Israel’s Phillippino Workers in Gear; What Can We Do From Here?

Rabbi Howard Cohen recommends donating a “ShelterBox.”

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Throughout Israel, workers from the Philippines, who primarily serve as aides and caregivers for the elderly, have organized collections of clothes, blankets and more for donation.

Approximately 39,000 Phillippinos live in Israel, and The Jerusalem Post reported: “The IDF, Foreign Ministry and Israeli and Jewish humanitarian organizations are sending aid workers to the Philippines to provide rescue and relief efforts in the wake of super-typhoon Haiyan.”

Free shipping through a Philippine carrier was organized by The Federation of Filipino Communities in Israel (FFCI).

More after the jump.
So what might those of us in the west best do at this time of crisis? Rabbi Howard Cohen of Burning Bush Adventures recommends Shelterbox, a well-respected option to my attention:

In this charity your donation is very concrete. Shelterbox delivers a box that provides essential items for addressing the issue of temporary shelter and more. The box contains an incredibly durable tent, stove, cooking set, blankets, water purification devices (very easy to use that last for months), some tools to help people rebuild their lives, plus more items. Each box costs about 500.00. The organization has only about a half dozen paid employees, everyone else is a volunteer.

For more general donations, the American Jewish World Service is coordinating a major effort, as is the Red Cross, and many other traditional non-profit and governmental responders, as reported by major news services.

In Time of Need: For Times of Loss, We take care of all the details

Dad's Candle - 2013— by Karen Cooke and Shelley Marine

As we hugged the family goodbye, the mourner’s words resonated in our ears, “You truly helped us get through a most difficult time. The loss of a dad is so tough. Thank you for your patience and sound advice.” Once again, we felt the warmth of being allowed into someone’s family when they were vulnerable and really needed a shoulder to lean on.

More after the jump.
Having felt the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one and wishing there was a place to turn for help and guidance, inspired us to form In Time of Need. Our business provides a less stressful alternative to planning and arranging a shiva or memorial service. People are so overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one, and there are so many details that need to be taken care of immediately.  Our service permits the mourner to begin the grieving process, without having to arrange for everything involved in putting together a shiva, or memorial service.

As Judaism mandates that burials happen as soon as possible, we are prepared to drop everything as soon as we receive a call from a client. We clear our schedules so we can be there fully to attend to the family’s needs.  We’re finding that people need help at this time. They are focused on grief and they can’t focus on food, and all the logistics of people coming back to their house after the funeral.

As a Jewish business, In Time of Need understands the specific rituals involved with a death. When Tori W. found she needed help, Joseph Levine and Sons funeral home referred her to In Time of Need. “They helped us with everything. We knew because they were Jewish, everything would be handled in a very specific way,” she observed.

Given the way society has changed, we are convinced more people will be looking for our services in the  future. Children live far from parents, and busy schedules often prevent people from helping in the most difficult times. Many want the option not to think about the details, they want to think about their loved one.
We base our services on the individual needs of each family. In addition to being there for the family the day of the funeral, many have asked us to come back for the remaining days of shiva. We coordinate the meals, prepare and serve dinner, and then turn the home over to receive friends for services, and see to it that everything is put away before they leave. At the end of the night, the mourner is free to simply find some time for themselves. Giving a family comfort is what we strive to do.

Contact: Karen Cooke 267-226-0758, Shelley Marine  484-437-2468, [email protected]

South Philly/Old City Hidden City Festival And Mural Tour Highlights

— by Jenna Slowey

Hidden City Philadelphia and the Mural Arts Program are joining forces this weekend to offer a bus tour that visits Hidden City festival sites, as well as some of the city’s more prominent murals in South Philadelphia and Old City.  The tour will be held at 1:00 pm every day from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 30. The tour costs $35 per person and includes a one-day Hidden City Festival Pass.

The tour begins at John Grass Wood Turning, 141 North 3rd Street, a legacy woodturning business started by Bavarian immigrant John Grass in 1863 that closed in 2003. The workshop has remained intact and essentially unchanged for a century. Located in America’s first manufacturing district (and crucible of Philadelphia’s “Workshop of the World”), the company made tool handles, flag poles and furniture — almost anything made of wood that needed to be turned on a lathe.

More after the jump.
The on-site Wood Shop project serves as a pilot project to introduce John Grass to the wider public, to exhibit handcrafted products created throughout its 160-year history and as a custom railing and balustrade by maker Joe McTeague, who will be incorporating found lathe-turned products created at John Grass.

