University Jewish Chaplaincy, Chai Cancer Care and Jewish Women's Aid are the beneficiaries of the second JC Charity Appeal.
Established to support deserving causes which might otherwise be overlooked during the Yomtov fundraising season, the appeal once again attracted a large and varied entry. Our judging panel, including Esther Rantzen, Maureen Lipman and Baroness Neuberger, came up with a shortlist of 11 before this week's final decision. We are now asking readers to support their selections.
A quiet but effective presence on campus for 40 years, the charity says its work has touched almost all Jewish families. Co-operating closely with UJS, Jewish societies and Hillel, it runs nine chaplaincy centres - in London, Brighton, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Scotland. Chaplains also travel to outlying campuses.
UJC estimates that it regularly deals with 3,500 young people (one-third of the Jewish student population) with a mission to inspire and strengthen Jewish identity and to enhance the range and quality of Jewish student activities.
Executive director Rabbi Yoni Sherizen says the chaplains have three main areas of responsibility. "Welfare, which can cover everything from dealing with cases of depression and stress to family and financial issues. Hostility, by which I mean discrimination against an individual or community. And a Jewish connection - providing a positive Jewish experience. This can be through educational or social events - a welcome barbecue, a Succot pizza, a Friday-night meal in the chaplain's home or ‘running with the rabbi' after Shabbat."
The basic annual cost of a chaplaincy is £80,000 and Rabbi Sherizen would love to establish additional centres and offer extra services at a time when "we are being called upon to provide more and more support". He is keen to involve students from isolated campuses by offering transportation to events and to improve the training for staff.
"We are really delighted to have been selected for the appeal," he adds. "We have been expanding significantly over the last few years to shoulder the burden of the increasing needs of Jewish students. We want to maintain that growth but we need more help. At present we are run on a shoestring."
Edgware Synagogue minister Rabbi David Lister spoke for a number of our judges in describing the chaplaincy service as "a spiritual lifeline for students at what can be a disorientating time. I have fond memories of my student chaplain when I was at UCL." Another judge, Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, sees the charity's work as "more important than ever given what takes place in many campuses, and the increasing need to support young Jews who can struggle to maintain their identity".
The North London-based cancer-support organisation provides wide-ranging assistance for Jews, regardless of synagogue affiliation. All services are available to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis - patients, family members and friends. Its help includes advisory services, support groups and one-to-one therapy and counselling. Services are available in clients' homes.
Chai reports that over the past year "new client numbers have doubled and we expect them to continue rising year-on-year. As more people are living longer with the disease, people need our services for a greater period. Each client receives a personalised package of care which responds to their individual needs. We do not limit access to, nor place time constraints on, use of our services, for which we receive no statutory funding."
In its appeal nomination, Chai highlighted its desire to spread its wings to other parts of London and beyond. Last year, a satellite service was launched in partnership with Jewish Care based at the Redbridge Community Centre. Building on this successful collaboration, Chai joined forces with Nightingale in July to establish a South London satellite at Nightingale's Wandsworth base.
Chai would like to set up a further two partnerships in other centres of Jewish population but needs the money to do so. It estimates the annual funding requirement for a new partnership to be around £46,000.
Chief executive Elaine Kerr hopes that the JC appeal will "make an enormous difference to us. We are reliant on the generosity of the community.
"With growing awareness of Chai and what it offers, we are finding demand from all age groups - from children of 10 to people in their nineties. As we are able to assure clients of confidentiality, all sections of the community feel comfortable approaching us."
Appeal judge Maureen Lipman backed Chai "because of the frightening rise in cases of the disease and because the organisation needs to spread to areas outside the capital".
JWA provides support and shelter for Jewish women who have experienced domestic abuse. It runs a London refuge for up to eight women and their children from varying backgrounds and levels of religious observance. Kashrut, Shabbat and the festivals are strictly observed at the refuge.
The charity points out that abused women "may remain silent through shame, embarrassment, a feeling of guilt or fear that they will not be believed. Being believed, accepted, supported and understood is vital. It brings strength and comfort and is the start of recovery."
Its confidential freephone helpline (0800 591203) received over 1,300 calls last year and JWA also offers outreach assistance, as well as seeking to raise awareness of domestic abuse within the Jewish community.
Welcoming JWA's selection as one of the three appeal charities, its board notes that "at this time of the year when families get together, shalom bayit [peace in the home] is so important. We want every Jewish family to have peace in their home and we support the women that don't."
Backing JWA, appeal judge Baroness Neuberger complimented its "astonishing work under inspirational leadership, dealing with a problem the Jewish community has pretended does not exist. It's so important, and so under-resourced."
Our three chosen charities have been assessed by Intelligent Giving, an independent organisation reporting on charities' transparency. Intelligent Giving gave them a clean bill of health, albeit with the proviso that reports and accounts submitted to the Charity Commission needed greater detail.
In Chai's case, it had made the charity aware of the need for a fuller annual report, but praised its website for filling in many of the gaps. Although it also found omissions in JWA's annual report, "it's reassuring to see evidence of long-term planning". For University Jewish Chaplaincy, "the annual report gives an idea of its achievements and general direction but lacks financial commentary".
Rabbi and Gordon Brown's independent champion of volunteers
Actress and writer
Sir Howard Bernstein
Manchester City Council chief executive
Writer, broadcaster and ChildLine founder
Ilford North Conservative MP
Agudas Israel Housing Association chief executive
Rabbi David Lister
UNIVERSITY JEWISH CHAPLAINCY
Donations can be made by post to PO Box 47824, London NW11 9YA; by phone on 020 8731 7471; or online at www.ujc.org.uk. Please write "JC Charity Appeal" on the back or cheques or quote the appeal if donating by other methods. Registered charity number 261324
CHAI CANCER CARE
Donations can be made by post to Chai Cancer Care, 144-146 Great North Way, London NW4 1EH; by phone on 020 8202 2211; or online at www.chaicancercare.org. Please write "JC Charity Appeal" on the back or cheques or quote the appeal if donating by other methods. Registered charity number 1078956
JEWISH WOMEN'S AID
Donations can be made by post to PO Box 2670, London N12 9ZE; by phone on 020 8445 8060; or online at www.jwa.org.uk. Please write "JC Charity Appeal" on the back or cheques or quote the appeal if donating by other methods. Registered charity number 1047045