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D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman


 For many years, I used a small tallit bag that had belonged to my grandfather, apparently given to him on the occasion of his bar mitzvah in the late 19th century in Russia. At one time, the bag had embroidery, including a depiction of a synagogue and my grandfather's name in Hebrew. Over the years, much of the embroidery had disappeared making it difficult to read the letters or get any sense of the original work.  Fifteen or more years ago, my wife finally took the bag from me so I would not destroy it any further and had it placed in a double-sided Lucite frame so it can now be viewed and preserved.


I was thinking of my grandfather's tallit bag when I was reading this week's parashah, T'rumah. The parashah contains a detailed description of the building and decorating of the Tabernacle which will house the Ark of The Covenant as the Israelites move through the desert. The richness of the detail signifies the importance of the Tabernacle and what it contains to the people and to God's relationship with the people, for these are God's building instructions. On the one hand, the glory of the Tabernacle is a reminder of the power of the gift of Torah at Sinai, so that those that were there could always remember the moment. On the other hand, the grandeur of the Ark's home provided the people a constant symbol of the great potential of the future that God would always be among them.


I think that my attachment to the tallit bag was also a look back and a simultaneous look ahead. Certainly, each time I carried the bag I felt a connection with a grandfather I never knew and his relationship to Judaism. The bag also gave me a sense of potential, that the strength of our tradition was something tangible that I could pass on to my children and future generations. Perhaps we all have some kind of personal "tabernacle" that connects us to the power of the past, while engaging us in the potential of the future.    

Shabbat Shalom

AJFCA and Repair the World Launch Volunteer Initiative Program 

AJFCA has partnered with Repair the World, on an initiative to increase the amount and effectiveness of volunteering in the Jewish family services network. Together, AJFCA and Repair the World have hired Jennie Gates Beckman to serve as the initiative's first Manager of Civic Engagement & Repair the World Programming. Based out of Baltimore, in the AJFCA office, Beckman, who started on Monday, February 20th, will help lead the effort to effectively engage thousands of people in vital volunteer work. 


jennie gates beckman
Jennie Gates Beckman 

Repair the World

The Volunteer Initiative Program will focus on expanding outreach to young adults and increasing opportunities for young adults to volunteer at AJFCA member agencies. Jennie will manage the program, which will be built around a series of workshops, networking opportunities and information sharing sessions that will begin at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference.  


Beckman, who has a Masters Degree in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University, has worked for the past five years at the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, where she engaged in volunteer recruitment on several of the federation's key initiatives.  


AJFCA is eager to welcome Jennie to the team. Jennie's contact information can be found on the AJFCA staff web page. You'll be hearing more about this exciting initiative through joint press to be released by AJFCA and Repair the World in the near future. 

2012 Annual Conference Guest Speaker - Teresa Niņo
AJFCA is excited to annouce that Teresa Niņo will be our Monday morning plenary speaker at the Annual Conference. Teresa Niņo is the Director of the Office of Public Engagement in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She Joined CMS in May of 2009 when she was appointed by the Obama Administration to be the Director of the Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services (OEABS). In that capacity, she guided 280 employees
hhs logo and managed a $550M budget to successfully achieve the strategic communication objectives that promote the vital health care for more than 90 million Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

teresa nino 

In April of 2011, Ms. Niņo was selected to lead the newly created Office of Public Engagement within CMS. In this current role, she oversees the Medicare Ombudsman's Group, Tribal Affairs, Emergency Preparedness and Response, and the Partner Relations Group. The function of the office, as the name implies, is to engage the American public in CMS programs and services such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, and the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Program.

The Affordable Care Act: Strengthening Medicare in 2011

In 2011, millions of seniors and people with disabilities enjoyed lower costs and improved benefits thanks to the Affordable Care Act. This report details how over 25.7 million Americans in traditional Medicare received free preventive services in 2011. In Medicare Advantage, last year 9.3 million Americans - 97% of those in individual Medicare Advantage plans - were enrolled in a plan that offers free preventive services.


Assuming that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries utilized preventive services at the same rate as beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, an estimated 32.5 million beneficiaries benefited from Medicare's coverage of prevention with no cost sharing. Last year 3.6 million Americans also saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs as a result of provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

In addition, seniors are benefiting as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented:

  • By 2020, the "donut hole" coverage gap will be closed;
  • Premiums have remained low for seniors and people with disabilities in traditional Medicare;
  • Medicare will have stronger tools to fight fraud;
  • Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans continue to enjoy low premiums and broad choice in coverage;
  • Quality improvements will help prevent medical errors and promote coordination of care across Medicare and the health care system.

ajfca logo-resizedTo learn more about the increasing strength of Medicare refer to the entire article. Additionally, you're invited to learn more from Teresa Niņo, Director of The Office of Public Engagement, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference where she will give expert advice at Monday's Plenary Breakfast. To learn more about AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference please visit the AJFCA website

A Contest to Help Your Nonprofit Manage to Outcomes social velocity

Social Velocity, led by Nell Edgington, who will be presenting two workshops at AJFCA's Annual Conference in Houston, is offering a contest for readers of their blog. The prize is a board package provided by Mario Morino, author of Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, one of the best books of 2011 and a must read for leaders of forward-thinking organizations. See here for more details, but if you are not a winner, do not despair - the book is available for free download on the website. of Venture Philanthropy Partners.  

The Next Generation:  What Jewish Organizations are Doing to Cultivate 20-and-30-Somethings

The Next Generation: What Jewish Organizations are Doing to Cultivate 20-and-30-Somethings, February 12, 2012, eJP, by Abigail Pickus   

Back in 1950, with the ashes from the massacre of Eastern European Jewry still smoldering and a fledgling State of Israel taking its first tentative steps, an American Jewish rabbi wrote a very prescient article.


"What kind of American Jewish community do we desire, and how shall we plan to achieve it?" asked Robert Gordis in a Commentary Magazine essay titled, Creating an Organic Community:A Blueprint to Assure American Jejp full logoewry's Future.


Over 60 years have passed since Gordis wrote those words and though the core question remains the same, the landscape has markedly changed. If in the 50s the common enemy was assimilation, and in the 80s and 90s it was intermarriage and an American society that "welcomed us to death," the 21st century's main offenders are more about what is absent than what is present; namely, the way Israel, community and tradition no longer play central roles for the next generation of young Jews.


Yet, when it comes to the future, everything hinges upon engaging this NextGen, a notoriously fickle and capricious bunch. Learn more about engaging NextGen in this article.

Distinguishing a Board's Steering and Rowing Work

Distinguishing a Board's Steering and Rowing Work, January 30, 2012, Nonprofit Quarterly, Board Source, by William Ryan 

As described in the book Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, to govern comprehensively, boards work in three modes: fiduciary, strategic, and generative. To use a metaphor in which an organization is a boat, boards can make two distinct types of contributions: steering and rowing.

When steering, the board collectively: board source 

  • Sets the direction of the organization;
  • Determines which values and logic will guide it; and
  • Ensures the organization's resources are used prudently to advance its work. 

When rowing, board members individually or collectively expand the organization's resources by, among other things:

  • Offering pro bono professional services or expertise to management;
  •  Volunteering as front-line service providers;
  • Advocating for or championing the organization and its mission in the community; and
  • Helping to raise funds to sustain the organization's work. 

It can be useful to distinguish steering and rowing, which you can learn more about in the remainder of this article.

How to Do More with Mobile Marketing

How to Do More with Mobile Marketing, February 18, 2012, Convio 

In a short timconvio logoe, mobile marketing has evolved far beyond text-to-give campaigns. Discover how to increase your "portable potential," empower your staff with a focused strategy, and enable your supporters with a richer, more compelling mobile presence. 

In this guide, There is More to Mobile Marketing, co-authored by Convio and Network for Good, you'll learn:

  • The variety of mobile marketing approaches
  • Questions to ask to determine if mobile is right for your organization
  • Potential benefits and how to use mobile for deeper engagement
  • How to integrate mobile into your fundraising efforts  
Click here to view the guide, There is More to Mobile Marketing.
Missing from the Presidential Debate: Long-Term Care

Missing from the Presidential Debate: Long-Term Care, February 21, 2012, NCOA, by Ken Schwartz, NCOA Director of Marketing & Communications 

Two Candidates Respond to National Survey but Many Remain Silent on How to Support Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities Who Need Care at Home


Every day, over 10 million frail seniors, younger people with disabilities, and their familiencoa logos struggle to find and pay for long-term care to stay independent and remain at home, and the need for care is expected to grow to over 15 million Americans by 2020.


Yet, the issue of long-term care has been completely absent from this year's presidential campaign. No questions have been asked during the debates. The candidates have not posted any views or positions on their websites, and only two candidates have responded to a national survey on their views to address this growing national challenge.


Long-term care helps older adults and individuals with disabilities manage everyday activities, such as dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, and taking medication. While these home care services are cost-effective and help people stay independent and out of expensive nursing homes, they are not covered by traditional health insurance. Medicare does not cover them, and only 3% of adults have private long-term care insurance.  


So, how do will this critical issue be brought to the forefront?

Jewish Women International Releases Purim Study Guide 

Jewish Women International just released their new Purim study guide entitled, "Rethinking Purim: Women, Relationships and Jewish Texts." This discussion guide brings a fresh perspective to the way that the MegJWIillah is studied, focusing on creating healthier relationships through developing a strong voice, cultivating use of self and striving for parity. JWI anticipates that the guide will be used in all kinds of settings, from a formal text study group, to a discussion during Purim, a synagogue event, or even a conversation over coffee.  

Downloaded the guide here.  


National Center for Benefits Outreach & Enrollment - Winter Webinar Series

Benefits and Legal Non-Citizens

More thancoa logon 5 million older adults living in the U.S. today were born in another country. While the majority of these older adults eventually take the path to citizenship, some retain their status as legal non-citizens who, depending on their economic circumstances, may be eligible to apply for and receive certain public benefits.


Join the National Council on Aging in their February webinar series as they explore:

  • Who are legal non-citizens and why does this population matter to benefits counselors?
  • What benefits are available to legal non-citizens and what are the rules regarding eligibility?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities facing benefits counselors in serving this population?

This training will be offered at two different times to suit busy schedules.


Benefits and Legal Non-Citizens

Friday, February 24th, 2:00pm-3:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE

Wednesday, February 29th 2:00pm-3:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE


Please contact abctraining@ncoa.org if you need further assistance. Find more information about NCOA'S webinars at www.ncoa.org/ncboewebinars.


Pinterest for Nonprofits: Promoting Your Cause on the Fast-Growing Social Network  

Pinterest for Nonprofits: Promoting Your Cause on the Fast-Growing Social Network, February 16, 2012, Chronicle of Philanthropy

Pinterest, the popular social network that gives people a chance to pin and share items via virtual bulletin boards, is drawing increased attention from nonprofits that want to learn how they can get into the act.

Should your organization invest time in Pinterest? How are other nonprofits benefiting from the site's growth?


Join the Chronicle of Philanthropy for a live online discussion with experts who will take questions on how you can use Pinterest to meet your organization's goals.


Appealing to Supporters on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 28th, 12:00pm ET



Accessible Transportation Webinar

The webinar Connecting Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Mobility Managers to Enhance Accessible Transportation will provide an overview of the Mobility Management Independent Living (MMIL) program, developed by Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) in partnership with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living and the National Council on Independent Living (CIL). Through the program, CIL professionals and mobility managers collaborate to strengthen relationships between their groups and raise awareness of the issues people with disabilities face as they seek the transportation they need.  


Presenters will share information about strategies that help to establish and foster strong relationships between the partners. In addition, they will offer suggestions on ways organizations, mobility managers and transportation professionals can replicate the MMIL program. 


Connecting Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Mobility Managers to Enhance Accessible Transportation

Wednesday, February 29th, 2:00pm ET



PerformWell: Helping Practitioners Deliver More Effective Programs

PerformWell (formerly the OEPP) is the result of a collaborative effort by Urban Institute, Child Trends, and Social Solutions. A free, online resource, PerformWell provides practical knowledge that human services professionals can use to manage their day-to-day performance. The goal of PerformWell is to help human services practitioners deliver more effective social programs.


This webinar marks the long awaited launch of PerformWell. Attendees will get a tour of this valuable new resource, gain insight into planned future developments, and be able to ask questions of members of PerformWell's executive committee.



Tuesday, March 6th, 2012. 3:00pm ET


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