Later, the tour visits Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, a small converted storefront synagogue from 1909. In the century since, as Jewish South Philly grew then shrunk then grew again, this tiny synagogue has persisted, almost unchanged, as one of the last pre-World War I row house “shuls” of its kind.

Textile artist Andrew Dahlgren is working on site in his ADMK Knit Lab. He will meet visitors as he creates a knitted quilt that will cover the facade of the synagogue.

In between the two visits, several of the city’s murals will be visited.

“Marrying Philadelphia’s forgotten historical and architectural treasures with the far-ranging mural program is a natural fit,” Hidden City Creative Director Lee Tusman said. “This tour provides a sampling of the best of both worlds.”

The six-week Hidden City festival is a unique combination of art, history and architecture, as well as an exercise in building community and imagining new futures for vacant spaces. It will present the largest showing to date in Philadelphia — and one of the largest in the country — of what’s been called “social practice art,” a burgeoning grassroots movement recently spotlighted in The New York Times and also on

Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel
2015 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

The nine Hidden City sites are located in a wide array of neighborhoods, including Center City, Germantown, Frankford, South Philadelphia and University City:

  1. Kelly Natatorium at Fairmount Park,
  2. Germantown Town Hall,
  3. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia,
  4. the Historical Society of Frankford,
  5. Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel,
  6. Hawthorne Hall,
  7. Fort Mifflin,
  8. John Grass Woodturning and
  9. Globe Dye Works.

Other highlights this week include:

  • Punk Jews screening, 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 at Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, 2015 S. 4th St. Profiling Hassidic punk rockers, Yiddish street performers, African-American Jewish activists and more, Punk Jews explores an emerging movement of provocateurs and committed Jews who are asking, each in his or her own way, what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. After the screening, co-producer Saul Saludin will hold a Q&A with the audience. Tickets are $10.
  • Independent Germantown Flagmaking Workshop, 12-7 p.m. Sunday at Germantown Town Hall, 5928 Germantown Ave. Come work with Katie Hargrave of the Think Tank that has yet to be named to design and create the new flag of independent Germantown. No prior knowledge required. Drop in any time to contribute.
  • Radical Jewish Music: A Concert Series — Uri Caine plays Moloch.  8 p.m. Monday at Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, 2015 S. 4th St. Tickets are $25 online and $30 at the door. Caine is a musician of astonishing virtuosity and versatility. Coming out of the legendary Philly Jazz scene, his playing is an encyclopedia of styles. Ars Nova Workshop, in partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia, holds the third of its three-part concert series featuring the work of composer John Zorn inside this 19th century South Philly synagogue.

Tickets for Hidden City Philadelphia are available online at http://festival.hiddencityphil… or over the phone at 267-428-0575.

Tickets cost $20 for a one-day pass, $40 for a weekend pass and $70 for an all-festival pass. Hidden City members pay reduced rates of $15 for a one-day pass, $30 for a weekend pass and $50 for an all-festival pass.

About Hidden City Philadelphia
Hidden City Philadelphia pulls back the curtain on the city’s most remarkable places and connects them to new people, functions and resources. We celebrate the power of place and inspire social action to make our city a better place to live, work and play. We do this through four complementary programs: Hidden City Daily, our online magazine; Hidden City Tours & Events; immersive experiences of remarkable places; and Hidden City Festival, an award-winning and widely acclaimed artistic, historical and community event.

$27 Million Raised at FIDF National Gala Dinner

— by Jen Glantz

$27 million was raised Tuesday night at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner where over 1,400 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country gathered at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to demonstrate their love and support for the soldiers of Israel. FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark was the chair of the Gala, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

A special delegation from the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region participated in the Gala event. Among the delegation members was the Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler.

More after the jump.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National President, Julian Josephson; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; Israeli-American luxury fashion designer, Elie Tahari; President of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine and his wife, Mindy; American real estate tycoon and media proprietor, Mort Zuckerman; and American sex therapist, media personality, and author, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Left to right: Former IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler, Ambassador Ron Prosor

One of the evening’s outstanding guests was Cpt. Ziv Shilon, a 25-year-old commander of the Givati Brigade, who just a couple of months ago was badly injured in a Hamas attack near the Gaza security fence, when an explosive device went off. Cpt. Shilon was also joined at the Gala by more than 30 soldiers and officers from various IDF units as well as soldiers from the United States Armed Forces, including Maj. Justin Constantine, a wounded U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Notable among the donations were $5 million pledged by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; $1 million pledged by the Genesis Philanthropy Group; $130,000 pledged by Elie Tahari; $100,000 pledged by Mort Zuckerman; $1.08 million pledged by FIDF National Board Member, Harry Gross; and $1.3 million pledged by National Board Member and Young Leadership Chairman Tony Felzen on behalf of FIDF NY Young Leadership. The Major League Baseball and the Yankee Foundation purchased dinner sponsorships.

