GREATER MIAMI JEWISH FEDERATION ANNOUNCES IRMA RELIEF FUND, WHILE ORGANIZING VOLUNTEERS AND IDENTIFYING STORM VICTIMS

As utility companies work to restore electrical power and communications services in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is partnering with the Jewish and general communities to assess the needs of our local residents, mobilize volunteers and allocate other resources where they are needed most.

Hurricane Relief Donations

Federation has established an emergency relief fund to support urgent needs in the Jewish and general communities in the wake of Hurricane Irma. One hundred percent of all contributions to this fund will be directed to our community’s collective response to this emergency.

Those wishing to make online donations to this emergency relief fund should visit JewishMiami.org/irma. Donation checks with the notation “Hurricane Irma Relief Fund” should be mailed to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33137. You may also call 305.576.4000 for assistance.

Calling All Volunteers

If you wish to volunteer to help those affected by the storm, please contact the Jewish Volunteer Center (JVC) of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation at 877.879.5652 and follow the prompts. You also can send an email to IrmaVolunteers@gmjf.org. Leave your name and contact information, and someone will contact you.

Identifying Those in Need

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the Jewish community’s 24-hour helpline, 305.576.6550, operated by Federation’s local partner agency, Jewish Community Services of South Florida. If you are unable to reach someone at that number, call Federation’s emergency hotline at 877.879.5652 and follow the prompts. A representative will return your call as soon as possible.

Available Resources

Federation is providing an ongoing list of available resources in the Jewish community – including the opening and closing of certain institutions. Access this list at JewishMiami.org/irmaresources.This list will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have questions about a specific facility, please contact that facility directly.

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Greater Miami Jewish Federation Shares Important Hurricane-Related Resources and Contact Information

In its ongoing effort to serve the community in Miami-Dade County, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is offering resources and contact information to use in response to Hurricane Irma.

Volunteers wishing to help others during or after the storm should call the Volunteer Center of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation at 877-879-5652 and follow the prompts. Please leave your name and contact information and someone will return your call. You may also email IrmaVolunteers@gmjf.org.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the Jewish community’s 24-hour helpline, 305-576-6550, operated by Federation’s local partner agency, Jewish Community Services of South Florida. If you are unable to reach someone at that number, call Federation’s emergency hotline at 877-879-5652 and follow the prompts to leave a message. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.

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Grand Opening of Miami Lighthouse Children’s Center to Showcase a Bright Future for Blind and Visually Impaired Children

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired will give an audience of civic leaders and community philanthropists a glimpse into the future during the grand opening ceremony for its new Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ and dedication of its Mary M. and Sash A. Spencer Campus. The grand opening and dedication will take place on Wednesday, August 16, beginning at 11 a.m. at Miami Lighthouse, located at 601 Southwest 8th Avenue, Miami.

In addition to celebrating the opening of the new 72,000-square-foot Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™, the event will feature an exhibition of cutting-edge devices, software and technologies designed to assist the visually challenged. Jorge Hernandez, Computer Technology Services Instructor, and John Garcia, Manager of Vision Solutions, will feature new and exciting technology available for the blind and visually impaired, such as, braille-to-audio teaching equipment, the latest in digital print magnification devices, computer speech applications, and Apple computer products, including accessible IPads.

Speakers at the Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ grand opening ceremony will include City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, and President & CEO of The Children’s Trust James Haj. Miami Lighthouse’s Early Intervention Blind Babies Program was named the 2016 Program of the Year by the Children’s Trust. This most prestigious award recognizes Miami Lighthouse’s Early Intervention Program, in particular, for including parents as teachers. Representatives from MCM and the architectural firm of Wolfberg Alvarez Partners will also participate in the dedication ceremony along with financial supporters of the project and Miami Lighthouse Board Directors. The event will also feature musical performances by Pre-Kindergarten and schoolchildren participating in Miami Lighthouse’s nationally acclaimed Music Program.

The Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ will accommodate the expansion of Florida’s first-of-its-kind fully inclusive pre-kindergarten for visually impaired students and their sighted peers. Miami Lighthouse piloted this unique Pre-Kindergarten with 15 students in 2016/2017 in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Early Learning Coalition, to more easily transition blind and visually impaired students to public schools. For academic year 2017-2018, 40 visually impaired and sighted children ages one to four are enrolled with the capacity to expand to 100 children. All classrooms will follow the inclusion model (50 percent students with and 50 percent without visual impairment).

