You rekindled their love of traditions

Learning to “make” Shabbat through Hillel
Benjie Kaplan, the Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Minnesota, explains that there are between 80-100 students who attend Shabbat on campus each Friday.

On the third Friday of every month, a few of the students volunteer to host Shabbat for these 80 students in their dorms or apartments. Hillel gives them songbooks, candles, and challah, and students get reimbursed for their grocery receipts.

Young adults know how to attend Shabbat, but they generally don’t know how to make Shabbat. Hillel is giving our kids a venue to figure out how to create their own Jewish homes.

There’s something so beautiful about going off to college and unexpectedly finding Shabbat is part of one’s education, too. You make that happen.

 

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Because of you–he got to be a kid today

 

The Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and Minnesota Hillel, through Partnership2Gether, sent a group of college students to Israel over spring break this March for an “alternative spring break” of volunteering and learning.

A much richer experience than a typical Birthright or tourist-oriented visit to Israel, Alternative Spring Break offers students the opportunity to see Israel “off the beaten path,” providing immersive experiences interacting with Israelis from all walks of life.

This is a wonderful example of how what we do gives our community a richer and more beneficial understanding of our people and our connection to the land and the modern nation of Israel—and perhaps even a greater Jewish self-awareness. In fact, students report feeling a strong sense of connection to and pride in their community and to Israel after experiences like this.

Alternative spring break is a week full of life-changing moments; here’s a taste from 2017 participant Eli Singer.

On Tuesday, we drove into South Tel Aviv, a slum located within the “party city” that we all know and love. There we learned about Elifelet, an organization providing nursery school and childcare to Sudanese and Eritrean refugee children. These families come to South Tel Aviv as undocumented workers to escape persecution in their own countries.

After learning about the organization, we went to a dingy, second-story apartment housing one of the nurseries. There, we were each paired with a child to play with at a park across the street. I was paired with a boy named Yafet who was incredibly energetic and intelligent and the oldest boy of the group.

It was hard to see their living conditions, but we could tell that even taking these kids out for an hour totally changed their moods and allowed them to forget about their extremely difficult lives and just be kids.  

This trip has meant so much—it exposed me to what Israel is actually like. While Birthright shows tourists the best and most famous aspects of the country, this trip allowed me to see that the country I thought to be nearly perfect actually has many real flaws and issues. It was absolutely inspiring to learn about these issues and see the organizations and individuals striving to make them better.

 

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This is what we do.

Just a few months ago, Odelia and Ohad Brat celebrated one of the happiest occasions of their lives: their son’s bar mitzvah. They’ll never forget when he received his brand-new tefillin—special leather boxes worn during prayer—from his beloved grandparents. Everyone was so filled with pride.

And they’ll never forget grabbing those tefillin as they and their six children quickly fled their home. A raging fire was only minutes away. So they took what was most precious to them.

It was a smart split-second decision. Flames destroyed much of the Brat family house. The entire upstairs was charred. When the family returned, they barely recognized what used to be their home.

The Brats did make one unlikely discovery, though. A bank tin, badly burned. Inside was the money one of their sons had earned mowing lawns for neighbors. It was dirty and damp, but it was there.

It’s a symbol for what it will take to rebuild their home and their lives. It’s not going to happen overnight. But they have each other. And they have Federation partner The Jewish Agency for Israel, which is delivering grants of $1,000 to families across Israel who lost everything in the fires.

With the grant, the Brats are able to buy clothing, medicine and other essentials for their large family. Odelia says that the care, concern, and support they’ve received from The Jewish Agency has left her speechless.


People just like us, our children, our parents or grandparents, desperately need our help. Your gift to Federation removes obstacles. You bridge gaps. A hot meal is delivered to a homebound elderly person. An emergency loan feeds a struggling family. A bus brings a child to camp. A ramp opens up Jewish life for a disabled person.

People just like us, our children, our parents or grandparents, desperately need our help. Your gift to Federation removes obstacles. It bridges gaps. It delivers a hot meal to a homebound elderly person. It feeds a struggling family. It brings a child to camp. It allows a disabled person to lead a  vibrant Jewish life.

