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Nov 1 2012

Let’s Vote… for Charity!

By at 12:28 pm

pj library kveller tzedakah campaignLast month, Kveller announced an initiative in conjunction with PJ Library to give $5,000 to one non-profit organization, as chosen by you, the readers of Kveller. The generous donation is coming from Harold Grinspoon, founder of PJ Library.

We received nearly 300 nominations for some truly amazing organizations out there, and we’ve now narrowed the list down to 10. The rest is up to you: voting has officially started today to choose the winner of our tzedakah extravaganza. You can vote once a day until November 30th by visiting our voting page here.

Help be a part of this wonderful opportunity by voting for the non-profit organization that you think deserves it. And remember, vote early and vote often!

Remember, if you live in the New York metro area, you can sign up for PJ Library through Kveller and receive amazing Jewish books and CDs in the mail every month.

Oct 31 2012

Lessons From Hurricane Sandy

By at 4:34 pm

Damage from Hurricane Sandy

My daughters are old enough to understand what a storm is, and that it’s loud and scary, even when we’re inside the house.

As we spent all day Monday inside, passing the time with markers, stickers, books, and a screening of Cinderella, my 4-year-old was a little more fragile than usual. She fell into tears and fussiness quickly and often, and I know it was because of the gusting wind outside. I just kept reminding her that we were safe and dry inside, and it seemed to help a bit. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 19 2012

Helping the Needy When You Are the Needy

By at 12:57 pm

canned food driveOne day my kindergartener came home from school and excitedly announced, “Our class is collecting canned foods for the needy!” to which I snidely replied under my breath, “We ARE the needy!”

Of course as soon as I said it, I wished the words had never left my mouth. Especially when my son’s teacher stopped me the next day at school to report that he had repeated my exact words to her. Luckily, she had a great sense of humor and found it pretty funny. “You’re telling me!” she said with a look compassion and irony. Of course I felt myself blush. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 3 2012

My Fancy Night Out with Mayim & Other Powerful Jewish Women

By at 4:19 pm
carla naumburg mayim bialik

Kveller BFFs Carla and Mayim.

Last Thursday night, I had the opportunity to go see our very own Mayim Bialik speak at a charitable event in Boston hosted by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. To be sure, it wasn’t the Emmys, but it’s about as close as I have come to the red carpet. In honor of my big night out, here’s my Mayim-style recap:

1. Clogs–not cool. Huh. Apparently most women don’t show up at high-end fundraisers in Boston wearing Dansko clogs. In all fairness, I literally raced from a presentation at a social work conference (where clogs are part of the dress code) to the event, but a more fashion conscious (and organized) Mama would have had a spare pair of heels in her bag. Whoops. (Note to self: buy a pair of heels.) Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 26 2012

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Wendy Berezovsky

By at 9:58 am

Wendy's family in their pj's.

Mother of three, Wendy Berezovsky, founded a nonprofit organization called Sweet Dreams for Kids, which collects pajamas to donate to children in hospitals. She started the program after having her own daughter in the hospital for cancer treatments.

1. Tell us about your program: what do you do and why did you start it?

Sweet Dreams for Kids is a nonprofit organization that donates new pajamas to children in the hospital. We have donated over 3,000 pairs nationwide. Our dream is to have every children’s hospital filled with cute, cozy, and comfortable pajamas instead of the hospital ones. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 22 2011

Mayim Bialik on Why It’s Important to Give

By at 3:10 pm

Mayim's recent PSA for Na'Amat.

As a public Jewish person, I am asked to speak for a lot of Jewish causes. I feel truly blessed to be able to put the word out there about organizations that do so much to change the world.

Even in my non-celebrity days, though, when I was “just” a graduate student who used to be TV’s Blossom, I was involved in a variety of charity organizations, and believe strongly in advocating for young people to put their money (even if it’s only the money they would spend on one night out drinking) and their passion behind a cause. I even co-founded a young person’s branch of the Jewish Free Loan of Los Angeles to show young people that they, too, can be philanthropists by helping add money to the pot of interest-free loans given out to people of all faiths.

