Ukraine Crisis Update
April 18, 2014
The international Jewish community is closely watching the political unrest in Ukraine that has impacted the lives of the approximately 300,000 Jews who live in the region. An escalation of violence and protests over the last few weeks continues to make the volatile situation even more challenging for those caught in the turmoil. Baltimore’s sister city, Odessa, saw protests on a limited scale, but meeting the needs of the city’s vulnerable populations is difficult for those charged with their care.
While hints of anti-Semitism were felt in many of the communities, it was not until earlier this week that anti-Jewish sentiment became overt. On the evening of April 15, official-looking documents were circulated in the eastern Ukrainian, pro-Russian city of Donetsk, calling on Jews to register with the Nationalities Commissioner and pay $50 or lose their citizenship and face deportation. While news sources now report that these flyers were fraudulent and registration of Jewish residents is not occurring, it illustrates the need for support for Jews living in this volatile region.
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), supported by The Associated’s Annual Campaign, is closely monitoring the situation in Donetsk, as well as any other reports relating to anti-Semitism coming out of Ukraine. Working with our overseas partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore is helping to meet the needs of Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens, many of whom are elderly and house-bound, as well as needs for the greater Jewish communities’ safety. An emergency campaign launched in late February in Baltimore raised over $50,000 for critical services. Thanks to generous donors in our community, we have
• Ensured that medication and food, home care and counseling services were available for those in need.
• Provided increased security at Jewish institutions such as the Beit Grand JCC, Hesed and synagogues in Odessa.
• Preserved an important piece of our heritage: Jews in Ukraine were able to observe Purim and Passover, despite the challenging environment.
As part of a global Jewish family, we will continue to care for members of the Jewish community in Ukraine. The Associated will maintain its emergency mailbox for needs in Ukraine and will update our community on the latest news on Facebook and Twitter. May they soon see a peaceful resolution to conflicts in Ukraine.
Linda A. Hurwitz Nominated for National Campaign Chair
February 22, 2013
The Jewish Federations of North America has nominated Linda A. Hurwitz of Baltimore as National Campaign chair for 2013-2014. In this role, Hurwitz will lead and inspire fundraising efforts for Jewish Federations across North America. The JFNA Board of Trustees will vote to approve Hurwitz’s nomination on June 3.
A passionate advocate for the Jewish community and a veteran fundraiser, Hurwitz has extensive leadership experience at Jewish Federations and in the greater philanthropic world.
“Campaign has always been my passion,” said Hurwitz, who became involved with Federation work while in her 20s, and has taken on increasing levels of responsibility since. “It’s not about the money, but about what the money does. There is so much positive action that happens because of the safety net Jewish Federations provide, and the infrastructure of agencies and programs that we support.”
Hurwitz has served in a variety of Federation leadership roles on the national level, as well as within her home community of Baltimore. Most recently, she co-chaired the 2012 General Assembly in Baltimore, and is president and immediate past chair of National Women’s Philanthropy. Hurwitz previously served as the Campaign chair for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, as well as its Young Women’s Leadership chair, Women’s Department Campaign chair, and major gifts, new gifts and upgrade chairs.
Hurwitz’s commitment to Israel and other overseas work has prompted her to take on roles including the founding co-chair of the Ashkelon Partnership with Baltimore’s sister city, and chair of The Associated’s Commission on Israel and Overseas. She is equally committed to the Jewish community in Baltimore, where she serves as president of the board of trustees of the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School. In addition, Hurwitz is the recipient of all three of The Associated’s young leadership awards. She is a graduate of The Wexner Heritage Foundation and the ACHARAI: Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Development Institute.
“Linda has dedicated so much of her life to the Jewish community through her Federation work, from National Women’s Philanthropy to chairing an inspirational GA in Baltimore,” said Susan K. Stern, current National Campaign chair. “Her energy and passion will help her elevate Jewish Federations’ fundraising efforts to new heights, and make a greater impact for Jews across the globe.”
Hurwitz has ambitious goals for her tenure as campaign chair, including increasing the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign in order to “do more for the Jewish People.” Equally important, she says, will be educating others about the impact of Federation dollars, and the collective strength of the Jewish community. She’s visited more than 80 communities across North America and believes that “we are all in this together. We are such a small people that each one of us can really have an impact on our future. If you are Jewish, you are my family.”
Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees, said, “As Jewish Federations look to build a stronger future for our children and grandchildren, we need a National Campaign chair that will inspire others and help them connect to our critical work. Linda is a proven leader, who has been instrumental in our community since her days in NYL Cabinet. She has an unparalleled commitment to Israel and Jewish causes around the globe, and will continue the great work of our current National Campaign Chair Susie Stern, who has accomplished so much for the Jewish People during her tenure.”
Hurwitz is a graduate of Duke University, Phi Beta Kappa in education, and earned a degree from The Johns Hopkins University in administration and supervision of education. She lives in her native Baltimore with husband, Steven, and has three children: Lauren Braunstein, Michael Hurwitz and Andrew Hurwitz.
Baltimore Stands with Israel
November 16, 2012
THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and our public policy arm, the Baltimore Jewish Council, today re-affirmed Israel's right to self-defense. This week, the Jewish state responded to a decade worth of malicious attacks on its civilians by targeting Hamas military assets in Gaza. Thirteen thousand (13,000) Hamas rockets have been fired on Israeli citizens over the past 11 years - including 1,000 since January. In the past 36 hours alone, Hamas has launched over 350 rockets at Israel.
Currently, 4.5 million Israelis are within range of the rockets controlled by Hamas. With over 50 percent of Israelis within range of these rockets, no nation in Israel's position would allow a major portion of its population to live in such a terrifying situation. The first responsibility of any sovereign nation is to defend herself and we, as a community, stand in complete and full support of Israel's right to defend her citizens.
THE ASSOCIATED continues to monitor with concern the tense situation in Southern Israel. Our hearts and minds are with our friends and family in our sister city of Ashkelon and throughout Israel. In conversation with our historic partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and in consultation with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), we have assessed the situation and determined immediate and unforeseen needs.
In response, we have decided to launch an Israel Terror Relief Fund. One hundred percent of monies raised will be disbursed to our partners for trauma relief from the constant barrage of rockets, to care for those at-risk, including the elderly and vulnerable populations, and for the immediate mobilization of those vulnerable populations to safer environments.
This campaign is in addition to our Annual Campaign which, as you know, is the lifeblood of our ASSOCIATED agency system's ability to respond to foreseen issues in both Baltimore and around the world.
We stand with Israel. No citizenry should have to deal with the daily onslaught of rockets and the ensuing terror and destruction that often comes with those attacks.
We will keep you updated with information as it becomes available to us and will post it on our ASSOCIATED newsfeed.
Rabbis Advocate for Israel and Address Today’s Jewish Community
June 21, 2012
On the lawn of the new 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan, dozens of rabbis stood facing east, davening together on a June afternoon. The group included rabbis young and old, women and men, from all denominations and types of congregations from across North America. In a place where spirituality pervades, the rabbis added their own prayers, offering a Mourner’s Kaddish for those that perished there more than 10 years ago.
Jewish Federations Condemn Reported Statement from Rabbi Shlomo Amar
June 20, 2012
The Jewish Federations of North America issued the following statement today, in response to comments made by Israel’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar:
“The Jewish Federations of North America condemns in the strongest terms the statement reportedly made by Israel’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar. It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry. Federations believe in a pluralistic, inclusive Jewish people and work hard to bring members of our people closer to their heritage. We know that the Chief Rabbi's comments and language are completely rejected by the millions of Jewish people whom we represent from all streams, including our Orthodox brethren. Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish State.”
CBS Features Jewish Community Services HIV/AIDS Prevention Program
June 20, 2012
Jewish Community Services’ (JCS, Baltimore, MD) HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Program is featured in the CBS Television Network’s Interfaith Special, “HIV & AIDS: Awareness and Compassion,” as part of the network’s Culture and Religion Series. The program, broadcast nationally on June 17, will air in Baltimore on June 24 on WJZ TV.
Federation Leaders Promote Jewish Causes in Washington
June 13, 2012
Sanctions against Iran, the U.S.-Israel relationship, national security and the American economy shaped discussions earlier this week in Washington, D.C., where more than two dozen Jewish Federation leaders from around the country gathered to advocate for the Jewish community.
During a two-day mission organized by The Jewish Federations of North America’s Prime Minister’s Council (PMC), Federation leaders visited the White House, Brookings Institution and State Department to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish people.
Jewish Community to Engage at JFNA’s 2012 General Assembly in Baltimore
May 31, 2012
Thousands of Jews from across North America and around the world will gather this November for The Jewish Federations of North America’s 2012 General Assembly (GA). This year’s conference takes place Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore, and will convene the Jewish community to network, conceive new ideas and examine the issues facing the Jewish philanthropic world.
