Mah Koreh | What’s Up – February 2016

eilat-mah-korehShalom! I’m Eilat. As Director  of the Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, I’ll be sharing stories of connection between Minneapolis and Israel, and helping you experience Israel — whether you’re on the shores of Lake Minnetonka or the beaches of Tel Aviv. 

 

 

Partnership2Gether

Have you met our sister? Through Partnership2Gether, Minneapolis has gained a sister city in Israel: Rehovot! Through P2G, participants in both cities are building a stronger sense of Jewish peoplehood.

 Connecting2Gether

Khabie brothers

From left to right: Jacob Khabie, Yaron, Toby Khabie, and David Khabie

With P2G in full swing, new connections and friendships have blossomed all over Minneapolis and Rehovot over the last few months – including at the Khabie house. Over the summer, Wendy and Nisso Khabie hosted Yaron, a young man from Rehovot who worked at Camp Olami. The bond was instantaneous.

Fast forward to December when the Khabies visited Rehovot. Not only did they pick up right where they left off with Yaron, they spent time at a place they had only visited via Facetime: The Berman Shul.

As a twin synagogue to our very own Darchei Noam, the two congregations have been participating in virtual Torah Study, an event that the Khabies look forward to on a monthly basis. Attending the Torah study in person at the Berman Shul gave way to personal conversations, creating more excitement on how their own partnership can continue to grow.

Everywhere they went in Rehovot, Wendy and Nisso were greeted with hugs from both familiar and unfamiliar faces. Every stranger, instantly became a friend and what was once a, somewhat, foreign country became a welcoming home.

Chanukah2Gether

Over Chanukah, a delegation of Rehovot teens visited Minneapolis, visiting IMG_1450 (1)classrooms, congregations, and even Federation’s own Super Sunday. Almost two months later, these teens reflect on their visit and are still surprised at the impact one week had on their lives. Anael Hazan, an Orthodox teenager, had a particularly profound moment after visiting Beth El.

“I saw that nearly all women wore a kippah, a prayer shawl, used a microphone during services and I saw women reading from the Torah,” she remembers. “At first I was not comfortable with this…and it broke my heart.”

After several open minded discussions and debates, and a few more days in our Jewish community, Anael began to have a change of heart. “It is not my place to say whether this is right or wrong just because I am used to another way of practicing,” she realized.

“The Jewish community in Minneapolis is not a large community, and the synagogues are essentially what keeps the Jewish community cohesive,” Anael continued. “I saw everybody smiling, talking, and eating lunch together even if they did not know each other. This is a united community with much love. It moved me to see.”

Partnership is all about peoplehood, and from these two stories you can see that every experience sends a strong ripple, creating new connections making the ocean dividing us suddenly seem smaller.

Click here to learn more about Partnership2Gether. 

A peek into Rehovot

 February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month.It was only natural this month for me to instantly think of the Krembo, one of the more beloved Israeli snacks which many, who do not live in Israel, aren’t as familiar with.

It is a chocolate covered cream-ish on a cookie snack and the cause of many debates on what is the correct way of eating it (for the record, my way is the correct way).

Krembo is sold only in the winter months of Israel, and is individually wrapped by hand because it is so delicate. This much loved snack is the inspiration behind the name of a special youth movement in Israel called Krembo Wings, in which teen counselors work with kids with special needs.

With close to 50 chapters all over Israel, this remarkable youth movement is now serving our sister city of Rehovot. Counselors meet on a weekly basis with youth whose disabilities include cerebral palsy, autism and more. Together they work to develop their self-confidence, meet new friends and just have fun. For the past 14 years, Krembo Wings has made thousands of special needs youth feel good, included and handled with care — just like the Krembo.

Programs in Israel: Volunteering

At the age of 18, like most Israelis, I was drafted and spent two and a half years serving in the IDF. That’s two and a half years of wearing army boots, green clothes, green clothes and more green clothes. For stylish shoes we had the Naalei Golda – Golda Shoes. If you picture Golda Meir’s attire you can understand that our stylish shoes were not exactly taken from the pages of Vogue nor did I feel like a fashion model – ever.

The day I finished the army I wore the most colorful shirt I had and walked up and down Dizengoff Street enjoying the sights and smells of everything and anything which had absolutely nothing to do with the army.

