The Shmita Year as a Laboratory for Jewish Sustainability

Click image for a Shmita Catalogue (in Hebrew only)

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Einat Kramer I have been thinking about and working on Jewish sustainability for many years, and could easily write a theoretical essay with my many thoughts on the subject. Yet this is not any time, but rather the beginning, not only of the one-in-seven-year opportunity to observe the mitzvot of shmita, but moreover, the first shmita year in which a large-scale comprehensive effort is underway to reinterpret these mitzvot and render shmita relevant to contemporary Israeli society. So I would like to begin not with ideas but rather with events and actions taking place right now in honor of the shmita year. Here are seven examples of many … [Read more...]

New Remembrance Initiative Launched with Israeli High School Students

concentration camp id on arm

To coincide with the UN's Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli High Schools are commemorating the Victims using digital technology - including tablets and smartphones - instead of filling out forms with pens or pencils. The Alliance High School in Tel Aviv, Kalai High School in Givatayim and Brenner High School in Petach Tikva are participating in a pilot project initiated by the newly established Israeli association "Next Generation to Holocaust and Heroism," to digitally upload photos, documents and biographies of ancestors who perished in the Holocaust as well as family members who survived. For more information, visit: or their Facebook page. … [Read more...]

Improving Communities in Israel through Partnerships

Project Involvement children

By Ambassador Ido Aharoni In my role as Consul General, I work to ensure a vibrant society in Israel by maintaining strong friendships with influential American Jewish organizations. Their involvement greatly enhances the State of Israel and the well-being of its citizens. It is my privilege to write to you today about the valuable contribution that the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) has made over the years to the State of Israel, proving that foundations truly can work alongside government to impact positive change in communities and even nations. Since the late 1980s, ACBP has taken on multiple projects with the goal of reaching out to people and improving our communities. Three examples in particular related to Israel are worth celebrating: (1) ACBP noticed the decline … [Read more...]

Faces of the Ukrainian Aliyah: Profiles of Ukrainian Jewish Refugees in Israel

Stukalo family; photo courtesy Jewish Agency RSJ unit

By Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt special to eJP Young, successful, hopeful - the Stukalo family of Donetsk, Ukraine had everything that one could ask for. Ilya (28) was working as a surgeon, Anzhelika (36) as a neurologist - and their little Veronika had just turned 3 this year. Two apartments, two cars, a nanny, daycare, weekend trips to the country. As active members of the local Jewish community, the Stukalos joined the local Jewish Agency office often for holiday celebrations and events; Ilya had traveled to Israel on Taglit-Birthright with The Jewish Agency as well. For a while, the family had considered making Aliyah to Israel, but didn’t plan to move in the near future, hoping to take the time to prepare for a stable future in another country and to study Hebrew in time. But with … [Read more...]

Far From Home and Far From Alone: New Lone Soldiers Join Tzofim Garin Tzabar Program

New Garin Tzabar participants adopted by Kibbutz Maoz Chaim. (Left to Right) Valeria Hidalgo, Rom Lerner, Daniella Rafel, Yona Lazar and Gitai Gazala.

Winter’s cohort of young, selfless and fresh-faced heroes have arrived to Israel. The last week of 2014 saw 68 new lone soldiers from all over the world - spanning widely from the USA, France, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, UK, Belgium, Spain, Finland and Kenya - warmly welcomed to Israel in a special ceremony, which took place in Tel Aviv. This group follows their predecessors of the summer 2014 session, in which 350 Olim Chadashim from around the world joined ranks. The Olim Chadashim (new immigrants) will be joining the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as part of the Tzofim (Israel Scouts) unique program for lone soldiers, Garin Tzabar - the largest immigrant program in Israel for serving in the IDF, with more than 2,500 Garin Tzabar soldiers since its inception 23 years ago. Lone … [Read more...]

Israel Trips & Giving Circles: A Reinvestment Opportunity for the Jewish Future

By Dr. Bradley Caro Cook There's a palpable excitement in the faces of young men and women who have just returned from Israel engagement programs like Birthright Israel. They're inspired by the country they've discovered, connected in a new way to their heritage and the land of their people. In every way, the program has been a success. But now, there's a new challenge: how to take that excitement while it's still fresh, extend it well past the return to "real life" and channel it into the larger Jewish community. Young people have a singular drive and passion perfectly suited for activism and social change; given the right opportunity, they can have a groundbreaking impact on the Jewish World. With this in mind, Project Beyond has seized the opportunity to deepen the students' connection to … [Read more...]

For Israeli Families Bereaved by Gaza war, a ‘Lonely Journey’ is Still in its Early Stages

Friends and relatives mourn during the funeral ceremony of Shahar Shalev at the Haspin cemetery in northern Israel on Sept. 1, 2014. Shalev, who was injured by an improvised explosive device in the Gazan city of Khan Younis during Operation Protective Edge, became the 72nd and final Israeli casualty of the Gaza war when he died from his wounds. Credit: Flash90.

By Maayan Jaffe “There isn’t a day that I don’t think about him. That I don’t think of my pain and the pain of the others whose children were killed. It is not easy,” says Shosh Goldmacher, whose son Nadav, a 23-year-old resident of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, was killed by an anti-tank missile when he responded to a terrorist infiltration during Operation Protective Edge. The attention of the Jewish community and the rest of the world is (not surprisingly) transfixed on the three recent Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris that took the lives of 17 people, including four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket. But not too long ago, last summer’s 50-day war with Hamas in Gaza claimed the lives of 66 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and six Israeli civilians. More than … [Read more...]