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A Shabbat Thought 


Lee I. Sherman



Over the past several years, I have written these Shabbat thoughts from many different geographic locations. I have even written a few from Israel, but never before as I was looking out at the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. I am looking at those walls as I write these words. It makes this Shabbat even more special. In this week's parashah we read of Moses' pleas with Pharaoh to "Let My People Go." This city is where they dreamed of going and where their descendants would ultimately build a nation. It has never been easy over the centuries, but here I am today, able to spend a peaceful Shabbat only a short walk from the Temple Mount, connected to over 3,000 years of the Jewish people in this city. Truly, we go from generation to generation, from strength to strength.


Have a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat.

AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference - Leading with Vision: Strategizing for Excellence

AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference Committee has been working hard to put together a dynamic and exciting conference. We have over 20 workshop sessions already scheduled covering topics ranging from fundraising to marketing to human resources to innovative and effective programming. Join us in Houston to learn about engaging your board in fundraising and marketing for your agency, appealing to next gen donors, exploring diversity in JFCS agencies, digital communications and much more!  



Come On Down Y'all

Join us in Houston at the 2012 AJFCA Annual Conference

Intercontinental Hotel ~ April 22nd - 24th


Here in Houston we do things big and spectacular!


Our host committee has planned a special Havdalah Service (Pre-conference event) on Saturday, April 21st led by "Shir Magic," Congregation Emanu El's four-voice musical group, who will provide a blend of contemporary and traditional music for the service. We know you will be inspired by the beautiful voices in this special group. As always, at AJFCA Annual Conferences, there will be delicious desserts and refreshments along with networking opportunities prior to Sunday's official start of the Conference.


When you come to Texas, you need to have Barbeque, know how to "Put your right foot here" and sing "Deep in the Heart of Texas." The JFS Houston Host Committee will give Y'all a lot of that Texas knowledge....and a LOT MORE.


Early Sunday evening at the Host Reception, you will kick up your heels with professional dancers who will teach attendees how to line dance, square dance, and the fast paced CottonEyed Jo!


Attendees will board buses for a good ole Texas Barbeque dinner, complimented by fun, dancing and music by "Jewish, Jaz, Jive." JFS Houston will host this hoedown at one of Texas' premier synagogues, Congregation Beth Yeshurun. The synagogue has an incredible Judaica Museum. An audio tour of the museum will be available.


This will definitely be a Texas Lone Star evening in red, white and blue!  Sorry no mechanical bull, but liability issues, you know! 


Be sure to pack your blue jeans, boots and Texas hat...we'll supply all the fun and food.


This is just a "taste" of what to expect when you come on down to H Town.


Conference information will be coming your way shortly. Don't forget to register for these two spectacular events on the Conference Registration Form.


See ya'll in April,


Nancy and Larry Reader

JFS Houston Host Committee Co-chairs


2012 Conference Awards

AJFCA and the Conference Awards Judges are thrilled to present the guidelines for the KOVOD, Distinguished Service, Leadership and TrailBlazer awards for this year's conference. This year's KOVOD Award categories, (which are listed below) are focused on bringing out best practices in programming among JFCS agencies through North America. We are eager to receive submissions and learn even more about the creative and innovative work you do within your agencies and for the communities you serve.  

  • Creative Use of Volunteers in Client Services
  • Effective Use of Social Media
  • JF&CS Collaborative Program (submitted by a member agency or agencies)
  • Best Practices in Connecting Judaism to Client Programming  

If you have any questions of concerns please contact Megan.

February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month 

February 2012 is the fourth annual Jewish Disability Awareness Month, presenting congregations and other Jewish community organizations with an opportunity to become truly welcoming. Together we can use this month to break down physical, communication, and attitudinal barriers, educate our communities on what accessibility and inclusion really mean, and reach out to Jews with disabilities. Please consult the Jewish Federation of North America's resource guide and take action now by signing the Statement of Solidarity. Additional resources on the Union for Reform Judaism's Disabilities page can help congregations and organizations recognize Jewish Disability Awareness Month and make Jewish life cycle events more accessible.

 jdam 2012 logo

Participate in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill  - February 7th 

We invite you to come to Washington, DC on February 7th for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day. AJFCA is cosponsoring this event, which is organized by The Jewish Federations of North America  and the Religious Action Center. The day will begin with a briefing in the Capitol (10:00am-11:30am, room HC-8)  that will feature Members of Congress and other notable figures discussing the future of Medicaid and how we can best serve the healthcare needs of people with disabilities. Following the briefing, we will participate in advocacy meetings with Members of Congress and staff. If you would like to register for this day of advocacy, please do so by clicking here. Kindly contact Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director so that she can make sure you are set up with the appropriate meetings.

