We raised $20,380,850 – thanks to YOU

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Thanks to nearly 200 dedicated campaign volunteers, Federation professionals, and 4,900 gifts from generous donors, The Minneapolis Jewish Federation raised over $20.3 million during the 2015 Campaign year (including close to $540,000 through special emergency campaigns to help Jews in crisis in Nepal, Israel, and Ukraine).  Of that total, more than 11.3 million was distributed through the Community Campaign (including $187,000 dedicated from the unrestricted fund of the Jewish Community Foundation towards community needs, and support from corporate sponsorship).

Here are the facts:

  • Together we raised $10,760,561 – an increase of $126,194 from 2014
  • Together we raised $9,082,460 through planned giving & endowments
  • An additional $537,829 was raised for special initiatives

Beth Kieffer Leonard and Todd Leonard, Campaign Chairs

“As 2015 Community Campaign Chairs, we are thrilled,” says Todd Leonard on behalf of himself and his wife, Beth Kieffer Leonard. “$20,380,850 represents thousands of people who will benefit—thousands of faces of gratitude and hope.”

“These critical dollars will improve, strengthen, and transform Jewish lives around the globe,” adds Beth. “We couldn’t be more proud of our community. Together, with our donors, partner agencies, and volunteers, we are doing great work.”

A gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation goes beyond funding any single organization or building—it helps map out the programs and services that strengthen and enrich Jewish life here in Minneapolis and around the world. Federation professionals and volunteers from the community spend thousands of hours annually vetting the menu of needs in our local and global Jewish community. These needs range from social services and Jewish education to community security and Jewish arts and culture. This difficult work helps leverage resources and ensure every dollar goes to the highest and best use.

IMPACT: The Country of My Heart – A Journey from France to Israel

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I grew up in Nice, France. But when I was three, I left with my family to Israel. We lived there for two and a half years before my family decided to move back to France. After that, I vowed that one day, no matter what, I would return to live in Israel. Deep inside, I knew it was my true home.

I wasn’t brought up in a Jewish community and my family wasn’t religious. Even so, I never felt comfortable living in France as a Jew. I was always mindful of the threat of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, it’s gotten worse. Synagogues and schools have been attacked; kosher markets broken into. Today, wearing a kippah or amagen david, or showing any signs of being Jewish, can be dangerous. That’s why I designed a special magen david necklace for myself that isn’t so easily recognizable.

#60DaysMJF Images for E-mail and Blog (4)A year and a half ago, I made the decision to leave France for good. I made aliyah with the help of Federation’s partner agency, The Jewish Agency for Israel.

After I arrived, I lived with other olim—recent immigrants. We understood each other and could share our experiences. I started volunteering to help other newcomers like myself.

Then I found a job. And I’m happy to say that I have just become a counselor with The Jewish Agency.

It’s not always easy to be here—to meet people and to understand a new culture. But despite all the difficulties, I never doubted my decision to make aliyah.

During Operation Protective Edge, my family asked me to return to France. They told me it’s not safe in Israel. But I told them it’s not safe in France. Every day is a battle there to live as a Jew.

That summer, rioters took to the streets of Paris, smashing windows of shops owned by Jews and throwing firebombs. I wish my family didn’t live in such a hostile and dangerous place.

Today, I’m proud to say that Israel is my home and my country. With the help of Federation, I have made aliyah and can finally be a Jew without fear. But there are so many others who cannot. Which is why I’m also so grateful for Federation’s continued support.

We’re all one Jewish community, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. For that, Federation, I say: todah rabah.

Through Federation, you can help empower Jews like Carole Sebbah, and assist in their Aliyah efforts, today in three ways:

GIVE_60DOI
Give
 to change lives locally and globally through a gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Community Campaign, which builds community, cares for the welfare of Jews everywhere, and maximizes participation in Jewish life.

DONATE

VOLUNTEER_60DOI
Volunteer 
by investing your time—make calls at a Call for Change phone-a-thon, join a committee, or become a campaigner.

SIGN UP TO CALL FOR CHANGE

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

ENGAGE_60DOI
Engage 
by exploring the many ways to get involved with Federation, from attending an event to exploring leadership opportunities, to hopping on our upcoming Campaigner’s Mission!

