The first and main place for the Jewish community of Cleveland, in Cleveland and around the world. Our Federation is a 110 year old community cornerstone that aspires to leave no community member behind. The Jewish Fed of Cle helps address the needs of the local & global Jewish & non-Jewish community.
The Cleveland Jewish community is one of the most generous in the United States and most of us give because we believe in the missions of the charitable organizations to which we donate.
But this year, with the substantial increase in the standard deduction, we will be tested. If our reasons for donating are purely altruistic, our charitable giving will remain the same as before. But, even if tax deductions are not our No. 1 motivation, most people do enjoy the tax savings that may accompany the donation. That is something to think about as the year progresses.
In this changing and sometimes confusing environment, donor advised funds can significantly simplify your charitable giving. Depending on your situation and the amount you donate to your fund, it may increase tax savings by enabling you to itemize deductions to a level in excess of the increased standard deduction. As you simplify your current giving, you create a mechanism that can also simplify creating lasting legacy.
Here’s how it works: you make a donation of securities, cash or other assets to create the fund (many institutions offer donor advised funds, including the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation and several financial institutions) retaining the privilege to recommend grants in the future.
A donor advised fund allows you to “bundle” donations in one year, or donate much more than you will donate for that particular year. This helps you reach a level at which you can itemize deductions. For the next year or more, you may choose to take the increased standard deduction until you choose to “bunch” again. You have made one donation that is tax deductible and then may recommend many grants to the charities of your choice. Simple.
Donor advised funds also simplify the process of due diligence. The institution hosting the fund verifies the tax status of the various charities to confirm their legitimacy. Grant recommendations are simple with online tools, and statements and balances are accessible at all times. This allows you to have a wonderful and accurate record of the charities you have supported for the current year as well as your grant-making history. An added benefit is the assets of the fund are invested and the earned income is not taxable, allowing you, as the donor adviser, to donate to charity.
As mentioned above, a donor advised fund may also be a valuable tool in creating a philanthropic estate plan. In addition to recommending grants during your lifetime, you may leave instructions recommending grants from the remaining fund assets upon your death. These grants may create permanent endowment funds in your name and support what you care about most for future generations. Some donor advised fund programs offer the option to name successor advisers for the fund, allowing your family’s next generation to continue your history of philanthropy.
Discuss your options with your own financial advisors. Donor advised funds are simple, efficient, may offer tax benefits and provide a mechanism to create a meaningful legacy. In a world that is so complicated, it’s something to consider.
Carol F. Wolf is the managing director of planned giving and endowments at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. She can be reached at email@example.com or 216-593-2805.
Whether you love it or dread it, each family has their own unique bedtime routine for their children. Check out some of these ideas and tips from local Jewish Cleveland parents that are sure to make you smile:
"We do the bath, book, bed method. Then before bed I open the curtains and we say good night to the trees, our neighbors and the neighborhood, all of our family members, and a lot of times Edie throws in Elsa as well. Once we say good night and sweet dreams to the world it’s into bed she goes!" - Anne M.
"Bedtime is pretty much the only time I ever get really frustrated with my kids. They stall every chance they get. They are also really sweet though cause it’s when I get to hear 'I love you mommy'. That makes it worth it". -Erin O
"After the chaos of dinner, bath time and brushing teeth, we try to make our bedtime routine calm and filled with love. We always read a story together, sing shema and give hugs and kisses. It's so sweet to see the girls give each other a kiss goodnight, it's definitely their favorite part and usually they erupt in laughter, which is hysterical and heartwarming all at the same time!" –Kate M.
"After some fun playtime, we start bathtime and play with bath toys and dance to music- usually Sesame Street or Raffi. After changing into PJs and lotioning up, we read a few stories- All The Ways I Love You, Can You Hear a Coo Coo and Thanks for Today (both PJ Library!) are some favorites. Then it's bottle and some kisses and time for bed!" – Erica H.
"We have been giving our kids a bath every night before bed since they were about 6 weeks old (They're 3.5 and 2 now). What started as a way to relax them and turn them into bedtime thinking, has turned into fun family time for all of us." - Samantha L.
"Bath, book, song ... most nights! ;)" - Jacki B.
