A sense of belonging

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David’s parents don’t leave after they drop him off at Sha’arim’s Friends N Fun, a program that allows teens and young adults with special needs to attend social outings.

Officially, they need to monitor him in case of a seizure. But really, they just love watching his smile and sheer joy.

After a congenital heart defect and unexpected surgery complications, David suffers from a seizure disorder and brain damage. Life has been difficult for David and his family, and although David is upbeat and friendly, it’s hard for him to have meaningful relationships with his peers.

THAT’S WHY FRIENDS N FUN IS SO IMPORTANT TO HIM.

Each month David waits eagerly for his invitation to arrive. He marks the date on the calendar. He counts down the days, then the hours, until it’s time. Time for the social interaction every child deserves, for friends, for fun. Time to be part of the community.

30 years after Glienicke Bridge

Rachel Danziger Sharansky

In case you missed it, this moving piece was written by the daughter of Natan Sharansky, CEO of our partner The Jewish Agency for Israel and face of the modern day Exodus— an inspiring reminder of the human impact of your Federation support.

As my parents’ daughter, I am forever aware that I owe my existence to the people who yelled with my mother. I wouldn’t be here today if you, the Jews of the world, wouldn’t have opened your hearts and your homes and your purses. You marched in rallies, sent letters to your representatives, paid my mother’s tickets as she flew from one demonstration to another. You hosted her. You encouraged her. Your yells broke through the Iron Curtain. They broke into my father’s cell long before they broke him out of it. And they broke into my inner geography, where they ring and echo to this day.”

Tatiana and Bronislav will not go hungry

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Winter in Ukraine. The temperature is -27 ̊ F, and snow and ice have closed the roads.

 

But Tania is riding a borrowed horse and sleigh packed with food and supplies from Minneapolis Jewish Federation partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), for Tatiana and Bronislav. She’ll make this hour-long trek every day because Tatiana and Bronislav are elderly, disabled, and otherwise alone.

Ukraine is home to some of the most vulnerable Jews in the world. Tens of thousands of elderly Jews in small towns dotting the region struggle to survive. During the harsh winter months, many, like Tatiana and Bronislav, live without adequate heating or even central plumbing.

That’s why Tania and hundreds of other workers and volunteers at Hesed social welfare centers, run by JDC, go the extra mile to ensure no Jew is left behind.

When the weather is good, Tania drives her moped to their remote farm to bring supplies, cook, clean and care for the couple. And when the weather is bad — as it often is — she loads up her brother’s horse and sleigh with supplies and makes the long trek herself. And when her brother needs his horse, she walks. For over an hour.

I had to go, otherwise they will starve, she says.

Tania insists the motivation behind her selfless work is Tatiana and Bronislav themselves. “Despite their condition, they do not lose heart. They amaze me with that,” she says. “I am doing everything for them as for my relatives. I do not see any difficulties in my work; how is it possible to have hardships in the work that you love?”

On behalf of Tatiana and Bronislav, thank you

Your support of Federation ensures that these Jews — some of the world’s poorest — do not go hungry.

P2G Update: Synagogue via Skype, JWRP visits Rehovot

Have you met our sister? It’s true, Minneapolis has a sister city in Israel: the beautiful town of Rehovot! Through this Partnership2Gether initiative, Minneapolis is strengthening a connection to Israel and building a stronger sense of Jewish peoplehood. Here are just a few recent stories of partnership, from Darchei Noam and  the #MOMentum mission, and click here to learn more about Partnership2Gether (and make sure to like us on Facebook!)

Thanks to technology, we are able to bring two synagogues, with a deep love of learning, together.

Beginning November 17, Congregation Darchei Noam in St. Louis Park will begin simultaneous study sessions with synagogue The Berman Shul in Rehovot, Israel.

The six classes will be held on Tuesday evenings, the Minneapolis group meets at Darchei Noam at 7PM and on Sundays at 11AM. The following Sunday the groups will gather via Skype in Minnesota and Israel to discuss what they learned and share insights.

