Investing in Innovation
Marking the graduation of its second cohort, the OU Impact Accelerator held a “Demo Day,” raising more than $50,000 to support its ongoing mission to identify and advance promising Jewish nonprofits through education, mentorship and collaboration.
The virtual event, attended by lay leaders, board members, alumni, friends and family, celebrated the success of Impact Accelerator’s Cohort II, comprised of Ani Tefillah/The Voice of Jewish Education; Communities Confronting Substance Abuse, Inc.; Chinuch Yehudi; and Daily Giving. Participants heard from the leadership of Cohort II, witnessed their impact firsthand, and learned about the successes of Cohort I since the program ended.
“Every donation to the Impact Accelerator is an investment that helps support the innovators of our generation,” said Jenna Beltser, Director of the OU’s Impact Accelerator. “Together, we can transform the landscape of the Jewish communal future.” To learn more about the Impact Accelerator, visit ou.org/accelerator.
In January, Yachad New Jersey’s annual Gala—held virtually—honored supporters, staff and volunteers, and fifteen high school seniors who have taken on leadership roles. Honorees included Shifra and Rabbi Dr. Benjy Leibowitz and Gila Guzman. The Gala also paid tribute to long-time Yachad member Donny Hain, z”l, who passed away last year. The evening included a musical Havdalah by Simcha Leiner, and raised $325,000 in support of the region’s programming.
“This year has brought its challenges for our entire community, especially those with disabilities. Our team has stood ready to help those most vulnerable.” —Raquel Selevan, Director, Yachad New Jersey
Supporting Students Through Covid
The pandemic has upended patterns of daily life around the world, and college is no exception. With the rhythm of campus life altered, the mission of the Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC) of creating a home and community for Jewish college students is more important than ever. The campuses below raised over $220,000 combined to support their programming and enhance the Orthodox student experience on campus.
West Coast: Driven For A Cause
In November the OU-JLIC programs of the West Coast—UCLA, CSUN, Santa Monica College, and Western University—raised $33,000 at a special “drive-by” edition of its popular annual fro-yo fundraiser “Toppings.” Nearly 300 parents, alumni and students cruised through the multi-station drive-through, where 1,200 ounces of yogurt were distributed. Pictured, Sharona Kaplan, Director of OU-JLIC West, interviews students and alumni at the drive-through fundraiser.
Columbia/Barnard: Keeping Campus Life Vibrant
OU-JLIC at Columbia/Barnard held its third annual spring semester fundraiser in March and raised over $100,000 to support learning opportunities, social programs, Shabbat and yom tov meals and more. Pictured, Columbia/Barnard students at this year’s outdoor Purim seudah.
University of Pennsylvania: Rising to the Challenge
Thanks to a generous matching gift from philanthropist David Magerman, OU-JLIC at the University of Pennsylvania held its first-ever Challenge Grant Fundraiser in May, where parents, alumni and students raised over $87,000. The funds will enable OU-JLIC at U of Penn to continue its many programs and activities—which were adjusted due to the pandemic—in support of the 150-plus Orthodox students on campus, including Mr. Magerman’s son, Elijah. Pictured, from right: University of Pennsylvania students Elijah Magerman, Zachary Rosenblatt and Charlie Gottlieb in their off-campus apartment after OU-JLIC Torah Educator Rabbi Joshua Klein helped them kasher their kitchen and put up a mezuzah.
“Especially at a time when activities are limited both socially and educationally, supporting the work and programming of OU-JLIC is crucial. OU-JLIC Torah Educators Rabbi Joshua and Sara Klein have been working overtime, organizing activities and learning opportunities to bring their students closer to Torah.” —David Magerman
Supporting Torah Learning
The OU’s ever-growing compendium of Torah programming and resources provides a multitude of opportunities at all sponsorship levels to support Torah learning in the merit of those who are ill or to honor a loved one.
“Klal Yisrael sees the study of Torah as the essence of life, ‘Ki heim chayeinu.’ It therefore became a strong tradition to study Torah and to support and facilitate the study of others as a way of perpetuating the life and memory of those dear to us and as a way to express gratitude for significant life cycle events. The OU Torah programs have a very wide reach and have become a vehicle of choice for many in our community to dedicate impactful Torah study for such occasions,” explained OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer.
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Making Pesach in a Pandemic
For thousands of Jewish families and individuals in communities across the country who are jobless or under-employed due to the pandemic, the challenge of making Pesach seemed insurmountable. Enter the OU’s annual Maos Chitim Campaign. Launched immediately after Purim, it raised significant funds that were sent directly to Tomchei Shabbos, food banks, food pantries and other community organizations across the US to provide families with food and other essentials for Pesach.
“The OU has worked diligently and strategically in this campaign to reach as many communities and families as possible,” said Rabbi Phil Karesh, Executive Director, OU Department of Community Projects and Partnerships, who directed this year’s Maos Chitim initiative.