"With the books we receive from PJ Library, we are able to relate the things our girls learn in school to the projects and books we receive in the mail. The PJ Library books are a great way to support Jewish learning at home - in a fun way. They are also just the right length for a story at bedtime." -Kerry K.
"We love nights when we have a little longer for bedtime. We give the girls a bath and take turns reading them lots of books. Then we end with 'happy thoughts' like rainbows, butterflies and cupcakes which my daughter says helps her from having scary dreams." - Beth L.
For more information on PJ Library and the Young Families department, please contact Leah Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-593-2853.
In partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library® in Cleveland is generously funded by Mort (of blessed memory) and Iris November in celebration of Debra Ann November's life.
Donna Yanowitz presents Kerry Kertesz of University Heights with the 2017 Bennett and Donna Yanowitz Leadership Award.
Kerry Kertesz of University Heights has been awarded the 2017 Bennett and Donna Yanowitz Leadership Award by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. The award recognizes and honors an outstanding young individual who has demonstrated commitment, involvement, and leadership within Cleveland’s Jewish community. Kertesz was presented the award at the Federation’s Board meeting on March 14.
“As I receive the Yanowitz Award, I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of so many outstanding young leaders who have come before me,” Kertesz said. “I have a strong passion for making our Jewish community a better place today, so that future generations can thrive.”
Kertesz started volunteering in the Jewish communal world with the Federation’s Young Leadership Division (YLD), where she served as Chair for several committees and events from 2012 to 2017. She now plays an active role in the Community Relations Committee (CRC), where she acts as a convener between both new and senior members alike, serving as co-chair for the New Member Subcommittee, and is heavily involved in the CRC’s Latino outreach work.
“Kerry is a thoughtful and bright leader, and a true rising star in the CRC,” said Brad Schlang, Community Relations Committee Chair. “She is one of the key people in our leadership pipeline.”
In addition to her involvement with the Federation, Kertesz has been active with numerous Jewish organizations. She is a Founding Chair of Park Synagogue’s Young Mensches and the Regional Board Chair of ORT Next Generation.
The Bennett and Donna Yanowitz Leadership Award replaced the Marvin and Milton Kane Award, previously known as the Ed Baker Award. The award has been given annually since the early 1960’s. As recipient of the Yanowitz Award, Kertesz is invited to join the Cleveland delegation to a General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
When Rhoda Seifert was growing up, she heard stories about her family's experiences in the Holocaust.
"My father came over from Poland when he was 16 years old," she said. "He came over with an aunt and they were on one of the last boats before the war broke out. Two of his brothers that were still in Poland saw two Nazi cars outside of their home, so they hid in the bushes. They saw the rest of their family shot dead.
"So, these stories from my family inspired me to help my community, to help change anyone's thoughts about the Jewish people. The background of the war has pushed me to work."
Keeping this in mind, the South Euclid resident volunteers at organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the Red Cross and her synagogue, B'nai Jeshurun Congregation.
CJN: Tell me about your volunteering.
Seifert: I volunteer with the Red Cross during their blood drives. I also volunteer at the registration desk at B'nai Jeshurun and have sold invitations and Around Town Books for many years. I am the past president and past fundraising president of the sisterhood. I am also the past president and past fundraising president of the Montefiore Auxiliary.
I used to knit hats for Israeli soldiers. Now, I'm starting to knit hats and gloves at the Federation for babies.
At the Federation, I also volunteer during the Super Sunday dial-a-thon, every day they have it. I even call people from home. Last year, on the last day of calling, I called this person and gave them the pitch. They asked how much I thought they could give - and I suggested a few amounts and they ended up donating $10,000.
This year, we were giving matching and tripling donations that went over whatever was given last year. There was a man that had never donated in the past, so he originally declined. I told him about the matching, and he proceeded to donate $150.
Also, 20 years ago, I volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces. I was on its largest training base. I volunteered to help around. I told them I would do anything - just don't put me in the kitchen. I have also been to Israel four times.
CJN: What is your favorite memory from volunteering?
Seifert: Volunteering in the IDF, of course. It doesn't get any better than that.
CJN: What inspired you to volunteer for the IDF?
Seifert: I'm very much for Israel. When I heard that they took volunteers, I just wanted to do it. How could I not? I always have been and always will be involved with the Jewish community.
