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Friday, September 14, 2012
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman

(I was asked if I would share a D'var Torah that I wrote two years ago for Rosh Hashanah - so, here it is once more.)

Each morning, I like to take a walk to get my mind and body started for the day. This month, as we approach the High Holy Days, my walks have also been an opportunity for spiritual preparation - a time to reflect back and project forward.

On a recent morning, I was walking down one of our country's many "Rails to Trails," former train track beds that have been reclaimed for biking and hiking. The area was new to me, so I walked for a couple of miles and then returned by the same route to avoid getting lost. On each leg of the walk, I was physically on the same path, yet my perspective was dramatically different. The river first on my right was now on my left, providing me a view of the bend that made it even more beautiful. On the return, I saw trees and flowers that had been there on my trip out, but which had been unseen to me. And although the path was the same, I had new company as well - a rabbit scurrying across, a bluebird building a nest.

In a few days, we will begin the "calendar" again. We will celebrate the same holidays and revisit many of our routines. But, our perspectives have grown and changed, giving us an opportunity to do things differently, hopefully better, with greater wisdom. I look forward to enjoying my walk a little more and appreciating those things that accompany me along the way.

May you and your families have a Shanah Tovah U'Metukah.
AJFCA Co-Sponsors Briefing in the U.S. Capitol on Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
AJFCA co-sponsored a briefing for Congressional staff on September 12th to highlight the Social Services Block Grant and its importance to our communities. According to an analysis of Health and Human Services data, in 2009, 27% of SSBG was for vulnerable and elderly adults, 24% for child welfare and youth at risk, 14 % for disability services, 13% for counseling and support services, 16% for child care and over 10% for other human services.
ajfca logo-resized  capital
On Thursday, May 10, the House of Representatives adopted a reconciliation bill (H RES 648) that would completely eliminate the $1.7 billion SSBG. If the effort to eliminate SSBG is successful it would wipe out $1.7 billion in annual funding to states that is used on a range of human services programs. While the Senate has not acted on the bill, the proposed elimination, if it does not result in a strong reaction, will come back after the election when members will be seeking ways to address the current budget gridlock. AJFCA is working to protect SSBG funding by making members of Congress aware of its importance to our community.  If you have examples of how you use SSBG funds, please email them to Shelley Rood.
Redesign of Medicare.Gov to Improve Online Experience for Beneficiaries
A redesign of the Medicare.gov website is now complete, making content more accessible and easier for beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to understand. The new design responds to mobile devices, like tablets andhhs logo smartphones. Users can get information such as coverage and cost details, anytime, anywhere, and in the most convenient format. Medicare beneficiaries, counselors, and caregivers can check if a letter they received in the mail is an official communication from Medicare by viewing descriptions of Medicare mailings. The popular "Medicare & You" handbook now has its own landing page for an easy access complement to the annual print mailing.
The new site will allow most users to find the content they're looking for directly from the home page.  These features include:
  • A search for whether a specific test, item, or service is covered under original Medicare;
  • The ability to get customized information based on a beneficiary's specific situation;
  • Quick links to replace a lost Medicare card, find a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, and get help with health care costs. 
To see examples of these new features, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/Medicare-gov-LB.pdf.
To view and start using the new tools and additional information, users are invited to visit www.Medicare.gov.
Attention Data Nerds! NTEN Change Journal: It's All About Data
The new issue of the NTEN Change Journal is all about data or rather how we all should love data.  Whether you call it data-driven or data-informed, the issue has several excellent articles about how to use data for decision-making as well as lots of useful tips.  It's a must read for data nerds.
beth kanter
As many of you know,  Beth Kanter just finished writing a book with measurement guru, KD Paine, called "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit"  that teaches nonprofits  how to embrace NTENthe data and use it to improve decisions and get better results as a networked nonprofit.  In the book, Kanter and Paine have a chapter about how one changes the organization's culture to one that uses data for decision-making. Paine has a fantastic article in this quarter's NTEN journal where she shares six steps on using data.
To learn more about NTEN's quarterly journal packed with informative articles, click here.
5 Leadership Lessons You Won't Learn in B-School
Forget vision, passion, and other B-school platitudes. Here are the nitty-gritty details on what makes leaders great. Most of what we know about leadership didn't come from business schools or conferences or seminars.
The best leadership lessons are learned the hard way:
  1. Data comes and goes, but feelings last forever. 
  2. Great ideas are never found in presentations.  
  3. The "volunteer penalty" kills the flow of great ideas.
  4. Sharing only the positive always results in a negative.  
  5. Data is accurate, but people are right. 
SometimeInc magazine logos a decision should be based on more than analysis, logic, and reasoning. No decision should ever be made in a vacuum, because a decision must eventually be carried out by people. Leadership should be data driven, but great leadership is often subjective and even messy. If your employees don't agree with you, ask why, but don't ask just so you can defend your position. Ask in order to learn. You know things your employees don't know, and they know things you don't know--until you listen to what they say.
The Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations
Darim is pleased to announce the launch of their Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations. The Workbook takes staff and lay leaders through step by step processes to explore and articulate your organization's policy and guidelines for social media. Each chapter includes explanations, case studies, and activity worksheets to advance your work thoughtfully and confidently.
Topics include:
  • What Does A Social Media Policy Mean to You?
  • Your Organization's Values in Social Media
  • Social Media Roles: Who Does What?darim
  • What Should You Say Online?
  • Monitoring
  • Responding to Negative Comments
  • Responding to Positive and Neutral Comments
  • Privacy and Permissions
  • Thinking Through Copyright and Attribution
  • Drawing the Line Between Personal and Professional
  • Sample Policy Language 
The Workbook is made possible through the support and generosity of The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the AVI CHAI Foundation, See3 Communications, UJA Federation of New York, The Covenant Foundation, and Idealware. Download your free copy here
Survey of Board Practices in Developing Nonprofit Leaders
How can boards play a role in developing current and future nonprofit leaders? What practices are common today, and what shoulboard sourced we expect from a highly effective board? The Bridgespan Group, in partnership with BoardSource, is conducting research to better understand the answers to these questions. As a first step The Bridegspan Group and BoardSource are surveying nonprofit board members, CEOs, and other senior leaders to understand their perspectives.
In this survey, you will be presented with a list of potential board practices. For each, you will be asked to rate your level of agreement with two statements:
  1. Boards should perform this practicebridgespan
  2. My board performs this practice 
If you are a member of multiple boards, please reference the board that you are most engaged in as you complete the survey. The survey should take approximately 10-12 minutes to complete. If you have any questions or have difficulty completing the survey, please contact Bridgespan.
All data submitted in this survey will remain confidential, and individual responses will not be shared with any third party. Bridgespan will use this data in aggregate for research purposes only.
Tweaking E-Mail for the Mobile Age
Ever since e-mail programs gave users the option of blocking images, many organizations have added short notes to the top of their messages-variations on "Trouble viewing this e-mail? Click here"-to direct recipients to online versions of the e-mails, images and all.
But while the notes make sense for people who read their e-mail on desktop computers, they can reduce the number of people who open the message when checking e-mail on mobile devices, says Holly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network.

