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SMU student president DeVera has packed senior year

SMU student president DeVera has packed senior year

Posted on 20 September 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Nathan DeVera
“It is an honor to lead and serve my school community and to amplify the student voice,” says SMU student body president Nathan DeVera.

By Deb Silverthorn

Nathan DeVera is in the midst of a very busy senior year.
When he is not managing parliamentary procedure as Southern Methodist University student body president, he is the captain of SMU’s rugby team, president of the university’s Southern Gentlemen a cappella group and a Hillel Board member.
Not to mention completing requirements for the math and mechanical engineering bachelor’s degrees and the mechanical engineering master’s degree he will receive next May – yes, a double major and a master’s degree in four years.
A student senator in his freshman year and student body vice president last year, DeVera has made himself present in student government throughout his college career.
Now, whether he is speaking at new-student orientations, encouraging extracurricular activities or just giving directions on campus, DeVera’s bright smile and great demeanor are one of the bright lights on the University Park college campus.
“It is an honor to lead and serve my school community and to amplify the student voice,” said DeVera, who regularly meets with students, faculty and the university’s leadership. “The renovation of our Hughes-Trigg Student Center, enhancing the on-campus housing experience and student body unification have all been priorities, and to be at the forefront of these changes is very rewarding.”
A Southern California native who was raised nearly his entire life in Las Vegas, DeVera is the son of Lorenzo, born in the Philippines, and Esther, born and raised in Israel.
“We couldn’t ask for more from Nathan and how he has taken his incredible work ethic and spread it across all he does, everything he gets involved with, while always being respectful and loyal,” his mother said. “Nathan has always been an over-achiever, cranking it up a notch, always consistent in his commitment to all he does. I admire him for all he does, and how well he does it all.”
DeVera’s first trip to Israel came in the summer of 2016 as a Birthright participant, during which he also visited with many members of his mother’s family. After a lifetime of family coming to the U.S. to be together, he now has his own memories of Masada, of the Kotel, of going to the markets in Tel Aviv and speaking Hebrew in the streets.
The former Milton I. Schwartz Hebrew Academy (now The Adelson School) and The Meadow School student celebrated his bar mitzvah at Chabad of Las Vegas. His family also attended Temple Beth Sholom. DeVera, who came to SMU with a deep connection to his Jewish roots, quickly sought out the campus’ Hillel. He met director Rabbi Heidi Coretz and found programs and services that throughout his college career have allowed him to hold on to his heritage.
“I definitely appreciate the opportunities and programs that Rabbi Coretz and Hillel provides to our community, the Jewish community and the SMU community-at-large, because in addition to the social experience, there are many educational opportunities, whether they are teaching programs or the teaching of our community that comes because of its presence,” said DeVera. “Our community within the university community, which is diverse and has so many organizations, is proud and strong.”
“Nathan represents himself, his family and his People most honorably in how he respectfully handles himself and his role as a leader on campus” said Coretz, noting in her 15 years leading SMU’s Hillel, DeVera is only the second Jewish student body president – Taylor Russ was the first more than a decade ago. “Nathan brings talent, leadership, academic and now professional success to the table. He is an awesome example and a great friend to us all.”
With eight months until graduation, DeVera’s recent summer internship at Lockheed Martin resulted in an already signed contract to begin work next summer at Lockheed Martin Space as a project engineer with the navy’s fleet ballistic missile program.
“I really will be a rocket scientist,” DeVera said. “I had an incredible experience at Lockheed this summer, and I look forward to beginning my career.”

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SMU Hillel planning wide range of programming

SMU Hillel planning wide range of programming

Posted on 20 September 2018 by admin

hoto: Courtesy SMU Hillel
From left, SMU Hillel Co-Presidents Marlo Weisberg and Jackie Malish join Hillel Director Rabbi Heidi Coretz in introducing students to the organization during the first week of school.

