Fear in a Library, then Aliyah to Israel

photo by Nathan Roie

The Balaban family of Gorlovka, Ukraine, fled their home after Olga's workplace was shelled. Now adjusting to their new home in Haifa, they look back at the home they left, and forward to the lives they hope to build here. By Nathan Roie Olga Balaban, 56, had just 10 months to go until she could retire from her job as a librarian at the medical school in her hometown of Gorlovka, in Eastern Ukraine, where she had lived her entire life. Other than the fact that her husband suffers from a disability that complicates his daily life, things were good: she was surrounded by books, her son Andrei, 25, was working successfully as a computer programmer, and her older son, Roman, lived in Israel with his wife and two daughters. Olga was content. She, her husband, and Andrei were thinking … [Read more...]

The Day After. The Day Before.

By Hamutal Gouri War, as Lorraine Schneider, said in a famous poster created in 1966, is not healthy for children and other living things. War takes a terrible toll. It challenges the resilience of communities. It takes life. It leaves parents grieving for their children, wives for their spouses, children for their parents. It leaves deep wounds that never quite heal. And war creates a huge whole in the national budget, and a host of emergency needs. And so it was indeed heartening to see Jewish communities in North America and around the war giving generously towards emergency needs during the Protective Edge war this passing summer. Yes, war creates emergency needs that must be met. But it also exacerbates existing problems and needs like income and job insecurity, social marginalization, … [Read more...]

Do Israeli Nonprofits Really Have U.S. Counterparts in Friends Organizations?

There is a double-edged sword to continually looking for outside support for Israeli organizations. By Stephen G. Donshik In an article in The Jerusalem Post of September 9, 2014 - “Israeli Nonprofits Look to US Counterparts for Funding” - Niv Elis discuss how Israeli organizations are seeking funding in the United States by creating American-based nonprofits that raise money and then transfer the funds to their Israeli counterparts. He extensively quotes Tidhar Ofek, a board member of American Support for Israel (ASI). According to its website ASI is the first organization that enables Americans to donate online, tax-deductibly, to any nonprofit organization in Israel. We do this in partnership with IsraelGives.org: When you make a donation through these websites, the funds are transferred … [Read more...]

Back to School for the Jewish Philanthropic Community

By Karen Berman The recent Giving USA Report, researched in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, revealed that charitable giving is up. Contributions have grown by 22% since 2009, almost back to pre-recession peaks. In the Jewish/Israel segment of the philanthropic world, overall news is also good. The combination of Jewish wealth and, in the United States at least, relatively little anti-Semitism, enables engaged citizens to use the power of philanthropy to address many issues our community and greater society has faced for decades. The opportunity for philanthropists of all sizes to make significant change is more likely than ever before. And yet, while charitable giving as an industry is growing, many individual organizations have not rebounded … [Read more...]

Collective Investment Positions Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies for Growth

photo courtesy Pardes

The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies known for inspiring life-long connections to Jewish life and to Israel, has announced that over the last year multiple foundations have collectively invested more than $4 million in Pardes, supporting a major business planning process and positioning it to achieve meaningful growth and institutional sustainability. Major gifts from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Crown Family and the David S. and Karen A. Shapira Foundation will support and help expand a variety of Pardes initiatives. This includes the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE), which operates the Pardes Day School Educators Program (PEP), the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project (PEASP), the Pardes Experiential Educators Program, and other educator training programs. Taken together, these … [Read more...]

Building Bridges and Promoting a Legacy of Unity

Gesher 2

By Ayala Young In the 18 days between the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Sha'ar, and Naftali Fraenkel and the revelation of their untimely deaths, an unprecedented wave of heightened solidarity overtook Jews in Israel and around the world. The #BringBackOurBoys campaign, the leading social media and activism campaign behind the solidarity efforts, took on a life of its own and generated numerous rallies, charities and learning initiatives aimed at easing the pain of the boys' families and the nation at large. Upon hearing that the boys had been murdered, the ongoing "rescue" efforts came to a screeching halt. There was a sense of emptiness and helplessness that left Jews everywhere wanting to “do something” to help. “We realized that despite the harrowing events of those first few … [Read more...]

Connecting to Israel through NFTY Mitzvah Corps

NFTY MItzvah Corps Israel 2014

By Rachel Barnehama No matter how many times I have heard the flight attendant announce "Baruchim Haboim L"yisroel" "Welcome to Israel" over the loudspeaker, a chill radiates throughout my body. Each trip brings with it a sense of excitement, adventure and an opportunity for growth. Every visit feels as if it is my first visit. It allows me to discover a new facet of Jewish and Israeli culture and diversity. The land of Israel: home of my forefathers and my home as well! Israel has always been a recurring theme in my household. It is difficult for me to separate my spiritual connection and Israel's legacy of historical events, from that of my strong Zionist feelings. Judaism is a rich culture that dates back to our forefathers and Israel is a country that has been built on Jewish values, … [Read more...]

Compounding One Mistake With Another Mistake


The failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones. By Stephen G. Donshik If it were not so sad, it would seem be a comedy of errors. First the Israeli government announces the initiation of the World Jewry Joint Initiative (the Initiative), to be developed by it in a partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). The next thing we hear is that the government is moving ahead on its own and does not seem to be engaging JAFI in planning the strategy and the developing the Initiative program. Using a tongue-and-cheek perspective, you could say that one mistake is being compounded by another mistake. The entire Initiative process seems to be … [Read more...]