2012-2013 Newsletter - Tishrei 5773
In these days of cynicism, mistrust, and confusion of values, Elie Wiesel, the writer, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, gives us guidance:
“To me the greatest commandment in the Bible is not the Ten Commandments. My commandment is ‘Thou shall not stand idly by’. This means when you witness an injustice, do not stand idly by. When you hear of a person or a group being persecuted, do not stand idly by. Where there is something wrong in the community around you, or far away, do not stand idly by. You must intervene. You must intervene.”
Back in 1988, two years after Adina’s death, we started this Fund with the hope that Adina’s values would be perpetuated in future generations. Thousands of donations have poured in, and we have now zoomed past the sum of a half million dollars ($545,000) awarded to hundreds of young people. “Small acts of human goodness, multiplied by thousands of people are transformative.”
Our thanks to each of you who made contributions this past year giving over 80 individuals the opportunity to learn, to witness, to intervene, and to become involved in social justice. We highlight eight who: used the power of sports to breach cultural barriers, teach cooperation, and defuse tensions – Ultimate Frisbee with Arab and Jewish Israelis and soccer among warring tribes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; promoted micro-credit enterprises in Ecuador and Argentina; researched immigration law or assisted troubled youth in Israel; worked on environmental social change in India; and developed a guidebook for productive dialogue between advocates of differing positions in the United States.
All contributions go directly toward grants; the Schulman family covers all costs. Do take pride in knowing it is truly your donation that supports these endeavors. For those who may have read the article in the NJ Jewish News about the dedication of two new buildings at Camp Galil in memory of Amy Adina, the money raised for that project was entirely separate from this Fund.
With the 25th anniversary of the Fund occurring in 2013, we are in the process of locating past grantees to survey their current activities. We are also considering a networking conference for grantees and need their thoughts on how to make this useful for them in their current work, and when such a gathering would be most convenient. Parents, siblings, friends, and grantees: We need your help! Please send us current email addresses!
May this new year bring health and strength so as not to stand idly by, the ability to speak and to hear each other without rancor, an increasing sense of community, and a deepening of relationships, and may we all be bound in the Book of Life.
Joel, Nancy, & Logan Ruth (& Mel z”l) Dan, Jennie, Molly, & Jake
P.S. The U.S. Post Office now requires an address barcode on each envelope that uses a non-profit postal rate, a difficult task for our two-person “Ruth and Nancy Shop.” (Nancy Lewis is the Fund’s administrator.) So, we are trying a commercial mailing service this year, and therefore are not able to send personal notes, but please continue to send us the latest news of your family and your much-appreciated notes of support.
Brief notes from a few grantees:
Marcus B. worked in Ecuador and Zoe S. in Argentina; both were involved with microfinance and micro-credit loans that address the needs of low-income entrepreneurs, many of whom are women with limited access to start-up capital.
Marcus, fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, graduated with honors in Political Economy and Latin American Studies from Pitzer College, CA. His previous experience includes anthro-ecological fieldwork among indigenous peoples of the Amazon for the Brazilian government on an NSF grant. He received a grant from us to serve as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador, at a non-profit that raises money for individual borrowers from microfinance institutions. Kiva connects lenders to micro-entrepreneurs using the Internet. A network of Fellows is responsible to ensure accurate reporting and accountability. It was “more personally and professionally rewarding than I could have possibly anticipated. My main task was to conduct a ‘social performance audit’… ensuring that loans were being used for the people and purposes advertised on Kiva’s website; that details were portrayed accurately and honestly; that loans really did benefit families.”
Clients served by these loans are located in areas extremely remote from the credit union headquarters. Often to obtain the information meant nearly a full day on the back of a motorcycle on rocky, rooty, flooded roads in stifling heat, pouring rain, or visibility-inhibiting fog. Doing this for hours was physically taxing, giving me an appreciation for what practitioners of microfinance do on a daily basis.”
Marcus also uncovered a persistent accounting error that was costing the credit union (Kiva’s partner) thousands of dollars a month. “Since the error has been fixed, it will allow between 10 and 20 micro-loans per month more than they could have given otherwise.” He is now working on “social performance metrics for Grameen America, a non-profit offering small loans for micro-businesses in the U.S. in New York, Indianapolis, Omaha, San Francisco, and soon others.”
Zoe, a Boulder, Colorado native and a Tufts graduate, is “working for a world that lives at the intersection of empathy and action.” She detailed the launching of Argentina’s Fundacion PETISOS’ first micro-credit initiative. Partnering with a large bank, PETISOS gained access to an already-established micro-credit network and implemented a proven model of lending, making loans to 50 new small-scale entrepreneurs in four months. She also designed and implemented PETISOS’ first social impact assessment to be used annually to measure various administrative and impact criteria. To ensure these initiatives would endure, she “created mechanisms so each would be self-sustainable.”
“I am now moving to Mumbai, India…to participate in the IDEX Fellowship for Social Enterprise, a non-profit incubator that offers start-up support to social entrepreneurs to create solutions to India’s social problems. It allows me to continue the work that I love and for that I am infinitely grateful.”
Scott B. played soccer for his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, and has coached the professional New York Red Bulls soccer team. He returns from eleven months in the Itari District of the Democratic Republic of Congo with Sports4Hope and its “Training Program to Unite Coaches from Warring Communities.” Despite ongoing conflict and past massacres, they trained 28 soccer coaches from 13 different areas in peace education programs, improved their abilities as coaches, and provided equipment for their communities – “building relationships and breaking down barriers dividing them.” Additionally, Scott gave training sessions in “sitting volleyball for people with lower body disabilities.” He notes the “huge physical and psychological strides by players who were shy and insecure about getting involved, but now can’t wait to get started.”
Rachel B. graduated from Washington University and was the Senior Jewish Student Life Coordinator at St. Louis Hillel. She worked with the Jewish Dialogue Group this summer “researching articles, interviewing Jewish leaders, and drafting JDG’s forthcoming ‘Guidebook for Deliberation on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’. She also organized a multi-session pilot program in Chicago to actually use the Guidebook. “It was incredibly rewarding to see what participants were able to take with them from the guide…in a respectful and productive manner… This year, I will apply to rabbinical school… taking with me all the things learned from my summer with JDG.
Alisa Z. was a research fellow with Adam Teva v’Din (ATD). She writes “the chance to work in current environmental and social justice issues allowed me to gain a better understanding of Israel… I was able to engage with specific issues that directly affect people’s lives and see their dedication to justice for all citizens within the context of environmental and public health issues.”
A graduate of George Washington University, Alisa had served as a development intern and research assistant for the World Resources Institute in Washington DC and the Urban Ecology Institute in Boston. She helped plan World Resource Institutes in Uganda and Brazil. “One of my major accomplishments was to support ATD’s ongoing work by researching best practices from the U.S. and abroad and, through my networks, to introduce ATD to allies abroad.
“In addition, I volunteered on weekends with Ultimate Peace, an organization that promotes community building with Jewish-Israeli, Arab-Israeli, and Palestinian kids through Ultimate Frisbee. I was able to meaningfully engage with Arab communities in Israel for the first time… As a mentor coach I experienced Israel’s diversity and began to see the breakdown of cultural and religious barriers through sports and new friendships.”
“Following my time in Israel, I served with the American Jewish World Service in India for three months… I worked for a sustainable development NGO to strengthen the rights of rural communities and their access to natural resources… While the quality of life is dramatically different between India and Israel, the core issues of citizens’ rights and access to a clean and healthy environment remain the same.” Alisa is now studying Environmental Management at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Keren R. graduated from Highland Park (IL) High School and spent a “gap year” volunteering with BINA, an Israeli non-profit that “gives community members tools to survive and empower themselves.” She lived in the “underserved neighborhood of south Tel Aviv – home to migrant workers, refugees, and Jewish immigrants, an area where I could not choose to ignore the unjust reality surrounding me. This constant meeting with reality served as a reminder of the urgency and importance of my work… two days a week volunteering at a public school that serves children of migrant workers and refugees; two days a week volunteering at an after school program with children who came from ‘broken homes’ and struggle with various behavioral issues; and once a week teaching English to a 16-year-old boy under house arrest…
“I learned to see myself as a change-maker; as one individual who can team up with many other committed individuals to positively engage with and give to a community. I learned to recognize the immensity of my own power to change my surroundings and myself… This empowered sense of being will definitely continue to fuel my decisions and actions at Wesleyan, in my Habonim-Dror community, and beyond… This year was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am sincerely grateful for the generosity and support of the Amy Adina Fund.”
Ben K., a graduate of Williams College, had extensive theatre experience acting, directing, staging, and playwriting. He interned for seven months at the Israeli daily Ha’aretz with only one guideline. “Write about anything but the conflict.” Three excerpts from his articles:
At a medical clowning conference in Jerusalem: “In a room with 100 medical clowns from all over the world…to me, this was Israel and Jewish tradition at its best – innovative, irreverent, and sensitive to human needs…Jerusalem, the City of Peace, serving as an international center for healing, not a center for conflict…”
At a Flash Mob in Beit Shemesh protesting gender segregation where “women gathered in a city square and ‘spontaneously’ danced to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ to protest their exclusion from public life…an ecstatic, triumphant moment…”
“After a day in Susya, visiting Palestinians in caves, of drinking tea with Bedouins pushed off their land, of seeing the most devastating poverty I had ever witnessed, I would return to Tel Aviv…Susya was an hour and a half away, but you would never know it existed.”
“My initial impulse was to resolve everything, to try and impose what I think should be…(but) I became a better listener…wanting to explore and understand (people’s) emotional and intellectual reasoning more than arguing with or dismissing them… How crucial it is to listen to all voices – particularly those of the silenced minority…The skills and experience I gained over the past months will be invaluable to me as I move forward and none of this would have been possible without the help of the Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund. I am deeply grateful for your encouragement and support and I am honored to join this community of people that believes we can and must usher in a better reality, despite – or in spite of – the facts on the ground… Soon I will be looking for ways to return and to reengage.” This summer Ben continued his study of Hebrew at Middlebury College.
In conjunction with the Yale program, Bulldogs in Israel, Nicole E. interned with the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem as Project Assistant for the National Coordination Battle Against Trafficking of Persons. “Raised in South Texas by my Vietnamese mother, I have direct experience interacting with displaced populations and an understanding of the complexity of cultural interactions… My internship exposed me to the workings of law, government, and general politics in Israel and the greater Middle East and Africa. I was able to participate in meetings with NGOs and international ambassadors and attend committee meetings at the Knesset regarding human trafficking and prostitution. I wrote analyses of the 2011 Israel and Egypt Trafficking in Persons Report, which were then circulated among the staffs of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I observed the interactions between NGOs and governments and became inspired by those dedicating their lives to fight for the dignity of all peoples. I became aware of the immense problem of modern slavery and international human trafficking.”
I conversed with settlers, various orthodox rabbis, Catholic and Coptic priests, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian shopkeepers. I participated in meetings of the Interfaith Encounter Alliance… I swiftly lost any sense of voyeurism or orientalism and acclimated myself to the most liberating sense of independence and adventure that I’ve ever faced. My experience was, in all sincerity, one of the most exciting and fulfilling periods of my short life…absolutely transformative.”
*And these are only eight of the 80 individuals who received funding in 2011-12. All of them thank you for your generous support!
2011-12 Newsletter - Tishrei 5772
I’m here for you - hineini - simple, gentle, powerful words in English and Hebrew that enfold us when the fabric of life is torn, when instability shreds our very foundation. I’m here for you - figuratively uttered by a record number of 60 grantees this past year, young people who may not have been personally bruised, but who undertook an obligation to repair brokenness in a corner of Israel, Africa, Eastern Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.
The Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund, started 24 years ago when our daughter and sister died suddenly at age 20, has now awarded almost half a million dollars (actually $475,000) to young people who devote themselves, their energy and commitment to progressive social action projects helping others. Grantees develop their own nascent skills and learn tools to build grassroots community activism, grantees who announce to the world, I’m here for you - hineini.
