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KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

Rae Pfau is the first paid employee the Mitzvah Garden has ever had. She serves this summer as the garden’s volunteer coordinator and is being paid through KC Leadership Tomorrow, a summer internship... Read more...

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

Every year, the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle. Statistics indicate that of the 75,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States, about one-third live below poverty level. While... Read more...

B’nai Jehudah announces ‘interim’ year of music

Coleen Dieker The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah has announced to its congregation that it is embarking on a journey of musical exploration that they are calling “an interim year of music.”... Read more...

Listening Post

CDC teachers Barbara Abramowitz and Liz Bigus. STUDENT BECOMES CO-TEACHER — About 20 years ago Elizabeth Bigus was a 3-year-old preschool student in Barbara Abramowitz’s class at the Jewish Community... Read more...

Visitors, residents send K.C. folks messages they are safe

Members of the Jewish Federation’s Shorashim 2 mission visited an Iron Dome command center outside of Ashkelon in May 2014. Shorashim 2 was a mission for men only to learn about contemporary issues facing... Read more...

Special fundraising campaigns initiated: Israel needs you now

Late last week the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, through the Jewish Federations of North American, launched Operation Relief and Respite in response to the current tensions in Israel. Read more...

Survivorship courses to help cancer survivors incorporate ‘Back in the Swing’ lifestyle

Among other things, Barbara Unell spoke about the ‘Back in the Swing Cookbook’ at The Duke Cancer Center Survivorship Center in Durham, N.C., last fall. “This is a plan for wellness versus illness.”... Read more...

NCJW Back to School Store offers new clothing, school supplies to underprivileged kids

National Council of Jewish Women’s Back to School Store will impact 200 children living in poverty in the Kansas City metro area, primarily from Jackson County, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan. Read more...

Israeli Scouts to bring high-energy performance to Campus, B’nai Jehudah

Friendship Caravan Assif While things in their home country are a little tense, a group of young Israelis will be here to share their talents and their love of their country. On Friday, July 25, the Friendship... Read more...

Listening Post

Howard Haas (left) and Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem. MELTON@HBHA — While traveling in Israel, Howard Haas, head of school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, met with Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem... Read more...

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Letters to the Editor

Why can’t Jews speak Hebrew? How come so few Jews in North America know how to speak Hebrew? Sure a lot of them know how to read Hebrew from Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and there is a flowery English translation... Read more...

Why we’re letting our daughter stay in Israel in wartime

Let’s just say that missiles and bomb shelters were not on the itinerary of our 16-year-old daughter’s pilgrimage trip to Israel this summer. I spoke to her this morning. Yeah, the alarms are unnerving,... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Half-truths and anti-Semitism I was irate after watching the late CNN news on July 10. Anderson Cooper pretended to deliver a factual report about Israel’s bombing of Arab residences, with a slight... Read more...

Amidst turmoil, life in Israel continues to be meaningful

My mother wants me to come home. I’ve been calling her every day, and she wants me on a plane immediately. She has been watching the news and following events as they unfold here in Israel and she is... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Conference gives families hope My husband Harold and I were fortunate to attend the Mucolipidosis Type 4 (ML4) Foundation Family & Research Conference last month in Atlanta. ML4, a relatively unknown... Read more...

We mourn three senseless deaths caused by hate, again

Our Jewish community has held two memorial services in the last three months — 77 days apart to be exact. Thousands of people attended the first one, as the Jewish community grieved for the senseless... Read more...

‘Soul Encounters’ reminds us of Rebbe’s message

Rabbi Sholom Wineberg The name “Soul Encounters” appropriately identified the program at Chabad House Center, which took place Tuesday, July 1, 3rd of Tammuz. Nearly 100 people attended. Read more...

Letter to the Editor

No champion of Jewish values I cannot share Washington Jewish Week/JNS.orgreporter Dmitriy Shapiro’s lament for the demise of Eric Cantor’s political career (The Chronicle, June 19, or www.jns.org),... Read more...

Federation mission gives participants unique look at Eastern European Jews

Alan Widman (left) and Stacey Belzer (right) visit with Sybil Sylvian in June. Sylvian’s picture was featured on Page 1 of The Chronicle in January as part of a story about the KU Hillel European Leadership... Read more...

'State of Deception' exhibition should not be missed

“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” — Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf,” 1924   I attended a press preview this week for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums... Read more...

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Chase Bat Mitzvah

Chase Bat Mitzvah

Debbie and Jeff Chase announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Talia Faye, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Congregation Beth Torah. Read more...

Passer-Wolkofsky Engagement

Passer-Wolkofsky Engagement

Sandy and Steve Passer announce the engagement of their daughter, Emily Passer, to Peter Wolkofsky, son of Michael and Vicky Wolkofsky of Queens, N.Y. Read more...

