Jewish Federation launches annual campaign

November 20, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

The Jewish Federation of Howard County will kick off its annual fund-raising campaign today to raise money to help improve the lives of Jewish people in the county, across the United States and abroad.

The federation's goal this year is to raise $300,000, said Steve Shaw, the federation's executive director. Last year, the group raised $210,000 in a seven-month campaign.

An estimated 10,000 Jews live in Howard County, which in recent years has been one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the country.

The local fund-raising drive is part of the New York-based United Jewish Appeal's (UJA) 1995 national fund-raising campaign.

Money raised in Howard County will help pay for the education of local students who can't afford religious schools or higher education, resettlement of Soviet Jews and other local and international services, Mr. Shaw said.

Thirty percent of the funds raised locally will be sent to the UJA, he said.

Giving, Mr. Shaw said, is traditional in the Jewish community.

"The Jewish community has always taken care of the needs of its community," he said.

"In the old days it was a tithe, a tax, on the community. Now it's voluntary."

The Jewish Federation of Howard County, a 26-year-old umbrella organization for local Jewish groups, coordinates religious activities and employment, health, educational and counseling services for Jewish residents in the county. The group also works closely with Jewish Family Services of Central Maryland to provide opportunities for Jewish people.

Israeli newscaster and journalist Freda Keet, who works for Kol Israel, The Voice of Israel National Broadcasting Authority in Jerusalem, will be the guest speaker at today's kick-off at 7 p.m. at The Meeting House in Oakland Mills. Admission is free.

Ms. Keet likely will discuss the peace process that is unfolding in the Middle East and the condition of Jewish people around the world, Mr. Shaw said. The Zimbabwe-born woman moved to Israel in 1963 and is an authority on matters involving Israel's absorption of new immigrants, new settlements and security.

Immigration and resettlement are key issues for Israel, Mr. Shaw said.

"That's why Israel exists after the Holocaust -- to bring Jews in need who want to live in the state of Israel."

Last summer, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin asked Israeli legislators to amend Israel's Law of Return.

It was passed in 1950 to give citizenship to any applicant with one Jewish grandparent.

The law was passed to give refuge to survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

Today, however, some Jews in Israel are debating the claims of Jewish ancestry from some potential immigrants who want to settle in Israel now that it is a relatively wealthy country.

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