There’s a fascinating debate in the Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. The question that they’re debating is to how to light the chanukiya, the menorah that we use for Hanukkah.
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There’s a fascinating debate in the Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. The question that they’re debating is to how to light the chanukiya, the menorah that we use for Hanukkah.
For as long as our collective memory can recall, we have been playing dreidel, winning and losing according to the letters on the four-sided top with the nun (nes), gimel (gadol), hey (haya) and shin (sham) — a Great Miracle Happened There.
With the end of the 2019 tax year fast approaching and the stock market at or near record highs, now is a great time to use your appreciated securities to open—or add to—a donor-advised fund (DAF) with our Jewish Community Foundation (JCF).
I spend a whole lot of time blogging, posting, and speaking about when things are either anti-Semitic or insulting to the memory of the Holocaust, or just outright wrong and a perpetuation of hatred.
We are thanks-givers. Our very name, Yehudim (Jews), refers to Jacob’s son, Judah, one of the few remaining tribes from which most of us are descended. Judah’s name was conferred by his mother, our matriarch Leah, who said, “Thank God, for this child.”
As you are probably aware, there has been a major flare-up in violence between Israel and Gaza in the last couple of days. Here are the major points, from our national Jewish Federations team in Israel:
In July 2018 I spent my first Shabbat in Berlin. Although I had been to Germany several times before, I had not been fortunate enough to be in a synagogue for a Shabbat service.
The honey on our Rosh Hashanah tables that quickly gets messy from all of us dipping apples, challah, or what-have-you to symbolize our wishes for a sweet New Year comes from a bee that stings.
I spoke last week at the JCC MetroWest about Israel, the upcoming elections tomorrow, Israeli society, and what to expect in the coming week (and weeks...). Here’s the gist of what I said:
I’ve said it in these pages many times – there’s nothing, and I mean literally nothing like taking a Federation mission to experience the passion and dedication the Jewish community has for taking care of our own – whether locally, in Israel, or in the far corners of the wo...
I’ve spoken and written often about the so-called birthright of a child, grandchild, or even great-grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. In many cases, it’s ingrained upon these subsequent generations to continue to pave a path of remembrance, recollection, and education.
I just received a message from our friends at The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School that Cantor Shimon Vogel needs a kidney, Blood Type A+.
What did YOU do on July 16, 2001? You probably don’t remember. Most likely, you had yet another ordinary summer day. Yet, for some people, this day means a lot. It could have been a life changer, perhaps even a lifesaver for them.
I was visiting Kehilat Ra’anan a couple of days before Rita passed. I was there with our new Global Connections team members in order to tell the story of the place, which correlates with the legacy of our community – a legacy in which Rita plays an important part.
My friend and colleague, Cecille Asekoff, after 40 years of dedicated service, was celebrated at her retirement this week. Among family, colleagues and friends, we showed our gratitude for her achievements, her vision, and her energy.
I was honored to speak at the farewell celebration for our friend and colleague Stanley Stone, who is leaving our Federation and Foundation family for an exciting new position.
Saturday night June 8 is the first night of Shavuot, which commemorates our receiving the Torah. For hundreds of years this first night has been established as a Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a time to delve deeply into her wisdom.
We’re trying something new this year! In previous years, spring was the season for annual meetings here at Federation – Women’s Philanthropy, Jewish Community Foundation, Global Connections, and, of course, Federation.
I had an amazing meeting the other day with some 15 Orthodox Israeli leaders. This past year, our Jewish Federation invested in a leadership program in the religious-Zionist Orthodox community in Israel.
It is Sunday night, and as I crawl into bed, I am easily drawn to reflecting on what we did over the past few days. There were soccer and lacrosse games, band practices, plans with friends, a birthday party, and the ending of Passover and thankfully eating some bread and then turning my kitchen back.
This is not a Jewish story. But it’s something I need to share. And it’s been on my mind since my recent trip to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where I had coffee with Viktor Alekseyevich. Viktor is not Jewish.
The results of the Israeli general elections are clear cut. “The tribe has spoken.” The Israeli democracy, despite all its faults, is producing for us a distinct reflection of the Israeli society and its choices.
