NewsBits: the Jewish Weeklies

from The Forward:

This Passover, Hunger Has Many New Faces

Across the country, kosher food banks and soup kitchens are reporting a surge in demand ranging from 20% to 75% higher than in previous years, as layoffs and cutbacks force more families into poverty. People who used to donate to hunger programs are becoming clients, and people who were struggling before the economy collapsed are becoming desperate. Food banks are scrambling to distribute as much food as they can before Passover. Despite the unprecedented effort to feed the hungry, food program directors know they are only scraping the surface of the problem.

the following three from The New York Jewish Week:

Major Push To Engage Russians Carries Risks

In the most extensive communal push to date to engage Russian-speaking Jews in the U.S. – a notoriously difficult population to reach – five Moscow-based billionaires are pouring nearly $20 million into a Jewish education and identity-building effort.

Admitting that the effort to bring Russian Jews into the fold has been spotty, and perhaps even culturally insensitive, Jewish leaders involved in the new plan now say that cultivating lay leadership will be a focus of the ambitious project.

Rescuing Jewish Children From Odessa’s Streets

The Jewish Week’s Israel correspondent, Michele Chabin, recently visited Odessa; here’s her first hand account.

from Gary Rosenblatt:

Old Wine, New Bottles

One of the more intriguing subtexts of the annual Jewish Funders Network conference, held last week in St. Petersburg, Fla., was whether philanthropists should continue to seek out and fund innovative start-up groups, like those hoping to attract younger Jews through the arts, culture, Jewish study and social service, or retrench during these scary economic times and get back to basics. That would mean giving most of their dollars to help the new needy find employment, housing and food, mostly through federations and other establishment organizations.