IMPACT-Community Campaign

Leket Israel Coronavirus Update

field of new crops

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh sent coronavirus aid to Israel. The day Israel’s president showed up to help Leket Israel feed the pandemic poor.

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Kishorit Coronavirus Update

Kishorit - young man with horse

Below is an update from Kishorit, one of our longstanding grantee organizations. I encourage you to read it despite its length as they seem to be handling the pandemic quite well.

Kim Salzman

I hope you are healthy and adjusting as easily as possible to our new global reality. When I first reached out to you in March, I never envisioned that 5 months later we would still be facing the immense challenges posed by Covid-19.  In Israel, we are fighting a very serious second wave of Coronavirus.  As Corona reaches every community in Israel, and as morbidity rates and anxiety levels rise, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure the physical safety and emotional well-being of our members. Early on, we understood that loneliness and isolation could be just as deadly for our members as the virus.  We needed to find a way to preserve the social fabric of our community.  In consultation with a team of infectious disease specialists, we made some initial adjustments to our employment centers and leisure time facilities, and now we have decided to test the entire Kishorit community for Coronavirus every ten days.  Although this has placed a heavy burden on all of our staff, particularly our nursing staff, it has allowed us to adhere to the strictest disease prevention protocols while preserving the members’ desperately needed daily routine. In this time of immense stress and uncertainty, going to work together and sharing leisure time activities is an absolute necessity, and a special blessing.

For me, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been watching the Kibbutz Kishor members embrace and support the Kishorit members.  Being integrated into a larger community has given the Kishorit members an unparalleled sense of safety, security and comfort.  I, personally, have drawn enormous strength from my neighbors and friends, and from the feeling that we are truly all in this together.

In addition to the immediate impact that Corona is having on our members, it is having a financial impact on our businesses and community.  Our dog kennel, which is usually full during summer vacation, is virtually empty. Our estate winery, which generally hosts groups and sells wine to restaurants, has temporarily shut its doors to the public.  With restaurants closed and sales down, we have made the difficult decision to sell some of our grapes from this August’s harvest to another winery.  Aside from the loss of revenue, we estimate that the increased costs of personal protective equipment and sanitizing necessary to keep our businesses running until December 2020 will be $100,000.

In spite of the pandemic, the rhythm of life continues to hum in Kishorit. There are moments of great joy, and moments of great sorrow.  Over the past few months, one of our members underwent a successful kidney transplant, while another member was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and began chemotherapy treatments.  On a national level, tensions have flared on the Lebanese border, not far from Kishorit, and we are constantly reminded that our simple lives are fragile.  Through all of the ups and downs, we feel very blessed to have you as part of our extended community.  Your outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming, and is not taken for granted. I can’t wait until the travel restrictions are over and I will be able to see you in person once again.  Until then, please accept a socially distanced hug and my deepest thanks for all that you continue to do for Kishorit. With love, respect and gratitude.

Shuki Levinger

Learn more about Kishorit »

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Visit to The Volunteer House for United Hatzalah

The Volunteer House - United Hatzalah

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit the Karmiel Beit HaMitnadev (The Volunteer House) for United Hatzalah, one of our Israeli grantee organizations supported by the Federation’s Community Campaign. United Hatzalah has more than 6,000 volunteers around the country, including 107 medics in the Karmiel and Misgav region. With the help of their unique GPS technology and ambucycles, their volunteer medics arrive to the scene of an accident or disaster in less than 3 minutes across the country and 90 seconds in metropolitan areas. Their mission is to arrive at the scene of medical emergencies as soon as possible and provide the patient with professional and appropriate medical aid until an ambulance arrives, resulting in many more lives saved.

In 2019-20, our Federation supported the purchase of a new ambucycle for a Karmiel volunteer medic. This ambucycle was dedicated to the 11 victims from the October 27 shooting in Pittsburgh. Arik, the volunteer medic who drives it, told me that he took the time to read about all eleven victims and that he remembers the attack in Pittsburgh every time he drives it. With the help of this ambucycle dedicated to the October 27 victims, Arik is able to save lives. How symbolic.