It was the eve of Passover, April 19, 1943. Instead of sitting around a seder table, as many of us will do on the same date this year, a small makeshift army of Jews began what would become a three-week battle against the heavily armed German forces that were attempting the last liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of reading Jewish plays for a competition. In doing so, I learned a great deal about the layout of scripts: the differences between stage directions and dialogue, scene descriptions and notes of emphasis.
Walking the massive hallways of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last week, I experienced something which, for me, was a rare and sacred moment in an increasingly divided America.
From an early age, we tell our children: Choose your words carefully… Think before you speak… Don’t say something that could hurt someone else… and many more similar lessons. If you have ever parented or taught a young child, I’m sure you have found yourself in a situation in which you have had to tell a child not to say somet...
For some time now, our Jewish Federation has been working with community rabbis, as well as synagogue administrators and leaders. We provide educational sessions to improve skill sets like event planning and fundraising, and seminars to explore common interests like dues models and synagogue innovations.
You’ll definitely want to join me at LIVE365, and here’s why… First, my dedicated, inspiring colleague, Brian Eglash, will be speaking. Brian is a senior professional at the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh as well as a congregant at the Tree of Life synagogue.
It’s probably a bit unfair, but whenever I hear the expression “Jewish values,” my ears twitch a little. That’s because I think, for the most part, people equate “Jewish” values with ethical, Western v...
If you’ve ever heard Dr. Erica Brown speak, you know that she’s amazing – and you’ve already signed up to hear her at our upcoming Synagogue Leadership Seminar on Sunday, March 31.
If you’re reading the news from Israel, you’ll see a lot of grappling, especially in the religious Zionist sector, about the decision of the “Jewish Home” party to join forces with extreme-right Kahanists.
This week I saw the power of women and how they repair the world. I saw inspiration. I saw our magnificent past, present, and future leadership come together to celebrate that power.
Next Saturday, January 19, hundreds of thousands of women and men across the country will take to the streets once again for the third annual National Women’s March.
Exactly two weeks ago, as record numbers of voters went to the polls during midterm elections, I entered the voting booth for the eighth time since becoming an American citizen.
I am often met with blank stares when I explain what I do as Federation’s coordinator for Jewish Educational and Cultural Programming in Newark. These faces are often followed by the question Why?
More than 2,000 community members came together on Sunday morning at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston to mourn and grieve the loss of eleven beautiful souls at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“It seems kinda simple,” I said to our Chief Jewish Learning Officer, Robert Lichtman. “We’re a Jewish organization. I’m the CEO of a Jewish organization. We should at least try a little Jewish learning here at home.”
I am continually awed by the dedication and commitment of our amazing Greater MetroWest community leaders. I am proud to share with you the following letter to Isaac Herzog, the newly elected chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, penned by our own Lori Klinghoffer.
Achi Israeli is a program operated by our Federation and funded through a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation. It speaks directly to our Kedma agenda of promoting shared and cohesive society in Israel.
A steady flame burned upon the large sacrificial altar within the Jerusalem Temple. That flame lent itself to every one of the thousands of sacrifices offered on that altar. Some sacrifices were modest, designed to express contrition or thanks.
Yesterday, Parks Authority’s rangers found a dead bird, a falcon, on a tree near the Gaza border. There was a string attached to it leading to a flammable material. It was probably sent from Gaza in order to start yet another fire in the Negev.
Spending Shabbat in a foreign place has always intrigued me. While studying abroad in London and then backpacking for five weeks around Europe in the late ‘90s, I felt a strong pull to be in a synagogue on Friday night.
I arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 5th 2000, extremely nervous and with some degree of apprehension. I had never been to the United States, and like many immigrants, the picture of America was a scary one.
In the distance of just a few hundred feet and a few minutes’ walk we saw the difference between death and life. Between evil and good. And the question that came to mind was, What can we do about this?
As I boy, I remember heading to sporting events with my father. There were times when we would go with other family members or friends, but the experiences that stick out in my mind are those hours I spent with just my dad.