Your gift makes this possible. Please give generously so we can continue doing this important work.

DONATE TODAY

 

 

Mah Koreh | July 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. 


 P2G: Connecting2Gether

One of the more successful P2G programs is the Global School Twinning Network which received the Jerusalem Unity Prize by President Reuven and Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat on June 1, 2016 for the impact it has brought to thousands of Jewish students both in Israel and the Diaspora.

Over the course of this year, the Minneapolis Jewish community has also begun to embrace the School Twinning program between our community and Rehovot with the first schools being Bet Shalom’s Religious school and Rehovot’s Hadarim school.

With 75% of the students being Ethiopian, Hadarim heavily focuses on closing educational gaps and providing support for families to help the students.

On the Bet Shalom side, led by Gayle Kaplan (a member of the MPLS P2G Steering Committee) and Lynn Fischer, the 5th graders began to form connections with their peers in Rehovot through a few digital exchanges including a skype session in which the classes met each other face to face (almost).

Over the course of the upcoming school year, look for news of additional School Twinning programs in our community and in Rehovot.

A Peek into Rehovot

How does the City of Science and Culture combine these two elements and become a different kind of a hip city?

By introducing a first of it’s kind program in Israel called – Rofeh Al Ha Bar (loosely translated – Doctors on Tap).

On June 8th, 36 high profile doctors of Rehovot’s Kaplan hospital set out to the city’s hippest bar scenes and gave scientific talks about the latest in the science and medicine world to audiences who wanted to get smarter on a night out on the town.

On June 9th, hundreds of people who spent the previous evening with good food and drinks, woke up just a little bit smarter in the City of Science and Culture.

 

Programs in Israel: Nativ

By Grace Ansel

On September 1st 2015, I stepped off of the bus from Ben Gurion airport, in graceanselthe outskirts of Jerusalem, in what used to be a grocery store parking lot. Surrounded by 70+ unfamiliar faces, I had no clue what I got myself into. We were shown different parts of Jerusalem from the distant view. There was the religious, the secular, the political, and the high tech parts of Israel all within the view of this abandoned plot of land. We were told that by the end of Nativ we would have a better idea where we fit in Israeli society. I am sure glad that I had nine months to figure that out.

Nativ was so much more than just studying and volunteering in Israel. What made Nativ special was singing in the middle of an empty intersection on Yom Kippur, dancing with the Torah on Simchat Torah, getting tea and life advice from a Bedouin man in the Old City, watching the sun reflect off of Jerusalem the City of Gold when the sun set and rose every day, going banana boating in the middle of the Red Sea looking out at Jordan, Egypt, and Israel all at once, camping under the stars on a beach 30 feet away from the crashing waves of the Mediterranean Sea, jumping off of cliffs and repelling off of waterfalls into springs where the fish eat all of the calluses off of your feet, hiking the Israel trail after work, standing in silence on Mt. Herzl as the whole country pauses to remember the thousands of people who were victims of terror and gave their lives so that people like you and me can live their lives in Israel-that sadness transforming into soulful excitement  on Yom Haatzmaut where it is strange if you aren’t dancing on the streets with strangers celebrating the existence of Israel because the Jewish people are finally able to thrive in their homeland after thousands of years of exile.

Every senior is faced with one of the hardest decisions-what to do in the future. What college to go to, what career to pursue. I challenge high school seniors to take their learning outside of the classroom and learn from new experiences, to see more of what the world has to offer. I challenge seniors to take Nativ as an opportunity to grow, explore, ask questions, and leave with more questions.

Israel in the Community

Caravan Peleg, a group of highly talented Israeli boys and girls, age 16-17, will be entertaining our community from July 17-July 27th. Caravan Peleg is part of a larger delegation of 500 Israel Scouts who, each summer, represent Israel at camps and communities across North America.

This year four Tzofim Friendship Caravans will travel throughout the United States, bringing Israeli culture to North America through lively musical programs of song and dance. Come see the Caravan Peleg at one of the following public performances:

Tuesday July 19th Sholom Home East 6:45 p.m.

