At UJFT, repairing the world means maintaining a long-term partnership with JDC

March 22, 2020

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For decades, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, known as JDC, has been an integral component of the Federation’s global outreach.

JDC was founded in 1914, during World War 1, as the first Jewish organization in the United States to dispense large scale funding for international relief.

Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.

JDC continues to be the one and only agency that looks out for all Jews around the world, regardless of circumstance. It provides relief from hunger, isolation, illness – and danger. To address basic survival needs, the JDC version of ‘meals on wheels’ in the Former Soviet Union, delivers food boxes to the sick and elderly. When a box is delivered, volunteers take time to visit, listen, and report any concerns to JDC. While cocoa is not a staple for hunger relief, it’s included in the box as a bartering tool. If someone elderly or disabled lives on the fourth floor, and needs wood for a fire in the winter, the cocoa comes in handy for trade. JDC also provides necessary drugs such as insulin.

Money raised by JDC also funds programs that repair and rebuild some of the most distressed Jewish communities around the world. Stories of relief, recovery, and renewal continue to surface in once-depleted communities that benefit from the UJFT-JDC partnership.

JDC leaders are impressive. Their sterling reputation as partners who build relationships with government agencies and philanthropic funders is second to none. The JDC-Lauder International Summer Camp at Szarvas in Hungary, for example, has taken a lead role in fostering Jewish identity and leadership among young Jews in Europe since 1990. Szarvas was the catalyst for Camp Cristian, a vibrant Jewish teen community outside Bucharest, that was mobilized by Art and Annie Sandler of Virginia Beach.

Camp Szarvas in Hungary and Camp Cristian in Romania are illustrations of JDC’s Jewish-life-sustaining assistance model. In contrast to welfare, funds and resources are always geared toward rebuilding a self-sustaining community that takes care of itself and ultimately contributes to others in need.

Recently, the Jewish community of Romania pledged $750,000 to an effort on the part of European communities to exchange ideas and enhance pan-European cooperation. For years, Romania received support from the global Jewish community. As long-time supporters of the Jewish community of Romania, it is a source of pride for UJFT to witness Romania’s transformation from dependency on JDC assistance to a community able to invest in life-sustaining and anti-terrorism initiatives across Europe.

The high return on JDC/UJFT investments also comes in the form of developing Jewish leaders who are confident in their Jewish identities and primed to stand up to hate. Alum from JDC’s Jewish educational, camping, and leadership training programs in Europe are today’s leaders, who have, in some cases founded groups combating anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.

JDC leadership is marked by expertise, innovation, integrity, and compassion. JDC is the only Federation beneficiary to have earned a 100% rating for accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator.

The Federation takes great pride in recognizing Annie Sandler’s involvement with JDC over the past eight years. Wherever she goes, Sandler sees the potential for recovery and renewal, finds ways she can make a difference, inspires others, and gets to work.

Sandler recently served as chair of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, the premier applied social research institute in Israel.

“My new role as vice president,” she explains, “is a senior position that recognizes my contribution to Israeli society, as well as my history as a trusted senior advisor to Mark Sisisky, JDC’s newly elected president.

Sandler is the first person from Tidewater chosen to serve as JDC vice-president.

“Annie is a trusted advisor who possesses a deep reservoir of knowledge about JDC and our work around the world. In Israel, Annie is deeply respected and loved for her empathy, grasp of important issues and her invaluable strength of listening and furthering her collaboration with our outstanding professionals,” says Sisisky. “By all measures, Annie is a seasoned, proven leader and philanthropist in the Jewish world, and I am honored to have her by my side at JDC.”

The position is especially meaningful to Sandler, because she acknowledges the deep respect with which the Tidewater Jewish community is held by the larger Jewish communities of North American and overseas.

This is the first in a series of articles intended to provide a fresh perspective of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s local and overseas partnerships.

Letter to the Editor