I have been traveling over the last several weeks: to Israel for the Jewish People Policy Institute annual meeting, to New York for Taglit-Birthright Israel's meetings, and to the Federation General Assembly (GA) meetings in Baltimore. The work of the Center/Institutes figured prominently in all three settings.
Our Hesed study, which was presented at the GA and is being released today, focuses on the condition of the elderly in the Former Soviet Union and on services provided by the Joint Distribution Committee's Hesed centers. This report is the outgrowth of work we began nearly ten years ago to understand the condition of elderly Nazi victims (Report). The new study, developed by a team led by Liz Tighe, describes the situations faced by elderly in Russia and Ukraine and documents the way in which the global economic crisis has disproportionately affected their pensions and ability to access health and social services (compared to U.S. elderly). The study also assesses services provided by Hesed centers and the gaps in those services due to limited resources. The analysis is based on a comparison of macro-economic indicators and country-specific sources of data on the elderly population, as well as fieldwork including site visits to Hesed centers and discussions with clients and providers. This was a unique opportunity for our team to explore conditions on the ground in Russia and Ukraine. We got to know the people, understand their living conditions, and see firsthand how the Jewish community provides for its members. (See the team's blog post and video.)
There's new progress to report from our JData project, as well. The JData team, headed by Amy Sales, met at the GA with leaders of the federations, central agencies for Jewish education, and national agencies that are using JData to gather information about Jewish education. The discussion, co-facilitated by Charles "Chip" Edelsberg, Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, centered on the future growth and development of the JData system.
You may also be interested in my op-ed, published in the Jerusalem Post, about our recent study of the long-term impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel.
Thank you for your on-going interest and support of our work. To those in the U.S., best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.