Israeli women yearning for economic and social empowerment...frail elderly in the former Soviet Union who must decide between rent and medicine. Whenever and wherever our Jewish community finds challenges, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is there, too.
Our initiatives in Israel and around the world provide unique opportunities to accomplish real change by working directly — person to person — with those seeking dignity and a better life. Read more about our initiatives below.
Women’s Amutot Initiative
In Israel, there are thousands of women and girls struggling every day with economic and social issues, including abuse, poverty and isolation. The Women's Amutot Initiative was established in 2003 to focus exclusively on the needs and welfare of females in Israel. Annual grants are allocated to Israeli not-for-profit organizations (amutot) that provide programs and services for women and deal with economic and societal empowerment, integration and equality, protection against and prevention of violence and leadership development. Projects include:
- A legal advocacy hotline that helps marginalized and impoverished women with issues such as employment rights, insurance benefits, public housing, health care and debt management
- A 24-hotline — with assistance in eight languages — for women in southern Israel who are victims of violence
- Micro-enterprise loans for women wanting to start their own businesses in a wide variety of industries
- A legal aid clinic to help women in family law matters such as child custody, support payments and property distribution
- Promote attention to issues facing single mothers through media campaigns, as well as assisting single mothers in community organizing
- Vocational training for women exiting prostitution
Youth Futures in Yerucham
One out of every three children in Israel lives below the poverty line. Youth Futures is an innovative program of The Jewish Agency for Israel that focuses on at-risk children ages eight to 18. It provides them with positive mentors, as well as tools for academic and personal success. In Yerucham, this program helps provide unparalleled opportunities for guidance and engagement for 90 children and families.
Every Youth Futures Mentor works approximately four hours each week with up to 16 children as a group, in addition to weekly one-on-one meetings and activities. Mentors help the children develop motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence. In time, this leads to improved scholastic performance and positive goal-setting.
Nearly one out of every four Israelis suffers from food insecurity, or a lack of access to sufficient, nutritious food. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation supports several programs that provide hot meals, food packages and other resources to thousands of Israelis, including children, single-parent families, the elderly and the unemployed. Projects include:
- Providing breakfast to 130 children from low-income families in an elementary school in Jerusalem
- Producing and distributing and perishable goods to those in need through Leket in Israel, a food rescue organization
- Delivering food parcels to the homes of Holocaust survivors
There are currently 120,000 Ethiopians now living in Israel. Many are facing unique challenges due to the difficulties of moving from a relatively primitive society to a highly modern world. Acculturation difficulties have resulted in a higher incidence of unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and family violence among Ethiopian-Israelis.
Since 2005, Federation has been engaged in a partnership with the 1,600 Ethiopian-Israeli residents of Pardes Channa-Karkur, a community of 30,000 located between Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Working closely with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Ethiopian National Project, The Jewish Agency for Israel and the municipality of Pardes Channa-Karkur, Federation supports a variety of efforts in the city, including:
- The Fidel Youth Program, which offers activities such as computer clubs, sports, crafts, music and games. Ethiopian-Israeli counselors serve as mentors; youths participating in center activities have shown a substantial decrease in drug use, violence and other dangerous behaviors.
- A Scholastic Assistance Program (SPACE) at the Elisheva Girls High School. SPACE provides afterschool tutoring, workshops and mentoring in small group settings. Nearly half of the students enrolled in SPACE pass their high school completion exams, compared with just 38 percent for similar students who are not enrolled.
These programs help intigrate the Ethiopian-Israeli community into Israeli society, with a focus on education.
Federation is supports loan fund programs that help aspiring entrepreneurs and spur local economies in Israel. These include:
Ness Negev Business Loan Fund
This fund was established to assist small businesses in the Negev, with the broader aim of creating jobs and accelerating economic activity in Israel's southern region. By providing resources for economic development, regional growth and the creation of critical new jobs, the fund was designed to subsidize burgeoning entrepreneurs with initial capital and offer professional mentoring to help them realize their business plan while, bringing prosperity and plan while to the underdeveloped Israeli Negev region.
Some examples of the Ness Loan Fund at work:
The Negev Funding Coalition
Federation is helping make Israel's Negev region a more fulfilling place to live for current and future residents. As one of seven member-communities (Delaware, Greater Metrowest NJ, Miami, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto) comprising The Jewish Federations of North America Negev Funding Coalition (NFC), Federation backs important programs in the area in the fields of healthcare, culture, education, infrastructure and employment. Negev Now, an NFC initiative focuses on creative placemaking — projects that make the region more attractive for current and potential residents and visitors — and wellness, is a critical step in this journey, as the region prepares for an influx of IDF, counter-terrorism and intelligence bases in the coming years.
Elderly Welfare Programs in the Former Soviet Union
More than 200,000 elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union (FSU) struggle for daily survival, unable to afford even the most basic necessities, such as food, rent or heating fuel. Many of them have lost their pensions, their savings and even their homes. Most of them have no living relatives to turn to.
Our overseas partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has set up Hesed (welfare) centers across the vast regions of the FSU to help these frail seniors. The centers provide food packages, hot meals or food cards to those who are hungry. They also provide medicines and medical care for the sick and distribute items such as heating fuel and blankets to ensure survival and comfort during frigid winters.
Seniors who are well enough to visit the centers can participate in group activities and celebrations to avoid loneliness. Those who cannot make it are visited as often as possible by caring, compassionate volunteers. There are nine volunteer centers in 25 locations across the FSU with the aim of cultivating increased local involvement leading to stronger local communities. This past year, more than 1,600 volunteers were active in helping their communities.
Many forms of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Judaism are thriving in Israel. There is enormous diversity of Jewish life including all major denominations. In addition, a “renewal” movement provides an indigenous Israeli approach to spiritual expression with an array of grassroots programs and initiatives. Religious streams and other organizations are working on building more religious tolerance into Israeli society. There are broader efforts to offer programs to strengthen the Jewish identity of Israelis.
Our Federation supports iRep, a consortium of 10 Federations, as well as six family foundations, aiming to strengthen Israeli civil society and encourage respect for diverse Jewish expressions in Israel with a focus on marriage equality in Israel. iRep supports organizations that work to educate and build awareness to advance meaningful change to the religion-state status quo. Marriage is a key issue for providing diverse Jewish expressions and has important implications and remains a focus for the group.
Numbering around 241,000 people, the Argentinean Jewish population, with a sizeable middle class, historically has been self-sufficient. Beginning with the 2001-2002 economic crises, the majority of the Jewish population became impoverished overnight. Today, poverty and struggle persist — in part, due to high inflation and unemployment.
With the help of our Federation’s overseas partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, community programs are taking place in the provinces outside of greater Buenos Aires, including Baby Help, Mezonot, and Bait. Provide essential humanitarian support to young families and children, help families receive financial assistance for food and help individuals stay in their home.
For more information, contact us at IsraelOverseas@JewishMiami.org or 786.866.8495.