Building Bridges and Promoting a Legacy of Unity

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By Ayala Young In the 18 days between the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Sha'ar, and Naftali Fraenkel and the revelation of their untimely deaths, an unprecedented wave of heightened solidarity overtook Jews in Israel and around the world. The #BringBackOurBoys campaign, the leading social media and activism campaign behind the solidarity efforts, took on a life of its own and generated numerous rallies, charities and learning initiatives aimed at easing the pain of the boys' families and the nation at large. Upon hearing that the boys had been murdered, the ongoing "rescue" efforts came to a screeching halt. There was a sense of emptiness and helplessness that left Jews everywhere wanting to “do something” to help. “We realized that despite the harrowing events of those first few … [Read more...]

Connecting to Israel through NFTY Mitzvah Corps

NFTY MItzvah Corps Israel 2014

By Rachel Barnehama No matter how many times I have heard the flight attendant announce "Baruchim Haboim L"yisroel" "Welcome to Israel" over the loudspeaker, a chill radiates throughout my body. Each trip brings with it a sense of excitement, adventure and an opportunity for growth. Every visit feels as if it is my first visit. It allows me to discover a new facet of Jewish and Israeli culture and diversity. The land of Israel: home of my forefathers and my home as well! Israel has always been a recurring theme in my household. It is difficult for me to separate my spiritual connection and Israel's legacy of historical events, from that of my strong Zionist feelings. Judaism is a rich culture that dates back to our forefathers and Israel is a country that has been built on Jewish values, … [Read more...]

Compounding One Mistake With Another Mistake

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The failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones. By Stephen G. Donshik If it were not so sad, it would seem be a comedy of errors. First the Israeli government announces the initiation of the World Jewry Joint Initiative (the Initiative), to be developed by it in a partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). The next thing we hear is that the government is moving ahead on its own and does not seem to be engaging JAFI in planning the strategy and the developing the Initiative program. Using a tongue-and-cheek perspective, you could say that one mistake is being compounded by another mistake. The entire Initiative process seems to be … [Read more...]

Event: Present and Future of Philanthropy in Israel

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On September 10th Israel Gives is hosting the Israel NonProfit Summit, to be held in Tel Aviv, from 9am to 4pm. The theme of the conference is the Present and Future of Philanthropy in Israel. Panels include: Examining the real numbers of Israeli giving (with representatives of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics) Family philanthropy in Israel (with Joseph Gitler and the Recanati Family) Corporate giving (Gil Kalian of Calcalist, Shirley Kantor, Zion Regev of Gazit-Globe, CSR rep of Bank Leumi, and Gilles Darmonde founder of Latet) Eric Fleisch of Brandeis University will talk about American Jewish giving to Israel Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein will talk about the IFCJ’s success in fundraising from American evangelical Christians Whether social bonds will bring the capital market … [Read more...]

Strategy Over More of The Same

By Dvir Kahana The Jewish people are once again facing enormous challenges. From Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip to the firebombing of synagogues in France and Germany, our nation is under attack. What should give us hope though is the amazing resilience, unity and solidarity we are witnessing across the globe - from Israelis who refuse to surrender to Hamas terror, to the thousands of Jews in Paris and Johannesburg who took to the streets in recent weeks to demonstrate their support for Israel despite the surrounding hostile environment. This sense of unity and solidarity is exactly what we are striving to foster with the establishment of the Government of Israel-World Jewry Initiative, launched to ensure the security and growth of the Jewish people while enhancing the … [Read more...]

The Student Operation to Bring Sderot Back from the Edge

The construction site of an abandoned elementary school in Sderot which Ayalim is using to build a student village; photo courtesy.

By Tsvi Dahan JNS.org Many continue to pray that Israel’s recently completed Operation Protective Edge will finally bring an end to the rockets that have rained down on the Negev city of Sderot since the second Palestinian intifada broke out in 2001. Yet for residents of the beleaguered town that is only a Qassam’s-throw from Gaza, victory is not measured by military gains. The people of Sderot want to win back their city. They want to find a way of restoring its beat and rhythm. But even if the immediate threat of rockets is curtailed, a city with a sordid history of terror stands little chance of ever being revived. And terror is only one variable in the equation. Sderot remains one of Israel’s most impoverished cities, with a disproportionately large number of welfare recipients, many of … [Read more...]

Marrying Off the Sister They Never Knew: NCSY Summer Program Hosts an Israeli Wedding

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By Zvi Volk It reads like a scene out of a novel. The setting is Israel during the summer of 2014 just after the fighting in Gaza subsides. A wedding is being prepared in Bet Shemesh. The bride, Leah, and groom, Moshe, are from Kazakhstan. They are chozrei b’teshuva (newly religious) and have no family in Israel. Several hours before the chuppah, the groom rushes into the wedding venue straight from his army. He is still in his uniform and has to find a place to secure his gun before he can take a shower. The bride is having her makeup touched up for the last time. The chuppah finally arrives. Leah is beautiful. Moshe is nervous. They are both beaming. Meanwhile, there is a flurry of activity in the courtyard and dining room as a group of young women make the final adjustments in the … [Read more...]

Young Israelis Moving to Sderot Will Live in Shipping Containers!

Ayalim village in Sderot built from shipping containers (illustration).

An Ayalim student village all built from shipping containers is under construction in Sderot. The Sderot village, which will house over 300 students, is being built in an innovative method that will allow Ayalim to complete the village construction in a few months on a relatively low budget. The students who will move to Sderot will give new hope to this beaten city by infusing young and vibrant energy. Each student will volunteer 10 hours weekly with children, youth and seniors, which means that 3,000 hours a week will be given to the citizens of Sderot - just imagine 300 enthusiastic young Israelis going through the city for 10 hours every week and “renovating” whatever is needed - physically, socially and educationally. Construction is already underway and the village will be ready … [Read more...]