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Israeli aid effort helps Haitians — and Israel’s image                     

Haiti hits home for some, others spearhead fund-raising

As the world watched the catastrophe unfolding in Haiti, the tragic events hit home at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, where some distraught members of the staff, originally from that earthquake-ravaged nation, have been trying to track down relatives and friends there. JHR’s Rabbi Simon Feld led a service in the chapel last Thursday and asked attendees to pray for survivors and loved ones. “Our hearts go out to those who are missing and injured,” he said. He also recited a prayer for those who had died as a result of the earthquake.

Snerte Leger, a Haitian-born member of JHR’s kitchen staff, also spoke to the group, saying, “Everyone here knows what is going on in Haiti. We need to help the Haitian people.”

A second service was held the following day for those who were unable to attend the first.

Chuck Berkowitz, JHR’s executive vice president, noted that its residents had contributed to a fund established by the Jewish Home Foundation to aid victims and their families, as had members of the staff and the board of directors. A meeting was held after the service to discuss where to direct the funds — a little over $4,000 as of Tuesday, according to Melanie Cohen, JHR’s vice president of development and public relations.

“A significant number of staff members are native Haitians,” she noted, “and we felt it was very important to show our support in their time of need.” The employees and residents will decide where to send the donations.

As of Wednesday, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey had accumulated pledges and donations through its Website,, and by mail, amounting to more than $56,000, not counting several large gifts, one of $25,000. Money continues to come in, said Alan Scharfstein, the federation’s president, and100 percent of the donations will go to the American Joint Distribution Committee, except for the $25,000 supplementary gift that has been designated for Partners in Health, which is also sending aid to Haiti.

Scharstein said, “It’s important for the world to see how much Jews care, not only about Jews but about all of those in need. And I think it’s also heart-warming to see the generosity of our community.”

Jewish Artists for Haiti will stage a benefit concert Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St., in Manhattan. The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring and the New Yiddish Repertory Theater are the lead sponsors of the three-hour concert, which will feature, among others, Frank London and The Klezmer Brass AllStars, Greg Wall, Soulfarm, Neshama Carlebach and The Green Pastures Baptist Choir, Basya Schaechter and Pharoah’s Daughter, Alicia Svigals, Judith Sloan (the evening’s emcee), Gary Lucas, Maracatu New York, Cantor Dan Singer, and others with styles ranging from klezmer to Jewish hip hop.

Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck, artistic director of the NationalYiddish Theater/Folksbiene, will be among the performers.

Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Admission is a minimum donation of $18. All proceeds will go directly to the American Jewish World Service Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

For more information, call Workmen’s Circle at (212) 889-6800, ext. 212, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Among the many funds to aid the earthquake victims is the MDA Emergency Disaster Fund of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross.

Jake Hirsch of New City, N.Y., a junior at Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in Harts-dale, N.Y., became interested in Haiti long before last week’s earthquake. He started the school’s Hope for Haiti Club this year after researching a term paper about the country for his history class.

Jake organized an art sale at the school on Jan. 31 with the Vassar-Haiti Project, a volunteer organization that buys and imports Haitian art, with the proceeds sustaining the education, medical program, and other essentials of a village in northern Haiti that was not affected by the earthquake. Proceeds from the art sale will be given to the project as well as for earthquake relief.

The school has put Jake in charge of all Haiti-related relief efforts. Those not attending the sale can send checks made out to the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester (with Haitian relief in the memo), 555 West Hartsdale Ave., Hartsdale, NY 10530; 100 percent of the donations will be sent to Haiti. For information, call (914) 948-8333.


Celebrate Israel Parade set for Sunday June 5

New name, new logo to honor love for Israel

The event formerly known as the “Salute to Israel Parade” will take place — with a new name and new logo — on Sunday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m.

This year the march up New York’s Fifth Avenue is called the “Celebrate Israel Parade” and is part of a series of events conceived to promote enthusiasm about Israel, according to Gabe Roth, publicist.

“It used to be a one-off event, but now we are trying to keep the enthusiasm going all year round,” said Roth.

The name change is only one part of the Celebrate Israel Project initiated by the JCRC-NY, sponsor in cooperation with the Israeli consulate and UJA-Federation in New York. It is aimed at honoring the bond between Israel and its metropolitan-area supporters.

Other events planned as part of an ongoing series include a Celebrate Israel Concert the evening of the parade and a Celebrate Israel Run in Central Park the morning of the parade.

Most Jewish day schools and high schools as well as several Jewish communal organizations from northern New Jersey are sending contingents to march and, in some cases, perform in marching bands. Thirty thousand marchers are expected.

The parade’s new logo, created by graphic designer Milton Glaser, is intended to illustrate the bond between American Jews and Israelis.

“I wanted to depict the strong bond American Jews feel toward Israel and its people,” said Glaser, who donated the image. “The Celebrate Israel Parade makes the statement that we stand with Israel through thick and thin, and that the fates of our nations are linked. The shapes and colors in the logo represent the relationship of light to life.”

UJA-NNJ is on the march

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey will be marching in the parade.

A bus will leave the JCC of Paramus at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $18 a person, $65 per family. Strollers and large backpacks not allowed.

The new logo consists of the white five-pointed star that appears on the American flag, outlined in red, surrounded by the blue six-pointed Star of David, with a second Star of David in light blue radiating from behind.

Glaser, who helped found New York magazine in 1968, is creator of the famed I Love NY logo.

The parade’s route extends along Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street. Viewers are encouraged to show up at any point along the route.

For the first time this year, the parade will be broadcast on television. John Huddy, reporter for Fox 5, will broadcast the parade from noon till 2 p.m. on WWOR My9. It will also be broadcast online at,, the companion site of Israeli TV’s Channel 2, and, Yediot Ahronot’s website.

Huddy and co-anchor Beck Griffin, an Israeli TV host, will interview participants at the corner of 68th Street and Fifth Avenue.

An American Friends of Magen David Adom ambulance will pull a float in the parade. MDA, Israel’s government-mandated ambulance and disaster relief organization, provided treatment and rehabilitation services to Haitians in Port-au-Prince following the earthquake in January 2010.

To commemorate the event and honor the State of Israel, the Empire State Building will be lit in blue and white on June 3, 4, and 5.

The Celebrate Israel Run, to start at 9 a.m., will take place over a four-mile, counter-clockwise course. It is to begin near SummerStage (East Drive and 68th Street), extend around the reservoir, and conclude parallel to 72nd Street, just north of Sheep Meadow.

The Celebrate Israel Concert, featuring Israeli musical artists Beit Habubot, Israela Asago, and DJ Eyal Rob, will take place at 7 p.m. at the Edison Ballroom, 240 West 47th St. The concert is free to the public but an RSVP is required. For more information on the parade, concert, and run visit

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