These classes are free and open to the community. The schedule is below, and we hope to see you there!

  • Amos – NOV 17th | Sunday Skype discussion on NOV 22nd
  • Hosea – DEC 15th | Sunday Skype discussion on DEC 20th
  • Micah (Micheas) – FEB 9th | Sunday Skype discussion on FEB 14th
  • Habakkuk and Zephaniah – MARCH 8th | Sunday Skype discussion on MAR 13th
  • Obadiah – MAY 17th | Sunday Skype discussion on MAY 23rd
  • Haggai and Zechariah – JUNE 14th | Sunday Skype discussion on JUN 19th

For more information, contact:

Congregation Darchei Noam
2950 Joppa Ave. S. at Minnetonka Blvd. | 952-452-8476
DarcheiNoamMN@yahoo.com | www.DarcheiNoamMN.org


Minneapolis women visit Rehovot!

The #‎Momentummn‬ delegation of the‪#‎MOMentumtrips‬ of women visited Rehovot on Tuesday, October 27th as a part of our Partnership2Gether program through the municipality of Rehovot, the Jewish Agency and the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.

The visit was hosted and sponsored by Rehovot’s Deputy Mayor, Zohar Blum, and David Ashkenazi, Rehovot’s Chief of Staff and Head of Foreign Relations Department.

The group spent the day touring the city (Weisman Institute and the Ayalon Institute), visiting kindergartens and early childhood care facilities in Kiryat Moshe as well as a little bit of shopping.

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The highlight of the visit was dinner at the Minkov Citrus Orchard Museum along with Rehovot members of the partnership’s Steering Committee which is Co-Chaired by Dr. Yoram Blachar.

The meeting between members of the Steering Committee and the women from the Minneapolis community was successful, exciting and left a taste and desire for further development of the relationship.

Fun fact: Melanie Ginsburg, a MASA Israel student from Minneapolis on a Teachers Fellows program in Rehovot, spoke with the group while they were there about how Federation supports Masa (which is also a Jewish Agency for Israel program), and about what she is doing in Rehovot.

Dozens of members of the Minneapolis Jewish community are scheduled to visit Rehovot in the upcoming months to continue establishing relationships and friendships with the residents of Rehovot.

 

Conversation with Ahava Tomer

Below is a terribly sad and moving portrait of a recipient of support from the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror. With distance and through media we sometimes forget the real people behind the stories.

Thanks go to several of our partners in Israel, who not only visited the victims but shared these stories with us while juggling everything else that they do. Trying moments like these remind us of our  incredible mission and the truly exceptional and warm colleagues who deliver that mission in Israel and around the world. We have many hands working around the clock to bring what is going on in Israel a little closer to our community around the world.

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Jewish Agency representatives met Ahava Tomer outside the ICU at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. She has hardly left the place ever since her son, Yonatan, was rushed there two days ago after being stabbed numerous times by a terrorist. She is not allowed to enter and see him often, but she said Yonatan is already doing better and calls her on his cell phone from inside the ICU room. He is laying in a bed near Nadav— a 13-year-old boy who was critically wounded in the same attack.

Ahava said her son was at her bedside every day at the hospital three months ago when she underwent surgery to address a disability she has suffered from since contracting polio as a baby. Now he is hospitalized just down the hall from the ICU where she received treatment and she can’t believe she is back.

She proudly described how Yonatan, who is the youngest of her 11 children, saved many lives during the attack when he shouted “terrorist, terrorist,” and yelled at a little girl to hide in a building. The girl’s father has since called Ahava weeping, and thanking her son for saving his daughter’s life.

Ahava recounted the day of the attack, saying that Yonatan was supposed to come back home from synagogue. When she heard ambulances outside, she tried calling him on the phone but he didn’t answer. She grew more and more frantic, calling him to no avail until a stranger answered the phone, telling her that her son had gotten a scratch and was in the hospital. It took Ahava several hours to get to the hospital since the roads were all blocked. When she finally got there and saw her son in the ICU bed she couldn’t believe it was him and broke down crying.