The GA, which is co-chaired by Linda and Steve Hurwitz and Genine and Josh Fidler, all of Baltimore, will feature the theme: “The 2012 JFNA General Assembly. Where the Jewish community _____.” With the interactive nature of the theme in mind, the last word will rotate between "downloads," "uploads" and "shares."
Jewish Federations Mourn the Passing of Eliezer Ayalon, z”l
May 29, 2012
The Jewish Federations of North America mourns the passing of Eliezer Ayalon, z”l. Ayalon, a veteran tour guide for JFNA missions, was a passionate supporter of Israel and a dedicated Holocaust educator.
Born in 1928 in Radom, Poland, Ayalon was the only child from his family to survive the Holocaust. At age 13 he spent a year in the Radom Ghetto, but was saved from deportation to the Treblinka death camp. Instead, he lived for three years in five different concentration camps in Poland and Austria, among them Plaszow and Mauthausen.
ASSOCIATED President Marc B. Terrill to be honored at Jewish Communal Service Association Annual Program
Keynote speaker Chip Edelsberg to discuss “Big Ideas, Bold Solutions: The Challenges and Choices of Today’s Jewish Community Professionals.”
Two hundred of the nation’s top Jewish communal professionals will convene next month in Baltimore for the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America’s (JCSA) Annual Program. The Tuesday, June 5 event will feature workshops and discussions by distinguished leaders in the field to address the challenges and choices of today’s Jewish community professional. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore).
Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox May Be Army-Bound
May 17, 2012
In the wake of a new Israeli government coalition, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community will likely join the ranks that serve in the country’s army, according to experts. “The ultra-Orthodox will be drafted,” said Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post. “But it’s going to take time. This government is not going to go into the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and put everyone in a uniform and give them a gun. It will happen gradually.”
Weinberg Foundation Expands Amigour’s Housing for the Elderly through IEF Grant
May 7, 2012
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has granted $1.8 million to the Israel Education Fund (IEF) – a partnership of The Jewish Federations of North America and The Jewish Agency for Israel – and to Amigour, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Jewish Agency, to provide new homes for dozens of vulnerable senior citizens in Israel.
ASSOCIATED benefits from the generosity of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
THE ASSOCIATED and our system of beneficiary agencies have been fortunate to benefit from the generosity of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation for decades. As one of the single largest Annual Campaign contributions to any Jewish Federation in North America, the Weinberg Foundation provides a critical level of support to the Baltimore Jewish community.
Attached is a memorandum from the Foundation that outlines their commitment to the work that we collectively embrace.
We are so very thankful to the Weinberg Foundation and the Trustees for their ongoing commitment to Baltimore.
Bruce Sholk Marc B. Terrill
Chair of the Board President
Jewish Federations Aid Victims of Kansas Tornadoes
April 19, 2012
The Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation (MKJF) has opened the Wichita Area Tornado Relief Fund to contribute to local disaster recovery and rebuilding, in the wake of nearly 100 tornadoes in Kansas last weekend.
Federations are urged to direct donors to the Mid-Kansas Federation’s online donation form or send checks to the MKJF, Attn: Wichita Area Tornado Relief Fund, 400 N. Woodlawn, Ste. 8, Wichita, KS 67208. Please indicate "Wichita Area Tornado Relief" on all checks or in the designation box online. This fund will be open through May 15.
Learn more and help now>>
Jewish Federations Represented at Funeral for Victims of Toulouse Shooting
March 21, 2012
Significant developments took place today following the killing on Monday of a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
The bodies of all four victims were flown to Israel overnight, accompanied on the flight by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, family members and leaders of the Jewish community in France. The victims, 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego were all laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot Cemetery, accompanied by over 2,000 mourners. The Jewish Federations of North America’s senior vice president, Rebecca Caspi, represented Jewish Federations at the funeral, accompanied by Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Jeff Finkelstein.
As the funeral took place, police and special forces in Toulouse, France had surrounded a house apparently containing Mohammed Merah, the terrorist who carried out the shooting, who was identified as a member of an Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadist group. Reportedly, the gunman is alive inside the house and has admitted to carrying out the attack, as well as a separate shooting that killed three French soldiers.
Read the full update>>
Jewish Federations Shocked at Terror Attack in France
March 19, 2012
The Jewish Federations of North America is shocked and outraged at today’s tragic terror attack on a Jewish school in southern France that has left at least four dead, including three children.
Early news indicates that a terrorist on a motorcycle carried out a fatal shooting outside Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in the southern French city of Toulouse. Recent updates report that four have been killed, including a teacher, Rabbi Sandler, his two children Gavriel, aged 6, Arye, aged 3 and Miriam Monstango, aged 8, daughter of the school principal. Others remain in critical condition.