By Deb Silverthorn

In this season for celebrating, Southern Methodist University’s Hillel has its proverbial, albeit invisible, doors wide open, with its constant programming and its mission to enrich the lives of Jewish students.
Rabbi Heidi Coretz, beginning her 15th year as SMU’s Hillel director, brings her smile, spirit and student bonding to the holiday season, and year-round, providing community and connections.
Sushi in the Sukkah, taking place at 7 p.m. –Sept. 26; an Oct. 19 Shabbat dinner hosted by Shira Lander, SMU’s director of Jewish studies; and an Oct. 28 “Challaween” baking event are only the beginning of this year’s programming.
“We are here, we are available, we are excited and we are thrilled to have an incredible student board, wonderful activities, and really great opportunities for our Jewish community to come together,” said Coretz, who also serves as rabbi of Shir Tikvah in Frisco. “We are a small community, rumored to be 350 or so, but we are strong and we are one.”
Jewish life has flourished through the years at SMU. Hillel, an Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter and the university’s Jewish studies program provide academic, social and spiritual opportunities. Whether participants want to learn about Jewish life, faith and culture – or to make and keep friends, Hillel provides inspiration and support.
With more than 200 guests to more than 40 programs last year, Coretz is excited about the future. In addition to Sushi in the Sukkah and other October events, the Hillel calendar includes congregational invitations to students throughout the community; Interfaith programming, including a Passover Seder for nearly 100, a Bring Friends to Shabbat evening, and Yom Hashoah events; and leading the campus’ Good Deeds Day.
“Our campus is unique because, at least in my time here, there’ve been no anti-Israel, BDS or anti-Semitic rallies – perhaps one debate years ago is all I can recall. We are blessed that SMU is a great and respectful community,” Coretz said. “We work hand in hand quite often with the Office of the Chaplin, Multi-Cultural Affairs, the Perkins School of Theology and The Women & LGBT Center. SMU really is a family – widespread and diverse – but we are a family.”
Coretz and Hillel have become a home away from home.
“Heidi spends lots of time and has so much care helping us plan to make everything we do special, and for all of us it really is our ‘home,’” Hillel co-president Marlo Weisberg said. “She absolutely has our best interest at hand. I have so much love for this organization and am excited to be sharing it.”
Weisberg, from Charleston, West Virginia, is following in the footsteps of her sister, Trish, both as SMU Hillel leader and as a SMU Hunt Leadership Scholar.
Weisberg is co-president with Jackie Malish, the two joined in board service by Eliana Abraham, Sarah Crespo, Nathan DeVera, Adam Feldman, Solomon Guefen, Lauren Miller, Bibiana Schindler, Margo Schoenberg, Jake Waldman, Sam Waldman and Jordan Williams.
For more about SMU Hillel programming, visit smuhillel.com

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Crafting Sukkot memories – literally

Crafting Sukkot memories – literally

Posted on 20 September 2018 by admin

Some families mark their children’s physical growth with a mark on the pantry door, for the Silverthorn family, it is the by the span of their palms on the family’s fingerprints sukkah walls. From left are Barbara Schulman, Deb, Marie, Eric, Blake, Whitney and Jonah Silverthorn, Sidney Loftin, Emilie Silverthorn and Kyle Vannguyen.

By Deb Silverthorn

Impressions – they last, and last, and for our family that means many things, including the impressions made by hundreds of family and friends since we built our first sukkah 27 years ago. It is the impressions of palmprints and fingerprints on our hearts, of all of the colors of the rainbow, emblazoned on the three walls that make our fall holiday home.

Every year, in addition to “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David,” we are blessed to share dinner with our many friends and family who have come once or for whom a lulav and etrog shake is a perennial favorite. No longer here in person, but of our blessed memories, we’re still able to share meals with Poppie J. Brin and Dayani, with PawPaw Moses, Buzzy, Poppa Don and Gail, with Irwin, Barbara, Scott and with Mr. Levitz, with Lola and Richard.

 

Hundreds of handprints provide a special touch for the Silverthorn family sukkah – created of a paper plate with whatever color(s) acrylic paint, palms down, then spread on the sukkah wall, autographed and dated.

 

At our children’s simchas, bnai mitzvot and now a wedding, we added the touch – literally – of many who aren’t able to travel for the holiday, but who are always with us despite any distance. A paper plate with whatever color(s) acrylic paint, palms down, then spread against the wood or tarp, prints then autographed and dated, the children in our lives have added their prints year in and year out – their hands, and hearts, getting larger – spreading wider.