Miami Lighthouse was established in 1931 and has been providing services to the blind from nearly the same location.  With the completion of the Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™, the facility has grown into a 115,000-square-foot landmark. Today Miami Lighthouse is recognized as a national center of excellence in vision rehabilitation that serves more than 14,000 program participants annually with an array of programs that enable blind and visually impaired persons of all ages to achieve independence.

For more information about Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit www.miamilighthouse.org

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Key Clubhouse Accredited for Services to Adults with Mental Illnesses

Key Clubhouse of South Florida, an agency focused on improving the lives of adults with mental illnesses, has received a three-year accreditation from Clubhouse International, affiliating the Miami-based non-profit organization with the respected worldwide network of more than 320 community-based centers dedicated to sustainable solutions for mental illness.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been accredited by Clubhouse International because it recognizes Key Clubhouse as part of a very elite and effective global group of agencies responding to the challenges of mental illness,” said Debra Webb, Executive Director of Key Clubhouse.

Approval of Key Clubhouse’s accreditation followed a thorough inspection and site visit process, including analysis of the local agency’s social, educational and vocational programs, to ensure that they conform with Clubhouse International’s strict standards.

“The Key Clubhouse is a strong Clubhouse with a clear sense of community and a vibrant and engaging work-ordered day,” the inspection team wrote in its written evaluation. “We noted that relationships were very collegial – member to member, member to staff and staff to staff. Everyone seemed to enjoy being at the Clubhouse and most staff and members were fully engaged in the work-ordered day.”

The mission of Key Clubhouse is to afford people whose lives have been disrupted by mental illness the opportunity to recover meaningful and productive lives through reintegration into the workplace and the community. The goal is a high quality of life for all members, ongoing improvement, and the ultimate elimination of stigma associated with mental illness.

Now that it is accredited, Key Clubhouse is recognized as following the Clubhouse International program model, an evidence-based program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This program model has been successful in reducing the rate of hospitalization and incarcerations, and in securing longer-term and better paid employment for its members. More than 320 Clubhouses in 34 countries around the world follow this program model.

In the past year, Key Clubhouse has placed 31 persons with mental illnesses in employment opportunities. Founded in 2008, the agency currently offers GED classes through a partnership with Lindsey Hopkins Technical College, and offers a Wellness Program that includes exercise and nutrition classes. Key Clubhouse is supported by South Florida Behaviorial Health Network, Health Foundation of South Florida, Peacock Foundation, The Able Trust, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Litowitz Foundation, Florida Department of Children and Families, other private foundations and individual donors.

Located at 1400 Northwest 54th Street, Key Clubhouse has an open-door policy, admitting adults living with serious and persistent mental illnesses, regardless of their insurance status or place of residence within the county. For more information, visit www.keyclubhouse.org or call 305-693-3508.

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Relief Funds Collected to Aid Louisiana Flood Victims

In aftermath of relentless flooding that has devastated southern Louisiana, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is joining Jewish Federations across North America to raise funds and respond to urgent needs both in distressed communities surrounding Baton Rouge.

Following severe storms in Southern Louisiana, rising waters have killed at least 13 people, destroyed countless homes and forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives.

One hundred percent of all contributions to this fund will be directed through The Jewish Federations of North America to support Baton Rouge Flood Relief. Those wishing to contribute to the relief fund can do so on the Internet by visiting http://www.JewishMiami.org. Checks also can be mailed payable to Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33137. Please note “Baton Rouge Flood Relief” in the memo area of each check.

For more information about donating to Federation’s Baton Rouge Flood Relief fund, call 305-576-4000.

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Miami Lighthouse for the Blind Breaking Ground on New Children’s Learning Center

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired will break ground on a new addition to its growing campus — the 72,000-square-foot Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ — during a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, August 3 at 10:30 A.M.

Miami Lighthouse, located at 601 Southwest 8th Avenue, is co-hosting the groundbreaking ceremony in collaboration with Munilla Construction Management, LLC, and Wolfberg Alvarez Partners. The new facility was made possible by private donations in response to a challenge grant from a local philanthropist.

Elected officials, civic leaders and education professionals will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony, along with supporters of Miami Lighthouse. Tours of Miami Lighthouse programs, including special summer classes for blind and visually impaired children, will be conducted immediately after the ceremony.

