By Jerry Katcher, Special to The Ponds Birds Eye View
When Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey published its 2021 Annual Report, the Impact by The Numbers page, told an impressive story:
- More than 85,000 Kosher Meals on Wheels delivered;
- Another $3 million in government grants brought in for communal security against antisemitic threats ($9 million to date);
- More than 3,600 children under age 12 developing Jewish pride and joy through PJ Library;
- Sixteen separate occasions when Federation leaders met elected officials to put Jewish communal concerns, such as combating antisemitism at all levels and human services, in front of lawmakers – and much more.
In addition, through targeted grants for five organizations in Israel plus ongoing partnership with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Federation impacted more than 700,000 people in Israel who are in need. Our support has helped to provide sustenance, shelter, work training, crisis response and long-term trauma care, health care, language and absorption support for people making Aliya, and much more.
Among the reasons these numbers matter:
When Ben & Jerry’s announced plans to curtail operations in parts of Israel, Federation advocacy was instrumental in activating anti-BDS laws ensuring state pension funds divested from parent company, Unilever, stock.
When one of 2021’s extreme storms flooded Arlene’s apartment, Kosher Meals on Wheels got Arlene and her husband, both in their 90s, through the months of repairs when their kitchen was unusable.
When Grace’s mom passed away, she felt her link to Jewish life and tradition went away too. PJ Library reconnected Grace and her young children to a warm and vibrant community of other young Jewish families sharing traditions and making new ones.
Entering 2022, the weight, complexity, and urgency of needs in Jewish life began to intensify in connection with:
- The war in Ukraine’s devastating toll on hundreds of thousands of Jews in and from the former Soviet Union;
- The synagogue hostage crisis in Colleyville, TX, making security an even higher priority in our community;
- Rising costs, from food and gas to housing and utilities, deepening need when many have not yet recovered financially from COVID;
- Anti-Israel activity further in the mainstream at the U.N.
The Ukraine war numbers are stunning, with donations from Federation supporters contributing to the impact of aid partners on the ground (as of April 5, 2022):
5,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Israel
7,800 Beds provided in shelters
55,000 Calls received into hotlines
12,100 Refugees fed and housed
7,000 Refugees received on-the-ground support in Ukraine
1,000 Aid locations manned across Ukraine
18,000 Elderly Jewish human services clients supported in their homes
2,500 Poor Jewish children cared for.
Federation's Executive Director, Susan Antman, thanks the community for its support, both for the Ukraine Emergency Fund and Federation’s Annual Campaign. She likens emergency funds to rocket fuel powering extraordinary relief efforts, and stresses the Annual Campaign is the launchpad – the infrastructure making the speed and degree of emergency operations possible.
Antman explains the infrastructures needed to save Jews and Jewish life: when antisemitic violence occurs, when people can't afford to eat, when our children have yet to embrace their Jewish identity -- when war strikes... we have helped build these together.
May we continue to support one another in Jewish life and all our endeavors. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy Mother’s Day, a meaningful Memorial Day, and good health to enjoy the spring days ahead.
REMEMBER, FEDERATION IS ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU.