As a dynamic and versatile organization, we are adapting to the changing needs and desires of our constituents and donors. We wish to make philanthropic dreams become a reality and we work with our donors to ensure that individual special interests are matched with the needs of our community through Signature Giving opportunities. Jewish tradition teaches that one of our key duties is to make the world a better place for future generations.
This year's six opportunities are:
Dror Israel Kibbutz, Akko
Federation is strengthening our connection to Israel through a partnership with Dror Israel’s kibbutz in Akko. Dror Israel’s work is built on Herzl’s vision to actualize Zionist ideals in Israeli society, and rests strongly on a model of youth empowerment. The fifty members of the Akko Kibbutz are part of a nation-wide movement of educators working on fifteen kibbutzim throughout Israel.
These young Israelis run over twenty educational programs in Akko and the surrounding cities, and serve over 3,000 children and teens each year. Kibbutz programs further the mission of Dror Israel by:
- Developing young Jewish leaders
- Promoting Zionist, Jewish, and Democratic values
- Empowering underprivileged and at-risk youth
Programs run by Dror Israel educators living at the Akko Kibbutz include:
- The Afterschool “Anchor” and “Frog” Clubhouses serve as a “second home” for 200 underprivileged Jewish and Arab youth. These afterschool clubs offer hot lunches, help with homework, and emotional and social support. Kibbutz members serve as youth counselor “madrichim” supporting students by engaging with them at both Akko public schools and the afterschool clubhouses, and through periodic visits to their students’ homes.
- The Eshbal Youth Society is a boarding school serving forty at-risk youth, mostly from the Ethiopian community. Eshbal students are given the opportunity to study, acquire life skills, build self-esteem and develop the tools to become part of Israel’s next generation of leaders.
- The Ghetto Fighters Holocaust Museum utilizes Kibbutz members as educational guides, teaching people of all ages and nationalities about the Holocaust and acts of resistance and heroism of the partisans. Kibbutz members also lead heritage trips to Poland and use the lessons of the partisans to inspire and empower Israeli youth.
- The Akko Jam is a volunteer-run night club and cultural center that offers young musicians a venue to play music and develop as artists and as a community. As the only cultural venue in Akko catering to young adults, the Jam is bringing new energy to Israel’s geographic and economic periphery.
East Bay International Jewish Film Festival
The East Bay International Jewish Film Festival is the largest Jewish cultural event in the Contra Costa/Tri-Valley region of the Bay Area. Its feature films, shorts and documentaries enable our community to explore the richness of our Jewish identity and history.
Over the course of 10 days (March 7-13; March 21-23), the festival will screen films from Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Macedonia, Poland and the US. In 2014, the festival expects nearly 10,000 festival-goers to attend during its 10-day run. Over 45 different films, including comedies, dramas, mysteries, documentaries and shorts will be screened. In addition, the Federation also hosts “between festivals” screenings that take place in the spring and feature repeat performances of many of the films.
Because of The East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, the Federation is able to:
- Promote Jewish Culture - The festival is the largest Jewish culture event in the Contra Costa and Tri-Valley regions of the East Bay, and presents the latest in Israeli and Jewish-focused films.
- Reach Diverse Jews - Every year, the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival serves as a vibrant outreach vehicle, connecting Jewish community members with diverse backgrounds and affiliations.
- Encourage Discussion - A major goal of the festival is to create dialogue about issues and themes that are of importance to our community.
- Construct Cultural Bridges - Film is a medium which helps to promote understanding between the Bay Area’s diverse religious and ethnic groups. The festival serves as a meeting ground for cultural life, where different community members come together. Through the lens of film, we aim to shatter stereotypes and lower barriers.
Holocaust Survivor Services
It is of paramount importance at the Federation to provide care and support for vulnerable populations in our community, chief among them Holocaust survivors.
Through Federation’s support of the Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay (JFCS/East Bay) Holocaust Survivor Services, 270 Holocaust survivors living in Alameda and Contra Costa counties receive external support for their vital needs.
Because of the Federation’s sponsorship of the Holocaust Survivor Services, survivors in the East Bay receive:
- Personal Attention - As part of the program, Holocaust survivors are each assigned a case manager, who assesses their needs and helps to arrange for appropriate housing, caregivers, and other aid. They also assist individuals in navigating the process of applying for restitution benefits.
- Home Health Care - Many Holocaust survivors fear premature and unwanted institutionalization, and are without the means to care for themselves. Through the financial assistance of the Federation, survivors are able to stay living in their own homes and receive home care assistance as they become older and more frail.
- Medical Care, Food, and Transportation - Many survivors need extensive dental and medical care as a direct result of the malnutrition they suffered during the Holocaust. The Federation funds medications and medical procedures, food, and transportation for the Holocaust survivors in our community.
