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




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.



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.



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.



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.”


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.

Show us your sukkah!

It’s almost that time of year where we hang fruit from the ceiling and urge our children to PLEASE not hit each other with the lulav – Sukkot! This year, Sukkot starts Sunday, September 27.

Are you starting to plan your sukkah?

The sukkah walls can be constructed from any material (wood, canvas, aluminum siding, sheets). But what if it was made from… LEGOs?


JBrick, an online company based out of St. Paul, has created a custom LEGO set sukkah. From their website:

What will your LEGO® mini-figs do come the holiday of Sukkot without a proper sukkah? We have the answer for you in the form of our jbrick custom LEGO® Sukkah! But wait, there is more! You get a bonus mini-fig with a cap and hoodie and lulav plus etrog? You got it! There is plenty of room inside the sukkah to add your own table and chairs for company and holiday festive meals!


Lindsay, Federation’s resident LEGO master builder, assembled our set herself… and now it’s your turn! We want to give you your very own Lego sukkah.

To enter to win, tell us on our Facebook page why your family or community’s sukkah is special! Do you have a special sleepover? A fancy catered sit down dinner? Do you make a special decoration? We want to hear about it – or see pictures!

The contest will run now through October 15, and the winner will be chosen randomly from entries and announced on October 16 on our Facebook page.

Chag sameach!

Eyal Rob’s Israeli Playlist

eyalrob_sqAs a special end of summer treat for the community, the Israel Center and 20|30 Project of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation are turning the Sabes JCC pool into a Tel Aviv beach Sunday, August 30, and if anyone is qualified to run the show it’s Eyal Rob, a screenwriting professor by day and well known Tel Aviv DJ by night. We’re calling it Minneapolis Heat, Mediterranean Beats.

At 3 pm, Rob will share stories of life as a young Israeli creative, a popular talk he gives around the country. At 4:30, Rob will trade speaking for spinning and begin that aforementioned Israeli dance party. You can register for this FREE event at jewishminneapolis.org/eyalrob.

We had the privilege of speaking with Eyal Rob a few weeks ago, and asked him to put together a playlist of some of the music that he listens to as a way to get inspired and pumped up before a DJ set. Below you’ll find links to various artists that you may (or may not) have heard of. Give them a listen, get pumped up, and we’ll see you on August 30th at the Sabes JCC.

Curious to know what Eyal Rob’s music sounds like? You can check out some of his work on Soundcloud.


We raised $20,380,850 – thanks to YOU


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.

IMPACT: The Country of My Heart – A Journey from France to Israel


I grew up in Nice, France. But when I was three, I left with my family to Israel. We lived there for two and a half years before my family decided to move back to France. After that, I vowed that one day, no matter what, I would return to live in Israel. Deep inside, I knew it was my true home.

I wasn’t brought up in a Jewish community and my family wasn’t religious. Even so, I never felt comfortable living in France as a Jew. I was always mindful of the threat of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, it’s gotten worse. Synagogues and schools have been attacked; kosher markets broken into. Today, wearing a kippah or amagen david, or showing any signs of being Jewish, can be dangerous. That’s why I designed a special magen david necklace for myself that isn’t so easily recognizable.

#60DaysMJF Images for E-mail and Blog (4)A year and a half ago, I made the decision to leave France for good. I made aliyah with the help of Federation’s partner agency, The Jewish Agency for Israel.

After I arrived, I lived with other olim—recent immigrants. We understood each other and could share our experiences. I started volunteering to help other newcomers like myself.

Then I found a job. And I’m happy to say that I have just become a counselor with The Jewish Agency.

It’s not always easy to be here—to meet people and to understand a new culture. But despite all the difficulties, I never doubted my decision to make aliyah.

During Operation Protective Edge, my family asked me to return to France. They told me it’s not safe in Israel. But I told them it’s not safe in France. Every day is a battle there to live as a Jew.

That summer, rioters took to the streets of Paris, smashing windows of shops owned by Jews and throwing firebombs. I wish my family didn’t live in such a hostile and dangerous place.

