Category Archives: Giving

Crisis in the Philippines: AJWS provides Typhoon Haiyan relief

help_typhoon_survivorsWe’ve all been horrified and saddened by the images in the news since Typhoon Haiyan struck land on November 7 in the Philippines: flattened buildings, smashed boats and displaced people. Families digging through the wreckage of their homes and lives. Parents searching desperately for lost children. One of the most powerful typhoons to hit land in recorded history has left thousands dead and many more homeless and desperate.

In the midst of all this tragedy, AJWS supporters have turned to us to help. Our donors have contributed nearly $500,000 for typhoon survivors, and we have been working around the clock to get this critical funding to people who need it most. Read More »

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Chag v’Chesed: Holiday Dvar Tzedek, Sukkot 5774

Chag v'ChesedWhat is it about the holiday of Sukkot that makes it so powerful? Tradition teaches that the energy of Sukkot is so intense, so visceral and delightful, that seven mythic figures leave the Garden of Eden to join in the light of our earthly sukkot (temporary shelters). But why? What is it about the sukkah that compels even those who have tasted Paradise?

These spirit guests, known as the Ushpizin, are invited each night into our sukkot. Groupings of Ushpizin vary by community, and include biblical prophetess, revered sages and modern heroes, invoked in turn each night of Sukkot. Jewish mystical tradition suggests that each guest also serves as a reminder of an action through which the brokenness of our world is repaired.

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Meet the 2013 AJWS NYC Marathon Team

AJWS’s small but mighty marathon team will soon embark on a journey that will test their physical and mental strength: the 2013 New York City Marathon. Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, these nine runners have already spent months tirelessly training to tackle 26.2 miles.

In addition to training for the race on November 3, the team is dedicating its efforts to raising money—more than $21,000—to support AJWS’s work in the developing world. You can support the team here.

So, who are these runners and what motivates them to seize this challenge? Here’s what they had to say for themselves:

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A New Year of Promise

It’s hard to believe fall is here, and Rosh Hashanah has already come and gone.

Ruth Messinger in Kenya with an AJWS grantee staff member

Ruth Messinger in Kenya with an AJWS grantee staff member

As my thoughts turn to the Jewish New Year, I begin to think about all the exciting ways American Jewish World Service will continue to deepen its work in developing world. Here’s what we’re working toward this year: Read More »

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Reimagining Our World: Reflections From an AJWS Trip to India

This post is also featured on the blog of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

rabbi delegation

Marvin Goodman, far left, traveled with an AJWS rabbinic delegation to India.

This July, I traveled to Lucknow in northern India with American Jewish World Service and a group of 17 rabbis from across the United States. Our goal was to personally see and understand AJWS’s important international work. And, as I look back at the trip, we certainly accomplished that—but we also got a more powerful crash course in the profound disparities between the conditions and expectations for human rights in the U.S. versus the developing world. The experience was overwhelming, surprising, uplifting, depressing and eye-opening. Read More »

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My 2013 Summer Reading List

When summer rolls around, I try to carve out some quiet moments to catch up on my reading. At AJWS, it’s become a tradition for me to share my summer reading list with the staff. This year, I wanted to share it with the whole AJWS family. And even though summer is winding down, I hope you’ll still find time to breeze through a few more books before Labor Day.

The list is in no particular order. Happy reading!

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin: Brilliant, detailed history of Lincoln, his rise to the Presidency and his shaping of his Cabinet.

Transatlantic by Colum McCann: A brilliant new novel weaving together several stories of and about Ireland, Frederick Douglass and George Mitchell. An amazing book!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: First of a trilogy of historical novels, this one is about Sir Thomas More, Oliver Cromwell and that era of 16th century British history.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: Second volume of the trilogy, which I found in a local bookstore after liking Wolf Hall so much. This one deals with the life of Henry the VIII and Cromwell in the years after Wolf Hall, starting about 1535. Read More »

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Happy Passover: A Journey to Freedom and Human Dignity

During Passover, we reflect on our ancestors’ journey from slavery to freedom. But our fight is far from over. We must stand in solidarity with those who are still struggling for freedom and human dignity around the world today. Please share this Passover message from AJWS President Ruth Messinger, and share our special Passover reading at your Seder table. Chag Sameach!

passover ruth

 

Passover Reading

 

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Ask Big Questions: Where Do You Give?

Ruth Messinger

Originally posted on the blog of Ask Big Questions

Like many people in my generation, I first associated tzedakah, the Hebrew word loosely understood to mean “charity,” with the pushke—the little metal box given out in Hebrew school, rusting on my parents’ windowsill.

I learned in the 1950s that Jews were supposed to collect pennies in the pushke to plant trees in Israel. There was no passion or intensity embedded in this ritual; no real understanding of the values or texts behind this seemingly strange act of generosity; and no opportunity to innovate. It was just something Jews did. Read More »

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Dvar Tzedek: Parshat Korach 5772

When it comes to high drama, it’s hard to beat Parshat Korach. When Moses’s first cousin, Korach, challenges the leader’s authority, Moses retorts by suggesting a “spirituality duel” of sorts, charging Korach and his band to return the next morning so each party can present offerings to God. Korach’s offerings are rejected, and God renders a final sweeping judgment against the rebels by opening a chasm in the earth that swallows all of Korach’s people and their possessions. Read More »

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Giving By Design with Karen Pittelman

Karen Pittelman

Originally published on the blog of Pursue: Action for a Just World.

On June 20, Pursuers will join AJWS and Global Circle to see the winning entries from the Where Do You Give? National Design Competition and engage with innovative speakers about giving in the 21st century. As a preview to the event, we asked speaker Karen Pittelman to share her personal approach to giving. Read the interview below and click here to see Karen’s full bio and register for the event.

How did you first become involved in issues of philanthropy and privilege?

I was in college when I realized that if I truly believed that the distribution of wealth was unjust, I had to do something about my three million dollar trust fund. After a long process with my family, at 25 I was able to gain control over the trust and dissolve it to form the Chahara Foundation. I worked together with a group of amazing women activists, lead by Chahara’s director Deahdra Butler Henderson, to establish the fund. Then I transitioned out and transferred all decision-making power over to them. To me what was most important was not redistributing the money but redistributing the powerover the money. Over the course of nine years, ending in 2008 when the board finished spending down, the fund gave grants to grassroots groups in Boston led by and for, in the foundation’s words, “women and girls who have known poverty and may still be intimate with its ravages… in their endeavors to reshape community to allow for a higher economic, creative and spiritual quality of life.” Read More »

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