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Friday, July 6, 2012
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman



Last Friday night, a horrific storm passed through Baltimore and several surrounding states. The wind whipped at hurricane force and the thunder and lightning put on a sound and light show that I hope is never repeated. The storm left a path of destruction that was widespread and significant. Over 40% of electric customers in our region lost power, many for several days, and some still without electricity. Trees were toppled and tree limbs were everywhere, making driving and walking difficult. In fact, the changes to the landscape were so dramatic in many places that as I traveled throughout the area, it caused me to see things I had never before noticed, adding a new perspective to the familiar and often unobserved.


In this week's parashah, Balak, we find the unusual and comic story of Balaam and his donkey. This story is in many ways a strange interlude from the battles and laws we read about in most of B'midbar. Here we read of Balak, the king of Moab, summoning the sorcerer Balaam to curse the Israelites. On his way to do so, Balaam and his donkey meet an Angel of God. Three times, the donkey sees the angel and stops, veers, and sits. Balaam, seeing nothing, just grows angry and beats the donkey. Finally, after the third incident, the donkey speaks, and says "why do you beat me, do you not see the angel." Only then are Balaam's eyes opened and does he see the angel.


Once his eyes are opened, Balaam goes on to bless the Israelites, not curse them, much to the displeasure of Balak. We learn from this talking donkey that words or actions from an unexpected source may often be just what we need to see things differently, to add a new perspective, sometimes for the better, but always enlightening. Hopefully, we do not need to have a storm or talking donkey to open our eyes to new experiences, but that we can take those lessons to remind us that unexpected sources can broaden our sight and our insights.

Shabbat Shalom.  

AJFCA is pleased to share highlights from our member agencies with our e-newsletter readers. 

Every week we receive emails from member agencies letting us know about the innovative programming and events that are happening through the Jewish family service agencies in local communities throughout North America. 

We are honored to highlight these accomplishments and trust that learning about the work of fellow agencies will serve to inform and enlighten the work of all agencies in our network. 

A Lesson in Perspective
by Lisa Budlow 

Lisa Budlow

In honor of my grandmother's 102nd birthday, I've been thinking about a lesson she taught me in childhood that she and I have continued to discuss over the years.  We both look back on the original lesson as one of our most special moments together, made even more significant as we continue to reflect on its meaning over the years.  The lesson that we both hold so dear: perspective.  Our initial discussion of this concept occurred as I was looking for my baseball hat one day at her house.  She told me it was in the study.  I looked and returned, reporting it missing.  She went to the study and found it.  Then, she used the patience of a grandmother to show me that though we were both in the same room with the same objects, the scene looked different from my vantage point than from hers.  She moved a bit to the left (or was it the right?) and added to what she could see.


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Jewish Child & Family Services of Chicago, IL  

Jewish Family Service of Seattle, WA  

Jewish Family Services of Metropolitan Detroit, MI

Jewish Family Service of Colorado  

Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta, GA 

Repair the World  



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Foundation Directory Online Renewal

In August 2011, more than 30 of our member agencies signed on to participate in AJFCA's institution-wide subscription to the Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online Professional Plan. Each participating agency paid a significantly-reduced subscription fee of $390 for one year's access to the online directory of more than 100,000 foundations, corporate donors and grant making public charities. Users are able to build custom searches through nine comprehensive databases. 

foundation center 

In the first ten months of our subscription, AJFCA agencies created approximately 5,600 searches. According to the Foundation Center, AJFCA has created about 7,500 searches in the past year. In other words, our agencies saw real value in this tool and have made excellent use of it for the past two years!


The second subscription year will come to a close in mid-August. All users will have to renew if they would like another year of access. Member agencies who are interested in joining for the third year (whether or not you participated in year one or two) will have that opportunity. Assuming we have approximately 30 members join, the cost again will be approximately $400 per agency. If you are interested in participating, please email Megan Manelli no later than August 3, 2012.


Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, OH was named Top Workplace for the 2nd year in a row.  JFSA has been named a Top Workplace in Northeast Ohio by the Plain Dealer. The ranking is based entirely on employee feedback regarding the workplace environment.     

 jfsa cleveland

"My direct manager is immensely helpful. I have gotten to know a broad range of people through my job and I feel like I've learned and accomplished a lot."


"My manager motivates team work, learning and makes each client and employee special. Great environment to work and learn!"


"The belief that they really care about the individuals they serve."



Since its launch two years ago, Project Build has done at least 20 projects. Some are large-scale builds, but some can be as small as putting in new plumbing or windows or modifying houses to make them safer for elderly residents, said Erin Lederman-Thackray, Project Build's program coordinator.

 jfs detroit

The program is a collaboration with the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan and provides pro bono renovations for families in Metro Detroit.


Stacey Grant, a family caseworker with JFS, said the program is open to everyone, but they must be recommended by caseworkers based on financial need.


