Israel @ 68

During spring, our calendar is an emotional and historic rollercoaster. We start by celebrating our freedom from slavery on Pesach and begin counting the Omer during which we dive to the depths of mourning as we reflect, remember and never forget the victims of the Holocaust.

Just ten days pass by before we lower our flags once again to mourn and recognize those who paid the ultimate price in creating and defending Israel and to pay respect to the innocent victims who died in terrorist attacks. And then, as if it is a given, we raise the flags back to full mast, break out the music, and celebrate.

Once again this year we invite you to join the Westchester community and take part in the unique and authentic experience that is Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. Join our evening of prayer and celebration as we stand with Israel, and bring a part of our Jewish homeland to Westchester.

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J-TAG Fellows- Your chance to have an amazing summer!

Attention high schoolers (entering 10th- 12 grades)!

 

Your summer just got awesome! We still have spots available for J-TAG Fellows- the summer program of a lifetime! Join Israeli teens and travel around Israel and the USA for an entire month together. J-TAG Fellows is still accepting applications but our deadline is fast approaching….

Current Fees will be effective until April 15th  and scholarships are still available
Pssstt… parents- this program is priced well below our competitors.

For more information visit http://www.jtagfellows.org

 

Chetz v’Keshet- Israel Scouts Info Session

Chetz V’Keshet (CVK) is a 4 week Israel Summer Program for teens ages 15-18. Bringing teens to Israel since 1981, CVK has over 5,000 alumni who have been positively impacted by their experience on the program. Through CVK’s unrivaled immersion program, our participants are absorbed into the culture, heritage, language, and society as they adventure, volunteer, and tour the country.

As the only teen summer program run in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Chetz V’Keshet is granted unique benefits such as a tailor-made Gadna experience and incredible safety along the trip. CVK is also one of the only Israel summer programs that includes Israeli peer participants. A quarter of all CVK participants are Israeli teens that are members of the Israeli Tzofim movement and are chosen from a highly selective pool for their personality and ability to communicate in both English and Hebrew. In addition to experiencing the incredible program activities together, built into the itinerary is the opportunity to spend Shabbat with an Israeli peer’s family. Unique Volunteer Opportunities are around each and every corner with Chetz V’Keshet in Israel! Embrace what you find yourself truly passionate about by picking one of our three Tikkun Olam Elective tracks. Hike the Israel National Trail, become an active participant in a Kibbutz community or spend time in Tzfat. Click HERE to learn more!

Come meet our program director, alumni and other registered and interested families from Westchester County. Sunday, April 10th @6:00 PM.

RSVP via email for additional information: cvk@israelscouts.org

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1237886762906983/

Beneath the Helmet- Learning First Hand about IDF Service

What do we really know about serving in the Israeli Defense Forces? We have two great events coming up for you to find out first hand. We have two screenings of the movie “Beneath the Helmet” (by Jerusalem U) in April:

April 13, 7:30pm- join the Westchester Jewish Center for the film screening, followed by a discussion with Daniel Scopp about his service. For more information, click here.

April 20, 6:30pm- Westchester Reform Temple will screen the film and continue with a panel discussion from Westchester’s shlichim- Yael, Yoav and Ori about their army service. For more information, please email Ori Zeevi: ori.zeevi@wrtemple.org

Shlichim Update March 2016

Hello Westchester! We, your Israeli Shlichim (Israeli Emissaries) thought to update you on our activities in Westchester. Here is some of the work that our we have been up to these past few weeks – working on college campuses (Hillels of Westchester), numerous synagogues and youth movements:

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Helping in some Israel spirit at Pace University – with Hillels of Westchester

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Hillel partnered with the dance team on Manhattanville campus and our shlicha Yael taught them an Israeli dance (Rikudei Am) which they performed at campus’s International Bizarre.

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Sharing some Israeli food and culture with the dance club on Manhattanville College campus

Pace Krav Maga March 8 2016

Taught a basics of Krav Maga (Self-Defense) for Hillel students at Pace University

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Presented lecture on Zionism at SUNY Purchase University as a pre and post birthright curriculum. Our Hillel students will also be attending the AIPAC conference… look out for them there!

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Mini Israel lesson before screening “Beneath the Helmet” at Manhattanville College

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Our Shlichim brought together a very special crowd (Hillel students and Imam Adamu from Ghana) to learn about Project Ten in Westchester. To find out more about how you can get involved in making real change, contact Daniel Aschheim: daniel.a@tenprogram.org

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Advising the 2nd meeting of BBYO in Northern Westchester at the Rosenthal JCC

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1st class Peekskill March 9.2016

This past week Northern Westchester, First Hebrew of Peekskill, had their first Conversational Hebrew class with Yael! To join in for the lesson, email:yael@rosenthaljcc.org Sign up if you are interested!

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“Israel 101” class with Rabbi Greenberg’s teens on their Monday evening class at Temple Shaaray Tefila – Thank you for the invite!

IDF boot camp Shaaray Tefila March 7.2016 7thGrade

Yet another I.D.F. Boot camp program for the 7the graders at Temple Shaaray Tefila

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Our shlichim organized an evening with the Argov Program in Leadership and Diplomacy- the flagship political science program from IDC Herzliya’s Government School in Harrison. Students presented their research projects on tackling some of Israel’s biggest challenges.

 

Events coming up with our Shlichim:

* March 15th 7pm – Hispanic Kosher food night and short presentation by Yael Lewis on Spanish Jewry at Manhattanville College.

* March 16th 2pm – Lecture with Yael Lewis about Diversity in Israel at Anshe Sholom in New Rochelle.

* March 17th 6:30 pm – Israeli cooking at Purchase college

* And more….

For more information on any of these events contact- yael@rosenthaljcc.org

Contact our Shlichim Shaliach@wjcouncil.org / yael@rosenthajcc.org if you want some Israel programming for your campus, synagogue, youth group, etc. 

“I Stand with Israel”

We stand tall and stand proud. And no matter where we stand, we stand with Israel.

Time of Anguish

In concluding this difficult month of November I wanted to share some big picture thoughts. We have seen a historical terror attack in France where 130 people were taken from this earth by terrorism. I would also like to acknowledge the death and injury of so many young and old innocent civilians that have been robbed of their future while freely walking the streets of Israel– as every citizen, whether Jewish or not, has the right to do. The continued random stabbings, car-ramming attacks and shootings have not only claimed the lives of Israeli innocent civilians, but has recently claimed the life of a fellow American student, Ezra Schwartz, who like many other students was doing a gap year in Israel. So on this dark and solemn Sunday evening I would like to share some of my thoughts during the last 2 months and perhaps give some positive remarks about the current situation.

“There is nothing we can do” (ein ma la’asot), “It’s not ok” (ze lo beseder) and “it will be ok” (yihiye beseder) – these are the typical remarks of an Israeli referring to Israel’s corrupt politicians, the exorbitant rent, the mandatory draft or the unjustified government funds that go to the Ultra-Orthodox population. And these are just a few issues out of the pool of issues Israel deals with.

Currently, a lot has been going on in Israel. This month marked 20 years since the death of Yitzhak Rabin. Over the past 2 months the atmosphere in Israel has been one of hesitation and uneasiness as random terror attacks fill up every Israeli’s newsfeed. Israelis think twice before leaving the house and do not walk the streets freely. It also marks a little over a year since Operation Protective Edge, or Tzuk Eitan, where Israel lost 64 IDF soldiers, who were mostly just boys. The current situation coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death, marking a time when peace seemed attainable, brings a feeling of downheartedness and hopelessness throughout the country. Yet, these painful and hard times are not new to Jews in history.

Politicians were corrupt in countries such as Russia, Germany, and South America where Jews lived and still live today. Historically, Jews frequently had to pay “special taxes”, such as the Dhimmi/Jizya tax paid under the early Islamic period, in Europe in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or under the Roman Empire.

There was a mandatory draft in many countries where Jews lived. In the 1800’s Russia drafted all including young Jewish boys. During the First World Wars many Jews fought proudly for their country. And just one generation ago, in South Africa, the mandatory draft was still in place – where my own father served in the combat infantry mortar division.

A few weeks ago I heard Professor Rachel Hallote speak about the historical context of Fiddler on the Roof at Hillel of SUNY Purchase College. She spoke about the old Shtetl in the areas of Poland as disenfranchised citizens who would, every so often, experience a looting or a pogrom by their neighbors. This got me to thinking that despite today’s hardships we are somewhat privileged today.

Although we sometimes forget, before the 21st century, the world saw war at least every century – the World Wars in Europe, Balkan Wars, The Crusades, the list goes on. Pertaining specifically to the Jews, were the 11th century massacres in Europe, persecution and later expulsion in Spain in the 15th century, pogroms in Russia in the 19th century, and so on. These incidents occurred every 100 years or so.

So yes, Israel has problems, like any other country has problems. The Jewish nation has problems, like many other nations that have problems. But these problems are our problems. They are not problems imposed onto the Israelis in the form of a “special tax” or an oppressive hostile government. Rather the Jews are a free nation living freely among many other free nations and governing themselves. The highly diverse population living side by side is positively mesmerizing.

We cannot let thoughts of opportunity, aspirations and hopes as a vibrant Jewish community inside and out of Israel be drowned out by the negativity that is so easy to succumb to. We must own our problems and continue to debate, discuss and argue for progress and improvement as the Jewish people have done throughout the centuries.

Although we are living in challenging times where it may seem that anti-Semitism is resurging and that the conflict in Israel is endless, we have been through worse. We must always remember that although we have many concerns and issues to deal with, we have the State of Israel in which we can still dictate what our future will look like. So the next time debating with someone, I would keep the big picture in mind because there is more that unites us than divides us – surviving a millennia of persecution and reviving a nation in the homeland called modern Israel that has become the desert bloom.