|Touro College Graduate School of Social Work Celebrates “Remarkable” Strengths Leading to National Accreditation Site Visit Results in “Perfect Score”|
Students, faculty, staff, and alumni from the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work gathered with community leaders and other invited guests at the Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School recently to celebrate reaffirmation of the school’s national accreditation for eight years – ending in February 2023. The School received a perfect score from the Council on Social Work Education, the profession’s exclusive accreditation authority
The occasion was marked by congratulatory remarks from Touro President & CEO Dr. Alan Kadish and others. Following a warm welcome from Founding Dean Dr. Steven Huberman, who reminded the guests “the essence of Touro means no person should be alone.” The Dean invoked memories of numerous alumni who have been through the school’s doors since its founding in 2006 and their many contributions helping others.
“Touro means being a surrogate family to those who do not have a family,” he continued, acknowledging the faculty’s significant support of its students and influence on the School’s success. “Tonight is about you and your accomplishments.”
The audience watched a short video narrated by Dr. Huberman in which he told how he was abandoned by his father at age one, raised by his mother, who was disabled, and helped along by a guidance counselor-social worker. “I never would have made it [without her]” he said. “One person can make a difference. I and every member of the faculty have to embody the values of trying to make a difference in one person’s life.”
Dr. Kadish read excerpts from the accreditation site visit report that noted the school’s strengths - which the President termed “remarkable” - including Dean Huberman’s leadership, the dedication of the faculty, and the diversity of the school.
Concluded Dr. Kadish: “I have every bit of confidence that…we will continue to make extraordinarily valuable contributions to the community that will lead to trees that will suffuse society, and do a tremendous amount of good for those who are unempowered, underprivileged and who need our help.”
Other speakers offering congratulatory remarks included Rabbi Doniel Lander; David Mandel, Chair of the school’s Professional Advisory Committee; Dr. Frank Baskind, Past President of the Council on Social Work Education; and Dr. Nadja Graff, Vice President of Touro’s Division of Graduate Studies.
Dr. Graff read aloud a signed proclamation from New York State Senator Terrence P. Murphy, honoring the school for its “highest rating in social work education” and its “perfect score” in its review.
The Graduate School of Social Work held its first commencement in 2008. Today the School has 320 graduate students at its locations in midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, and 425 alumni. It has over 100 clinical partners in Greater New York and New Jersey and has achieved excellence in its four specializations: severe and persistent mental illness, serving military veterans and their families, aging, and Jewish social services.
In concluding remarks, Dean Huberman told the audience that the purpose of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work was to create "good trouble makers"- activists who want to create a more just society - and called on those assembled to be change agents for social justice.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of Jewish-sponsored non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris and Florida. Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro College Los Angeles, Touro University Worldwide and New York Medical College, are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/media/.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND’S 2014 CAMPAIGN RAISES $81 MILLION FOR ISRAEL
Rises to 215 on the Philanthropy 400;
JNF’s Boots-on-the-Ground Presence During Operation Protective Edge Had Great Impact; Rising Interest Among Young Professionals & Affinity Groups Also Contributed to Growth
Jewish National Fund (JNF) recently closed this year’s annual campaign $204 million closer towards achieving $1 billion over the next ten years having raised an impressive $81 million in 2014.
Further raising JNF’s charitable status, The Chronicle of Philanthropy listed JNF at 215 on the Philanthropy 400, moving up from 327 in 2013
“JNF’s successful fundraising is measured by the collective power of our donors and the business plan put into place by our board members,” remarked JNF President Jeffrey E. Levine. “Clearly, the vision we have set resonates with American donors who know that we
are the one organization best able to fulfill the mission of building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
Bill Miller, Vice President of Campaign added, “The tangible results we see today are due to the thousands who make up our very active lay leadership and a hard-working but lean staff. That, along with an effective realignment of the organization into five Centers of Excellence (COE) around the country two years ago, streamlined fundraising processes. Additionally, donors appreciate that their
contributions can be directed to specific areas and that they can visit Israel and see the real results of their donations.”
Without question this year’s campaign success was markedly assisted by the number of donations made in the 50-day period during Operation Protective Edge. Some 24,000 contributions brought in more than $6 million (see our Emergency Relief Report) and provided immediate wartime assistance and aid, including the purchase of mobile bomb shelters and fire trucks. JNF was able to respond quickly and decisively as it works on the ground in Israel every day with numerous partners there.