Indelible ink – indelible memories. Sukkot, the holiday of the harvest that always harvests our spirit.

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9 things you didn’t know about Yom Kippur

9 things you didn’t know about Yom Kippur

Posted on 13 September 2018 by admin

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – OCTOBER 10: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls perform the Kaparot ceremony on October 10, 2016 in Jerusalem, Israel. It is believed that the Jewish ritual, which involves swinging a live chicken above one’s head, transfers the sins of the past year to the chicken, which is then slaughtered and traditionally given to the poor. It is performed before the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, the most important day in the Jewish calendar, which this year will start at sunset on October 11. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

By MJL Staff

(My Jewish Learning via JTA) – Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, starts at sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Traditionally one of the most somber days on the Jewish calendar, it’s known for fasting and repentance – not to mention killer caffeine withdrawal headaches.
However, the holiday has some lesser-known associations as well.
1. The word “scapegoat” originates in an ancient Yom Kippur ritual.
Jews historically have been popular scapegoats — blamed for an array of ills not of their creation. But, and we’re not kid-ding, they really do deserve blame (or credit) for the term scapegoat. In Leviticus 16:8 (in the Torah portion Achrei Mot), the High Priest is instructed on Yom Kippur to lay his hands upon a goat while confessing the sins of the entire community — and then to throw the animal off a cliff.
2. Another animal ritual, swinging a chicken around one’s head, has sparked considerable controversy, and not just from animal-rights activists.
In 2015, the kapparot ritual, in which a chicken is symbolically invested with a person’s sins and then slaughtered, spurred two lawsuits in the United States: one by traditional Jews claiming their right to perform it was being abridged by the government and another by animal-rights activists. Centuries earlier, the ritual drew criticism from notable sages like the Ramban (13th century) and Rabbi Joseph Caro (16th century), whose objections had less to do with animal welfare than with religious integrity.
3. Yom Kippur once was a big matchmaking day.
The Talmud states that both Yom Kippur and Tu b’Av (often described as the Jewish Valentine’s Day) were the most joyous days of the year, when women would wear white gowns and dance in the vineyards chanting “Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, but set your eyes on a good family.” Given the aforementioned caffeine headaches and the difficulty of making a decision on an empty stomach, we’re glad this particular tradition is no more.
4. Food and drink are not the only things Jews abstain from on Yom Kippur.
Other traditional no-nos on Yom Kippur include bathing, wearing perfume or lotions, having sexual relations and wearing leather shoes. The less-than-attractive aroma resulting from the first two restrictions (not to mention the romantic restrictions imposed by the third) may explain why the day ceased to be an occasion for finding true love.
5. In Israel, Yom Kippur is the most bike-friendly day of the year.
Although many Israelis are secular, and there is no law on the books forbidding driving on Yom Kippur, virtually all the country’s Jews avoid their cars on this day. With only the occasional emergency vehicle on the road, bikers of all ages can be seen pedaling, even on major highways.
6. Eating a big meal before the holiday begins will make your fast harder rather than easier.
Traditionally, the meal eaten before beginning the fast is supposed to be large and festive, following the Talmudic dictum that it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat on the eve of Yom Kippur, just as it is a mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur itself. However, eating extra food — particularly in one last-minute feast — does not help to keep you going for 24 hours, says Dr. Tzvi Dwolatzky of Israel’s Rambam Health Care Campus. He suggests eating small amounts of carbohydrates (bread, potato, rice, pasta), some protein (fish, chicken) and fruit.
7. On Yom Kippur in 1940, London’s Jews kept calm and carried on.
In the midst of the Battle of Britain, the relentless Nazi bombardment of London that began in September 1940, the city’s synagogues went on with their Yom Kippur services. According to JTA, while air raid warnings “twice disturbed” the morning services Oct. 12, 1940, “most synagogues carried on regardless” and a “large proportion of the men attending services wore uniforms of the various forces.”
8. Yom Kippur’s Kol Nidre services are the only night of the entire Jewish calendar when a prayer shawl is worn for evening prayers.
According to the late Rabbi Louis Jacobs, the tallit (prayer shawl) is worn during Kol Nidre as “a token of special reverence for the holy day.” It is traditional to wear a tallit or a white garment for the entire holiday, with the color white symbolizing both our spiritual purity and our removing ourselves from the vanities of the material world. Many people actually wear a white robe called a kittel.
9. A Virginia rabbi’s pro-civil rights movement sermon on Yom Kippur in 1958 riled up local segregationists and sparked fears of an anti-Semitic backlash.
JTA reported that Virginia’s Defenders of State Sovereignty group demanded that local Jews “move quickly to refute and condemn” Rabbi Emmet Frank of Alexandria’s Temple Beth El for his sermon criticizing the state’s “massive resistance” to school desegregation and said that if he had intended to destroy Christian-Jewish relations, “he could not have been more effective.” While a “leading member” of the Reform temple reportedly said a “considerable” number of congregants worried Frank’s stand “might result in increased anti-Semitism,” others “sided with the rabbi, holding that he held a spiritual and moral duty to speak out for social justice.” The congregation stood by Frank, and The Washington Post published an editorial calling him a “courageous clergyman.”

