The Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona—through distributions from donor funds and competitive funding programs—grants millions of dollars every year to nonprofit organizations locally, nationally and globally. The impact of JCF funding is both personal and organizational. Lives change for the better and organizations grow to better meet the needs of the people and the communities they serve. Below are stories that illustrate how Foundation fund holders and donors make a big difference in the ways that matter most to them.
Looking for a Jewish cardiologist? A kosher product? Perhaps you’re seeking a synagogue or a Jewish place to volunteer. Do you need to find a mahjong game?
If so, you need to meet Ori Parnaby, Tucson’s Jewish Concierge. Ori can assist you in your Jewish hunt. Her one-stop concierge service is our community’s warm and welcoming referral and outreach connection to all things Jewish: agencies, synagogues, services and retail. Ori embraces community members who seek help and matches them with the right person, organization or facility to meet their needs. Her inspiration comes from Ron Wolfson’s Relational Judaism: “People come for the programs and stay for the relationships.”
The Foundation is proud to fund Ori’s position as part of the 2016 Community Grants process.
This community-wide Concierge Program was created through the Jewish Federation’s very extensive Strategic Engagement Planning process that concluded in May 2013. The process engaged hundreds of community members representing a wide-variety of ages and engagement levels. Their goal was to provide a one-stop shopping experience for Jewish cultural, social, religious, spiritual, and educational opportunities in Tucson. Ori does all that and more. With her fingertips on all sorts of Jewish resources, she transcends institutional boundaries without bias to recommend exactly what’s needed.
Susan and Rick Levy knew they wanted to retire in Arizona, but had a difficult time deciding between Tucson and Scottsdale. As part of their decision-making process they explored the the Jewish community center in each area. The tour of The J in Tucson was great, and their guide gave them Ori’s business card and suggested they make an appointment with her to get some of their more specific questions answered.
Susan and Rick have since made Tucson their home. She jumped right in and is serving on the Federation’s Sister Jose Women’s Center committee. “When asked if I would serve on the committee, I was unsure that I could be very helpful, as I am still in the early stages of meeting people. I learned that Ori was the Federation staff person on the committee, and I reached out to her for input. She was supportive and encouraging as I shared my concerns, assuring me that she would always be available to help me. I’m so glad she gave me the courage to get involved in this endeavor, and I so appreciate her continued support.”
Susan and Rick are just one example of the 620 people Ori has interacted with since becoming the Tucson Jewish Concierge. We are confident that most would agree with Susan when she says “Ori is a wonderful asset…. welcoming and helping to all who want to know more about Jewish Tucson. She is knowledgeable and professional as she shares her love of Tucson and the Jewish community with others.”
JCF is proud of its role in helping to launch the Jewish Concierge program for Southern Arizona!
Where do Jewish Families go for Help with Special Needs Children?
A typical baby holds his head up at three months, starts to crawl at six months and is at least attempting to walk by his first birthday. But “Joe” wasn’t typical. He was the baby brother born to a loving, educated Jewish family, and at three months Joe’s head was wobbly. The doctors told Joe’s parents to “just wait.” At six months, Joe wasn’t crawling and his parents were told that “boys are sometimes slower than girls.” At a year, Joe could barely master a commando crawl. He had the best doctors, but a diagnosis and treatment eluded them.
As the years went on, Joe’s physical, emotional and intellectual development were clearly delayed. Not only were his teachers and doctors aware of his special needs; his classmates were too. Joe wasn’t invited to birthday parties, sat alone at lunch and didn’t have play dates. His parents had no one who truly understood their situation; they were isolated.
Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Asperger’s, Bipolar Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, and Developmental Disorder are labels associated with individuals who have special needs. These issues often are challenging to reliably identify and even more challenging to treat effectively. Sure, there are books, websites and national organizations that address the issues. But parents who care for these children feel pain and frustration at the lack of social opportunities for their children. The impact on their families and other siblings is enormous and they live in constant fear of the future for their children. “Who will take care of them when I no longer can?”
In 2014, JCF’s CEO Tracy Salkowitz heard from the Tucson Jewish Community Center (The J), Tucson Hebrew Academy, the Federation’s Coalition for Jewish Education, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona and several local synagogues that the special needs population in their organizations lacked much-needed resources. She convened a meeting of all the groups to map out what was being done and to consider what was needed. The result was a working group that recommended a study to assess the needs in our community and help determine the next steps. The J CEO Todd Rockoff stepped up to take the lead and the study was funded in 2014 by the Jewish Community Foundation’s aligned grants process, which includes funding from the Federation’s Task Force on Services for Jewish Seniors & Adults with Disabilities Funds at JCF.
Talk to Garett Holm at the JCC
In 2016, The J was awarded a grant to continue the most important work identified by the study: creating a referral source for young adults with special needs. Unless you have a family member with special needs, you may not realize how hard it is to find someone to cut the hair of a person who either can’t sit still for long or is terrified of strangers and/or strange situations. You may not know how hard it is to find a dentist who can accommodate the needs of a special patient. And finding something for young adults who have outgrown the public education system to do during the day is akin to finding a needle in a haystack; programs are few and waiting lists are long.
So where do these families go for guidance? Enter Garett A. Holm, Special Abilities Coordinator at The J. Garret’s task is to works with the Federation’s Special Needs Task Force and Jewish agencies to develop and implement a referral platform. This resource will serve as a bridge for individuals with special needs and their caregivers to access programs and services available within our community. Garett also is creating a listserve for parents so they can connect with one another and share resource information and socialization opportunities for their children, all so important to minimizing isolation.February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month
NOCHAH in Kiryat Malachi, a Partnership2Gether city in Israel
Flames from a bonfire in a rough neighborhood of Kiryat Milachi beckoned local kids. The young men who had lit the fire asked for help of those coming to check out what was happening.
The youth were surprised. “How can we help you?”
“We are looking for families that need food but we don’t know who they are and we are hoping you can help us.”
The kids were intrigued, started thinking and began suggesting families that they knew needed help. The young men took it one step further. “Would you help us deliver the food? It has to be in secret. We need you to put the food in front of the door and then knock and run away so they don’t know who is bringing the gift.“
The kids were hooked. In just two months, 15 youth were showing up every week to help. They are starting to identify with more families that need food, so now the leaders are teaching the young volunteers how to talk to business owners about making donations.
Surrounded by the warmth of the fire and comfort of others in similar scenarios, the youth started to open up about their own lives and S.A.H.I. (youth led-Secret Giving Squads) flourished.
Last year, the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona proudly provided a grant to fund NOCHAH in Kiryat Malachi, one of our Partnership2Gether cities in Israel. Founded in Kiryat Gat, there are currently 18 chapters throughout Israel.
NOCHAH’s leads to significant positive psychological and behavioral changes among youth and their communities. It builds confidence and a sense of belonging as they themselves become role models.
The participants are given dog tags that say “The greatest good is to do for others.”
“The youth are very proud to do good and make many families happy.” said Executive Director Avraham Hayon.
And the families who receive food? They are overwhelmed. One young participant reported that as he was running away after knocking on a door he heard a young boy from inside say “Mommy, Mommy! It’s the food angels!”
Project STAR: Education, Counseling, Social Services
JCF is proud to provide funding for Project STAR to make it easier for Jewish people and those “at risk” to access professional education, counseling and social services. The project brings together skilled therapists from Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona (JFCS) and local synagogues to offer individual, family, and lifecycle programs to congregants within a framework of Jewish cultural and spiritual values.
Project STAR’s professional counselors work with members of Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Anshei Israel, and Congregation Or Chadash as well as students (and their families) participating in Tucson’s Jewish education programs, including pre-schools, Sunday schools, Hebrew High, Hillel, and youth groups.
For example, last year, Congregation Anshei Israel initiated a collaboration between JFCS and its Religious School, with the goal of parents learning about substantive issues regarding parenting in a safe, Jewish environment.
“This fits into our synagogue’s vision of strengthening the social connections within our parent community. After the first session, we tweaked the model from presentation to discussion. In the second semester of last year and continuing into this year, we have developed a core of parents who attend these monthly sessions that take place in conjunction with our Parent meetings. Looking forward, we hope to develop strategies to grow the core. We would like to develop a list of topics, parent-generated, that we put out at the beginning of the year to attract other parents,” said Rabbi Ruven Barkan, Education and Youth Director, Congregation Anshei Israel.
JFCS’s Jacque Kaplan, MSW, LCSW, is the Clinical Supervisor for Project Star and has a crucial role in facilitating these sessions with the synagogue rabbi and planning them with Rabbi Barkan.
Project STAR increases and deepens Jewish engagement by expanding the ways that individuals and families connect to their synagogues. The rabbinical community is a powerful resource for meeting the needs of congregants. But, in those instances when more assistance is needed, rabbis are persuasive catalysts for hesitant Jewish community members to seek further help. Helping each individual to meet their full potential requires a faith-anchored system of Jewish values and the skills of a therapist.
With all the joy that the holidays may bring, stress may also be present. If you or someone you know needs a little extra help, don’t hesitate to contact Jewish Family & Children’s Services before the problem becomes overwhelming.
Director of Operations Helps Bring New Life to Old Downtown Buildings
Director of Operations Helps Bring New Life to Old Downtown Buildings
Jews have been living and thriving in Tucson for many years. A priceless piece of Tucson Jewish history is the Stone Avenue Temple, which was home to Temple Emanu-El from 1910-1948. But by the 1980s, the property was vacant and in disrepair.