Wednesday July 20th Sholom Home West 7:00 p.m.

Thursday July 21st Lake Harriet Pavilion 7:30 p.m.

Sunday July 23rd B’nai Israel, Rochester 11:30 a.m.

If you would like to host a Scout, contact Wendy Grosser at israeliscoutmpls@gmail.com.

Mah Koreh | June 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. 


 P2G: Connecting2Gether

In May, the Minneapolis Jewish community hosted 4 IDF officers who did not previously know each other, even though 2 of the 4 live in Rehovot (apparently not too far from each other!) Turns idf soldiersout the first part of the Federation mission statement – we build community– works in Rehovot as well.

As they spent the week presenting all over the community, this group of four not only bonded and became good friends, but they also learned about our Jewish community and grew to respect and appreciate Jewish life in the Diaspora.

Community members warmly embraced this group while we all heard different stories on how the IDF protects Israel—both the country and the concept.

A quote from a community member: The IDF officers in this group were very impressive in their presentations and for their dedication to safeguarding their country. Despite their youth, they have very mature thoughts and attitudes. It is clear that serving in the IDF provides valuable education, training and a path toward future success in Israeli society.

 

A Peek into Rehovot

What does a Turkish mountain climber in danger have in common with the Minneapolis Jewish community?

Rehovot.

Of course.

Read about this dramatic Mt. Everest story here

 

Programs in Israel: Volunteering for the nature lover – Go Echo

For many years, when driving through a certain section in Israel, it felt like we entered an invisible bubble filled with a horrid mixture of skunk and feces fumes. Almost instantaneously the juvenile flatulence jokes came out as we proved to our parents that they still had work to do if they wanted to raise us properly.

But over time, this stinky mountain became something which never ceases to amaze me and another example of how Israel can turn lemons into lemonade and even use the lovely lemony scent for the added touch.

Next time you travel to Israel, stop by the echo park Hiriya to learn and experience the efforts Israel goes through to help the environment.

If you are interested in spending some time volunteering in Israel and working on environmental issues or nature, look into Go Echo for something a little different.

Mah Koreh | May 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. 


 P2G: Connecting2Gether

Rani Halpern recently returned from Israel as part of the Sabes JCC Artist Labs’ trip, where she and 19 other artists saw Israel through a creative lens. Of course they stopped in Rehovoartistlab1t! Here’s Rani with her experience (and visit the P2G FB page to see more!):

 

Our visit with the artists in our sister city of Rehovot was one of the highlights of our trip for me.

The last day of our trip in Rehovot we experienced home hospitality, participated in a mosaic workshop and had dinner together with the Rehovot artists. It was an inspiring end to our trip and, I hope the beginning of ongoing relationships.

I was fortunate to be matched with a wonderful mosaic artist (Areleh Kedem) for home hospitality.  I had just finished making a mosaic ketubah in Minneapolis, so we had much to discuss sitting together in Areleh’s Rehovot kitchen, and I loved meeting the 10 Israeli women who were taking a mosaic class in her home studio the evening I stayed with her.

Our last afternoon in Israel, the Artist Lab participants and the Rehovot artists all took part in a mosaic workshop together at the Minkov Orchard in Rehovot- a great way to get artists talking to each other is to have them working next to each other on a project that requires some concentration, but not total concentration, such as mosaics!

After we completed our projects, we were treated to a lovely dinner together with the Rehovot artists in one of the historic sites, the Minkov Orchard building.

It was a fabulous last evening for our trip – sharing home hospitality, a workshop and a meal allowed us to leave Israel having made personal connections with working artists in Rehovot.

 

A Peek into Rehovotsculpture 1

Israel is a place full of memories. We are constantly remembering. We remember the Holocaust, we remember the fallen soldiers, we remember the victims of terror. Throughout Israel memories are set in stone, bronze, cement or any other kind of material used for beautiful and, at the same time, poignant memorial sculptures. There are so many memories and stories scattered throughout this small country and each memorial sculpture holds a story of its own filling a different void.