- Community – The Holocaust Survivor Services does so much more than work to meet the basic needs of the survivors in our community. It provides weekly counseling sessions, cultural programming, and memoir writing workshops. The Holocaust Survivor Services ensures that the Holocaust survivors of the East Bay will live the rest of their lives with a sense of community, support, and dignity.
The Federation’s NextGen Signature Initiative focuses on engaging the next generation of East Bay Jewish leaders through the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. Taglit-Birthright Israel invites 18-26 year-old Jews on a free 10-day trip to Israel. “Taglit” in Hebrew means discovery, which is the essence of the whole program. Our Birthright participants discover Israel and its peoples; they discover their own connections to Jewish values and tradition; and they discover a way to connect to the Jewish community back in the East Bay.
This past year, 76 East Bay young adults went to Israel with Taglit-Birthright on dedicated East Bay buses, bringing the total number of Federation supported participants up to 120. Through the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, the Federation’s NexGen initiative provides:
- An opportunity to build a community of Jewish peers made up of friends from the East Bay that have all traveled Israel together. By experiencing Taglit-Birthright as a cohort, these young adults build strong bonds that last well past the 10-day travel experience.
- Strong ties between East Bay participants and their Israeli peers. On each Taglit-Birthright bus, Israeli young adults in the army join their American counterparts to travel the country for at least 5 days. This mifgash, or intersection, brings Israelis and Americans face-to-face, so they can get to know one another, break down stereotypes, and form deep friendships.
- Ways to connect to the East Bay Jewish community via Facebook groups, at monthly EastBayJews Schmooze events, and through young adult volunteer opportunities. The Federation also helps Birthright alumni find other local Jewish programming that engages young adults.
- Renewed Jewish identity for participants. After undergoing an immersive Jewish experience in Israel, participants come away from Taglit-Birthright Israel with a passion for making Jewish values and tradition a part of their lives.
Federation is creating opportunities for families with young children to connect to the East Bay Jewish community through our award-winning PJ Library® initiative. With your support, PJ Library® distributes age-appropriate Jewish books and music monthly to children from six months through seven years — entirely free of charge.
This year there are 2,400 children enrolled in PJ Library®, founded by the Massachusetts-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation and supported by the Bay Area’s Jim Joseph Foundation, as well as generous East Bay donors.
In addition to nurturing Jewish families with the gift of books, the PJ Library® initiative offers:
- Opportunities to meet new friends and build community sponsored monthly in partnership with synagogues, JCCs, day schools and other organizational partners.
- Jewish story hours, concerts and holiday events which provide a place for families to celebrate, explore Jewish values and learn about the entryways to Jewish life. These programs also encourage Jewish literacy in early childhood.
- Sifriyat Pijama B’America which enables Israeli families in the East Bay to receive books in Hebrew that will promote bilingual skills.
- PJ Library® news directs families to upcoming events, offering suggestions for how to celebrate holidays and Jewish rituals at home, and previewing new books coming soon!
The Federation involves young East Bay residents in Jewish life, inviting them to take ownership of and shape their own Jewish communities. The initiative has three core programs:
- Jewish Camp Scholarships: This past year, 450 children received scholarships to Jewish overnight and day camps. Without these critical scholarships, they would have missed out on the transformative experience that Jewish camp provides.
- East Bay Midrashot: The Midrashot in our community provide high quality, Jewish education for 378 8th-12th graders. They help our young community members explore their Judaism and figure out how they fit into the East Bay Jewish community.
- East Bay Jewish Teen Foundation: The Teen Foundation gives teenagers the opportunity to become Jewish philanthropists. Over the past 7 years, participants have awarded over $239,000 in grants to organizations in the Bay Area and in Israel. In a recent survey, 95% of participants said they left the program understanding more about Jewish organizations that help the world and 83% said they apply the leadership and grant making skills they learned to other endeavors.
Through the Federation’s Youth Engagement Initiative, young Jews in the East Bay:
- Build skills, such as learning how to work in a team, think creatively, independently problem solve, and build their confidence to be a Jewish leader.
- Gain a Jewish education, learning everything from classical Jewish texts and concepts like tikkun olam (repairing the world), to Jewish history and modern-day Israel. East Bay youth programming makes Judaism relevant to young people so they enjoy learning about their traditions.
- Create a Jewish social outlet and make Jewish friends. Whether it’s at camp, Midrasha, or the Teen Foundation, the Federation helps youth develop a Jewish social circle.
- Develop a commitment to Jewish life that starts early! Through all of our Youth Engagement programs, young people develop an understanding of the importance of being part of a strong Jewish community now and in the future.