Shalom! 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.
al-ter-nate | adjective |ˈôltərnət/ employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas,methods
Over Spring Break, a group of 10 UMN students joined Idan Cohen, the Hillel Fellow, on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Israel through our Partnership2Gether program. True to its definition, this was a different kind of trip, allowing the students to experience Israel through unique experiences like:
- Volunteering with Israel’s national food back
In an hour and a half the students filled an impressive container – all donated to, and subsequently distributed by, Leket – Israel’s food bank. Way to go guys!
- Graffiti tours
- In-depth discussion on controversial topics like African refugees and coexistence
- A look into Israel’s tech culture
The UMN students were hosted by students in Rehovot— just another example of how P2G is strengthening our connections to Israel.
“We were in South Tel Aviv, seeing parts of the city that don’t often get talked about: so many homeless people, run-down neighborhoods. And then, in the middle of a park, there was a small outdoor library that is volunteer-run, with books in many different languages. It was something so beautiful and hopeful in an area that could seem so hopeless. While there are obviously many issues and lots of problems to fix, I came away with a feeling that there are incredible people in Israel that are doing everything they can to brighten others’ lives.” –Leeore Levinstein
“I had an aha moment every time I talked to my hosts. We spent the week discussing similarities and differences between what it’s like to be in your twenties in the US versus over there. We talked about healthcare and the economy, even different ways of eating food and conducting conversations. They really made my trip because I got a taste of what it’s like to live in Israel.” – Hannah Mills
“Picking carrots. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. But working in the ground with our hands and knowing that our work would go to support families in need gave me the best feeling I had all trip”. –Sami Rahamim
Visit our P2G page to read about the students’ adventures and experiences over their Alternative Spring Break.
A Peek into Rehovot
Helping a sister’s sister city
Chana Shagalow and Rabbi Mendel Gluckowsky are siblings who grew up in Toronto, Canada with parents who were educators and givers. Helping those in need was embedded into them from an early age.
Chana Shagalow made her way to Minneapolis, and with this passion became one of the founders and Director of Sha’arim, providing services for those with special needs in the Jewish community (and she is receiving our World-Saver Award at the Pearl Society’s Women of Intention event this Thursday, April 14!)
Rabbi Gluckowsky was chosen by the Lubavitch to move to Israel in 1978
“It is important that we know how to listen and take the initiative to help when needed without being asked.” –Rabbi Gluckowsky
where he married and moved to, what is now his sister’s sister city (got that?), Rehovot.
While there, he saw much hurting and suffering surrounding him. Families with serious medical concerns, hunger, depression, single parenthood challenges were only some of the issues he greatly felt the need to assist with.
With the help of the Israeli government and the Rehovot Municipality, he began a soup kitchen, which today remains a wonderful organization dedicated to helping those in need.
Lichyot Bekavod (Live with Dignity) serves 500-700 meals daily to those who most need help. Meals are provided on-site, as well as delivered to schools where students cannot afford to bring their own lunch, to the elderly, to the sick in hospitals or at home and to Holocaust survivors.
Through good relationships with community partners, Lichyot Bekavod is also able to provide food coupons to those who need assistance with groceries or to help celebrate the Jewish holidays in a dignified way.
Following his sister’s lead, Rabbi Gluckowsky also opened up three different facilities to provide service for students with special needs.
Working closely with Zohar Blum, the Deputy Mayor and a member of the P2G Steering Committee, Rabbi Gluckowsky is greatly appreciative of the support he receives in implementing these important and successful programs in Rehovot.
Programs in Israel: Masa Israel Teaching Fellow
Written by Danielle Fink
After graduating college from the University of Minnesota, I decided to do service work for both of the countries I call home: I completed my one year of service in the United States’ Americorps VISTA and am now in my second year of service in Israel.
I volunteer as an English teacher at a secular elementary school in Rishon LeZion through Masa’s Israel Teaching Fellows. I believe one of the greatest parts is not the actual teaching of English, but the cultural exchange. A lot of the students have asked me if I am Jewish, and once I told them yes, the questions never stopped.
A few questions I get often:
“If you are Jewish, why don’t you live in Israel?”
I respond by saying, “There are Jews that live all over the world, including the United States.”
“How do you know Hebrew?”
I respond by saying, “I went to a Jewish day school where we learned Hebrew.”
“Do you celebrate Christmas? Do you have a big tree in your house?”
I respond by saying, “I don’t celebrate Christmas. I told you, I am Jewish!”
“How do you say ‘bar mitzvah’ in English? How do you say ‘mezuzah’ in English?”
I respond by saying, “We say those words in Hebrew!”
In addition to teaching, I volunteer at a Gan (day care) in South Tel Aviv for children of refugees and asylum-seekers. This has been an eye-opening experience into the refugee crisis in Israel.
The experience of living in Israel has enabled me to be an active and contributing member of the community by volunteering in many different aspects of Israeli culture. I have been able to see the diversity and complexity of Israeli society. These six months here so far have truly shown me what it means to consider Israel my home.
Israel in the Community
Thursday, May 5
Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan debuts at Orchestra Hall with Rachmaninoff;s Piano Concerto No.1. For more details click here:
Tuesday, May 10
Yom HaZikaron – An evening for remembering Israeli fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. 7pm @ Sabes JCC
Friday, May 13th
Israeli singer Tamar Eisenman @ the Cedar Cultural Center. For details, click here
Sunday May 15th
Israel is 68! Let’s celebrate!
4 pm | Sabes JCC.