One Happy Camper Grants

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 11:32am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

TJF is pleased to report that we have awarded 17 One Happy Camper Grants, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp, for first time campers to attend Jewish overnight camps this summer. Grants were made for campers attending eight different camps across all Jewish denominations. Encouraging and enabling Jewish children to attend Jewish camps is a powerful investment in ensuring Jewish continuity and future support of Israel. A recent study found that adults who attended Jewish camps were:

• 21% more likely to feel that being Jewish is very important
• 26% more likely to belong to a synagogue
• 37% more likely to light Shabbat candles
• 25% more likely to give to Jewish charities, and
• 55% more likely to feel emotionally attached to Israel

We are looking for partners to help fund One Happy Camper grants for the Summer of 2019 and beyond. If you’re a believer in the power of camp and would like to be part of this important initiative, please contact Barb Gelb (965.6105) or Scott Kaplan (965.6109) to have a conversation.

In other news, the TJF Grants process is now open and we encourage our local affiliates to apply for funding for new and innovative programming. Applications are available and will be due on July 13, 2018. Please contact Ann Swindell at if you have questions.

Lucie Waldman Awarded the Stein Family College Scholarship from the Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 11:16am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

The annual Stein Family College Scholarship of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation was awarded this month to Lucie Waldman, a soon-to-be graduate of Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach. Lucie is the 10th recipient of the four-year scholarship provided to a Jewish student in Tidewater, and will receive up to $10,000 per year. She is headed to Franklin and Marshall University in Pennsylvania this Fall to major in Neuroscience.

Lucie attended URJ Camp Harlem in Pennsylvania for 5 years, and a couple of years ago on the drive back from camp, she toured Franklin and Marshall since it was close by and she was not sure when she would be in the area again. She liked the vibe of the school and felt that its strong pre-med program seemed “doable and not intimidating.” Being a small school allows for classes of 24 students, and Lucie feels she will thrive there. “I’m excited to be with people that are more similar to me and get involved in more activities and take classes I’m passionate about. They have an active Hillel and I’m looking forward to being involved there.”

In addition to camp, Lucie has participated in Jewish life through working as a teaching assistant at Ohef Sholom Temple for several years. Much of her experience was with one student who had some challenges. Lucie developed a nice one on one relationship with her, moved up with her through four years of Hebrew School, and then was given the honor of making a special presentation at her bat-mitzvah ceremony. Lucie will spend this summer as a counselor at the URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. She was drawn to it because it integrates Judaism, science and technology. Lucie was also involved in her Temple Youth Group, wrote for her school newspaper and was on the Board of her school’s Psychology Club.

Lucie says she was very surprised to be awarded the Stein Family Scholarship because she knows there were many exceptional applicants. She said that she was careful to research Mrs. Stein so that she would understand what the scholarship was about. When she learned about Mrs. Stein’s commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world, Lucie felt that her own desire to help people through the field of medicine would be a good expression of that value. “Last summer, I attended Brandeis University’s Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine, and it was the most beneficial experience I ever had in high school. It was very taxing but inspiring to see what the medical research field can do for the future. We learned about gene editing and CRISPR, which can cure disorders and save millions of lives.” Lucie wants to help others through research and medicine and is grateful to have been selected to receive this prestigious honor from the Stein Family and TJF.

The Stein Family College Scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of Arlene Stein who did not complete college because of financial hardship. Jerry Stein, her beloved husband, passed away in 2014. The Tidewater Jewish Foundation works closely with the Stein Family in administering this generous scholarship to a deserving Hampton Roads teen.

Prior recipients of the scholarship include Morgan Conley (Brandeis University ’13), Eric Smith (University of Virginia ’14), Marissa Arager (George Mason University ’15), Avi Malkin (College of William and Mary ’16), Dinar Yusufov (James Madison University ’17), Amanda Gladstone (Virginia Tech ’18), Dana Cohen (Virginia Tech ’19), Brett Pomerantz (Virginia Tech ’20), and Sydney Levine, (University of Virginia ‘21).