The Fund remains an IRS designated 501(c)3. All contributions, including life cycle commemorations and estate gifts, remain fully tax deductible. And most unusual, 100% of all contributions go directly to grants. The Schulman Family covers all administrative costs.
Good news and thanks: We have a wonderful new part-time administrator, Nancy Lewis, who handles much of the day-to-day work of the Fund (allowing Ruth more time to work on her longitudinal research project on women rabbis). Watch for our new website with thanks to Bob Weber for his help. Thanks also to Josh Milstein who gives the Fund year-round computer assistance. Kudos to Jon Zoll of RBC Wealth Management for steering the Endowment base through precarious economic times.
We, along with our grantees, send special thanks to you for sharing their dreams and accomplishments, and for your contributions that tell them we’re here for you. Please take a few minutes to read brief excerpts from six of this year’s grantees plus updates from three former ones. We believe their words might give you renewed hope for the repair of our world.
Health and strength in this new year as we build community together.
Dan, Jennie, Molly & Jake Ruth & Mel (z”l) Joel, Nancy & Logan
P.S. Save Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. for the 24th Annual Amy Adina Fund Lecture at The Jewish Center of Princeton. Our speaker will be Daniel Sokatch of the New Israel Fund.
Brief notes from a few grantees:
Sara H. has a BA from UC San Diego, and is currently in an MSW program at Columbia specializing in International Social Welfare. This past summer, she was a Gender and Public Policy Fellow and an intern in the office of the first female president of Lithuania. The internship was under the aegis of the Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL), a network of all female presidents, prime ministers, and other major female leaders in the world. Sara has previously worked in Israel as a facilitator for Encounter, and in the U.S. as a program leader for Jewish Funds for Justice, and a communications associate for American Jewish World Service.
Sara writes that her CWWL projects included: helping to coordinate a conference on gender equality in the European Union; writing policy briefings on the status of women in countries where the president is making diplomatic visits; and researching a report on the status of women in Lithuania’s ethnic communities: Jews, Poles, Roma, and Armenians.
Out of everything I gained, working with my compañeros (coworkers) – all Mexicans – was one of the greatest gifts. Among the activists and people working for social justice that I have met, I have never known people who lived what they believed as much as my coworkers. Some of my compañeros came from the low-income areas that we worked within and brought with them an integral understanding of community issues. Others brought a more theoretical vision – imagination.
Caitlin S. was an intern at CASA Latina Day Worker Center in Seattle, WA. As a Fund grantee, she worked for 10 months with Convivencia Educativa, an NGO providing onsite teacher training throughout Mexico.
Together the team was tight-knit and respectful of the contributions of each. And their passion was contagious. I cannot express to you how many times in the year I felt like I had fire in my chest because of the excitement of the work – often during late night talks with compañeros as we slept on the floor in a pueblo… Maybe I could have learned this type of commitment and sustained passion by working in the U.S. – I don’t know. Regardless, I have now rubbed shoulders with it for almost a year and will use my compañeros as role models for the rest of my professional and personal life.
Nicole S., a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, worked with Hoshen, an educational non-profit in Tel Aviv. Her responsibilities: creating professional development programming for early childhood teachers working with children of LGBT families, and developing a portfolio of curricular materials on the topics of diverse families and gender norms that teachers could use in their classrooms.
Since I returned to Boston, I have kept in touch with the Hoshen Early Childhood Team sharing free webinars for teachers and LGBT parents. I have also continued to collect materials for them and have continued networking with other groups doing similar work. In addition, I was recently invited to speak at a Harvard roundtable focused on LGBT education around the world.
A Canadian, Jesse B. received his MS degree from the London School of Economics in the field of Environment and Development. His dissertation topic: “Fairness and Equity in Transboundary Water Resources”. This past year he was an intern with Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) working on regional issues concerning water and sanitation.
It is my hope that this report can do justice to the rich and transformative experience of my internship with FoEME. The Bethlehem office works in close contact with both the Jordanian and Israeli offices, creating a unique and important connection between Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian environmentalists, peace activists, and communities.