Why do so many of my justice-pursuing-Jewish-friends look upon jury duty as an escape room – something to get out of, and quickly? Why am I made to feel like a loser if I “end up” on a jury?
In Pirkei Avot, we are instructed to “Find yourself a teacher, make yourself a friend.” Rabbi Aaron Panken was both teacher and friend. He could share complex concepts with alacrity, and also talk with humor and joy about his kids and his hobbies…
A community bike ride to raise money to help send kids to Jewish summer camp, positive feedback on support of partner agency leaders plus a visit to one agency that has been serving members of our community with special needs for 40 years, and finally, a discussion with some 40 synagogue presidents about our common goals and concerns. This is what we can accomplish together.
Equality and shared society for Jews and Arabs in Israel deserves to be high up on the list of Israel’s priorities. The promise that Israel would be a “light unto the nations” is one of the state’s fundamental founding principles.
Last week’s remarkable mission to Jewish Ukraine and Israel with the Global Connections Peoplehood group brought together program participants from Greater MetroWest and Arad, Israel, to see first-hand how our support is truly helping to sustain and build Jewish life in the former Soviet Union.
Now in its second year, the Model Seder program fosters an understanding of commonalities among students who otherwise may never find themselves in the same room together. The Passover holiday — rooted in the themes of slavery and freedom — is a perfect place to strengthen bridges and build friendships.
Last week we welcomed a delegation of Druze women and their chaperones from our partner community of Hurfeish. All week we heard stories of new friendships, amazing experiences of cooking together, and incredible art sessions.
AIPAC provides a forum and a model for how to reach across the political aisle, engage in meaningful discourse, celebrate commonalities, acknowledge the disagreements but never lose sight of our shared goal of a strong and secure Israel supported by a healthy U.S.-Israel alliance.
To continue the discussion… to give the members of our community an opportunity to mourn together… to understand what happened… and to pledge our mutual commitment to work towards a solution.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Houston with other Federation professionals to see first-hand the unimaginable destruction to the Jewish community caused by Hurricane Harvey and the incredible impact our UJA Campaign dollars have had in providing relief.
I’m proud to tell you that our own Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey (JFS CNJ) has been awarded a Jewish Federations grant for $220,000 for its Innovations in Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) Supportive Services for Holocaust Survivors.
Why do we give children a day off from school on Martin Luther King Day? Instead we should be giving them a day to learn tolerance, to engage, and to become better citizens and more accepting young people. A day to hear about the past and present struggles of so many Americans, and a day to really absorb and reflect.
Until one explores and understands where the Ethiopian Olim families came from – and what they went through in order to come to Israel – one can’t understand the full story of this Zionist saga.
I am so proud to be able to help grandparents and their grandchildren establish a bond between one another and Israel through shared experiences. This is happening because our Federation is partnering with the Jewish Agency for Israel to bring G2 to Greater MetroWest.
We've reached a critical juncture in our relationship with Israel. And now I believe that it's time to set up an advocacy program focused at the top national levels of Israeli decision-making.
Our delegation of 16 community members happened to be in D.C. during an action-packed week of legislation and announcements. We saw first-hand how advocacy and relationship building matters.
We know that the most powerful way to keep Jews Jewish is to build and invest in multiple immersive Jewish experiences – summer camp, Birthright trips, and missions, combined with purposeful community-building work – that will help the community in ten or twenty years’ time.
With major revisions in the tax code looming but still so uncertain, here are some things to consider about accelerating your charitable giving into 2017, potentially saving yourself money before rates are likely to change.
Now, more than ever before, the General Assembly, where our Jewish Federations come together, serves as the primary venue to address the central pressing issues we face as diaspora Jews. And anyone can come – everyone is invited.
Religious pluralism isn’t a fancy buzzword. It has real-world consequences and implications. It means that American Jewish values of diversity, of mutual respect, and of tolerance should be upheld.
Our Federation has become the training ground for hundreds of lay volunteers in our community. This is a game-changer – because you can see the future leadership coming through the doors of the programs we offer right now.
