AJFCA Newsletter
In This Issue
Agency Highlights

Opening the Door

Conversations About Addiction 


March 20-21, 2014


JCCA Holds 20TH Annual "Adoption and the Family" Conference




Couples and families dealing with fertility and adoption issues and living as adoptive families will learn from a wide range of experts about the basics of domestic and international adoption at the 20th Annual Conference: Adoption and the Family. The conference, sponsored by the Ametz Adoption Program of Jewish Child Care Association, will take place on Sunday, March 23rd, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., at The Conference Center, 130 E. 59th St. in Manhattan. Now marking its 30th year, Ametz has been a leader in domestic and international adoption since 1984. 

The keynote address, "Parenting 101: Before and After The Adoption," by Sam Pitkowsky, President of the Adoptive Parents Committee, NYC, will look at the unique parenting challenges of the adoption process and offer insight and practical advice on one of life's most challenging commitments. Learn more here.

JFCS Pittsburgh Honored for Providing Outstanding Refugee and Immigration Services


jfcs pittsburgh


This past Sunday, Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh was recognized by the Somali Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh for helping their community through our refugee and immigration departments.

 Aweys Mwaliya, president of the Somali Bantu Communication Association of Pittsburgh, presented Leslie Aizenman, JFCS director of refugee and immigrant services, with a Certificate of Appreciation for JFCS's invaluable assistance with case management, employment and immigration services at the community's cultural celebration. Continue reading here.

Advocacy Trip in Washington Opportunity to Learn, Reflect Needs of Community


jfs detroit


Perry Ohren, CEO of JFS Detroit recently had the privilege of going to Washington D.C. for a Government Affairs Institute & Advocacy Mission, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies. The event provided a unique opportunity to carry the concerns of those we serve to decision-makers in Washington, while also providing valuable information on federal policies affecting our community.

While there, Perry was briefed on many domestic issues that are critically important to Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit and the community members we serve. Continue reading here.

JFS Dallas Activities to Raise Awareness for Special Needs Awareness Month


JFS Dallas

With the theme "Keys to Inclusion," The Special Needs Partnership (SNP) of Jewish Family Service of Dallas will host and support activities to raise awareness throughout February's Special Needs Awareness Month-part of a national
effort to raise awareness and navigate the journey of inclusion of people with special needs. The SNP works with local synagogues, day schools, preschools and organizations to bring education and community programming to help others better understand the daily challenges of disabled individuals and provide opportunities for inclusion. Continue reading here

Calls & Webinars
Visit  AJFCA's Calendar
to learn more about free calls and webinars. For more information login to For Our Members on the AJFCA website, followed by Webinars. Contact Megan at 410-843-7327 with questions.

Health Care Reform: How Does It Affect Me?
March 18th, 8pm EST

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February 17, 2014 
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D'Var Torah

                                                          Lee I. Sherman

I recently read Jonah Berger's book "Contagious, Why Things Catch On." It is a fascinating discussion of why some products, ideas, and behaviors gain attention and have sustaining power. I am still thinking about how Berger's research and theories may affect the marketing efforts of nonprofits, but I have no doubt that there is much we can consider from this book. Berger presents six principles of contagiousness, and each is illuminating. In his chapter on one of the principles,"Public," there is a section of the psychology of imitation which resonated with me this week as I was reading the parashah.


In this week's parashah, Ki Tissa, we find the infamous incident of the "Golden Calf." With growing impatience of the absence of Moses, the people gather their gold to to form a calf that can be a "god to carry before them." Apparently, this was an overwhelming groundswell to reject, or at least question, the God who had only recently brought them out of Egypt and freed them from the oppressive regime which had held them in bondage. It would seem that some of the people would not have been so ready to look for another "god," yet overwhelmingly they joined in.


I can imagine that many of the Israelites were uncertain about their circumstances in the desert and what their future would hold. The man who had led them was now absent and they were in a waiting period of undetermined length. So, as Berger explains in "Contagious," to help resolve uncertainty, "we often look to what other people are doing and follow that." (p.128). It may be a good idea to follow the lead of others, trusting what appears to be the norm, but it may also lead to behavior which is not positive, and even against our natures. The golden calf was a bad idea, but hopefully a lesson learned for those involved and for us.


Shabbat Shalom.

Disability Activists Lobby Congress
Disability Activists Lobby Congress, February 12, 2014, Washington Jewish Week, by Suzanne Pollak 

William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America, left, and Lee Sherman, president and CEO of the Association of Jewish Family and Childrens' Agencies in Baltimore, talk during the briefing prior to lobbying members of Congress Feb. 6. Photo by Suzanne Pollak

Caregiving for loved ones, lobbying Congress to help those with disabilities and joining the United Nations' convention on rights for the disabled are some of the issues being discussed during Jewish Disability Awareness Month.


Sixty-five Jewish activists from 12 states and the District of Columbia lobbied Congress Feb. 6 during the fourth-annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. They urged their members of Congress to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and support the United States becoming a part of the United Nations' international disability treaty. Continue reading to learn more about AJFCA's involvement.  

