JFS of Metrowest Honors Outstanding Community Leaders
At 27th Annual Seize the Dream Gala Scheduled May 21st, 2017
Framingham, MA – January 24, 2017 – JFS of Metrowest is pleased to announce Joe Blumenfeld and his wife, Michelle Paster, and Artemis Joukowsky, III will be honored at the 27th annual Seize the Dream Gala event on May 21st, 2017 at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center.
Seize the Dream honors area leaders and volunteers who have demonstrated an unfailing commitment and personal dedication to supporting vulnerable children, families, and senior adults in the local community. This year’s honorees have made it their life’s work to stand up for those left behind and it is a privilege to recognize these exceptional individuals.
We celebrate these extraordinary individuals who stand up for children, families and elders throughout Metrowest and Greater Boston; as well as caring deeply for children and refugee families throughout the United States and the world.
Joe Blumenfeld and Michelle Paster are passionate about Jewish education and are steadfast in their support of the most vulnerable in the Metrowest community.
The couple currently reside in Natick and have two children, Shoshana, who attends Gann Academy, and is in the tenth grade and her younger sister Yael who is in eighth grade at The Rashi School. The couple is very involved in the community and leadership at both The Rashi School and Temple Beth Elohim. Michelle has served on the Executive Committee Board of Rashi.
They both have been involved with AIPAC for 25 years, Joe and Michelle support a host of Boston Jewish organizations including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Gateways, and Jewish Family Children Services. Joe is on the UNICEF New England Board of Directors and formerly served on the Board of a Children’s Advocacy organization. Joe is currently involved with media and communication strategy related to the JFS Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project.
Artemis Joukowsky, III demonstrations deep rooted passion for the Jewish community and beliefs through stories and film making.
Artemis is a filmmaker, director and producer for the past 30 years. In his years of experience, Artemis, has acted as a private investor, ventured capitalist, asset advisor, entrepreneur, non-profit activist. Artemis’ latest film and book, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, tells the story of his grandparents, Martha and Waitstill Sharp, who played a significant role in the relief and rescue of displaced and endangered World War II refugees.
Artemis’ story spoke directly to JFS because of the immediate relevance to the community we work directly with. The story speaks volumes in correlation with the characters in the story because they are refugees and immigrants. The story gave emotion to the job and services JFS performs on a daily basis.
This year’s JFS Seize the Dream Gala will be an elegant affair with dinner and refreshments provided by over 18 local caterers and restaurants, as well as an online and silent auction featuring over 100 unique items, ranging from dining and vacation packages to electronics and autographed sports memorabilia.
To learn more about this year’s honorees or for ticket and sponsorship information, please visit www.jfsmw.org.
About JFS of Metrowest
JFS a community-based organization that is dedicated to standing up for those left behind, providing services to over 5,000 people in need within the Metrowest and Greater Boston regions each year. The proceeds of the Seize the Dream event support a wide variety of programs including after school tutoring for at-risk children, nutrition assistance for low-income families and support services that enable frail older adults to live independently. To learn more about JFS, visit www.jfsmw.org.
On Wednesday, January 18, the Woodrow Wilson School Cafeteria was packed with over 400 articles of winter clothing including hats, coats, gloves, and boots. The items were compiled of donated clothing that was new or gently used by people of the community. During our first pop-up closet event, we had a great crowd of volunteers with positive attitudes and outlooks on life, we had high hopes that our second event would be just as successful. In less than two hours, over 50 Metrowest families, equaling approximately 200 individuals were able to obtain winter gear through JFS’ second Pop-Up Closet event! This pop-up event was made possible by the volunteers who donated their time in helping to sort, transport, organize, set up, and clean up the 400 items that were donated from the community and members of the JFS association. The photos attached show the generous donations and numerous number of different articles of clothing accumulated over the past couple of months.
A week after the event, during All Stars and Math Academy, our extended day program at the Woodrow Wilson School, a JFS employee witnessed a young girl playing outside in her new snow boots that she had picked out at the clothing closet. The young girl was so excited to show off her new boots, and other articles of clothing she had picked out at the clothing closet at her school. This small example of joy and gratitude shows impact that the members of the JFS team and volunteers have on the Metrowest community and beyond!
To learn more about this pop-up closet or other future community initiatives hosted by JFS, please contact Kayla Hopkins at 508-875-3100 x.220 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JFS was forced to halt the welcoming of our sixth Syrian refugee family because of the refugee ban imposed by president elect, Donald Trump.
During the first week of February, JFS was expecting a pregnant mom accompanied by her two young daughters to come to the Metrowest area to find a furnished apartment for her and her family to live comfortably and start a new life. Unfortunately, because of the ban, this family and the other 10 remaining refugee families were unable to come over to the United States.
In her article “This American Family Has Been Saving Refugees Since the Holocaust – Until Trump Stopped Them”, Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua tells the story of “Fatima”, a 5-year-old Syrian girl who’s family made it to the United States before the executive order was signed and is building a new life with the help of Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. Read the article and learn about the devastation the executive order has wrought with other families, just like hers.
Click here to read the full article and learn more about JFS’ Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project.
Board President Lou Kates and I are very proud to share the following Boston communal joint statement on Immigration and Refugees: We Must Not Close Our Doors.
Marc Jacobs, LICSW
Chief Executive Officer
In response to the executive orders this past week on immigration and separately regarding refugees, we, the undersigned Boston Jewish religious, philanthropic, civic and human service organizations come together to say that these actions – which are causing anxiety, pain and anguish throughout immigrant communities and our nation – are unjust. We stand together on the side of empathy and religious tolerance and we urge the administration to open the gates of compassion to those seeking safety, regardless of their faith or country of origin.
We urge our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to do everything in their legal authority to protect our foreign born neighbors throughout the Commonwealth. We urge our community and others to join together and work to ensure that the United States does not close our doors to immigrants and refugees. We urge our government to maintain and expand a policy of responsible leadership for the protection and resettlement of refugee families, including in the United States and including innocent civilians fleeing the horrors in Syria.
The Torah warns against the wronging of a stranger (Ger) in thirty-six places. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks takes note that “there is something striking about this almost endlessly iterated concern for the stranger – together with the historical reminder that “you yourselves were slaves in Egypt.” Sacks goes on:
“Why should you not hate the stranger? – asks the Torah. Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you… I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the color of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image – says God – they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.”
At the current moment, Jewish Vocational Service is serving some five hundred refugee clients in Boston, many of whom are waiting to be reunited with family members. Jewish Family Service of Metrowest is leading a collaboration of area synagogues to resettle refugee families with young children, with additional families – including Syrian Muslims and Ukrainian Jews -already screened, approved and ready to arrive in the coming weeks. All of these families are experiencing a great deal of anxiety and pain, and, for those who may be prevented from arriving, the potential for additional great suffering. The organized Jewish community of Boston and our human service agencies remain committed to our work in service to these families and their needs.
We share the belief that it is long past time for our nation to enact comprehensive immigration reform. We affirm our commitment to work for reform that maintains our commitment to being a welcoming nation that does not close its doors to immigrants, that addresses border security, and that provides a path to normalization of the status of those already living here – the overwhelming majority of whom share the same desires as every generation of American immigrant and refugee families; safety, security and the opportunity to pursue the promise of the American Dream for themselves and their children. We believe that the United States has the moral responsibility and the capacity to welcome at least as many refugees as we have been doing in recent years, with appropriate and diligent screening.
The approach to addressing these issues that was announced this past week is rooted in a rhetoric of fear and demonization and a policy that treats human beings around the world – including endangered refugees, many of whom are children who are suffering in devastating conditions – as an enforcement problem. We believe that these issues must be approached as a humanitarian matter, with a commitment to the dignity and welfare of all peoples.
Our community knows all too well the suffering that comes when America turns away refugees. We have experienced first-hand the extraordinary contributions that we as immigrants and the children of immigrants have brought to the American endeavor by adding to the prosperity and creativity of our nation. As Jews we came to this country often fleeing danger and oppression, and often we were unwelcome and discriminated against upon our arrival. We came to pursue our hopes, to practice our faith freely, and to realize the promise of America. We must not close our doors to those around the world who seek these same opportunities today.
We reject any effort to shut our nation’s doors on the most vulnerable. We recommit ourselves to the work of protecting and advancing the dignity of all human beings and to preventing suffering in this world.
AJC New England
Anti-Defamation League, New England Region
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Hillel Council of New England
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters
JCC Greater Boston
Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Family Service of Metrowest
Jewish Labor Committee, New England
Jewish Vocational Service
Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
Synagogue Council of Massachusetts
Workmen’s Circle, Boston