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.
After raising a record $32.7 million in its 2018 Campaign for Jewish Needs last fall, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s board of trustees unanimously approved allocation of those funds and more to a range of international, national and local Jewish causes June 27.
After adding an estimated $1.6 million from the United Way Fund and $320,000 from prior year collections, the Federation allocated a total of $34.6 million.
In keeping with past years’ campaign allocations, the largest portion of funds will go to local human services and education causes, totaling $17.1 million. Next, $12.2 million was allocated to overseas causes and $696,620 to national agencies.
Because the Federation had $1.4 million more in funding than last year, most local agencies received a funding increase. None received less.
Gary L. Gross
“The campaign was very successful, and because of that, it gave us an opportunity to increase the allocations to the agencies – after we evaluate them and determine how successful they are in meeting the needs of the constituency here in town, and abroad, and how good a job they are doing operating with limited resources,” Federation board chair Gary L. Gross said.
Among local funding recipients, Jewish Family Service Association received the highest amount,
$2.6 million. Allocations committee chair Beth Wain Brandon said the allocations committee and subcommittees convene to first ensure campaign funds are used effectively and efficiently, then identify and address issues specific to local agencies and lastly recommend allocation of the funds. After making determinations and voting on them, the suggested allocations are voted by the Federation’s board. The process begins after the campaign closes in December and typically finishes early in the summer.
“The criteria that they look at are things like, how critical is the agency’s work to the well-being and strength of the Jewish community, how well do they use their limited resources, how well does the agency do at providing the services that are needed in our community and how would this increase impact the agency?” Brandon said.
Brandon and Gross said funds this year increased in part due to a one-time, $500,000 matching grant given to the campaign by an anonymous donor. That grant changed the allocation process slightly – the committee selected four specific community projects to give to that were not singled out by the campaign in the past. Those projects are: renovation of the @Akiva high school space at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School via the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland; Forward Focus, a JFSA project to help those struggling economically; the Federation’s Cleveland Chesed Center, a kosher food bank; and supporting the JECC’s funds for the Federation’s strategic plan.
“We don’t give directly to programming – we give to our agencies and trust them to use money where they need it most, and they know where they need it most,” Brandon said. “But with this extra money, we had an opportunity to do something a little bit different this year.”
Also this year, Brandon said the human services subcommittee focused on new initiatives important to the Jewish community when allocating. For example, JFSA, Menorah Park and Montefiore have been working together on a dementia initiative, which was taken into consideration. JFSA, Bellefaire JCB, Case Western Reserve University’s Siegal Lifelong Learning program and area synagogues are addressing the opioid epidemic in the Jewish community, also taken into consideration.
Other local organizations receiving top funding are the Mandel Jewish Community Center with $1.9 million, the Federation with $1.4 million and the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland with $1.3 million.
Also receiving top funding locally are the combined family and campaign divisions of the Fund for the Jewish Future with $3.3 million. Fund for the Jewish Future is a more than 20-year-old funding mechanism to improve local Jewish education that is managed through the JECC. A portion of the matching grant also was named to this fund.
The same organizations also received the highest amounts last year.
Among international causes to receive funds, the Jewish Federations of North America will receive $7.6 million, and designated Cleveland overseas projects will receive $3.1 million. According to Gross, an overseas connection committee evaluates such programs abroad.
One example of how international funding is actually used is a new science, technology, engineering and math program accessible to under-served populations in Israel, which Brandon said is a new “exciting” involvement for the Cleveland community.
National agencies and organizations receiving funding include Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, JCC Association, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Hillel at Miami University, Hillel at Ohio University, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, BBYO and JTA.
Despite the Federation raising more money in its campaigns in recent years, there are still many unmet community needs, Brandon and Gross said. For example, Brandon said the allocations committee has seen more requests from Jewish day schools for increased financial aid to support more kids attending the schools and to improve low teacher salaries.
Gross said Federation donors should feel comforted knowing the efforts the allocations committee makes to understand the details of each agency receiving funding and to ensure such money helps community members in a tangible way.
“I don’t know how these agencies could do with less funds, so I’m thrilled when the campaign is successful so we are able to make the lives of the people in need just a little bit better,” he said. “So when I go solicit funds for the campaign that will be in the fall, it encourages me to ask people for increases to their funds because I know the money will get well spent.”
One of the missions of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is to Leave No One Behind. That is the same message of Empowering Youth Exploring Justice (EYEJ) – to empower and amplify the voices of teens and pre-teens by bridging them with diverse individuals to engage in interactive discussions centered around social justice.
EYEJ believes that education comes in many forms. Similar to Federation’s Public Education Initiative (PEI) mentoring and tutoring program, EYEJ teaches children to be strong and secure internally and externally. The mentors and volunteers teach them more effective ways to express themselves with coaching and real face to face conversations. They also bring in speakers of all backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and job types who discuss various topics having to do with values and self-confidence with an overarching focus of social justice.
As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to speak to these youth as a Discussions Series Speaker or EYEJ Coordinator by helping to facilitate the Discussion Series Session and supporting the speakers, and/or leading a role play game.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Be a Positive Role Model for At-Risk Students by Being a Speaker or Coordinator for EYEJ’s Discussion Series
Be a Volunteer Speaker: For just one hour a week, you can uplift spirits and have an engaging conversation with amazing kids from the community.
Be a Coordinator: Help the discussion series flow by distributing and collecting all paperwork that needs to be completed by the students, supports, the speakers, helps with activities, and helps students that may need additional assistance during the discussion series.
A customized curriculum to help develop social, emotional learning for at-risk students will be provided to volunteers along with training.
Find out how Marc Jaffe is making an IMPACT! on volunteering.
Q – How did you learn about IMPACT!?
I have been connected with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland since I can remember. One of my passions has been Federation’s Public Education Initiative (PEI), which I’ve been involved with for years. PEI is a volunteer program focusing mostly on literacy enrichment in Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools. Through IMPACT! emails, I’m able to see other volunteer opportunities I can give my time to.
Q – Why is it important for you to volunteer in the Cleveland community?
The Cleveland Jewish community is more than just who is living near us. Our community is so much bigger than that – it’s all of us. I’m lucky to have the time and flexibility to make our community better. With PEI, I’ve been tutoring students for nearly 15 years. The disparity between the education and support that most of the children in the Jewish community get and those that inner city kids get is enormous. I think tutoring is a small but tangible way I can help give the inner-city kids a better chance. Developing a relationship with the kids – not only do they become better readers, but they get more confident, inquisitive, and expand their world by spending time with someone they wouldn’t otherwise.
Q – How has the IMPACT! volunteer initiative assisted you in choosing your volunteer options?
IMPACT! makes it easy to find volunteer opportunities and participate when it fits my schedule. I like tutoring, feeding the needy, and clean-up projects like the Done in a Day opportunities. I’ll be volunteering at the Hebrew Cultural Garden soon to help clean and spruce up that amazing piece of our Greater Cleveland community.
On April 19, 2018, Israel marked its anniversary. Jewish Cleveland is acknowledging the anniversary with a full year of celebration called Israel at 70. "Every year is a celebration of Israel as a vibrant and secure country, but 70 is a special year," said Renny Wolfson, Co-Chair along with his wife, Annemarie and Mitch and Sue Frankel.
We got the party started with our kick-off event, Yom Ha'atzmaut – an amazing concert with Tamar Eisenmen, Maya Isac, and Israeli superstar, David Broza. And a few weeks later, our community raised the bar with IsraelFest – an all-day outdoor festival.
"We're celebrating Israel's future," said Sue Frankel. "Every event the Federation is having this year allows our community to not only remember the past, but embrace the next 70 years and celebrate together as one family."
Watch a video below from Co-Chairs Sue & Mitch Frankel and Annemarie & Renny Wolfson about how Jewish Cleveland is celebrating Israel's milestone anniversary of independence:
Looking for something new and different with your family this summer? Fellow Jewish Cleveland parents share some of their favorite summer activities – from visiting the zoo, to farmers markets, to getting messy with paint. There’s something for everyone!
"My favorite thing to do with my girls in the summer is get messy outside. I buy a ton of washable paint and let them paint away on our driveway. Keeps them entertained for hours! Another favorite is I fill tons of buckets with water. Grab some large paint brushes from the dollar store and let them paint the house!" — Marla S.
"There is nothing like the Beachwood pool for my kiddos on a hot summer day coupled with a yummy lunch and popsicles of course!" — Eleanor G.
"We love Lake Metroparks Farmpark. After visiting all the cute animals, we play on the farm-themed playground, and push all the funny animal sound making buttons. Before we head-off to one of the local restaurants for lunch, we take a relaxing ride with a tractor-drawn wagon." — Alexandra V.
"We love the Cleveland Zoo, Lake Metroparks Farmpark, Cleveland Botanical Gardens and going to several different of parks. The girls love playing outside!" — Alyson S.
"In the summer, we love to go to festivals, farmer’s market, meet up with friends at a local playground, and having BBQs. We also love to go berry picking at a local farm. A couple of our favorite Cleveland spots are Edgewater Park for flying kites and Cane Park for musical performances." -— Shelley F.
For more information on PJ Library and the Young Families department, please contact Leah Taylor at email@example.com 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.
Will Continue to Oversee Organization’s Cleveland Israel Arts Connection; Work with Select Foundations and Donors
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland announced that, effective July 1, 2018, Hedy P. Milgrom is retiring as the organization’s senior vice president and chief development officer. Milgrom (65) will continue to oversee the organization’s Cleveland Israel Arts Connection and work with select foundations and donors in a new part-time role with the Federation. Milgrom shared with Federation leadership in March her plans to step back from senior management responsibilities.
“For all intents and purposes, Hedy has been the Federation’s Chief Problem Solver for many years,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, President. “Her leadership has been invaluable to the organization over the years and is clearly reflected in the strong development function she’s helped to build. We are thrilled that we will continue to have her involved in Federation work in this new capacity.”
Milgrom joined the Federation in 1998. Since 2010, she has served as the organization’s chief development officer. Plans call for her day-to-day responsibilities to be distributed among other Federation staff members in the near term.
“Serving Jewish Cleveland for the past 20 years has truly been an honor,” said Milgrom. “I was taught at an early age by my parents how important it is to give back to the community and to take care of your neighbors. I have been blessed to be able to do just that every day at the Federation. I look forward to continuing to support Jewish Cleveland in this new role that will enable me to spend more time with my family.”
Milgrom, a native of Joliet, Illinois, moved to Northeast Ohio in 1980 to become director of programs for the Great Lakes Arts Alliance. Before joining the Federation, she was the director of development and admissions for the Gross Schechter Day School for 14 years. She and her husband, Michael, live in Beachwood and have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is taking the soccer world by storm. Itamar Nurko of Beachwood is also using his love of soccer in a very special way in Israel through the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Onward Israel internship program. Onward is a two-month summer internship, which allows college students and recent college grads to immerse themselves in Israeli culture – living and working in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Onward offers a vast amount of opportunities available – from teaching, technology, social work, and sports. As a rising senior at The Ohio State University majoring in Sports Industry, Itamar will be interning at the Ramat Gan Olim Department, developing sports activities for children. “Soccer has always played a major part in my life and it’s so incredible that Onward had this internship option,” Itamar said. “I feel as though this internship is going to teach me a lot about what I can accomplish in the future.”
Itamar already has a jump start on his time in Ramat Gan; he’s been in constant contact with his future boss about planning something big for the World Cup. “The students are from other countries like Chile, Argentina, and Spain. I’m able to create a program to talk about what soccer means to them. I’m also going to create a huge obstacle course and teach them about trusting other people and working together in teams,” he said.
Itamar reads a story to Israeli immigrants at his internship at Ramat Gan Olim Department.
Itamar has had a deep connection to Judaism, Jewish Cleveland, and Israel since he was a kid. “I graduated from Mandel JDS, a Federation beneficiary agency, and went to Israel with them,” said Itamar. “It was that trip when I first fell in love with the country. Israel is very special to me, and having this opportunity to travel there with my peers was incredible. After high school, I took a Gap Year in Israel. That just fueled my passion for Israel even more; as soon as I got back home to Cleveland, I had the desire to go back.”
