THANK YOU MINNEAPOLIS

Your generous donations to the 2017 Community Campaign totaled almost $9.3 million dollars. 

THANK YOU. 
For your dedication to building community. For caring for Jews in Minneapolis, Israel, and more than 70 countries around the world.
You continue to change lives. 

A call for honoring the understanding

Below is a letter in response to the recent decisions made by the Israeli government written by the Rehovot and Minneapolis Partnership2Gether steering committee members. This letter will also be published in the Rehovot newspaper.

 

Tammuz 5771, July 9, 2017

To the Honorable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Ministers of the Israeli government

 

Dear All,

 

Re: A call for honoring the understanding with American Jews about the Western Wall prayer space and the conversion law

 

We, the undersigned, Israeli citizens from Rehovot and members of the Jewish community in Minneapolis (Minnesota), voluntarily serve as members on the steering committee of Partnership2Gether within the framework of the Jewish Agency.

 

Our partnership – along with its 46 members of this global network of communities – connect Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, with an emphasis on deepening our Jewish identity and Jewish Peoplehood awareness, community building, and leadership development. We run a variety of programs for children and youth, college students, educators, and social entrepreneurs. Our activities are funded by the Jewish community in Minneapolis, the Jewish Agency, and the Rehovot Municipality.

 

For us, the citizens of Rehovot, our personal acquaintance with our friends in Minneapolis revealed the rich diversity of the Diaspora Jewry, in which Jews from different streams manage to maintain a cohesive community, to address issues, to respect each other and at the same time strengthen the common values, culture, and awareness.

 

This exposure enriched both our own world as well our Jewish identity and deepened our commitment to fight for Jewish pluralism in the State of Israel. We are dismayed and concerned with how the persistence of one particular interpretation of Judaism in the Jewish state achieves the exact opposite of what is intended, and even contradicts the Declaration of Independence. It distances many Israelis from the Jewish component of their identity rather than uniting.

 

For us the Jews of Minneapolis, who see firsthand (as a result of our partnership with Rehovot) the challenges in the Israeli society, the June 25th government decisions are yet another slap in the face with the ongoing saga of non-recognition and humiliation towards us, in the Diaspora. We are shocked that the Israeli government has chosen to cancel a historic agreement that was reached with great effort amongst representatives of the various Jewish streams: to establish a dignified area at the Western Wall to be run by the government and the liberal streams. We are equally appalled with the Conversion Law, which reinstates the monopoly of conversion to the Chief Rabbinate and affects thousands of Jews who have been converted in recent years placing them into alternative tracks that the Israeli establishment does not recognize.

 

The decisions of the Israeli government are equivalent to turning a blind eye to the strategic challenge of connecting Diaspora youth to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. These government decisions directly affect the ability of the young to view Israel as their home. Needless to say, government decisions also undermine the efforts to recruit and train Jewish students to protect Israel from BDS supporters on campuses.

 

The media frequently indicated the potentially damaging effect on the level of support from the Diaspora Jews through their donations, however, in our opinion, this is not the main thing. The unfortunate government decisions on June 25th directly affect our common future as a nation, the security and economic interests of the State of Israel, and the original purpose of the State for the Jewish Nation.

 

We stand a few days before the seventeenth of Tammuz, and it is our duty to remind you that because of hatred, the Temple was destroyed twice. We stand before you, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu and every member of the government, demanding that you recognize the seriousness of this matter and act decisively to cancel the government’s June 25th decisions.

Reclaiming the comforts of home

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), one of Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s overseas partners, helps Holocaust survivors in need

Oszkár, 94, vividly remembers his Budapest childhood. Passover seders with family, singing in the synagogue choir, studying at vocational school—and the Nazis storming in and destroying all of it. Though he had dreamed of one day becoming a bank officer, the new anti-Jewish legislation turned what should have been an attainable goal into an impossible fantasy.

At 21, he was taken to two different labor camps, one run by a sadistic supervisor who forced each inmate to carry logs up a hill–logs so big each required two people to lift.

Somehow he survived.

Shortly after the war, Oszkár was fortunate to meet the love of his life, but since she passed away 20 years ago, he has lived alone in a small apartment in his hometown. His health declined in 2012 after a stroke left him with constant tremors, partial blindness and deafness, and limited mobility.

But with Federation at his side, he’s never alone.

A Holistic Approach

Oszkár is one of the approximately 4,000 Nazi victims receiving life-saving assistance from Federation partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)’s Hungarian office. He depends on critical medical care and home supplies, while other Hungarian Holocaust survivors receive food packages, home care, medicines, visits from social workers and more.

Direct service is just one part of JDC’s mission to assist Holocaust survivors in Hungary.

At the JCC in Budapest, the Shalom Club offers them the chance to come together for educational and social programs that also help beat isolation, like film screenings, city tours, and exercise. About 20-30 survivors participate in the monthly Eotvos social club, with many also serving as community volunteers.

It’s a holistic approach—one that reminds Holocaust survivors they have a whole Jewish community working hard to care for their needs.

“JDC makes me feel like I’m not alone,” Oszkár says.

JDC Takes the Fight Against Breast Cancer to Eastern Europe

empowered

“We Want People to Know They’re Still Women”

It started, like so many revolutions these days, with a blog.
Breast cancer is a taboo subject in much of Eastern Europe, and women there often feel alone in their struggles against the disease.

Bori Halom started blogging in 2012, largely out of a need to break this silence. Soon the platform grew into a support group for fellow Hungarian breast cancer patients and survivors that now connects over 900 women on Facebook under Bori’s motto “Together, it’s easier.”

These words also describe her relationship with Federation partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Her support group is a partner in JDC’s Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP), which works in Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina to educate about the importance of early detection, offer mammograms and provide support for women currently wrestling with the disease.

“We want people to know they’re still women,” she says. “My main goal is to break down the taboos, to shake the stigma, to end women being gawked at for wearing headscarves or having shaved heads. We never asked for cancer, it just happened.”

In partnership with the Susan G. Komen ®, WHEP also provides survivors like Bori with leadership training, empowering them to start NGOs, run peer-support groups and become advocates for better women’s health services.

Once a year, Bori’s group gathers at Budapest’s JDC-supported Jewish Community Center for a daylong summit of mutual comfort and support. Women swap stories of chemotherapy and tragedy, remission and resilience.

From Zero to Recovery

About 350 miles away, Stoja-Mira Simic is standing adrift in a sea of pink. Growing up in a remote village in the former Yugoslavia, electricity was a late addition to her life, let alone mammograms. Besides, she had always had perfect health. So when a friend told her a WHEP mobile mammogram unit was coming to her village, she went because it was free.

Ten days later, she got the results. “I had cancer. I had to keep saying it to myself over and over—I have cancer,” she recalls.
A WHEP representative also led Stoja-Mira down the road to recovery, delivering first-aid packages and making sure she never felt alone. “It was as if we’d known each other our entire lives,” she says.

Once healed, she learned that women from a nearby town were traveling to Sarajevo for the annual WHEP co-sponsored Race for the Cure ®. She immediately bought a ticket.

“When we arrived in Sarajevo, I suddenly saw a sea of 500 other women in pink around me,” she says. “I felt sadness that there were so many of us, but also joy that I’d survived and that my life was saved. I’ll attend the Race every year.”

For herself, Stoja-Mira and countless others affected by breast cancer, perhaps Bori says it best: “I’m very grateful to JDC. We started from zero. It’s amazing that they believed in my vision and were willing to follow me.”

STAND TOGETHER

 

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.”

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