Four Questions with David Orbuch

From the Desk of David Orbuch, President

Long journeys: as Jews, we know a little something about them. And while we may love to kvetch along the way, there’s something else we’re well versed in: triumphant endings.

Like the Jews wandering through the desert, our Federation has been on a bit of a journey. But unlike the wandering Jews, we’re not lost. And now that we have officially hired Jim Cohen as our Chief Executive Officer, our path is even clearer. Jim will join us officially on May 15, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Passover is one of my favorite times of the year. I hope this Pesach found you at a Seder table filled with people you love, honoring the beloved traditions of our people and celebrating the end of long journeys old and new. As we all know, Pesach isn’t complete without four questions and four answers. Here are Federations:

    1. Can you tell me more about our CEO?
      Jim Cohen comes to our Federation having served as CEO of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan, and Darien for the past four years. Prior to a career in Jewish communal service, Jim served as Assistant Secretary of the University for International Affairs at Yale University and before that, as a career diplomat in the Foreign Service of the United States Department of State.I am incredibly excited about the unique skills Jim brings to Minneapolis. His experience has equipped him to build relationships, forge alliances, and carry out strategic plans. And his recent tenure at a Federation means he knows the business—its challenges and its inherent strengths.While Jim arrives in May, his wife Lisa and their two school-aged children, Jonathan and Dahlia, will follow in August.
    2. What is Federation’s role in keeping our community safe?
      The sensitive nature of security precludes us from sharing too many details, but know that the work behind the scenes is vigilant and focused.For two years, the Minneapolis and St. Paul Federations have worked with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) to enhance security and combat the rise of anti-Semitism. Outside of these efforts, JCRC plays a primary and invaluable role in community security—and relies on your support to Federation.Your support of Federation also funds the Secure Community Network (SCN), a dedicated homeland security initiative on behalf of the American Jewish community. SCN provides trainings and helps implement security staff and plans in communities.
    3. What are you doing to prepare the next generation of Jews?
      Recent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity on college campuses inspired Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy and the Israel Center to work with Yachad (Jewish learning for teens, funded by Minneapolis Jewish Federation), Hillel, and the National Council of Jewish Women to present Preparing U, a timely and important program for high school students and their parents. Hillel students spoke candidly with participants about their experiences being Jewish on campus, and Hillel director Benjie Kaplan gave parents insight into what their kids might encounter when they head off to college as well as tools to advocate for Israel.
    4. How are you advancing leadership development?
      At the end of last year, Minneapolis Jewish Federation introduced Yesod, a nine-week executive leadership program for seasoned leaders in our community. Hebrew University’s Melton School developed Yesod’s curriculum, and the program is facilitated by local veteran educator Meryll Page. Take a peek at our upcoming issue of Minneapolis Jewish Life to read more about Yesod.

Chag Pesach sameach,

 

 

David Orbuch
President

P.S. We need your ongoing help to continue our journey to freedom. If you have not given, a gift of $100 can provide a week of hot, kosher meals to a local homebound senior, while $1,500 can provide a scholarship to a Minneapolis child to attend two weeks of life-changing Jewish camp. Please give generously.

If you have given, thank you. Our community’s journey is safer because of you.

Minneapolis Jewish Federation names new CEO

Minneapolis Jewish Federation has named James A. (Jim) Cohen as the new Chief Executive Officer, effective May 15, 2017. The national search was conducted by a committee of key lay leaders and co-chaired by Howard Zack, President-Elect, and Gabrielle Parish, president of GF Parish Group.

Jim comes to Minneapolis with a broad background of service to both our country and the Jewish people. Most recently he served as CEO of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan, and Darien. During his tenure at Stamford, Jim brought substantive positive change to the organization, including implementing new modalities of giving, establishing a legacy society, updating the governance structure, and creating positive, 21stcentury messaging about the benefits of federated giving.

“Jim Cohen is uniquely suited to help us move Minneapolis Jewish Federation forward,” said Howard Zack. “His dedication to the Jewish community, strategic perspective, and track record at the Greater Stamford Federation make him the ideal candidate to lead our community into the future.”

