Birthright Israel Foundation Drops 27% in Private Support 2012 to 2013

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According to the just released Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual rankings of the 400 charities that collect the most from private sources, Birthright Israel Foundation's private support for fiscal 2013 decreased 27.2% from fiscal 2012. UJA-Federation of New York's private support dropped 10.9% and Yeshiva University was down 12.1%. Overall the study found a 10.9-percent increase in money raised from 2012 to 2013 for more than 330 charities that reported contributions for both years. Jewish communal organizations listed include: Total Private Support fiscal 2013 % change from fiscal 2012 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee* $311,992,238 +4.4% Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston* $225,445,590 +7.7% Jewish Communal Fund … [Read more...]

Our Years of Ralph

Ralph meeting with the PresenTense team in Jerusalem, October 2010; photo PresenTense.

By Aharon Horwitz There’s no way that we could not have met Ralph Goldman. In retrospect, it seems obvious: the days and evenings between 2008 and 2013, when Ralph would visit PresenTense, were destined by a higher power that saw fit to bridge two kindred generations. After all, more than anything those of us in the founding generation of PresenTense, and before that the Creative Zionist Circle, longed for the moral power and intellectual resourcefulness of those turn-of the century giants, the Zionist rebels like Katznelson, Ahad Ha’am, Jabotinsky, and the Jewish seers like Kaplan, Buber, and Rawidowicz. We diligently read their essays, debated their arguments, and reproduced their works online. We did it in formal sessions in the evenings, and in impromptu talks late into the night. In New … [Read more...]

Ralph Goldman, z”l

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced today the passing of Ralph I. Goldman, its beloved Honorary Executive Vice President, a builder of the State of Israel, and a global Jewish leader whose historic investments in Jewish life worldwide have ensured a strong, vibrant Jewish future for generations to come. Goldman, who was 100, died in Jerusalem, which had been his home for decades. “The profound sadness and deep sense of loss we feel today is indescribable: Ralph Goldman was a giant among Jewish leaders, dedicating his life and career to strengthening Israel and to ensuring the survival and vibrancy of Jewish people and communities worldwide,” said JDC President Penny Blumenstein and CEO Alan H. Gill. “A cornerstone of JDC’s global operations for more than four decades, … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU Belarus Festival Salutes JDC’s Ralph Goldman’s 100th Birthday

Opening Gala Limmud FSU Belarus 2014

At the opening gala of Limmud FSU's Festival in Vitebsk (Belarus), the organization saluted Ralph Goldman on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Those in attendance responded with enthusiastic applause and the singing of happy birthday in 3 languages - English, Hebrew and Russian. In remarks, Chaim Chesler - founder of Limmud FSU - thanked Goldman for his support of Limmud FSU since its founding nine years ago. At the time, Goldman stated, "Limmud FSU is the best way to attract young unaffiliated Russian-speaking Jews around the world." The gala, held this afternoon at the National Theatre of Vitebsk, was attended by 700 participants. Joining the celebration was Israel's Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal; Chair of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Organizations Boris Gersten; and … [Read more...]

Even in Siberia, It’s Never Too Late for a Jewish Awakening

Participants in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Camp reading from a Torah scroll in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk in August 2014; photo by Roman Ibragimov.

By Elaine Berke JNS.org Siberia is not known for its welcoming appeal. But in 2005, I stood for the first time in the warm glow of a small group of eager Jewish students in Khabarovsk, a remote Siberian town on the border with China, and asked how many of them had a bar or bat mitzvah. Two raised their hands. While many said they would have liked to have celebrated that Jewish rite of passage, they felt too old to do so. Yet three weeks ago on Shabbat - nine years later - I stood in awe as more than 70 Jews from across this vast region of Russia recited prayers, read Torah, and learned about Judaism at a hotel in Novosibirsk, the unofficial capital of Siberia. They were participants in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Camp, a program I founded together with the American Jewish Joint … [Read more...]

JDC Steps Up Emergency Ukraine Response

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has stepped up its emergency response as more Jews flee cities in eastern Ukraine and critical aid is delivered to those who stay behind in areas of unrest. The organization has been providing a robust emergency response for Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews since the crisis began. JDC has provided a comprehensive aid program to more than 1,000 Jews who have fled violence in some areas of eastern Ukraine and found new homes in places like Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Odessa and even Rostov in Russia. This includes accommodation and rental subsidies, food and clothing, Jewish community connections like family summer camps, and post-trauma counseling services. Through its network of Hesed social welfare … [Read more...]

Szarvas @ 25: A Jewish Camp, Fueling Europe’s Jewish Engine

I Love Szarvas

By Diego Ornique For Europe’s Jewish communities, facing rising anti-Semitism and economic decline, the last three decades of achievement in rebuilding Jewish life could be easily forgotten. But in rural Hungary, more than 1,300 young Jews from twenty plus countries are enthusiastically exploring Jewish culture, customs, and history all while playing sports, gathering around bonfires, and raiding the canteen for candy and ice cream. This seeming oasis - business as usual during the 25th anniversary summer session of the JDC-Lauder International Jewish Summer Camp at Szarvas - stands in the face of those who doubt a Jewish future in Europe. So what is it about the Szarvas experience that is emblematic of the revival of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe, especially after the decimation … [Read more...]

In Israel, What Community Means

Alan Gill July 2014

by Alan H. Gill July 29, 2014: As the war against Hamas continues - with more lives tragically lost, continuous rocket attacks, terrorist infiltration attempts, and ceasefires that come and go - I want to share with you three scenes from the last several days here that underscore, for me, the meaning of community and resilience during wartime ***************************** As any of you have been to Tel Aviv know, parking is a difficult business, to say the least. If you don't have a private parking space in your apartment building, you often have to circle on the streets for a long time to find a spot nearby. So when I was walking down the street late last night in Tel Aviv, I saw a car that looked like it had been abandoned, covered in rotting fruit that had fallen from the tree above. I … [Read more...]