It was as part of a 1993 senior citizens’ lobbying trip to the state capital in Albany that Dorothy Epstein realized there was more to effective lobbying than just showing up and handing out position papers.
“We had divided into groups and each was to visit the chairman of a legislative committee we were interested in,” she recalled. “Although we were in groups of five or seven, only one or two people spoke first.
Just as Jewish federations are being asked to provide $3 million to finance the rescue and resettlement in Israel of Jews fleeing Yugoslavia, the Jewish Agency has asked for another $12 million to handle similar operations for an unexpected number of Jews from Russia and Ethiopia.
Even as Israeli doctors in Macedonia cared for ethnic Albanians forced by Serbs from their homes in Kosovo, rabbis throughout the New York area were making plans to meet Monday in Manhattan to develop a Jewish communal response to the crisis.
The call for the rabbinical conference came from the American Jewish World Service following the group’s appeal last week for funds to help the refugees. The appeal was made in an ad that featured a photo of Kosovo residents being sent into exile by train. The caption read: “Once again, there’s reason to remember.”
The ad is striking, showing two trains converging onto the same track with the headline: “Are secular and religious Israelis on a collision course?” Beneath the picture are the words: “Not if we can help it.”
The ad, which appears in this week’s Jewish Week, launches a yearlong campaign in the U.S. and Israel by Bar-Ilan University designed to promote tolerance and stop the culture war. One line reads: “Isn’t it time for the rest of the Jewish people to stop pointing fingers and to start joining hands?”
Earlier this year in a crowded elevator at a Manhattan high school, a boy reached out and grabbed the buttocks of his girlfriend. “She turned and told him to stop,” recalled Claire Wolinsky, 15, a high school junior. “But he continued to grab her rear end. It was more liked he groped her — it wasn’t just a little pinch. After a while she became more accepting of it because everyone was watching, but she clearly did not want him to do it.”
About 400 14- to 18-year-olds from 23 different youth and church groups spread out across Long Island May 7 to perform different tasks at 14 different not-for-profit organizations in the fifth annual Unity in the Community Day of Community Service for Teens sponsored by the Suffolk Y JCC in Commack.
Programs to combat domestic violence and drug abuse in the Jewish community were among the items in the state's $73.3 billion budget adopted last week by the state Legislature.
"Drug abuse is becoming an increasing problem in the Jewish community," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who noted that he helped secure for Ohel Children's Home and Family Services in Brooklyn a $50,000 federal anti-drug grant, as well as several hundred thousand dollars in state money.
The news was devastating. Sandi Frank and her husband, Kenneth, had just been told that a rare form of cancer was spreading through the body of their 9-month-old son, Max.
Beside themselves, they reached out to family and friends for support. One of those friends turned to Lori Hardoon, director of the Partners in Dignity Program, who immediately drove from her office in Syosset to Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, where the Franks were caring for their son.
An influx of grants in the last two years has uplifted the learning experience at Temple Beth Israel. Figure things now to get downright exhilarating. The 225-family Conservative congregation in Port Washington has received a $500,000 donation to enhance Jewish programing in what it is believed to be the largest gift of its kind.
"It will enable us to hire someone with top credentials in Jewish education to turn us upside down and reassemble everything in a new and exciting way," said Rabbi Toni Shy.
Impressed with the outpouring of letters of support to New Yorkers following the 9-11 attacks, a local rabbinical student studying in Israel has organized a similar effort for Israelis. In three months it has triggered 13,000 cards of support.
"I won't give up if you don't give up," said a handwritten card from a youngster named Moshe.
"Dear Israel," wrote 8-year-old Jared from New York, "I watch the news every day. I pray for Israel when I walk from my house to my school and sometimes I cry. I wish I could come to help, but I'm only a kid."