Zwillenberg 50th Anniversary

Morris and Linda (Fein) Zwillenberg will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, July 26. They were married at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Hartford, Conn., on July 26, 1964. Read more...

Halasz Birth

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz and Scott Halasz of Dayton, Ohio, announce the birth May 6 of a son, Ethan Falk Halasz. They are also the parents of another son, Jonah. Read more...

Unell Bat Mitzvah

Joe and Marcia Unell announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Alyssa Unell, on June 26 at Haas Promenade in Jerusalem. Read more...

Zeldin B'nai Mitzvah

Ashlyn and Alexis Zeldin celebrated their Bat Mitzvah commitment ceremony on June 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif. They are the daughters of Janine and Kevin Zeldin of St Louis, Mo. Read more...

Badzin-Fineman Engagement

Jim and Fern Badzin, Leawood, announce the engagement of their daughter, Brooke Michelle Badzin, to Nathan Gabriel Fineman, both of Chicago, son of Glen and Holly Fineman, Omaha, Neb. Read more...

Bergman-Kaplan Engagement

Victor and Susan Bergman announce the engagement of their daughter, Ruthie Bergman, to Asher Kaplan, son of Shlomo Kaplan, Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., and Judith Kaplan, Boca Raton, Fla. Read more...

Reidy Wedding

Jennifer Mayer and James Reidy were married Saturday, March 1, at the Overland Park Marriott. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

Alpert Birth

Jeremy and Ashley Alpert of Overland Park announce the birth May 28 of a son, Levi Caleb. Levi joins big brother Jonah Doni. Read more...

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Silverman, Inge B.

Inge B. Silverman, 83, of Leawood, passed away Thursday, July 17, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center. Read more...

Warshawsky, Arnold

Warshawsky, Arnold

Arnold Warshawsky passed away on Friday, July 18, 2014, after a lengthy battle with health issues for almost a decade, including COPD. Read more...

Waxman, Michael Bernard

Michael Bernard Waxman, 63, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Baldwin City, Kan., on July 16, 2014. Read more...

Chick, Stephen

Stephen Bruce Chick of Prairie Village passed away peacefully on Monday, July 7, 2014. Read more...

Freed, Ronald

Ronald Lee Freed passed away on Monday, July 14, 2014. Read more...

Gladstone, Donald

Donald H. Gladstone, 93, of Overland Park, passed away Thursday, July 10, 2014. Read more...

Hammer, Robert L.

Robert L. Hammer, 73, passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Read more...

Hoffman, Dorothy

Dorothy Lillian Hoffman, 91, of Leawood, passed away on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at Village Shalom. Read more...

Megerman, Charles

Charles Megerman, 67, of Overland Park, passed away Monday, July 14, 2014, at his home. Read more...

Plotsky, Edward

Edward Plotsky, 68, of Reno, Nev., passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at his home. A private service and interment will be in Reno. Read more...

As it celebrates centennial, JDC enjoys fruitful partnership with local Jewish Federation

It’s simply impossible to describe everything the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has done to save Jews from all over the world over the past 100 years. As a JDC online campaign says, JDC ensures Jewish life can be passed from one generation to another.

Known as JDC or The Joint, since 1914 it has been considered the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Today, JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

Kansas City will celebrate the JDC’s centennial at two events — tomorrow night (Feb. 14) at Congregation Beth Torah with a joint Shabbat service featuring a speech by Patricia Uhlmann, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City and JDC board member, and Sunday, Feb. 23, when JDC CEO Alan Gill speaks. (For more information, see below.)

Jewish Federation’s President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Stettner said these two events, and others similar to it all over the country, are celebrating 100 years of JDC’s good deeds.

“The JDC started out helping those who were in distress in Palestine and in Russia,” Stettner said. “That role has continued to change and evolve over the past 100 years and the JDC still plays a very vital role beyond the wonderful history that it has in the rescue and the care of those Jews who were in Europe in pre-, post- and during World War II.”

He said the fact that the JDC helped our grandparents and our great-grandparents survive and get out of war-torn Europe as well as helping other Jewish immigrants from around the world is not the only reason we should care about the JDC today.

“If we truly believe as a people in tikkun olam and repair of the world and taking care of one another, then the JDC’s role over the last 100 years is very important and therefore the centennial should be celebrated by everyone who cares about humanity: Jews and non-Jews alike,” Stettner said.

Many people know about the JDC’s history — including many survivors who were literally saved by the JDC before they settled here after the Holocaust — but don’t know much about the role the JDC plays around the world today and the connection our local community has to JDC. For instance, when there’s a natural disaster somewhere in the world or in the United States, such as the earthquake in Haiti or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the JDC provides non-sectarian assistance. During many of these disasters, our local Jewish Federation begins a special fundraising campaign to collect money, and then hands it over to the JDC to distribute.