As she was sitting outside of the ICU room, she noticed that there was an Arab woman sitting across from her. Only later did Ahava realize that this was the mother of the terrorist who had attacked her son and was being treated in a bed right near Yonatan and Nadav — the other victim. After making a request to the staff, the terrorist was moved to another room.

Ahava, who received an emergency grant from The Fund for the Victims of Terror, is in desperate need of the financial assistance. Her husband is also handicapped and since the day of the attack hasn’t been physically able to visit the hospital. The family doesn’t own a car, so in order to come to the hospital she needs to get rides from neighbors and friends. Ahava plans on using the money from The Fund to help Yonatan while he is in the hospital by getting him a decent pair of pajamas and slippers to wear.

“It is very special that there are people around the world that care about someone like me, may I never need such a gift in the future,” Ahava said. “I want to say not just ‘thank you,’ but ‘a thousand thanks’ — I wish health to all those who gave and that may we never need such gifts in the future!”

** Important Note: Everyone mentioned is a real person. We have used aliases to give the family some measure of privacy during these trying times.

Because of your gift, victims of the horrifying terrorist attacks happening throughout Israel will receive assistance quickly—often within 24 hours—so they can start the process of healing.

DONATE TODAY

Tell the UN: Don’t Tamper with the Jewish People’s Holiest Site

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The Minneapolis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul join with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas to urge you to sign this important petition.

The Executive Council of UNESCO is scheduled to vote this Wednesday, October 21, on an outrageous draft resolution about Jerusalem that was submitted by Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Urgent action is required immediately to defeat this extremely toxic resolution.

The provocative resolution demands that UNESCO affirm that “the Buraq Plaza is an integral part of the Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”  The Buraq Plaza is the Arabic name for the Western Wall or Kotel and the Al-Haram Al-Sharif is the Arabic designation for the Temple Mount.

At no point does this draft resolution acknowledge a Jewish association with the Western Wall, which is the last remaining vestige of the Second Jewish Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Instead this resolution completely disregards any Jewish connection to the holiest structure within Judaism.

This gross attempt to erase Jews from our own history is unconscionable and must be rejected by the UNESCO Executive Board. (The resolution also condemns Israeli actions in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.)

Fortunately, not only has Israel, the United States, Britain, and other UN members denounced this initiative, claiming that the resolution disregards historical Jewish and Christian ties to the Old City, but even UNESCO’s executive director has “appeal[ed] to the UNESCO Executive Board to take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites.”

Sources indicate that the same resolution will also be submitted to UNESCO’s 58-member General Assembly. Palestine has been recognized as a member of UNESCO since 2011, but is not on its 15-member Executive Council.

Because the last few weeks of violence in Israel were spurred in part by slanderous allegations about Israel’s intentions to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, this resolution is particularly inflammatory.

Urge the United Nations to reject this anti-Semitic resolution and to avert the potentially fatal impact that the adoption of such a one-sided and outrageous resolution would have not just on Israel, but the entire Middle East.

By signing this AJC petition you will take the most concrete step you can in publicly urging a NO VOTE on this resolution by the governments which make up the UNESCO Executive Council.

Please also share this Action Alert with your friends and encourage them to make their voices heard today.

We helped to build Israel. Today we help keep it strong.

Israel-Connections

 

OUR PLEDGE

For more than six decades, we’ve helped strengthen the State of the Israel. And our commitment continues. Unwavering.

Federation is dedicated to ensuring that all of Israel’s citizens have equal access to educational and economic opportunity. And we work tirelessly to deepen connections between the Jewish State and the global Jewish community.

 

HOW WE HELP

Despite Israel’s economic success, one in five Israeli families lives in poverty. We provide a safety net for the most vulnerable, and we advocate for those in distress.
When Israel is threatened, we mobilize our networks at home and overseas to come immediately to her aid.
That global connection is fostered by immersive experiences for young Jews and programming that brings Israel to life in communities throughout North America.

