Enjoying High School in Israel

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 4:14pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Sophie Waldman is a High School Junior who received a Simon Family Passport to Israel Grant to spend the semester in Israel attending the Union for Reform Judaism’s Heller High School. She wanted to go to Israel to experience Jewish culture there, and she feels more connected to Judaism through the secular activities in Israel. One thing that has surprised Sophie about Israel is the food. “There are no salad dressings, and it’s super easy to find vegan ice cream. Ice cream is everywhere but it’s harder to find falafel then I thought. I’ve been here for 3 weeks and I’ve only had it once. Hummus here is so much better too and so is tahina.”

Sophie is enjoying her time in Israel so far, and encourages all teens to go to Israel “as soon as you can and for as long as you can. Israel is amazing because the food is good, but the culture and history is remarkable. It’s interesting to learn about king David when you are seeing the city of David.”

Tidewater Jewish Foundation offers needs-blind grants through the Simon Family Passport to Israel program to help teens go to Israel. As a recipient of the grant, Sophie said that she was very fortunate and it made the financial aspects much easier. For more information and to apply, visit http://jewishva.org/tjf-passport-to-israel or contact Barb Gelb at bgelb@ujft.org. Applications are due by April 1, 2018.

It’s Never Too Early to Make a Legacy Gift

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 5:17pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation


When talking with Erinn and Felix Portnoy, the commitment and love they have for our Jewish community is obvious. As parents of very young children, they feel compelled to step up and provide for the Jewish future of the next generation, and were thrilled to be able to do so by leaving a gift through the LIFE & LEGACY program.

Erinn was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. After her brother (Adam) moved to Norfolk to start his dental practice, her parents moved here to retire. Erinn and Felix followed a few years later.

Felix was born in Moldova, USSR, and in 1978 moved to Israel. He spoke emotionally about the activism of Jews and Jewish organizations in the United States that enabled him and many other Jews leave the USSR. The Soviet Jewry movement was a long struggle, but Felix stressed that in many ways it was what helped American Jewish communities form and strengthen Federations, Community Relations Councils, and other organizations. Felix's family moved to Kiryat Yam, which coincidentally happens to be Tidewater Federation's sister city in Israel. In 2004, Felix moved to North Carolina as a student, and that is where he met Erinn.

Erinn believes that her parents really shaped her Jewish identity and modeled how to be and how to live a Jewish life, emphasizing tzedakah and tikkun olam. "It was a small Jewish community, and we lived our lives around the synagogue. My mom made me a life member of Hadassah in elementary school. They really directed my life to becoming who I am Jewishly and as a person."

Felix grew up in Israel, and claims that it was easy to be Jewish there. "Everyone went to a Jewish school", he jokes. "But when I moved to the United States it was very different. Unless you actively seek Jewish involvement, you won't have it. I learned a lot from Erinn's family and they really reconnected me with my tradition."

Erinn and Felix agree about how they want to be remembered and the kind of legacy they hope to leave. Felix claims that he would like to be remembered as a family person. "That is very important to me. I try to devote as much as I can to my wife and children." Erinn agrees, and adds that she is so glad that "Our kids will remember when their dad went to a Hanukkah party at their school, or when he dressed up as an Israeli soldier on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and marched them around the gym. They'll know that the Jewish community was important to us."

The Portnoy's hope is for the Jewish community to, at the very least, maintain the same level of services that we provide today, and hopefully improve it. "The generation before us did a great job of providing for us. That is why we are so happy to be able to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY program."

As a younger couple, when the Portnoys first heard about after-life giving they didn't expect to be able to participate. When they heard about the Legacy Match Life Insurance program, they realized that being younger was an advantage because they can get a lower rate and be able to leave a more substantial gift to the community. Through the legacy match program, TJF pays a portion of the premiums on policies of $100,000 for a single life policy and $250,000 for a two-life policy. The donor saves money by paying only part of the premium, which is also tax deductible.

As Felix says, "I appreciate the opportunity the Tidewater Jewish Foundation gave us to do this. It really amplified our gift and made it possible for us and our friends and other people in our community to take an active role in the LIFE & LEGACY program." Erinn agrees, adding how easy everything was to do. "It was so easy, and because of the match we were able to have an even greater impact.

