Jewish Helping Hands Announces First Tikkun Olam Awards

JHH donated money to have a school building constructed in Lvea Em in the Kandal Province.
JHH donated money to have a school building constructed in Lvea Em in the Kandal Province; photo courtesy.

In March 2011, JHH traveled to Israel to see its projects in action.

Jewish Helping Hands (JHH) has announced its inaugural Tikkun Olam grants, and simultaneously announced that it is accepting applications for the program’s second cycle. The program offers potential awardees grants of up to $5,000 as well as partnership with Jewish Helping Hands (JHH). Such partnership could involve help with hands-on physical work and enjoying the benefit of the experience of the organization’s board and leadership.

JHH announced new partnerships with the grantees of its 2012-2013 Tikkun Olam award program:

  • Hunger Relief International – HRI is dedicated to alleviating the impact of hunger and malnutrition on the lives of children. In Guatemala, their Sustainable Stove Initiative is critical to ensuring the education, safety & health of those who use open wood fire for cooking and heating.
  • Light of Esperanza – Light of Esperanza’s mission is to help improve the living conditions for the impoverished women and children in rural Honduras. Their Young Adult Corn Cooperative will teach the necessary skills to manage and cultivate their own corn business.
  • Plenty International – Plenty’s mission is to improve nutrition intake for undernourished and vulnerable children. Their Karen’s Soy Nutrition Program helps those around Guatemala City by teaching how to produce and provide nutrient fortified food and soymilk.

Jewish Helping Hands is a New York-based foundation created in 2006 by Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, with the belief that sometimes, a little bit of help can make a big difference in someone’s life. The foundation continues the social action work that Rabbi Soffin initiated in more than 25 years as a congregational rabbi in New Jersey. Jewish Helping Hands reaches out to vulnerable populations, initiating projects to make a difference where help is most needed. In the United States and abroad, JHH projects provide ground-level financial and hands-on support. In each community where it works, local residents determine what would be most helpful.

Social action has been the passion of my life,” said Rabbi Soffin. “I want to find a way to make life better for those in need. Jewish Helping Hands projects have helped support communities in need around the world, but we want to do more. The goal of this grant program is to widen the range of partners we work with to share in our efforts to improve the world. We want to learn about the good work that potential partner groups are doing, and not to be limited to those whom we might meet personally.”

Jewish Helping Hands partners with local agencies within recipient populations, enabling individuals to bring about change in their own communities. The Tikkun Olam grant program aims to identify new projects similar to the ones Jewish Helping Hands has supported, including:

  • In Israel, Jewish Helping Hands (JHH) partnered with United Jewish Federation of MetroWest (NJ), the Koret Foundation, and the local government and Community Center of Rishon LeZion, to establish a program to provide micro-loans and business training to Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. The program enabled participants to establish themselves and their families within Israeli society.
  • In Rwanda, JHH has worked with AVEGA, the Association of Genocide Widows, to support genocide widows and their families. The program enables women widowed during the 1994 genocide to find hope for the future, helping them to provide for themselves and their children through small financial grants and educational workshops.
  • In Cambodia, working through CambodiaSchools, Jewish Helping Hands has built a school in a village outside of Phnom Penh. With Arun Sothea, who at the age of four was orphaned in the Khmer Rouge reign of terror during the 1970s, JHH sponsors several dozen orphans in the village so that they are able to attend school.

For more information about the grant program, please visit, or email JHH at