The Jewish community rescued the building and established the Stone Avenue Temple Project as a historic landmark in downtown Tucson. Now named the Friedman Family Jewish History Museum, the history of Jews in Southern Arizona is presented via dynamic exhibitions. The Museum shares a campus with the recently opened Gould Family Holocaust History Center, an educational institute that examines the Holocaust through the experiences of individuals who survived the war and later lived in Southern Arizona.
This once dilapidated building brings a new vitality downtown and public response to the expanded campus and program has been overwhelmingly positive. The Stone Avenue Block Party in the Fall is a partnership with the Consul of Mexico and honors Tucson’s five Jewish mayors. A reading series organized in partnership with the UA Poetry Center features Jewish poets. Gallery chats are hosted twice a week and a Late Night Downtown Shabbat with Temple Emanu-El happens once a month.
Jewish culture is thriving downtown through this robust schedule of programs, which would not be possible without the dedicated pool of volunteers and the support of professional staff. The Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona proudly provided a grant last year to help fund a new Director of Operations position at the Museum to play a strong role in coordinating the programs that are drawing more and more people downtown and bringing an awareness of the role Jews played in Southern Arizona.
“Following the capital expansion of the Jewish History Museum that included a five-fold increase in the size of the Holocaust History Center and the creation of numerous outdoor spaces, the addition of a Director of Operations to our staff was critical both in terms of providing the human resource necessary to realize the great promise the museum holds and to meet the high expectations that the community has for this institution.” said Bryan Davis, Executive Director of the Jewish History Museum. Lisa Schacter-Brooks was selected this year to fill the position.
The Jewish History Museum made the strategic decision to make its place in the community through the dynamic schedule of programs that engage diverse groups of people. One example is the Museum’s emphasis on outreach to schools. Developing a meaningful education program that facilitates student learning about complex and sensitive material requires multifaceted efforts on numerous fronts. The Director of Operations is the central staff person ensuring that the educational outreach program is first-rate from the moment the museum connects with the school through post-visit follow up. School groups began to visit the museum shortly after the February opening and the museum expects to host more than 5,OOO students during the 2O16-2O17 school year.
Museum staff are working to bring the museum onto equal footing with some of its downtown peers, including the Arizona Historical Society, Arizona Theatre Company, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Tucson Museum of Art.
ICS: Helping People in Need
Every year our community struggles to help those who have lost jobs, had financial reverses and find themselves with debilitating illnesses. It is heartbreaking to hear the stories and to hear of ever expanding needs.
The Jewish Community Foundation, along with the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, remains committed to helping the neediest among us.
It is because of this that we jointly support Interfaith Community Services (ICS), which was founded in 1985 with the idea that volunteers and congregations of diverse faiths can and should work together to share resources to better respond to community needs.
The JCF/Federation joint grant provides funding for emergency financial assistance and short-term case management. These funds provide for acute basic needs that help clients in distress get back on their feet and take steps toward stability and independence.
Along with our support, ICS has many partners from our Jewish Community including Congregation Anshei Israel; Congregation Bet Shalom; Congregation Chaverim; Congregation M’Kor Hayim; Congregation Or Chadash; and Temple Emanu-El.
Jewish Family and Children’s Services sees to similar needs of our Jewish Community through the Jewish Emergency Financial Assistance programs.
Standing together and supporting all these programs helps us create a stronger Tucson for the entire community.
Cradle to Career: Success in School & Life for Every Child
Inside and outside of classrooms throughout Southern Arizona, educators, business leaders and community organizations are focused on preparing every child for success in school and life—thus ensuring the economic vitality of our community. This is the mission of Cradle to Career – Pima County’s Partnership for Graduation and Beyond (C2C).
Stakeholders from across the community have come together to tackle one of the most important and complex challenges of our society: what does it take to achieve success for 300,000+ young people in Pima County?
It takes courageous leadership, innovation and resources from throughout the community, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona is a proud member of the C2C Partnership leadership team as well as providing funding through the 2016 Community Grants Program.
The Partnership identified seven shared outcomes starting with Kindergarten Readiness and moving through Post-Secondary Education Success and Career Attainment. C2C has established change networks in three areas to jumpstart the effort: Kindergarten Readiness, High School Graduation and Reengagement of Opportunity Youth.
Since C2C’s inception just three years ago, more than 120 public and private organizations have come together to align goals and resources and to collect data that measures program results and provides direction for best practices going forward. Last year’s work, the first year of implementation, is under review, so that the leadership can learn which strategies were successful and what should be changed. As a new program it is still too early to ascertain its effectiveness, but JCF is delighted to be a partner!
C2C’s Reengagement Change Network, called Youth on the Rise (YOTR), focuses on “opportunity youth” who are neither in school nor employed — 14.7% of 16-24 year-olds (20,540) in Pima County. That’s enough students to fill 17 high schools! YOTR involves more than 40 cross-sector organizations to increase graduation and employment rates.