A situation need not be violent to be considered a conflict. What I experienced was a daily conflict. Not only between two peoples, who both want desperately to have a secure home, a good job, environmental security, and to live in peace, but also a conflict between nature’s ability to sustain a growing population in the face of dwindling natural resources.
Ideally I would like to live and work in Canada… which seemingly has a plethora of fresh water. But due to population density in certain basins and with an expanding tar sands industry, much of the fresh water is heavily burdened and polluted... I want to say once again thank you for the monetary support the Fund provided to help finance my time in Israel. It has been an extremely rewarding, informative, and transformative experience.
Hannah D., a 2010 graduate of the University of Vermont, participated in LeadEarth, an eight-month leadership program operated in collaboration with Adam le’Adam, an Israeli NGO in Israel and India. After training in Israel, Hannah and her group departed for India.
Living and working at Sadhana Forest in India gave me the opportunity to learn about reforestation, water conservation, eco-building, the daily tasks that hold a community together, nonviolent communication, music, and dance. In addition to providing water for surrounding rural villages, our projects included greening schools, creating a children’s playground from waste materials, helping the children create their own garden, and promoting healthy eating.
For the second project, I headed northeast to the state of Andra Pradesh and the district of Guntur. I lived in a Madiga village made up of the Dalit class, which is the lowest class of India, the Untouchables. It was most certainly real India. With the Madiga community we were part of the Bene Ephraim Jewish community. There I worked on a community survey and the installation of solar panels.
Classes in environmental studies and economics at college were often filled with discussions of what we are doing wrong, how we are destroying our Earth and all its being. India helped show me what people are doing right and how I can do that too…
I am currently applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to return to India in 2012. I am developing a project that allows me to explore current small-scale organic agricultural practices, specifically bio-intensive methods. There is potential for providing rural communities with tools to become more self-sufficient and to improve their economic, social, health, and environmental circumstances.
Elana W-K. spent last year in Tel Aviv-Yaffo as the only American participating in Mechina, a pre-army year of community service for high school graduates. She is now studying at the University of Illinois majoring in Theatre Arts and Directing.
Living and volunteering with Jews, Arabs, and Christians all in one place allowed me to see both those unnoticed moments of peace between people as well as how one spark of violence can overturn an entire neighborhood… I helped create a Purim Carnival in Yaffo for 500 people… A challenge for me was seeing the conditions in which many people live. Every time I went to Yaffo Gimmel to see a student I saw the poverty and felt almost guilty for it. Knowing however that all I could do was be there for the kids, that’s what I did.
Notes from former grantees:
Sarah G., a 2007 grant recipient, writes: I received your support to study at Hebrew U’s Braun School of Public Health. The program brings students from developing countries together to study public health and then return to their countries as experts in the field.
It is a shining example of something unquestionably positive that Israel is doing for others. It meant a lot to me that as a Jewish organization, you cared about what I wanted to do and could see that it does have very strong ties to our Jewish values. I am currently working at a non-profit organization in Seattle that focuses on improving reproductive health and family planning services for low-income individuals across the country. I utilize the skills I learned in Israel on a daily basis.
A second Sara G. writes: In 2008, you gave me funding to support my year working for the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on human trafficking. I just wanted you to know that I am making aliyah!!! I will do ulpan (an intensive Hebrew course) in Haifa, and afterwards, depending on my Hebrew and their funding situation, work on a project for the Urban Planning Department of the Technion on Haifa as a model for coexistence, and other work around geographical understanding of poverty in Israeli cities.
I would never have done this if it hadn’t been for my year in Jerusalem, and I would never have been able to do that if it weren’t for the support I received and really appreciated. I hope I can pass on the gift I received from you, in the long term in actual donations, but in the short term in sharing what I learned and supporting however I can the efforts of those working for social justice in Israel and elsewhere. Thank you so much.
Orli C. spent a year on the Habonim Dror Israel Workshop. Her mother tells us that she is now the Deputy Communications Director of the Sierra Club where she spends her days trying to move the country beyond coal and towards clean energy. She is also the producer and host of Sierra Club Radio, syndicated to over 40 stations around the country.
Again, much thanks to each of you for your ongoing support for the Fund and its grantees!
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