CJN: How did you become involved with the Red Cross?
Seifert: Blood is always so desperately needed. I have Type O negative, which makes me a universal donor. I thought it was a good thing to do, to volunteer for the Red Cross. My first born had a complete blood exchange when he was born, and that also inspired me to help out. Because of that experience, I felt like I just had to.
CJN: Why is being involved in the community important?
Seifert: I believe so much in Judaism. I hate all the anti-Semitism that is happening. I went to Camp Wise as a kid for many years. So, I think it's good for a community to do, to give us a Jewish background from the start.
Thinking of her future, Seifert said she hopes to keep volunteering for as long as she can.
"I would love to travel to Israel again, but it's a long trip," she said. "I still would love to put my heart into Jewish causes here. I just think it's very important to do that as a member of the larger community. The current climate is very terrible, and it blows me away to see the hate. Whatever I do positively in my community, it feels like I'm combating that."
Ohio is ground zero for opioid addiction and the Cleveland Jewish community is not immune to this crisis. In addition to providing multiple resources for families caught in the grip of this medical crisis, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis, is hosting a series of community-wide events in response to the opioid addiction crisis. Cleveland is the first Jewish community in the country to come together as one to break the silence around opioid misuse and addiction in the Jewish community.
Ten synagogues across denominations throughout the Greater Cleveland community will participate in one of the Shabbat weekends listed above, including:
Suburban Temple/Kol Ami, Shabbat evening services on March 16 at 6:00 pm
B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, Shabbat morning services on March 17 at 9:00 am
Beth El Akron, Shabbat morning services on March 17 at 9:15 am
Beth-Israel/The West Temple, Shabbat morning services on March 17 at 11:00 am
Cedar-Sinai Synagogue, Panelists after morning services on March 17 at 9:00 am
The Temple-Tifereth Israel, Shabbat evening services on March 23 at 6:00 pm
Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, Shabbat evening services on March 23 at 6:15 pm
Congregation Sha’arey Tikvah on March 24 at 9:00 am
Kol HaLev, Shabbat morning services on March 24 at 10:30 am
Park Synagogue East, Shabbat morning services on March 24 at 9:00 am
(*as of publication)
In addition, an Opioid Epidemic Resource Guide which includes referrals and services around addiction and substance abuse for the Jewish and general community is available here.
Ten synagogues in Northeast Ohio will focus on the opioid epidemic during Shabbat weekends between March 9-24, in an attempt to break the silence around addiction and to serve as a starting point to help those struggling.
Northeast Ohio is the first Jewish community to come together in such a way to address the epidemic, according to a news release from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
In 2017, 822 people died from drug overdoses, according to Dec. 31, 2017, data projections from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner. Of those deaths, 522 died from heroin, fentanyl or a combination.
A partnership between the Federation and the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis, the events will feature discussions about opioid misuse and addiction in the Jewish community.
“The roles that the rabbi and synagogue can play cannot be underestimated,” said Rabbi Allison Vann of Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood and president of the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis, in an email. “In these initial stages of the Jewish community coming together, it is my hope that the shame of addiction is nullified within the Jewish community.”
Ira Kaplan, community planning committee chair at the Federation, said in an email that the Shabbat programming stems from an opioid abuse working group made up of social service professionals, clergy, family members of those suffering from addiction, people in recovery and Federation staff.
“When we spoke to experts in addiction, they said one of the major challenges for our community is the perceived stigma around getting help,” Kaplan said. “Synagogues are the pillars of our Jewish community. Rabbis are trusted resources to so many members of our community. This series is meant to show people that it is safe to break the silence and ask for help from any of the clergy.”
Rabbi Zachary Truboff of Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai in Lyndhurst said he’s counseled multiple families whose children have died from drugs and has seen older congregants struggle with addiction. Although Truboff has spoken about opioid addiction from the pulpit on other occasions, for the Shabbat series he will moderate three panelists speaking briefly after services. The panelists are congregants Diane Smilanick, assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Mimi Becker, a psychologist working in substance abuse treatment, as well as Sheryl Hirsh, a community advocate fighting the opioid epidemic.