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1979 Teen Tourists planning April reunion

1979 Teen Tourists planning April reunion

Posted on 13 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Audrey Essenfeld Pincu
At the Dead Sea with the 1979 Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Teen Tour, from left, Audrey (Essenfeld) Pincu, Anne (Leventhal) Wechsler and Jana (Pink) Kusin floated without a care.

By Deb Silverthorn

The Jews crossed the desert for 40 years, and it’s been nearly 40 since the 1979 Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Teen Tour participants made their own crossings of Israel’s deserts, swam in her seas, climbed her mountains and lived amongst her people.
A reunion is set for the evening of April 13 at the Clubs of Prestonwood, The Creeks, for the 65 young adults and eight staff members for who the memories remain.
“As a 16-year-old, the Teen Tour was a lot of fun and an incredible summer,” said Sally Waxler Oscherwitz who, with Audrey Essenfeld Pincu, is organizing the gathering. “As an adult, I realize it was one of the Federation’s greatest gifts to each of us.”
While Pincu and Oscherwitz look forward to seeing those with whom they can connect, memories live on of their friends Nathan Levy and Daniel Vaiser, who have since died.
“We were a very close group, and to lose friends so early in life is hard. To remember and celebrate together is a gift,” said Pincu, who still calls Dallas her home. “There are many within our group who remain in touch; a group of girls who go to dinner, occasional get-togethers when people come to town, and of course, within our synagogues and in the community, people see each other and the memories come to life in a blink.”
For six who were there, it was a summer of love: three marriages stemming from the spirit of the Sinai, the heart of the homeland. Ruth Solomon and Mark Schor met as counselors, he a Dallas representative, she a Sabra. Vicki Small knew she was going to marry Paul Friedman after spending the summer together, he telling her she had the “most beautiful brown eyes” at the tour’s orientation. Marcia Prager and her future husband, Larry Levine, met on Teen Tour, and began dating when they met again as students at the University of Texas.
“I’ve been to Israel 10 times and the summer of ’79 definitely stands out. I’ve stayed in touch with a number of the participants and there are lots of wonderful memories, and crazy stories,” said Gary Grove, then a Federation employee who led that summer’s Teen Tour, now a psychiatrist in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Reflecting on water shortages and medical maladies, a confluence of issues while at Gadna (an IDF program that prepares young people for service), friendships that were built, praying at the Kotel and snorkeling at Sharm El Sheikh, his own 25-pound weight loss and few hours of sleep each night, Grove’s memory bank is filled.
“I’m so excited about this reunion and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I really look forward to being there,” he said. “From hostels to hotels, to staying at kibbutzim and sleeping under the stars in the Sinai, it was a summer of impression, I think, for everyone who took part.”
The teens were on the road from June 25-Aug. 4, 1979, arriving in Jerusalem and never skipping a beat to Tiberias, Safed and Herzliya, to Nahariya, Haifa, the Druze village, Tel Aviv and the Sinai. From fishing villages to Eilat, from Masada and Ein Gedi, to the Knesset, Yad Vashem and much more, the travelers’ feet hit the ground running, stopping (maybe) to rest.
“We got together 10 years ago, and it was like no time had passed. Staying in touch, reaching out to one another is easier with social media but there’s nothing like reconnecting in person, with hugs and toasting one another,” said Oscherwitz, a Scottsdale resident for 26 years.
While many of the group has remained in touch, most participants having made DFW-area their home over the years, organizers are still trying to contact tour members Susan Aaron, Melanie Aarons, Miki Ablon, Rebecca Aronowitz, Lisa Brender, Jay Brenner, David Brothman, Roger Katz, Sarah Levin, Libbi Schwartz, Jim Shorter, Barry Sklaver, Victoria Solomon and adult tour advisors Susan Bell and Bev Cohn.
For more information or to share contact information, or for participants who wish to share photos for a slideshow, contact teacher624@hotmail.com or visit the group’s Facebook page at