Data revealed that many youth are either not ready or are ineligible for the career and technical education coursework at Pima JTED (Joint Technical Education District). As a result, Opportunity SkillUP—a modified summer internship opportunity—was born.
When asked how the experience helped them, one of the participants stated “This experience has helped me develop in so many ways …. communication skills, being professional and working with a team.” An important aspect of the success of the initiative is the active participation of the youth themselves in decision-making through the United Youth Leadership Council. Made up of seven youth 16-24, their personal experiences help ground the work of the partnership in the reality of their lives.
Zach is a great example. He was recruited through Goodwill – one of YOTR’s partner agencies – at age 20, was helped to finish high school, and was recruited to be the first member of the United Youth Leadership Council. He had been in the foster care system for many years after a troubled childhood and has learning challenges. Through the help of the partnership, Zach learned basic job skills and found a job at Walmart. He is doing well in his job and plans to go on to Pima Community College to continue his education. Without the assistance of community partners such as JCF to help him navigate the system, Zach would not be doing as well as he is now.
C2C is part of Strive Together’s National Cradle to Career Network that can be found in 65 communities in 32 states across the country and engages more than 9,750 organizations. Strive Together provides technical assistance, resources, and like-minded communities to learn from. Learn more.
The Jewish in Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging
Handmaker’s new Community Outreach Coordinator emphasizes the Jewish in Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging thanks to a grant funded by the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.
Last year, Handmaker created a position to increase the Jewish engagement of their residents. Nanci Levy was hired to this part-time position in October. In the short time she has been there, Nanci has organized a wide variety of programs on-site and has arranged trips to local Jewish agencies in an effort to bring more “Jewishness” to an already rich, senior living environment.
Residents enjoy the interactive activities that Nanci has introduced to the campus: challah baking, Yiddish classes, Torah study sessions, monthly Shabbat dinners with BBYO, 3M, Young Women’s Cabinet and USY, a Tu b’shvat seder, a Purim party, Passover seders, a Hannukah program and painting butterflies for the Buttterfly Project installation at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). In addition, residents attended the Rabbi Lecture series and a performance by the Israeli scouts who visited Tucson.
As if all the on-campus activities aren’t enough, Nanci arranged trips that exposed residents to local Jewish places and activities: the Jewish Film Festival, Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center, a student performance at Tucson Hebrew Academy (THA), a Senior Shabbat lunch at the JCC, and the JFCS Mel Sherman lecture.
Peggy, a Handmaker resident, says “When my grandkids were little, I would take them to Handmaker to help feed residents who could not feed themselves. I was so impressed and I said that this was where I wanted to be when I needed it. The Jewishness is what brought me here and I love the Jewish food at Handmaker. I feel more connected to the rest of the Jewish community since Nanci has been here. She is a Machiah (blessing).”
Nanci credits the success of her efforts to the outpouring of support from the Jewish community: local Rabbis speak at lectures, volunteers lead Shabbat services and Torah study, and religious school directors create intergenerational programs. In addition, THA transports students to Handmaker for programs and invites the residents to their campus.
Nanci looks forward to continuing Handmaker’s outreach into the Jewish community, increasing the “Jewish feel” of Handmaker and improving Handmaker’s connection to the Jewish community.
Nobody Wants to be Homeless: Youth on Their Own Can Help
YOTO is a dropout prevention program that supports the high school graduation and continued success of youth who are homeless through no fault of their own. They are living without biological parental support and they lack a safe or stable nighttime residence.
According to YOTO Executive Director Nicola Hartmann, nobody wants to be homeless. YOTO students have been abandoned typically because of a parent’s addiction or incarceration, and they are often too busy worrying about money to concentrate on their education.
Youth who remain homeless are four times more likely to drop out of school and twice as likely to become unemployable adults trapped in poverty. Without the safety and stability of a home, these vulnerable kids fall through the cracks and don’t receive the services they need in order to survive.
Last year, YOTO provided stipends to 1,585 students ages 11 to 21. YOTO students can be found in 128 schools throughout Pima County, from Catalina Foothills and Vail to Sahuarita and Marana. A desire to be “better” and “successful” are things all of these students have in common. Often students in the program form a support community at their school and help identify other abandoned students. YOTO’s goal is to give these youth opportunities for success through education, thereby improving their potential in the workforce.
Through YOTO’s Student Living Expense Program, students can earn a monthly stipend based on passing grades and a good attendance record. In addition to the stipend and counseling, YOTO provides up to 10 pounds of food per person each week. The program means that these students can focus less on the unpredictability of their circumstances and more on the pursuit of an education.
The Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona is proud to have awarded a grant to YOTO last year to support their Student Living Expense Program, which helps take the edge off of the individual’s poverty, teaches valuable life skills and provides incentive to work hard despite current life circumstances. “Stipends help them feel as if they have a normal life,” said Hartmann. “YOTO fills in the gap to help them navigate.”
Commitment to the Future: UA Hillel Increasing Engagement
College is the first time in a person’s life when they are making choices for themselves without their parents’ guidance. So, how do you connect students Jewishly on a large college campus?
To accomplish this, The Hillel Foundation at the University of Arizona used a $12,000 grant they were awarded as part of JCF’s 2015-16 Competitive Community Grants Program to fund Commitment to the Future: Increasing Engagement. The overarching goal of the grant was to increase interaction with more students. To do this, Hillel increased their team of student leaders from seven to 10. Members of the team went through an intensive training program to obtain the tools they would need to connect with students across campus. As a result, they interacted with 42% more students than the previous year.
An added benefit to the program is that many of the student leaders choose to remain in the program for a second year or look for jobs with Jewish non-profit agencies when they graduate. Hillel student leaders shape Hillel at the UA. One student leader expressed that the experience gave her “a group to belong to.” On a campus with 35,000 students, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
JCF Supports Equal Rights for Women in Israel
JCF’s Grants Committee awarded a $10,000 grant to the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) in 2016 to help ensure that women–especially Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox religious women–receive full equality in the public sphere by eliminating the illegal practice of gender segregation and exclusion. This grant was made possible by the William and Doris Rubin Endowment Fund at JCF.
IRAC is Israel’s preeminent civil and human rights organization. Their lawyers fight to end segregation, leading campaigns in Israeli courts, government and the media; and demanding gender-equal access on public transportation, sidewalks, cemeteries, during public events and on the radio.
We’re pleased to report that grant funds have helped drive significant changes in civil rights in Israel, including a class action lawsuit against the ultra-Orthodox Kol Barama public radio station that refused to put women on the air.
The result was a precedent-setting ruling by a Supreme Court Justice, whose verdict signaled that all private entities in Israel can be sued in a class action suit if they violate Israel’s anti-discrimination laws, and that the lawsuits can also be filed by organizations representing people who cannot sue by themselves. Businesses that had previously been willing to risk paying small fines for individual infractions now have to cope with potential class action suits that significantly raise the stakes (and the fines) for breaking the law.
Another extremely important cause is that of Women of the Wall, or Neshot Hakotel. This group of Jewish women from around the world strives to achieve the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, and to pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem.
Anat Hoffman, IRAC’s Executive Director and the Chair of Women of the Wall, drives the point home, “Israel markets the Wall as a place of national unity. How can there be unity when half of the population is silenced?” In February 2016, Israel formally recognized a pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall. The struggle, however, is not over.
Other IRAC successes include recognition of non-Orthodox rabbis, ending gender segregation at cemeteries and on public transportation, setting a precedent that prohibits employment discrimination based on religious preference, and permitting women to display their portraits on public advertisements for election campaigns in Jerusalem.
Hoffman sums it up well: “We’re all looking at the same issues: how the monolithic interpretation of Judaism in the Jewish state is limiting and stunting our ability to enjoy Judaism and celebrate it.”
JCF is proud to support IRAC and other organizations across Israel that promote an integrated society with equal opportunities. In 2015, nearly $39,000 in grants went toward the cause.
JCF Funds Secular Education at Hachmey Lev to Help Haredi Boys
JCF is truly invested in empowering communities for a stronger tomorrow. To that end, JCF became the first Jewish community foundation to fund secular education in Israel that helps lift Haredi boys out of poverty. A $33,700 grant in 2015 funds teachers for secular subjects at Hachmey Lev, a Yeshiva high school. The grant through the Foundation’s Community Grants Program was funded by the Maurice and Gail Mordka Endowment Fund and William and Doris Rubin Endowment Fund.
Hachmey Lev helps Haredi teenage boys pursue matriculation certification without compromising their ultraorthodox lifestyle. Head of School Rabbi Betzalel Cohen was inspired to establish Hachmey Lev after seeing his son blossom in a Yeshiva high school setting. The Yeshiva high school empowers Haredi boys with knowledge and skills to eventually enroll in meaningful positions in the workforce.
Eitan Moran, the Director General of the Society for the Advancement of Education in Jerusalem, believes that Hachmey Lev “provides [the Haredi boys] a better future to establish a family that will no longer be under the poverty line.”
Hachmey Lev has a diverse and intensive curriculum. Haredi boys spend most of their time devoted to Talmud, and the rest of their time studying mathematics, history, English, literature and science. The high school offers more general studies than any other institution in Israel. Mr. Moran hopes that Hachmey Lev “would be a model for other institutions to raise up all of Israel.” Hachmey Lev also offers extracurricular activities like chess, sports and music.