“It’s something I’ve seen firsthand and know that the issues are worse in Ohio and in Cuyahoga County than they are just about anywhere else, and everybody really needs to be aware of it,” Truboff said.
Truboff also said when he has spoken about opioid addiction from the pulpit, he addresses the stigma surrounding it, which may be harder to alleviate in the Jewish community versus the general community, and potentially even more so in the Orthodox world.
“The Jewish community doesn’t like to admit when these things are a problem because we like to have this image of ourselves being better than others, or perfect,” he said, adding that such thinking is “dangerous.”
“Sometimes in the Orthodox community it results in a desire to kind of cover it up because we don’t want to make ourselves look bad … and not talking about it tends to make the problem even worse.”
Kaplan also noted that a barrier to helping addicts is assuming others will think differently about them for admitting they have a problem – something he hopes the series will begin to dispel.
“The rabbis want to make it clear that addiction is a medical problem and that they are here to help counsel and connect congregants to resources,” Kaplan said. “If we break this silence, families of people dealing with addiction won’t feel as isolated but receive support from the community and from other families who have gone through the same thing.”
For Vann, however, this will be her first time speaking about opioid addiction at the pulpit, and she’s hopeful it will be a helpful first step.
“My sermon is to teach about the Jewish response, and to begin to end the shame for families that are struggling with a loved one, or struggle themselves, with addiction,” she said.
Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood, Shabbat evening services
Beth El Congregation in Akron, Shabbat morning services
B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike, Shabbat morning services
Beth Israel-The West Temple in Cleveland, Shabbat morning services
Oheb Zedek-Cedar-Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst, panelists speaking after morning services
Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Shabbat evening services at 6:15 p.m.
The Temple-Tifereth Israel, Shabbat evening services
Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood, speaker
Kol HaLev in Pepper Pike, Shabbat morning services
Park Synagogue East in Cleveland Heights, Shabbat morning services
Each year, the Federation’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) hosts our Tu B’Shevat Seder to bring together more than 100 members of the Greater Cleveland community to celebrate our shared Earth. Community member shared their thoughts on how they will honor the Earth in the year ahead.
Year-long celebration for Clevelanders of all backgrounds includes concert by Israeli superstar David Broza and the first-ever IsraelFest!
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland, together with local synagogues, agencies, and organizations, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence through a series of community-wide arts, cultural, and educational events – known collectively as the “Israel at 70” series. The series is designed to enable Clevelanders of all backgrounds to enjoy and celebrate the rich history, heritage, and culture of Israel and the Jewish people.
“We’re excited to mark this milestone anniversary through a wide range of programs that include lectures, theater, art exhibits, and much more,” said Renny Wolfson, Co-Chair of the Federation’s Israel at 70 committee.
“This year, we will hold two separate events this year in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day,” said Mitch Frankel, Co-Chair of the Federation’s Israel at 70 committee. “On April 19, Israeli superstar David Broza will be performing live at Landerhaven and, on May 6, we host the first-ever IsraelFest!, which will feature food, games, music, and vendors selling hand-made crafts in a fun, carnival-like atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy.”
Upcoming events include:
Women in STEM: 71st Annual Meeting of the Community Relations Committee & Sidney Z. Vincent Memorial Lecture March 20, 7:00 pm at Cleveland Museum of Natural History Great Lakes Science Center President & CEO Kirsten Ellenbogen moderates a panel discussion on the current role of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), both locally and in Israel, and the critical need to cultivate a new generation of women leaders in these fields.
David Broza Live April 19, 7:30 pm at Landerhaven Israeli superstar David Broza returns to Cleveland for an unforgettable night of music. He will be joined by Tamar Eisenman and Maya Isac, two fast-rising stars in the Israeli rock music scene, who are making their Cleveland debut.
Ambassador Dani Dayan at the 114th Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland April 26, 7:30 pm at Fuchs Mizrachi School Amb. Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, will discuss “Israel at 70.” In addition, the Federation will present the Charles Eisenman Award for Exceptional Community Service to S. Lee Kohrman.
IsraelFest! May 6 at Mandel JCC’s Safran Park The first-ever IsraelFest! will offer an afternoon shopping at the Israeli marketplace, eating delicious kosher food, arts and crafts, Israeli dancing, and more.