Today, I’m proud to say that Israel is my home and my country. With the help of Federation, I have made aliyah and can finally be a Jew without fear. But there are so many others who cannot. Which is why I’m also so grateful for Federation’s continued support.

We’re all one Jewish community, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. For that, Federation, I say: todah rabah.

Through Federation, you can help empower Jews like Carole Sebbah, and assist in their Aliyah efforts, today in three ways:

 to change lives locally and globally through a gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Community Campaign, which builds community, cares for the welfare of Jews everywhere, and maximizes participation in Jewish life.


by investing your time—make calls at a Call for Change phone-a-thon, join a committee, or become a campaigner.



by exploring the many ways to get involved with Federation, from attending an event to exploring leadership opportunities, to hopping on our upcoming Campaigner’s Mission!




IMPACT: Finding Family in Israel


Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier Hannah Larson has a unique perspective on serving in the Israeli military given that she was born abroad. “As Israeli soldiers, we are creating a safe haven for Israelis, and for anyone that wants to come to Israel. We don’t just protect Israel, we protect Jews from all over the world.”

Hannah herself grew up in the U.S., in a family that imbued her with a love of Zionism. “I always had the idea of moving to Israel and making Aliyah,” she says. “But I had never been and needed to see it for myself.”

#60DaysMJF Images for E-mail and Blog (2)Hannah saved up her money, learned Hebrew, and joined Sar-El, The National Project for Volunteers for Israel. It didn’t take her long after arriving in Israel to confirm that she’d been right about her hunch – at age 19, she was on her way to the Jewish State for good.

Jewish Federation was with Hannah during every step of her journey. Through Federation supported Garin Tzabar (a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel), Hannah was able to make Aliyah and quickly integrate into her IDF combat intelligence unit.

Garin Tzabar also provided a home away from home for Hannah and other “Lone Soldiers” – those serving in the IDF without immediate family in Israel.

“I didn’t have family to come back to on weekends from the military,” she says. “Through Garin Tzabar, I spent my first two months in Israel living on a kibbutz. That provided me with a home and friends – an adopted family – to have Shabbat dinners with. It was really amazing.”

As her time in the military came to an end, the Federation-supported “Wings” program (also funded by the Jewish Agency) helped prepare Hannah for civilian life, while the Nativ program for new immigrants gave her an essential understanding of Jewish identity in Israel. She’s currently studying counterterrorism, and plans to remain involved in safeguarding the security of the Jewish State.

“Jewish Federation is the reason I made Aliyah. It’s the reason I plan on staying in Israel and building a family here,” Hannah says. “It has helped me make my way, and connected me with so many Israelis.”

Hannah – now one of those Israelis – tells of one family she lived with for a few months while searching for an apartment of her own. “They opened their home and their hearts. They took me in as if I was one of their kids. That ‘Israeli hug’ – that’s what made me stay here.”

You can help us honor our soldiers in Israel, and assist in their Aliyah efforts, today in three ways:

 to change lives locally and globally through a gift to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Community Campaign, which builds community, cares for the welfare of Jews everywhere, and maximizes participation in Jewish life.


by investing your time—make calls at a Call for Change phone-a-thon, join a committee, or become a campaigner.



by exploring the many ways to get involved with Federation, from attending an event to exploring leadership opportunities, to hopping on our upcoming Campaigner’s Mission!




Campaigner’s Mission to Israel 2015



Obtain a first-hand perspective on the impact of campaign dollars through site visits to JDC and Jewish Agency programs and benefit from top level training in donor development and solicitation skills.

Participants will gain a better understanding of contemporary Israel while enjoying all that an Israel experience has to offer.


Land Cost: $1,190*

Double Occupancy.

Airfare on your own – *Includes subsidy


Mission Requirements


MAKE a minimum gift for the 2016 Community Campaign of $750

AGREE to solicit a minimum of 10 donors &/or prospects Face to Face

PARTICIPATE as a caller at Super Sunday & at least one phone-a-thon during the 2016 Campaign

HOST a Parlor Meeting to share your experience

AGREE to be available to speak at synagogues and organizations

Contact Missions Manager Alyssa Huck at 952.417.2323 or ahuck@mplsfed.org to learn more.