On June 27th, Perry Ohren, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, MI went to a house in Southfield for a "Home Reveal."  Local JFS staff and community members, JFS's Building Industry Association partners, The Jewish Fund and the Detroit News converged on what the Jewish News refers to as a miracle. Click here to read about JFS in The Detroit News.

On July 1st, the Jewish Child Care Association in New York celebrated 100 years of caring for needy and neglected youth on its beautiful Westchester Campus.


One hundred years ago, on a gorgeous summer day, 480 children arrived at the Pleasantville Cottage School, many of whom had never been outside the city. One of the first residents recalled: "We were like bugs flying all over. We ran in and out of all the cottages. We chased each other across the square. We climbed inside the huge ice boxes which looked bigger than a whole East Side apartment. We jumped on the beds and flushed the toilets. We were explorers in a new world." 

The 250 current residents on the Campus, in Pleasantville Cottage School, Edenwald Center, Pleasantville Diagnostic Center, and now the Gateways Program, like those before them, have faced unimaginable struggles, emotional difficulties, and troubled pasts. Thanks to a supportive and expert staff, as well as a network of extraordinarily dedicated and loving volunteers, they can rebuild their livjccaes and gain hope for the future.
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Three generations of leaders came together at Jewish Child Care Association's Bukharian Teen Lounge in Queens on June 25th to celebrate Welcoming New Leaders to the Community. Young men and women, ages 25-35, who graduated from the Kalontar Leadership Program, sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, and the Bukharian Teen Lounge Young Leadership Board that consists of teenagers age 15 to 18 and is sponsored by COJECO, were greeted with open arms by the senior leaders of the Bukharian Jewish community. Debby Perelmuter, JCCA's Vice President of Services in the Jewish Community and distinguished members of the Bukharian community spoke to an enthusiastic group.


Kalontar is a leadership training program that promotes philanthropic consciousness among Bukharian youth as they take on leadership positions on the Boards and committees of UJA-Federation and its agencies. Some of this year's group of graduates started their own foundation to help needy children, became members of the Board of Queens College Hillel, formed their own non-profit organization, organized events to help teens, and actively participated in the life of the community. More than 50 young adults have been involved in Kalontar since its inception in 2008.

Jewish Family Service Agency of Las Vegas, NV has new addition to their staff. Sara Reiss has been hired as a full-time Volunteer Coordinator. With her prior experience in volunteer services in the Las Vegas non-profit sector, she brings the experience necessary to develop a strong and engaged group of volunteers for the agency.  


Jewish Family Services is dedicated to healing the world one person at a time but can't achieve their goal without the generosity of volunteers.
_______jfs colorado___________________________________________________________________________________
On June 25th Jewish Family Service of Colorado held JFS Salutes Those Who Serve Others, at the Palazzo Verdi in Greenwood Village. The charities of JFS were the beneficiaries of the evening. Complimentary tickets were provided for the kosher cocktail party celebrating 140 years of JFS. Kay and Aubrey Knight were presented with the 2012 Max Frankel Volunteer of the Year Award.


"I can't testify to all 140 years of JFS in the community, but I have been around for a very long time" Yana Vishnitsky, JFS President and CEO said.




How United Ways are Implementing Community Impact

Social Solutions would like to invite you to hear how some United Ways are implementing comsocial solutions logomunity impact and increasingly relying on data and performance management. For more insight into this webinar, background information can be viewed in the new Social Solutions white paper, Operationalizing Live United.

How United Ways are Implementing Community Impact
Tuesday, July 10th, 3:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE

Health Care Symposia: Issues Unique to Younger Jewish Women - Free National Teleconference and Webinar 

Join Sharsheret for a free symposium, "New Advances in Gynecological Health Before and After Cancer." This symposium will focus on the most current research regarding gynecological concerns before and after a breast cancer or ovarian cancer diagnosis. Panelists include Dr. Tessa Cigler, Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, Clinical Supervisor Shera Dubitsky, and a sharsheretSharsheret Peer Supporter. For more information and to register, email teleconference@sharsheret.org.


"New Advances in Gynecological Health Before and After Cancer"

Wednesday, July 11th, 8:00pm ET
Interactive Webinars on the Health Care Law Hosted by the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

National Conference Calls

The Health Care Law 101 (in English) - July 19, 12:30 pm ET - REGISTER HERE

The Health Care Law 101 (in Spanish) - July 24, 2:00 pm ET - REGISTER HERE


Regional Conference Calls

Region 3 (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia) - July 12, 3:00 pm ET - REGISTER HERE

Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) - July 12, 3:00 pm MT/4:00 pm CT - REGISTER HERE  

Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) - July 17, 10:30 am CT - REGISTER HERE

Region 1 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) - August 8, 11:00 am ET - REGISTER HERE


To participate in one of the webinars, please select your preferred date from the list above and submit the necessary information. Please email any questions to ACA101@hhs.gov. For more information, go to www.hhs.gov/partnerships.

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