The evening culminated with the heartfelt words shared by bereaved mother, Nelly Barak, who tragically lost her son, Hanan Barak Z”L, who was a tank commander, in 2006. Hanan and another soldier were killed when a group of terrorists fired an RPG at his tank and then abducted his soldier, Gilad Shalit, that was released last October after five years of captivity by Hamas in Gaza.

The funds raised during the evening will provide services like academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, financial support for soldiers in-need and Lone Soldiers from around the world, weeks of rest and recreation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities. The evening was an opportunity to pay tribute to the State of Israel and to send a message of love and support to the brave men and women in uniform.

List College Launches Precollege Program In Jewish Social Justice

— by Aliyah Vinikoor

This summer List College will be launching JustCity, a new precollege program in Jewish social justice. In collaboration with Avodah, Ramah and USY, JustCity will offer rising high-school juniors and seniors the opportunity to deepen their Jewish identity while working on community-building projects with organizations such as Hazon, Kids Creative, and Hurricane Sandy relief agencies. Participants will live in the JTS residence halls and engage in Jewish text study with JTS faculty in the mornings. Afternoons will be devoted to service learning in the field, and evenings and weekends will be spent further exploring New York City and developing the skills necessary to transform their passion for Jewish social justice in to action.  Please visit The JustCity website for more information.

Hazon and Isabella Freedman Announce Merger

New York City, NY / Falls Village, CT
Monday, December 3, 2012 / 19 Kislev 5773

The boards of Hazon and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center are today announcing the anticipated merger of the two well-respected Jewish non-profits.  Both organizations are rooted in the New York area; have national impact; are known for providing transformative experiences; and in particular play a leading role in the Jewish Food Movement and Jewish environmental movement.

More after the jump.
Board chairs Richard Dale (of Hazon) and Mark Russo (of Isabella Freedman) said, in a joint statement,

we’re proud of the accomplishments of each of our organizations, and we hope and intend that the merger will enable the combined entity to grow more strongly, to expand and enrich its programming, and to have a more significant human and communal impact, than either could by itself.

David Weisberg, currently the Executive Director of Isabella Freedman, and the CEO of the new organization, said,

People love being at the Isabella Freedman campus, and many find a spiritual home-away-from-home here, but we also wanted to have a more direct relationship with people in New York City and across the country. Meanwhile Hazon has had a huge impact on people’s lives, has been at the forefront of re-connecting American Jews with the natural world, but has lacked its own physical base. The merger is intended to bring more people to the existing Freedman site, and to enable us together to have a greater impact across the country. We’re excited that the merged entity will have a wide range of programs, great staff and volunteers in California, Colorado and elsewhere, and the opportunity to grow strongly in the future.

Nigel Savage, the founder of Hazon, a longtime Isabella Freedman board member, and the President of the new organization, added,

The strong growth of Hazon in the last decade is testament not only to our incredible staff, board members, volunteers, participants and funders; it’s also a reflection of the remarkable growth of the wider Jewish Food Movement and Jewish environmental movement.  Both Hazon and Freedman have become known for launching new programs that bring Jewish tradition to life in incredible ways, and we see on a daily basis that our ideas resonate with growing numbers of people. In the next decade we need to take this work to scale, so that we and our partners not only renew and strengthen Jewish life, but also enable the American Jewish community to play a distinctive role in creating a more sustainable world for all. That’s what this merger aims to achieve.

The merged organization is also expected to include the Teva Learning Alliance, which began in association with Isabella Freedman in the 1990s, but which until now has formally been a program of Surprise Lake Camp. Jordan Dale, the Executive Director of Surprise Lake, and Nili Simhai, the Director of Teva, both expressed strong support for the merger:

We’re incredibly proud of Teva, and of the impact that a growing number of Tevaniks are having around the country. We’ve worked closely with Hazon and Isabella Freedman over the last decade, and we hope and believe that the merger will enable the work of Teva and of our partners to grow in the future.

The new group will be called Hazon, will be headquartered at Falls Village, CT and New York City, and will have offices in California and Colorado. The retreat center will continue to be known as Isabella Freedman, which will be one of several “sub-brands” that are intended to grow in the future, including:

  • Adamah (the award-winning Jewish farming program),
  • Elat Chayyim (spirituality-based retreats),
  • the Jew & the Carrot (the Jewish Food Movement blog),
  • the Jewish Greening Fellowship (leadership and organizational transformation),
  • Makom Hadash (supporting second-stage non-profits),
  • Shmita Project (a multi-organization partnership to renew awareness of the shmita cycle),
  • Siach (strengthening ties between American, European and Israeli environmental and social justice leaders) and
  • Teva (focusing on environmental education for children and educators).