The Midrash says that big things are happening during the High Holidays. It was around that time of the year back in 1987 when I was given a once-in-a-lifetime professional and personal opportunity.
Against the backdrop of simmering tensions and frustration over the Israel government’s freeze of the Western Wall agreement, five members of the Israeli Knesset came to Greater MetroWest for meetings with rabbis, community leaders, and students.
At the funeral service for Jerry Gottesman, held at the Jewish day school that bears his name, the hundreds of people there truly recognized the impact he had on so many lives and understood that his was a life well-lived, filled with love, community, family, and legacy.
We are a people of collective memory – Zachor – Remember! Our memories are not simply stored away; our collective memories inform our lives; they forge our future. While we safeguard the memories of where we were on September 11, 2001, perhaps it is time to also consider where we are. And where we are going.
Rosie Saves the World is a terrific story about a little girl who wants to save the world, but realizes that she has neglected to help those nearest and dearest to her. She faces a common challenge – how to balance global citizenship with our unique obligations to our Jewish People.
We’re embarking on a mission to make Jewish learning a more fluid, engaging experience year-round. We’ve created the JKid Educator Interchange to bring together key players in Jewish education to bring Jewish learning to life for our kids 365 days a year.
Some people go to the mountains for inspiration. Others go to the ocean. But here in Greater MetroWest we need only go as far as Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange to our own Wae (Wellness, Arts, Enrichment) Center to get real inspiration.
Today’s solar eclipse offers us the rare opportunity to simply look up at the sky and whisper Wow! As humans, made of the same stuff that comprise the sun, the moon, and all the heavens, that sense of amazement has an impact upon us.
In the past week I’ve been thinking a lot about securing the Jewish community, and I’m proud of our Federation’s new ability to communicate across our community to provide immediate information and potentially save lives during a crisis.
In my years as a living bridges builder I have experienced many inspiring moments, but what happened last week was one the most meaningful and emotional happenings of my career.
There we were, a small but mighty group – a lay leader, a lead donor, and a few Federation professionals, including myself – gathered on the front steps of a home in Scotch Plains, laden with balloons, posters, books, and swag.
Last Friday, two young police officers guarding the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem were brutally murdered. They were both from the Druze community. Though not Jews, they dedicated and tragically lost their lives protecting the holy site.
Our Federation dollars leverage JDC’s work helping elderly Jews in the Former Soviet Union across 11 time zones in several thousand locations. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the clients were centralized in large urban areas? Yes and no. But for now, if you've got the desire to make a massive impact on their lives, the best bang for your charitable buck is through our support of the Hesed system (community/welfare centers) across the FSU.
Ilyse Shainbrown, Federation’s Gottesman Fellow, Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, is accompanying five Newark Public School teachers on a nine-day Holocaust education teacher training program and exploration of 20th century Jewish community through Budapest, Hungary and Belgrade, Serbia.
I have been closely monitoring the “Who is a Jew” narrative over the last three decades. I broadly include all attempts by the state of Israel, and there were many, to define non Ultra Orthodox Jews as second class Jews – basically ignoring, undermining, insulting, and diminishing the vast majority of our people.
There I was in Israel this week, expecting to participate in some interesting but uneventful meetings, meet some of our partners on the ground, maybe share a nice meal with colleagues. I didn’t expect to be lobbying in the Knesset, to be interviewed on national radio, or to be working with mayors and partners on our response. Yet that’s precisely what I did.
In her final blog post as our Federation president, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal reflects on her three-year term and how we must continue to stay focused on our shared mission of ensuring a strong Jewish future.
I want to share with you an astonishing, only-in-Israel story, built over three days last week. It reflects the uniqueness of our people and the collective memory which keeps us vibrant.
Living in the most free and open society in history, we face a daily barrage of options and choices. Do we connect or do we withdraw? Our JCCs remind us that we’re not a monolithic society and culture; that no one holds a monopoly on expressing Jewish identity and community.
Last month the Joint Chaplaincy Committee collaborated with one of our partners in Israel, Gisha L’chaim or Life’s Door, to hold a chaplaincy educational conference entitled, “Compassion and Hope in Aging, Illness and at Life’s End” as part of our new bi-national initiative.
