Light in Times of Darkness

by Lynn Schusterman As I sit on my balcony in Jerusalem, looking out over the “city of peace” just before the start of Shabbat, I am filled with both pain and hope - the pain of witnessing yet another senseless conflict and the hope for a better future I take from the acts of humanity and solidarity of the remarkably resilient people I see all around me. … [Read more...]

New Diversity Grants Available from UJAFed-NY

In an effort to promote yachad, or unity, across the New York City, Long Island, and Westchester Jewish communities, UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Peoplehood in New York (JPNY) Committee is committed to developing and pursuing initiatives that strengthen ties among its culturally and demographically diverse elements and promote an inclusive New York Jewish community. Recognizing the extensive diversity present within the New York Jewish community and the barriers that exist to engagement and inclusion, JPNY has identified a community need for organizations to create new engagement commitments and structures or to enhance already existing initiatives geared toward creating a more inclusive community where groups reflecting the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of our Jewish community are … [Read more...]

Why Michael Bloomberg is a Powerful Friend of Israel

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by Jill W. Smith The world is filled with politicians. There are few leaders among them. Politicians pander. Leaders take stands, often unpopular and consequently, courageous. Michael Bloomberg is not a politician. He is a leader. At a time when Israel is facing what is deemed by many as an existential threat from not only Hamas, but from the reprobation of too many in the international community, Michael Bloomberg stands with Israel. But for those who know the measure of this man, it comes as no surprise that he does not just stand with Israel in words, but demonstrates his stance with action. Bloomberg had a swift and clear reaction to the FAA decision to halt flights from the U.S. to Israel: Ben Gurion Airport is safe and I will fly there on Israel’s national airline El Al to demonstrate … [Read more...]

Schneider Children’s Medical Center and United Hatzalah to Benefit from Civil Judgment Against NYC Fundraiser

Yaakov Weingarten Convicted Of Felony Tax Fraud; Permanently Barred From Charitable Fundraising Judgment requires the dissolution of 11 incorporated entities used to implement fraudulent fundraising scheme Yaakov Weingarten has been convicted of felony tax fraud. Additionally, a $520,000 civil judgment has been lodged against him and his wife for activities related to the Brooklyn-based charitable fundraising ring he operated, which solicited donations from thousands of donors for phony nonprofit organizations. The judgment resolves a civil lawsuit filed by the NY State Attorney General’s office last year against Weingarten and his wife, Rivka, who are alleged to have been the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme and are, under the judgment, required to pay $522,315. Approximately $360,000 of … [Read more...]

Keeping Life Normal in Southern Israel

Puppet therapy at the Cheruv Absorption Center in Be’er Sheva; photo courtesy The Jewish Agency.

by Ravit Elia-Leib The question on our minds these days is how can we best grapple with and confront this emergency situation, which continues on and on - endlessly, it seems. How can we help our small children, who waited so long for their summer vacation, to overcome their fears and disappointments? In my own home, we decided to deal with things by making light of them. We make games out of the experiences and try, to the greatest extent possible, to maintain routine. When the air-raid siren goes off, we sing and dance in the bomb shelter, and we have a clear schedule of activities for what we’ll do when we can leave the ‘safe area.’ Last weekend, I was traveling in Be’er Sheva with my 6-year-old son, Itai, in our car, when the siren went off. Itai has been drilled many times about what … [Read more...]

A Third Gen Professional Takes the Reins in Vancouver

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by Abigail Pickus These days, Ezra Shanken looks out his office window and sees snowcapped mountains. It’s a long way from Manhattan, where Shanken recently served as Director of Emerging Leaders & Philanthropists (ELP) at UJA-Federation of New York. But as the newest Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver - and arguably, at 33, one of the youngest to ever assume such an executive role in the Jewish communal world - Shanken seems up to the challenge. “This has been a dream that I’ve had from the beginning,” said Shanken. “I’ve come up within the Federation world. I believe in it. I have had a lot of great mentors. And each step has led me towards this opportunity to lead a community.” “It’s a lot of responsibility and such an incredible privilege to do … [Read more...]

Why Was the JCC Global Budapest Conference Different Than Any Other?

JCC Global Budapest 2014

by Smadar Bar-Akiva The simple answer: Because JCCs, perhaps more than any other institution, have members ... Jews who are a natural constituency for the work we do and whose lives are changed by their involvement in our work. Therefore, when we recruited the senior leadership of 27 JCCs from 12 countries - Canada, England, France, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela - serving more than 300,000 Jews annually and managing a total budget of close to $200,000,000 - we knew that the potential for impact was enormous. A month ago, JCC Global (formerly known as the World Confederation Jewish Community Centers) brought together almost 100 Executives Directors, Presidents, Senior Lay Leaders, Board Members and representatives of JCC regional networks - CDI, … [Read more...]