JUF News Express
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In this Issue:

• JUF Breakthrough Fund to seed local innovation with up to $1 million in grants

• Jason Brown talks about the Olympics and his local Jewish roots

• How Israel helps fight global hunger

• February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

• Chicago eigth graders explore Israel

• Birthright Israel registration opens Feb. 18-19

• Exhibition on photojournalist Ruth Gruber opens Feb. 16

• From JUFNews.org and around the web

 

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JUF Breakthrough Fund to seed local innovation with up to $1 million in grants

Encouraging smart growth and innovation in the Jewish nonprofit sector are the goals of the JUF Breakthrough Fund, which is accepting proposals for its current grant cycle now through March 31.

Launched in Fall 2013, the cutting edge grant program awarded $5,000 mini-grants to 10 local programs last December. The mini-grants funded programs focused primarily on different aspects of engaging unaffiliated individuals and families, and/or members of the LGBTQ community.

Now, during its first full-scale cycle, the Breakthrough Fund will award up to $1 million in grants for new, innovative local programs and initiatives that meet local Jewish needs and engage community members Jewishly throughout their lifespans. Breakthrough Fund grants will support not only proven organizations that create and expand value-added programs and services, but also new voices, visions, and ideas that have never before been able to emerge in the Chicago and overseas communities.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) was released this week and proposals will be accepted through March 31, 2014 at 5 p.m. JUF invites prospective applicants to attend a workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 9:30 a.m., at the Jewish Federation. Registration is required.For more information contact Sarah Follmer, Senior Planning Associate, Strategic Partnerships at SarahFollmer@juf.org

Jason Brown talks about the Olympics and his local Jewish roots

The torch is lit in Sochi, Russia and local Jewish figure skater Jason Brown is getting ready to compete. But before leaving to fulfill his Olympic dreams, Brown spoke with JUF News about the viral success of his “Riverdance” program on YouTube, his commitment to balancing Judaism with his skating ambitions and what he’s looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

Brown cites Jewish summer camp and staying in Hebrew school through his Confirmation year as an important part of his life and making him into a well-rounded person.

“Being part of that community and having their support means so much to me,” Brown said. “The Jewish community and that feeling is something that I can’t be more grateful for.”

The men’s individual short program and free skate are scheduled for next Thursday and Friday, respectively, but Brown could compete as early as Sunday in the team figure skating competition, as he is rumored to replace teammate Jeremy Abbott in the men’s free skate. Abbott’s fall during Thursday night’s short program landed Team USA in fifth place heading into today.

How Israel helps fight global hunger

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted Daniel Chamovitz, director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences and founder of the Program in Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University, at its Thursday meeting.

Titled “Food Security – What Israel can do to help Feed the World,” the meeting was part of the JUF Hunger Awareness Project, a yearlong effort to highlight the issue of food insecurity both locally and globally. Chamovitz said that of the 7 billion people in the world, about half are food insecure, which is relevant even to those to who are not hungry, as it affects the worldwide political and economic landscape. As an example, he said, “The Arab Spring was not fed by a drive for democracy but by a drive to have food and the increase in bread prices.”

Israel, according to Chamovitz, is uniquely positioned to help feed the world. He said that Israelis’ experience along with their society’s innovation, and multi-disciplinary chutzpah has enabled them to “get their hands dirty” and make strides toward fixing the problem of worldwide hunger.

He closed with a quote by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization: “Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.”

The next JCRC meeting will be a joint meeting with the Government Affairs Committee and Jewish Women’s Foundation focusing on human trafficking on March 25. The JCRC will also be organizing a Passover Seder focused on hunger and food insecurity on April 2. 

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

In support of Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM), JUF sponsored and participated in the fourth annual Jewish Diability Advocacy Day on Thursday, lobbying Congress in Washington D.C. to pass legislation that would improve government assistance for the disabled

"This advocacy day is an important way for us to share with our elected officials the important community-based services we provide to people with disabilities and discuss how policy changes can support this important work," said JUF Washington Director Amy York.

JDAM is a national movement each February to raise awareness and promote meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in all aspects of Jewish life. Locally, Keshet is taking the lead on this issue by offering a wide variety of educational, vocational, and recreational programs for children and young adults with special needs.

Keshet is encouraging participation in Jewish Disabilities Month through the Leventhal Keshet Professional Development Center, which has created a resource guide specifically targeted for JDAM that includes Abilities Awareness activities for many age levels, respectful language examples, parent testimonials, samples of sermons for clergy, and more.

Learn more about how you can participate in JDAM here.

Chicago eigth graders explore Israel

180 local Jewish eighth graders arrived in Israel this week for the Ta’am Yisrael (Taste of Israel) trip, a program of JUF’s Community Foundation for Jewish Education.