Danny Karavan, one of Israel’s leading sculptors, designed one such memorial sculpture. Named the Memorial to the Holocaust Plaza, this sculpture sits on the Weizmann Campus and looms
above the visitors with a massive Torah Scroll split in half covered on the outside with ID numbers of concentration camp prisoners.

To quote Shimon Peres, They killed many of us, but they didn’t kill the Ten Commandments. Indeed, this massive sculpture reflects the history of a nation which still stands strong.

Programs in Israel: Masa Israel Teaching Fellow

Garin Tzabar

This year, Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Remembrance Day) falls on May 11th. Throughout Israel (and in our own community) on the Eve of Yom HaZikaron (May 10th) people gather to remember those who have fallen for the State of Israel.

In 2002 I read about the death of a friend from the past through, of all places, the StarTribune. In the days of dial up, it was painstakingly slow to confirm that Eyal Weiss had indeed been killed in action and within hours I and friends all over the world connected to pour out our memories which morphed into the shape of tears. Tears which will never fully dissipate, no matter how many years go by.

Eyal was in my garin, a core group, which went into Nachal to serve in certain parts of the IDF service together. We were a tight group consisting of Scouts “tribes” from Tel Aviv, Tzehala Rehovot and Yerucham.

Eyal was a leader by all accounts and plenty has been written about him since he was killed.

I have my own personal memories of the conversations Eyal and I had, shaded by the mango trees, as we took breaks from working in the fields of the kibbutz. I remember the bond which grew and grew as the whole garin got to know each other and created a united group of friends. Going into service with friends is a special experience which can only be found in Israel. The friendships last, even when we are no longer in touch with each other. We were a united group, and that will always stay in our hearts and in our memories, no matter how far we are apart geographically.

When parents in our community approach me and share with me that their son or daughter want to go to Israel, join Garin Tzabar  and serve in the IDF, my heart swells with pride.

While the path is far from being an easy one, for those choosing it, Garin Tzabar offers a safety net which can provide long lasting friendships, character building experiences and a connection which cannot be replaced by anything else.

Israel in the Community

Sunday, May 8

Rimon Artist Salon featuring leading Israeli composer Ofer Ben-Amots. Click here for details.

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! Join the Twin Cities Yom HaAtzmaut celebrating Israel’s 68th birthday with family activities, a petting zoo and live performance by the Israeli band Halehaka.

4 pm | Sabes JCC

 

Mah Koreh | What’s Up – April 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. 


 P2G: Connecting2Gether

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!

    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
  • Camping

The UMN students were hosted by students in Rehovot— just another example of how P2G is strengthening our connections to Israel.

WOW! Moments:

“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

AHA! Moments:

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

“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 danielle finkfor 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.

 

 

Mah Koreh | What’s Up – March 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. 


P2G: Connecting2Gether

The director of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs Program shares thoughts from his visit to Rehovot

How do you create a personal connection with not just Israel, but with Israelis? This was the challenge that the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) eagerly took on when they organized a week-long trip to Israel for 28 Minnesotans, including 6 state legislators, this past January.
Weisman

While the JCRC knew that this group of mostly Christian first time visitors would embrace Israel as the “Holy Land,” be sympathetic to Israel’s security challenges, and come away impressed by Israel as the “Start-Up” nation which it is, it was critical for the success of the trip that this delegation of influential Minnesotans forge not just an attachment to the State of Israel, but to its people as well.

Fortunately, through the partnerships which the Minneapolis Jewish Federation has with the City of Rehovot, as well as the partnership that the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul has with the people living in the Lake Kinneret Region, the JCRC knew that it had an inside path to a more personal Israel, which went beyond the headlines and well-travelled tourist destinations.

Working closely with both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Federations and the extremely professional and personable P2G counterparts in Israel, the JCRC made it a point to add substantial time to their itinerary to sit-down for delicious meals with some extraordinary Israelis, as well as share in the experience of visiting everywhere from the Golan Heights to the Weizmann Institute.

