SPECIAL SECTION ON KAVOD’S RESPONSE TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE
From the moment that Russia invaded Ukraine last winter, our hearts have been filled with sorrow and concern about the unfolding tragedy. We sought out organizations that were caring for the millions of displaced refugees and who were doing so in keeping with our key Tzedakah principles: highly impactful, grassroots work; the personal touch of knowledgeably Mitzvah-heroes; and places where the impact of our donors’ money would be maximized. We supported Ukrainian relief through the following projects (each of these, except for World Central Kitchen, was a new Kavod Tzedakah recipient in 2022):
BEIT POLSKA, WARSAW / FRIENDS OF JEWISH RENEWAL IN POLAND – $3,000
Rabbi Haim Beliak has been a tireless promoter of Beit Polska, the Reform Jewish community in Warsaw. Now they are on the frontlines of a lot of the work with Ukrainian refugees, so it was natural for us to support their mobilization to support the people flooding into Poland. Among many other tasks, they have been supporting Ukrainian-speaking staff such as social workers, psychologists, and specialists for working with children with disabilities (such as autistic children who are among the refugees). They have also been supplying and distributing food, medicine, thermal blankets, and other essential items.
Friends of Jewish Renewal in Poland
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak
P.O. Box 5438
Beverly Hills, CA 90209
JCC KRAKOW – $3,000
The Jewish Community Center in Krakow has been a key focal point of the renewal of Jewish life in Poland. They have completely mobilized on behalf of Ukrainian refugees pouring into Poland, providing food, medicine, hygienic supplies, clothing, and toys for children. They have also been housing refugee families, including creating safe spaces for mothers and children and providing daycare and preschool, Polish and English classes, psychological counseling, and job training. It is all very inspiring, amidst the tragedy, to see the work that the Jewish community is doing on behalf of all the refugees, Jews and non-Jews alike.
Friends of JCC Krakow
Jonathan Ornstein, Executive Director
74 Lafayette Avenue, Suite 101
Suffern, NY 10901
THE SURVIVOR MITZVAH PROJECT, UKRAINE – $1,500
Naomi Eisenberger at The Good People Fund (see elsewhere in this report) alerted us to this amazing program that directly supports elderly Ukrainian Jews, many of whom are survivors of the Shoah and now find themselves again, late in life, the victims of forces mobilized on behalf of tyranny. Their stories and their work are simultaneously shattering and inspirational. This is precisely what we mean by “grassroots”: small scale, high impact Tzedakah work. We directed our contribution to The Survivor Mitzvah Project through The Good People Fund.
WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN – $2,000
WCK, the internationally-renowned Tzedakah project founded in 2010 by celebrity chef Jose Andres, works on a much larger scale than Kavod’s other programs. And yet, we’ve continued to support their work because time and again they’ve been the first organization on the ground, before other humanitarian groups. For instance, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, WCK were the first ones not only providing food to vulnerable people who were locked down; they also were providing meals to essential workers and supporting people whose industries were devastated, such as restaurant workers. And now, Ukraine: From the day after the assault began, WCK has been providing meals to the hordes of refugees fleeing the violence. There are lots of powerful stories to share on their website.
World Central Kitchen
Erin Gore, Senior Vice President, Development
1342 Florida Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009
BEIT URI – $4,000
“For every person there is a place.” Beit Uri in Afula, Israel is home to 100 residents, ages 7-67, who live with a variety of physical and developmental needs. In recent years, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Beit Uri has been focusing on making their outdoor spaces completely accessible for all residents (and their visiting families) as well as providing outdoor classrooms, including spaces for music classes with outdoor instruments for musicians of all abilities. The community that they have built in Afula is dignified, compassionate, and full of light.
4 Rehov Tzukit, Afula, Israel
Jeanette Koll, Resource Development
BOSTON AREA GLEANERS – $2,500
Leket—the Biblical injunction to rescue the gleanings of a harvest and distribute them to people in need—is happening in Massachusetts. Boston Area Gleaners supports an equitable, just, and sustainable local food system. By working closely with local farmers, volunteers, and hunger relief agencies, they power a supply chain from farms to those in need, reduce food waste, and promote long-term farm sustainability. With their teams of volunteers and partners, they have been able to rescue over one million pounds of produce annually and deliver it directly to hundreds of hunger relief organizations in New England.
Boston Area Gleaners
240 Beaver Street, Waltham, MA 02452
Paul Franceschi, Development & Outreach Coordinator
EUDAIMONIA: A PURPOSEFUL PERIOD BAND – $2,500
Eudaimonia gathers some of the Boston area’s most creative and talented musicians in the historical music field, performing chamber music that especially features the works of women composers. These concerts support grassroots Boston-based social services and justice initiatives. Eudaimonia organizes and executes each concert to draw attention to the partner organization’s work and to bring it recognition and financial support through audience contributions and visibility. Their concerts are extraordinary; their Mitzvah-work is sublime.
Eudaimonia, A Purposeful Period Band
Vivian Montgomery and Julia McKenzie, Founders
FOOD FORWARD – $2,000
Food Forward fights hunger and prevents food waste in greater Los Angeles by rescuing fresh surplus produce and connecting this abundance with people in need. Food Forward staff and volunteers rescue over 500,000 pounds of surplus produce each week from fruit trees, farmers markets and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. 100% of these fresh fruits and vegetables are donated to over 1,800 hunger relief agencies across eight counties in Southern California.
7412 Fulton Ave., #3, North Hollywood, CA 91605
Jen Cox, Chief Development Officer
GESHARIM LETIKVAH / BRIDGES FOR HOPE – $5,500
Our friend Rabbi Edgar Nof performs an astonishing array of Mitzvot in Israel on just about a daily basis. His organization Gesharim Letikvah/Bridges for Hope works with impoverished families, kids with disabilities, new immigrants, elders, and many more people on the periphery of Israel’s social and religious communities, including Ethiopian and Russian olim. A portion of our contribution provided meals for impoverished children in Haifa’s schools. The remainder supported the rest of their work, including creating meaningful and honorable simchas/Jewish life cycle events for children and families.
44 Rehov Leon Blum, #20, Haifa, Israel
Rabbi Edgar Nof
THE GOOD PEOPLE FUND – $2,500
Naomi Eisenberger has been among our primary role models for our style of grassroots Tzedakah work since we created Kavod. Since establishing The Good People Fund in 2008, Naomi’s leadership has been the absolute exemplar grassroots Tikkun Olam. In a time of crisis, she is often our first phone call or email for advice about how to efficiently get Tzedakah into the hands of people who will make a difference. The Good People Fund lifts up great organizations by making their work more visible. Not only do they provide essential tzedakah, they also make connections to an international network of people who can provide needed funding and supplies in a cost-effective and meaningful way. They have been a conduit for us to several of our Mitzvah projects, but it is also our great privilege to support their work broadly as well. The GPF Journal of Good 2022, available at the Good People Fund website, is essential reading for anyone who is interest in our style of maximum-impact Tzedakah is all about.
The Good People Fund
384 Wyoming Avenue, Millburn, NJ 07041
Naomi Eisenberger, Executive Director
HEBREW FREE LOAN SOCIETY OF NEW YORK – $2,500
New York’s Hebrew Free Loan Society was founded by leaders of the Jewish immigrant community in 1892. A perfect illustration of Maimonides’s highest level of Tzedakah, HFLS is supporting people in need in a wide variety of ways: education bills, health care, housing, starting new businesses and vocational training, recovering from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic, and much more. As loans are repaid—their repayment rate is 99.9%!—the money is “recycled” to help others navigate financial emergencies and land on their feet. Now that’s what we call a good investment of Kavod’s money!
Hebrew Free Loan Society
675 Third Avenue, Suite 1905, New York, NY 10017
Rabbi David Rosenn, Executive Director
HIDDUSH–Freedom of Religion for Israel – $4,500
Israel’s Declaration of Independence promises religious freedom and equality to all of its citizens. Hiddush, a non-denominational, non-partisan organization, was established by our Zionist hero Rabbi Uri Regev to pursue the promise of Israel as a democracy and as a Jewish state. Hiddush is on the frontlines of the perpetual fight for religious freedom and civil liberties in Israel. They commission studies of Israeli society (including their Annual Israel Religion & State Index), providing crucial data for policymakers; advocate tirelessly for civil rights throughout Israeli society; provide legal defense for victims of religious discrimination; and host powerful and informative education programs and webinars. We anticipate that fallout from Israel’s national elections in November 2022 will make Uri’s work more critical than ever, as we need fight ever harder to build an Israeli society is free, democratic, and lawful.
Hiddush: Freedom of Religion for Israel, Inc.
c/o Robert Levin
P.O. Box 316, 8 Bayberry Hill, Roxbury, CT 06783
HUC-JIR SOUP KITCHEN – $1,500
The Torah that is learned in the NYC classrooms of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion gets directly translated into the Mitzvah-action of their soup kitchen: The students and community members of HUC-JIR go the extra mile not only to nourish hundreds of weekly guests physically, but also to nourish their sense of kavod. They provide food as well as a dynamic, welcoming community environment. HUC partners with law students from NYU as well as volunteers from local high schools and colleges in order to create an atmosphere that is joyful, uplifting, and empowering.
HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen
Brookdale Center, One West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
IRAC-ISRAEL RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER – $3,000
For years we have admired the work of the Israel Religious Action Center, as they have been one of the most prominent, effective, and public voices of justice, egalitarianism, and civil liberties in Israel. Now, in the wake of a devastating Israeli national election that puts religious freedom in serious jeopardy, we’ve collectively made a commitment to IRAC that many of Kavod’s individual board members already have embraced. They are our crucial voice against religious extremism, racist ideology, and fundamentalist thuggery. We are so grateful for their tireless voice—on behalf of all of us.
Friends of IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism)
c/o Mickey Rosen
211 S. Spalding Drive, Apt. S403
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
JERUSALEM RAPE CRISIS CENTER – $2,000
The JRCC, in memory of Linda Feldman, is another Kavod project that we have been involved with since our inception. Through the empowerment of women from all backgrounds, they provide a myriad of support and services to survivors of sexual assault. They run a 24-hour hotline, conduct workshops and support groups, provide accompaniment to legal proceedings, and conduct educational programs for Israeli high school students to raise awareness about abuse and harassment.
Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center
PO Box 7815, Jerusalem, Israel
Naomi Grossman, Resource Development Coordinator
JEWISH HELPING HANDS – $1,000
Rabbi Joel Soffin’s foundation Jewish Helping Hands provides ground-level financial and hands-on support to projects in Africa, Israel, and the United States in an effort to meet the basic necessities of a decent life. In each community where JHH works, local residents determine what would be most helpful. JHH works by supporting projects that make a tangible, substantial difference in the lives of people in need. These projects are accomplished with resources—both human and financial—that can be mustered realistically with a minimum of bureaucracy and red tape. Kavod has been privileged this year, as in the past, to support JHH directly, and to partner with Rabbi Soffin on special projects.
Jewish Helping Hands
90 Riverside Drive, Apt. 4C, New York, NY 10024
Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, Founder and President
KEHILLAT NATAN-YA: In the Wake of Tragic Vandalism— $500
On August 7, 2022, the Reform congregation Natan-Ya in Netanya, Israel was vandalized: windows were smashed; prayerbooks, tallitot, tefillin, and kippot were trashed; and the washroom was flooded. Even worse: everyone knows that the perpetrators were Jewish zealots who oppose any expression of liberal Judaism. And even worse: This violence was perpetrated on Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning in the Jewish calendar which is supposed to be a meditation on the devastatingly destructive nature of sinnat chinam / senseless hatred fostered between Jews by religious extremism. Kavod celebrates liberal Judaism and religious freedom in Israel, and we made a special contribution to Natan-Ya to help them rebuild and to our express our solidarity.
Rabbi Edgar Nof
10 Beckman Street
PO Box 2654
Netanya, Israel 42126
Kuchinate, the African Refugee Women’s Collective, is an Israeli, women-led non-profit that provides psychological and social support for female asylum seekers – women who have fled Darfur or Eritrea and live among the African community in Tel Aviv. These women face oppression and disenfranchisement from the Israeli government, which considers the asylum seekers to be illegal residents. Kuchinate is a collective that trains them to produce crafts as well as to acquire management skills. The organization also provides therapy and a family-like supportive environment for them to cope with trauma, past and present. All Kavod’s supporters should also check out their online shop and the beautiful items for sale—bags, t-shirts, crafts, and more—under the heading “The Art of Crafting Freedom.” Our contribution, as in the past, has been directed through the Good People Fund.
104 Sderot Har Tziyon, Tel Aviv
Lindsey Taussig, Development Manager
THE LILITH FUND – $3,000
Like so many people around the U.S., we were appalled in 2022 when the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and a generation of precedents protecting women’s reproductive freedoms. Immediately we started looking for projects that would protect abortion rights and where our support would make a serious difference. We were drawn to The Lilith Fund, based out of Austin, TX, because of their inherent compassion and their effectiveness on many different levels. Their mission is to both financially and emotionally support people who need abortions in Texas, “unapologetically, with compassion and conviction.” Beyond that, they also are fighting the good fight for reproductive justice in the courts and through community organizing. This is the essence of Kavod-as-human dignity, and we are privileged to support them, even as we are saddened to still be fighting these battles in 2022.