Yaakov Chakov, a 9th grade student at Hachmey Lev, said “it’s important for me to take general studies so I can succeed in life, and so I can understand how everything around me operates in the world in which I live. On the other hand, I must also learn the Torah because as a Haredi young man, this is very important to me. I also want to be what I want to be – a lawyer or legislator.”
It’s not about just providing Haredi boys with an education; it’s about giving them choices and opportunities. Haredi journalist, Jonathan Rosenblum, states that “we’re going to lose our children if we don’t provide them opportunities.”
But at Hachmey Lev, most of the sophomore students who were never exposed to secular education are now 30% closer to obtaining a full high school diploma. As Mr. Rosenblum says: “Hachmey Lev empowers students to make choices, because it gives them abilities to make choices.”
Tracy & David Jeck: Our kids are thrilled to receive their monthly PJ Library books and CDs.
Inspired by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, PJ Library (PJ for pajamas) is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and made possible through partnerships with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations across more than 200 communities in the U.S. and Canada (Southern Arizona being one of them), Israel and other countries.
In the U.S. and Canada, PJ Library has sent out more than 8.6 million books, and more than 14 million globally. Each of the more than 140,000 children who participate in the U.S. and Canada receive 11 books and one music CD throughout the year.
PJ Library provides Jewish children (6 months to 8 years) and their families with high quality, age appropriate Jewish books and CDs, discussion guides and programming aimed at sustaining and improving the life of the Jewish community. In providing stories for parents to read to their children, PJ Library enables them to connect to this longstanding human and Jewish tradition, and in doing so, helps frame and deepen their child’s identities as Jews
In 2013, a PJ Library Endowment Fund was created by outstanding philanthropists who believe strongly that it is important for future generations to have Jewish literacy in their lives. Donations to the fund are welcome and celebrated.
The PJ Library in Southern Arizona is sponsored through the Coalition for Jewish Education, with grants from the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (JCF), the generous support of multiple families in our community, and in partnership with The Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
PJ Library wouldn’t exist without these partners, and they are always looking for more people to help. If you’d like to volunteer or help in any way, please contact MaryEllen Loebl, PJ Library Coordinator, or your local community partner for more information.
“PJ Library is nothing short of a gift for Jewish children and their families. We absolutely love that we can support this program through our Community Grants Program!” says JCF CEO Tracy Salkowitz.
Support from Jill Rosenzweig, Donor, PJ Library Endowment Fund
“We are enthusiastic supporters of PJ Library because it embraces three of our passions: 1) children and families, 2) early childhood education, and 3) Jewish values and traditions. We have heard from many families that PJ Library’s books are their absolute favorites, and that they often read them aloud together as a family. We have also heard that many inter-faith families use the stories as an introduction to Judaism to improve their own knowledge.
“There’s no question that reading engaging books to our children promotes early literacy and is a reliable indicator of success in school. In addition, the stories present traditions and values in a manner that appeals to young children, leaving a lasting impression on both the children and their families.
‘We hope that others in the community will also see the value of this outstanding program and will join us in supporting PJ Library.”
Echoing Hope Ranch agriculture program helps those with autism, other developmental disabilities
Conceived in 2009 as a community of hope, Echoing Hope Ranch (EHR) is a place where people with autism and other developmental disabilities can be productive in a peaceful, supportive environment. Earlier this year, JCF supported the Ranch’s outstanding work with a $6,658 grant for their new Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) program. The grant was made possible by the William and Doris Rubin Endowment Fund, the Zuckerman Family Fund and the JCF Community Impact Fund.
“CSA is a life changing program,” said Marla Guerrero, Executive Director of the Ranch. “By learning how to grow and harvest food, and by participating in local farmers’ markets and other social and educational events, individuals with developmental disabilities (and veterans who choose to participate) learn new skills that may be transferrable to other jobs. They also earn a wage that helps them become more self reliant and self confident. The CSA program also benefits the local community, offering the opportunity to purchase fresh, affordable produce grown at the ranch.”
Marla shared with us the following stories: Employees and families seem very pleased to be working, learning vocational skills and feeling part of a larger team. One young man is so proud to be working as a farmer just like his grandparents used to do. He has Cerebral Palsy and was not able to physically manage many tasks when he first started working in July. But today, he is able to push an empty wheel barrow and help fill it with dirt, leaves or other products that need to be moved.
Another young man with autism does not typically like being involved in group projects. However, once in the hoop house or the gardens, he will take turns working with other team members until the job is complete. He smiles and laughs and seems to enjoy the physical labor as much as his new paycheck. Since beginning this work, he has also been able to reduce his dependence on food stamps and is now earning enough to purchase his own food. The greatest satisfaction is to see the concentration and pride on the faces of the individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities as they work to accomplish tasks. It is rewarding to find ways to help them become more productive members of our society.
