from all sectors of Israeli society—Jewish, Arab, secular and religious. The center has three main roles: providing immediate crisis intervention services to survivors of sexual assault, raising public awareness, and initiating essential social change through extensive educational outreach programs. Our support goes towards a comprehensive program of courses, groups, and activities geared toward ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) communities.
3. Shiur Acher (“A Different Lesson”) -- $15,000: Founded in 2002 to develop meaningful civic involvement in the Israeli public school system, Shiur Acher is an educational enrichment program empowering disadvantaged Arab children and youth and developing meaningful civic involvement and volunteerism in schools belonging to Arab communities nationwide. Our support enables the expansion of Shiur Acher’s work and visibility in Arab society by establishing additional courses, recruiting new volunteers, and building meaningful partnerships with other stakeholders.
4. The Women’s Courtyard -- $15,000: Since 2003, the Women’s Courtyard has supported and assisted girls and young women between the ages of 13-25 in distress and at-risk throughout Israel. The Courtyard tends to the acute physical, financial, social and emotional needs of this neglected and seemingly invisible population. They operate via three major programs including immediate humanitarian assistance, vocational training and legal assistance to help women lift themselves out of economic hardship, and a “halfway apartment” to provide safe lodging. Our support expands the scope of educational and employment opportunities currently offered to at-risk girls and women in distress in Kiryat Malachi.
5. Krembo Wings -- $20,000: Founded in 2002, Krembo Wings is Israel’s only youth movement for children with special needs, enabling children with severe psychological, motor and cognitive disabilities to enjoy the benefit of a structured social environment with their able-bodied peers.
Each week, they welcome over 900 young people with severe disabilities, ages 7-21 from all backgrounds, who often have no opportunity for social interaction outside of the formal education system, and are not eligible to participate in other youth movements because of their severe disabilities.
The weekly social activities are carried out by 2,400 dedicated able-bodied volunteer youth counselors, ages of 14-18, who come from the same local areas as the special needs participants. Our support enables the program to open a branch in Kiryat Malachi (previously, we supported new branches in Lod and Karmiel).
6. Upper Galilee Rape Crisis Center -- $10,000: This center in Kiryat Shmona is one of ten in Israel and covers the northern region of the country. The center provides assistance to victims of sexual violence and education against sexual violence by teaching respectful behavior, instilling positive attitudes, increasing public awareness, and changing public opinion, thereby preventing such violence. The center now functions 24/7, year-round, with over 80 volunteers, emphasizing education and outreach, as well as service to victims including a 24-hour hotline. Our support provides for more volunteers to answer the center’s hotline, escort victims to the police or court, and provide educational services.
7. Ofanim -- $10,000: Ofanim introduces at-risk youth to the highest quality instructors and after-school enrichment programs in computers, science, math, English, and robotics by bringing lessons to them on mobile classrooms on buses and in municipal centers. Ofanim's inspiring vision is to empower the next generation of Israeli leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs. We will reach Jewish and Arab at-risk youth in northern and southern Israeli peripheral communities. Ofanim was recently awarded Israel’s highest award to nonprofits by the Ministry of Social Welfare.
A great deal of appreciation goes to Lee Gordon, Chair, and the Overseas Special Projects Committee for their time and effort in vetting these important programs. We are proud of our work in this area and the breadth of organizations we support. And, YOU make this possible! Thank you.
Shabbat shalom and Happy Father's Day.
*Last week we mistakenly listed Greater Portland Hillel’s allocation at $50,000. They will receive $25,000. Oregon Hillel (U of O and OSU) will receive $50,000. I apologize for any confusion.