Jed Brandes, Stevan Labush of Touro Fraternal and Fran Ostendorf of The Voice join the winners.Jed Brandes, Stevan Labush of Touro Fraternal and Fran Ostendorf of The Voice join the winners.Students in grades 1-8 stepped up to the challenge this year: Let us know what Hanukkah means to you and your family.

A panel of judges examined each of the 90 entries we received in the 2014 Hanukkah Art and Writing Contest, sponsored by The Jewish Voice and Touro Fraternal Association. They chose what they thought best represented Hanukkah this year. Art was judged on creativity. Writing – on what got the message of Hanukkah across. Judges were Fran Ostendorf, editor of The Voice, Tricia Stearly, advertising sales manager of the Voice, Irina Missiuro, writer and editorial consultant for The Voice and Steve White from Touro Fraternal.

A model twirls in a Catrina Nebo “Catrina Village” design. /LINDSAY CHANCELLORA model twirls in a Catrina Nebo “Catrina Village” design. /LINDSAY CHANCELLOROn Dec. 7, the women of Temple Beth-El’s Sisterhood, along with members of the Providence community, gathered to enjoy an afternoon of fashion, food and philanthropy at the first ever Right Off the Runway event.

Co-chaired by Cheryl Greenfield and Joie Magnone, the donor event aimed to raise funds for congregational and community programs including the Religious School, the Ronald McDonald “make a meal” event and scholarships for youth leadership and outreach.  Additionally, a portion of the funds will be put toward a special project at the temple. Magnone says: “First and foremost we hoped that people would come and have a really great time, but we’re also looking to raise as much money as possible so we can put it all back into the community.”

Greenfield, who also acts as the Sisterhood’s co-president, felt compelled to coordinate the unique fundraising event after a chance meeting in March with Yemi Sekoni, artistic director of Lights Fashion Philanthropy. Headquartered in Cranston, Lights Fashion Philanthropy is a fashion-driven event and entertainment company that helps charitable organizations increase fundraising efforts while promoting local boutiques and up-and-coming designers. 

By year’s end, many of us look to combine our desire to do good with our desire to save. And guess what? According to the Jewish Alliance philanthropy team, there are easy ways to do both:

Give appreciated stocks

While giving in the form of cash or check is the most common way to give charitably, they are not generally the most tax efficient. Contributing stocks, bonds or mutual funds that have appreciated over time has become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reasons. Why?

Most publicly traded securities with unrealized long-term gains (meaning they were purchased over a year ago and have increased in value) may be donated to a public charity, and the donor may claim the fair market value as an itemized deduction on the federal tax return — up to 30 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income (should you donate more than you can deduct in one year, there is a 5-year carry-forward available).

Julia Keizler, Amy Vogel and Roxane Robin enjoy themselves at the Hanukkah party.  At right are photos from the photo booth.Julia Keizler, Amy Vogel and Roxane Robin enjoy themselves at the Hanukkah party. At right are photos from the photo booth.The dream of a communitywide Jewish teen event came true Dec. 14 when more than 30 teens gathered at the Dwares JCC to enjoy fun and food.

They spent a few hours with activities such as a gaga pit, games with prizes and a photo booth. The $10 admission included food from the Chubby Chickpea food truck. Fun and friendship was the name of the game, all in a relaxed atmosphere. Everything was designed to help all the groups get to know one another. “It was a great event. Teens were tweeting from the event,” said Jana Brenman, director of teen engagement at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island is among the top 10 best JCC websites, according to Accrinet, a North Carolina-based web design and internet marketing company.

The Alliance website, which was redesigned last year, allows users to access detailed, up-to-date information on all aspects of the Jewish Alliance, including programs and services, event information, the history of the organization and a comprehensive listing of community partners. New features include pages for specific groups such as families with children, young adults and seniors.