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Day 3 - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Argentina, Uruguay & South America: JDC, The Jewish Agency & World ORT in Action

We spent the morning on Wednesday in two workshops for professional training. The first focused on supplemental giving opportunities for our donors who have an interest in funding programs and special projects in our community, such as PJ Library, Jewish education, teen engagement and the j-VOICE monthly magazine. Our goal is always to assist our donors in fulfilling their philanthropic wishes and dreams to create an even bigger impact in our Jewish community.

The second workshop focused on our volunteer lay leader and professional teams working collaboratively to best meet the needs and priorities of our community and fulfill our Mission and Vision. Both Richard and I came away from these informative sessions inspired and ready to bring new ideas back to Delaware to enhance further the work that Federation does.

Coleccion de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

After the workshops, we traveled to the Fortabat Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires where we viewed the beautiful art collection of Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. She set aside a significant portion of her extensive art collection for the museum, and her foundation contracted internationally acclaimed, Uruguayan born architect, Rafael Viñoly, for its design.

The Crisis in Venezuela

After touring the museum, we gathered in the auditorium for a presentation moderated by JFNA President and CEO, Eric Fingerhut to get an update about the situation in Venezuela and specifically the Jewish population there. The world sees two governments in Venezuela: the re-elected (in what many believe to have been a rigged election) President Nicolas Maduro and self-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido. Mr. Guaido is recognized as the Constitutional President and President of the National Assembly by 50 countries in the world including the U.S., Israel and Argentina. President Maduro’s allies, Russia and China, have maintained he is the true leader of the country.  The two sides have been locked in a stand-off since January with Mr Guaidó trying to sway the military, a key player in the country, to switch its allegiance.

Mr. Guaido appointed a Jewish woman named Elisa Trotta as Venezuela’s Ambassador to Argentina. Elisa Trotta is a lawyer, diplomat and human rights activist specializing in international law and politics.

There is a huge effort to preserve the Jewish community in Venezuela, which has shrunk by 90% in last two years due to the political unrest and unsafe conditions. Venezuela has endured 20 years of corruption and dictatorship. Without a democracy, the voices of the Venezuelan people have not been heard and today they are facing a large-scale humanitarian crisis. The country is striving for liberty as well as the most basic needs for food and medicine. Out of 30 million people, 7 million people are undernourished; 5 million people have left country in the last two years under very difficult and vulnerable circumstances.

The support of the American Jewish community and Federations’ support through JDC is critical to the survival of these people. This is a true humanitarian effort to save lives. We all are part of the collective cause and as such, we are all ambassadors that need to be the voice and the support that no Venezuelans, especially the Jewish community of Venezuela, have.

The JDC leader from Venezuela stated that, “They can take your freedom and your rights, but they can’t take away your Jewish identity.” JDC works in collaboration with Federation and JAFI to ensure that the remaining Jews in Venezuela can survive and have some semblance of Jewish life. JDC, through the support of Federations, is helping the Jewish Community survive day to day by providing desperately needed food and medicine. JDC is also working to keep the community safe – keeping a generator, putting security in place, facilitating Aliyah, coordinating escape and/or rescue efforts, and maintaining a connection to Israel and Jews worldwide. JFNA’s next goal is to raise $1.6 million to secure food and medicine and safety for the Jewish community of Venezuela over the next 18 months.

We also heard the personal story of a woman on the Mission from Broward County, FL, rescued from Venezuela with her three daughters by Federation. She relayed the emotional journey of her family and thanked Federation for their financial, physical and emotional support, which she credits for their survival. Her daughter has been so grateful for Federation’s help that she now works for her local Federation to give back to the organization that she says saved her life.

Depart Buenos Aires!

In the afternoon, we all boarded a ferry for the 2.5 hour trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay where we will spend the night.

Arrive in Montevideo, Uruguay

After arriving in Montevideo, we had dinner with guests from the local community listening to stories of Jewish life in Uruguay.

Richard and I had the pleasure of dining with the Director of the only senior living home for Jews in Uruguay, Hogar Israelita Uruguay (modeled after LeDor VaDor in Buenos Aires), and a representative from the ORT school. Both individuals have devoted their lives to helping Jews receive the services, care and education they need, and shared personal stories about the many individuals and families positively impacted by Federation.

Reflections on the Day

It was a full and educational day that left us feeling very proud of the work we do and incredibly grateful for the support  our Delaware community members provide that enable Jews around the world to live better lives.

Buenos Noches from Uruguay!

Love From,