Retired Rabbi Spreads Passion for Social Action

July 11, 2012, New York, NY – Jewish Helping Hands today announced the launch of the Tikkun Olam grant program to help individuals and organizations domestically and abroad in their efforts to aid communities in need. 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.

Jewish Helping Hands partners with local agencies within recipient populations, enabling individuals to bring about change in their own communities. The new grant program will aim 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, a suburb of Tel Aviv, 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.

Jewish Helping Hands is a New York City-based foundation created in 2006 by Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, N.J., with the belief that 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. 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.

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