American Jewish Organizations Urge Public to Learn About their Options and then Get Covered

You're invited you to participate in the upcoming Jewish Community Day of Action for Health Care Coverage one week from today, on Tuesday, February 18th. The Day of Action is part of The White House, Office of Public Engagement's ongoing efforts to ensure that Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage and to educate them about the current open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which closes on March 31st. Learn more here

Jerusalem Conference Seeks Self-Empowerment of People with Disabilities
Jerusalem Conference Seeks Self-Empowerment of People with Disabilities, February 12, 2014, eJP, by Josh Hasten
Israel Elwyn and Beit Issie Shapiro, two leading organizations in Israel for providing disability services and advocating for disability rights, were behind the late-January conference for people with developmental and physical disabilities. But the trademark of the event - is that it is planned, organized, and led by the participants themselves, allowing those present to learn how to most effectively advocate for their own needs. The importance of involving people with disabilities in decision making concerning their programs is vital as we raise awareness surrounding Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. Continue reading here.

Five Tips for Building High-Performing Nonprofit Leadership Teams bridgespan
Five Tips for Building High-Performing Nonprofit Leadership Teams, Februray 10, 2014, The Bridgespan Group, by Nicki Roth

Many of us have been members of a leadership team, and if we were lucky, we've been on a great one or two. Sadly, most of us recount unsatisfying experiences too. The reasons cluster around a few themes: ineffective leadership, uneven talent, dysfunctional interactions, and lack of alignment or focus. Leading a productive team requires some higher order skills. Learn more here.


Join AJFCA & IAJVS for the 2014 Annual Conference
Register today for the reduced rate of $495 



This year's conference theme is Inspiring Creativity in a Changing World, which will challenge attendees to examine current practices and adapt to compete today and in the future. The Conference will have five areas of focus. Click on the links below to view the conference programming in more detail.

Please book your hotel room at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth by Friday, April 14th. You can secure a room at the group rate using the AJFCA/IAJVS group code. Room rates start at $169 CDN standard. This group rate will be honored 3 days prior and post conference dates, on a space available basis. Please secure your room as soon as possible.  

  • Reserve your room via this link.  
    (The website default language is French. Use the drop-down menu on the top-right corner of your screen to switch to English.)
  • Call Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, 800-441-1414 

Please contact Megan Manelli with questions. 

We look forward to seeing you in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) May 4-6, 2014. 

2014 Annual Conference Awards
KOVOD Awards: Due TODAY, Friday, February 14th, 2pm EST
The 2014 Kovod Awards competition for the following categories:   

  • Effective Response to Changes in Health & Human Services
  • Meaningful Engagement of Young Adults
  • Sustained Success: Programs with Staying Power

Joseph S. Kaplan Memorial Scholarship Award:  Due TODAY, Friday, February 14th 
Distinguished Service Award Due Friday, February 21st
Leadership Award Due Friday, February 21st

Click here for guidelines.

Winners will be recognized at the 2014 Annual Conference with a reception in their honor, mention in the conference mobile app, and during the annual awards ceremony. For questions regarding the 2014 AJFCA Annual Conference Awards, please email Jennie Gates Beckman. 


Online Gifts Rose 16% During Holiday Season
Online Gifts Rose 16% During Holiday Season, January 2, 2014, Chronicle of Philanthropy, by Raymund Flandez chronicile of philanthropy

Online gifts in the last two months of 2013 rose 16 percent higher than in the same months in 2012, according to Network for Good. Donations from November 1 to December 31 last year rose to $77.9-million, up from $67.1-million in 2012. The size of the average gift was one reason for the growth: The average donation increased 10 percent, from $157 in 2012 to $172 last year. Continue reading here.

Fundraising Tip: Ditch the Pitch Habit #2 - Size Up The Scene
Fundraising Tip: Ditch the Pitch Habit #2 - Size Up the Scene, January 27, 2014, eJewish Philanthropy, by Steve Yastrow
Every time you greet a donor, you are walking into the ejp full logomiddle of a story the donor is living, just like when you start watching a movie in the middle. In order to create an improvised persuasive conversation, you need to assess what is going on in the story. Here are a few key practices to help you do that.
A Millenial Speaks ejp full logo
A Millenial Speaks, February 9, 2014, eJP, by Rachel Cort
As a formerly unengaged Millenial who was inspired to build Jewish experiences for people like her, Rachel Cort writes not simply to offer criticism but also to share insights. Continue reading here about her life as a typical Jewish millenial.
Seduced and Abandoned: Agencies and their Volunteers
Seduced and Abandoned: Agencies and their Volunteers, February 12, 2014, Nonprofit Quarterly, by Judith Randall   NPQ
The truly unsung heroes of nonprofits are the volunteers. These caring and generous souls do not get paid for their work. In fact, they often give not just time but money to the nonprofit. At events, they hand out programs, take tickets, seat guests, and work registration-one of the most difficult, yet thankless, tasks at any event. They stuff, address, and stamp thousands of envelopes. They drive patients to doctor appointments, gather and deliver food, advocate for abused women, provide free specialized services, chaperone field trips to the museum, and, perhaps most importantly of all, get their family and friends to make donations. Continue reading here.
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