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Anti-Israel forces and the battle for the Jewish future

Anti-Israel forces and the battle for the Jewish future

Posted on 13 September 2018 by admin

A mock Israeli checkpoint set up during “Israeli Apartheid Week” on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles. Credit: AMCHA Initiative.

By Deborah Fineblum

(JNS) — You send your kids off to college, and they come back telling you that Israel is an occupying force with no rights to the land. This Jewish state you taught them to love? Their professors and friends have convinced them that it’s nothing more than a Zionist hoax.
“These parents are thinking, ‘I’ve just had my child colonized by the enemy of our people,’” said Richard Landes, a retired history professor at Boston University. “Under the illusion of fighting for the underdog, they’re buying the whole victim narrative put forward by the same people who run all 17 nations that surround little Israel.”
These days, campuses are increasingly battlefields where chief among the spoils are the hearts, minds and loyalties of the next generation of the Jewish people.
Countless Jewish students were captive audiences last year for Israel-baiting professors, and many witnessed (and even participated in) anti-Israel demonstrations and divestment campaigns. And on many campuses this spring during “Israeli Apartheid Week,” student unions featured “walls” festooned with a list of Israel’s “crimes.”
Not surprising is a recent Anti-Defamation League study that found that incidents of anti-Semitism on campus have nearly doubled over the past year. And a recent study by Brand Israel found that support by American Jewish college students (62 percent who had witnessed anti-Israel activity on their campuses) for Israel plummeted from 84 percent to 57 percent between 2010 and 2016.
“I knew I was walking into a den,” said Adah Forer, who graduated this spring with a degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley. “When I asked what it was like for Jews there, I was told an Israeli flag was burned on campus in 2008.”
Graffiti was also found recently in a campus bathroom stating that “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber.”
But despite years spent in front of “left-leaning professors,” Forer emerged with her love of Israel forged in the fire of anti-Israel pressures. As the campus’ StandWithUs Emerson fellow and president of the pro-Israel group Tikvah, leading pro-Israel counter-demonstrations became a defining piece of Forer’s college experience.
But hers isn’t necessarily typical.
A flurry of anti-Israel events
Unfortunately, watchdogs like CAMERA, Canary Mission and AMCHA Initiative have had little trouble finding anti-Israel events on campuses across North America to report on this past year. A sampling includes:
• The UCLA student government debated whether representatives who went on trips to Israel sponsored by Jewish groups should face sanctions. This following on the heels of student government leaders raising doubts about whether a student can sit on a campus judicial panel because he or she is Jewish.
• On the eve of the Passover holiday, when most Jewish representatives had left campus and were unable to vote, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at Tufts, working with the campus Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), put up a surprise BDS resolution calling on the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel.
• SJP at Swarthmore College collected hundreds of student signatures petitioning the school to stop serving Sabra-brand hummus, a product of Israel-based Strauss Group. Their claim: Using Sabra in the cafeteria makes the school an “accessory to the occupation of Palestine.” (Upshot: the administration added another brand of hummus.)
• More than a dozen protestors burst in on an event held by Armenian, Kurd and Israeli students at UCLA: One member tore down the flags and ripped up the panelists’ notes. The protestors made sure their anti-Israel shouts and chants shut down the program while several policemen looked on but did nothing. Equally disturbing, said Ilan Sinelnikov, president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), is the muzzling of the other side. “At the UCLA panel event, the message was so strong — a shared history of three indigenous peoples,” he says. “The anti-Israel side just couldn’t handle that display of unity and understanding. They had to shut it down and argue that we have no rights to our own homeland.”
• At San Francisco State University, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s speech was drowned out by the catcalls of protesters, who made it impossible for him to finish his speech. This at a school where Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, a professor of “ethnic studies and race and resistance studies,” has stated that “Zionists are not welcome on our campus.”
• At New York University, SJP and JVP convinced 53 student groups, including the Slam! Poetry Club, to sign on to support BDS, and refuse to co-sponsor events with any Israel advocacy and Jewish groups.
This coalition is an example of “intersectionality,” where seemingly unconnected groups — often Hispanics, blacks and gays and lesbians — are being solicited as allies of campus anti-Israel groups.
Forer, the UC Berkeley grad, said such “intersectionality” is a fact of campus life today. “Anti-Israel forces are becoming more strategic by hijacking other minority groups and convincing them that they’re all victims,” she says.
It’s a pattern CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin called “a cause for real concern when 53 groups band together at [New York University] to denounce Israel, and half the student government votes for it.”
Anti-Israel student groups
Behind much of these on-campus attacks on Israel are student groups that have increased their numbers in chapters across North America.
• Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which began at UC Berkeley a quarter-century ago, has exploded from 80 campuses to more than 200 in just eight years, and is typically led by Arab students with Christian and Jewish followers. The national organization’s website says SJP is “centered on freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people, who have been living without basic rights under Israeli military occupation and colonialism since 1948.” AMCHA Initiative has found that having an SJP chapter increases a school’s rate of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents, as well as BDS campaigns. Among the online comments by attendees at last year’s national SJP conference: “Israel really needs to die, and I pray it happens in my lifetime” and “When I stomp, I imagine Zionists’ faces under my feet.”
• Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which also began in Berkeley in the 1990s, is arguably the largest Jewish campus anti-Israel group, with members known for heckling and shutting down speakers they disagree with and pushing BDS through school governments. Their website invites students to: “Come learn about best practices for documenting actions, messaging to get the attention of the cameras and how to turn out the press on short notice.”
• Calling itself “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” J Street operates on campus as J Street U. From that website: “We recognize that the ongoing occupation and settlement of the Palestinian territories is politically unsustainable and morally untenable.”
• But if JVP is the largest Jewish campus-based anti-Israel group, the four-year-old IfNotNow is hard on its heels. Its website says it’s “a movement led by young Jews to reclaim the mantle of Jewish leadership from the out-of-touch establishment…we will be the generation to end our community’s support for the occupation and create a Judaism that stands for the dignity of all people.”
Not only have INN chapters organized “anti-occupation Passover Seders,” but they have been targeting younger Jews this summer, holding training sessions for camp counselors working at eight Jewish camps to teach “anti-occupation” propaganda to their campers. One suggestion: leading the Kaddish mourning prayer for Palestinian terrorists killed in Gaza.
“It’s bad enough what’s happening on campuses,” said SSI’s Sinelnikov. “But training counselors to brainwash young campers about the ‘occupation’ is crossing the line. They’re using Hamas’s own tactics to brainwash kids.”
This summer, IfNotNow also set up a table marked “Birthright” at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to pull over travelers to Israel on Birthright Israel to warn them of “the truth” about the country they were about to visit, most of them for the first time.
In addition, five members of IfNotNow made a highly publicized walk-off from the last day of their own Birthright trip to join with the anti-Israel group Breaking the Silence, so they could “learn about the occupation,” they said.
“Like J Street, IfNotNow is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and dangerous,” said Andrew Pessin, professor of philosophy and Jewish studies at Connecticut College and co-editor of “Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech and BDS” (Indiana University, 2018). “IfNotNow and J Street U pose as sincere progressive students questioning the morality of Israel.”
That positioning “masquerades as pro-Israel and pro-peace so it can pull students in, often funneling them onto the more violent JVP,” said CAMERA’s Levin.
The boost in BDS campaigns
Back on campus, insisting that schools “boycott, divest and sanction” Israel remains the No. 1 method of fomenting an anti-Israel student body. Since the time of the Second Intifada in Israel in the early 2000s, anti-Israel forces have been pressuring local governments, unions and churches to divest of any financial connection to Israel and its businesses, hospitals and universities. On campuses, this means getting the school government to pass these resolutions, which, in turn, pressure their administrations to adopt them.
The purpose of BDS, according to the ADL, is nothing short of the “demonization and delegitimization of Israel.”
The Jewish Virtual Library has tallied 119 BDS votes in the past five years. Though 64 percent were defeated, BDS has passed at many institutions of higher education, including the universities of Michigan and Minnesota, George Washington University, Oberlin and Barnard colleges, and several University of California system branches.
An AMCHA study shows that schools that even consider BDS resolutions witness an uptick in anti-Semitic events. At UC Santa Barbara, for example, Jewish students were threatened, and a student wearing a Star of David necklace spit on. The vote there on BDS was by secret ballot. “That means representatives aren’t accountable to the students who elect them,” Pessin said.
And, though none of the student governments that have voted for their universities to divest succeeded in convincing their administrations to actually cut ties with the Jewish state, these anti-Israel votes have what the ADL terms “a negative impact on public perceptions of Israel” on campus, where everyone is pulled into “a highly politicized and publicized debate.”
‘Teaching them what to think’
The student anti-Israel groups, however, are not operating without help from their elders.
For the last 20 of the 37 years he’s spent as a history professor at Hamilton College, the climate has become “more uniformly liberal,” says Robert Paquette, who also directs the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. “The line between activism and scholarship is increasingly blurred, with Angela Davis, who was suspected of conspiring to murder a judge, paid five figures to speak here,” he says. “Our universities, which used to be in the business of teaching students how to think, are now teaching them what to think. And their top cause today is the demonization of Israel.”
In fact, nearly 2,000 faculty members across North America have endorsed a BDS agreement to boycott Israeli institutions and refuse to write recommendations for students wishing to study there. This is according to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who taught Hebrew and Middle East studies at UC Santa Cruz for two decades and is executive director of AMCHA Initiative, which monitors the situation.
Brandeis University professor, author and leading expert on American Jewish history Jonathan Sarna put it this way: “The real problem is when a faculty’s diversity is only defined in terms of gender and race, but never in terms of ideology. We lose our balance when students can’t understand the people who voted for Donald Trump because there aren’t any there.”