Echoing Hope Ranch is a non-profit organization that provides residential and day program services near the San Pedro River as well as in-home respite and habilitation and employment services in Pima County, Sierra Vista, Bisbee and surrounding communities. If you would like to support Echoing Hope Ranch please visit their website or call (520) 508-2087.
It's About Community: Jews in Tucson with Special Needs
“My dream is for our Jewish community to be a shining star in the support and caring of our special needs population and their families. As a mother of a special needs young adult I have learned close up and personal what is needed–from pre-school to camping, religious school to day school, inclusion in synagogue life to social and day programs,” says Joyce Stuehringer, JCF fund holder and co-chair of the Jewish Special Needs Task Force.
“Developing a residential program will ensure that our children will have a warm, loving family environment when they are ready for this next step. I am proud to be a part of this effort as a funder for the future of this precious population. Investing in stronger communities is what JCF is all about.”
Our donors rely on us to listen and respond to community needs locally, nationally and globally. And we do.
In 2013 and 2014, we received a large number of requests through our grants program to fund projects for Jews in Tucson with special needs. In response, JCF’s Community Grants Program (an alignment between the Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona) funded a Community-wide Needs Assessment, the results of which were received in the spring of 2015.
The assessment clearly indicated that Jews with special needs in our community are indeed facing challenges…challenges that can be addressed.
A community-wide coalition has since been convened to address the identified issues and design a plan to develop solutions. The coalition includes representatives from local Jewish agencies, organizations and synagogues, as well as a broad spectrum of lay leaders and parents who care for children with special needs.
The coalition has identified four priority areas that address the community’s greatest needs and that will make the biggest impact:
- Concierge Services, which provide a centralized source of information and referral.
- Respite Care/Socialization Programs, which allows caregivers a small amount of time to focus on other activities and to rejuvenate, while allowing the child with special needs to engage in enriching social programs.
- Residential Housing, such as independent living, group homes, shared/community housing, and residential housing with caregivers.
- Vocational Training and Internship Opportunities that meet individual needs and abilities.
The coalition is developing programming in these four areas, and is seeking funding to execute and deliver. At JCF, we listen and we respond. We are dedicated to doing all we can to support this effort, and you can help. To learn how, please call us at (520) 577-0388.
New Holocaust Survivors Book Offers 36 Personal Accounts from Southern Arizonans
In the spring of 2015, the Foundation awarded $2,500 to Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona (JFCS) to help publish and distribute a new book titled, “To Tell Our Stories: Holocaust Survivors of Southern Arizona.” The grant was made possible with funding from the Message of Hope Fund held at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.
This compelling new book offers 36 personal accounts of the Holocaust from survivors who have since made Southern Arizona their home. It serves to both honor their lives and create an intercultural dialogue in classrooms and within the community on how to increase the practice of tolerance today. To date, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona has:
- Provided books to the Tucson Hebrew Academy and Hebrew High for their curriculums.
- Made available packages of books that the Jewish History Musuem/Holocaust Center can share with public schools.
- Introduced the book to Congregation Chaverim’s Book Club.
- Reserved a booth at the Festival of Books 2016.
- Collaborated with the Jewish Community Center on a free event where survivors read portions of their own stories from the book.
The book is available locally at Congregation Anshei Israel and Congregation Bet Shalom, as well as Antigone Books. Proceeds from the book go directly to the services provided by JFCS’s Holocaust Survivors Program.
Read the Arizona Jewish Post article about this special book.
Holocaust Survivors Enjoy Friendly Visitors Program
In 2015, JCF awarded an $8,400 grant to the Holocaust Survivors Friendly Visitors Program, an outstanding service offered by Tucson’s very own Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JFCS). The grant was made possible with funding from the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Task Force on Services for Jewish Seniors & Adults with Disabilities Fund.
“JFCS has an unwavering moral obligation to the 83 Holocaust survivors in our community,” said Carlos Hernández, JFCS President and CEO. “Our Holocaust Survivors Program provides assistance with medical expenses, counseling services, socialization opportunities and in-home support through the Friendly Visitors Program, which sends trained volunteers to the homes of isolated Holocaust survivors to provide companionship. This project responds to the most basic of needs: human connection, and fulfils a sacred role.”
“These bikkur cholim visits honor Holocaust survivors and offer volunteers the opportunity to connect to the people they have come to visit, while deepening an aspect of themselves,” said Raisa Moroz, the Holocaust Survivors Program manager. “The survivor and volunteer meet once a week, and over time their acquaintance grows into a meaningful friendship. Mikhail and Adam have a great story:”
Mikhail Rabinovich immigrated to America from Ukraine in 1991 with his family. They then moved to Tucson through the JFCS Refugee Program. After spending years as a car engineering officer in the USSR army, Mikhail moved to Tucson and became a car mechanic. For the past month, Mikhail has been taking advantage of the Friendly Visitors Program and meeting with volunteer Adam Starbuck. Mikhail was hoping to learn more English, make a new friend and have someone – other than his family members – with whom to communicate after his wife (also a Holocaust survivor) passed away a few months ago.
