DAY // WAY 10 – Thoughts on Shabbat with Rabbi Kravitz

By Rabbi Harold J. Kravitz, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka, MN

rabbi kravitzCuba has taken center stage in the news this past month with the historic visit of President Obama. I had the privilege of leading a congregation trip to Cuba sponsored by our Adath Jeshurun that just preceded the President’s. Though ours had a somewhat lower profile, it was a deeply meaningful experience for all of us who had the privilege to participate. We were a group of 31 whose hope was to learn more about this island that Columbus referred to as the “pearl of the Antilles.” The first Jew to set foot on the island was Luis De Torres, a converso who arrived with the Columbus expedition in 1492, perhaps fleeing the inquisition. Fluent in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic, he served as the ship translator, hoping to be able to communicate with the indigenous people they would encounter.

Torres did not live beyond that first year, but Cuba became a welcoming port to Jews for much of its future history. Most of the island’s Jews fled the country around the time of the 1959 revolution. Our trip was an extraordinary opportunity to encounter some of the approximately 1200 Jews who continue to live in Cuba and have been rediscovering their Jewish heritage since greater religious freedom began in the 1990s. I highly recommend reading Ruth Behar’s compelling study, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, which powerfully conveys that story and features many of the people we met during our travels.

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It was deeply impressive to see firsthand the ways that the Jewish life has been revitalized in Cuba. Much of this is attributable to the effective work of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) or “El Jointo” as it is referred to in Cuba. Through the efforts of the “Joint,” synagogues have been rejuvenated, Jewish life and learning has been revitalized, and Jews have reconnected to our people. The JDC could not function so effectively around the world (other than Israel) were it not the beneficiary of the nearly one million dollars that our Minneapolis Federation directs to it from our annual campaign.

Our Cuban brothers and sisters deeply appreciate our support and solidarity. It was positively inspiring to see the dedication of the lay leaders we met who have made possible the rejuvenation of Cuban Jewish religious and communal life. It was perfect that the week we visited Cuba’s synagogues, among other touring we did, was when the Jewish people were reading parshat Vaykhel, which starts with Moses assembling the people to build the ancient Tabernacle. Vaykhel is from the same Hebrew word as kehillah, meaning “community.” It was incredible to see the common impulse that drives us at Adath Jeshurun, in the Minnesota Jewish community, and in these revitalized Cuban synagogues to build meaningful Jewish communities to support another generation in creating a vital Jewish life. We look forward to seeing what warming relations between the USA and Cuba will bring in the years ahead.

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To learn more about our incredible global partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which we call JDC and Cuban’s call “The Joint,” visit their website.

Be sure to check out the rest of our 100 Days events and posts on Facebookon Twitter as well as on our website.

Have you made your donation to the Community Campaign this year?

A gift as simple at $18 can support the important work going on in Cuba to create the kind of vibrant Jewish community that ensures a Jewish future in every corner of the world.

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DAY // WAY 13: Join 30 Days of Biking

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We are pleased to have 30 Days of Biking agree to join us on one of our 100 Days // 100 Ways—and you should be, too! For those unfamiliar, 30 Days of Biking is a promise to ride your bike every day in April and share your adventures online at #30Daysofbiking.

Minneapolis has been voted as the most bike-friendly city in the nation, a fact that each of us in our community—Jewish or otherwise—can be proud.

Still unclear what 30 Days of Biking is? They have a great video that tells their story better than we can.

Another great thing about 30 Days of Biking? You don’t necessarily have to bike outside. Enjoy taking spin classes at the JCC? That totally counts! All rider levels are welcome: children, teens, young adults, and don’t forget about Bubbe!

We encourage you to sign up to ride, download the Spoke Card to show your support, and share your biking adventures online at #30Daysofbiking or on our very own hashtag of #100DaysMPLS. Happy riding!

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Be sure to check out the rest of our 100 Days events and posts on Facebook and on Twitter, as well as on our website.

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DAY // WAY 8: SHOW US YOUR MPLS <3

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To kick off Week 2 of our 100 Days // 100 Ways campaign, we’re announcing our Photo Contest.

Here’s what you should know:

From now until Tuesday, May 31st at 1:05 PM CST, you can enter a photo a day for your chance to win a free 2-month subscription to Hello Mazel.

So, what do you need to do?

1. Request your very own “I STAR MPLS” stickers 

2. Take pictures of your “I STAR MPLS” stickers and upload them

3. Vote on your favorites and spread the word with the hashtag #100DaysMPLS

What are you waiting for? Show us how YOU “Star MPLS” and enter your chance to win.

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Be sure to check out the rest of our 100 Days events and posts on Twitter as well as on our website.

Like posts like this? Why not give us a “chai” five?

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DAY // WAY 3: Celebrate Shabbat with P2G

Fifth graders share Shabbat messages

To celebrate Shabbat during 100 Days // 100 Ways, we asked fifth graders at  Bet Shalom and their “twin” classroom at the Hadarim school, in our sister-city of Rehovot, Israel to draw us images of Shabbat.

Below view a gallery of images from the Bet Shalom students. Stay tuned for more images, this time from Rehovot!

Background: Partnership2Gether

Minneapolis Jewish Federation is paired with the city of Rehovot, Israel as part of the Parntership2Gether program through the Jewish Agency for Israel. This partnership is in its second full year and has recently begun implementing exciting programming in both the Minneapolis and Rehovot Jewish communities.

School Twinning

One program of the Minneapolis/Rehovot P2G is a school classroom “twinning.” Twinning programs promote the sense of Jewish Peoplehood and shared responsibility. Students have the chance to meet each other and have dynamic conversations around issues such as Jewish identity and social responsibility.

Bet Shalom’s 5th grade class has been “twinned” with a class of the same age group in the Hadarim school in Rehovot. Hadarim is an elementary school which is predominantly Ethiopian (around 60%) and has been visited many times in the past by various Minneapolis delegations. Gayle Kaplan and Sally Abrams – both members of the P2G steering committee – have taught classes there and students on Alternative Spring Break with Minnesota Hillel just visited the classroom as well. (Masa Israel also has a program in Rehovot called Israel Teaching Fellows,  and a Minneapolitian is currently a Masa Teaching Fellow at Hadarim. Small world!)

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You’ll see these and more on our Facebook page every Friday. Be sure to check out the rest of our 100 Days events and posts on Twitter as well as on our website.

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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.”

How Federation Makes an IMPACT: Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival

Through the Opportunity Fund, Federation makes one-time grants available to encourage creativity, innovation, and provide seed funding to address needs and opportunities not otherwise being met.

TCJFFOne such opportunity was for the Jewish Community Center of Greater St. Paul/Sabes Jewish Community Center—to support the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival that was held October/November 2015. One of the goals of this was to support collaborative, meaningful partnerships between the St. Paul JCC and the Sabes JCC in Jewish cultural arts offerings.

This past event marked its 22nd year, and included 13 movies – 7 of which were making their Midwest & Minnesota premieres! Below is a list of the films that were shown, in case you missed them.

Diplomacy – watch the trailer here

The Age of Love – watch the trailer here

To Life (A La Vie) – watch the trailer here

Is That You? – learn more about the film here

Sabena – watch the trailer here

Fauda – watch the trailer here

"Iris" (2015) - Directed by Albert Maysles

“Iris” (2015) – Directed by Albert Maysles

Are You Joking? – watch the trailer here

Iris – watch the trailer here. This movie is currently streaming on Netflix (as of 12/7/15).

Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus – watch the film in its entirety on YouTube here

Of Many – watch the trailer here

His Wife’s Lover – learn about the film here

Jerusalem – watch the trailer here

At Federation, one of our core priorities is strengthening our connection to Israel and Jewish Peoplehood. By engaging the local community here as well as our neighbors across the river, it’s our hope that supporting events such as the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival help us work towards accomplishing that mission.

We encourage you to subscribe to our blog to continue to learn about how the Minneapolis Jewish Federation makes an IMPACT in our community – both locally and abroad. And as always, we couldn’t do what we do without your support. If events such as the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival are important to you, please consider making a donation to Federation today so we can continue to provide support to events just like it in the Twin Cities.

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.

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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

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.

IMPACT: Jewish Learning Brought to Life

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A message from Laura Axler, a PJ Library mom:

It’s funny, but on the same day that Federation asked if I would participate in the PJ Library program, I was rearranging our children’s bookshelves. Like most young families, we have lots of children’s books that my eight-year-old, Jordan, and five-year-old, Becca, love to read. But when we started receiving Jewish books through PJ Library, they earned a special place in our collection.

PJ Library, a program funded in part by Jewish Federation, sends out beautiful, age-appropriate Jewish books to thousands of children—all for free. Every month, Jordan and Becca eagerly await their personalized envelopes, tearing them open and running with their new treasures to me and my husband, Eric, for story time.

Reading PJ Library books together has really helped our interfaith family learn and grow in Judaism and Jewish values. The first book we received, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, quickly became our favorite. It tells the story of a Jewish farmer who retailors a striped overcoat into smaller and smaller items. It’s based on an old Yiddish folksong, so it taught them about Jewish culture, and they loved the story’s award-winning illustrations.

When Jordan and Becca began to age out of the program, I decided to take them to a few PJ Plus events I’d read about, like a challah cover-making workshop and a Havdalah ceremony. Eventually, I started planning and hosting events on my own, including a community-wide Chanukah party. Some families that attended were like mine, with only one Jewish parent. Others families had two. But we all had one thing in common— the desire to bring Jewish learning to life for our children.

At dinner the other day, Eric was reminiscing about our PJ Plus Havdalah, so Jordan and Becca brought out their braided candle and spice box. We ended up having our own ceremony right there at the dinner table!

As we lit the candle and watched the wax drip down, we inhaled the spices and smiled. Our story began with books, but PJ Library has become so much more to us. It’s about connecting families like ours to the Jewish community, to our Jewish story, and to our Jewish future.

You can help Federation continue to provide free programs, like PJ Library, to engage children like Jordan & Becca today in three ways:

GIVE_60DOI
Give
 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.

DONATE

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

SIGN UP TO CALL FOR CHANGE

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

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Engage 
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!

JOIN THE CAMPAIGNERS’ MISSION

ATTEND AN EVENT

CONTACT FEDERATION STAFF ABOUT ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES