The last issue of The Reporter featured an article about the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton’s allocation to the Jewish Federations of North America (view article here). Below is a look at how two of the programs offered by its partners help Jews in different parts of the globe.
The Jewish Agency for Israel
Moving to a new country is never easy, even if the move represents the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, as it does for many Ethiopian immigrants. Despite their desire to live in the Holy Land, immigrants from Ethiopia face numerous challenges. Many individuals struggle with the basic norms of western society, are poorly educated and have very limited financial means.
In particular, many children of Ethiopian immigrants are disadvantaged as they arrive in Israel with educational delays in their development. Having to struggle to integrate into the mainstream education system poses an additional stress for the children and their families. Yesodot, which means foundations in Hebrew, enables these children to bridge the academic, social and developmental gaps through targeted enrichment programs.
JDC (formerly the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee)
Eighty-one-year-old David Volgust lives alone in Tbilisi in the country of Georgia. Like the 1,000-plus other elderly Jews in the capital city, and the more than 400 across Georgia, he relies on JDC to survive. Having never married or had children, he lives off of his pension of just a few dollars a day, turning to JDC for food, medicine, winter relief and more. However, one of the most important things he receives from JDC is the help of his beloved homecare worker: I’ve got a very nice, kind and honest homecare worker, and I couldn’t manage without her.”
While in many ways reliant on JDC and his local Jewish community, Volgust has also found his own way to give back. As a former guitar teacher, champion ballroom dancer and electrical engineer, he has channeled his energy into other endeavors – becoming a dedicated volunteer at his local JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center. Using his talents and zest for life, he even launched a program to keep other Georgian Jewish seniors active and physically fit through ballroom dancing classes. “You know, I take life as it is, and I like it. I’m just happy that I get to live on this earth,” he said.
Despite the pandemic, JDC, with the generous support of partners like the Binghamton Federation, has worked uninterrupted to ensure that Volgust – along with the more than 80,000 other elderly Jews aided every day by JDC – continues to live that life with dignity.