Now that I am a mother, I feel even more strongly about organizations I am affiliated with, such as Na’Amat. You might associate the organization with our grandmothers’ generation. It’s 85 years old (so we’re not entirely wrong in our association) and it started as the Working Women’s Council in Palestine. Golda Meir was a founding supporter and Na’Amat is the Hebrew acronym for “Movement of Working Women and Volunteers.”

I just finished filming a PSA for Na’Amat and am happy to promote the great work they do along with its sister affiliate Na’Amat Israel. As an organization they work to help Jewish women work around halachic obstacles regarding marriage, divorce, and widowhood. They provide a 24 hour hotline for women experiencing domestic violence and provide women’s rights centers, free legal and health services, and do advocacy work to help end domestic violence. They provide affordable and safe childcare to tens of thousands of children. And they gives scholarships to women in need (180 were given out last year alone!) and stand by the principle that women deserve and merit equal opportunities to achieve and succeed free of discrimination in the educational and workplace arenas alike.

For me, becoming a parent made me feel connected to other parents in a new and powerful way. The thought of not having money or healthcare or the right to not be discriminated against feels much more significant now that I am a parent, and to imagine that this goes on all over the world every day can be overwhelming. Giving voice to organizations like Na’Amat helps contribute to making small changes for other parents and future generations.

And they need our support. It’s that simple.

Finally, as a person comfortably living in a wealthy country, I often marvel at how much we — I include myself in this — take for granted. A bad year financially for many of us looks like luxury to millions of people all over the world. Budgeting for a new water filter in our kitchens (and dechlorination filters for our bathtubs!) is profoundly disturbing when there are families with no clean water to give a sick child. We can give a little. We can give $5. We can also give $10. And we can give $1. The notion is that philanthropy is financial, yes, but it is also spiritual. It’s not about assuaging guilt; it’s a connection to others through time and space.

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh” means that all Jews–and all people–are responsible for one another. No exceptions. No modifiers. Stand up for something with your money this Hanukkah, be it a big or small donation. Because there is no measure for how great that contribution is: for your soul, for the recipient of what your donation leads to, and for the truly priceless gift of being a part of this great nation of Jews. Let us be a light among the nations any way we can during this Festival of Lights. Chag Hanukkah Sameach.

Jun 3 2011

What Would You Save?

By at 10:12 am

On Wednesday night, at least three tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts, destroying over 200 buildings and killing four people. We don’t get many tornadoes up here, and I sat glued to the TV, watching the purple and red digital clouds move across the screen. I worried I might have to wake the baby and take her and the toddler down to the basement. We don’t have tornado sirens around here. How would I know when to go, and perhaps even more importantly (given the current state of our basement), when it would be safe to come out again? Fortunately, the worst we got was rain, lightning, and thunder, and the girls slept through it all.

As it was all happening, I couldn’t help but think about the residents of Joplin, Missouri*, and the tragedy they recently endured. I thought about those who lost everything they owned, and I began making a mental list of what I would want to save. Obviously, the girls and my cat were at the top of the list, but beyond that… our wedding album? The photo of my grandfather and his new father-in-law sitting on a bench in Northern Italy during World War II? Our ketubah? My jewelry?

It turns out I’m not the only one asking these questions. A new website called “The Burning House” asks readers to post pictures of what they would take with them. Unfortunately, Jews are no strangers to this terrible reality, and I have to imagine I’m not the only one who has thought about this. So, I ask you now – if your house was burning down, what (beyond kids and animals) would you take with you?

*As we move into Shabbat, I have given this week’s tzedakah to the residents of Massachusetts who were impacted by the storm. If you are interested in doing so well, there are a number of options for helping them, as well as the residents of Joplin, MO.

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