Shoshana Gibbor, a junior last year at Hofstra University on Long Island, walked past the Hillel flyers posted in her dormitory for several weeks in late 2006.
“Help Rebuild the Gulf Coast,” the flyers stated. They were promoting an alternative Spring Break volunteer program in New Orleans and nearby communities along the Gulf of Mexico that had been decimated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
With Jews throughout the New York area reeling from the effects of the economic downturn, UJA-Federation of New York is poised to launch a nearly $7 million initiative to provide assistance where it is most needed.
Taking the rare step of dipping into its own endowment to meet skyrocketing needs for everything from rent subsidies to mental health and legal services, the charity will create seven one-stop centers throughout the city where people can get a variety of social services under one roof.
Even as Modern Orthodox Jews see themselves as embattled and on the decline within Orthodoxy, eclipsed by the ascendancy of the haredim to the right, new demographic data offer quite a different picture.
After 10 years of helping volunteers who made calls during UJA-Federation's annual Super Sunday event, Avery Goro, 15, of Oceanside, L.I., took to the phones himself last Sunday.
"I made about 50 calls and raised about $2,000," he said with obvious pride. "In one call, I got a $500 pledge. I was surprised and said, 'Thank you very much.'"
In the last six months, Temple Emanuel of Long Beach, L.I., opened its doors for a social adult day-care program for seniors with dementia. Seven seniors attend twice a week and the synagogue's spiritual leader, Rabbi Bennett Herman, described it as "probably the best example of group work activity I've ever seen."