7 Organizations Connecting Jewish People
Judaism is not just a religion, but a rich culture full of tradition. There are many groups that serve to bring Jews together outside of temple to collectively take up common concerns or bond through shared activities. This list, presented in no particular order, compiles Jewish organizations creating community, whether through politics, social services, research, or schooling.
At #1, we have Jew in the City, a nonprofit that works to reverse negative associations about Orthodox Judaism by highlighting an approach based on kindness, tolerance, sincerity, and critical thinking and by making engaging and meaningful religious practices known and accessible. The organization offers diversity training to corporations, helping businesses understand Orthodox Jewish beliefs, laws, and customs.
Founder Allison Josephs was named one of the Jewish Week's 36 under 36 in 2013. She has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and Yahoo News. The group's site has several videos with prominent members of the Jewish community, such as Dov Kramer.
Coming in at #2, we have Jewish Care, the largest provider of health and social care services for the Jewish community in the United Kingdom. The organization provides services to older people, those with mental health needs, and others. Holocaust survivors are encouraged to come together at the facility, discuss their experiences, and receive specialized counseling.
In addition to wellness services, Jewish Care offers youth leadership opportunities and recreational, educational, and cultural programs. The group's site has a blog that features inspirational stories and general advice, with topics such as "Staying Connected with Friends and Family," and "Being Creative and Learning New Skills." The organization also hosts independent living apartments for senior citizens.
The #3 entry is the Stroum Jewish Community Center, an organization dedicated to enriching life for Jews and the general public in the greater Seattle area. Located on Mercer Island, the community center offers various programs and activities for everyone, from newborns to seniors. It is home to an Early Childhood School, an auditorium, a Fitness Center, an indoor pool, and more.
Stroum has numerous programs that focus on faith and identity, such as anti-racism workshops. The community center also organizes several volunteer opportunities, done in the spirit of "tikkun olam," which translates from Hebrew to "repairing the world." Participants can assist the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, SixThirTeens, a philanthropic organization for teens, and more.
For the #4 entry, we have American Jewish World Service, an organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in the developing world. It supports activists on the front lines of social change in seven countries in Africa, helping to mobilize opposition to anti-gay legislation in Uganda and aiding Kenyans in gaining access to clean water.
In the United States, the organization works to rally the American Jewish community and other supporters of human rights to advocate for policies that will improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world. For instance, the nonprofit tries to raise awareness about the crisis affecting the Rohingya people of Burma by seeking donations for relief efforts and putting pressure on politicians to act.
At #5, we present the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, which aims to honor the memory of the Sephardic people who immigrated to the island region in the 19th century. Its website features background and information about prominent families, such as the Benoliels from Boa Vista and the Pintos from Santo Antao.
The project works to restore and preserve cemeteries, develop and disseminate educational materials on the history of the Jews of Cape Verde, and encourage tourism to the area's heritage site. Archival research is done by Angela Sofia Benoliel Coutinho, who holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary African History from the University of Paris, Sorbonne.
Next up, at #6, we have Gann Academy, a private secondary school in Waltham, Massachusetts. Its sophomores participate in myIsrael, a 6-week immersive trip exploring Israeli society, culture, and history. Students take part in academics, desert camping, socializing, sports, art, community service, and more.
Jewish Studies is an integral part of the Gann curriculum and allows students the opportunity to explore traditions, history, and texts surrounding the faith, as well as individual relationships to Judaism and the modern world. Topics range from Israeli Politics to Torah and Talmud study.
Last but not least is #7, Maccabi GB. Its mission is to support the long term future of British Jewry by engaging and developing this religious community with a broad range of sporting, educational, and health-based activities. It operates in every mainstream Jewish School in Britain, delivering daily physical curriculum lessons, sports tournaments, and after school clubs.
Maccabi GB programs a selection of Sports Clubs and Community Sports Days, offering everything from Badminton to Table Tennis, Netball to Running, and Lawn Bowls to Walking Groups. It also organizes an annual Fun Run, held in Allianz Park, in which over 75 charities and schools participate.