The Lilith Fund
Neesha Davé, Deputy Director
P.O Box 684949
Austin, TX 78768
THE OTHER ONES FOUNDATION – $3,500
Kavod board member Rabbi Susan Lippe connected us to this great group of people who are doing extraordinary work with people on the edge in Austin, TX. TOOF is a grassroots homelessness services organization that provides shelter, support, food and medical care, access to showers and other basic necessities of human dignity, and case support in a unified effort to move people from dependence to independence. Especially awesome are the four neighborhoods they’ve constructed under the rubric “The Esperanza Community,” offering safe shelter and stepping stones out of crisis for people facing homelessness. The fact that their name is an allusion to one of the greatest of Grateful Dead songs is purely a bonus!
The Other Ones Foundation
9411 Lightwood Cove, Austin, TX 78748
Jared Slack, Development Director
PROJECT EZRA – $1,000
Since 1972, Project Ezra has supported Jewish elders on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, providing companionship and community and enabling them to live with dignity with a myriad of programs and services. Especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic, we are proud to support Project Ezra as they create community that keeps these elders safe and connected.
387 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
Justine Fisher, President
RESTORE ELIKIA – $2,500
Kavod Board member Rabbi Jay Moses brought this inspirational project to our attention. Restore Elikia is the vision of Nicole and Will O’Brien, two extraordinary people whose deep faith inspired them to build better lives for the women and orphans of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC has an estimated 5 million orphans, who are at serious risk of becoming the victims of sexual violence, child trafficking, or becoming child soldiers. Restore Elikia seeks to transform lives by partnering with local leaders to develop stabilizing and safe institutions. We’ve been watching the evolution of the medical clinic and school that they are building, and it is simply astonishing. Our donation helps the construction of these projects, as well as job training, parenting education, providing food necessities, and other sorts of community development.
71 S. Merkle Road, Bexley, OH 43209
Nicole & Will O’Brien, Founders
SHELTER MUSIC BOSTON— $3,000
Shelter Music Boston performs classical music concerts and cultural events in shelters and organizations that serve individuals who are homeless or in recovery. Just consider: For a homeless or recovering person, an interactive, dignified concert can deliver the therapeutic power of classical music and provide hope, self-worth, and renewed energy to address the challenges of dependency.
And their performances are truly inspiring. In 2019 they performed a chamber opera called “Florence Comes Home,” celebrating 20th Century African American composer Florence Beatrice Price, who wrote more than 300 works and was the first woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. In 2022, they have presented a new initiative, “Voices of Hope,” with three Boston-based African American poets, pairing them with local African American classical musicians, to create a program that will increase the representation of what classical music can be. By all means, check out their YouTube site and see their amazing performances – the very essence of what kavod is all about.
Shelter Music Boston
1337 Massachusetts Avenue #116, Arlington, MA 02476
Erin Merceruio Nelson, Director of Development & Operations
THE SOCIAL COG – $1,000
The Social Cog is a South Florida based non-profit that is helping adults with autism and other developmental and social challenges to form community and build friendships. They provide regular outings and activities with an accepting peer group, as well as personalized attention and guidance with a “social coach.” Kavod has long been enamored with the personalized connections and the pure love that they are providing to their community.
The Social Cog
540 West 51st Terrace, Miami, FL 33140
Nicholas Maccarrone, Executive Director
TEVEL B’TZEDEK – $3,000
Tevel B’Tzedek is an Israeli NGO that is developing young Jewish leadership that is passionately engaged in Tikkun Olam, locally and globally. Drawing young volunteers from Israel and North America, Tevel has developed a unique community development model (think: “Peace Corps,” but under Jewish auspices and with Torah-values front and center), working with impoverished communities in Nepal to provide sufficient nutrition, clean water, housing, and basic health and education. They are the experts on the ground doing the work of community development and Founding Director Rabbi Micha Odenheimer is a Mitzvah Hero par excellence, as well as a zealous advocate for social and climate justice in Israel and around the world. We are proud to support their work—and we heartily encourage 20- and 30-somethings in Kavod’s audience to explore volunteer opportunities with Tevel in Nepal.
PO Box 20110, Tel Aviv, Israel
Yonatan Bram, Director
YAD ELIE – $2,000
Yad Elie is alleviating food insecurity by providing school meals to hungry students in both East and West Jerusalem and by promoting nutrition education in some of the poorest parts of the city. Currently, they work with 12 different programs across the city. We partnered with our friends at Jewish Helping Hands to help Yad Elie provide food and tutoring in Jerusalem for all children in need—with a special eye on their outreach to Ethiopian-Israeli children.
Rehov Meir Nakar 27/2, Jerusalem