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14 Jun

#PrayForOrlando smaller Jun2015


The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is outraged and saddened by the tragic and horrific mass shooting this weekend at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This act of terror and hate, inspired by radical Islamic views, has left 49 people confirmed killed and at least 53 more severely injured. We were dismayed to learn of this horrifying attack on the LGBTQ community while Jews around the world were celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the anniversary of the day G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

A key tenet of the Torah is that humankind was created in G-d’s image, and therefore we must treat one another with compassion and respect. The Jewish Federation strongly condemns those who target a particular community. We will not stand idly by and let terrorists and those who espouse hatred win.  Instead we as the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish community pledge our devotion and loyalty to all communities who are subject to hatred and discrimination. We will work together to fight back and stand in solidarity together.

The rising tide of extremism and violence, around the world and here in the United States, is profoundly disturbing and reiterates the threat of terrorism to the entire free world. We mourn for those murdered, offer our condolences to their families and pray for a swift recovery of the injured. All Americans were attacked, but the LGBT community was targeted.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ and entire Orlando community.

Howard Tevlowitz
Executive Director


Israeli President Rivlin’s Message on Independence Day

11 May

May 10th, 2016

In honor of the upcoming national days, President Reuven Rivlin sent an Independence Day message to Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world.


In his message – which can be viewed here – President Rivlin spoke of his memories as a nine year old child, seeing the flag of Israel raised for the first time as the flag of an independent, sovereign state, he said, “Today, each time I see the flag flying, it fills my heart with pride and joy. As Israel turns 68, we can look with pride, at our past, and must look to the future with hope. The State of Israel was born out of a hope of 2000 years. It was born with the bravery of dreamers who worked to turn their dream into reality. Their spirit stays with us today. In the past year, I have visited many different places across this wonderful country, I have seen this spirit, this joy and pride, which still pushes us forward.”


The President spoke of the terrible price of terrorism and said, “Sadly, over the last year Israel has faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain, and left many painful scars. I sat in the houses, of the families who lost loved ones, soldiers and civilians, I felt their pain, and shared in their tears.” He stressed, “Terror will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price.” 


The President highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity in Israel’s democracy, “Real independence, means the freedom of expression, to celebrate and enjoy the diversity of voices of all the people in Israel, as different as they may be; whether we agree with them or not. An inclusive nation, which knows to debate and discuss with respect and understanding.”


The President concluded, “Our Independence Day is a day to celebrate. It is a day to lift the flag high in the knowledge that our hope will lead us to find the way to overcome the challenges, and to spread a message of understanding and respect between one another. And while around our borders, and even inside our borders, blow the terrible winds of radical Islam, we are sure of our path and of our ability and right to build here our national home, with security and prosperity.”

100 Days of Impact: Partnering

10 Dec

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee granted $35,000 to Embracing our Differences (EOD) in 2014, which provided program training to 220 teachers in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

EOD QuoteJoanna Fox has been teaching creative writing and language arts at Booker Middle School for fifteen years where teaching students to be a part of the community and not apart from the community is engrained into her curriculum.    By transforming her classroom into The Dragonfly Café, Fox has created a community environment where sharing of ideas is encouraged.  Through writing, students are taught that word choices can have an indelible impact on one’s destiny.  Fox’s work with Embracing our Differences (EOD) exemplifies partnership not just between students and teachers, but also between schools and the community.  By supporting our community’s students, EOD seeks to provide opportunities for every student in every school to participate in the program, as well as, visit the exhibit.

One of Joanna Fox’s students, Michael, was touched so deeply by EOD, that its impact literally transformed his life.  With the recent death of his father and abandonment of his mother, Michael moved in with his uncle and transferred to Booker Middle School.  With his world shattered, it’s no wonder why he arrived in class seemingly distant and unengaged.  But, submitting a quote to EOD and being selected turned Michael’s life around.  This simple, yet powerful recognition was described by Michael as “the best day of my life.”  After receiving a candy bar from the school’s principal as part of that recognition, Michael broke off pieces to share with the entire class, savoring the last bit for himself.  No longer feeling apart, Michael finally expressed desire in becoming a part of his community.

Michael’s Quote: The true color of people is not the shade of their skin but the tint of their personalities.



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!

Women’s Day Inspires

26 Nov
2014 Women's Day artwork by Janet Mishner

2014 Women’s Day artwork by Janet Mishner

This week, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee County is dedicated to the women of our community who have attended and will attend Women’s Day, Federation’s annual event that provides an opportunity for women to come together around a theme they can all relate to with an inspiring speaker. It is their volunteerism and generosity that inspires Jewish life here, in Israel and around the world. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, more than 400 women will gather to hear acclaimed actress and social activist Camryn Manheim speak about her topic: Mitzvah Therapy: Living Life Generously.

Women's Day 2013 particpants and guest speaker Campbell Brown

Women’s Day 2013 particpants and guest speaker Campbell Brown

These women are mothers, daughters, lawyers, teachers, business owners, artists, executives, chefs and engineers. What they share is a passion for giving and the knowledge that giving of themselves creates more joy in their own lives than they could ever give.



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.


We couldn’t do it without your generous support.




100 Days of Impact: Engaging

23 Oct

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee provides programming for young Jewish adults that gives a sense of community for an age group which isn’t very well represented here. By gaining access to career and social networking these young adults are able to make friends and sometimes even find jobs with fellow Jews.

Scotty FelsenfeldScotty Felsenfeld is a young man you moved to Sarasota from Michigan hoping for a fresh start. His family recently moved here so he had a foundation. 3 days after the big move he came to one of our YAD (Young Adult Divison) happy hours. He got to know many people, who he calls friends to this day and someone else very important. As a video editor he was concerned that he would not have many job opportunities here on the suncoast but he met someone who was a producer at the HUB.

“Being a part of YAD has brought on incredible experiences for me. I’ve met wonderful people, I’ve seen awesome places around town and at my first YAD event, days after moving to Sarasota, I connected with someone who got me my dream job! I look forward to meeting more interesting and fun people” – Scotty Felsenfeld.

YAD Young Adults Division

YAD provides opportunities for personal growth and community activism, while building strong relationships in the Jewish world.  Join us for an upcoming social event! Visit the YAD page or contact Len Steinberg at 941.552.6301 or for more information.

Over 800 attend People of the Book event

13 Mar

From left: Howard Tevlowitz, Federation Executive Director; Ina Schnell, Chair of People of the Book; Robert Edsel, Speaker and Author of The Monuments Men; Steven High, Executive Director of The Ringling. Photo by Sally Ullman Photography.

It was a great evening at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee’s People of the Book event with Robert Edsel, the author of The Monuments Men. An audience of over 800 had the opportunity to hear Edsel speak about the brave, middle-aged men who risked their lives in WWII to save the art of Europe from the Nazis.

Robert Edsel, on a trip to Florence, Italy, wondered why so many art treasures had not been destroyed during the war. He had just sold his business and had the time and interest to investigate. His investigations took him to northern Europe. His most recent book is about the art in Italy and what happened to it.

Recognition for the work of the Monuments Men by the President of the United States for their valor and the importance of their mission occurred in 2007 through the efforts of Robert Edsel. Few people, however, knew the story until Edsel’s book was published in 2009 and the movie was recently released.

The response to People of the Book has been most gratifying. Audience members were pleased to have the opportunity to hear the story and meet the author who has formed a foundation to continue to pursue the return of artworks to their rightful owners, a most difficult task. As I left the auditorium, there was a long line forming to speak with Robert Edsel and have him sign books.

Many thanks to Federation for the opportunity to hear this fascinating story that provides a greater understanding of the importance of saving a civilization’s cultural heritage. The event served to thank donors of $36; we are incredibly grateful for their continued support of our efforts.  Special thanks to our partners and sponsors The Ringling, Sarasota Magazine, The Observer Group and BookStore One Sarasota.

Ina Schnell is the Chair of the People of the Book event.

Faith to Faith: Christians and Jews working together for Israel

21 Feb

Faith to Faith panel, from left: Rabbi Howard Simon, Robert Stearns, Susan Michael, Consul General Chaim Shacham, Darius Jones, Pastor Scott Thomas

Ever since 1948, Israel has existed in a world that doesn’t completely support its existence.  The Jewish State of Israel allows Jewish people world wide to know that no matter what, there is a place that they can allows be accepted.  However, does this only apply to Jews? And who else supports Israel and why?

 These questions and many more were answered at the Jewish Federations event, Faith to Faith: Christians and Jews working together for Israel, this past Tuesday at the Church of Hope.  The event consisted of a panel discussion led by Rabbi Howard Simon at which various questions were posed to the panelists who then discussed them.  Darius Jones, Southeast Regional Outreach Director at AIPAC, provided a unique insight into the beliefs of the African-American community with respects to Israel and the reasoning behind them.  Robert Stearns of Eagle Wings Ministries, Susan Michael of the International Christian Embassy Jordan, and Pastor Scott Thomas of Christians United For Israel all contributed the rationale behind Christian support of Israel and their stance on many issues threatening the existence of Israel.  Finally, Chaim Shacham, the Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, gave Israel a voice during the discussion and allowed all attending to understand Israel’s perspective and point of view on a wide variety of anti-Israel actions.

Going into the program I never really thought about why others besides Jewish people advocated for Israel.  However, throughout the program I gained a vast amount of knowledge as to why people do.  Some people see Israel as significant in the Bible and support Israel because of biblical reasons, while others may sympathize and understand the Jewish peoples’ struggles and desire for them to have a safe place to call home.  Whatever the reason, I believe that no one group’s support may be overlooked, especially in the world we live in today.  With the ever-growing power of the media and anti-Semitic groups, we must accept and embrace all help that we may receive.  With a B.D.S. (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement gaining ground worldwide, Israel cannot stand alone.

The necessity to educate people about and send people to Israel cannot be overstated.  Faith to Faith was an eye opening and educational event for all present.  I learned a great amount about advocating for Israel and how to combat movements against Israel.  The event truly showed that support for Israel is not just a Jewish position, but one anyone can hold.

Grant C. is the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative Intern at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.