In 2020-21, our Federation is supporting Hatzalah’s coronavirus readiness, including the purchase of 25 oxygen kit refills/replacements and 300 sets of personal protective gear. Our support will provide approximately three disposable kits per medic in Karmiel and Misgav.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Israel. Thousands of at-risk Israelis have been isolated in their homes without access to even the most essential resources. United Hatzalah has stepped up to help coordinate and deliver food packages and medications to elderly citizens, Holocaust survivors and other affected populations. One day, Arik was informed that an elderly couple in his neighborhood had run out of medicine and that the local pharmacy would soon be closing. The dedicated volunteer dropped what he was doing, hopped on his ambucycle and sped to the pharmacy, arriving just minutes before it closed. With the precious cargo aboard, he rode to the couple’s home and presented them with their much-needed medication.

Enjoy these pictures from my visit to The Volunteer House.

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Economic Development

itworks

Economic Empowerment for Women (EEW)

Economic Empowerment for Women

Joint Business and Empowerment Training for Jewish and Arab Women in the Galilee
EEW assists women from the geographic and social periphery of Israel who possess entrepreneurial spirits but lack access to suitable business training and bank credit to develop small businesses of their own, gain self-sufficiency, and alleviate the cycle of poverty they have found themselves in. This program provides continued support for business and empowerment training for Jewish and Arab woman in the Galilee. The program includes one joint Jewish and Arab yearlong business training and personal empowerment course, two financial literacy courses, and a bilingual business marathon conference. Learn More


itworks

Vocational Training and Job Placement for Single Mothers – Karmiel Course
itworks strives to narrow employment gaps and promote diversity in Israel’s booming high-tech industry. The program is designed to close income gaps for single mothers in Karmiel by providing training and skills necessary for placement in high-demand professions in the area according to local needs. The program is open to women of all backgrounds who are underemployed or unemployed, with no academic background. Ninety percent of the 120,000 single mother households are headed by women. 80% of single mothers are employed, however, 25% of these working women live in poverty. The program’s goal is to move these women into positions earning at a minimum $1,780/month (6,500 ILS) thus moving them out of poverty and into economic independence. Learn More


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Federation Funds Ecology for a Protected Community

PC repair

As Israel prepares to weather a second coronavirus wave, the Jewish Federation funded a social enterprise that collects and reconditions electronic waste in Misgav.

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Why Young Adults Give to the Federation

Josh Sayles, Community Relations Director; Governor Tom Wolf; and Jeffrey Finkelstein, President & CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Wednesday night, our Young Adult Division’s Ben Gurion Society held a program at the home of Cindy and David Shapira. A crowd beyond our expectations came to eat dinner and hear from our hosts along with Rabbi Alex Greenbaum and me about Jewish life and leadership. The final question posed to David and Cindy was as direct as possible: Why should we, these young adults, contribute to Federation?

David Shapira asked to be the one to answer the question. I wish I had him taped because I cannot write what he said verbatim and it was profound, eloquent and “right on”. I will not do it justice here. He explained that he has always contributed because the Federation supports so much in our community. The past year has shown him, especially because of his leadership role with the Federation’s Independent Committee to distribute the Victims of Terror Funds, a new perspective about how critical it is to have a convener of community to respond during difficult times or even tragedy. These young adults were nodding their heads in agreement. Equally as inspiring to me was hearing from a few of these young adults about their motivations for involvement. There is no doubt, our community’s future is extremely bright. 

I mentioned in my message last week that Governor Wolf would be signing a law providing $5 Million in security funding to nonprofits. That took place yesterday and Josh Sayles, our Community Relations Director, and I along with leadership from other Pennsylvania Jewish Federations and the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition were all on hand to thank our legislators and the Governor. Once the regulations are written on the application process, our Federation will once again serve as a convener of our local Jewish organizations and synagogues to brief them and advise them on next steps. 

Josh Sayles, Community Relations Director; Governor Tom Wolf; and Jeffrey Finkelstein, President & CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Finally, I look forward to seeing so many of you on Wednesday night at the Federation’s This is Us program featuring Chefs Michael Solomonov and Kevin Sousa. We already have a record turnout expected (over 400). If you haven’t signed up yet, do it before the event registration closes on November 12th at jewishpgh.org/this-is-us.

Shabbat Shalom and Go Steelers!

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