Retelling the story of the exodus to freedom will have a special meaning this Passover for two elderly former Soviet Jews, both of whom became American citizens recently with the help of citizenship courses funded by UJA-Federation.
Life had been a struggle for Mrs. M, her husband and four children. And when her husband found himself out of work in August, the Long Island family quickly found themselves behind in the rent and the oil company demanded cash on delivery.
"We needed help and we didn't know where to go," Mrs. M recalled. "We had no money in our pockets and we were waiting for unemployment checks to arrive."
Even as a worldwide search was launched to locate and pay insurance policies of Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs, a major Israeli group rejected offers by the new rightist Austrian government to resolve its outstanding Holocaust-era claims.
"It is imperative that we not fall into Haider's trap and let him use the back of the Jewish people to gain recognition and legitimacy from the world," Salai Meridor, chairman of The Jewish Agency, told The Jewish Week.
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.'"
When Clifford Goldstein was 7, his father took him to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a stockholders meeting of the Israeli company Ampal.
"I had five shares, so I went with him and I liked the feel of it," he recalled. "People were there as investors, but my father was there more because he wanted to invest in Israel."
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."
The Jewish Communal Fund, which has consistently been the largest single contributor to UJA-Federation, broadened the scope of its support last year with gifts to UJA-Federation's fund that supports building projects.
Noting that JCF donations in the past have been used for UJA-Federation's general operating budget, JCF's endowment committee decided also to "help the network of services to the Jewish and general community by targeting specific projects," according to Lynn Kroll, JCF's endowment committee chair.
As the new presiding officer of the Nassau Legislature (giving Democrats control for the first time since the county adopted a legislative form of government in 1917) Judy Jacobs vows to bring a new "openness" and "humanness" to a county government saddled with a $100 million budget deficit.
A major Dutch insurance company said this week it was willing to join an international commission seeking to resolve Holocaust-era insurance claims: but only if it can use its existing claims process.
That condition was rejected by Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress. He said that unless the company, Aegon, agrees to an audit and other procedures in compliance with international guidelines established for claims processing, his organization's executive board would meet Jan. 25 to call for a boycott of the firm.
When a board member of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island died 10 years ago, people were told that the cause was cancer. But not until her husband died a year or so later were people told the real cause of their deaths: AIDS.
"Their son became the poster boy for the necessity of having education about AIDS," said Scott Feldman, the former program director of the JCC. "He was involved in the leadership group at the JCC, and he and his brothers and sisters made a family decision to reveal what their parents had died of."