Your Generosity in Action (Part 1)

Every year the most challenging process the Jewish Federation goes through is its allocations process. A group of extraordinarily dedicated community volunteers spend months examining the needs of our local and overseas communities. This week and next, I will share with you the decisions of the Overseas Special Projects Committee (this week), Chaired by Lee Gordon, and our general Allocations Committee (next week), Chaired by Simon Gottheiner.

For the past 17 years, the Jewish Federation has been making direct allocations to special projects in Israel. This goes beyond our core funding to the Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World ORT. Our focus is on smaller organizations where our resources will have a large impact and reach a broad and diverse segment of the community.

1.  YEDID: Since its establishment in 1997, YEDID has been leading the fight against poverty in Israel. Working through a nationwide network of 17 Citizen Rights Centers, its mission is to empower Israelis to become self-sufficient and active members of society by promoting social and economic justice. YEDID’s unique model helps people learn to help themselves using three innovative approaches: social and legal assistance, community empowerment initiatives, and national advocacy for policy change. Our funding expands YEDID’s capacity to deploy, support and train volunteers and enhance its services to better meet the needs of the residents of Kiryat Malachi.

2.  Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center: 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. To date, 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 funding supports “Fear Not, for Thou Shalt Not be Ashamed,” a comprehensive program of courses, groups, and activities geared toward ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) communities.

3.  Shiur Acher (“A Different Lesson”): Founded in 2002 to develop meaningful civic involvement in the Israeli public school system, Shiur Acher works to expand opportunities for children throughout the country by connecting schools with volunteers who provide original, high-quality supplemental education.  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. 

The program creates a living bridge between working professionals and disadvantaged school children, exposing the children to new fields of interest and encouraging them to dream and explore new horizons. Our funding will expand the scope 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: Founded in 2003, the Women’s Courtyard is a grassroots multicultural initiative providing support and assistance for girls and young women in distress and at-risk between the ages of 13-25 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 funding will expand the scope of services at the courtyard in Kiryat Malachi: establishing the branch as a “permanent address,” increasing the number of girls participating, and developing vocational programs.

5.  Krembo Wings: 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. At present, Krembo Wings operates several branches throughout Israel (including Karmiel and Lod, funded in part by the Federation). 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. All counselors undergo comprehensive training that prepares them for the challenging task of working with children with special needs. Our funding will enable the program to open a branch in the northern city of Safed (Tzfat).

6.  Israel Gay Youth: IGY, founded in 2002, is the only nationwide organization in Israel dedicated to meet the needs of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) youth. The daily reality of LGBT youth, in schools and in the army, is not one that enables young people to freely shape their own identity, as they face alienation, bullying, verbal abuse and violence. IGY’s goal is to empower LGBT youth and young adults within formal and informal education systems and give them tools to help them create a more tolerant Israeli society. Our funding will help IGY widen its outreach in order to provide services to LGBT youth living in the geographic periphery of Israel.

7.  Upper Galilee Rape Crisis Center: This center in Kiryat Shmona is one of ten in Israel and covers the northern region of the country, from Metula to the Sea of Galilee. The center’s mission is to provide assistance to victims of sexual violence and educate 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, 52 weeks a year, with over 80 volunteers, emphasizing education and outreach, as well as service to victims including a 24-hour hot line. Our funding will help provide for more volunteers to answer the center’s hot line, escort victims to the police or court, and provide educational services.

This is an exciting and impressive list of organizations showing the breadth and depth of our work. YOU are making this possible! And, next week, I will happily share our local allocations.

Shabbat shalom.



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