December 26, 2010
Many Good Friends from America Visit Us As 2010 Ends
Yesterday we began reading the Book of Exodus, which opens on a different narrative than the Book of Genesis. In the Book of Genesis we find many brotherly confrontations, like Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. In the Book of Exodus we find unity and caring, like between Miriam, Moses and Aaron. Salvation for Israel will come through brotherly love and care, just as the exile to Egypt was brought upon the people of Israel because of brotherly wars and confrontations.
We are glad to tell you that we are almost fully back to our “normal” routine.
On Sunday, Dec. 19th we held our Bar Mitzvah workshop as usual and had many participants. On Monday, Dec. 20th we had our Ethics of our Fathers class lead by Dr. Jesse Lachter and on Tuesday, Dec. 21st we had our usual Talmud class and Tanach class lead by Anat Perlman. In between I keep busy tutoring some 25 Bar/Bat Mitzvah children every week, mostly local and several from overseas.
It makes us very happy to end the year 2010 with very close friends from overseas, to pray, to rejoice, to eat and sing along with us at Or Hadash.
1. We continue helping and cooperating with the Druze village Ossafia and our friends in Kibbutz Beit-Oren, rebuilding and rehabilitation have begun. We are communicating with local authorities to help as much as we can.
In Ossafia we are working in cooperation with Mayor Wajea Kayouf to assist in rebuilding the local youth community center, as well as establishing extensions of it in neighborhoods that were damaged by the fire. We are also working on building an educational program for Jewish and Druze youth to engage in joint activities.
Or Hadash Executive Director Ami Perlman has been in close connection with key people in the Druze municipality and continues to establish warm relationship with the whole Druze community. I would like to praise the leadership and vision of our President Dr. Yuri Kligerman, the IMPJ Executive Director Rabbi Gilad Kariv and the IMPJ Chairperson Attorney Yaron Shavit.
In Kibbutz Beit-Oren we continue our plan and preparations for Yiftach Ronen’s Bar Mitzvah celebrations, as well as helping Amy Ronen rebuild her ceramic studio and home that were devastated in the fire.
We have received incredible help from ARZA to assist in these two projects, and I would like to thank ARZA Executive Director Rabbi Danny Allan and ARZA President Rabbi Bob Orkand for their immense help at this time of need, as they always do. We are encouraging friends in the US to join ARZA as members, if you haven`t done so already.
2. On Thursday, Dec. 16th, we had a Hanachat Tefilin ceremony for a Bar Mitzvah boy whose father is coach of one of the best and most important Soccer teams in Israel: Ha’Poel Tel-Aviv. Hapoel Tel-Aviv represents Israel in European games.
That same morning I lectured a group of teenagers from Kiryat Chaim High School about Reform Judaism. Requests for lecturing high school teenagers about Reform Judaism have increased dramatically in recent weeks. I can only say it is a pleasure for me to speak to these kids, as they show genuine interest in Reform Judaism.
3. On Friday, Dec. 17th, we had a very special Hanachat Tefilinfor Noya Kislanski the daughter of Anna Kislansky, the Director of IMPJ Congregations Department. Noya will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat, Dec. 24th. Several years ago Anna was our congregational director and we are very proud of her promotion.
4. On Shabbat, Dec. 18th, we had a most pleasant and surprising visit from Rabbi Jan and Cantor Alane Katzew, who came to visit Or Hadash. Rabbi Katzew is in charge of the education department at the URJ and Alane is in charge of the Cantors Department. We would like to thank them for their wonderful inspirational work in America which has a tangible positive influence on congregations and our work here in Israel.
In The picture: Edgar with Jan and Alane Katzew and Yonina and Oded from Kibbutz Shomrat, who celebrated their son’s Bar Mitzvah at Or Hadash many years ago and have remained our close friends ever since.
5. Also on Shabbat, Dec. 18th, we held our Prayer committee meeting. It was very meaningful and resulted in passionate and heartfelt discussion. Among the participants were: President Dr. Yuri Kligerman, Executive Director Ami Perlman and his wife Anat, Jacqueline Zohar, Pnina Suchetzki, Zohar Kisler, Marina Firer, Shai and Vered Ivtzan, Chava Mayer and others.
6. On Wednesday, Dec. 22nd we held our monthly interfaith meeting with members of the Catholic movement Focolare. We find that recently there is a growing interest in interfaith activity and our group has been growing constantly. Some of our veteran participants are: Earl Shugarman, Michael Schwannen, Shulamit Shachaf, Christina Chayat and Kasia.
7. We are excitedly looking forward to hosting many overseas friends this week:
On Thursday, Dec. 23rd, we welcomed our good friend Rabbi Simcha Bob from congregation Etz Chaim in Chicago, along with a group of 40 teenagers from his congregation. Rabbi Bob and his group of teens made a wish to participate in a mitzvah activity on this visit; therefore we took the group to Kibbutz Beit-Oren to see, hear and witness first hand the devastation as well as the rehabilitation.
In the picture: I'm showing Rabbi Bob’s group from Etz Chaim in Chicago the house of our friend Amy Ronen who is being helped by Or Hadash thanks to many of our kind and generous friends.
8. On Thursday, Dec. 23rd, we took part in a very important Interfaith Leadership Convention at Haifa University. Many participants took part in this significant convention: Mr. Salman Sharif, Head of the Islamic Achmedi congregation; Rabbi Chanan Alexander a very respected scholar of Conservative Judaism in Israel; Archbishop Elias Shakur sent his blessing since he could not physically attend, former Druze MK Zeidan Atashi from Ossafia; Rashad Abu Aja the Imam of the biggest mosque in Haifa; Farouk the Imam of the Ciraasian congregation and Daud Bashuti, representative of the Greek Catholic community in Haifa. During the convention we all signed a declaration and formed a commitment to establish a permanent forum for interfaith cooperation.
Unfortunately no orthodox Rabbis showed up. In fact, the convention was formed as a result of a negative propaganda the orthodox Rabbis are publicizing, which call for racist acts against anyone who is non-Jewish. We are happy to see that Haifa will never be silent when confronted with bigotry or racism.
9. On Thursday evening, our dear friends Joel & Daniella Preminger from Philadelphia, PA, celebrated their son’s Bar Mitzvah at Or Hadash. We hosted a big celebration with many friends and family members.
10. On Friday, Dec. 24th, we welcomed our very good friends Rabbi Eric Gurvis from Temple Shalom in Newton, MA with a group of 24 congregants and our very good friend Rabbi Danny Zemel from Temple Micah in Washington, with his lovely family!
We hosted a festive dinner in our synagogue, surrounded by all our friends on Friday, Dec. 24th. I can`t even begin to tell you what a great joy this is for me to be surrounded by friends who are like family to me and all of us at Or Hadash, and share Shabbat services with everyone. Yesterday we had Havdalah together. It was so nice to have them with us.
In the pictures: Rabbi Gurvis and the group from Temple Shalom along with Or Hadash congregants, and Rabbi Zemel from Temple Micah speak at Kabalat Shabbat.
Wishing you all a good week,