In our cautiously calibrated society, we tend to measure most things on a spectrum. Is my glass half empty, or half full? On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, how would you rate this movie? It is Yom Yerushalayim, how happy should we be?
Often when asked, what Federation means for me, my answer is: “It is my best vehicle to translate the big global Jewish scene into a local, intimate digested sphere – glocal.” This past week provided me with yet more proof of this theory.
This week, at our Women’s Philanthropy Annual Meeting, we recognized the awe-inspiring work that our Women’s leadership takes on and the power of what all these amazing women have achieved. And it was my special privilege to honor my colleague, Sarabeth Margolis Wizen, who will be ending her role as Women’s Philanthropy Director.
The Liberty Bell – a symbol of freedom in our country – is also a compelling reminder that our world is imperfect and it is our job to continually strive to repair it, tikun olam.
Like many in our community, I’ve been watching the French elections with fascination. I’m reading everything I can about the candidates and the election climate, the spillover into the rest of Europe, and more.
On Yom HaShoah, as we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, I can’t help but think about a unique world leader and how his commitment to a special relationship – and to serving the greater good – helped the world recover from what, at the time, must have seemed like insurmountable devastation.
This coming Shabbat is Shemini, one of the most fascinating portions in Vayikra (Leviticus). Why? Because in it Nadav and Avihu, the oldest and second sons of Aaron, are killed for what seems to be a very minor transgression.
Federation is showing GMW teens and college students that they have the ability to help shape and impact the strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance by speaking with legislators, opinion makers, and campus leaders who will one day populate the halls of power.
Next week is Pesach, Passover – when we retell the story of our departure from Egypt and our liberation. We sit at the seder table to teach our children, and to be reminded of what counts in life and community. We celebrate freedom, and we teach so as not to forget.
Snow in Jewish tradition represents the concept of tshuvah, our chance to start again, to change. Most of us take for granted the reality that we do get another chance; that we can try again. But there are many in our community who have less opportunity and who find themselves trapped in a reality that is far less hopeful.
Our job, right now, is to create an exciting and compelling narrative to speak meaningfully to everyone in the community, allow each individual to shape their sense of community for themselves.
What impressed me most at a staff meeting last week was the show of hands when a colleague asked who in the room had benefited in some way from the impact of Federation’s UJA Annual Campaign.
43 fifth and sixth graders from the South Street School in Newark had an unforgettable trip to the Holocaust Museum and other sites in Washington D.C. on a Rubell Remembrance Journey.
A year ago I was accepted into the first-ever cohort of the CEO Onboarding Program which has given me incredibly unique opportunities to learn best practices, concepts, and models from mentors, coaches, other CEOs, and leadership experts.
“What do YOU want to learn?” That’s the JTEEN-GMW@ slogan. As we embark on a new era of JTEEN programming it is a question we are asking more and more… and we’re getting more responses than ever before. By Yoni Glatt, Federation’s Director of JTEEN-GMW.
As part of a larger initiative that brings local rabbis together for community conversations, we are holding a number of small discussion groups this Sunday to discuss one text – the incoming President’s inaugural address.
During these uncertain economic times, many organizations have walked away from their pension obligations. I am proud of the work our leadership has done to ensure that all of our pensioners receive what they’re due.
Cuba has to be one of the most fascinating, confusing, hauntingly beautiful places I’ve ever been. I returned on Sunday night from my second Federation Mission to Cuba, marveling at all that has changed and all that has not.
In an effort to reduce barriers to all donors and encourage them to see Federation as the place to fulfill all of their philanthropic duties, the Jewish Community Foundation Board voted to reduce the minimum dollar amount required to open a Donor Advised Fund from $10,000 to $5,000 through December 2108.
Israel is assessing the widespread destruction and tallying the damages caused by five days of wildfires which burned across the country. Strong winds are still expected for another 24 hours, but all fires are now under control, and the forecast is for considerably improved weather conditions from Tuesday, including a high probability of rain later in the week.