Rocket Barrage Eases in Southern Israel
March 13, 2012
After five days of rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel, the attacks have begun to subside and Israelis expect to return to normal life in the coming days. Since Friday, when Israel Defense Forces assassinated two major terrorists, more than 200 rockets have been fired into Israel’s south, threatening more than 1 million people.
“When we heard news of the killing of two mega terrorists, everyone in Israel knew we needed to get ready for a reaction. When something like this happens, we are facing rockets attacking our cities,” said Sigal Ariely, Ashkelon resident and JFNA's director of the Ashkelon-Baltimore Partnership. “Luckily, this was only a very short period of tension. I hope that it ends, and we won’t have to feel that again in the next few days.”
Read the full update>>
JFNA Briefing: Israel's South Under Fire - Update
March 12, 2012
On day four of the current escalation, with continuing rocket assaults in the South, it remains unclear to both politicians and analysts how long this violence will continue and at what level.
One million Israelis are living under threat and taking refuge in shelters, safe rooms and along roadsides each time an alert is sounded. Not unexpectedly, Israel’s crisis hot lines are seeing a spike in calls from worried residents seeking to be reassured.
Since Friday, dozens of people have been treated for trauma and four Israelis have been injured, one severely. For many, the high security situation takes them back to the trauma they suffered from previous attacks. Nati Haktz'or, 24, from Beer Sheva, lost his right leg six months ago in a Grad missile strike. Since the start of these attacks, he has stopped sleeping in his bed, in order to shorten the distance to the reinforced shelter. "Each alarm sends me right back to the day I lost my leg," he says.
The Chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees, Kathy Manning, says: "Once again, The Jewish Federations of North America reach out in solidarity with the people of Israel living in the South now enduring such a difficult situation. We hope for a cessation of the violence and a return to normal life as soon as possible."
With over 130 rockets fired into the South of Israel from the Gaza Strip since this latest series of attacks, this is the most intense assault against Israel since Operation Cast Lead in 2009. A report from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs details the number of rockets hitting the region and the background behind Israel's retaliatory strikes. The Israel Air Force is targeting Gazan weapons storage sites and rocket launch sites and the IDF has declared it will be deploying its fourth Iron Dome Defense system in several weeks. The Iron Dome system works to intercept rockets headed towards urban areas and is achieving a success rate of around 90 percent.
Under Army orders, 17 cities have shut down their educational centers, meaning that in addition to 21,000 university students with cancelled classes, 200,000 school children are at home, and parents have been forced to find child-care solutions that ensure their children’s safety should air raid sirens sound. Paradoxically, experts are concerned that residents in some areas are becoming complacent as a result of the Iron Dome’s efficacy – and civilians are being prompted to continue to act in accordance with all security guidelines.
In the Eshkol Region, one school and 15 homes were hit. A video of a grad hit in Beersheva can be seen here. As a result of the decision to close schools on Sunday, a potential disaster was avoided in the city. The Home Front Command has reissued security instructions on how to act during a missile alert.
JFNA's Israel Office is in regular contact with our partners at the Jewish Agency and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committeee, as well as with Israel’s Home Front Command and Emergency Roundtable, and will continue to provide new information and updates as the situation demands.
Ynet: Gaza terrorists pound southern sector
Times of Israel: A short drive from Tel Aviv, rockets paralyze a city of 250,000
Hamas: Egypt working 'around the clock' to halt violence
JFNA Briefing: Israel's South Under Fire
March 11, 2012
Following the targeted assassination of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee leader Zuhair Qaisi by Israel Defense Forces this past Friday, over 100 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip to the south of Israel, forcing Israelis back into their shelters and breaking down the daily routine. JFNA Israel is in the field to inform you of recent developments.
Breaking news reports this evening in Israel said a rocket had struck a school in Beersheva -- though fortunately the school was empty after officials had decided to keep students home in the wake of the escalated attacks.
Letter from Jerusalem: Israel's Supreme Court Decision Prompts New Haredi Discussion
February 29, 2012
As Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the “Tal Law” last week, yet another controversy erupted in the country surrounding relations between Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (“haredi”) community, and the rest of society.
The Tal Law, which has exempted religious Jews who participate in full-time Jewish learning from serving in the army since 2002, was this week ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court. The law cannot be renewed when it expires in a few months. Israel now has the opportunity to revisit military or national service requirements for those who were formerly exempt by the Tal Law, creating vibrant debate in the Knesset and wider society.
Read the Jewish Federations of North America's response>>