And “with faculty increasingly moving left,” he said, “students hear consistent criticism of Israel. Sadly, most don’t know enough to judge for themselves.”
Moreover, any professors not on the anti-Israel bandwagon may find themselves “pariahs,” according to Landes. “Tenured or not, in this age of political correctness, openly defend Israel and suddenly you’re not invited to speak at conferences anymore, and you’re shunned in the faculty lounge.”
Pushing the dial even further to the left are the many schools where the salaries of professors of Middle Eastern studies are being paid by endowed chairs that bring millions into universities’ coffers. Many of these endowments are by wealthy Arabs and Arab-sympathizers.
Among these is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud, the fifth wealthiest person in the world. Although the Saudi’s $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund was refused by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after the 9/11 attacks, no such rebuff greeted the prince’s $20 million endowments to both Harvard and Georgetown universities. Another example: Both NYU and Columbia now have Hagop Kevorkian chairs paid for by that Armenian’s millions. And, as they use their lecterns as anti-Israel bully pulpits, professors can punish any student who speaks in Israel’s defense.
“Grade-shaving is real,” says Paquette. “If your professor doesn’t like what you represent, prepare to pay for it when the grades come out. So, parents say to their kids: ‘We’re spending $50,000 a year. Keep your mouth shut and graduate.’”
Follow the money …
and the studies
None of these anti-Israel programs comes cheap. And, observers say, American laws governing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other nonprofits often protect the groups from transparency in their funding streams.
In the United States, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund supports everything from BDS campaigns and anti-Israel lobbying to NGOs funding anti-Israel activities. Among its campus grantees are JVP ($280,000), Palestine Legal ($150,000) and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights ($90,000).
“There’s an alarming drop in federal prosecutions of terror finance activity in the charitable sector,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who testified before Congress.
Umbrella groups that help fund the anti-Israel forces in North America include the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (previously known as the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation), which is a major enabler supporting BDS campaigns on a multitude of campuses. Also known as Education for Just Peace in the Middle East, it has a hand in more than 300 BDS organizations.
In addition, those involved in charities that were connected with or found guilty in American courts of terrorist activities have now regrouped as the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Schanzer said. The AMP specifically helps SJP run BDS campaigns and has supplied chapters with such resources as “Apartheid Walls” for Israeli Apartheid Weeks. As a not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, Schanzer told JNS that “AMP would not have to file an IRS 990 form that would make its finances more transparent” and can receive tax-exempt donations.
Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs also documented European Union funding of anti-Israel organizations, with data showing the E.U. “directly financed organizations which promote anti-Israel delegitimization and boycotts to the approximate sum of more than 5 million euros in 2016.”
One study out of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that SJP “is not as they claim, a ‘grassroots’ student organization … but that it “maintains affiliations with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students, and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders.”
“If you’re anti-Israel, there are 150 NGOs happy to fund you,” says Landes. “But if you’re launching a pro-Israel campaign on your campus, the pickings are slimmer.”
Of course, not all universities are equally embroiled in anti-Israel activities. Lists of those with the greatest number of incidents and overtly anti-Israel professors tend to include such schools as Columbia, Portland State, San Francisco State, UCLA and Vassar.
San Francisco State is among the worst for Jewish students, according to Brooke Goldstein, founder of the Lawfare Project, which provides legal help for Jews facing anti-Semitism. “Discrimination, harassment and intimidation — it’s all there, with the mayor of Jerusalem heckled so viciously he couldn’t deliver his speech,” she said. “You can be attacked there simply because you are a Jew who believes that after 2,000 years of persecution, the Jewish people deserve to be safe.”
Jewish students at UC Berkeley, Forer said, “usually hurry by during our counter-demonstrations, but some of them would stop and want to take action.”
Soon, the ones who walk by may decide that “it’s not OK to wear a Jewish-star necklace, much less an IDF sweatshirt,” says Rossman-Benjamin. “This milieu is driving a wedge between Jew and Jew. Jewish students who say, ‘I only criticize Israel because I care about her,’ and insist on ‘safe space’ for anti-Israel hate, get co-opted by bigger forces determined to wipe out the Jewish homeland and the Jewish people.”
She added that “students who don’t feel part of Jewish destiny and are willing to turn against their own people are easy pickings for Jewish Voice for Peace and others.”
School is now back in session, and many observers expect anti-Israel forces will keep cranking up the heat.
Said Pessin: “Now, it’s no longer the two-state solution they’re demanding, but the wholesale destruction of Israel — ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!’ It’s chilling to hear so many Jewish students and professors echoing this call for the destruction of Israel.”
“The student council president at Berkeley has already announced that part of his agenda for fall is BDS,” sighed new graduate Forer. “Now they’ll have to figure out how to do battle with that.”

