Dear Women of Vision,

“Only Connect” is the admonition many of us might remember from high school English class and E.M. Forster’s novel, “Howard’s End.” They are words I have been thinking about a lot this fall. How do we keep our members engaged with and connected to the Women of Vision mission and to each other? We do it through social change grantmaking; we do it through education; we do it through calls to action; we do it through opportunities to see one another’s faces, with “check-in” phone calls and newsletters like this one. And I believe it is working!

I have been thrilled to see so many of you registered for our Tea on Tuesday series and excited that so many potential Women of Vision members have signed on as well. Women of Vision has a history of exploring topics that make us uncomfortable. We believe that to be educated is to be empowered and hearing from such brave changemakers as Tamar Manasseh from MASK (Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings) and Amy Spitalnick from Integrity First for America and learning from Laura Kumin about the decades long fight for a woman’s right to vote has fueled our commitment to working towards a more humane and just society.

We do this through our Jewish lens and we have been privileged to learn with our rabbi, Rabbi Lynnda Targan and from our current grantees who are doing such important work in our community. I am grateful to our programming and advocacy committees for bringing these learning opportunities to us and, of course, to the wonderful Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia professionals who offer guidance and facilitation for all that we do. It appears that we will be connecting through Zoom for the foreseeable future and we have begun to plan our spring gatherings, which will feature book discussions, new speakers and more. I hope that you will continue to join us in this new and virtual world.

In this newsletter, you will find links to an assortment of topics that have been top of mind in recent months. We have also linked recordings of our speaker series and an overview of our grant distributions to date along with some highlights of the work of our grantees. Our grants committee is, once again, hard at work as we have begun our funding cycle and will be vetting Letters of Intent from a variety of Israeli agencies. It is always exciting to learn about new initiatives, and it is gratifying to see so many of you signing on for this work as grant readers.

Women of Vision offers you the opportunity to work side by side, or at least, screen to screen with women who care about the state of our world and who want to use their voices, their privilege and their dollars to help create a more just society. We hope that you will engage with the work, invest in the Women on Vision endowment and know that there is power in the collective and in the connection.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

L’hitraot,

Mindy Fortin

Chair, Women Of Vision

IN MEMORIAM

The following Women of Vision members recently passed away. We honor their passions by advancing the causes they cared for most.
Marilyn Frank
Ione Apfelbaum Strauss
May their memories be a blessing.

Women of Vision’s Tea on Tuesday Series

Couldn’t be a part of this thought-provoking series? Watch live recordings featuring guest speakers who are fighting for social justice, advocating for marginalized communities and advancing a more diverse world.

Communi-Tea with Tamar Manasseh and Shira Goodman

The session on September 22nd featured Women of Vision member Shira Goodman interviewing Tamar Manasseh, founder and president of Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK), who explored issues related to race and violence in America today. Goodman serves as the Philadelphia regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Prior to that, she was the executive director of CeasefirePA. Registered guests had access to the documentary “They Ain’t Ready for Me.” This feature-length documentary explores Manasseh’s work as an African American rabbinical student leading the fight against senseless killings on Chicago’s South Side. Shana Weiner from Dinah gave a grant highlight.

Equali-Tea with Laura Kumin and Marilyn Lieberman

The second session hosted on October 20th featured a discussion with author, food blogger and cooking coach Laura Kumin. If the battle for suffrage brings to mind images of women in long white dresses parading on city streets, the attendees were in for a surprise. Women of Vision member Marilyn Lieberman moderated the discussion. Together with Kumin, Women of Vision explored how the women of Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) fought for the right to vote with cookbooks and food, rather than picket signs and hunger strikes. They also learned how to make a pie for a suffragist’s doubting husband and how the invention of Tastykakes fits into history. Elizabeth Mandel from jGirls Magazine gave a grant highlight.

Responsibili-tea with Amy Spitalnick and Arlene Fickler

The third and final session, hosted on December 1st featured a discussion with Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA). IFA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to holding those accountable who threaten long-standing principles of our democracy — including our country’s commitment to civil rights and equal justice. Women of Vision member, Jewish Community Relations Council chair and Philadelphia attorney Arlene Fickler served as moderator. Integrity First for America’s (IFA) Charlottesville, Virginia, lawsuit is the only current legal effort to take on the broad leadership of the white supremacist movement. It provides a tangible way to take action against the violent white supremacy and broader extremism that’s poisoning this country — bankrupting the leaders and hate groups at the center of the movement. Anneke Kat from Interfaith Philadelphia gave a grant highlight.

Advancement Update

This past year Women of Vision distributed over $120,000 to local, national and global Jewish organizations. Learn about the many ways that you can help grow our endowment so that we can continue to invest in creating a more just society in the future.