In addition to housing innovative intervention programs for youngsters from birth through four years old, the Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ will provide the community with a first-of-its-kind pre-kindergarten program. Blind and visually impaired children from communities throughout Miami-Dade will attend alongside sighted classmates from the surrounding Brickell neighborhood. Miami Lighthouse is introducing this unique pilot project, in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Early Learning Coalition, to more easily transition blind and visually impaired students to public schools.

The Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ has been designed as a safe, child-oriented environment with a wide array of tactile experiences through which toddlers and young children can learn about the world around them in an engaging and fun way.

Established in 1931 by Dolly Gamble with the aid of Helen Keller and support from Miami’s Lions and Rotary clubs, Miami Lighthouse is the oldest and largest private agency in Florida assisting persons of all ages who are blind and visually impaired. Today, the agency serves more than 14,000 clients per year with an array of programs that enable blind and visually impaired persons to achieve independence.

For more information about Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit MiamiLighthouse.org, or call 305-856-2288.

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A Tribute to Elie Wiesel

The following statement was issued by Amy Dean, Chair of the Board, and Jacob Solomon, President and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation:

On behalf of the Officers, Board of Directors and Staff of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, we express our deep sadness on the passing of Elie Wiesel, z”l, revered Holocaust survivor, author, teacher and Nobel Laureate.

Speaking and writing with the fervor of a passionate preacher, the wisdom of a sage, the certainty of an eyewitness and the words of a poet, Mr. Wiesel traversed the world, sharing his message about the importance of confronting evil. After surviving the depths of hell during the Shoah, he reminded all of us that the greatest enemy of humanity is indifference. He demanded that we never forget the horrible lessons of the Holocaust. He implored us to speak out against the forces of genocide and discrimination in our own time, lest our silence be perceived as acquiescence and capitulation.

As a part-time resident of South Florida, Mr. Wiesel was a beloved presence in our community and a respected voice of compassion and activism. Speaking to an audience of thousands at the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach in 1990, Mr. Wiesel referred to the Memorial’s graphic depictions of heartache and suffering, declaring:

“Look and you will realize that there existed a suffering that transcended suffering. Woe unto us. For the tragedy which this museum is trying to integrate is beyond words and beyond imagination, but not beyond memory. And only those who were there know what it meant being there.”

In 2010, Mr. Wiesel addressed the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Main Event and reminded us of our moral responsibility to preserve memories of the Holocaust and insist that its legacy is taught to future generations.

As we mourn the passing of Eli Wiesel, we appreciate the depth of our loss and the eternal relevance of his life’s message. We must remember the calamity of the Holocaust and teach its lessons. We must respect the dignity of human life and decry prejudice in all its forms. We must give voice to the oppressed and stand united against the tyranny of their oppressors.

If we remain true to these principles, the spirit of Elie Wiesel will remain with us in our hearts and minds, forever, serving as a voice of remembrance, conscience and moral activism. May his memory and the lessons of his life forever be a blessing.

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The Comic Con Phenomenon

Anyone who doubts the existence of other worlds has never visited a Comic Con. A recent visit to the Magic City Comic Con in Miami revealed an entire universe — composed mostly of millennials demonstrating their individuality, their imagination and their own unique brand of consumerism.

Imagine being surrounded by thousands of young people, many dressed in outrageously extravagant costumes to emulate their heroes of comics, cartoons, anime and science fiction. The weekend of the Magic City Comic Con drew approximately 20,000 guests, primarily between the ages of 18-25, who swarmed the halls of the normally sedate Radisson conference center.

Although I chose to wear my black Dr. Who t-shirt for the occasion, younger enthusiasts dressed far more elaborately as their favorite characters. This phenomenon, known as “cosplay,” may involve simple, homemade disguises, or highly detailed costumes with painted faces. Mingling with Ironman, Klingon officers and Sailor Moon were popular and obscure characters from the millennials’ chosen fantasy worlds. There was even a Cosplay Medic on site to repair visitors’ torn outfits or touch up their makeup.