Mikhail was paired with Adam Starbuck, a senior at the University of Arizona. Adam is working towards his master’s degree in Russian, and is a teaching assistant in addition to a program volunteer. During a year-long stay in Russia, Adam became passionate about the language and the culture. He joined the Friendly Visitors Program to give back to the community and to learn Russian more fluently through directly speaking to a Russian-language native.
When they are together, Mikhail and Adam discuss the differences and similarities in their lives. Mikhail learns about American culture and Adam learns about Russian culture. They never have a specific agenda when they meet, yet they always find topics to discuss, sharing new ideas, stories and life experiences. Now friends, Mikhail and Adam report that they’re grateful the program offers such a unique opportunity.
Natali Chausovskaya, the Project’s new volunteer coordinator, understands first-hand how valuable the program is. “Both my grandparents are Holocaust survivors and had their own program volunteers. My grandparents always shared positive experiences with their volunteers and were glad to be able to tell their stories and hear the volunteer’s own stories. I saw how truly beneficial the program is to both the survivors and the visitors,” said Natali, who is starting her second year at the University of Arizona, majoring in English and minoring in psychology and Russian.
Click here to learn more about the services JFCS offers our community.
Jewish History Center Transitions into the Future
Tucson’s Jewish History Museum (JHM) is an important center for Jewish community, education and history, and for more than a decade, JCF and JHM have partnered on a number of projects. So, when JHM applied for a competitive grant to help support the transformation of the Museum and the expansion of the Holocaust History Center, the Foundation Grants Committee was immediately on board.
In 2015, the Committee granted $18,000 to JHM to help fund a new part-time Program Coordinator, Julie Lauterbach-Colby, to support the design of new educational programs for the changing shape of the museum. Julie is also responsible for docent training programs to increase the quality of the educational experience for all visitors, including the volunteer corps; developing and advancing student educational programs; and strengthening and developing community relations.
“It is exciting to see such a community-wide investment in the Museum and its future endeavors with the Holocaust History Center expansion project, said Julie. “We have a real opportunity to shape how this historic landmark and organization enters the next several decades, and I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such an amazing group of people dedicated to this process.”
Julie has worked in arts administration since graduating from the University of Arizona’s Masters in Fine Arts Creative Writing program in 2010. Before arriving at the Jewish History Museum, she worked for five years at the University of Arizona Poetry Center as its development program coordinator.
The $18,000 grant was generously funded by the Burt and Brenda Lazar Endowment Fund and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Compelling Needs Fund. JCF and its generous donors provided an additional $22,500 in 2015 towards the Holocaust History Center project.
Goldman Scholarship Builds Bridge to Israel
“Since I was in first grade I dreamed about going to Israel. Raising the funds was a challenge and a financial difficulty, but I was able to go on our eighth grade trip because of the Goldman Family Israel Scholarship,” said Mallory Hulsey, student at Tucson Hebrew Academy (THA) and recipient of the $2,500 scholarship funded by the Foundation’s Elliot S. Goldman and Goldman Family Israel Scholarship Funds.
“The highlight and dream of our students’ years attending THA is to experience Israel where all their learning of Hebrew and Judaic studies culminates in an amazing Israel encounter,” said Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz, THA Director of Judaics and Hebrew Studies. “The objective is to strengthen their connection to the land of Israel with all its Jewish traditions, history and culture. The students enjoy intense hands on educational experiences that include hikes and visiting sacred, historical and modern sites. The entire encounter is accomplished while being with peers and staff members who provide the social content that makes the trip a lifetime event ideal for adolescents. It is an experience that surpasses the walls of the classroom and lasts a lifetime.”
From May 11 to May 19, Mallory and her eighth grade peers traveled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem exploring Israel’s cultural and religious history and sites. “The trip took us to many of the holy sites,” said Hulsey, “including the Masada, Galilee, Golan Heights, Jerusalem and the wall around it. We met our Israeli friends who we’ve been corresponding with during the year and we met with Israeli teachers, soldiers and Holocaust survivors. There were many significant learning experiences including Shabbat at the Kotel, the Dialogue in the Dark exhibit at the Israel Children’s Museum, and just Israel’s survival in general and how precious it is to us inspired me. Israel has become an important component of my life. I will definitely go back.”
The Elliot S. Goldman Israel Scholarship Fund and the Goldman Family Israel Scholarship Fund are endowment funds that provide an annual Goldman Family Israel Scholarship to a non-profit organization for one individual towards a trip to Israel. Click here for more information.