She says that if someone is chchronicle philanthropyecking e-mail in a preview pane on a computer, they'll usually be able to see enough of the message to know what it's about.

"But on a mobile device, often all you see is a name, some part of the subject line, and then you see, 'E-mail not displaying correctly?' and that's about it," says Ms. Ross. "It doesn't give the mobile user very much information about whether or not they want to open that e-mail."

Mobile-Friendly Messages
As the number of people who read e-mail on smartphones continues to jump, nonprofits should think about creating a version of their messages designed to be read on the devices' small screens, says Ms. Ross.
And, she says, they should be smart about how they order the text in the mobile version of the message. "Instead of saying, 'Do these images look funny?' " Ms. Ross says, say something that tells recipients what the message is about.

New Partnership Offers AJFCA Member Agencies the Opportunity to Generate Revenue While Serving their Community

On Wednesday, September 12th AJFCA sponsored a webinar presented by 2012 gold annual conference sponsor, SafeLink Wireless. More than 15 individuals joined the webinar representing 14 agencies.
SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and free airtime minutes each month to qualifying individuals. It costs absolutely nothing, requires no contracts or credit checks and offers modern day calling features such as voicemail, call waiting, text messaging, free 411, free 911, caller ID and more at no additional cost. Eligible individuals must be enrolled in a Federal assistance program such as TANF or food stamps, or have a household income below 135% of the federal poverty level (varies by state). Learn more about SafeLink here.

A benefit of the partnership for agencies is that any successful enrollments will be eligible for a commission payment.SafeLink Wireless is excited about the opportunity to work with AJFCA's member agencies.  If you have questions regarding SafeLink and/or are interested in getting involved please contact Joy Burwell at 202-263-2971.
Essential Learning to Serve as the Approved Exclusive Online Training Partner for COA
Essential Learning and the Council on Accreditation Partner to Help Human Service Agencies Prepare for a Successful Accreditation Process
Essential Lessential learningearning, the leading provider of e-learning solutions to the behavioral health and human service industries, and the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international accrediting body of community-based social and behavioral healthcare services, have formed a partnership to develop a series of online courses designed to assist organizations throughout the accreditation process.coa
As a result of the partnership:
  • Essential Learning will develop a series of self-paced, online courses which will be made available through COA  
  • COA will review and approve Essential Learning's existing crosswalk of their online content to COA's accreditation standards  
  • Essential Learning will serve as the approved exclusive online training partner for COA 
Combined, these initiatives will help meet COA's aim to provide superior training and support tools to accredited, in-process and prospective organizations. In the coming weeks Essential Learning will be announcing more information about the partnership, including release dates of COA courses. Learn more about the hundreds of courses Essential Learning already offers. Our ever expanding library contains thousands of hours of accredited courses that include compliance, clinical and workforce development topics.
Paint Your Community Teal and Pink this Fall
Partner with Sharsheret during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and raise awareness in your Jewish community!  Here are three easy ways you can join the fight agasharsheretinst ovarian cancer and breast cancer and help educate your community about the increased risk for cancer in Jewish families and Sharsheret's free national programs and services:
  • Host a Teal Shabbat or Pink Shabbat
  • Coordinate The maniCURE for Sharsheret  
  • Plan a fun exercise or athletic event  
These events are easy to plan and a great way for your organization to engage community members. For more information and to get started, e-mail Director of Community Engagement Rebecca Schwartz
2013 AJFCA Annual Conference 2013 AJFCA AC logo
Conference Theme:  "If Not Now, When?"
Conference Dates:  May 19 - 21, 2013
Location:  Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, AZ
AJFCA would like to thank our 2013 Annual Conference hosts, JFCS Phoenix, for providing us with a fabulous conference logo. The host community is looking forward to welcoming our attendees at the Conference this coming May.

Reminder: The submission deadline to submit a workshop proposal for the 2013 AJFCA Annual Conference is October 6, 2012.

For more information on the Proposal Guidelines and Application please contact Ann Zeller, AJFCA Director of Meetings and Conferences.
The L.A. Mid-City Integrated Care Collaborative, a partnership led by Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) to provide coordinated community-based services that will reduce avoidable hospital readmissions for Medicare patientsJFS LA, was selected on Friday, August 17th, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as one of 17 additional sites across the nation to participate in the Community-based Care Transitions Program (CCTP).
CCTP reflects a new, innovative approach to health care delivery. The program identifies community-based organizations such as JFS that can provide care transitions services across the continuum of care and partner with one or more acute care hospitals and other community providers. The L.A. Mid-City Integrated Care Collaborative includes hospitals, medical personnel, social workers, mental health professionals, and senior care specialists that will be able to provide better, more sustainable health care services - all at a lower cost to the health care system.

