Year after year, Jewish Federations throughout North America touch more Jewish lives than any other organization on the planet. In 2017, we reached even farther, building on our core strengths while finding new opportunities to enhance Jewish life at home and around the world. From delivering essential social services and educating and empowering Jewish communities and leaders to mobilizing for relief during conflict and crisis, our impact has been both broad and profound. We’re proud to have played a transformative role in the lives of so many this year—especially those profiled in this report.


From natural disasters to conflict zones, Federation is a lifeline for communities in distress in North America, Israel and around the world. We fund basic supplies required immediately, like food and medicine, and long-term needs, like trauma counseling and rehabilitation, as well as the emergency service providers who deliver the supplies where they’re most needed.



Holocaust survivor Monique Ritter lived a peaceful life in the Houston home she shared for nearly 40 years with her husband, Erwin, also a survivor. She never expected to find herself trapped on the island in her kitchen for hours, watching flood waters rise around her during Hurricane Harvey. When Monique returned home, she discovered that 3+ feet of water had destroyed her most precious possessions: drawers full of photographs that had belonged to her grandmother. But she refused to part with these crucial links to her past. Her grandson called Federation-funded Jewish Family Service (JFS), and they immediately sent over a crisis counselor to help. Now, as the elderly Ritters figure out what’s next, a JFS case worker is helping them navigate options and get financial assistance for immediate and long-term needs.


The home Judi and Roger shared with their four sons had never been flooded before. Neither had their street. So when Hurricane Harvey hit, they had no idea how it would devastate their lives. They managed to wade through the waist-deep water to safety at a nearby house. We were on our neighbor’s second floor for three days,” Judi remembers. It was safer to stay than to leave. In the following days, Federation was there for them. Meals and emergency money arrived, volunteers came to sort through and pack up their belongings, and the JCC handed out supplies and Target gift cards. Most valuably, they provided trauma counseling. “When everyone else had left, they stayed and continued to help us,” says Judi. “It’s not easy for me to ask for help. We’re so fortunate to have this community.”


Federation and its partners The Jewish Agency for Israel and JDC have played integral roles in Israel’s development for decades, and our commitment to the Jewish state grows deeper each year. We help new olim adjust to life in Israel, offer a host of social services for vulnerable populations and provide economic stimuli to bolster businesses, ensuring that all Israelis are strong and resilient.

Back Home—With a Purpose

Graduate high school. Join the IDF. Get a degree. Shai, now a successful Master’s student, knew this was the path out of the rough Tel Aviv neighborhood he grew up in. But something keeps bringing him home. Through The Jewish Agency’s Choosing Tomorrow program, he spends time each week at his old school, helping at-risk kids develop the skills they need to dream of — and live — a better future for themselves and all of Israel.

Art Therapy in the Negev

Living on a kibbutz two miles from Gaza, Livnat was used to sirens and destruction. But she also knew there was more to life in Israel’s south. With a grant from the Negev Funding Coalition, a partnership between Federations and the Israeli government, she opened Beit Melacha, an open art studio where everyone — young and old, Jewish and Muslim — gets their hands dirty sculpting, doodling, planting and building a better future for the Negev, together.


Federation and its partners have unparalleled global reach, affecting hundreds of thousands of Jews in 70 countries around the world. Our programs empower the next generation of Jewish leaders, connect young families with Jewish community and provide life-saving aid for the elderly, the disabled and other at-risk populations.

Sustaining Hope in Cuba

For decades, the Cuban government tried to suppress religion. But they couldn’t suppress Monica. When religious restrictions eased in 1991, Monica, then eight, eagerly enrolled in a new Jewish Sunday school funded by JDC. Since then, she’s worked with them to establish a community pharmacy, Shabbat dinners, youth camps, a b’nai mitzvah program, and much more. “JDC has been vital for the existence of Judaism here. And it keeps us optimistic about our future,” she says.

Aliyah of Rescue from Yemen

Though raising nine children is never easy, it’s especially tough in Yemen. But Yechiya held on, even as he watched other families make aliyah from the place his family called home for millennia. But when he was one of just 60 Jews left in Yemen, he understood the future lay elsewhere. Now in Israel with help from The Jewish Agency, Yechiya and his family feel more secure in their life and heritage than ever before.


Jewish learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Federation funds educational programs that reach Jews where they are, from community centers and college campuses to right in their own homes, and helps them embark upon their own Jewish journeys. Our initiatives develop and strengthen Jewish identity, pride in our heritage and love for Israel.

Stunned by Hillel

“If you want to be Jewish, you can. If you don’t, you don’t have to.” The Hillel director’s words stunned Rebekah. No one had ever validated her Jewish identity quite like this before. So she started showing up to Jewish events on campus more and more. Soon, she fell in love with Judaism. Now? She’s an engagement professional at a large college Hillel. “Without Hillel, I wouldn’t have begun exploring my identity,” she says. “And here I am now, still learning and growing.”

Inspiring New Jewish Leaders

Shauna never used to consider herself a Jewish leader. But as a young professional with a growing family, she felt herself slipping between the cracks of local programming. After talking with a Federation engagement professional, she was inspired to harness her Federation’s resources to organize a group for young Jewish families like hers. Together, they throw Chanukah parties, share parenting tips, and so much more. Now, Shauna’s impact can be felt on two generations of Jewish life.


Federation’s vast array of social services provides a critical safety net for those in need in our communities. From people with special needs to Holocaust survivors, job seekers to families facing long-term illnesses, all are welcome and treated with care and compassion.


The Holocaust ended more than 70 years ago, but for Betty, a 78-year-old survivor, trauma constantly lurked just behind her eyelids. Thanks to a grant from Federations’ Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care that helps a local agency offer person-centered, trauma-informed care, she now receives personalized therapy that’s helped her feel comfortable talking about the horrors she experienced. Visibly more secure and less anxious, she now sleeps better and has regained a sense of safety and security.

Fighting for People With Disabilities

The numbers are staggering. People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as the general population. Eighty percent are unemployed. Federations are committed to fighting this status quo. We work tirelessly with and on behalf of this community, organizing Jewish Disability Advocacy Day and advocating for legislation advancing disability rights. It’s a long road ahead, but Federations will never stop pushing for equal dignity for all.


Growing and nurturing strong communities is the essence of Federation’s work. So when it comes to giving back, there’s no need to go it alone. Our affinity groups harness the power of the collective to connect community members to the movement and help them develop strong personal networks and leadership skills.

Saving Lives Runs in the Family

Only 100 Jews from the town of Ludmir survived the Holocaust. Rose, then 14, saved ten of them. Now 92, she proudly watches her daughter, Anita, follow her lead. As a generous supporter of Federations’ Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, Anita helps ensure that tens of thousands of survivors receive the care they need each month. “My hope in making this gift is to ensure a long, good life for as many survivors as I can,” Anita says.

When Eli Met Michelle

Once a “troubled youth,” Eli spent his 16th birthday delivering food to the needy and mentoring protégées before meeting with a National Young Leadership Cabinet mission to Israel. Michelle, a member of National Young Leadership Cabinet, was impressed. So she followed his lead, rallying fellow Cabinet members to coordinate fundraisers for the Federation-supported program that changed Eli’s life. Together, they’re making sure that hundreds of other at-risk teens like Eli will also have the opportunity to turn their lives around.