The "It's All in the Family" campaign by the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York is offering $150,000 to one "big idea" social project that will "deepen the connection between New Yorkers and Israelis around shared goals."
The campaign aims to encourage Israeli and American Jews to work together on shared issues and improve both communities.
Visitors to UJA's website
can learn about the five different projects and vote for the one they believe should be given the $150,000 contribution. Voting ends at 12:00 a.m. EST on Sunday, May 19.
The five projects up to the vote are: a joint project between Chochmat Nashim and the Orthodox Leadership Project, IsraAID's New York Humanitarian Network, the Innovation Center & Xchange for Gen Y and Z initiative, an immigration assistance project by HIAS and a joint project between Israel Gay Youth (IGY) and Jewish Queer Youth (JQY).
The Chochmat Nashim-Orthodox Leadership Project aims to address issues affecting women in the Orthodox Jewish community by giving Jewish women a voice in their communities.
The goal of the project is "to create a conference of men and women to discuss issues with leadership, decision making, [and] extremism, where women are part of the solution and part of the discussion," explained Dr. Yardaena Osband, a founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project, in the project's campaign video.
"What happens in Israel affects what happens in New York and what happens in New York affects the community in Israel," Osband continued.
On the Israeli side, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, said in the video, "This movement can be the change. If we are going to have a strong and healthy community, we have to stand for something and not just against things. We have to keep talking about these issues. We have to make sure they are on the agenda, everywhere. That means shuls, that means schools, that means youth groups, that means colleges."
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post she added, "Chochmat Nashim creates a healthier Jewish community by working against extremism and raising the voices of Jewish women."
IsraAid's New York Humanitarian Network aims to train professionals and college students from New York so that they can be deployed with their Israeli counterparts to provide humanitarian aid wherever needed.
IsraAid has responded to more than 50 emergencies around the world and also works in long-term development programs "building resilience and support the sustainable future of communities," explained Or Mor, IsraAID's Kenya and Uganda Country Director in the project's video.
"By deploying New Yorkers and Israelis together to the field, wherever IsraAid is and whatever the conditions are, we can build better bridges between these two communities," stated Molly Bernstein, IsraAID's Former Head of Mission in Lesbos, Greece. "Driven by our shared values, we can join forces to make sure lifesaving aid and crucial long-term support reach communities in desperate need.
The Innovation Center & Xchange for Gen Y and Z initiative of Sapir College and Beit Berl College and the Bronfman Center at New York University is aimed at connecting Jewish art students in New York and Israel in order to brainstorm on shared issues.
The Xchange allows students to meet, share problems, explore possibilities, have space to talk and listen to each other - and gives them cameras to document and share their experiences.
"Our big idea is to connect Israelis and Jewish Americans who are passionate about the same social projects to work together on a film project and get to know one another along the way," explained Omer from the Bronfman Center. "It can be replicated and scaled to be even bigger.
"We're not just bringing people together," Omer continued. "We're building a creative communtiy of critical thinkers who are passionate change-makers."
The program aims to encourage young Jews in Israel and the US to learn more about current issues and enter the Jewish social activism world. The idea is to bring young Jewish Americans and Israelis together in a framework that is "less religious, educations, philanthropic or ideological, could really create a sense of community and foster resilience and peoplehood," Omer said in the organization's video. "It's a real opportunity to elevate voices that may not otherwise be heard."
HIAS's project aims to address the growing refugee crisis by enhancing the pro-bono capacity of Jewish attorneys and networks in the US and Israel and increasing free legal representation for asylum seekers in both countries, "reflecting the shared Jewish values and history of welcoming and protecting the stranger."
"It's incredibly important that the Jewish community respond to the global refugee crisis for a very simple reason and that is that throughout our history the Jewish people have been refugees and asylum seekers," explained Merill Zack, HIAS VP of Community Engagement in the project's video.
HIAS has offered free legal aid to asylum seekers in the New York City area for the past 20 years. They want to "bring together the legal community in New York and Israel to help asylum seekers win their cases," stated Smita Dazzo, HIAS Director of US Legal Services.
"As lawyers, we may be on different sides of the ocean, but we share the same values," said Sivan Carmel, HIAS Israel Country Director. "I think we can and should respond and I think if we work together and learn from the success of the pro bono culture in New York, I think we can make our network grow."
The joint project between Israel Gay Youth (IGY) and Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) aims to create an inclusive Jewish community. The project's video features queer Jews responding to the question "Can you be gay and Jewish?"
"The Jews in the US are very progressive. I think we learn a lot from them," explained one of the teens in the video.
Israel and the US "are together in the same struggle or in the same circle. If we don't feel like that, then we might have less hope than we should have," explained another teenager.
IGY and JQY aim to "strengthen and empower LGBTQ+ youth" and to "build bridges between different parts of the Jewish community — and beyond — to fight violence, racism, and homophobia."
UJA is the world's largest local philanthropy. The organizations raises and distributes funds to nonprofits in New York, in Israel and around the world.
The federation also gathers knowledge about "emerging or unmet needs" in the communities they serve and strives to meet those needs by leveraging "relationships, know-how, and financial resources to create solutions from the bottom up."
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