Another growing level of support comes from JNF’s Affinity Groups and JNFuture, a national group of like-minded 25 to 35-year-old professionals committed to the environment and community development in the Jewish homeland. Affinity groups have mobilized philanthropic women, doctors, lawyers, rabbis and other professionals to come together in communities across the United States to support and raise money for Israel. In the last year alone, affinity groups have grown by approximately 15%, producing some 30% in added donations and JNFuture has increased in size by 30%, adding 40% in more donations.
JNFuture’s Root Society, comprised of those young people who give more than $1000 annually, grew by over 50% in new members.
Last year, JNF posted $123 million in donations, which included a large gift from the Boruchin estate, and set a bold and unprecedented vision in the $1 Billion Roadmap for the Next Decade, an innovative plan for Israel’s future. JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign has transformed Israel’s Negev Desert, making the Negev an attractivplace to live and work. Similarly, its Go North initiative has begun to provide new economic development opportunities to grow tourism, bolster employment, offer educational and housing options and make Israel’s north a desirable place to both visit and live.
JNF remains unique among Jewish charities as its long-term vision has grown to include building new communities in the desert, expanding the scope of river rehabilitation and water research, exploring energy production, increasing population in northern Israel, making all parks and playgrounds accessible to people with special needs, bringing thousands of people to Israel every year on missions and trips, and growing future leadership in our youth community through the Alexander Muss High School in Israel and Zionist education and advocacy programs.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND IN OVERDRIVE TO DEVELOP ISRAEL’S NORTH AND SOUTH
Plan Announced to Boost Economic & Housing Development; New Push to Grow Regional Populations & Tourism in Western Galilee & Negev
Jewish National Fund President Jeffrey E. Levine recently announced exciting new campaigns to attract young people to Israel’s northern and southern areas.
With 80% of Israel’s land area located outside the center of the country and young people typically inclined to live in the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, they often find it difficult to manage expenses due to the high cost of living and intense competition for employment. In the $1 Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade that JNF introduced last year, a strategic plan was put into action to develop the country’s northern and southern regions that remain largely uninhabited. The plan calls for bringing 500,000 people to the south and 300,000 to the Galilee in the Blueprint Negev and Go North campaigns, respectively.
Speaking at JNF’s National Conference in Los Angeles before 900 conference participants from across the United States this fall, Levine remarked, “Housing remains one of the biggest issues Israel faces and together with Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (KKL) I am announcing the expansion of our $25 million housing fund initiative, the most revolutionary in the history of Israel. We will provide thousands of people with the opportunity to build their own homes in the Negev and Galilee.”
Levine added, “I’m announcing that we are raising $10 million to enhance the Beit She’an and the Valley of the Springs region in the north to bring new populations there and to allow young people to stay. We’re also building a $5 million Young Leadership Center in Beit She’an that will help spark entrepreneurial, social, cultural and artistic creativity for those people already there and serve to attract others to come.”
Levine described how the new center (located in a former technology school and situated on 100 acres) will feature innovative programming and classes, classrooms, technology labs, community rooms, a movie house, performing arts events, picnic areas and coffee rooms, all meant to serve the needs of 25-40-year olds and incentivize them to stay in the area.
He also announced JNF’s commitment to promoting travel to the Western Galilee to enhance the region’s tourism industry and provide new jobs and economic development where 650,000 people currently reside there. Levine stated that the time is right to develop the travel industry, which will in turn produce added employment as people come to the area for lengthier vacations and itineraries that include the region’s wineries, artisanal cheese factories and organic farmers, historical sites, boutique artists, expert travel guides, and farm-to-table restaurants.
JNF will also build the new $3 million JNF Western Galilee Visitor Center in Akko. The new tourism center will help to further increase annual travel to the area and from the 2.5 million who currently venture through Akko, a historic site along the Mediterranean that features ancient Roman, medieval Templar, and Ottoman fortresses and ruins.
Additionally, Levine discussed the importance of an international abroad experience for college applicants and the objective of growing enrollment at Alexander Muss High School in Israel (a JNF partner) from 1,500 to 5,000 students over the next five years.
Over the course of the four-day conference, JNF’s success in Wadi Attir, a model sustainable desert community, was highlighted, as well as the partnerships that JNF has in Israel that have helped 10,000 Bedouins with new social and economic development in Rahat and Segev Shalom, and the increase in economic development opportunities in the towns of Mitzpe Ramon, Ofakim, Dimona, Arad and Sderot.
Also announced was the plan to build the largest dormitory for students in the Negev at Sapir College to draw hundreds of young people to the southern area. It is anticipated that the effect of the college’s growth will have a positive impact on local economic development. Additionally, two new major central parks in Sderot will be built to serve the community there.