JOIN THE CAMPAIGNERS’ MISSION

ATTEND AN EVENT

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

IMPACT: Finding Family in Israel

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Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier Hannah Larson has a unique perspective on serving in the Israeli military given that she was born abroad. “As Israeli soldiers, we are creating a safe haven for Israelis, and for anyone that wants to come to Israel. We don’t just protect Israel, we protect Jews from all over the world.”

Hannah herself grew up in the U.S., in a family that imbued her with a love of Zionism. “I always had the idea of moving to Israel and making Aliyah,” she says. “But I had never been and needed to see it for myself.”

#60DaysMJF Images for E-mail and Blog (2)Hannah saved up her money, learned Hebrew, and joined Sar-El, The National Project for Volunteers for Israel. It didn’t take her long after arriving in Israel to confirm that she’d been right about her hunch – at age 19, she was on her way to the Jewish State for good.

Jewish Federation was with Hannah during every step of her journey. Through Federation supported Garin Tzabar (a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel), Hannah was able to make Aliyah and quickly integrate into her IDF combat intelligence unit.

Garin Tzabar also provided a home away from home for Hannah and other “Lone Soldiers” – those serving in the IDF without immediate family in Israel.

“I didn’t have family to come back to on weekends from the military,” she says. “Through Garin Tzabar, I spent my first two months in Israel living on a kibbutz. That provided me with a home and friends – an adopted family – to have Shabbat dinners with. It was really amazing.”

As her time in the military came to an end, the Federation-supported “Wings” program (also funded by the Jewish Agency) helped prepare Hannah for civilian life, while the Nativ program for new immigrants gave her an essential understanding of Jewish identity in Israel. She’s currently studying counterterrorism, and plans to remain involved in safeguarding the security of the Jewish State.

“Jewish Federation is the reason I made Aliyah. It’s the reason I plan on staying in Israel and building a family here,” Hannah says. “It has helped me make my way, and connected me with so many Israelis.”

Hannah – now one of those Israelis – tells of one family she lived with for a few months while searching for an apartment of her own. “They opened their home and their hearts. They took me in as if I was one of their kids. That ‘Israeli hug’ – that’s what made me stay here.”

You can help us honor our soldiers in Israel, and assist in their Aliyah efforts, today in three ways:

GIVE_60DOI
Give
 to change lives locally and globally through a gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Community Campaign, which builds community, cares for the welfare of Jews everywhere, and maximizes participation in Jewish life.

DONATE

VOLUNTEER_60DOI
Volunteer 
by investing your time—make calls at a Call for Change phone-a-thon, join a committee, or become a campaigner.

SIGN UP TO CALL FOR CHANGE

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

ENGAGE_60DOI
Engage 
by exploring the many ways to get involved with Federation, from attending an event to exploring leadership opportunities, to hopping on our upcoming Campaigner’s Mission!

JOIN THE CAMPAIGNERS’ MISSION

ATTEND AN EVENT

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Campaigner’s Mission to Israel 2015

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Obtain a first-hand perspective on the impact of campaign dollars through site visits to JDC and Jewish Agency programs and benefit from top level training in donor development and solicitation skills.

Participants will gain a better understanding of contemporary Israel while enjoying all that an Israel experience has to offer.

FEDERATION IS OFFERING A $1500 SUBSIDY — NEARLY HALF THE COST OF THE TRIP

Land Cost: $1,190*

Double Occupancy.

Airfare on your own – *Includes subsidy

 

Mission Requirements

TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE SPECIAL MISSION LAND COST – PARTICIPANTS WILL BE ASKED TO:

MAKE a minimum gift for the 2016 Community Campaign of $750

AGREE to solicit a minimum of 10 donors &/or prospects Face to Face

PARTICIPATE as a caller at Super Sunday & at least one phone-a-thon during the 2016 Campaign

HOST a Parlor Meeting to share your experience

AGREE to be available to speak at synagogues and organizations

Contact Missions Manager Alyssa Huck at 952.417.2323 or ahuck@mplsfed.org to learn more.

Leaving a Legacy: A Charitable Checkbook

Barry and Francie Ross with their granddaughters Zoraya and Bexy Levin

Barry and Francie Ross with their granddaughters Zoraya and Bexy Levin

“The world stands on three things: Torah, prayer, and acts of loving kindness.” —Pirkei Avos Mishnah

Francie and Barry grew up in small Jewish communities; Francie in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Barry in St. Paul, Minnesota. Both of their parents were leaders in their respective Jewish communities. Francie and Barry connected with their Jewish roots at different stages in their lives. For Francie, it began when she attended Herzl camp.