Leaving a Legacy: A Charitable Checkbook

Barry and Francie Ross with their granddaughters Zoraya and Bexy Levin

Barry and Francie Ross with their granddaughters Zoraya and Bexy Levin

“The world stands on three things: Torah, prayer, and acts of loving kindness.” —Pirkei Avos Mishnah

Francie and Barry grew up in small Jewish communities; Francie in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Barry in St. Paul, Minnesota. Both of their parents were leaders in their respective Jewish communities. Francie and Barry connected with their Jewish roots at different stages in their lives. For Francie, it began when she attended Herzl camp.

“It changed my life!” she says of the four consecutive summers she was a camper at Herzl. “Herzl is where I made my first Jewish connection. It kindled my Jewish spirit.”

For Barry, it happened on a Federation mission to Israel in 2001, where he traveled with several rabbis from the Minneapolis Orthodox community. Barry connected with and was inspired by their knowledge and passion for Judaism. Since returning from Israel, Barry has studied weekly with these same rabbis.

Francie has been studying for the last seven years at the Chabad in Minnetonka. “Most of us know what we know about Judaism as a result of what we were taught as children in Sunday school. There is so much more to learn and so many people willing to teach you!” she says.

Francie and Barry support Federation, Sholom Home, Jewish education, Jewish camps, and Israel. As Barry says, “Through our Jewish study we have begun to understand the Pirkei Avos Mishnah which teaches, ‘The world stands on three things: Torah, prayer, and acts of loving kindness.’”

A Charitable Checkbook

“About a year ago Mort Naiman came to us to discuss a donor-advised fund as an easy way to manage our giving. He used the term ‘charitable checkbook,’ which really resonated with us,” explains Barry. Upon learning how easy and seamless it was to set up a fund as a vehicle for giving, they established a donor-advised fund and an endowment fund through Federation.

“It’s easy, and a wonderful way to give,” explains Francie.

Barry and Francie would like to thank their parents for the example they set of giving generously to the Jewish community. They are proud to pass this legacy on to their children Adam and Cori, Cori’s husband, Gena Levin, and their two children, Zoraya and Bexy.

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a legacy is a simple way to ensure our Jewish community remains vibrant and strong for your grandchildren, their children, and beyond. To learn more, visit jewishminneapolis.org/foundation

Viral Dylan Video Creator Visits Minneapolis

PIC Yoni and a Friend

Interactive Storyteller YONI BLOCH

December 3, 2014 | 7:30 PM | Sabes JCC

Yoni Bloch is an Israeli musician and the founder and CEO of Interlude, a technology company that designs, develops, markets, and enables the creation of interactive videos. Through Interlude’s patented technology, Bloch has ushered in a new norm for online storytelling, allowing users to actively engage with online video.

In 2010, Bloch and his band wanted to create a music video their fans would want to play over and over again. Finding no sufficient technology to support their vision, they founded Interlude and developed it themselves.

Interlude has gone on to create interactive videos for Shell, Subaru, Fox TV, ESPN, and others, as well as Bob Dylan’s wildly acclaimed interactive music video for “Like A Rolling Stone.” Backed by investors, Interlude recently launched Treehouse, a self-service platform that allows anyone to design and publish their own interactive videos.

In Israel, Yoni is a successful rock musician and performer with three top-selling records. He has produced and recorded tracks for Israel’s biggest artists, composed music for TV, film, and theater, and served as a judge in the Israeli version of “American Idol.”

Yoni Bloch will be at the Sabes JCC at 4300 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 at 7:30 on December 3, 2014.



Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door and include a light reception.

Purchase tickets by calling 952.381.3499, emailing tickets@sabesjcc.org, or visiting www.sabesjcc.org/whats-happening.php.

For more information, contact Eilat Harel, Director of the Israel Center at Minneapolis Jewish Federation at 952.417.2321 or eharel@mplsfed.org.


Yoni Bloch’s appearance is the first in the Culture BLVD IV series.

Culture BLVD brings Israeli artists from a variety of genres to the Twin Cities to promote understanding of Israel and its culture through art. Now in its fourth season, Culture BLVD is a program of The Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, in conjunction with the Sabes JCC and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Download a flyer here.