The Standard gets many releases and pleas for help from charitable organizations. Local and national organizations tend to get featured in the paper, while other groups and projects may get little attention. I’ve decided that this blog is a perfect place to post information about worthy groups that might otherwise be overlooked.
Appearing in my e-mail this week was a message from a group called Targum Shlishi, a Florida-based foundation that is, according to its Website (www.targumshlishi.org) “dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish.”
The message e-mailed to the Standard said, “Although the majority of Targum Shlishi’s funding goes to support Jewish initiatives, the foundation has recently supported three projects that benefit Arab, Berber, and Druze children and families. These varied projects are: a program that provides produce and dairy products to at-risk Arab and Jewish children and their families in Jaffa; a farm for mentally handicapped children and adults and their families in Djerba, Tunisia that serves Arab Muslims, Jews, and Berbers and is also supported in part by Christian funders; and a learning center for special education and learning disabled Druze students in a Druze village in the Western Galilee. Two of the projects, the learning center for Druze students and the food for Arab and Jewish children, have received ongoing support over multiple years from Targum Shlishi.
The relase quoted Aryeh Rubin, the organization’s director: “I believe that it is productive to allocate part of one’s resources to fostering amity between the Jewish people and our Arab cousins. We believe in reaching out to those Arab communities that want to live in harmony with Israel, without violence, and that recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state…. We shun those Arab and international organizations that are not straight up on this issue. I am also highly critical of any Jewish organization that continues to fund any institution that is not in favor of Israel as an independent Jewish state.”
Here are some of Targum Shlishi’s projects, as described in the release (please note that if you quote any of this, the words are Targum Shlishi’s, not mine or the Standard’s):
Table to Table Fresh Produce and Dairy for Children Project, Ra’anana, Israel
Table to Table is Israel’s largest food rescue organization, providing approximately ten thousand meals and twenty tons of produce and perishable items weekly to Israel’s needy. It gathers food from catered events, corporate cafeterias, army bases, farms, and food manufacturers. For the past several years, Targum Shlishi has supported an initiative, originally conceived by Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shishi’s director, that provides fresh produce and, more recently, dairy products to Jewish and Arab children at-risk who are enrolled in after-school programs through the Jaffa Institute (the programs’ populations are 60 percent Jewish and 40 percent Arab).
Currently, the initiative provides 1,100 ““ 1,500 pounds of rescued food and dairy products each week to the Jaffa Institute. In addition to providing two meals each day to the seventy children in the after-school programs, which operate from noon to 6 pm, the initiative also provides food packages to 350 of Jaffa’s neediest families each week and provides Israeli Arab women in a work-training course with a meal each day and take-home food for their families. For more information, go to www.tabletotable.org.il.
Tunisian Union to Aid the Mentally Insufficient Day Center in Djerba, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Tunisia
On the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to the oldest continuous Jewish settlements in the world that have preserved a traditional way of life, mentally impaired individuals ““ local Arab Muslims, Jews, and Berbers alike ““ now enjoy new possibilities thanks to a recently established therapeutic and vocational training farm. In cooperation with the Tunisian national federation of charities (UTSS), with the support of Christian groups in Europe, and significantly assisted by the Jewish doctor of Djerba, JDC underwrote the purchase the 11,100-square-meter farm in the fall of 2008. Since then these handicapped adolescents, their families and disabled older workers have been working to renovate the farm buildings, plant trees, install a drip-drop irrigation system, and expand a burgeoning program of animal husbandry. Led by a dynamic, entrepreneurial director, the farm now employs 20 disabled adults, provides vocational training to 20 more individuals, and provides 50 children with regular therapeutic interaction with the animals. The farm includes sheep, chicken, fruit trees, a greenhouse that is under construction, a ceramics workshop currently being installed, and there are plans for growth into other areas, such as an equestrian center.
According to Yechiel Bar-Chaim, the JDC’s country director for Tunisia, the project’s goal is both to offer new opportunities to disabled individuals to develop their potential and “to demonstrate in a tangible way how the three separate and distinct faith communities can overcome what divides them in order to show mutual concern and support for the most vulnerable.”
Horfesh Community Learning Center and Field of Dreams, Projects of Kaleidoscope, Lod, Israel
The Horfesh Community Learning Center is a recent and unique initiative in Israel. The center, established in 2004, offers special education services for children in Horfesh, a Druze village located in the Western Galilee. Providing these services to Druze students within their own community is a model of special needs education that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Israel ““ special education students typically must travel long distances to receive the services they require. In Horfesh, there are 31 special education students and 375 children in the village with learning disabilities and behavioral problems who previously received inadequate services because of the limited resources in the village. The Horfesh Community Learning Center addresses the previously unmet needs of these children and is intended to be a replicable model to be used in Arab and Jewish sectors throughout Israel. Targum Shlishi’s funds were applied to supporting parent/child activities and special events (including a summer institute) as well as the development of a therapeutic gymboree.
Field of Dreams is a more recent initiative, established in 2008, in which Kaleidoscope’s workshop approach was combined with sports activities to establish an after-school soccer program for Arab and Jewish children at risk, with the goals of fostering social skills, improving academic performance and promoting tolerance and understanding between Arabs and Jews.
To reach Targum Shlishi, e-mail email@example.com or call (305) 692.9991.