ParnossahWorks, a joint initiative of the Orthodox Union and the FEGS Health and Human Services System, which combines the human touch with computer technology to help the Jewish unemployed find meaningful work, will receive the 2006 Program Award of the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS) at the organization’s Annual Conference, May 22 in Minneapolis.
Parnossah means livelihood in both Hebrew and Yiddish. Since the program was launched in September 2004, it has placed 321 (as of April 10, 2006) clients in the New York area in gainful employment, primarily in white collar positions attractive to the educated Jewish community. Through the efforts of the OU, some 250 synagogues in the area participate in the program, both by alerting the unemployed to ParnossahWorks’ existence and by encouraging their members to list positions on the program’s website, ParnossahWorks-ou.org.
Then, the FEGS employment professionals take over, providing one-on-one job counseling to all candidates who apply through the website. The OU and FEGS also offer well-attended employment workshops both at OU headquarters and at synagogues throughout the New York area to provide further training in a group setting.
Philadelphia-based IAJVS is a non-profit network of 29 national and international human service agencies in major metropolitan areas in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Israel, providing a wide variety of services regarding jobs, careers and health. Among its requirements, IAJVS Program Award recipients must “make outstanding contributions to the overall welfare of the local Jewish and general community; possess broad vocational and social significance; be innovative and able to be replicated or adapted for use in other communities; and markedly strengthen community service standards, techniques, and level of benefit derived by clients and/or the community.”
According to IAJVS Executive Director Genie Cohen, “The IAJVS Awards Committee was greatly impressed with the range of services offered by ParnossahWorks, its sophisticated use of technology as well as the enormous number of individuals the program serves. Moreover, while ParnossahWorks has a remarkable impact on Jewish communities through the New York area, the Awards Committee agrees that this outstanding program is also highly replicable in other cities of varying size and makeup throughout our network.”
FEGS Chief Executive Officer Alfred P. Miller declared, “We are all responsible – one for another. Tzedakah (charity) gives us the opportunity to do acts of kindness for our neighbors in need. We are even more fortunate when given the opportunity to engage in parnossah to actually help members of our community achieve or maintain self-sufficiency in order to support themselves and their families. ParnossahWorks has given FEGS and our strategic partner, the Orthodox Union, an opportunity to engage in parnossah and to achieve outstanding results.”
Mr. Miller continued, “With partners like Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb (OU Executive Vice President) and Rabbi Moshe Krupka (OU National Executive Director), we have been able to create and engage in an important and ongoing mitzvah and to bring the message to hundreds of individuals, many of whom have benefited directly from ParnossahWorks. We look forward to our continuing partnership with the OU. Together, we make a major difference in our community.”
Likewise at the OU, Rabbi Krupka expressed his satisfaction with the OU/FEGS partnership. “The OU’s world is the synagogue,” Rabbi Krupka declared, “but for a program like ParnossahWorks to succeed, it must offer the expertise in job counseling and placement that FEGS has demonstrated since the era of the Great Depression. Our partnership has been the perfect blending of two extraordinary organizations determined to relieve the problem of Jewish unemployment and thereby to strengthen the Jewish family.”