Bloomies aids Israeli Ethiopians

NEW YORK — Bloomingdale's is joining the ranks of Jewish philanthropy.

The retailer, which has a store in the Stanford Shopping Center, plans to donate a percentage of its Passover merchandise sales to a fund that benefits Ethiopian youth in Israel.

The United Jewish Appeal fund provides educational assistance, hot lunches, social activities and enrichment programs about Israeli culture.

The joint endeavor between Bloomingdale's and the UJA is part of the celebrations marking Israel's jubilee this year.

The Bloomingdale's initiative provides "tremendous visibility and exposure" for the celebrations, said Ron Friedman, co-director of the "Israel at 50" anniversary committee, jointly sponsored by the UJA and Council of Jewish Federations.

From today through April 13, Bloomingdale's 22 stores across the country will sell mezuzot, seder plates, Passover food and candy, as well as commemorative items for the 50th anniversary of Israel.

Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to the project.

The UJA's Friedman said the program is designed to "address a growing void" in assistance to Ethiopian immigrants.

"This is a unique opportunity to stimulate federations and communities around the country," he said.

The plan to work with Bloomingdale's came after a January concert in Philadelphia celebrating Israel's jubilee.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia was already working with Bloomingdale's on a local basis. The organizers of the Israel at 50 celebrations decided that the program would make sense on a national level.

In addition to raising money to help Ethiopian youth, the program will raise awareness that this year is Israel's jubilee.

"It is very important that the country is sensitized that Israel is 50 years old," said Arlene Kaufman, co-chairman of the Israel at 50 anniversary committee.

She said that in addition to celebrations in American Jewish communities, many non-Jews have contributed funds for Israel's 50th anniversary.

"We tend to forget that Israel belongs to the world, not just the Jews," she said.