“It changed my life!” she says of the four consecutive summers she was a camper at Herzl. “Herzl is where I made my first Jewish connection. It kindled my Jewish spirit.”

For Barry, it happened on a Federation mission to Israel in 2001, where he traveled with several rabbis from the Minneapolis Orthodox community. Barry connected with and was inspired by their knowledge and passion for Judaism. Since returning from Israel, Barry has studied weekly with these same rabbis.

Francie has been studying for the last seven years at the Chabad in Minnetonka. “Most of us know what we know about Judaism as a result of what we were taught as children in Sunday school. There is so much more to learn and so many people willing to teach you!” she says.

Francie and Barry support Federation, Sholom Home, Jewish education, Jewish camps, and Israel. As Barry says, “Through our Jewish study we have begun to understand the Pirkei Avos Mishnah which teaches, ‘The world stands on three things: Torah, prayer, and acts of loving kindness.’”

A Charitable Checkbook

“About a year ago Mort Naiman came to us to discuss a donor-advised fund as an easy way to manage our giving. He used the term ‘charitable checkbook,’ which really resonated with us,” explains Barry. Upon learning how easy and seamless it was to set up a fund as a vehicle for giving, they established a donor-advised fund and an endowment fund through Federation.

“It’s easy, and a wonderful way to give,” explains Francie.

Barry and Francie would like to thank their parents for the example they set of giving generously to the Jewish community. They are proud to pass this legacy on to their children Adam and Cori, Cori’s husband, Gena Levin, and their two children, Zoraya and Bexy.

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a legacy is a simple way to ensure our Jewish community remains vibrant and strong for your grandchildren, their children, and beyond. To learn more, visit jewishminneapolis.org/foundation

Viral Dylan Video Creator Visits Minneapolis

PIC Yoni and a Friend

Interactive Storyteller YONI BLOCH

December 3, 2014 | 7:30 PM | Sabes JCC

Yoni Bloch is an Israeli musician and the founder and CEO of Interlude, a technology company that designs, develops, markets, and enables the creation of interactive videos. Through Interlude’s patented technology, Bloch has ushered in a new norm for online storytelling, allowing users to actively engage with online video.

In 2010, Bloch and his band wanted to create a music video their fans would want to play over and over again. Finding no sufficient technology to support their vision, they founded Interlude and developed it themselves.

Interlude has gone on to create interactive videos for Shell, Subaru, Fox TV, ESPN, and others, as well as Bob Dylan’s wildly acclaimed interactive music video for “Like A Rolling Stone.” Backed by investors, Interlude recently launched Treehouse, a self-service platform that allows anyone to design and publish their own interactive videos.

In Israel, Yoni is a successful rock musician and performer with three top-selling records. He has produced and recorded tracks for Israel’s biggest artists, composed music for TV, film, and theater, and served as a judge in the Israeli version of “American Idol.”

Yoni Bloch will be at the Sabes JCC at 4300 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 at 7:30 on December 3, 2014.

 

Tickets

Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door and include a light reception.

Purchase tickets by calling 952.381.3499, emailing tickets@sabesjcc.org, or visiting www.sabesjcc.org/whats-happening.php.

For more information, contact Eilat Harel, Director of the Israel Center at Minneapolis Jewish Federation at 952.417.2321 or eharel@mplsfed.org.

 

Yoni Bloch’s appearance is the first in the Culture BLVD IV series.

Culture BLVD brings Israeli artists from a variety of genres to the Twin Cities to promote understanding of Israel and its culture through art. Now in its fourth season, Culture BLVD is a program of The Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, in conjunction with the Sabes JCC and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Download a flyer here.

Hacking for the Jewish Future

Tech Challenge participants from the US embark on a 12-day journey through Israel's high-tech sector.

Tech Challenge participants from the US embark on a 12-day journey through Israel’s high-tech sector.

Mitch Adler probably knows more about IBM’s lab in Haifa than the average North American Jew. But when you tour Israel with high-tech specialists, you get an up-close and personal view of Israel’s famed technology community.