“Those donations go directly toward assisting that particular crisis,” Stettner said. “Those funds do not come from our annual campaign.”

JDC helps provide basic assistance such as shelter, food and clothing for Jews in many parts of the world. Funding for some of that, Stettner said, does come from the Jewish Federation’s annual campaign and is managed through its Israel and Overseas Committee. But JDC does more than provide money and services to Jews around the world, it also helps them learn to do for themselves. Jewish Kansas Citians do so as well, in partnership with the JDC and Jewish communities in Bulgaria and Romania as well as the Ramla-Gezer region in Israel.

The Eastern European partnership began in 2000. A few years later, approximately 10 years ago, Stettner put together a professionals’ exchange program where leaders from Romania and Bulgaria, Ramla, Gezer and Kansas City met each other and learned about each other’s programs. Several local programs — including what used to be called the Simcha Box program that delivered food every month to those in need in the Jewish community and Jewish Family Service’s Help@Home program — evolved from those professional exchanges.

That’s how the relationship between JDC and Kansas City’s Heart to Heart International, a locally based humanitarian aid organization, began as well. Stettner said that Steve Israelite, who at the time was the executive director of the Jewish Heritage Foundation, was a part of that professionals exchange program. After visiting Romania and Bulgaria and seeing their needs first hand, Stettner said Israelite believed these people could be helped by Heart to Heart. Since Israelite already had connections with the organization, Stettner said Israelite “made an introduction for Trish Uhlmann, who serves on the board of the JDC and is currently the Jewish Federation’s president, and I to Heart to Heart,” Stettner said.

Stettner explained that Heart to Heart has good relationships with large pharmaceutical companies, and through Heart to Heart’s connections, JDC was able to get much needed medications to people — both Jews and non-Jews — in Bulgaria and Romania.

“We saw there was a great deal of need in Bulgaria and Romania because the medical systems in those countries really were not very good,” Stettner said. “Heart to Heart was able to get thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of medication for us, which we then sent to Bulgaria and Romania.”

“Heart to Heart also helped provide medical items to the Gaza Strip and in Israel,” Stettner continued.

Because Heart to Heart and JDC already had a relationship, the Jewish organization was able to assist Heart to Heart immediately following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

“Heart to Heart was having trouble getting transportation because any vehicle that was in working condition was already taken,” Stettner explained. “Through the JDC connections in the Dominican Republic, which is on the same island as Haiti, they were able to get a truck for Heart to Heart to use to transport its equipment and its personnel. In fact we saw a picture that showed a sign on the truck that thanked JDC for assisting them.”

Stettner is thrilled the JDC continues its relationship with Heart to Heart and that the Jewish Federation has a part as a partner and a broker in that relationship.

“There’s been all of these things that have happened over the years between us and it’s been a wonderful partnership in that way. Both organizations have benefitted from it,” Stettner said.

Steve Weber, executive director of Heart to Heart’s Haiti division, said the partnership between Heart to Heart and the JDC has been phenomenal. He said he works very closely with JDC personnel in both Israel and New York.

“In fact a group of Jewish doctors will be coming to Haiti through JDC very soon,” Weber said.

In addition to helping Jews in need, Stettner pointed out that JDC is also helping train Jewish leaders of tomorrow through its Entwine program for young adults. Entwine offers a continuum of service opportunities for young Jewish adults who want to make an impact in overseas Jewish communities, in Israel, or in other locations where JDC is involved in non-sectarian development work. Service experiences take place in countries around the world, including in Argentina, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Haiti, India, Israel, Russia, Rwanda, Turkey and Ukraine. It was through this program that KU Hillel students recently visited Romania and Bulgaria.

“So JDC is also helping develop the next generation of Jewish leaders by having a program like that,” Stettner said.

Uhlmann to speak at Beth Torah

The congregations of B’nai Jehudah and Beth Torah will join together for erev Shabbat services at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, to be held at Beth Torah. Guest speaker Patricia Uhlmann will speak in honor of the 100th anniversary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (The Joint). Uhlmann’s topic is The Joint and its role in Jewish life.

Kansas City celebrates JDC’s Centennial

Sunday, Feb. 23
3 to 4:30 pm
The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah
12320 Nall Ave.
Overland Park, KS
Many Kansas Citians have worked with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) over the years — either directly with the organization or through their gift to the Jewish Federation — to help Jewish people who are in dire need around the world. Those who wish to celebrate JDC’s many accomplishments may do so when Alan Gill, JDC’s CEO, visits Kansas City. Gill’s visit will highlight 100 years of helping Jewish people around the globe. Light refreshments follow the lecture. The event is free of charge; registration is requested by Feb. 20 at jewishkansascity.org/jdccentennial.
The JDC Centennial is sponsored by the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City and the Jewish Federation.