The opportunity to gather with peers is certainly one of the major attractions of Comic Con events, but so are chances to meet a wide range of “celebrities” who make appearances and sign autographs. While some of these celebs are young writers, animators and voice-over artists from comics, mangas, cartoons, movies and television, others are more established stars, many of whom collect $40 or more for autographed photos. At one booth was the very gracious John Wesley Shipp, television’s original Flash, who faithfully conversed with every fan who stopped by to meet him. Across the room was South Florida resident Allen Bellman, a legendary artist from the golden age of comic books who drew the famous cover of Captain America punching Hitler in the jaw.

One large auditorium-style room was reserved for question-and-answer sessions with famous guests, such as Jenna Coleman of Dr. Who and Ming-Na Wen of Agents of Shield. Upstairs, screening rooms showed trailers from animated and live-action videos, produced by small independent producers and major Hollywood studios.

Meanwhile, merchandise booths sold various types of exotic swag, ranging from swords, masks and hats to collectors edition comic books and animation cels. While I have no official estimate of spending at the Magic City Comic Con, 20,000 visitors paid $20 per person for admission and hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands at autograph and merchandise booths over the course of the weekend. That’s real commerce coming from a very young audience of consumers.

Millennials are often thought to be a challenging generation, particularly to marketers. Yet the Comic Con phenomenon demonstrates that there is money to be made from members of this rising generation by thinking differently and understanding their interests.

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Invest in Your Reputation

A good reputation is like fire. Once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again.”                                                                                                                                                       – Socrates

As the new year 2016 begins, I recommend that our professional, business and not-for-profit colleagues adopt one important resolution. Invest in your good reputation.

An effective public relations program can spread the word about your abilities and accomplishments in a manner that enhances your reputation among targeted audiences. It also can preserve your good name when crisis strikes, combating negative perceptions that can threaten your establishment’s image.

Reputation management is a long-term process, one that focuses on creating constantly positive visibility and respect. So be persistent in good and bad economic times.

On behalf of the Great Communicators team, I wish all of you a successful, prosperous New Year and welcome your inquiries about designing public relations campaigns that meet the specific needs of your business or organization.

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Thousands Rallying on November 15 to Stand Against Global Anti-Semitism

MIAMI BEACH — Only seven decades since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in global anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activities. Standing strong together against these issues, thousands of Jews and Gentiles will gather for “Never Again: A Community Rally in Response to the Rise in Worldwide Anti-Semitism and the Campaign Against Israel’s Right to Exist” on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. at the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, 1933-1945 Meridian Avenue.

The Community Rally is sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, its Jewish Community Relations Council, the Holocaust Memorial, the Consulate General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, and the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, in partnership with more than 75 other synagogues and organizations from throughout South Florida. Speakers will include U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and several U.S. Congressional Representatives.

“Since the Holocaust, we have vowed, ‘Never again’ to anti-Semitism and hatred,” said Jacob Solomon, Greater Miami Jewish Federation President and CEO. “Yet, we are seeing daily terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Israel; the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at delegitimizing and isolating Israel; the United Nation’s cynical and disproportionate condemnation of the Jewish homeland; attacks on Jews in Europe and North America; and Iran’s Holocaust denial and venomous declarations to wipe Israel off the map. This is not 1938. But ‘Never again’ are not just words. We are all obligated to act.”

The rally also is being presented in commemoration of the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

As we recall Kristallnacht, the event that symbolized the beginning of the Holocaust, we call on all people of goodwill to join Holocaust survivors and a united community to stand strong against anti-Semitism,” said Andrew C. Hall, Chair of the Holocaust Memorial and also a child survivor of the Holocaust.

“We will stand together to recall the lessons of the Holocaust and to declare to the world that we will not be silent in the face of new dangers facing the Jewish people.”

Kristallnacht was marked by a series of coordinated attacks in Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938, which caused the deaths of 91 Jews and the incarceration of 30,000 in concentration camps. The streets were covered with broken glass from the shattered windows of Jewish-owned homes, stores and synagogues that were vandalized and looted during the attacks.

“Memory must live and serve as a lesson of what can happen when evil is allowed to prevail,” said Robert Berrin, Board Chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “Anti-Semitism remains a very real and potent threat to Jews around the world today. We will gather on November 15 to speak out as a concerned community and to let the world know we will not stand idly by whenever and wherever hatred rears its ugly head.”

For full details about the rally, including a full list of participating organizations, parking information and more, visit JewishMiami.org/rally. No backpacks or large handbags will be permitted. The event will take place rain or shine.

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