The BIGGIVE is our opportunity to come together as a Jewish community to demonstrate and celebrate our unity and to help raise the funds we need to continue the important work we do.
On a sleepless night last Tuesday, as the contours of an historic electoral decision began to take shape, my mind drifted back to a lower Manhattan courtroom, where – 15 years ago – I took the oath to became an American citizen.
Kol hakavodto my colleague Bob Lichtman, our Chief Jewish Learning Officer. He had a great idea for our teen leaders, and he and his JTEEN team just did it – they made it happen in two days’ time.
As Federation’s new Gottesman Fellow, Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, my charge is to create programs to commemorate, celebrate, and educate Newark residents about the city’s rich Jewish heritage. My first program is a three-session workshop for teachers on teaching about the Holocaust.
Last week GMW hosted 150 individuals from around the world for the 2016 Diller Teen Fellows Professional and Lay Leaders Conference. I was happy that, for many of them, this first impression of New Jersey was such a positive one.
If you are over 70½ years of age and have an IRA, I have some great news for you! You can now make a tax-free rollover gift from your IRA of up to $100,000.
Ten years ago, when our Keren Ness Board began directing funds to the Negev, the vision of developing and maintaining communities through economic development included strengthening relationships with strategic partners who shared our vision of building up the region.
I don’t always sit in the sukkah for the connection to the past. Sometimes I do it for the peace and quiet. Sometimes I do it because it’s a simple reminder that you don’t need all the clutter that usually surrounds you.
Here in Greater MetroWest we have and continue to lead the way in terms of our partnerships in Israel. I encourage anyone who cares about Israel and about the living bridges we continue to build with our Israeli partners to get involved in our inspiring Global Connections programs.
I’ve been amazed, inspired, and grateful for so many things this year in our Jewish Federation and in our community. But there were ten very visual things that stayed with me…
Last Sunday a group of GMW day school leaders, parents, alumni, teachers, and students traveled to the Upper West Side to represent our community and our Jewish Day Schools at the Columbus Ave. Street Fair.
Last week was an amazing week for our Federation and Greater MetroWest. Through a wide variety of events we brought together so many people to celebrate, learn, and benefit our community together.
Our partnership with the community of Ofakim in Israel is a direct result of then Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Two of his life-long passions were strengthening Israel/Diaspora relationships while at the same time helping the Negev.
Our commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities and their families is a critical component of who we are as a Jewish community and as a Jewish Federation. Together we engage our families, synagogues and local agencies to help create a community that’s accessible to all members. But we don’t just stop in New Jersey.
I’m proud to welcome Ilyse Shainbrown as our new Gottesman Fellow: Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, an entirely new position that will create and coordinate impactful and inspiring programs to commemorate, celebrate, and educate students and adults in Newark about the city’s rich Jewish heritage.
This time of year for many kids and teens is filled with mixed feelings of mourning the end of camp and anticipating the new school year. Thanks to your generosity, these feelings are shared by many kids and their families throughout our worldwide Greater MetroWest community.
It’s a quiet summer … relatively. But in the last few weeks my colleagues in our Planning and Impact Department have been starting a round of meetings with our partner agencies and programs.
On last week’s annual visit to Jewish overnight camps by Federation and Foundation leadership I was reminded of the power of the camp experience to teach girls that they can do and be anything.
We were there, on the ground in France, at exactly the same time as the Brexit vote, as Europe’s identity is changing, discussing the work that our Jewish Federations are leading – on Jewish communal identity, Aliyah, security, and education.
Federation proudly accepted the first Community Partner Award presented by Camp Harlam. We see our work with Jewish camps as an important investment in the future of our community.
Over the years, our Federation has played a critical role in Israel as a shadchan, or matchmaker, bringing Israeli communities and organizations together to work collaboratively toward their mutual, larger goals.
I don’t know many Federation supporters who give only to Jewish Federation. They give because they care, because they have found organizations that share and implement their values... and those values are wide-ranging enough to include more than one cause.
No More Ashes
On July 15, 1937, 69 years ago, Nazi officials processed the first of what over the next eight years would eventually amount to just shy of a quarter million prisoners at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. On January 29, 1945, Elie Wiesel arrived with his father.
