In January, the Allocations Committee of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires announced its recommended allocations for 2022. In all, $357,861 will be distributed to worthy organizations operating within our community, nationally, and internationally.
“As Jews, we recognize that the world is bigger than us,” said Allocations Committee chair Judy Usow. “Bigger than just our congregation or favorite Jewish organization. Bigger than just our Berkshire Jewish community. The Talmud teaches us that ‘kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh’ – all of Israel is responsible for one another. Through our allocation process, we accept this notion of communal responsibility and commit to the larger efforts to care for those in need and sustain Jewish community wherever Jews in the world need us.”
The dollars allocated are drawn from Federation’s annual campaign, endowment funds, donor-directed gifts, and other sources.
For Our Safety: Security Grants for Berkshire Jewish Organizations
With concern for a climate of increased anti-Semitism, the committee allocated $45,000 to fund security grants for local Jewish organizations to strengthen the physical security at their facilities.
For Our Youth: Jewish Education, Jewish Camp, and Israel Experience Scholarships
The committee funded Jewish education grants for the four Jewish religious schools in Berkshire County – Congregation Beth Israel, Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, Knesset Israel, and Temple Anshe Amunim – to support the 126 students enrolled. Additionally, an education task force led by Arlene D. Schiff, former Federation executive director and current national director of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY, will review the existing funding model for schools and recommend changes for the next school year.
The committee funded 25 overnight Jewish camp scholarships for local youth with support from the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Berkshire County. Additionally, the committee allocated funds for financial assistance for full-time Berkshire families sending children to URJ Camp Eisner day camp in Great Barrington – families can receive as much as $100 per week in assistance per child.
With Israel easing its pandemic travel restrictions, young adults aged 18 to 26 can again participate in Birthright Israel. Pre-pandemic, Federation on average funded nearly 25 trips each year – for 2022, the committee increased its allocation in anticipation of renewed participation.
For Our Region: Anti-Bias, College Engagement, and Honoring Our Past
Recognizing Berkshire County’s struggles with incidents of anti-Semitism and racism in its public schools, the committee allocated funds to continue the ADL’s successful A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Anti-Bias Peer Training Program in local schools. To date, over 2,500 students and faculty have participated in this important program.
The committee awarded UMASS Hillel in Amherst funds to support programming and communal Shabbat dinners, as well as a new global pluralism class with Hillel members from the UMASS, Israel, and Ukraine. The Williams College Jewish Association received an allocation to expand its Shabbat dinner experience by sourcing its food from local farms.
The committee also provided meaningful financial support so that Ahavath Sholem Cemetery can be maintained in a safe and dignified manner. The cemetery was started by a Pittsfield congregation that no longer exists.
For Our Living Bridges With Israel: Afula-Gilboa Partnership, Arts Collaboration, and Social Services
The Partnership2Gether program in which we and 11 other New England federations participate connects us to the Afula-Gilboa region of Israel and fosters personal connections among our communities. This investment of Federation funds in Afula-Gilboa will continue to benefit the lives of children, women, and young people at risk, as well as support NGO non-profits working for coexistence and humanitarian initiatives.
Funds will be directed for the first time to the collaboration between the Mishkan Museum of Art in Ein Harod and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. “Disruption and Reemergence” is a program that brings together high school students from Israel and the Berkshires, combining museum visits, art workshops, and collaborative digital projects. Federation funds will enable Israeli students to participate with their Berkshire peers.
Other Israel-directed allocations will benefit:
- Yad L’Kashish – A Jerusalem workshop supporting senior artisans, providing not only a sense of empowerment but also essential services. Federation funds will defray the cost of monthly unlimited bus passes for members.
- Israel Association for Child Protection (ELI) – Provider of prevention and treatment services for children suffering emotional and sexual abuse, as well as support for their families. Federation’s allocation will support crisis and therapeutic interventions for IDF soldiers who have been sexually abused during the time of their service.
- Haifa Women’s Crisis Shelter – Federation’s allocation will fund enrichment activities and other therapeutic empowerment and education at the center offering refuge for domestic abuse victims and their children.
- Ethiopian National Project – Federation funds will enable students to participate in the SPACE Scholastic Assistance program in Afula.
- Neve Michael Children’s Village – Arrival packages for youth arriving at this multi-disciplinary therapeutic facility for children/youth at risk will be funded in part by Federation dollars.
- Meir Panim - Its six restaurant-style soup kitchens serve Israel's poor and hungry of all backgrounds with dignity, as does its extensive meal delivery program – more than 1.3 million meals per year since the pandemic created a surge in demand. Federation’s allocation will fund 800 of them.
For Strengthening Our Global Jewish Community
As they do every year, our Israel and overseas partner agencies will receive meaningful contributions to implement programs that save lives, build resiliency, and support Jewish life in Israel and in fragile Jewish communities around the world. The committee directed funds to:
- The Jewish Agency For Israel (which includes the Berkshires’ participation in Partnership2Gether) – jewishagency.org
- The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) – jdc.org
- World ORT – ort.org
Thank You, Committee Members!
Many thanks to the members of our Allocations Committee: Judy Usow (chair), Elisa Schindler Frankel, Judith Cook, Kathy Fraker, Gail Orenstein, Aviva Wichler, Ellen Masters, Roselyn Kolodny, Tom Sawyer, Sandra Flannery, Liz Miller, Scott Hochfelder, Alba Passerini, Michael Ury, and Dara Kaufman