Because of the generosity of you, our members, Women of Vision has advanced from giving one local $16,000 grant 25 years ago to our current year’s distribution of over $120,000 to both Israeli and local/national Jewish organizations. This could not have occurred without our efforts to grow our Endowment Fund. We are aware that our more than 600 women are a very diverse group. Thus, there is no “one size fits all” way to help grow our endowment to continue to meet the important social change needs that benefit Jewish women and girls. We hope that one or more of the following suggestions will be right for you to help us further our mission.

  • Make your friends and family members aware of our work and encourage them to become members
  • Give a gift of membership to your daughter or daughter-in-law.  If they are under age 45 they can join for $1,800
  • Gift appreciated stock to Women of Vision
  • For those over age 72, when withdrawing money from your IRA designate Women of Vision as a recipient
  • Include Women of Vision in your will, as a legacy gift
  • Commit to a year-end gift to help you advance to the next level of giving, either gradually over several years or all at once
  • Send Women of Vision tribute cards in honor of or in memory of friends and loved ones. A box of five cards is $50, and this purchase will be counted towards your next giving level
  • Host a parlor meeting (either virtually at this time, or hopefully, in person in the near future) to introduce your friends/neighbors to our social change mission
  • Join the advancement committee and help us contact current and potential members
  • Because every member of Women of Vision has the opportunity to serve on the grants committee, and to vote for the grants most worthy of our dollars, you are assured that our collective dollars will have the greatest impact. We are a Jewish Foundation that will continue to have a strong impact for years to come. We hope you will give us your continued support.

Giving Levels

LIBERATHER (UNDER AGE 45)
$1,800 payable over two years

SUPPORTHER (AGE 45 AND OVER)
$3,600 payable over two years

ENTRUSTHER
$5,000 payable over two years

SUSTAINHER
$10,000 payable over three years

MENTHER
$18,000 payable over four years

LEADHER
$25,000 payable over five years

AMBASSADHER
$36,000 payable over five years

BENEFACTHER
$50,000 payable over five years

EMPOWERHER
Minimum of $100,000, half of which can be made as a planned gift. Includes membership for female relatives

Marcy Bacine, Penni Blaskey and Joy Gordon
Advancement Chairs

If you’re interested in discussing a planned gift as mentioned above, please contact Jennifer Brier, Director of Planned Giving and Endowments at jbrier@jewishphilly.org or 215.832.0528.

Grants Update

We are pleased to update you on how our grant process has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about our domestic grantees: Dinah, Interfaith Philadelphia, jGirls Magazine, & Ta’amod: Stand Up!

Last spring, the Grant Review committee met virtually to review and discuss proposals from several organizations aiming to positively affect Jewish women and girls in Philadelphia. As we met, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic were just beginning to emerge. Although we did contribute $4,000 to the Jewish Federation’s Emergency Fund in response to COVID-19, our committee remained focused on the importance of funding social change programs – those programs that have a cascading effect to change society over time.

As we read through the proposals and received updates from the organizations in May, we understood clearly that the problems these organizations sought to address were being amplified by the pandemic. Reports show that domestic violence and abuse is on the rise as women are unable to leave their homes. Gender discrimination has met new challenges as work shifts to a virtual space and more women are leaving the work force to try to balance childcare needs. We also know that Jewish women of all ages are seeking community during this time and a place to have their voices heard.

We are proud we were able to continue our social change work and award $90,000 in grants to four organizations: Dinah, jGirls Magazine, Interfaith Philadelphia and Ta’amod. We look forward to updating you on their work impact through the next two years and grateful for their leadership in continuing to support women and girls. This year, we are energized to kick off our Grant Review Process with our committee of 60 members that will read and review Letters of Interest (LOIs) and Full Proposals from Israeli organizations.

Amy Cohen and Carly Zimmerman
Grants Co-Chairs

Grantee Spotlights

  • ELI: Israel Associate for Child Protection
  • ATZUM Justice Works

We have seen a rise in domestic abuse and child endangerment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about how Women of Vision and two of the programs we fund are combating such atrocities.

ELI: Israel Association for Child Protection

Training of IDF Female Officers: Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention in the Army   

Funding year 2 of 2; Total funds awarded was $18,000 all of which will be received by December 2020

ELI’s program in the IDF, funded by Women of Vision, trains Israel’s Quality of Life Officers (women officers in charge of the welfare of their soldiers) to recognize the indicators of abuse, to learn how to report cases of abuse, and how to get help for their soldiers. The impact of our work together is best shown by Noa’s story.