Adler was one of the first participants in the Tech Challenge Experience, a 12-day trip that introduces young technology leaders from around the world to Israel, to each other, and to leading figures in the Israeli tech community. The trip is backed by The Jewish Agency for Israel, a Federation partner; other programs under the Israel Tech Challenge umbrella include internship options through the Jewish Agency’s Onward Israel initiative, and fellowships through a partnership between Masa: Israel Journey and the Government of Israel.

Israel is hailed by many as the “start-up nation,” and Adler attributes this technological success to the Jewish principle of bringing light to the world. “[For Israel] to say ‘we’re going to be a leader, to push the envelope and find new frontiers in these challenging fields’ is something that all Jews should be proud of,” Adler said. “We’re meeting with high-level government and military officials and learning about diplomatic advances and technological exchanges with countries that wouldn’t interact with Israel before. I think that’s amazing.”

Trip-goers also participated in a 36-hour Hackathon at PayPal Israel, where small teams worked with Israeli high-tech leaders to create technological solutions to existing social challenges. After the Hackathon, Naomi Saphra, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, noted that the unique circumstances of life in Israel lead to interesting innovations.

“Because of the engineers’ military backgrounds and Israel’s geography, the start-ups in Israel are solving big problems,” Saphra said. “We visited a company called Windward, which is developing a technology to prevent smuggling of weapons through seaports. That is not something I’d expect to see come out of Silicon Valley.”

For Saphra, the intersection of Jewishness and science added a layer of intensity and meaning to the trip.

“On one level, Jews are ‘my people,’” she said. “On another level, scientists are ‘my people.’ The fact that there is such overlap between these two communities reinforces my Jewish connection.”

From At-Risk to Entrepreneur

Israeli program uses business principles to turn lives around

Raya and her Turning Point team

Raya and her Turning Point team

It sounds like a modern-day fairy tale: Raya, an Israeli teenager living in poverty and failing out of school, invents a product, wins an Israeli entrepreneurship competition, and flies to New York to pitch her invention to a global audience.

But this fairy tale is reality. In fact, it is becoming a possibility for an increasing number of underprivileged children thanks to Federation’s work in Israel.

Raya’s story began at a moshav in the Negev. Her multiple learning disorders were causing problems in school, and her family was in such financial turmoil that they couldn’t afford help. When a social worker suggested that Raya attend boarding school, the family felt it was their only choice.

Her new school’s staff was trained in teaching students with special needs and offered extra resources aimed at underprivileged children, such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s program Turning Point. The aptly named Turning Point empowers at-risk Israeli teens to change the courses of their lives, from a path that leads to poverty and distress to one that leads to stability and fulfillment.

Thanks to these resources, Raya gained self-confidence in school. When Turning Point introduced Network for Teen Entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurship competition, Raya was chosen to lead a team of five girls. Raya’s team was challenged to develop an idea for something needed in Israeli society, create a business plan with the help of mentors at the school, and work with engineers to design the product.

At first, Raya’s team struggled to come up with an idea. It was a visit home — to the moshav where Raya had felt like such a failure — that prompted her to develop her award-winning product.

“My mother and I worked an entire day preparing food for our extended family, and when we went to use the stove, we realized we were out of gas,” said Raya. On the moshav, gas is kept in a canister and delivered only every two weeks. “How did we not know we were out of gas?”

The question bothered Raya, who brought it up to her team when she returned to school. Her teammates had similar stories, and an idea was born: a gas meter. Named MADGAZ, this small device measures the level of gas in the canister and is connected to a gas meter in the kitchen that shows when the gas is running low so users can fill up in a timely manner. For moshavs across the country with limited access to gas, MADGAZ solved an all too common problem.

Even with her newfound confidence, Raya was nervous. “I didn’t think we would succeed,” she said. But her team won the initial school competition, went on to win the regional competition, and finished first place in the national competition, where more than 450 students competed.

“My family looks at me differently now,” said Raya with pride, “I am no longer Raya who has learning disabilities and has a hard time in school. Now I am Raya who won first prize!”

 

With Federation’s support, Turning Point has reached over 6,400 15- to 18-year-olds in 66 locations across Israel through its mentoring, job-readiness and entrepreneurship education, and youth-run business venture program modules. This year alone, some 1,000 at-risk teens will participate in Turning Point programs.