I could go on forever about my fashion woes while serving in the IDF, but

Jodi Upin, an annual volunteer with Sar El

Jodi Upin, an annual volunteer with Sar El

this long introduction was to address an epiphany I had when I moved to Minneapolis: Sometimes Jews do funny things, like REALLY care for Israel. There are so many ways this is shown in the community, but for this section I want to mention one volunteer program, in particular, for adults. A 1-3 week program for volunteering on an IDF base, helping and doing civilian work with whatever is needed at the time. The program began during the first Lebanon War (1982) when many Israeli men were called up for battle, leaving a manpower void in harvesting the crops. An urgent call for help was sent abroad, and as always, Jews cared and rushed in droves to stand with Israel.

The program Sar El has since grown and serves many who need help, want to help and, by default, form new connections and experiences in Israel. All this while wearing the green uniform.

For more information about Sar El: http://vfi-usa.org

Israel in the community

American-Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt will be at Minnesota Hillel on Tuesday, March 1 at 7 pm. Free! 18+ admission, RSVP required. Click here to register, and click here to read the TC Jewfolk interview with Benji.

Save the date! In May, our community will come together to celebrate 68 years of Israel and commemorate lost Israeli lives. Stay tuned for more information!

May 10:Yom Ha’Zikaron

May 15: Yom Ha’atzmaut

 

 

 

 

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.

JAFI

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.

A message from your new CEO

I am honored to accept the invitation you extended me to lead your Federation as CEO.

As I began to investigate this opportunity I spoke to my colleagues and friends around the country. They have been extremely supportive, mentioning dynamic Minneapolis community members I should meet—rabbis, lay leaders, former National Young Leadership chairs. It is clear to me from these notes of support that the success of the Minneapolis Jewish community is nationally recognized.

I have been impressed by the spirit of TOGETHER WE guiding the Minneapolis Federation. In my view, uniting donors, volunteers, agencies, synagogues, and lay and professional leaders to move Minneapolis forward is attractive and wise. I am excited to learn from members of the community why Minneapolis has been successful and how to make the future even more so.

Stu Silberman

Stu Silberman

My own Jewish communal path started in 1999, when my family lived in Michigan while I worked for Ford Motor Company. My oldest daughter Skylar was in pre-school at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor. When the executive learned of my business degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, she asked me to help out on finance committee. “Don’t worry,” she said, “It won’t take that much time.”

As it goes, a seat on the finance committee turned into a board of directors position, then treasurer, and yes, it did take up more time than I had anticipated. Soon, though, I realized that my volunteer work was more meaningful and enjoyable than what I was doing Monday through Friday. This realization pushed me to pursue a career in Jewish communal service, which led me to the Jewish Community of Louisville, an integrated agency composed of a Federation and JCC, where I served as CEO for the past five years.

I wrote before about the messages of support I received when I announced my new position. One of those messages was from my middle school daughter, Rachel. We knew this move would uproot her from her close circle of friends in Louisville. Nonetheless she told me, between the occasional tear, “This sounds like a really great opportunity for you, Dad, and I don’t want to be any part of the reason you wouldn’t think of taking it.”

Her statement is the root of why I do what I do. My daughter—a member of the next generation of Jews—is willing to make sacrifices when a new opportunity to make an impact arises. She became a bat mitzvah earlier this summer and I know she understands the importance of Judaism in our lives and the lives of others. Her sister Skylar feels the same; she attended the BBYO international convention in February and became closer to Jews from around the world, learning their unique stories. She became a confirm this past Shavuot.

My wife Alison and I are raising two future active Jewish community members. Together, we are all creating a generation of young Jews who value their community, in turn supporting and powering the agencies and organizations that will provide Jewish experiences for years to come.

I greatly look forward to leading this Federation in continuing to do important and life-changing work here in Minneapolis and around the world. From what I hear, the weather is cold but the people are warm and I’m thrilled to experience both.

Stu Silberman

P.S. Your ears may have perked up when you noticed that I worked for Ford Motor Company. I get some nachas (pride) when I think of Henry Ford, a known anti-Semite, turning over in his grave because his company’s great leadership programs turned out a Jewish communal leader.