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Jewish community to receive Passover meals

The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester and Jewish Family Service plan to provide Passover Seder meals to anyone who is unable to leave their homes, including the elderly, immunocompromised, those with disabilities and those who do not have family or other supports to assist them.

Passover begins on April 8 and is the most celebrated holiday in the Jewish world. Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Kosher chef Eli Barashi and the staff of Inspired Catering have been working to prepare the meals, officials said.

“In the spirit of the Passover holiday, Jewish Family Service is thrilled to be able to provide a glimmer of hope and community amidst the hard times we currently face as a community, country and world,”  Jennie Schaff, president and CEO of Jewish Family Service, said in a statement. “We hope that through the tastes of familiar and customary Passover foods we can bring the essence of the holiday into the homes of those who would not otherwise be able to celebrate.”

Volunteer drivers will pick up more than 300 meal packages from Congregation Beth Sholom today and Tuesday and deliver them to households across the community. Volunteers are strictly observing the CDC guidelines of social distancing throughout.

“I am very proud of this joint effort to provide Passover meals to our community members. As part of our mission, Federation responds to people in need, and the needs are great right now,” said Meredith Dragon, CEO of the Jewish Federation. “This is one act of kindness that shows people how much we truly care about their well being.”

Dragon said one of the challenges we face today is how to build community while we are isolated.

“Providing Passover meals to community members allows us to rely on each other, even while we are apart, which ultimately strengthens all of us,” Dragon added.

The Jewish Federation works to build and protect a strong Jewish future in Rochester, Israel and worldwide through philanthropy, engagement, education and advocacy. Jewish Family Service strengths all individuals, families and communities by providing comprehensive social services that are built upon Jewish traditions of dignity, kindness and tikun olam, improving the world.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Levine Center inaugural event will address hate

The Levine Center to End Hate next week will host an event that seeks to answer the question: Why do we hate? The inaugural event will feature a former skinhead and a Sikh whose life was changed as a result of that skinhead’s gang.

Pardeep Kaleka
Pardeep Kaleka

Pardeep Kaleka’s father, a leader of the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wis., was murdered by a white supremacist in 2012. Arno Michaelis spent years committing violent acts in the name of white power and helped start the gang that produced the mass shooter who killed Kaleka’s father.

The two men have been in dialogue since 2013 and have co-authored “The Gift of Our Wounds: A Sikh and Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness After Hate.” Since 2013, their educational organization Serve2Unite has engaged thousands of school students to address a number of social issues including racism, homophobia, sexism and religious intolerance, among other things.

Arno Michaelis
Arno Michaelis

The Nov. 21 event will be held at the Lyric Theatre. The following day, Kaleka and Michaelis will speak at this year’s ROC2Change Student Summit on Race, sponsored by the Pittsford Central School District.

The Levine Center to End Hate was established last fall when the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester received a $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation to combat bias and intolerance. Former Jewish Federation director of community relations Karen Elam serves as director of the new center.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Nusbaum named Jewish Federation president

The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester has selected a longtime member to serve a two-year term as president.

Julie Nusbaum
Julie Nusbaum

Julie Nusbaum, a freelance writer, was inaugural chairwoman of the federation’s Levine Center to End Hate, and previously chaired the Community Relations Council. Nusbaum has served on the federation’s board of directors and taken on active roles in women’s philanthropy and on the nominating and planning & allocations committees.

In 2001, Nusbaum was awarded the federation’s Raye K. Aiole Young Leadership Award.

“Julie has helped strengthen the federation and the broader Jewish community with her experience in leadership development, advocacy and coalition building,” federation CEO Meredith Dragon said in a statement. “We are so lucky to have her as the federation’s lead volunteer as we work with our partner agencies, synagogues and organizations to navigate the important challenges ahead.”

Nusbaum has served on the board of the Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester and as editor and co-chair of the Hillel Community Day School Scholarship Journal.

“Through federation, I connect to individuals and institutions in Jewish Rochester and in the broader community,” Nusbaum said. “I am passionate about social justice and am committed to our work because we address needs in Rochester, but are also connected globally to our history and our future in Israel and around the world.”

Nusbaum’s father is a past federation president in Louisville, Ky., while her husband’s grandfather, David Rosenthal was president of the Rochester federation from 1958 to 1960.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester works to build and protect a strong Jewish future in Rochester, Israel and worldwide through philanthropy, engagement, education and advocacy.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Jewish Federation leader chosen for seat at national organization

A national nonprofit organization has tapped a local leader as chairwoman of an executive cohort.

Meredith Dragon
Meredith Dragon

Meredith Dragon, who serves as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, will chair the Jewish Federations of North America Large Intermediate Federation Executives cohort. She will represent the group, convened by city size and campaign achievement, on JFNA’s executive committee and board of trustees.

JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman called Dragon “a professional’s professional.”

“Her leadership and commitment to the Jewish community and her support of her colleagues is clear in every interaction with her,” Silverman said. “JFNA looks forward to her tenure in this important position.”

JFNA represents nearly 150 Jewish Federations and more than 300 network communities, which raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually and through planned giving and endowment programs to support social welfare, social services and educational needs.