Participants spent much of Wednesday and Thursday in and around Tel Aviv, visiting sites important to the formation of the state of Israel, including Independence Hall and the Palmach museum. Each bus also performed a community service project, such as a birthday party with pediatric cancer patients at Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah or bringing stuffed animals to children at the Tel Aviv Center for the Disabled. Over both days, buses joined with Leket, Israel's national food bank, and Ta’am participants and staff picked nearly six tons of clementines, enough to feed 1,000 hungry people in Israel.  

The teens also had time for having fun and getting to know each other; Wednesday concluded with a dance party in JUF’s Partnership Together region of Kiryat Gat.

The buses traveled to Jerusalem today, touring the Old City before welcoming in Shabbat.

Get more trip details online and follow the remaining days via the Ta’am Yisrael web journal or on Twitter @taamyisrael.

Photo: Ta'am Yisrael participants visiting the Western Wall earlier today.

Birthright Israel registration opens Feb. 18-19

Young adults in search of an unforgettable summer trip need look no further. Taglit-Birthright Israel sends Jewish 18- to 26-year-olds who have never previously had an organized peer experience in Israel on a free 10-day trip there. And for the first time, those who went on a group trip before turning 18 are now eligible to sign up.

JUF teams with trip organizer Shorashim for a Chicago Community Trip accompanied by Israelis of the same age. Together, Chicagoans and Israelis explore the beauty, excitement, complexities and people of Israel.

For college students at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, JUF partners with Hillel International.

Online registration for returning applicants begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, and for first-time applicants at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19. Get more information here for Shorashim and here for Hillel, and check out the official Birthright Israel video.

Exhibition on photojournalist Ruth Gruber opens Feb. 16

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (IHMEC) has announced the Midwest premiere of Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist, a fascinating exhibition that celebrates the life, vision, and heroic tenacity of a 20th century pioneer and trailblazing photojournalist.

Gruber is now 102 years old, and her work spans more than five decades, including her groundbreaking work in the Soviet Arctic in the 1930s, her iconic images of Jewish refugees on the ship Exodus 1947, and her later work in the 1980s documenting Ethiopian Jews in the midst of a civil war. Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist features a selection of vintage prints that are presented alongside contemporary prints made from original negatives, early film footage, and ephemera from Gruber’s personal archive.

On Sunday, Feb. 23, a film screening of Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Life of Ruth Gruber will be followed by a discussion with the film’s executive producer, Patti Kenner, and a rare conversation via Skype with Gruber. Reservations are required; email reservations@ilhmec.org or call 847-967-4889.

Photo: Ruth Gruber in Alaska, 1941-43.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview this week that he is “not going to be intimated” by those who have criticized him over his Middle East peace efforts. Kerry irked many Israeli officials, including Israel Prime Minister Benjaimin Netanyahu, last weekend when he said that international boycott efforts against Israel will intensify if peace talks fail.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men staged mass demonstrations in Israel Thursday protesting the High Court of Justice’s ruling to withhold funding from Orthodox yeshivas whose students evade military service, as well as the current haredi draft bill. Thirty-one haredim were arrested in clashes with police.

As it turns out, Scarlett Johansson got the SodaStream spokesperson gig while on the phone with the Israeli company after her machine's CO2 canister stopped working on a trip to France.

The saga regarding accusations that filmmaker Woody Allen molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow, continued this week when Allen’s son Moses Farrow told People magazine that he does not believe Allen ever molsted his sister.

A new documentary tells the story of Israel's former Miss World, Linor Abargil, who was raped just weeks before winning the pageant.

More than 450 Chicago young adults came out to celebrate 14 years of Birthright Israel trips at last night's sold-out Bar Mitzvah Bash at The Underground. The event was hosted by the Back from Birthright Israel community.

Illinois college students who still haven't settled on summer plans have until Monday to apply for a once-in-a-lifetime internship experience in Israel. Onward Israel is an 8-week program designed to develop students' professional skills and build their resume through a high-level internship side by side with Israeli peers.

Modern Healthcare magazine featured Chicago’s Sinai Health System’s leading efforts to better help patients manage the social, economic and environmental conditions that often lead to hospital readmission. (Registration required for full article.)

Spertus will host a free, day-long conference centered on revered Talmudist and Modern Orthodox leader Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik that positions him within Western philosophy. The conference will be held from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16 at Spertus Institute (610 S. Michigan Ave.). Advanced registration is required

Chicago a cappella, a voices-only music ensemble, has chosen Jewish music from around the world as the focus of its winter concerts. “Melodic Migrations: Global Jewish Music” will explore when traditional Jewish music meets cultural influence in a series of four concerts this month: Feb. 15 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston; Feb. 16 at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Hyde Park; Feb. 22 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville; and Feb. 23 at West Suburban Temple Har Zion in River Forest. Get more information here.

And in the latest JUF News blog posts:

Debunking Danish World War II myths, handwashing gone viral and Abby Hoffman's gefilte fish are all headlines in "News Askew" this month with Joel Schatz.

Tween girl drama: 7 ways to support your daughter from Ann Luban of Jewish Child & Family Services

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