Shavuot’s Message of Caring for the Impoverished of the World

Gabriel Project Mumbai_2

By Jacob Sztokman Shavuot is my favorite holiday, because it reminds me why I’m doing the work that I’m doing. Three years ago, I dropped everything and opened up an organization called Gabriel Project Mumbai to provide nutrition, health, hygiene and literacy support to children living in the slums of Mumbai. These are children on the margins of the margins of society, the ones most people have given up on, the ones whose misery or death barely register on the global radar as an actual event. Even as one third of all children in the world under five years old who die from malnutrition or preventable health issues live in India, it seems as if most of the world has given up on them. … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU and ‘JPost’ launch Exhibit on 25 Years of Soviet Aliya

Natan Sharansky (second left) is met upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport in November 1986 by his wife, Avital, then-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (right) and then-deputy prime minister Shimon Peres. Photo courtesy GPO.

Exhibit also tells story of worldwide campaigns, protests and demonstrations in the US, Israel and elsewhere in order to secure the release of the Jews from the former Soviet Union. By Sam Sokol A new traveling exhibit showcasing the last 25 years of post-Soviet Jewish life in the State of Israel is set to open at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York City this June. … [Read more...]

Together in Israel: Reimagining the Congregational Israel Trip

By Lindsay Ganci and Rabbi Danny Burkeman Many people have traveled to Israel on a family trip, many have taken part in teen trips to Israel, and a lucky few have traveled on both. This past February, we organized a congregational Israel trip that would blend the experiences of a family and teen trip into one hybrid adventure. When our congregation began talking about a family trip to Israel, one of our congregants approached us and asked about the possibility of offering a parallel teenage trip for our youth program, POWTY (Port Washington Temple Youth). This was around the same time that Taglit-Birthright expanded their eligibility criteria so that teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school would still be eligible to a place on a free trip. This removed what had … [Read more...]

Two “No’s” and a “Maybe” – Some Thoughts for the NFP Sector


Most of my postings are targeted to those of us on the funder side of the table. This one is quite explicitly targeted to those of you who seek money, not give it. Hopefully these observations from this side will be helpful to you. Funders are invited to eavesdrop. 1. No #1: When Funders Say NO. “No” really does mean “No.” I have heard many fundraising experts lead workshops for those anxious to learn how to be better and more effective development professionals. There seems to be a mantra among such experts: tell those newbies: “No is not no,” they say; “it is only the beginning of a conversation.” I cannot know for sure what they all mean by that advice, but it is really bad advice. Funders, especially foundation funders, are not engaging in a game. Funders today are sophisticated and … [Read more...]

Synagogues and Purpose: A Shavuot Reflection

Shavuoth highlights

By Andi Rosenthal and Cantor Adina H. Frydman "I make this covenant ... not with you alone but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not yet here with us this day." Deuteronomy 29:13 After the long weeks of counting the Omer, after the winter has finally surrendered in defeat, after spring has established her stronghold of warmth and blossom, we find ourselves in sacred encounter, once again, with the Jewish calendar. When we imagine that auspicious moment of our people gathering at the foot of God's holy mountain, the Torah's imagery is nothing short of cinematic. Exodus, 19:16 - 20:7-8 sets the scene: "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud … [Read more...]

10 Commandments of Jewish Heritage

By Sally Berkovic ‘Thou shall not make it cool to visit the death camps’ and nine other commandments of Jewish heritage. The 10 commandments, received on Shavuot, are conceptually divided as commandments between God and Man (e.g. loving God, obeying God) and those between Man and Man (e.g. not to kill, steal or commit adultery) Another term for God is Makom, literally ‘place’ and this essay offers a complementary set of 10 commandments that are between the Place and Man, and between Man and Man (and of course, Woman). Jewish heritage refers to everything that touches upon Jewish life, culture, art, ritual, history and literature, everything that touches upon Jewish space and Jewish time. A Jewish language, a Jewish building, the Sabbath, the rise of Zionism, Sephardi wedding dress, cantorial … [Read more...]

Australia’s Stand Up brings Tikkun Olam to the Down Under

StandUp Australia

By Maayan Jaffe “For I have been a stranger in a strange land” (Exodus 2:22). It is a quote straight out of the Torah, but one wrought with meaning for the Jewish community of Australia. The Australian Jewish Community has the highest number of Holocaust survivors in the Diaspora and today, according to Gary Samowitz, that history “informs our Jewish identity and the way we see the world.” Samowitz is chief executive officer of Stand Up, Australia’s only Jewish organization that focuses on the aboriginal and refugee communities, as opposed to Jewish needs. “When we came to Australia, we were refugees who just survived genocide. We didn’t speak English. Now, we are a well-established community paying it forward,” says Samowitz. The organization supports the … [Read more...]

Bridging the Gap Year: Hevruta Program forges Israeli-American Bonds

Hevruta program participants celebrate Hanukkah. Photo courtesy of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

By Deborah Fineblum Schabb  Eighteen-year-olds have a habit of forming close, family-like relationships with each other. It’s rare, however, that Israeli and American teenagers living thousands of miles apart have the chance to create such bonds. But this year, 25 teens have been doing just that as part of a first-of-its-kind program. Watching the participants of the new Hevruta program for the so-called “gap year” between high school and college, it’s hard to imagine that these young adults didn’t always know each other, much less laugh at each other’s jokes. In reality, they grew up with languages, mores, and cultures that were quite literally a world apart. Yet with Hevruta’s new wrinkle in the familiar gap-year concept, they spend the year learning and growing together in Israel - … [Read more...]