Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jewish Federations Aid Victims of Colorado Fires

Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, in conjunction with local synagogues, community organizations and national partners, has launched the Colorado Fire Relief Fund to help victims, firefighters, first responders and others impacted by the wildfires raging in Colorado. 

Federations are urged to direct donors to the Colorado Fire Relief Fund online or send checks with the notation “Colorado Fire Relief Fund” to Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, 300 S. Dahlia, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80246. One-hundred percent of all donations to the Colorado Fire Relief Fund will go to directly combat the fire and help victims. There will be no administrative fees taken out of these funds.

“Our Jewish community responds quickly to crisis around the world and now we are mobilizing to help victims and relief efforts in response to the massive fires across Colorado,” said Nancy Gart, Federation’s Coordinating Council chair. “Through our existing crisis relief structure, Federation has established an effective way for our community to respond with all donations going directly to help disaster relief efforts during this terrible crisis.”

Colorado is appealing for help as the fires are still out of control. Fires are burning in Durango and the Waldo Canyon Blaze is consuming more land. Thousands of Colorado Springs residents have been evacuated from their homes.

 “Our mountains are a veritable tinderbox due to drought conditions through the winter combined with record-breaking temperatures, extremely dry air with almost no humidity, and plenty of dead trees due to the insidious pine beetles, creating the 'perfect storm' conditions in mountain forests,” said Federation President and CEO Doug Seserman. “Currently there are 14 fires raging in Colorado and it’s only the beginning of the summer. When we face fire conditions, it’s usually not until August and not of this magnitude.”

As the community convener, Federation mobilizes resources to respond quickly to crisis situations. “Our tradition says whoever has saved one life, it is considered that he has saved the whole world,” said Seserman. “We have a responsibility to our greater community to assist in saving and sustaining as many lives as we can.”

Please visit the Federation’s website for details on how to help.

JFNA and Jewish Federations are committed to care for victims of global natural disasters, and have emergency relief plans in place to aid those in need. Last year, Jewish Federations raised funds for those affected by widespread storms around the U.S., and more than $1 million for victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. Other recent fundraising efforts included $30 million to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina, and $10 million in the aftermath of the southern Asia tsunami in 2004.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

San Diego Jews Open Arts Center Israel

Federation leadership, Israeli dignitaries and San Diegan Philanthropists gathered in the desert of Sha'ar HaNegev last night to celebrate the dedication of the Alexander Joesph Viterbi Arts Center in Sha'ar HaNegev Israel. Our local San Diego Jewish World was there reporting on this historic event.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jewish Federations Condemn Reported Statement from Rabbi Shlomo Amar

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.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Federation’s Lion of Judah Women Give Back with Their Hands and Hearts

The Lions - Ready to Do a World of Good
Twenty Lion of Judah women of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County recently spent their morning at the Ronald McDonald House making beautiful handmade fleece blankets and assembling fifty welcome bags for new families full of toys, blankets and toiletries. The women volunteered with the hopes of bringing smiles to the children and families who are just beginning their stay at the Ronald McDonald House, often with an injured child or upon learning their child is critically ill. 

Laura Vainer and Nikki Saloner
Laura Vainer, project co-chair, said she was “thrilled to be part of the efforts that started this new initiative providing hands-on opportunities in our community for Lions of Judah to get involved locally”. 

Nikki Saloner, project co-chair, shared that they are excited about “giving back with their hearts and with their hands” and were very pleased at the turnout at the first project.

Both Vainer and Saloner are passionate about helping others and look forward to continuing to offer additional more meaningful projects in the coming year. As one participant said, “this project was a terrific use of our talents, energy and passion for helping others. I cannot believe how much we accomplished in just a few hours together.”

Lion of Judah women are donors to Federation’s annual campaign of $5000 and above. For more information on the Lion of Judah Division, please call Debbie Kempinski at Federation at (858) 737-7133.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Federation Focuses on Seniors

Dr. Steve Solomon, JSSC Chair
On Friday morning the Federation’s Jewish Senior Services Council (JSSC) held its first “Aging Symposium” to discuss matters critical to seniors in our community. The symposium included an all-star list of experts in the realms of senior care, medicine, technology and health, which lead to an energetic discussion about the needs and concerns of our senior community. The symposium covered:
  • Conversations that need to happen to prepare for aging with dignity
  • Basics about hospice and navigating health care 
  • Civic engagement and options for seniors staying involved
  • The latest technology to help seniors age in place
  • The changing demography of family caregiving, and the new landscape of intergenerational care relationships.
The program opened with Rabbi David Kornberg delivering a d’var Torah, followed by opening remarks by Dr. Steve Solomon, JSSC Chair, who welcomed the distinguished panelists and over 50 attendees. He stated the important mission of the JSSC, which was created in 2004 as one of the first collaborative planning councils in the San Diego Jewish community, with a focus on strengthening services offered to older Jewish population countywide through coordination, collaboration and advocacy.

Dr. Solomon also shared some alarming statistics:
  • The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to more than double by 2030 from 40 million today.
  •  In the American Jewish community, it is estimated that 25% of us will be 65 and older by 2030.
  • Today, in this population, 33% of older adults live alone, a percentage that increases to nearly 40% for the “oldest old” (those who are more than 75 years old). 
  • 95% of seniors prefer to live at home as long as they can.
Discussing critical issues regarding seniors
He went on to say "In San Diego County, housing, social security and nutrition are among the major issues facing our seniors. In the county’s Senior Health Report, 62.1% of seniors were reported as being overweight or obese. Mental illness, depression, diabetes and other health indicators are increasing in incidence. Lack of affordable housing, and health insurance coverage, as well as reductions in public programs and services for seniors, are also major issues. 