The chair of the new organization will be Richard Shuster, an Isabella Freedman board member for many years (and a passionate cyclist and skier). He said,

I believe in both constituent organizations, I’m impressed by David and Nigel, and I think that the opportunity-to create something that can touch people’s lives, for years to come, in powerful ways — is well-worth the challenge.

Isabella Freedman is a long-standing network agency of UJA-Federation of New York, and for the past several years, UJA-Federation has also provided various programmatic grants to Hazon. John Ruskay, Executive Vice President & CEO of UJA-Federation said,

UJA-Federation’s tagline is ‘Good Together’ and we think that Hazon and Isabella Freedman coming together and sharing each other’s strengths will have a lasting impact on the renewal of Jewish life in New York, nationally, and with deepened connections to Israel. We’re proud to have supported each organization in the past, and look forward to seeing how together they will strengthen our Jewish future.

The merger has been similarly endorsed by significant leaders in the foundation world:

Felicia Herman, of New York’s Natan Fund, a longtime supporter of Hazon, said,

Funders who support innovative young organizations have been wrestling with ‘what’s next’ for these groups.  Bikkurim’s recent Abundant Harvest report articulated some of the key issues and urged us all to think of new approaches to those struggles.  In addition to its own important programmatic work, Hazon has also always worked to address systemic issues in both the Jewish environmental sector and the innovation ecosystem, and this merger is another example of that creativity.  We need multiple approaches to strengthening the Jewish people, but each of those approaches doesn’t need to be a standalone nonprofit.

Lisa Farber Miller of Denver’s Rose Community Foundation said,

We’re proud to be a significant stakeholder in Hazon’s work in Colorado, and/but we’ve seen in general how important it is for second-stage non-profits to develop sustainable business strategies. Hazon and Freedman should be commended for getting to this point. I very much hope that the new merged entity grows and thrives.”  Dana Raucher, the Executive Director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation concurred: “Second-stage growth requires nimbleness on the part of funders and organizations.  We applaud Hazon and Isabella Freedman for thinking creatively about their sustainability.

Similar support came from leading figures in the field. Adam Berman, who at different times directed Teva and Isabella Freedman, founded Adamah, and was a board member of Hazon for seven years, is now the founder and director of Urban Adamah, in Berkeley, CA. He said,

My own experience mirrors, in a way, that of many of the younger Adamahniks and Tevaniks, or the people who’ve done Hazon rides or retreats at Freedman. We don’t want to separate or hive off our identities; on the contrary, we want to grow as Jews and as human beings, to learn, to celebrate, to find new ways to give back.  The growth and partnership of Urban Adamah, Wilderness Torah and Hazon in the Bay Area is a good example of how we can renew Jewish life in incredibly profound ways. I’m excited for this merger, and I send love and blessings to everyone in the Hazon and Isabella Freedman families.

Merger discussions between the two organizations have been in process since the beginning of the year, and the merger is now contingent only on final due diligence, formal board authorization and the receipt of any necessary regulatory approvals.

Staff from both organizations, who have worked closely together in the past, are already planning the detailed integration of the two organizations. Over the Labor Day weekend, Hazon’s New York Ride was back at Freedman for the first time in five years; and Hazon’s sold-out Food Conference, taking place at Freedman at the end of this week, will see the first public celebrations of the merger. As David Weisberg put it,

The two organizations are like friends who’ve known each other a long time and one day realize they should get married. We already know each other and have shared values. Now that our engagement is public, we’re excited to start to weave a new enlarged Hazon that honors our history and the people who brought us here, while envisioning and creating a dynamic and exciting future.

For more information, please visit the FAQ on their websites.

JSPAN Presents 2012 Social Justice Award to Dr. Ernest Kahn

On December 4, JSPAN presented its 2012 Social Justice Award to Dr. Ernest Kahn. Dr. Kahn has served the Jewish Community in numerous capacities, including Director of Community Planning, Associate Executive Vice President and acting Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The award was presented to Dr. Kahn by the co-chairs of the event, David Gutin and Burt Siegel. Dr. Kahn expressed his deep appreciation for the award not only on his own behalf, but as recognition of the contribution made by professionals to the wider Jewish community.