Before his career in Jewish service, Jim served for five years as Assistant Secretary of the University for International Affairs at Yale University, where he coordinated university activities in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe and advised the Yale Corporation and the President’s Council for International Activities.

Prior to his appointment at Yale, Jim spent ten years as a career diplomat in the Foreign Service of the United States Department of State. He served as Deputy Political Counselor in Quito, Ecuador, as a member of the Secretary of State’s Executive Secretariat, as Political-Military Affairs Officer in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and as Staff Assistant to the US Ambassador to Egypt.

“We are especially excited about what Jim brings to Minneapolis,” explains David Orbuch, President of Minneapolis Jewish Federation. “His years in the state department as a diplomat have equipped him to build relationships, forge alliances, and carry out strategic plans. His recent tenure at a Federation means he knows the business—its challenges and its inherent strengths.”

Jim’s wife, Lisa and their two school-aged children, Jonathan and Dahlia will join Jim in Minneapolis in August.

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 – 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.

Killed in Action: John Dawson

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Dear Community Member,

Roughly 17 years ago this week, a military fatality occurred that left a permanent mark on me.

At the time, my wife and I were living in Israel with our four young children. We had become attuned to daily life in Israel.

One day, two Israeli soldiers were killed on the Lebanese border. The newspapers had front-page in-depth stories about both of them. There was a quote from one of the fathers that has never left me. He said, “I feel like my right arm has been severed.”

pull quoteHis pain touched me deeply. The entire country seemed to share the families’ grief. In the US, we are usually isolated from the pain that a soldier’s family endures. This is because when our military suffers a casualty outside of our own state, the news is barely reported.

In tiny Israel, the draft is mandatory. Everyone knows of a soldier who has been killed or wounded. Israelis take their Memorial Day—Yom Hazikaron—very seriously. A siren goes off on Yom Hazikaron and people stop, wherever they are (even on the freeway), and stand at attention. You can see this somber tribute by clicking here.

In our giant country of 320 million people, with a volunteer army, most give little thought to Memorial Day. The day seems to have morphed into a holiday weekend that celebrates summer and graduations.

We can learn from the way Israel mourns and commemorates her fallen.

With this in mind, and Memorial Day approaching, I looked up several US soldiers who recently died. I’d dawsonlike to tell you about one of them.

Army Corporal John Dawson, 22, was a medic killed in action in Afghanistan on Wednesday, April 8. He was from Northbridge, Massachusetts, not far from Boston. He left behind his parents, sister, and many relatives. He was an honors student, active in his church, an avid bicyclist, and a soccer player. While in the Army, he started a blood drive that helped save more than 200 hospital patients.

At his funeral, his father said, “If you knew John, you knew a respectable, kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, witty, and fun kid….You will always be our hero, John. Thank you for the 22 years you provided us.”

Why do I tell you all of this? For two reasons: gratitude and memory.

First is showing gratitude. We Americans have freedom, in part because we have a military. I am thankful that in the United States we can practice our Judaism, have Jewish organizations like the Federation, and enjoy freedoms that are unparalleled in human history. I feel grateful to our soldiers and their families.

Second is honoring their memory. Too few of us remember the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families on our behalf. Especially on Memorial Day, I think we should honor the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives. Plus, this month marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Europe in WWII.

Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have died allowing us to live as we do. This number is beyond our grasp. We can however think of Corporal John Dawson. This Memorial Day, I’d like to suggest please that you have him and his family in your thoughts.

May we honor his memory and the memory of all who have died serving our country.

Zechronam Leevracha—May their memories be a blessing.

Thank you,

Gil

 

P.S. Our Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas has a close relationship with the Minnesota National Guard and works to support our troops abroad. If you would like to help, or would care to share any other thoughts, please send me an email at gmann@mplsfed.org.

3f20ad9d-952c-4775-a626-9028bda29b2dHonor Guard at Corporal Dawson’s Funeral. Corporal Dawson’s military awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with V Device, the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.