Our partners in Rehovot also hosted the delegates in small groups in a program entitled “Rehovot Shelli,” which translates to “My Rehovot.”

While visiting in people’s homes, places of work, or even while digging a car out of the deep mud of a lush vineyard, we exchanged deeply personal stories while hopefully forging lasting friendships with our Israeli hosts.

Ethan Roberts, J.D.
Director, Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs Program
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas

A Peek into Rehovot

Empowering women in our sister city

International Women’s Day is March 8, so it’s timely that I tell you about one of the ways Rehovot empowers women. But first, you’ll need to meet Aviva.

aviva

“I would like to tell every woman who has the ability, the talent and the desire to have an influence… to do so. Because that is the only way we can create a better world for our daughters, sons and for future generations.” Aviva Halabi, P2G Steering Committee Member

Aviva Halabi, a member of the Minneapolis/Rehovot P2G’s Steering Committee, serves as the Advisor to the Mayor on the Advancement of Women. With Aviva’s help, Rehovot recently responded to numerous requests from women who married and had children at a young age. They didn’t have time to study or learn a trade, and now, looking for work as their children get older, these women find themselves in low paying jobs with a bleak future.

The new program, called in English “A Second Chance for Higher Education,” was created in response to this problem by Aviva, along with the Adva Center. It allows women age 35 and up to earn their undergraduate degree, thus increasing employment opportunities and wages.

Fully supported by the mayor of Rehovot, this three year program allows flexibility for a good balance between studying, work and family life—and will influence Rehovot’s socioeconomic makeup for years to come.

Programs in Israel: Kibbutz Ketora

I once lived on this beautiful kibbutz—and now I get to help kids from Minneapolis experience its beauty.

While I am not the superstitious kind, every now and then, I will look on my past and the word basheret (meant to be) comes to mind. In fact, I can find many basheret stepping stones which have connected my past to my present in a very strong way.

At the age of 18, together with my friends from our Scouts youth movement, we began our army service. Our adopted kibbutz was Kibbutz Ketora. A beautiful and luscious hole in the ground, stuck in the scorching Arava desert in the middle of nowhere, none of us had ever heard of it… but we fell in love.

As 18 year olds, we hung out with North American teens who made their way to Ketora as a part of their Young Judaea Israel Experience. It was always a source of amusement for us to observe how these American Jewish teens were so passionate and excited about working the land of Israel while making sure they looked exceptionally good when laboring in this scorching (in case you missed this temperature reference the first time) socialist environment.

Often times this meant moussing hair at 4 am before picking dates in the dust saturated desert fields while wearing name brand hiking boots and clothes—very different from my friends and I. We considered a sweaty bandana to be a sophisticated accessory.

While none of my Tel Aviv neighbors had heard of Ketora, plenty of Minneapolis Jews were familiar with it because of the Young Judaea connection. Fast forward many (many) years, I find myself on the other side of the coin (still in the middle of nowhere ;)) providing information and scholarships to students going on Young Judaea who will be stopping over at my old home, Ketora.

Over the years, as this kibbutz has grown, it has opened its doors to host many other wonderful programs: from veterinarian programs to programs for environmental studies and volunteering. It is a small oasis, full of imagination and passion, providing a variety of programs— any one of which can instantly make you fall in love with this special little corner of the world.

Though Ketora is isolated and unbelievably hot in the summer, the multitude of colors that seem to ooze out of the surrounding mountains at sunset and sunrise are enough to forget the potential dehydration and enjoy this natural wonder and its amazing programs.

Ketora is just one of the spots in Israel our scholarship recipients can visit. Read more about programs in Israel and scholarships available through the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.

Israel in the Community

Save the Date:

Avi Avital and Itamar Doari in concert
Tuesday, March 8 | 7:30 pm @ Aria

Yom HaZikaron – An evening for remembering Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Tuesday May 10th | 7pm @ Sabes JCC

Yom HaAtzmaut – Join the Twin Cities Yom HaAtzmaut celebrating Israel’s 68th birthday. Sunday May 15th | 4pm @ Sabes JCC

 

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.”