Three leaders of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago are accompanying Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill, pictured above, second from left) during parts of the Israel leg of the Senator's current Mideast tour. They are highlighting two of the many projects and programs the Federation and JUF support in Israel.
The JUF leaders are, shown from left, Midge Perlman Shafton, chairman of the JUF Board of Directors; Alan Solow, chairman of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council; and Michael Kotzin, JUF executive vice president. Chicago leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are also accompanying the Senator during parts of his visit.
On Wednesday, Senator Obama and the JUF team visited a computer literacy project in Fassouta, a Christian Arab village in the northern Galilee region of Israel.
The education program, created and jointly supported by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, was inaugurated during the 2004-2005 school year. Senator Obama saw the computer center and interacted with students there. During a lunchtime program, he learned about the close interaction of members of Fassouta and nearby Jewish communities through the local Regional Council.
Senator Obama and the Chicago group will focus on efforts supported by Operation Promise, a project recently introduced by United Jewish Communities: the Federations of North America and significantly supported by JUF. The project provides special funding for a current wave of immigration from Ethiopia to Israel and addresses the challenge of absorbing Ethiopian Jews who came earlier. They will meet with the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Director of the Ethiopian National Project, and young people who have been helped by the ENP.