Summer is Almost Here, but It’s Not too Late for One Happy Camper

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:50am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

In our first year as a partner with Jewish Foundation for Camp’s One Happy Camper program, Tidewater Jewish Foundation has approved 12 new overnight campers with grants of up to $1000 per camper. The goal is to fund up to 17 campers our first year, so there is still funding available from the partnership. Jewish overnight camps are a great way for kids to make new friends, gain independence and experience the fun in Judaism! Camping leads to lifelong friendships and deep ties to the community. Spread the word to the potential campers in your life. You’ll be doing them a favor! For more information about the One Happy Camper program, or to apply visit or contact Barb Gelb at

LIFE & LEGACY Moves Into Its Second Year with High Hopes

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 9:45am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Nearly thirty professionals and volunteers gathered last week to learn about Best Practices in implementing LIFE & LEGACY. Arlene Schiff, National Director of LIFE & LEGACY, led a workshop that focused on several aspects of legacy giving, including having the conversation, marketing the program and stewarding donors. She introduced the concept of the integrated ask, where organizations that are looking for an annual or capital campaign gift can also bring up the legacy gift with potential donors. She related, “Sometimes a donor might not be able to give a current gift, but has the capacity to make a very meaningful and significant legacy gift. The donor generally feels very good to be able to do something for an organization he or she cares about.” Schiff added that planting the seed about legacy giving in the conversation about an annual gift allows the donor to consider the many options in leaving a legacy. This is especially true of younger donors who are really stretched in terms of financial obligations, but are consistently added to their IRA who could begin to “consider leaving a small portion of their IRA to an organization that they care deeply about.”

The Tidewater community is in its second year of the national program, in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Nationally, in just over 5 years, the program has secured $672 million for the future of the Jewish community. The Tidewater has approximately $9 million in legacy gifts. If you are interested in creating your legacy with a gift to one or more Jewish agencies or synagogues, contact Barb Gelb, TJF Director of Philanthropy at

Friendship and Jewish Fun at Camp

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 4:16pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Elijah Arnowitz is a seventh grader who is already dreaming about this summer, which will be his fifth, at Camp Ramah New England. “It’s torturous to think about it because I miss it so much!” he claims. In response to what he likes about camp, he listed bunk activities, Shabbat and canteen as some of his favorites, as well as “chugs” or elective activities, such as flag football, basketball, cooking and videography. Elijah also raved about the camp food, especially Shabbos brownies and Color War cupcakes. Elijah’s mother Tami added that “Elijah is the best version of himself when he is at camp. Jewish overnight camps are wonderful in that they encourage independence and allow children to explore who they are. I love sending my children somewhere that being Jewish is infused into everything that they do, where being Jewish is joyous and fun.” She adds that in five years of camp Elijah has made friends in Massachusetts, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Connecticut and those friendships are so meaningful that they have made the effort to take long drives to attend b’nai mitzvah.

Leila Abrams, a sixth grader who will be attending Capital Camps for her fifth summer loves camp because it gives her a chance to spend more time with her friends and get closer to them. She stays in touch with camp friends all year. Leila says she would encourage kids to go to camp because “It’s really fun and you make a lot of friends there.” One of her favorite things about camp is the lake, which has a trampoline, a cliff and lots of other very impressive “lake toys”. According to Rachel, Leila’s mother, “The biggest gift my parents gave me was sending me to Jewish camp. Just going to Hebrew School doesn’t cut it. At camp we learn the fun side of being Jewish, integrating Jewish values into activities. It also made me proud of being Jewish.” Rachel added that she is impressed with Capital Camps because of their communication with parents and the way they weave Jewish values into all their activities.

TJF has partnered with The Foundation for Jewish Camp to provide grants for first time campers at Jewish overnight camps through the One Happy Camper program. According to TJF President and CEO Scott Kaplan, “Our hope is to encourage and enable more parents to send their children to Jewish camps where they can experience all of the wonderful things that an immersive Jewish camp experience provides. Camp strengthens Jewish identity and commitment to Jewish life and community. This is essential for our future.”

As one parent put it, “Going to Jewish overnight camp literally changed the course of my life, in a positive way. I want the same for my children, and for as many children as possible. It can make the world better.” For more information about Jewish camps or how to receive a grant, visit or contact Barb Gelb at

Enjoying High School in Israel

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 4:14pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Sophie Waldman is a High School Junior who received a Simon Family Passport to Israel Grant to spend the semester in Israel attending the Union for Reform Judaism’s Heller High School. She wanted to go to Israel to experience Jewish culture there, and she feels more connected to Judaism through the secular activities in Israel. One thing that has surprised Sophie about Israel is the food. “There are no salad dressings, and it’s super easy to find vegan ice cream. Ice cream is everywhere but it’s harder to find falafel then I thought. I’ve been here for 3 weeks and I’ve only had it once. Hummus here is so much better too and so is tahina.”

Sophie is enjoying her time in Israel so far, and encourages all teens to go to Israel “as soon as you can and for as long as you can. Israel is amazing because the food is good, but the culture and history is remarkable. It’s interesting to learn about king David when you are seeing the city of David.”

Tidewater Jewish Foundation offers needs-blind grants through the Simon Family Passport to Israel program to help teens go to Israel. As a recipient of the grant, Sophie said that she was very fortunate and it made the financial aspects much easier. For more information and to apply, visit or contact Barb Gelb at Applications are due by April 1, 2018.

It’s Never Too Early to Make a Legacy Gift

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 5:17pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation


When talking with Erinn and Felix Portnoy, the commitment and love they have for our Jewish community is obvious. As parents of very young children, they feel compelled to step up and provide for the Jewish future of the next generation, and were thrilled to be able to do so by leaving a gift through the LIFE & LEGACY program.

Erinn was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. After her brother (Adam) moved to Norfolk to start his dental practice, her parents moved here to retire. Erinn and Felix followed a few years later.

Felix was born in Moldova, USSR, and in 1978 moved to Israel. He spoke emotionally about the activism of Jews and Jewish organizations in the United States that enabled him and many other Jews leave the USSR. The Soviet Jewry movement was a long struggle, but Felix stressed that in many ways it was what helped American Jewish communities form and strengthen Federations, Community Relations Councils, and other organizations. Felix's family moved to Kiryat Yam, which coincidentally happens to be Tidewater Federation's sister city in Israel. In 2004, Felix moved to North Carolina as a student, and that is where he met Erinn.

Erinn believes that her parents really shaped her Jewish identity and modeled how to be and how to live a Jewish life, emphasizing tzedakah and tikkun olam. "It was a small Jewish community, and we lived our lives around the synagogue. My mom made me a life member of Hadassah in elementary school. They really directed my life to becoming who I am Jewishly and as a person."

Felix grew up in Israel, and claims that it was easy to be Jewish there. "Everyone went to a Jewish school", he jokes. "But when I moved to the United States it was very different. Unless you actively seek Jewish involvement, you won't have it. I learned a lot from Erinn's family and they really reconnected me with my tradition."

Erinn and Felix agree about how they want to be remembered and the kind of legacy they hope to leave. Felix claims that he would like to be remembered as a family person. "That is very important to me. I try to devote as much as I can to my wife and children." Erinn agrees, and adds that she is so glad that "Our kids will remember when their dad went to a Hanukkah party at their school, or when he dressed up as an Israeli soldier on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and marched them around the gym. They'll know that the Jewish community was important to us."

The Portnoy's hope is for the Jewish community to, at the very least, maintain the same level of services that we provide today, and hopefully improve it. "The generation before us did a great job of providing for us. That is why we are so happy to be able to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY program."

As a younger couple, when the Portnoys first heard about after-life giving they didn't expect to be able to participate. When they heard about the Legacy Match Life Insurance program, they realized that being younger was an advantage because they can get a lower rate and be able to leave a more substantial gift to the community. Through the legacy match program, TJF pays a portion of the premiums on policies of $100,000 for a single life policy and $250,000 for a two-life policy. The donor saves money by paying only part of the premium, which is also tax deductible.

As Felix says, "I appreciate the opportunity the Tidewater Jewish Foundation gave us to do this. It really amplified our gift and made it possible for us and our friends and other people in our community to take an active role in the LIFE & LEGACY program." Erinn agrees, adding how easy everything was to do. "It was so easy, and because of the match we were able to have an even greater impact.

For more information on the Legacy Match Life Insurance program, please call Barb Gelb, Director of Philanthropy, at 757.965.6105.

November Life & Legacy Spotlight: Chabad of Tidewater

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:36am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Chabad On a warm and sunny Sunday in September, people walking down Colley Avenue in Ghent were greeted with quite a sight. Children were busy sawing goat horns and rabbis were using a table saw. On a cold December evening, hundreds of people could be seen at the base of a GIANT Menorah - ready to celebrate Chanukah- and religious freedom - for all to see. These are just two simple examples of what Chabad of Tidewater does.

Established in 1979, Chabad of Tidewater has been serving the Tidewater Jewish community in a wide variety of ways. Chabad of Tidewater is welcoming to people from all walks of life and all levels of observance. The staff at Chabad of Tidewater strives to help Jewish people of all ages and stages grow in their connection to Judaism. As an open home to all Jews regardless of affiliation or Jewish practice, Chabad of Tidewater is on the front lines helping community members with a wide variety of needs, ranging from spiritual to physical.

Through innovative and creative programming, Chabad of Tidewater offers educational opportunities to adults and children alike. Whether seeking an intellectual Torah text study or a hands on way to learn about an upcoming holiday everyone can find something to fit their needs and lifestyle.