Announcing Medicaid.gov

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) is pleased to announce the initial launch of http://medicaid.gov/ , the first Federal government website devoted to the policies -- and the people -- of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This website is the culmination of efforts at the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services to revitalize and reorient the information the Federal government makes available about these programs. As part of their commitment to transparency and information sharing, Medicaid.gov brings to the forefront the items that States, the health policy community and other stakeholders have said they care about most, including: our Federal policy guidance; lists of pending and approved waivers; highlights of our Affordable Care Act implementation efforts; State-specific program information and data; and improved search capabilities.

samhsa logoTips to Fund and Sustain Your Health Programs     

Tips to Fund and Sustain Your Health Programs, NCOA, January 17, 2012 

If you offer a community-based health program for older adults, funding is likely a continuing challenge. Too often, effective programs get off to a great start, only to fade away when the grant money runs dry. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration compiled a valuable new guide that can help you keep your program going strong. It includes lessons learned, tips, resources, and more. The report is focused on behavioral health programs, but can be applied to any program that's in need of funding.

An Open Letter For Martin Luther King Day: Give Back and Pay it Forward

An Open Letter For Martin Luther King Day: Give Back and Pay it Forward, eJP, January 16, 2012, by Lynn Schusterman 

Lynn Schusterman is the founder of a global philanthropic network of organizations and initiatives dedicated to spreading the joy of Jewish living, giving and learning, as well as to enhancing the quality of life in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I was a young girl the first time I learned about the concept of paying it forward. My dad was advancing tuition payments for a struggling medical student, and the student asked how he could pay him back. "By being successful and helping someone else," he told him.


I had already been volunteering with my dad for a few years by then. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of holding his hand as we visited elderly people who had nobody else to care for them.


It wasn't until years later, however, that I understood these expressions of my father's universal ideals stemmed from the millennia-old values that provide much of the moral and ethical foundation of Jewish life - tzedek (justice), chesed (loving-kindness) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).


Read the rest of Lynn's letter here. 


Seven Social-Media Pitfalls for Nonprofits

Seven Social-Media Pitfalls for Nonprofits, eJP, January 17, 2012, by Hannah Brazee Gregory 

Nonprofits are flocking to social media as a way to communicate with stakeholders. While that effort to engage donors and supports is laudable, it's also fraught with challenges. Challenges that you as Jewish social service agencies face on a daily basis. Be aware of these seven pitfalls, identified by Hannah Brazee Gregory when venturing out into the world of social media.

1. Setting up your nonprofit's Facebook account as a person instead of a page.

2. Not fully thinking through the name for your Facebook page.

3. Creating a community page as your organization's Facebook page.

4. Creating a Facebook group instead of an organizational page.ejp full logo

5. Creating a Facebook page, but not monitoring it properly.

6. Signing up for Twitter when you really don't have the time for Twitter.

7. Using a logo, rather than a graphic icon, as a profile photo.


For details about each of the seven pitfalls please read the entire article.


Hannah Brazee Gregory is a nonprofit marketing expert, workshop presenter and founder of Shoestring Creative Group, the nonprofit's agency. She can be reached at nonprofitexperts@shoestringgroup.com or 1-888-835-6236. Reprinted with permission of Philanthropy Journal.


The Jewish Teen Funders Network, made up of more than 50 Jewish teen foundations operating throughout North America, is pleased to announce a grant program to create new Jewish teen philanthropy opportunities. While most teen foundations run during the school year, JTFN's Camp Philanthropy Pilot Program 2012 will work with up to 20 summer camps and bring teen philanthropy to the camp experience.