Building a Future Upon Ancient Stones: Young Leadership in Beit She’an
By: Leiba Chaya David
On a cool, clear autumn night, the usually quiet courtyard of Beit She’an’s historic Saraya building is bustling with activity. Rock music blares from the loudspeakers; a laughing couple waltzes across the makeshift stage; a small group crowds around a laptop, adjusting a powerpoint presentation. Along with a good local wine, waitresses serve hors d’oeuvres (on eco-friendly bamboo plates) from a nearby restaurant recently opened by a pair of young entrepreneurs.
These are the young adults of Beit She’an – we are here tonight to find out how they are becoming its future.
Beit She’an, population 17,000, is a sleepy town in the northern Jordan Valley. One of Israel’s most ancient cities, Beit She’an boasts impressive archaeological sites that draw thousands of visitors per year. Yet other than a tour of the ruins, there is little to capture visitors’ attention – restaurants, overnight accommodations, and cultural attractions are few and far between. Most tourists stay only a few hours before boarding buses bound for more compelling locations such as Tiberius or Nazareth.
Unfortunately, most of Beit She’an’s young adults are doing the same: growing up with limited educational and recreational resources, returning briefly after military service, then “boarding the buses” for points of greater interest and opportunity. There is not much to occupy them in Beit She’an – no cinema, no dance club, only a few cafés. But far more worrisome than the non-existent cultural scene is the pervasive sense of no “real future” – no new housing, no jobs, no higher prospects.
The Beit She’an Young Leadership Center hopes to change that.
The fruit of a partnership between Jewish National Fund, the Beit She’an Municipality, and the Emek Hamayanot Regional Council, the center has been a year in the making. The project is part of JNF’s Go North Campaign, which includes a plan to revitalize Beit She’an and the Emek Hamayanot Region. By generating social, cultural, and entrepreneurial opportunities for young people, the center seeks to attract a dynamic new population while at the same time encouraging the city’s best and brightest to stay put.
Sarai Shalev, a 26 year-old Beit She’an native, describes how she got involved:
“Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF asked us three questions: ‘Do you think change is possible? What is your idea of change? What if you had enough money to do it?’ I had just been telling him about my imminent move to Afula. I was totally cynical, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to stick around. But those three questions, and the possibilities they contained, changed my mind.”
Sarai, together with a core group of 25 young Beit She’an residents, spent the year exploring young leadership programs throughout Israel and brainstorming about Beit She’an’s specific needs. Under the mentorship of higher education coordinator Shosh Ratzabi, and Hema Peswani of Bridge to the Future and Hermine Mahmouzian of JNF-USA's Israel office, the group developed the framework for the Beit She’an Young Leadership Center, which will offer 25-40 year-olds a range of programming, classrooms, labs, community rooms, a cinema, and picnic areas.
As one student organizer described, “the center will cover all the needs of a young person, and will provide a platform for young leaders to make a difference in the big picture of the city. There is really a lot going on here – great people, proximity to nature and historic sites, other attractions and opportunities in the region. The center will help people to see that potential.”
Tonight marks not only the launch of the center, but also the first-ever gathering of Beit She’an’s young adults to celebrate the opening of the academic year. Almost half of the city’s 500 students have responded to the invitation to create a dynamic new community in their home town. Newly elected Beit She’an Mayor Rafael Ben Shitrit praised them for their accomplishments and encouraged them to bring their talents back to the city:
“This gathering is heartwarming – the first effort of its kind, initiated by students, where you are thinking together about how you can give yourselves to Beit She’an. There is hope for a future here.”
JNF’s chief development officer, Rick Krosnick, whose ongoing support was applauded by both students and municipal leaders, likewise urged students to resist the temptation to flee the city:
“We can build whatever we want, but bricks and a roof don’t solve the issue. If you are not here in person, you are not part of the solution. The future will be constructed from your strength and creativity.”
The young adult presence can already be felt throughout the city, as young leaders begin to meet with representatives from the fields of education, health, tourism, industry, employment, and housing in order to articulate the needs of the young adult community. As Michal Efraim-Avivi, Beit She’an’s Foreign Relations Director, reflects, “There is a buzz, people are starting to wake up. The mayor knows that his successor will be from the younger generation, and he is listening to them.”
The evening closed with a well-received performance by a stand-up comic, who brought the students together through laughter and pointed social commentary, and with the distribution of a parting gift created by young adults with special needs. These represent the values of social justice and community involvement the Young Leadership Center seeks to encourage, as it begins to transform the city of Beit She’an into a more desirable place to live.