For more information click here.
Thank you for helping Jewish Family Service of Tidewater get to the second round of voting for Hampton Roads Magazine's "Giving Back Awards." These awards aim to recognize the often unrecognized groups living among us who address the many needs of the community. The winners - as determined by reader votes - will be revealed in the magazine's November/December 2012 issue.
giving back awards
The second voting round began on September 10th and runs through Friday, September 14th at 3:00pm ET. The 25 non-profit organizations receiving the greatest number of votes will advance to the next round! Each of the five finalists will be featured with editorial profiles in the November/December 2012 issue of Hampton Roads Magazine, with their rankings revealed and the non-profit of the year receiving top billing.
Please encourage your friends and family to vote by sending them the link, and show support for Jewish Family Service of Tidewater. You can vote every day.  Click here to vote for JFS!
Recently, Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry was highlighted in Uncensored Magazine, a publication of the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness. Becky Abrams, director of SHCFP, was interviewed for an article on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit changes and cuts in Pennsylvania and across the nation.  
Many of Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh's Food Pantry clients receive SNAP benefits, through which individuals and families that qualify receive a monthly cash allotment (issued via an electronic debit card accepted by food stores) to help pay for food. Click here to view the article.
jfcs pittsburgh  
In May, SNAP recipients across the state saw their benefits potentially in jeopardy as the asset test was reintroduced in Pennsylvania. Through the newly-reintroduced asset test, in order to be eligible for and receive SNAP benefits, those under age 59 cannot have more than $5,500 in assets, and those who are age 60 and older, or disabled, cannot have more than $9,000.
SNAP benefits have the ability to provide significant relief and assistance to not only those individuals and families who receive them, but also to food-providing organizations like SHCFP. For many households, losing SNAP benefits means they must rely on food pantries as their only hope of putting adequate food on the table. This has the potential to significantly drain resources and put extra strain on the SHCFP as more people turn to organizations like SHCFP to feed themselves and their families.
Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service will be relocating and expanding their existing community food pantry services.  The new "Food Pantry at JFS" will move to a 2,600 sq. ft. warehouse and will be offering both kosher and "kosher style" food to meet the needs of recipients.  
"This expansion will enable our agency to feed more people in need," said Danielle N. Hartman, President & CEO of JFruth rales jfsS. "In addition, we will be able to save money through bulk purcruth rales new food pantryhasing and deliver more customized food packages to the people we help."  
Hartman continued, "JFS remains committed to providing kosher food to those people who request it.  A recent survey of current food pantry recipients indicated that 20% request kosher food.  Those with transportation may also visit the pantry and 'shop' from selected items by appointment."
JFS began operating its food pantry in 1996, serving 35 clients. Today, the "Food Pantry at JFS" provides more than 550 people with bi-monthly food packages. The pantry will move into its new location early in October this year, with a Grand Opening celebration planned for November 29, 2012. 
The nominations are in, and many AJFCA member agencies have made the cut. From September 6th-19th, you can vote for Jewish social service agencies to receive a grant to go toward enriching their agency. The 196 charities with the most votes will share in $5 million in grants. Learn more about how voting will work.
Everyone will automatically get 2 votes to use on Facebook. You can't use them both on the same charity, but you'll also have an opportunity to earn an extra vote. Just share a link from the Chase Community Giving app to your timeline. If one of your friends links back to the Chase Community Giving app and casts a vote of their own, voila -you'll earn an extra vote to use however you like. Chase customers have 2 extra votes - to use your customer appreciation votes, just go to Chase.com/ChaseGiving, log in, search charities, and cast your ballots! 

Regional Stakeholder Engagement Teleconference with CMS on Health Insurance Marketplace & Expanded Insurance Options

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) invite you to a regional teleconference with CMS staff to:
  • Update you on the latest information regarding implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchanges), part of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Start discussing strategies to educate the uninsured, under-insured, and small businesses about expanded insurance coverage options.  cms
Registration is required. Phone lines are limited. See the teleconference schedule for call details and registration information. If you are unavailable on the date for your region, you may attend any of the other regional sessions. Please forward this invitation to any partners and stakeholders who may want to participate.
CMS values the work you do to ensure that every American is aware of and enrolled in health insurance. For more information on the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit  
Reaching and Engaging Older Adults in Behavioral Health
Leaders from research and community organizations will present promising approaches to reach and engage older adults in prevention and early intervention for depression, and alcohol and medication misuse. Presenters will discuss successful strategies to engage different racial and ethnic minority elders, immigrants, LGBT seniors, men and women. Participants will learn how to enlist consumers as partners in program outreach and peer education. 
The purpose of this webinar is:
  • To enhance the attendees' understanding of substance abuse and mental health issues affecting older adults.
  • To share knowledge about evidence-based programs and associated implementation strategies targeting older adults at risk for substance abuse and mental health problems and EBP implementation strategies. 
This webinar isncoa logo a part of a Older Americans Behavioral Health Technical Assistance Center webinar series that provides a special opportunity to learn about critical behavioral health conditions and problems affecting older adults, including alcohol and prescription medication misuse and abuse, suicide, depression, and anxiety as well as evidence-based prevention and treatment programs to address these problems.
Reaching and Engaging Older Adults in Behavioral Health
Wednesday, September 19th, 2:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Let's Move! Faith and Communitieshhs logo
Join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to learn more about using wellness curricula to benefit your community. Learn about how to engage your community in PALA+, part of the President's Challenge to pursue a healthier lifestyle, and receive an update on the great work of the PCFSN. Hear from communities that are using PALA+ to encourage healthy eating and physical activity.
Let's Move! Faith and Communities
Thursday, September 20th, 1:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Taking the Next Step toward Performance Management: How PerformWell Can Help
Discover the key initial steps to successful performance management and how PerformWell can provide the tools your organization needs. Learn about:
  • Defining program outcomes and finding ways to measure them  
  • Determining what aspects of service delivery must be managed actively to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes 
  • Deciding where and how to track data  
  • Analyzing data in a performance management context 
This webinar includes a demonstration of PerformWell in the context of these important first steps to good performance management (future webinars will get into greater detail about other steps/aspects of performance management).
social solutions logo
This webinar is appropriate for executive directors, senior and middle managers who want to know how a free, research-informed resource can help their organizations to the next step toward performance management. It can also help nonprofit associations and funders better engage with their members or grantees around performance management issues.  After the one-hour event, speakers will be available to take questions from the audience for an additional 30 minutes.