ON THE GRILL June 21 – July 8 at the Dobama Theatre The American premiere of the award-winning play that takes an intimate look at the hopes and heartbreak, feelings and fears of an Israeli family and the community that surrounds them as they prepare for an Independence Day party at their home.
Guided by Jewish values, the Federation’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) works with people of all faiths and ethnicities to build a more just and civil society through advocacy, volunteer, and community building initiatives. Renny and Mitch co-chair the Israel at 70 committee with their wives, Annemarie Wolfson and Sue Frankel.
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is a 110+ year old community cornerstone that aspires to leave no community member behind. Rooted in traditional Jewish values of justice (tzedek), repairing the world (tikkun olam), acts of loving kindness (gemilut hesed), and Jewish peoplehood (klal yisrael), we commit our values into action every day. By honoring and respecting those who have come before us, and paving the way for those who will come after, we exist to build a better world and care for those who share it. We are the only Jewish organization that considers the needs of our community as a whole and plans for its future.
Believe it or not, children from across the country and around the globe are experiencing similar types of stress. Factors like living below the poverty line, having dysfunctional families, or experiencing trauma know no geographic boundaries. Left unattended, this stress can negatively affect a child’s school performance, social well-being, and ultimately, their future success as an adult.
That’s why Youth Futures, a program in Israel was founded and is supported by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, has joined forces with organizations such as United Way Wraparound Schools, Rainey Institute, Bellefaire JCB, Open Doors Academy, and Esperanza, to support children who are vulnerable – no matter who they are, or where they live.
Youth Futures provides community-based mentoring for at-risk youth to improve kids’ school performance, strengthen social integration, and inspire community engagement.
"It is an enhanced version of Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Barbara Leukart, the Federation’s Beit Shean Subcommittee Chair, who works closely with the Youth Futures program in Israel.
During the Youth Futures delegation’s recent visit to Cleveland, these organizations from different backgrounds and cultures to exchanged ideas on how to best help students, help families, and help each other. For this idea sharing, several common themes emerged, including:
Interact with the family (not just the student)
In addition to meeting with children at school five days a week, mentors also meet with the child’s family, teachers, and social services regularly to get everyone to work together and help the child succeed. "We do a lot to help the child become a better person, but we work with the families as well; we can not do what we do without that work with the family,” said Maayan Feldman, a Youth Futures mentor from Israel.
Set Little Goals
Set goals that are attainable so children don’t feel a sense of failure. Each time a child reaches one of their goals, they will feel motivated to achieve the next goal. “I will never forget the way I felt when one day, my student turned to me and said ‘I succeeded.’ Now we set our sights on making one or two friends at school, and slowly she was able to do that as well,” said Yafit Mula, a Youth Futures mentor from Israel.
Stability Goes a Long Way
It’s important that students feel that they have a confidant they can go to when times get tough, from year to year. "We have a group of 7th graders who have been with a mentor since they were in 3rd grade. Having her in their lives year after year has created a level of consistency and stability and has meant so much to them; they rely on her,” said Alison Black, Rainey Wraparound Coordinator at Case Elementary School.
Tal Rothstein is the Director of International Programs at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. To learn more about Youth Futures and other mentoring programs in Cleveland and Israel, contact Tal Rothstein at email@example.com or 216-593-2861.
The 2018 Hamentashen baking contest entries is always a fierce, but friendly, competition. This year's winner was the Black and White Cookie Hamentashen (third from right).
Each year, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland hosts a Purim celebration for all staff to enjoy. One of the most competitive activities of the day is the Hamentashen baking contests, where staff show off their baking skills and creativity in the kitchen. Check out this year's winning recipe below - Black & White Cookie Hamentashen!
2 heaping cups of store-bought black and white cookies 1 c. unwhipped whipping cream 1 stick margarine, melted
Black and White Icings
4 c. powdered sugar 4 tbsp light corn syrup 3 tbsp hot water 1/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a food processor, blend the black and white cookies until small crumbs are formed
Add the whipping cream and melted margarine and blend
For White Icing, in one bowl, mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, hot water, and vanilla extract
For Black Icing, whisk together the remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, hot water, and vanilla extract. Melt the chocolate chips for 1 minute in the microwave and stir until smooth. Wisk the chocolate into the icing mixture
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