Last night I went to the tribute dinner for an organization with even more of a mouthful of an acronym name than most Jewish groups: BJENY-SAJES.
The initials stand for the Board of Jewish Education of New York-Suffolk Association for Jewish Education Services.
Without my super-duper investigative reporting skills and high-placed contacts, I actually might not have known what SAJES’ initials stood for, since it’s not on the Web site or any of the official materials.
With all due humility, Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes said, “I’m a boy from Ohio—really a goy from Ohio—who’s introducing an African American woman for a Jewish award.”
Ailes introduced H. Mitsy Wilson, senior vice president of diversity development at the News Corporation, who accepted the corporate leader award from Janice Shorenstein, outgoing president of the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Pierre Hotel.
KIRYAT SHEMONA, ISRAEL — “Mira,” a woman in her late 50s, hasn’t been able to stay home alone since the start of Hezbollah’s summertime war with Israel, when more than 1,000 rockets struck this hilly northern town on the Lebanese border.
Too often we take our Jewish communal successes for granted and focus on our problems. One of the ongoing success stories is the work and reach of UJA-Federation of New York, the world’s largest local philanthropy, with its more than 100 constituent agencies providing social services for Jews and others in need here in New York as well as in Israel, the Former Soviet Union and communities around the world.
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series connected to the 90th anniversary of UJA-Federation of New York. The differences between the American Jewish community of the early 1900s and today’s American Jewry are vast and notable. Volumes have been written about the ethnic division that marked the earlier community, between the well-established, often wealthy German Jews, who began arriving in the 1840s and ‘50s, and the more than two million new arrivals from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, many of them mired in poverty and “Old World” ways.
‘Being a child of the ‘60s, I actually believe that Federation is countercultural in many ways,” the CEO of UJA-Federation of New York recently told a roomful of people attending a symposium at his organization’s headquarters. “Many of us,” said John Ruskay, “are going against the grain of rampant individualism” in a consumer-driven era.
Jewish community here, in outpouring
of care, pitches in after quake.
At a Jewish Y on Long Island, Jewish employees take up a collection for the families in Haiti of two maintenance men. In Brooklyn, members of the haredi Orthodox community hold a historic meeting with representatives of the borough’s Haitian-Americans. In southern Florida, a former New Yorker travels to Haiti on short notice to help the relatives of his Haitian-born employees.
A few summers at day camp changed Alan Siskind’s life.
Siskind, who retired in the fall as executive vice president of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services after 16 years in that position and 33 years at the agency says his days as a counselor at the Mount Vernon Y’s summer camp, influenced him to become a social worker.
At the camp he observed the directors, all trained in social work.
In a synagogue library in northern Westchester, a dozen senior citizens sit around a long table discussing current events. In a temple conference room on the Upper West Side, a young family talks about the tensions raised by a child’s serious illness. In the meeting room of a Long Island JCC, a group of recent widows share photographs and memories of their late husbands.
It was billed as a dialogue between a young, anti-establishment figure, turned off by many of the Jewish community’s most venerable institutions, and the top executive of what’s arguably the community’s most established organization, UJA-Federation of New York.
But, at some points during the evening, it seemed as if their roles were reversed, with the young rebel coming across as the rugged individualist, resistant to any compromise, and the older speaker more of a collectivist, concerned about the common good.