A young GMW community member writes about her summer internship in Be’er Sheva and about how excited she is to be a small part of the effort to make this community in the Negev the next recognized technologically advanced city in Israel.
The Human Heart...A Thing of Wonder
The human heart is a thing of wonder. It represents our ability to act ethically, to identify our conscience and do what is right, to make good decisions that are based on reason and fairness, and to express compassion and understanding.
It’s been just a little over a week since the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life merged with our Jewish Federation, but the magic is already happening. Together, we’re focusing even more attention on the younger members of our community, making an even more powerful investment in our Jewish future.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. St. Paul, Minnesota. Dallas, Texas.
In light of the recent violence on the national scene, Federation asked the rabbis of Greater Metrowest New Jersey to provide their latest divrei torah, drashot, or other insights on the situation.
A young volunteer’s first-hand account of the work our Federation is doing in the largely Ethiopian-immigrant community of Ramat Eliyahu in Rishon LeZion, giving thousands of residents paths to a brighter future.
Hunger is a huge challenge facing New Jersey. A million people in our state are food insecure. Almost 900,000 people in our state (many of them children and seniors) rely on food banks, and that number is climbing.
There was a fascinating piece on JTA the other day that looked at the funding for Birthright, what has become recognized as one of the most successful programs in Jewish communal life.
For almost a year now our leaderships has been considering how to bring The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life into Federation as a Federation department. We’re proud of the achievements and success of The Partnership, the Jewish education and identity-building arm of the Federation that has developed quite a reputation throughout our community and beyond.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity at our recent Annual Meeting, in front of hundreds of community members, to thank Maxine Murnick for her service and dedication as she steps down as UJA Campaign Chair.
It’s wonderful to save whales, but you also have to save Jews. We had an inspiring speaker at our Women’s Awareness Day the other week – Jane Weitzman, philanthropist and board member of our partner agency, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Jane enthralled the hundreds of women in the audience with her personal story of philanthropy and Jewish leadership.* She was engaging, funny, thoughtful, and memorable.
The legendary Ted Comet, perhaps the longest-serving Jewish communal professional in North America, came to speak with our professional team last week. His dedication to helping the Jewish people around the world is unmatched.
You’re invited to join us on June 1 for our Federation’s Annual Meeting. We’ll celebrate the achievements of the community, thank our outgoing Campaign Chair Maxine Murnick, and be inspired by Rabbi David Wolpe, one of the most inspiring speakers you’ll probably hear all year.
There are people we celebrate with awards. And there are people we celebrate with honors. But some people have done so much in and for our community that we want to occasionally take a step back and find a way to thank them in a special way.
We’re almost at the end of the Yoms – Yom HaShoa, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim. They create all kinds of pictures in my head and emotions in my heart. The overarching feeling I’ve had this year is of being in two places – New Jersey and Israel – and yet in neither place.
Our Outreach and Engagement Department has been in existence for a little less than a year. Over the course of this year, as our lay and professional leadership worked to chart their course, set departmental and community priorities, and engage the community around their efforts, they’ve accomplished something really impressive.
It’s a disturbing topic. One I truly wish there was no need to address. I’m talking about Elder Abuse and, sadly, it’s a topic that’s on the mind of many of those on the front lines in our community, the incredible people who, through our partner agencies, are charged with making sure our seniors are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve.
It’s bothered me for some time now that we’ve had an artificial delineation in the community between “donors” and “professionals.” For too long, we haven’t had a Jewish communal professional campaign supporting the UJA Annual Campaign. And that’s an important opportunity lost.
Some of the most inspiring, moving, and memorable moments from our Jewish Federation’s Global Connections U'faratza Mission to Israel last week. By Federation CEO Dov Ben-Shimon.
It is now time for us to join with those working in our state in support of racial justice. Anyone interested in getting involved and making a difference is invited to join us for a very important program, “Criminal Justice Reform: Formulating the Jewish Response” on April 6 at 7 p.m.
There are more than 90 synagogues in our Greater MetroWest community – small and large, established and new, spanning all denominations – and we take our relationship with each and every one of them very seriously.
It's my birthday tomorrow. I’m way older, and (presumably) way wiser, than when I last wrote my Birthday List. Here’s what I’ve learned this past year…
The Ness Fund supports economic development throughout the Negev region of Israel. The purpose of our mission is to meet with prospective recipients and learn about their innovative ideas.
I’ve just returned from a joint leadership mission to Israel. Five leaders from our Federation embarked on a life-changing experience to learn about leadership, philanthropy, and responsibility.
The Challenge is to spread the word about human trafficking leading up to the Super Bowl and then joining together to make the topic go viral during halftime.
JDAIM is a worldwide effort to raise awareness and champion the civil rights of all Jewish people to have access and be meaningfully included in every aspect of Jewish life.
It is a Jewish custom to plant trees for Tu B’Shevat. And this year we have an extraordinary opportunity to participate in that custom by supporting our partner community of Kibbutz Erez and plant a tree in Israel.
This summer, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will hold their national conferences. Anti-Israel and pro-BDS resolutions will likely be debated at each.
My favorite painter is the great pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. By blurring the boundaries between “high art” and mass culture, he reinforced the idea that art doesn’t have hierarchies.
Mini-missions have become an important part of how we understand and appreciate the work and impact of these agencies and, ultimately, give Federation leaders involved in the allocations process the background information we need.
In the face of continuing violence and tragic loss, we must remain determined to not let terrorism consume us. We will continue to go to Israel, to the place where we feel at home, to connect with the wonderful people and to see all of the important work being done there.
From January to the end of September 2015, a total of 11,105 new olim arrived in Israel from countries of the Former Soviet Union. Half of these new immigrants are under the age of 35. They made it because of you.
New Jersey is a prime location for Human Trafficking because it is a major national and international transportation and shipping hub.
Through this mission you have a unique opportunity to visit meaningful sites of Jewish heritage in Poland and Israel with Holocaust survivors — to uncover and to learn about the past, and to see and celebrate our strength and vitality as Jews who have survived and flourished.
The 20 individuals in Greater MetroWest NJ’s eighth cohort of the Diller Teen Fellows program graduated from our 15-month journey in an exuberant ceremony in front of our parents, grandparents, siblings, and many others who have supported us through the process.
I was privileged to speak this morning at the annual meeting of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ, formerly the National Coalition for Soviet Jewry, or NCSJ).
Since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, one of our partners on the ground, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), has been increasing its work with the Fund for Victims of Terror.
As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah, it is important for us to also remember those who are less fortunate and to commit to help them live their lives with dignity and support.
The tectonic plates that have been shifting underneath our feet in the Jewish world seem to be coming together to produce a moment where we understand that it is through the will and the passion of the individual that we can and will do our best work as a whole community.
It sometimes feels like the sky is falling. But together we are strong and can make a difference by taking action. We in the Community Relations Committee are addressing the concerns of the Jewish community.
Yesterday was Super Sunday. It was, in a word, super. We raised more money than we’ve raised in years. And that’s critical, because the UJA Annual Campaign is the lifeblood of a strong, healthy vibrant community.
This is a lovely, wonderful, inspiring opportunity. Want to send a message of support for Israel, and at the same time send a mazal tov (congratulations) or a note of sympathy? Send a tribute card that plants a tree in Kibbutz Erez, along the Gaza border.
I love the GA – our national Jewish Federation system’s annual General Assembly. The GA is filled with inspiring moments and people. I leave every GA energized and impressed by our story. The 2015 GA was held earlier this week.
For nearly 15 years, our Greater MetroWest Federation has had a powerful connection and partnership with Kibbutz Erez, a community of approximately 500 residents in the northern Negev facing the Gaza Strip border.
One of the hardest things to do is get out of the day-to-day grind – the immediate – and spend time thinking about the future. We know it’s important, but finding the time is difficult. It’s what our Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest (JCF) gets to do with donors on a daily basis.
Last week was the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The aftermath of the storm provided an opportunity for us to live our values and fulfill our mission: to care, to build, and to save.