Masa Israel Journey, an organization supported by Federation, offers college-bound high school graduates the opportunity to acquire a global perspective and to gain a taste of independent living all while having an incredible Israel experience. “When I went on my Gap Year, I was 18 and went there to travel and experience Israel,” Itamar said. “I learned so much about the country as I traveled from the north to the south.”
Along with Itamar, more than 50 other young Jewish Clevelanders will be participating in Onward Israel this summer. “We’re bringing a little bit of Cleveland with us,” Itamar joked. “A lot of us grew up together, and Onward is going to bring us even closer. This is going to be an amazing experience; we’ll be taking the next steps of our lives. You can intern in other countries, but with Onward, you already have a connection to the culture and the country where you are. Federation and the people of this community – they’ve been there for me and thousands of other people here in Cleveland offering programs like Birthright, Gap Year, Onward, and so many others. We all have a passion for Israel. We’ve been brought up learning about it.”
I-Connect, an initiative of Federation, provides young adults in Cleveland with opportunities to experience Israel in whatever way they choose – programs that last 10 days, two months, or one year. These experiences deepen your connection to Israeli life and culture and change your life forever – for the better.
To learn more about Onward Israel and apply or other I-Connect programs, contact Rivki Ebner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-593-2921.
Jewish Cleveland spent the day at summer camp on June 24! Thank you to the 500+ kids, parents, and grandparents who joined us at our annual PJ Library Goes to Camp for Family Fun Day.
There was something for everyone! Kids and kids at heart had a blast creating crafts, navigating the ropes course, roasting s'mores, swimming in the pool, paddling in canoes at the lake, and so much more.
PJ Goes to Camp is always one of our most spirited events of the year, and for that we have to thank our fantastic host committee and event co-hosts: PJ Library®, Mandel JCC, J-Day Camps, and jHUB. And, thank you to all of our guests big and small for joining us!
In Israel, like in the United States, Independence Day is often celebrated with family and friends around the grill. But it’s also a time for tension in a new play from Israel that received its North American debut at Dobama Theatre last night.
In Dror Keren’s “On the Grill,” Mordi, who is suffering from PTSD, returns from Berlin after four years to the kibbutz in Northern Israel where he grew up. He visits his family and friends as they celebrate their country’s independence. Mordi has brought with him his non-Jewish German partner, Johanna, which causes some friction.
Adding to that tension, one of the party guest’s son is missing along the border, where news reports about conflict keep everyone on edge.
“All of this in a way is common [for] people in the kibbutz during this specific time, makes it a different kind of a party. Things that started quite easily, with everyone wanting it to be a happy time, it becomes another thing,” Keren said.
Keren said that while Israelis aren’t constantly thinking about the military conflicts in which their country is involved, it isn’t far removed from their consciousness.
“It’s not everyday life, but it is throughout our history. I’m 54, my father was in the Israeli Air Force. I’ve lived with it, it’s my life. It’s in our songs and folklore. We sing about it. The word “hope” is the title of our hymn. We sing it, but we don’t live it. That is what I wanted to discuss in “On the “Grill.”
In Hebrew, the play’s title is “On the Fire,” but Keren thinks the translation Dobama chose for its’ production is also a good fit.
“This is the fire of the meat and barbeque, but it is also the fire of the guns and tanks and war, so I think “On the Grill” is quite suitable for what is going on there,” Keren said.
Keren understands that certain historical elements of the play, which are familiar to an Israeli audience, might not be known by American theater-goers. But he feels the larger experience“On the Grill” delivers extends beyond particular cultures.
“One of the wonderful things I’ve heard Nathan Motta (Dobama’s artistic director) say, ‘A father is a father, mother is a mother and families are families, and a barbeque is a common thing in America as well,’ so it can work. There are many universal themes in the play that people will see and identify with.”
Dobama Theatre with sponsorship by the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection (a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland), is producing the American premiere of “On the Grill.” The play runs now through July 8th.