For more information on the Legacy Match Life Insurance program, please call Barb Gelb, Director of Philanthropy, at 757.965.6105.

November Life & Legacy Spotlight: Chabad of Tidewater

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:36am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Chabad On a warm and sunny Sunday in September, people walking down Colley Avenue in Ghent were greeted with quite a sight. Children were busy sawing goat horns and rabbis were using a table saw. On a cold December evening, hundreds of people could be seen at the base of a GIANT Menorah - ready to celebrate Chanukah- and religious freedom - for all to see. These are just two simple examples of what Chabad of Tidewater does.

Established in 1979, Chabad of Tidewater has been serving the Tidewater Jewish community in a wide variety of ways. Chabad of Tidewater is welcoming to people from all walks of life and all levels of observance. The staff at Chabad of Tidewater strives to help Jewish people of all ages and stages grow in their connection to Judaism. As an open home to all Jews regardless of affiliation or Jewish practice, Chabad of Tidewater is on the front lines helping community members with a wide variety of needs, ranging from spiritual to physical.

Through innovative and creative programming, Chabad of Tidewater offers educational opportunities to adults and children alike. Whether seeking an intellectual Torah text study or a hands on way to learn about an upcoming holiday everyone can find something to fit their needs and lifestyle.

In addition to the educational programming, Chabad of Tidewater also provides opportunity for one on one study, visits Jewish inmates, and provides support and Kosher food for hospital patients and their families. Many a time Chabad of Tidewater has helped a family get back on their feet in a time of financial need.

Leaving a LIFE & LEGACY gift to Chabad of Tidewater helps to ensure a strong Jewish future in Hampton Roads. A LIFE & LEGACY gift ensures future financial security, enabling Chabad to grow their efforts, expand their reach and continue to do their important work in the area for years to come. Please consider Chabad of Tidewater for a legacy gift.

For more info feel free to contact me or visit www.chabadoftidewater.com/plannedgiving

Blessings for continued success,
Rabbi Levi Brashevitzky
Chabad of Tidewater
Office: 757-616-0770

September Life & Legacy Spotlight: Hebrew Academy of Tidewater

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:58am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

2272 Established in 1955 as the only pluralistic Jewish community day school in Hampton Roads, The Hebrew Academy of Tidewater (HAT) provides high quality, integrated Judaic and general studies education that establishes a strong foundation for lifelong learning in a dynamic, supportive, and enriching Jewish environment.  Because all families are welcomed, regardless of their denomination or level of observance, we build bridges across the Jewish community.

Students enrolled in HAT are intellectually curious, self-disciplined, and independent thinkers.  They are involved in a holistic community that engages them in the world around them, and they emerge from our program as better students, better people, and better citizens.  They are happy, respectful and devoted to their education because of the close student-teacher relationship, small class size and differentiated learning that takes place in the classes.

HAT Graduates excel after leaving our community and serve as leaders in their academic, philanthropic, and Jewish communities. The future of the Jewish people is stronger because HAT students are secure in their Jewish identity and have a strong commitment to the State of Israel.

It is no secret that a Jewish day school education is expensive.  We chose to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY program to ensure that HAT will be funded for generations to come.    What is amazing about the LIFE & LEGACY program is that people of every age and capacity can make a commitment to secure the future.

By becoming a legacy society member, you will show the community that you:

  • Recognize that Jewish education is a cornerstone of our Jewish community;
  • Believe that every child, regardless of financial circumstances, deserves a Jewish day school education;
  • Understand that instilling a love for learning, Torah, and the State of Israel in our children will inspire future generations to make Judaism a vital part of their lives.

Support Jewish education for tomorrow’s generation, by leaving your Jewish legacy today!

For more information about leaving your Jewish legacy, contact Patti Seeman, 757-424-4327 or pseeman@hebrewacademy.net

August Life and Legacy Spotlight — Toras Chaim

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 8:47am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Spotlight on Toras Chaim –


Ensuring a strong Jewish community in the future is about creating a strong connection between our past and our children.  That is the mission of Jewish Day School.  Each generation is a link in a long chain, and the Jewish people will only continue to exist by ensuring that we pass the torch of our history and beliefs on to our children as it was passed to us.  A predictor of the future strength of a community is the quality of its educational institutions of today.

