From aiding victims of natural disasters and helping the most vulnerable, to enhancing Jewish life at home and around the world, Federations impact is as broad as it is profound. Transforming lives for the better is a source of pride to all those who work and volunteer for Jewish Federations.
Jewish Federations raise more than $2 billion annually and through planned giving and endowment programs, and manage more than $17 billion. Consistently ranked among the top nonprofits in the country by Charity Navigator (the world-recognized standard bearer on nonprofit health), Jewish Federations are a world-renowned, trusted source of philanthropic enterprise, social service, and Jewish communal life.
RESPONDING TO CRISIS
From natural disasters to conflict zones, Jewish Federations are a lifeline for communities in distress in North America, Israel, and around the world. We provide funds for basic supplies, like food and medicine, as well as long-term needs, such as trauma counseling and rehabilitation. In addition, we support emergency service providers who deliver the supplies where theyre most needed.
Recovering from Hurricane Harvey
Thanks to Jewish Federations, Houston is able to sustain vibrant Jewish life after Hurricane Harvey — one of the most devastating storms on record in U.S. history — delivered some of its worst blows to the citys Jewish community. Nearly three-quarters of Houstons Jewish population live in areas that received extensive flooding, and communal infrastructure is devastated. Jewish Federations immediately set up the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, and with our network of local and international partners, we are responding quickly and effectively. Houston Federations mobilized quickly to secure $16 million and counting for recovery efforts.
This has shown me the strength of the Jewish community, said one local Houstonian. When things are really rough, it isnt just talk. And while some may think about leaving Houston, for parents Alyson and Dan the storm has had the opposite effect. How can you leave a community when you feel so loved and supported?
Rebuilding after deadly fires in Israel
For eight days in November 2016, nearly 2,000 fires ravaged communities across Israel. The devastating blazes forced more than 80,000 people to flee, destroyed over 600 homes, and damaged hundreds more. The fires were one of the costliest disasters in Israels history — on the financial scale of a major war. Estimates put damage at more than $260 million, and their total cost to the national economy exceeded half a billion dollars.
In response, Jewish Federations collected funds to help address Israelis greatest needs and start rebuilding, and our partners played critical roles in aiding recovery. Federation partner The Jewish Agency gave more than 600 grants to families who lost everything as a result of devastating fires.
INVESTING IN ISRAELS FUTURE
Jewish Federations and our partners The Jewish Agency for Israel and JDC have played essential roles in Israels development for decades, and our commitment to the Jewish State is as strong as ever. We help new olim adjust to life in Israel, offer an array of social services for vulnerable populations, and provide economic stimuli to bolster businesses, ensuring that all Israelis are strong and resilient.
Arts and culture are revitalizing the Negev
Following Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Federations Negev Now initiative has been helping to reimagine this important region by investing in cutting-edge wellness projects and arts-driven community development leadership programs.
Jewish Federations created a program to strengthen the resiliency of communities in the south through a strategy called placemaking. The initiative — which has allowed hundreds of children and adults affected by trauma to relax, socialize, and express themselves through clay, wood, textiles, or other imaginative means — has begun to revitalize this crucial region. People [are coming] here to build something new, said one of the Negevs creative changemakers, Its kind of magic.
Freedom of religious expression in Israel continues to grow
Michal, 29, and Mickey Cooper, 27, live in Beer Sheva. They recently were married in an egalitarian Masorti ceremony. Both grew up in Masorti congregations, so a Conservative ceremony was the obvious choice for their special day. Masorti rabbis in Israel conduct hundreds of marriage ceremonies each year. Couples from a range of backgrounds in Israeli society turn to the Masorti Movement in order to ensure that their ceremony relates to their Jewish heritage, while remaining relevant to their modern life.
However, a Conservative marriage in Israel is still not recognized by the state, and so Mickey and Michal, and the hundreds of other couples who choose to get married in an egalitarian Jewish wedding outside the Chief Rabbinate each year, are still considered unmarried. The Masorti Movement is doing everything in its ability to change this, and partnering with the JFNAs Israel Religious Expression Platform (iRep).
By supporting grassroots Israeli-based organizations and Reform, Conservative, and Modern Orthodox programs that tackle critical topics — such as expanding the range of marriage options, backing egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, and encouraging equal status of open conversion initiatives — iRep hopes to influence a range of issues to promote meaningful change to the religion-state status quo and advance religious freedom.
HELPING JEWISH COMMUNITIES WORLDWIDE
Jewish Federations and our partners have unmatched global reach, affecting hundreds of thousands of Jews in 70 countries. Our programs empower the next generation of Jewish leaders, connect young families with Jewish communities, and provide life-saving aid for the elderly, the disabled, and people at risk.
Coexistence has strong roots in Morocco
There are schools in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs study together. Most of them are in Israel. But theres also one where youd never expect it — Morocco — a country thats 99 percent Muslim, where the Jewish community numbers just 3,000. With the support of Federation partner JDC, students at the Maimonides Schools in Casablanca are carrying on a proud legacy of coexistence and understanding.
Breast cancer sufferers in Eastern Europe arent alone
Breast cancer is a taboo subject in much of Eastern Europe, and women there often feel alone in their struggles against the disease. One of them, Bori Halom, started blogging about it in 2012, largely out of a need to break this silence. Soon her platform grew into a support group for fellow Hungarian breast cancer patients and survivors. Today it links hundreds of women on Facebook under Boris motto, Together, its easier.
Together, its easier also describes her relationship with Federation partner JDC. Her support group is a partner in JDCs Womens Health Empowerment Program (WHEP), which works in Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina to educate women about the importance of early detection, provide mammograms, and offer support to women currently wrestling with breast cancer.
ENGAGING A NEW GENERATION
Jewish learning doesnt just happen in the classroom. And because thats true, Federation funds educational programs that reach Jews where they live, work, play, and learn — from community centers and college campuses to their own homes — and helps them envision and embark upon their own Jewish journeys. Our initiatives develop and strengthen Jewish identity, knowledge of and pride in our heritage, and love for Israel.
Young adults gain inspiration to pursue a Jewish journey
Rebekahs earliest Jewish memories arent the most positive. Her mother converted to marry her father, but was never accepted by his family or their community. It wasnt until she left home that she began to take her first tentative steps into Jewish life on her own terms, thanks to Hillel. Soon, she was living for the deep, intimate conversations at Bagel Breaks and the spiritual uplift of Friday night services. Jewish studies classes came next, where she was inspired by her peoples mission to repair the world and welcome strangers.
Then she went on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip during her junior year. There, I met people with similar experiences to mine, a group of people who felt like we could be Jewish even if we didnt know the words to all the songs. In short, she finally felt that she belonged.
Tens of thousands of young Jews attend Jewish overnight camp
64,000 young Jews attend Jewish overnight camp thanks to grants of up to $1,000 from One Happy Camper (OHC), a project of the Foundation for Jewish Camp that works in partnership with 40 local Federations, PJ Library, and individual camps. And these incentives are making a big difference: Last year, 60 percent of OHC recipients were originally considering only secular summer activities or programs. Of those families, 30 percent would have otherwise kept their kids home.
For so many kids, camp is the first time theyve been immersed in Jewish community — and camp itself is only the beginning. The effects of those summers last long after August goodbyes. Later in life, Jewish campers are more likely to support Jewish causes and take on leadership roles in their communities.
ASSISTING THE MOST VULNERABLE
Federations immense range of social services provides a critical safety net for those in need in our communities. From people with disabilities to Holocaust survivors, job seekers to families facing long-term illnesses, all are welcome and treated with care and compassion.
Helping older adults live life fully and with dignity
Harry was lonely. With his wife of 48 years gone, he found himself alone. The pictures of smiling loved ones that filled his home only made him lonelier. His daughters Jackie, Sherrie and Judy hated seeing their father grow old this way, and they knew whom to call for help and advice — Federation.
A Federation counselor guided them to a Federation-run apartment complex for Jewish seniors that immediately created a big sense that you belonged, that this was clearly a place where people cared about each other, Judy remembers. Harry not only found community, but so much more.
People with disabilities have a voice in Washington
The numbers tell a sad story. People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as the general population; 80 percent are unemployed. Federations are committed to fighting this status quo. We work tirelessly with and on behalf of this community, organizing Jewish Disability Advocacy Day and advocating for legislation that advances the rights of people with disabilities. The road forward is a long one, but Federations will remain true to our mission and never stop pushing until everyone enjoys equal rights and equal dignity.
For more information about JFNA and our activities, and to donate, visit jewishfederations.org.