Drop the Ambivalence – It’s All Good

By Jerry D. Isaak-Shapiro If Jerome Chanes had written “Orthodox “Retention” and Kiruv: the Bad News and the Good News” (eJewish Philanthropy and Contact Magazine, 8.20.14) for a newspaper, veteran editors would have said that he had buried his lead. After opening with a focus on the ostensible “bad news” (emulating another adage from media: if it bleeds, it leads) of poor intra-Orthodox retention, he only gets to the good stuff two-thirds into the piece. … [Read more...]

UJA-Federation NY Program Packs Over 6000 Backpacks for Disadvantaged Students

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Over 400 school-aged youth and parent volunteers from local schools and synagogues sorted through donated supplies and assembled backpacks for disadvantaged Long Island children during UJA-Federation of New York’s annual Supplies for Success. The three-day event, which concluded yesterday, packed an estimated 6,000 backpacks - an increase of 1000 over last year. The program started 13 years ago, with just 68 backpacks. … [Read more...]

What’s Next On The (Ice) Bucket List?

By Naomi Korb Weiss It's amazing what some buckets, ice and a little adrenaline can create in this world: over $30 million in donations and hundreds of thousands of new donors supporting treatment and prevention for a degenerative disease. Everyone from children to politicians to celebrities is jumping in to support the cause. This video alone will make you cry, and at the very least, millions more now know of the foundation’s existence. But I also feel some internal tension about this wildly successful campaign, dubbed the Ice Bucket Challenge. (And it’s not just my fear of freezing cold water). While there are varied stories about the origins of the challenge, it seems there was a large amount of luck at play with the extent of its viral success. Reports point to a golfer and a baseball … [Read more...]

Growing Jewish Identity on the Platforms the World is Moving Onto

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By Abigail Pickus When Mordechai Lightstone attended the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) in 2010 to speak about ‘Judaism 2.0,’ he packed a little something else in his suitcase besides his clothes. “We bought kosher meat in New York and brought it with us,” said the 29-year-old social media director for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters who, with his wife, Chana, traveled to Austin from their home in Brooklyn with the plan of throwing a one-off kosher bbq. Little did they know that their bbq, which they initially tweeted as an open invitation for one and all, would soon become a SXSW tradition. Today, #openShabbat, which bills itself as an “unplugged Sabbath,” now attracts upwards of 150 people - many of whom are participants in the popular conference on emerging technology. … [Read more...]

A Board President’s Swan Song

By Dorothy Tananbaum There are things we do that last a moment and things we do that reverberate for a lifetime. This past month, I completed my 3-year term as the chair of the board of The Jewish Education Project. It has been a very exciting period that saw so much positive change in may core areas of Jewish education. Seven years ago UJA-Federation of New York realized that in a city as complex and diverse as New York we needed an independent communal agency focused on addressing some the biggest challenges facing Jewish education. How to keep young people engaged in Jewish learning beyond bar mitzvah? How to engage families with young children so that they would value Jewish education for their children? How to make sure that the Jewish education experienced in every setting was … [Read more...]

Bringing It Home: Introducing Young Israeli Emissaries to American Jewish Life

160 young Jewish Agency shlichim will participate in a New York seminar aimed at introducing them to American Jewish life and inspiring them to remain engaged and serve as a link to world Jewry upon their return to Israel. The “Bringing It Home” 3 day seminar is being organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel with significant support from UJA-Federation of New York. The seminar curriculum is being provided by The Jewish Agency’s Makom unit. Every year, The Jewish Agency for Israel's Summer Shlichim Program sends more than 1,100 young Israelis to more than 200 Jewish summer camps across North America, where they engage in a vast range of educational activities and provide campers and staff with a personal connection to Israel. This year, as shlichim return from summer camps throughout the greater … [Read more...]

Orthodox “Retention” and Kiruv: The Bad News and the Good News

A mere 22 percent of Jews 65 and older who were raised Orthodox are still Orthodox, while 57 percent of people aged 30-49 who were raised Orthodox are still Orthodox - and the percentage rises as the group gets younger. [This essay is from "Philanthropic Priorities in Light of Pew," reprinted with permission from Contact, a publication of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.] By Jerome A. Chanes We are swimming - indeed drowning - in the ink spilled on the data from the Pew Research Center’s 2013 study of American Jewry. Early reactions from the religious movements have been, predictably, along the lines of the Talmudic “Kol ha-doresh, doresh l’atzmo” - “The one who analyzes, analyzes in his own interest.” There have been a number of analyses of the data, but to date we have seen … [Read more...]