In Rochester, the Jewish Federation builds and protects a strong Jewish future here, in Israel and worldwide through philanthropy, engagement, education and advocacy. Last year the local federation achieve a record high fundraising achievement of more than $5 million.

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Jewish Federation receives $1 million gift to combat bias

jewish-federation-logoThe Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester has received a $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation to combat bias and intolerance.

Foundation President Todd Levine led the charge to establish the Levine Center to End Hate at the Jewish Federation.

Todd Levine
Todd Levine

“My grandparents were people of love, kindness and inclusion toward others,” Levine said in a statement. “We want the Levine Center to End Hate to perpetuate their values and fight all of the negativity we see aimed at others due to differences in race, religion, sexual orientation and more. With education, dialogue and positive action, we can bring about real change.”

The center will work with local and national organizations to use the broad network and pivotal position of the Federation to examine issues related to hate and implement solutions, officials said. A steering committee of business, nonprofit, government, philanthropy and law enforcement leaders will guide the center’s programming.

The membership of the committee and its initial projects will be announced later this year. Meanwhile, Jewish Federation director of community relations Karen Elam has been promoted to director of the new center.

“The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester has a long history of engaging on issues of concern not only to the Jewish community but also to the other faith and ethnic groups that form the mosaic of our city,” Elam said. “The Levine Center to End Hate will build on that strong foundation as we work together to eradicate destructive, hateful influences in our community.”

The William and Mildred Levine Foundation was established in 1987. The late William Levine, son of Russian Jewish immigrants, joined his father in the family business, Alleson Athletic, in 1933. Levine also was successful in real estate and banking, founding the First National Bank of Rochester, which was acquired by M&T Bank in 1999.

The foundation has provided support to various causes for children including the William and Mildred Levine Pediatric Surgical Suite and the William and Mildred Levine Autism Clinic at Golisano Children’s Hospital; the EquiCenter; Camp Good Days and Special Times; Autism Up; and the Champion Academy, among others.

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Jewish Federation surpasses 2018 fundraising goal

jewish-federationThe Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester has surpassed its fundraising goal for 2018.

Since the $5 million goal was set last October, the nonprofit raised $5.04 million. It is the first time the organization has topped the $5 million mark in a given fundraising year.

“We are thrilled to reach this historic milestone,” said campaign Chairman Eli Futerman, who also serves as CEO and co-president of Hahn Automotive Warehouse Inc. “I am so grateful to Federation President Rina Chessin for her leadership, to our board and to each and every donor to the campaign. It took every donation to make this dream a reality.”

Chessin said Futerman “hit the ground running” when he took over as campaign chair.

“And I couldn’t be more proud or impressed with his nonstop commitment to getting us over the $5 million mark,” Chessin said. “Together with Federation CEO Meredith Dragon, whose passion and drive since she came to us two years ago has been a huge motivating force, I am happy to say that we are very much moving in the right direction. This is history in the making.”

The Jewish Federation is a not-for-profit that works to build a strong Jewish community in Rochester, Israel and worldwide through philanthropy, engagement, education and advocacy.

Federation fundraising is supported by individual donors who give both unrestricted and supplemental directed contributions. Additionally, the Federation has a significant growing base of corporate sponsor.

The Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester is a philanthropic source with assets of more than $45 million. The Foundation recently launched the Life & Legacy program in Rochester, which, in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, unites 16 Rochester area Jewish institutions in a legacy building collaborative that is expected to bring millions of dollars of additional charitable commitments to the community.

Some of the organization’s initiatives include PJ Library, which provides free Jewish-content books for children, and the Jewish Community Navigator, which provides information and support for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Increased fundraising allows us to make our Jewish community more vibrant and strong and to strengthen our partnerships in the Greater Rochester community,” Chessin said. “We work hard to contribute to interfaith initiatives, speak out against forms of discrimination, support literacy in Rochester city schools and more.”

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Jewish Family Navigator program helps families address disabilities

Rochester-area residents have a new resource for coping with a family member’s disability.

The newly instituted Jewish Family Navigator program is a partnership between AutismUp and the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, with funding support from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation.

The program, which serves a specific pocket in the community, aims to address the question of how and where to access support for family members who have been diagnosed with a disability, while helping institutions meet the needs of their diverse constituents. It is one of three navigator programs AutismUp is involved with.

“AutismUp’s Navigator Program is a comprehensive, family-centered approach to care coordination,” said AutismUp Executive Director Sarah Milko in a statement. “The Rochester Jewish Community Navigator is one of only three across the country, and joins our existing Family Navigators located at the URMC Levine Autism Clinic and at AutismUp.”

Milko said the partnership with the Jewish Federation will serve as the model for the expansion of the program across the community, improving access and outcomes for individuals with autism, developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.

“For the Jewish Federation, the creation of this position will bring our efforts to elevate the needs of those with differing abilities to the next level,” said Jewish Federation CEO Meredith Dragon. “Over the last two years we have invested significant resources to enhance the ability of our local religious schools and early childhood programs to include children with differing needs.”

The program—which AutismUp officials said they hope is the start of many community-based navigator programs in the region—launches Feb. 7 at an 8 a.m. program at the Jewish Federation.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer