100 Days of Impact : Educating

14 Oct
PJ Library children reading

PJ Library children reading

Explore the important core values of Judaism, all while fostering a love of reading and community

Suzanne Hurwitz fondly reflects on her family’s experience with PJ Library, “Our family loves reading… so what could have been better than having Jewish books sent to our kids each month? They loved opening the envelopes and discovering new stories, and we loved that our traditions and history were being passed down. Now that they are a little older, we look back on our “PJ days” as the time in which their strong Jewish identities were just starting to form, with the help from a wonderful surprise each month.”

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee provides hundreds of local children and families access to incredible Jewish content and programming through its partnership with PJ Library.

PJ Library logo

PJ Library promotes Jewish literacy amongst children in our community through the distribution of high-quality Jewish literature and music. Through the philanthropic efforts of The Karp Family Foundation, The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, this beloved community program is entirely free. Each month, across Sarasota-Manatee County, children ages 6 months to 8 years, and their families, are able to receive free books and music via mail, and together explore the important core values of Judaism, all while fostering a love of reading and community. Learn more here.



100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.


You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!



100 Days of Impact: Experiencing

7 Oct
Camp  Grants and Scholarships from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

Camp memories last forever!

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee awarded $56,750 in camp grants and scholarships in 2014, helping to send seventy-nine children to Jewish overnight camps this summer.


Justin at Camp Ramah Darom

Justin at Camp Ramah Darom

If it were not for the assistance of the Jewish Federation scholarship grant, I would not have been able to attend camp this year.  A fantastic adventure for the past 8 years, this is my last year at Camp Ramah Darom as a camper. As a Senior Camper I will have the privilege of going on a 10-day road trip up the east coast.

I have truly grown up at camp and have had the best Jewish experience. The relationships I have made at Ramah Darom have impacted my life so much that I now aspire to become a camp counselor.  I hope to give back and share my experiences with others and impact their lives as people have done for me.

These Jewish Federation Camp grants can help other children enjoy the many summers that I have and begin new journeys as well as develop a love for Jewish camping. If it were not for the Federation’s assistance, I would not have had the greatest summer ever.  I am still at camp until August 4th, and Camp Ramah is my home away from home.  With help from the Federation it can become your summer home too.

Written by Justin B., a sixteen year old 11th grader at Sarasota High School

100 Days of Impact: Investing

30 Sep

Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is committed to INVESTING donor dollars in Israel experiences for teens, such as Young Ambassadors and March of the Living. Following the logic of the many studies that show that Birthright participants are 42% more likely to feel connected to Israel than those who don’t go on a mission OR that they are 45% more likely to marry someone Jewish than a nonparticipant, our leadership feels that offering high school students an Israel experience will create a deeper attachment to Israel and to their own Jewish identity. High school is an extremely formative period when more complex thinking, including political and religious ideology, is seriously examined and when dating habits are formed.

In 2014, our Federation sent its largest delegation to date on the March of the Living Mission. As well, we had more than 10 students participate on other mission experiences through Young Ambassadors and the Send a Kid to Israel Program. For the first time, our Federation provided scholarships for two high school students to spend a semester in Israel through the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program.

March of the Living

By INVESTING in our teens, the future of our Jewish community, we work to ensure the continuity of our Jewish people and a long-term attachment to Israel. The best way to demonstrate the impact these trips have on our teens is to hear from them directly…

>> The Young Ambassadors trip has had a positive impact on participants and has encouraged them to become more involved in advocating for Israel and getting more in touch with their Judaism. If it wasn’t for the Bob Malkin Young Ambassador Teen Leadership Program, local teens’ lives may have gone very different ways and they may not have been as involved Jewishly as they are today.
Samara Robbins (Young Ambassador ’12)

>> This [March of the Living] trip has increased my faith in Judaism so much that I now view it as something so fundamental, it is inseparable from myself. Being able to share this experience through two very different countries with so many other Jews proved to me Judaism is alive and strong and that the Nazis did not win. This trip made me so thankful for all of the fundamental blessings that I have in my life. However, this is a March which is not yet complete. I have learned that we need to be upstanders to make sure that the Holocaust never happens again.
Brandon Ikeman (March of the Living ’13)

>> Because of this journey, I made the decision to have my Bat Mitzvah 5 years late. Being in the holiest place on the planet made me realize what Judaism truly means and I really connected to my inner Jew. Going to the Western Wall and praying in the presence of a divine spirit was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Erica Brown (Young Ambassador ’14)


100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact

100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.


You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!

100 Days of Impact: Protecting

22 Sep

As of today, there are just 100 days left of 2014.

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

Each week, from now through the end of the year, The Jewish Federation will highlight different ways our donors impact the lives of others in the Sarasota-Manatee community, in Israel and around the world.  These stories each week will depict the ways in which your donations benefit others and bring meaning to their lives.  It is fitting, that we start our 100 Days of Impact as we begin the Ten Days of Penitence during Rosh Hashanah.


Week One: Protecting

Operation Lifeshield

Operation Lifeshield

One way The Federation has demonstrated its commitment to its mission of ‘saving Jewish lives’ is by supporting projects like Operation Lifeshield.  This program provides Israel’s threatened communities with protected air raid shelters they so desperately need.  Through an Overseas Grant in 2014 for the project “Concrete Protection for Ashkelon Children,” The Jewish Federation invested in a large, double-portal, 70 ton Lifeshield shelter, capable of safely protecting over 60 students and staff during rocket attacks from Gaza. The school that received the new Lifeshield shelter is very unique.  Five days a week, children come from schools across Ashkelon to learn.


This is but one example of the many projects our Federation supports, and now that need is greater than ever. Between television, social media and internet coverage, we can all see, firsthand, the struggles that Israel faces every day and how its citizens so desperately need our help. Our Federation will continue to make contributions to assist Israeli citizens now and in the future. For more information about this project or other important initiatives we support, please contact Marty Haberer at 941.552.6303 or mhaberer@jfedsrq.org.

Learn about the numerous ways we help the community here.

To support the Federation via an online gift, click here.



$18 Provides two meals for All Faiths Food Bank
$36  Provides PJ Library media
$75  Women’s Day Ticket
$118  Day of community education
$250  Trains EOD teacher
$500  Sends a kid to religious school
$750  Interfaith program in Sarasota-Manatee
$1,000  Grant for 1st year camper
$2,500  ‘No Place for Hate’ to one school
$6,000  Sends one student on March of the Living
$10,000  Brings Israeli culture to college campuses
$18,000  Holocaust staff JFCS
$25,000  Bomb shelter



A Synopsis of the BDS/SJP Situation at USF

3 Sep

University-of-South-Florida-logoThe Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is a proud supporter of our Hillel here in New College and Ringling College, providing funds for an Outreach and Engagement Professional on the New College Campus as well as underwriting the costs associated with Hillel’s programming.


A Synopsis of the BDS/SJP Situation at USF
By Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Executive Director, Hillels of the Suncoast

This past year saw an incredibly vociferous BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Campaign at the University of South Florida by the USF Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Group. They had very visible programs including a petition with what they claimed had 10,000 names calling on the USF Foundation to Divest from Israel.

SJP protest at USF

SJP protest at USF

Our students did an incredible job, behind the scenes, thwarting the efforts of SJP. We did not organize any open demonstrations against their programs which left them poorly attended and, without any conflict, came and went without even making a ripple. While SJP was busy getting signatures on their petition, our students prepared a brief for the USF Foundation Board showing how the signatures on the petition were not all valid, thereby drawing the entire petition into question. They then showed how students were not informed about the specific content of the petition, only that it was in support of human rights. Or that students were given free pizza if they signed the petition, and some students were actually badgered into signing. In addition, there was an online option which said, “if you are not a student at USF, you can sign the petition and use “U1234567” as an id number. This in addition to one-on-one meetings with Jewish trustees led to a unanimous rejection of the SJP motion for the USF Foundation to divest from Israel.

In light of the current conflict in Gaza and the fact that Tariq Khdeir (the American teenager who was beaten by Israeli police during a riot in Jerusalem) is from Tampa, we anticipate a much more vicious anti-Israel campaign this year.

SJP had sponsored a fundraising event for Gaza in the Marshall Student Center, which featured Tariq Khdeir and Sheikh Monzer Taleb. However, TruthRevolt.org posted an article which exposed Taleb as a fundraiser for Hamas. With this, SJP withdrew their sponsorship and the program was moved from the Marshall Student Center to the Embassy Suites Hotel on Campus. We are waiting for more about this from Truth Revolt.

Pro-Palestinian Protest in South Florida

Pro-Palestinian Protest in South Florida

We have added an Israel Fellow to our staff and, with the help of several outside agencies, anticipate bringing speakers to campus and raising the pro-Israel profile at USF. For the past couple years, our students have been working quietly behind the scenes building alliances with other student organizations and getting involved with student government in order to thwart the efforts of SJP. This year, they are taking a much more open and visible approach to providing pro-Israel programs and educational events on campus.

It’s going to be a busy and difficult year, but we are certain that our USF Israel Activists will do a wonderful job of presenting Israel in the positive light that she deserves across the campus.

We Stand With Israel (a billboard)

22 Aug

JFSM Billboard - We Stand With Israel 1

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee purchased billboard space on North US 41, just north of the Sarasota Airport (SRQ). On the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties, the sign clearly says “We Stand with Israel” along with the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative logo, (a Star of David that incorporates elements of the American flag). The sign serves to show our unwavering commitment to the the State of Israel and her people – in the face of the ongoing crisis and global anti-Semitism currently happening in Europe, the Middle East and here in the United States. For more about the Heller IAI, visit www.SarasotaLovesIsrael.com

JFSM Billboard - We Stand with Israel 2

Israel’s Social Iron Dome

23 Jul

An Open Letter to the Sarasota-Manatee Community


Israel is hurting today, as is, the entire Jewish world. To our beloved State of Israel – we at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee stand with you and embrace you.

As soon as Israel’s ground operation began, the Egyptian foreign minister strongly criticized Hamas, saying the terrorist organization could have saved dozens of lives had its leadership agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. His concern, in particular, was for the innocent children who have been killed during this operation. A child’s life, any child, is sacred. Children deserve to live in safe, loving and nurturing environments. It is so unfortunate that children pay the price for terror, cruelty and are cynically used as human shields and as propaganda tools.  And don’t forget Hamas was DEMOCRATICALLY elected…. ISRAEL-GAZA-CONFLICT

We hope that the children of Gaza will be able to live their dreams and to grow up in respectful, human conditions. We have no quarrel with them or their people. Soldiers have repeatedly seen young children in Gaza sent out into the streets with guns to try to attack IDF troops. One parent reported that terrorists had run at IDF soldiers with a gun in one hand and a baby in the other. If soldiers fired, the parent added, the child’s death could be used as propaganda against Israel. They are not our enemies, they are victims of a harsh reality and further evidence that Hamas is cavalier with human life, including our Israeli children, who spend their days huddled in bomb shelters.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the goings on in Israel and the Gaza Strip over the last week. Hundreds are dying – and all because of Hamas. There is no need to mince words about it.   Since early July, 2,040 rockets have been shot from Gaza into Israel. How many were intercepted by Iron Dome? It’s irrelevant, because we now have a generation of traumatized Israelis.  No photo ops of dead bodies like in the streets of Gaza.  But then again, photo ops won’t show the internal scaring.  Rockets don’t have to hit the ground to leave a lasting and painful memory of round-the-clock sirens.

139 rockets were fired from Gaza, yesterday alone. One hit next to a school in Ashdod. Another struck an empty kindergarten in the Shaar HaNegev region. A house was hit in Yehud and a rocket landed 1 mile from Ben-Gurion Airport causing international fear and cancelling all flights in and out of Israel. We’ve lost 32 brave soldiers while they were Operation Pillar of Defenseuncovering and destroying tunnels built by Hamas with international aid money that was meant to feed, clothe and house Palestinians.

Let’s pull back for a larger world view. Almost every major foreign leader has spoken up against Hamas aggression and for the right of Israel to defend herself – even the notoriously anti-Israel, Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations.  Yet still, the news of violent and anti-Jewish protests are being reported in Paris, Melbourne, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, London and even Boston and New York. It’s a venom, a stench, yes… an absolute vitriol that we have not seen for 7-decades. Synagogues and Jewish owned shops are being looted and destroyed by pro-Palestinian rioters. Old fashion Jew Hatred/Anti-Semitism at its absolute worse.  It has gotten so bad that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stated “to attack a synagogue and a kosher grocery store is quite simply anti-Semitism and racism.”

So there it is – this Federation – The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee – supports Israel unequivocally. We are part of Israel’s “Social Iron Dome”. If one day, not too far in the future we see that there is no safe haven for world Jewry to thrive and flourish, our children and grandchildren will look back to those who were silent and ask “Why?” Let us not be silent. If we don’t stand up for Israel and Jewish communities wherever they are, no one else will.



1. DONATE: One-hundred percent of money raised goes directly to our overseas partners to support the most vulnerable populations in Israel. DONATE HERE

2. STAY INFORMED: Our Israel Emergency page will be continuously updated and includes additional news links. Also visit www.SarasotaLovesIsrael.com for Israel-related content.

3. SHARE: Share information to your social networks via E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. The Federation is using the hashtags: #IsraelUnderFire #StopTheSirens #jfedsrq.

4. LOBBY: your elected officials. Visit our Political Advocating page for state and national contact information as well as tips for properly formatting your communications.

5. SOLIDARITY: Tell the IDF soldiers you support them via the website: Friends Of The Israel Defense Forces

6.  SUPPORT: Buy Israeli products locally:
– A Taste of Europe, 2212 Gulf Gate Drive: Pickles, Olives, Couscous & Coffee
– Bed, Bath & Beyond, 6567 S Tamiami Trail or 111 N Cattlemen Rd: Ahava Beauty Products, SodaStream Home Carbonation Systems
– Comfort Shoes Siesta Key, 5128 Ocean Blvd: Naot Sandals – Garden Argosy, 361 St Armand’s Circle: Ayala Bar Jewelry
– Katy Rose Olive Oils, Lakewood Dr, Lakewood Ranch: Olive Oil – Galilee & Golan Heights
– Publix, Various locations: Kosher section with Israeli products
– Reasons Shoe Store, 20 N Lemon Ave or 57 Boulevard of the Presidents: Israeli shoes
– Total Wine, Cooper Creek Blvd, University Park: Israeli wine
– Ulta, 103 N Cattlemen Rd or 6515 S Tamiami Trail: Ahava Beauty Products
– The Walking Company, 3501 S Tamiami Trail or 380 St Armands Circle: Naot Sandals
– Israeli products are also available at your local Temple!

- For the price of dinner for two—$53—we can provide a critical day of relief for children living closest to the line of fire. A day away from the front lines—in summer camps, youth villages and enrichment classes—is more than a day in the country. It is a respite from the confines of the indoor playgrounds that, for more than 13 years, have become their “normal” play spaces.

- In normal times, Federation-supported senior centers provide thousands of seniors living in poverty—many of them Holocaust survivors—with food and comfort. Today, it’s too dangerous for them to travel, and many are living within the walls of their apartment bunkers. Our partners are deploying more caseworkers to bring food, medicine and comfort to the elderly—and other vulnerable groups like the disabled—in their homes.

- When sirens blare, tens of thousands of Israelis take cover. But when the all-clear sounds, many continue to suffer from trauma that may not be as visible as a physical injury, but is just as real. Partner programs are providing psychological assistance to help 15,000 civilians and first responders weather the current storm.

- Local municipalities are at the forefront of managing community services and responses to attacks. Targeted local assistance helps bridge the gap between government aid and needs, enhancing the resilience of individual communities.

Questions? Contact Jessi Sheslow at 941.343.2109 or jsheslow@jfedsrq.org


Download this graphic to use on your social media profile:

I am Israel's Social Iron Dome



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