In another milestone of recognition for the critical importance of Russian-speaking Jews in New York, the board of directors of UJA-Federation of New York voted unanimously to add COJECO to its network of affiliated agencies. COJECO becomes not only the first organization to join UJA-Federation’s network in more than 17 years, but it also becomes the first affiliated agency whose principal goal is to represent Russian-speaking Jews.
In 2001, UJA-Federation’s Jewish Community Study documented the large growth of Russian-speaking Jews in New York, setting into a motion a planning process with that community that ultimately led to the founding of the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO) through grants from UJA-Federation of New York. In the past 10 years, COJECO has become one of the premiere organizations focused on giving this population a united voice, helping Russian-speaking Jews maintain and express their cultural heritage while encouraging them to engage with the American Jewish community.
The historic UJA-Federation board vote, which recognized COJECO for its innovative work and the tremendous impact it is having on the New York Jewish community, had the support of the entire network of agencies. It affirms the commitment of both COJECO and UJA-Federation to serving the Russian-speaking Jewish community and is an acknowledgment of how both organizations—working together—can better strengthen the bonds among the Jewish people. The recently released Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 confirmed further growth in the size of the Russian-speaking Jewish population during the past decade.
“Russian-speaking Jews have been an important part of New York City’s Jewish history, and encouraging their deeper affiliation in Jewish life will help add to the vibrancy and richness of the entire Jewish community,” said Alisa R. Doctoroff, chair of the board of UJA-Federation, who participated in the affiliation review process. “In the ten years since COJECO was founded, it has played a dynamic role in serving the émigré community, able to assess changing needs, and respond in innovative ways. COJECO has proven to be an enormously valuable partner in engaging this population in the broader New York Jewish community, while also celebrating its unique cultural heritage.”
In becoming an affiliate of UJA-Federation’s network of agencies, COJECO joins a prestigious list of organizations that provide critical support to New York’s most vulnerable communities, inspires a new generation of Jews through transformational programming, and promotes meaningful connections among diverse Jews throughout the five boroughs, Westchester, and Long Island.
“The Russian-speaking Jewish community has gone through enormous changes over the last 10 years, and COJECO has been able to act as a bridge, providing resources and programs that have helped establish our community as a part of the fabric of New York Jewish life,” said Roman Shmulenson, executive director of COJECO. “As part of UJA-Federation’s network of agencies, we can better actualize our priorities of impacting the lives of Russian-speaking Jews and enhancing their relationship to the mainstream Jewish community.”
COJECO serves Russian-speaking Jewish families in New York by helping to ensure their voices are listened to and respected. Two of their signature programs, Center Without Walls and the BluePrint Fellowship, aim to promote and strengthen this dialogue between Russian-speaking Jews and the American Jewish community. The Center Without Walls provides mainstream Jewish organizations with the tools to promote integration through preservation, and the BluePrint Fellowship empowers young leaders in the Russian Jewish community to help encourage their peers to participate in Jewish life.