 

OUR IMPACT

Federation has helped millions of immigrants move to Israel and start new lives—26,000 in the past year alone.

Thousands of elderly benefit from innovative services they receive right in their homes. Thousands of poor families know their children will have a brighter future thanks to our Federation-supported programs. Job training programs tackle high unemployment among the one million Israelis with disabilities.

The money we raise during times of crisis helps keeps Israelis safe during conflicts and funds post-trauma counseling for tens of thousands living on the front lines.

And we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of young Jews forge a personal connection to Israel through programs like Taglit-Birthright Israel, and built strong relationships between communities in Israel and North America through Partnership2Gether— including our partner city, Rehovot.

We stand by Israel’s side. Always.

While you can’t prevent further escalation in the violence in Israel, you can deliver swift assistance to the victims through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for Victims of Terror.

Because of your gift, victims of the horrifying terrorist attacks happening throughout Israel will receive assistance quickly—often within 24 hours—so they can start the process of healing.

DONATE TODAY

CHANGE YOUR PROFILE PICTURE

We’re sending strength to our Israeli brothers and sisters. Join us by changing your profile picture to show your solidarity. You can change your profile picture by right clicking on the photo in below and clicking “Save Image As.” Once you have saved the photo onto your computer, hover your mouse over your own profile picture and click “update profile picture” then select the image and “save profile picture.”

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Louis Herman Israel Experience Fund recipient: Abe Passman

Born and raised in the Jewish community of Minneapolis, Louis Herman never had any children.
But he thought of the community’s children as his children, and used his hard-earned wealth to support causes that focused on Jewish education.  In 1992, Mr. Herman donated $1 million to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation as an endowment. A few years later, the LOUIS HERMAN ISRAEL EXPERIENCE FUND was established.

Since its inception in 1995, the Louis Herman Israel Experience Fund has awarded more than $1,000,000 in grants to over 1000 Minneapolis teens. Many of these grant recipients have returned from their Israel Experiences to become active members of their Jewish community, fulfilling Mr. Herman’s vision of developing a new generation of committed Jews. Mr. Herman’s generosity to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and to other Jewish institutions, has touched the lives of thousands of Jewish youth and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Recently, we had a couple recipients of grants from the Louis Herman Israel Experience Fund return from their Israel programs. We wanted to share their words with you, just to show how impactful this experience is to Minneapolis youth between the ages of 15 and 18.

Abe Passman had this to say about his Israel Experience:

I had a great summer!

Abe PassmanThis photo is meaningful to me because I praying and connecting to Judaism with four guys who are now some of my best friends. Along with that, this was at a Synagogue in Sienna, Italy. It is no longer in use except for on high holidays. The rabbi (an orthodox man), however, came in and led Monday morning services with a mixed gender minyan and allowed us to read from a 200 year old Torah! I got an Aliyah!
The Israel experience was amazing. Everyone on my trip really loved who I was and there was never a reason to put on a mask and fake who I am as a person. I now have 13 new best friends, some of whom I have spoken to everyday since we got back. Even though I had been there with my family, this trip allowed me to really appreciate and admire the State of Israel. I am so thankful for the opportunity to go on USY Pilgrimage.

2a. How attached do you feel to Israel? Very much

2b. How knowledgeable do you feel about Israel? Very much

2c. Would you like to be more involved in the Jewish Community? Very much

Thank you so much!

-Abe Passman

To learn more about the Louis Herman Israel Experience Fund, and to see if you’re eligible, visit this page or contact Ariel at 952.417.2319 or abiel@mplsfed.org.

Summer Arts Workshops for Adults

The reviews are in, and they are terrific.

“One of my favorite days off ever!”

“Informative, engaging, and FUN!!!”

Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council and the Sabes JCC teamed up in July and August of 2015 to produce a series of four summer arts workshops for adults. The playgrounds were the banks of the Mississippi River, the shady gardens of The Landscape Arboretum, the avenues of Minneapolis’ North Side, and The Marsh in Minnetonka.

Each workshop explored an encounter with nature, one or two art forms—from drawing and cooking to collage and photography—and an exploration of personal belief.

In the words of Laura French, writing for the American Jewish World: “Why should kids have all the summer fun? This year grown-ups can enjoy the creativity, camaraderie and natural beauty of a summer day-camp experience.” The thirty participants came from an unusually broad spectrum of backgrounds; their ages spanned early-20s to mid-80s.

“The Spices of Life” launched the series with interactive visits to three cultural institutions on the North Side—Homewood Studios on Plymouth Avenue and Cookie Cart and Appetite for Change on Broadway. Whether the subject was painting, cookie dough, or a great beet soup, each of these cornerstone organizations showed how all the arts enrich the community in which they thrive and can empower individuals to live a more balanced, healthier life.

“One with Nature” put pencils and brushes in the hands of its participants. Masterfully guided by teacher Lynda Monick-Isenberg, the participants learned to look more acutely, to pay attention to their bodies through simple yoga poses, and to let their hands connect with their observational skills. A gorgeous Minnesota summer day in the gardens of The Arboretum gave everyone plenty to look at and draw.

“Mysteries of the Mississippi” combined preservationist Aaron Rubenstein’s intriguing stories of the social history of the river in downtown Minneapolis with artistic opportunities to capture the colorful natural landscape and wildlife which live on the water’s shores. Cameras, pens, torn paper, and collage were all used—under the guidance of artist Susan Armington–to evoke the watery passage of St. Anthony Falls, the secluded backwaters of the river’s small tributaries, and the Mill City Ruins.

The series concluded at The Marsh with “Skin & Bones and Everything in Between,” led by palliative care physician, artist, and storyteller Joel Carter and textile artist Beth Barron. Using personal experience as a starting point for discovery, the participants found unexpected ways to tell their individual stories using found objects, beads, paint, wood, and fabric.

Did you miss the workshops? The full list of past events is below.

We can’t wait to bring you more information about Rimon’s next arts workshops. Until then, visit rimonmn.org to keep up with how this Federation initiative is promoting and enhancing Jewish identity through art of all kinds.

We raised $20,380,850 – thanks to YOU

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Thanks to nearly 200 dedicated campaign volunteers, Federation professionals, and 4,900 gifts from generous donors, The Minneapolis Jewish Federation raised over $20.3 million during the 2015 Campaign year (including close to $540,000 through special emergency campaigns to help Jews in crisis in Nepal, Israel, and Ukraine).  Of that total, more than 11.3 million was distributed through the Community Campaign (including $187,000 dedicated from the unrestricted fund of the Jewish Community Foundation towards community needs, and support from corporate sponsorship).

Here are the facts:

  • Together we raised $10,760,561 – an increase of $126,194 from 2014
  • Together we raised $9,082,460 through planned giving & endowments
  • An additional $537,829 was raised for special initiatives

Beth Kieffer Leonard and Todd Leonard, Campaign Chairs

“As 2015 Community Campaign Chairs, we are thrilled,” says Todd Leonard on behalf of himself and his wife, Beth Kieffer Leonard. “$20,380,850 represents thousands of people who will benefit—thousands of faces of gratitude and hope.”

“These critical dollars will improve, strengthen, and transform Jewish lives around the globe,” adds Beth. “We couldn’t be more proud of our community. Together, with our donors, partner agencies, and volunteers, we are doing great work.”

A gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation goes beyond funding any single organization or building—it helps map out the programs and services that strengthen and enrich Jewish life here in Minneapolis and around the world. Federation professionals and volunteers from the community spend thousands of hours annually vetting the menu of needs in our local and global Jewish community. These needs range from social services and Jewish education to community security and Jewish arts and culture. This difficult work helps leverage resources and ensure every dollar goes to the highest and best use.