This is part of a PerformWell series on performance management methods and techniques, hosted by members of the PerformWell partner organizations.

Taking the Next Step toward Performance Management: How PerformWell Can Help
Thursday, September 20, 3:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Strategies to Improve Consumer Economic Outcomes
Join the NCOA and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) for an informative webinar about tools and strategies to improve consumer economic outcomes.


Older adults with limited resources are facing increasingly daunting and complex financial challenges. While they grapple for assistance, many community organizations find themselves stretched to help clients with hard to solve financial problems, such as threats of foreclosure or eviction, high credit card debt, leveraging home equity, and a pervasive and growing sense of economic insecurity.


NCOA and the NFCC aNCFFre hosting a webinar to share concrete tools and strategies for providers to use, like BenefitsCheckUp, to help these older adults.
In this interactive webinar, you'll:
  • Learn more about the issues facing older Americans and what you can do to help them access benefits and services to help increase their economic security.
  • Hear firsthand from leaders in the field of aging and consumer credit counseling assisting with debt management, leveraging home equity, foreclosure mitigation, and property tax/insurance mitigation. 
Strategies to Improve Consumer Economic Outcomes

Friday, September 21st, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE  

It's All About Conncoa logotent: Using the Internet and Social Media to Reach and Inform Older Adults
Join NCOA and IlluminAge to discover how your aging services organization can maximize online communications and social media to better reach and serve older adults.
  • What does it mean to be "content rich" and why is that important?
  • What are some examples of websites and social media that get this right?
  • What are some ways to publish excellent content on a tight budget? 
It's All About Content: Using the Internet and Social Media to Reach and Inform Older Adults
Thursday, September 27th, 1:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE
5 Ways to Ratchet Up Your Fundraising Using LinkedIn
For nonprofits, LinkedIn can be a development and outreach goldmine. It is a tool that boards, executives, and staff must understand because e-based outreach will be the norm. LinkedIn is the one social medium geared to business people interested in professional development and connections. It links 175 million personal profiles that can be tapped according to interest, specialty, location, and background.
Join this webinar and learn how to:
  • Enhance your nonprofit's brand image
  • Increase your visibility with keywords  ventureneer
  • Research potential major donors
  • Meet the people you want to know  
  • Build long-term relationships 
5 Ways to Ratchet Up Your Fundraising Using LinkedIn
Tuesday, October 2nd, 3:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE

If Not Now, When? 
by Ann Zeller         

Ann Zeller

As immigration issues in Arizona and around the country highlight the centrality of social justice, the 2013 AJFCA Annual Conference theme "If Not Now, When?" will be a unifying thread with workshop and plenary sessions addressing social justice issues. Hillel's famous quote is an appropriate theme for our gathering in Phoenix.

Read the entire blog entry here.   



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 

Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh, PA  

Jewish Community Services of Baltimore, MD  

Jewish Family Service of Dallas, TX  

Repair the World     

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