Staff Invigorated by Seeing Jewish Federation Grants at Work

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Jewish Federation staff volunteering at partner program Jewish Farm School in West Philadelphia.

This summer, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia staff members took two eye-opening “field trips” in order to see firsthand the difference that Jewish Federation donor dollars are making. The staff missions visited the Jewish Farm School in West Philadelphia and HIAS Pennsylvania in Center City Philadelphia, both of which receive Jewish Federation funding.

“These missions were truly fascinating,” said Ellen Matz, director of Education Improvement Tax Credit Programs of the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools. “I don’t think people have any idea about all the incredible projects and programs the Jewish Federation funds, and the depth and breadth of what we do.”

Jewish Federation staff volunteering at partner program Jewish Farm School in West Philadelphia.

The Jewish Farm School is driven by the tradition of using food and agriculture as tools for social justice and spiritual mindfulness. Through its programs — teaching about contemporary food and environmental issues, and getting participants’ hands dirty on working urban farms — it seeks to address injustices in today’s mainstream food systems and create greater access to sustainably grown foods.

“I had no idea that this oasis existed in West Philadelphia,” Matz said. “And the farm school’s tentacles spread throughout our entire community, connecting agriculture and farming with education and Jewish values and traditions.”

Jewish Federation staffers’ next mission, to HIAS Pennsylvania, was just as gratifying. HIAS Pennsylvania’s refugee, immigration and citizenship services help create a welcoming and secure environment for immigrants and their families from any ethnic, cultural or religious background. Driven by the Jewish value of “welcoming the stranger,” HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal, resettlement, citizenship and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers to ensure their fair treatment and full integration into American society.

“I didn’t realize how many facets there were to HIAS’ work,” said Alex Holden, marketing project associate. “They have helped people from 126 countries with everything from finding work and housing to collecting donations for them. This mission was a good way to help our staff better understand the work we do and how to talk about it.”

These valuable hands-on learning opportunities will continue with an upcoming mission for staff members to visit a variety of Northeast Philadelphia programs that receive Jewish Federation funding.

“Seeing the impact of our work helps Jewish Federation staff understand the importance of all of our jobs,” said Rabbi Deborah Glanzberg-Krainin, chief program and strategy officer. “From the mailroom to the executive suite, everyone here contributes to making a huge difference in the communities we serve.”

To see a complete list of programs that receive funding from the Jewish Federation, visit jewishphilly.org/grants-grantees.