Toras Chaim started in 2002 with the mission to provide an excellent education in both general and Judaic subjects in the context of a traditional Orthodox Jewish environment.  We teach students that the learning that they do in all subject areas should have an impact on their lives.  Their core curriculum classes are challenging and engaging, and they learn important moral lessons our three and a half thousand years of history have taught us.

Toras Chaim’s Judaic curriculum is primarily textually based.  Students are taught to explore original texts in Aramaic and Hebrew, both biblical and modern, to explore the remarkable teachings of their rich ancestry.  Our general studies program is fully accredited by Advanc-Ed, and provides an enriching classical approach to language arts and history, while providing a modern technology focused STEM program that teaches problem solving through science and advanced level math skills.

Toras Chaim, which provides a full day daycare starting at six weeks old, and goes all the way through 8th Grade, is growing and will have 115 students this coming year.  We are gaining renown in the Orthodox Jewish community outside of Tidewater for having a high quality program comparable to many of the larger and long-established Jewish private schools in other cities, while also being small enough to provide personal attention.

The TJF Life and Legacy program is important to Toras Chaim because we are trying to build a strong future for the Jewish community.  The community wide initiative calls upon people of all ages and capacities to think about the future and make a commitment. That is why so many young families have committed to making a Legacy gift to Toras Chaim.  They understand that Toras Chaim is important to the growth and vibrancy of the Orthodox community as well as the entire Jewish community, and by supporting for Toras Chaim’s future, they are supporting the community’s future.  



Rabbi M. Loiterman M.Ed., Ph.D.
Principal, Toras Chaim School
757-828-6724 (TC-TORAH)

A Legacy for Ohef Sholom Temple

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:46pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

2199 Etched upon the doorposts of Ohef Sholom is our mission, "My House shall be a House of Prayer for all Peoples." Our open, inclusive community is a mosaic of multigenerational Jews and their families, all connected by a search for spiritual meaning, moral purpose, and a sense of belonging.

We are inspired by high caliber clergy, programming, worship and volunteer opportunities that create fulfilling social networks. Although we are the oldest and largest Jewish organization in Hampton Roads, we have not only adapted but also thrived with changing times by incorporating innovation into all facets of Jewish tradition, education, and life.

Who We Are

Ohef Sholom is a house of worship for all peoples as we are all created in the image of God. We embrace Jewish people of every age, couples, and families, who represent all forms of Jewish practice.

Additionally, we welcome who have traditionally faced closed doors, including special needs communities, LGBTQ individuals, and interfaith couples and families. Membership is open to everyone regardless of ability to pay the full cost.

Together we honor our past, embrace change, and live our values.

What We Do

  • Express pride in our heritage by preserving our Temple and its long history as a house of Reform Jewish continuity with uplifting worship, soulful music, and engaging programming. 
  • Rejoice in lifecycle events. 
  • Encourage Jewish learning with programs for all ages to study Torah and Jewish texts. 
  • Commit ourselves to Israel, by learning about our religious, historical and cultural connections 
  • Look outside of our congregation to see how we can repair and enhance our community. 
  • Connect with our community through outreach to share our faith with both Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and celebrate what we have in common.

What We Need

Prior generations provided us with an exceptional house of worship. Now as our 175th Anniversary approaches, Ohef Sholom has partnered with Tidewater Jewish Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to ensure our future for generations to come with endowment gifts to our Life & Legacy.

New Legacy donors Mandi and Ross Firoved want people to know that you don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy gift. They leveraged their young age with a TJF program that helps pay insurance premiums that allowed them to leave a substantial legacy gift. “It is our responsibility to leave behind a foundation to continue to teach Jewish traditions and beliefs for our children and our grandchildren. If we don’t support our Jewish institutions, who else will?”

Matthew Fine, chair of OST’s Life & Legacy program, says, “By making a legacy commitment, you can express values instilled in you by your parents and grandparents. You can preserve programs and organizations that support Jewish life. And, you can perpetuate cherished Jewish traditions for future.

For more information about Life & Legacy, please contact Linda Peck at (757) 625-4295.