 JTFN logo

Campers will work together as a "foundation board," learning about mission statements, nonprofit organizations, and the process of grantmaking -- and ultimately give away real money to nonprofit organizations of their choosing. And throughout the grant-making process, they'll learn about what our Jewish texts, traditions, and values teach about giving.


The Camp Philanthropy Pilot Program 2012 includes:

  • Grant of $1,000 to be used to seed the grantmaking pool and additional $500 towards operational expenses
  • Program guide and curricular resources
  • Training for the lead staff person
  • Access to JTFN staff for consultation and program support throughout the summer
  • Learn more about the program

Applications are due February 14, 2012 at 5:00pm EST. Feel free to apply online


JTFN will offer an optional informational phone call on Tuesday, January 26, 2012 at 12:30pm EST. Please RSVP to receive the call-in information.


Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit has been selected as a January finalist for The Home Depot Foundation's Aprons in Action Program. Throughout January, the public can vote for JFS' Project Build!, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/homedepotfoundation, to win $25,000 in Home Depot gift cards for future projects. Ejfs detroitach person may vote one time per 24 hour period. The best part is you can vote daily!


In March 2012 one of the 11 monthly winners will be awarded the $250,000 grand prize. The organization that receives the second and third most votes will receive $150,000 and $100,000 from The Home Depot, respectively.


Project Build! is a JFS program that began in 2010 in partnership with the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan (BIA), which helps older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals and families to live in safe, functional and barrier-free homes. To learn more about Project Build!, click here.


On January 11th Jewish Family & Children's Services of San Francisco hosted Californians Against Sexual Exjfcs san franciscoploitation, a group  of concerned individuals and organizations working on a statewide initiative to heighten penalties against human trafficking and to strengthen Megan's Law against online predators. At the event, United States Representative Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo and San Francisco) recognized JF&CS for their efforts to curb human trafficking. JF&CS, along with other Bay Area institutions, was instrumental in forming the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking, a group in which JF&CS of San Francisco Board President, Nancy Goldberg, has played a significant role.

Thejfna logo Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) will host a call highlighting 2012 Health and Long Term Care priorities and strategy. Member agencies are encouraged to join the call and to contribute to this dialogue.

Supporting materials will be sent prior to the call. Please register by emailing Allison Redisch by Thursday, January 19th if you are planning to join the JFNA call.   

2012 Health and Long Term Care Priorities & Strategy

Tuesday, January 24th, 3:00pm EST

Participant Dial-In Number: (877) 559-2802
Conference ID:   41598460

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is holding a free webinar surrounding the National Medicare Education Program. The National Medicare Education Program (NMEP) Partnership Alliance bega n as an educational effort because of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which expanded Medicare's cmshealth plan options by creating the Medicare+Choice program. A partnership soon developed between public and private organizations and CMS around a common goal: educating people with Medicare to make informed choices about their health care. NMEP continues its work under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010.


Why Should You Participate?

*           To receive information on current CMS initiatives directly from CMS experts

*           To network and develop relationships with other Medicare partners

*           To learn about successful outreach strategies other organizations have used to reach seniors


This webinar will be held as a virtual meeting. Attendees will need a computer, Internet access, and a phone line to participate. To ensure your participation, please register no later than Wednesday, January 18th. Instructions explaining how to access the webinar will be emailed directly to you. If you have questions please contact Carol Blue at 301-657-4254, ext. 333 or cblue@betah.com.


National Medicare Education Program (NMEP) - FREE Webinar

Wednesday, January 25th, 1:00pm-2:30pm EST



The Health and Human Services Partnership Center is hosting a series of interactive conference calls discussing the benefits and provisions of the health care reform law.

hhs logo 

All calls are open to the public and include a question and answer session where participants can ask HHS staff any questions they may have about the Affordable Care Act. Questions may also be submitted via email to ACA101@hhs.gov.


To participate in one of the conference calls, please select your preferred date from the list below and enter your email address to be registered. Call-in information will be sent to registered callers 24 hours in advance of the calls.


January 24, 2:00 pm EST - ACA 101 (in Spanish)

January 31, 12:30 pm EST - ACA 101

February 2, 12:30 pm EST - ACA and Behavioral Health

February 28, 2:00 pm EST - ACA 101 (in Spanish)   

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