Noa is a 19-year-old soldier who served in the army for over a year and is currently working as a weapons instructor. This is a coveted position which requires special training. During her training, Noa’s Quality of Life Officer (Maya) identified, through the training she received from ELI, that Noa was displaying behaviors which she thought could have been a result of abuse (not making eye contact, being very reserved, and putting herself down).

Maya referred Noa for evaluation and her theory was unfortunately proven correct; Noa had in fact been abused several times by her older brother before he left for the army and then a number of times when he returned home as well. They previously had a fairly close relationship, so this violation was very difficult for Noa to accept. She didn’t tell anyone and even took some blame for the incidents.

With Maya’s encouragement and support, Noa began therapy where she was challenged to break down the barriers which she had built around herself to keep the secret, and to collaborate in therapy.  ELI is the only organization allowed to give therapy to soldiers, and they supervise the IDF therapists as well.

Once the pandemic hit, many clients were transitioned to online therapy. Noa was quite happy with this turn of events and she was much more cooperative in this venue. When the opportunity arose to go back to in-person therapy, Noa asked if she could stay on Zoom. She was easily granted that permission since her therapist recognized that the impersonality of the computer screen gave Noa an extra layer of protection and allowed her to share her story more freely and to work on her healing process.

This story exemplifies the key aspects of ELI’s IDF program working in concert; the critical role that the Quality of Life Officer plays, with the support of Women of Vision, who learned how to identify abuse indicators and how to get help, along with the therapeutic intervention which helps the soldiers heal from the scars of abuse.

With ELI’s training, we look forward to the Quality of Life Officers working on leading the campaign against sexual abuse in the army toward our ultimate goal of eliminating abuse.

ATZUM Justice Works

Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution

Funding year 2 of 2; Total funds awarded was $18,000 all of which will be received by December 2020.

ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution is working closely with the legal team of Chilla Ezra, a 44-year-old Hungarian-born survivor of human trafficking and prostitution, who has resided in Israel since being forcibly transported to the country in 1997. For years, Chilla, whose passport was taken from her by the traffickers who brought her to Israel under false pretenses, was imprisoned in a brothel whose owners controlled women through extreme violence, forcing them into sexual slavery and daily rape. Over time, Chilla became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some years ago, against all odds, she managed to escape the clutches of prostitution and substance abuse and has since devoted her life to raising awareness of the cruel reality of Israel’s evil prostitution industry.  Hers is one of the most important voices in shifting society’s understanding of how prostitution objectifies women and damages society.

With tremendous insensitivity, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority have repeatedly threatened to deport Chilla. While Chilla has her own lawyer, TFHT helps with the press and public opinion, recruiting MKs to advance their support in assuring that Chilla receives permanent residency, citizenship or at least a lifetime working visa. Responding to the most recent set of threats, TFHT 1) addressed the head of the Authority; 2) mobilized volunteers to send 7,000 emails to the ministry on her behalf; and 3) organized a physical protest which took place during the formal discussion of her case. Unfortunately, her residency visa and work permit were only renewed for one year. Chilla appealed to the court against the Population and Immigration Authority decision and TFHT filed a request to join her appeal as an amicus curiae (friend of the court). The request was approved, and we can now help argue on her behalf during the hearing in November.

Grantee Updates

jGirls Magazine

jGirls Magazine Girls Empowerment Program
Funding Year 1 of 2; Total funds awarded was $30,000, half of which will be received by December 2020.
Fall 2020 edition of jGirls Magazine

Dinah

Sustaining Dinah
Funding Year 1 of 2; Total funds awarded was $20,000, half of which will be received by December 2020.
Jewish Exponent article

Ta’amod: Stand Up!

Ta’amod: Stand Up! Program
Funding Year 1 of 2; Total funds awarded was $25,000, half of which will be received by December 2020.

Interfaith Philadelphia

Visionary Women Program
Funding Year 1 of 2; Total funds awarded was $15,000, half of which will be received by December 2020.

Upcoming Jewish Federation Events

  • Now – June 2021: JFNA Virtually Limitless: Our Shared Shelf Monthly Book & Author Series. Join women from across the country for JFNA’s monthly Women’s Philanthropy book club. Register Here.
  • Women of Vision funded program: Ta’amod Launch Event – Register here for Thursday, January 14th at 4:00 p.m. and here for Tuesday, January 19th at 12:00 p.m. Women of Vision proudly made a grant to Ta’amod: Transforming Jewish Work Spaces to invest in the critical work of creating safe, respectful, equitable workplaces rooted in Jewish values which intrinsically reduce the risk of harassment.
  • Women of Vision Book Review with Bev Rosen: Tuesday, March 9th at 4:00 p.m. We’ll be reading Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  • More details to come for our February parlor meetings. If you know anyone who may be interested in attending, please reach out to Shara Swift at sswift@jewishphilly.org