Ensuring the future of JFS

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:37am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Stanley Samuels and his wife Linda are well aware of the ever-growing needs in our community and all that JFS does to help those who need it most. Stanley was president of JFS from 1982-1984 and their daughter, Marcia Samuels, followed in his footsteps when she served as president of the agency more recently, from 2012-2014. Because of their involvement with JFS and other great organizations in our community, the Norfolk residents know first-hand how JFS’ mission of promoting quality of life helps so many. That is why they chose to become JFS Life and Legacy donors.

As Stanley says, “Not everyone is fortunate enough to never need to ask for help. Many of the people JFS helps never thought they’d need the assistance. We are so grateful to be in a position to provide such help and do a mitzvah. We feel it’s so important to keep the legacy and mission of JFS going strong for generations to come.”

“Often our focus is on the short-term - the needs we have in the next week, the next month or the next year,” comments Betty Ann Levin, JFS Executive Director. “The Life and Legacy program is an opportunity to focus on the future and ensure that JFS is in a position to deliver essential services in the long-term.”

 photo JFSHands_zps5qhkfj5r.jpg

JFS strengthens our community by providing essential services that help people overcome life’s challenges to live fuller, healthier and more meaningful lives. Whether it’s children coping with the loss of a loved one, families facing financial crisis, individuals recovering from surgery, or older adults with a debilitating illness, more than 3,000 individuals benefit from services each year.

JFS provides a continuum of home-based solutions, including home health care, counseling for families and individuals of all ages, care management, acculturation, guardianship, conservatorship, meals on wheels, adoption services, food and financial assistance, transportation to medical appointments and services to the developmentally disabled and chronically mentally ill.

JFS continues to provide unparalleled caring, support and resources to meet the needs of our community and is committed to providing our community with the highest level of care and expertise. Whether in home health care or social services, highly trained staff and volunteers provide a level and consistency of care rarely found in other social service agencies. The agency’s wide range of programs and services for individuals enables JFS to offer integrated services tailored to meet each client’s individual needs regardless of faith, age, ethnic background, and income.               

Lawrence Steingold, JFS immediate past president and legacy program chair states, “We are thrilled with the level of community support we have received thus far for this program.  We know how much community members care about JFS and it is heartening to have these conversations and hear how committed our donors are in ensuring the sustainability of our services into the future.”

For more information on leaving a Life & Legacy gift, call Betty Ann Levin, JFS Executive Director, at 757-321-2222, or Scott Kaplan, Tidewater Jewish Foundation President and CEO, at 757-965-6109.

Elie Wiesel Tribute

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:38am

Posted in: Holocaust Commission

2086 By now I'm sure all of you have heard the news that Elie Wiesel passed away last weekend.  As the tributes to this Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Laureate, humanitarian, and dedicated teacher poured out, the sorrow of losing one of the most powerful voices for Holocaust remembrance and against injustice of any kind was overwhelming.

An iconic spokesperson for the Holocaust’s enduring lessons, Elie Wiesel was one of the most recognizable voices through which millions first encountered the dark history of the Shoah. But most importantly, he broke the silence and refused to let the world forget.

It is hard to even comprehend what the world must have been like when everyone, including Jews, only wanted to forget the Holocaust. What a different universe we would live in if Elie Wiesel had not had the courage to speak and remember.
Read more »

Notes from Neve Michael: Purim and the Princess Dress

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 7:49am

by Hava Levene, Neve Michael Children’s Village director of public relations

About Neve Michael Children’s Village:  Located in Pardes Hanna, Israel, Neve Michael provides a home for 250 children. The majority of the children are victims of mental, physical or sexual abuse; ages range from 4 to 18 years old. Children living there have been removed from their parents’ care by Israel’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Services—usually because of unimaginable traumatic circumstances.

Your generous donation to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign directly and positively impacts the lives of children at Neve Michael.

Hava writes:
From Rosh Chodesh Adar to Purim, there are fun activities in Neve Michael Children’s Village. The children are a mosaic of Jewish culture and traditions including Ethiopian, Israeli, Russian, Moroccan, Libyan etc. We try and make sure to encourage the uniqueness of each culture through songs and traditions.

This is a story about “Batya,” who arrived at our Emergency Crisis Center.

UJFT donors strengthen Jewish identity 5,000 miles away

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 9:12am

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater helps Jewish families in Romania learn more about their heritage and religion through a camp in Cristian, Brasov.

Building strong Jewish communities and empowering Jewish identity--everywhere--are important UJFT goals.

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