Also addressing the gathering was Professor Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Professor of Social Justice at the University of Maryland. Dr. Reisch spoke on “The Implications of the Election for the Future of Social Welfare in the U.S.” Professor Reisch observed a need for a change in the discourse in both Washington and in the states about funding of social services and advanced the idea that the word “entitlements” — so much a part of the controversy over budget and deficits — is really a misnomer since all employees and self employed pay into Social Security and Medicare during their working years.

Winter Coat For Homeless This Thanksgiving Thanks to Golden Slipper

The Golden Slipper Clubs & Charities (GSC) is celebrating its 90th birthday in 2012, as it continues to find new and creative ways to help people in need of their services. Recently, one of the arms of the GSC, its Human Needs and Services (HUNAS) division, teamed up with B’Nai
B’rith Project H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Everywhere) to launch a coat drive for homeless shelters in Philadelphia and Norristown.

Over 400 coats and other essentials designed to get recipients through the winter were collected by Golden Slipper Club members.

More after the jump.
The coats were delivered on Sunday, November 4, 2012 to the following homeless shelters:

  • Darlene Morris Love and Care Residential Systems (616. N. 43rd Street, Philadelphia),
  • Family House (901 DeKalb St., Norristown),
  • Laurel House (905 Swede Street, Norristown),
  • Mercy Hospice (334
    S. 13th Street, Philadelphia) and
  • The Good Shepherd Program of St. John’s Hospice (1221 Race Street, Philadelphia).

Golden Slipper Club members who helped deliver the coats were Robin and Jay Cohen (Cherry Hill, New Jersey), Patti and Michael Isakov (Haverford, Pennsylvania), Brian and Meg Gilberg(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Nanci and Ken Gilberg (Penn Valley, Pennsylvania), Andy, Zachary and Adam Deitch (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania), Michael Kleeman (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania), Nancy Gross (Havertown, Pennsylvania) and Linn Courtney (Havertown, Pennsylvania).

States GSC president Stephen H. Frishberg:

“My wife Barbara and I were happy to give up part of a Sunday to participate in this cause. At a time when so many are still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, we were pleased to help several hundred people with suitable clothing for the season. The look on their faces warmed our hearts.”


B’nai B’rith’s Israel Emergency Fund in Response to Gaza Situation

B’nai B’rith International is launching an Israel Emergency Fund in response to events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Its goal is to raise funds to assist Israeli residents who are dealing with a barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas. Funds could also be used to help with the personal needs of Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

More after the jump.

“We must support Israeli residents who have been subjected to an unimaginable life as Hamas continues its terror attacks into Israel,”

B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

After days of Hamas rocket attacks into southern and central Israel, sending a million Israelis scrambling for bomb shelters, The Israel Defense Forces responded with a campaign to disable Hamas terror cells.

“Every government has as its primary obligation to protect its citizens,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We support Israel as it seeks ways for its citizens to live in peace.”

B’nai B’rith has opened its Israel Emergency Fund in the past to assist with previous Gaza situations and to help in the wake of the devastating Mt. Carmel fires. Some of the past funds helped B’nai B’rith purchase Hebrew-language best sellers for Israel Defense Force combat soldiers through the “Sifrut for Soldiers” program. In other cases, funds were used to buy computers, electronic equipment and inflatable playgrounds to help improve the lives of those trapped in the bomb shelters, and to purchase upgraded communications equipment for fire fighters.

Click here to donate online.

Donations can be received by mail at: B’nai B’rith Israel Emergency Fund, B’nai B’rith International, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th floor, Washington, D.C. 20006.

Reform Movement Joins Communal Israel Terror Relief Fund

— by Annette Powers

In response to Israel’s military efforts to stop the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza, and the subsequent escalation in violence, the arms of the Reform Movement, representing 1.5 million Jews in North America, as well as numerous professional organizations and affiliates, are joining together, calling for spiritual, political, and financial support for Israel.

More after the jump.
The Reform Movement has long been an unwavering voice for Israel and reaffirms that staunch support for Israel in this moment of crisis. The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) has been in touch with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), and the entire Reform Jewish Movement is working together to provide support for Israel’s people who find themselves in the line of fire from Gaza rockets, including those in Reform communities.

To that end, the Reform Movement is joining with partners from across the North American Jewish landscape in establishing an Israel Terror Relief Fund. This effort is being coordinated by the Jewish Federations of North America. All donations will go to direct aid, including to the Reform community in Israel, through organizations such as The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as they work to provide respite and support to the thousands of children and families in Israel’s southern region, food and emergency kits to the elderly and disabled, and many other relief and emergency services.

Donation information, as well as a wide array of other resources – including liturgical suggestions, background information from many of our affiliates, including ARZA, and curricular materials – are available at