Chicagoans joined communities all over the world this week for the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, which commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.
JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council sponsored two events honoring victims and survivors of Nazi terror. On Sunday, Jan. 25, over 350 people gathered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie to hear testimonials during “A Conversation with Survivors of Auschwitz.” The program opened with remarks from Consul General Roey Gilad of Israel and Consul General Herbert Quelle of Germany.
DePaul students experienced a victory against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement this week when the school’s Fair Business Practices Committee rejected a divestment proposal. Metro Chicago Hillel and JUF Israel Education Center interns said, “We urge DePaul – and all other universities – to uphold the principles of nondiscrimination that are at the core of university life. We will continue to work with DePaul to promote the understanding that Israel is invested in peace, continues to work towards peaceful compromise and works to promote educational and economic opportunities for all of its citizens and residents.”
Meanwhile, Northwestern University students, through the newly formed Northwestern Coalition for Peace, continue to actively work against the NU Divest effort that launched on the campus last week. NU's chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine intends to introduce a resolution to the Student Government calling on the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel and is circulating a petition online.
Also, during a visit to Northwestern on Monday, New York Times best-selling author Ari Shavit thanked a group of student leaders for their dedication to fighting BDS.
JUF’s Israel Education Center and Hillel continue to stand strongly with students as they stand up for Israel. For more information, contact JUF’s Israel Education Center.
David Goldenberg, committee member and federal vice-chair, laid out the federal agenda, which covers vast issues including funding for health and human services, tax policies on charitable giving, Homeland Security grants, Israel and issues affecting Jews throughout the world.
From the Federation's Washington, D.C., office, Senior Legislative Associate Eric Goode reported on line items of importance, particularly the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which provides funding to Federation-supported adult care programs, and the reallocation of funds to Social Security Disability Insurance money, which currently only has enough funds to cover 80 percent of participants as of late 2016. These are important income sources for those served at CJE SeniorLife, Keshet, JCFS and JVS.
Also, Laurel Harbridge, assistant political science professor at Northwestern University, outlined the history of partisanship in Congress over the last 40 years and predicted which issues would most likely gain bipartisan support this congressional session.
Closing the lunch hour, Associate Vice President of Government and Community Partnerships Suzanne Strassberger brought the conversation back to Illinois. With the state budget scheduled for release on Feb. 18, state leaders will be considering changes to revenues, mostly through tax reform and spending reductions. Recipients of state funds can expect 13-15 percent cuts across the board and rate cuts in everything, including Medicaid.
“Ellen is a wonderful match for JWF, which has grown into one of the preeminent Jewish women’s foundations in the country,” said foundation board chair Gerri Kahnweiler. “She has a long commitment to a wide range of Jewish communal efforts, and a strong focus on advocacy to further social change and strengthen families and communities.”
Carmell previously headed the American Jewish Committee’s Bridging America Project, a national initiative to strengthen Latino-Jewish relations and advance immigration reform. She also has served for many years as a lay leader at Facing History and Ourselves, an international organization that uses study of the Holocaust to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism.
“I'm particularly drawn to this unique model of social-change philanthropy as a means to positively impact the lives of Jewish women and girls,” Carmell said.
Carmell takes over from Emily Muskovitz Sweet, who is the new Executive Director of JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council and Government Affairs.
JUF has announced the creation of the Sue Pinsky Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, a cash prize to be awarded annually to a Chicago area congregational or JCC teacher of children ages 3-12.
The award, which will be administered by JUF’s Community Foundation for Jewish Education, was established in honor of Sue Pinsky, a long-time Jewish educator who was instrumental in the founding of the North Suburban JCC.
“My mother devoted her career to Jewish education, with a focus on young children,” said Sue’s son, Mark Pinsky, who – along with his wife, Lisa – established an endowment fund to ensure the award in perpetuity. “Over her 50 years as an educator, she taught countless children how to braid a challah, sing ‘Shabbat Shalom’ or make their first menorah. Generations of children in the Chicago area benefited from her enthusiasm, creativity and profound gift for building joy in Jewish identity.”
Nominations for the inaugural award will begin in March. For more information, contact Scott Aaron at ScottAaron@cfje.org.
Do you know a college student from Chicago looking for a way to get back to Israel this summer? Applications are open for JUF’s Kefiada, an English-speaking summer day camp located in JUF’s Partnership Region of Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir.
Swimming, sports, games and songs all are a part of this American-style camp where counselors gain leadership skills and have fun (kef means fun in Hebrew). There also is Kefiada-dati, the same camp fun with separate groups for boys and girls.
Counselors, who are college students from the Chicago area or who go to school in Illinois, live with a host family and become a real part of Israeli life. No Hebrew is necessary and flight stipends are provided for all counselors.
This summer’s program runs from June 24 through July 24. For more information or to apply, email Partnership@juf.org.
Europe is facing a new Jewish exodus, according to European Jewish Congress leader Moshe Kantor, who at a Holocaust forum in Prague this week called for a special envoy on anti-Semitism in Europe.
Following an artillery attack on civilian centers in Mariupol, Ukraine, last weekend, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a partner of JUF overseas, has increased its efforts to help Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews.
Last night, 114 women attended JUF Young Women’s Board Valor at the Art Center in Highland Park to hear Piper Kerman, New York Times bestselling author of "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison."
State Rep. David Harris spoke of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives this week. Watch a video of his speech.
The Center for Jewish Genetics has released a statement in response to recent studies that suggest that women over the age of 30 should get tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk for female breast and ovarian cancer.
The mission of JUF News Express is to provide timely information about issues and events in Israel and the wider Jewish world. JUF News Express connects members of the Chicago Jewish community to these issues and mobilizes them to take action. JUF News Express is a product of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council and JUF News, and is published as a service to the community by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
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