As Chair of the Jewish Senior Services Council, I believe that we are obligated to do a better job of caring for our Jewish elders and meeting our mandate of Tikkun olam, repairing the world. Many of you are doing outstanding work in your respective areas of expertise and/or in caring for a loved one. By working collaboratively I am certain that we can make a greater, lasting difference”

Paul Downey, President/CEO of Senior Community Centers
Dr. Solomon then introduced keynote speaker Paul Downey, President/CEO of Senior Community Centers who presented Aging Baby Boomers – What Does it Mean For San Diego? which addressed the oncoming "tsunami" of an aging population.  Downey delved into key issues of infrastructure, medicine, population and finances projected with the coming wave of aging baby boomers, and highlighted the importance of advocacy and discussion nessisary to mitigate pressures on our society.

A lively panel discussion ensued which lead to conversation between attendees and speakers on concerns, feelings and hopes for the future.  The speaker list and program can be found below.

As the JSSC wrapped up their first symposium, Dr. Solomon asked attendees and speakers to think about what we should do as a community to support our seniors, working together to plan, launch, evaluate and sustain an initiative for this cherished, vulnerable population. The JSSC will follow up with attendees and speakers to develop concrete actionable steps to make a world of difference for our seniors.

Panel Speakers and Presenters

About the Jewish Senior Services Council

The Jewish Senior Services Council (JSSC) was established to improve the quality of life for senior Jewish adults in San Diego County through community planning, collaboration, coordinated service provision and advocacy. JSSC was first convened in 2004 following the community strategic planning process, which identified caring for the Jewish elderly as a top priority.

Comprised of both volunteer and professional leaders, the JSSC is dedicated to helping the San Diego Jewish community determine, and work towards fulfilling, the priority needs of seniors. JSSC strives to help maximize the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of current senior services. The Council also seeks to assist our community to stay current with best practices, to engage the best minds in the field in order to develop a vision for a thriving senior Jewish community, and support innovative efforts to achieve this long-term vision.

JSSC is an integral part of Federation’s Community Planning & Innovation Center, and seeks to serve as a community voice for supporting senior services in San Diego County. Partner organizations on the Council include, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Jewish Federation of San Diego County, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Lightbridge Ohr Ami Hospice, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, San Diego Rabbinical Association, Seacrest Village Retirement Homes, Senior Community Centers, St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services and others.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Take Action! Say No to Divestment. Ask Presbyterian Leaders to Support Reconciliation and Peace Instead

As IAN has been alerting communities, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will debate a resolution that calls for the PCUSA to divest from three major companies that do business with Israel. The proposal will be voted on at their biennial General Assembly at the end of this month. Please join us by signing and sharing our letter urging Presbyterians commissioners to vote no on divestment.
Our collective voice is strongest when we stand together. This letter builds on a previous one signed by 1,300 American rabbis from all four religious streams and all 50 states. By adding your name, you pledge your support for working together with our interfaith partners to achieve a two-state solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis the opportunity to live side-by-side in peace. This cannot be achieved through divestment, a strategy that does not foster reconciliation and only serves to poison the well for positive interfaith relations. Read More.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Women's Philanthropy Installs New Board

Women's Philanthropy Board Chair Laura Tauber
The Jewish Federation of San Diego County's Women's Philanthropy installed a new board at the beautiful home of Alexandra Hirschhorn.  Board Chair Laura Tauber lead the installation and saluted the accomplishments of exiting board members, who collectively had served for 66 years.

The Women's Philanthropy Board welcomed eight new members representing a diverse group, of rich and varied backgrounds, who are all tremendously accomplished and committed to the mission of Federation.

The Federation's Interim President and CEO, Michael Sonduck, addressed the group and thanked them for their great achievements and generosity.

The group welcomed special guest speaker Rabbi Lenore Bohm, who spoke about the special responsibilities and obligations of leaders. She urged the women to be generous with their financial resources as well as resources of the heart.  Additionally, Bohm discussed the importance of their support for Federation, as well as for one another.

The 2012 - 2013 Women's Philanthropy Board
Bolded Names Indicates New Additions

Juli Bear                    Terri Bignell                    Stacie Bresler-Reinstein    Silvana Christy           
Samantha Cohen   Karen DePodesta       Theresa Dupuis                     Jessica Effress 
Britney Ewing         Leslie Fastlicht Russo   Belinda Feldman                   Gina Guertin           
Naomi Harris             Alexandra Hirschhorn    Marsha Janger                       Karen Jinich 
Leigh Johnson          Maya Kanarek              Karen Kogut                           Lisa Kornfeld 
Meg Mandel              Sivia Mann                       Danielle Miller                        Rebecca Newman 
Olivia Okovita            Lori Polin                         Laura Roselinsky                   Robyn Schuster 
Susan Shmalo          Laura Tauber                   Ilana Umansky                         Laura Vainer 
Jacqueline Woolf 

Olivia Okovita, Naomi HarrisStacie Bresler-Reinstein, Lisa Haney

Olivia Okovita, Leslie Fastlicht Russo, Ilana Umansky