In addition to the educational programming, Chabad of Tidewater also provides opportunity for one on one study, visits Jewish inmates, and provides support and Kosher food for hospital patients and their families. Many a time Chabad of Tidewater has helped a family get back on their feet in a time of financial need.

Leaving a LIFE & LEGACY gift to Chabad of Tidewater helps to ensure a strong Jewish future in Hampton Roads. A LIFE & LEGACY gift ensures future financial security, enabling Chabad to grow their efforts, expand their reach and continue to do their important work in the area for years to come. Please consider Chabad of Tidewater for a legacy gift.

For more info feel free to contact me or visit

Blessings for continued success,
Rabbi Levi Brashevitzky
Chabad of Tidewater
Office: 757-616-0770

September Life & Legacy Spotlight: Hebrew Academy of Tidewater

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:58am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

2272 Established in 1955 as the only pluralistic Jewish community day school in Hampton Roads, The Hebrew Academy of Tidewater (HAT) provides high quality, integrated Judaic and general studies education that establishes a strong foundation for lifelong learning in a dynamic, supportive, and enriching Jewish environment.  Because all families are welcomed, regardless of their denomination or level of observance, we build bridges across the Jewish community.

Students enrolled in HAT are intellectually curious, self-disciplined, and independent thinkers.  They are involved in a holistic community that engages them in the world around them, and they emerge from our program as better students, better people, and better citizens.  They are happy, respectful and devoted to their education because of the close student-teacher relationship, small class size and differentiated learning that takes place in the classes.

HAT Graduates excel after leaving our community and serve as leaders in their academic, philanthropic, and Jewish communities. The future of the Jewish people is stronger because HAT students are secure in their Jewish identity and have a strong commitment to the State of Israel.

It is no secret that a Jewish day school education is expensive.  We chose to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY program to ensure that HAT will be funded for generations to come.    What is amazing about the LIFE & LEGACY program is that people of every age and capacity can make a commitment to secure the future.

By becoming a legacy society member, you will show the community that you:

  • Recognize that Jewish education is a cornerstone of our Jewish community;
  • Believe that every child, regardless of financial circumstances, deserves a Jewish day school education;
  • Understand that instilling a love for learning, Torah, and the State of Israel in our children will inspire future generations to make Judaism a vital part of their lives.

Support Jewish education for tomorrow’s generation, by leaving your Jewish legacy today!

For more information about leaving your Jewish legacy, contact Patti Seeman, 757-424-4327 or

August Life and Legacy Spotlight — Toras Chaim

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 8:47am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Spotlight on Toras Chaim –


Ensuring a strong Jewish community in the future is about creating a strong connection between our past and our children.  That is the mission of Jewish Day School.  Each generation is a link in a long chain, and the Jewish people will only continue to exist by ensuring that we pass the torch of our history and beliefs on to our children as it was passed to us.  A predictor of the future strength of a community is the quality of its educational institutions of today.

Toras Chaim started in 2002 with the mission to provide an excellent education in both general and Judaic subjects in the context of a traditional Orthodox Jewish environment.  We teach students that the learning that they do in all subject areas should have an impact on their lives.  Their core curriculum classes are challenging and engaging, and they learn important moral lessons our three and a half thousand years of history have taught us.

Toras Chaim’s Judaic curriculum is primarily textually based.  Students are taught to explore original texts in Aramaic and Hebrew, both biblical and modern, to explore the remarkable teachings of their rich ancestry.  Our general studies program is fully accredited by Advanc-Ed, and provides an enriching classical approach to language arts and history, while providing a modern technology focused STEM program that teaches problem solving through science and advanced level math skills.

Toras Chaim, which provides a full day daycare starting at six weeks old, and goes all the way through 8th Grade, is growing and will have 115 students this coming year.  We are gaining renown in the Orthodox Jewish community outside of Tidewater for having a high quality program comparable to many of the larger and long-established Jewish private schools in other cities, while also being small enough to provide personal attention.

The TJF Life and Legacy program is important to Toras Chaim because we are trying to build a strong future for the Jewish community.  The community wide initiative calls upon people of all ages and capacities to think about the future and make a commitment. That is why so many young families have committed to making a Legacy gift to Toras Chaim.  They understand that Toras Chaim is important to the growth and vibrancy of the Orthodox community as well as the entire Jewish community, and by supporting for Toras Chaim’s future, they are supporting the community’s future.  



Rabbi M. Loiterman M.Ed., Ph.D.
Principal, Toras Chaim School
757-828-6724 (TC-TORAH)

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