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Some special gifts for your Rosh Hashanah hosts

Some special gifts for your Rosh Hashanah hosts

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Marco Beltrametti/Wikimedia Commons)
Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah: So why not provide the honey?

By MJL Staff

(My Jewish Learning via JTA) — Invited to someone’s house for a Rosh Hashanah meal and looking for an appropriate gift? In addition to the always appreciated flowers or bottle of wine, here are some other must-have (or must-give) items for the Jewish New Year.
If you’re drawn to the edible items on this list, we recommend you check ahead of time whether your host keeps kosher or has other dietary restrictions.
Jewish calendars
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year after all, and every year needs a calendar. While many, if not most, people rely on digital calendars for day-to-day scheduling, a pretty wall calendar makes a nice decoration and can help keep the household organized. Most Jewish calendars sold in the United States list secular dates as well as Hebrew ones (including all the holidays, of course), and run through the end of the next Gregorian year. (So one that starts with Rosh Hashanah in 2017 will last you until December 2018.) You can find a wide selection online and in Judaica stores and bookstores.
Someone with an artistic bent or who enjoys the stress relief that comes with coloring might enjoy a coloring-book calendar featuring intricate Judaic motifs such as Jewish stars and Hanukkah menorahs. And one from New York’s Jewish Museum showcases a variety of paintings, sculptures and ceremonial objects from its collection.
Jewish cookbooks
If your host invited you over for a home-cooked meal, he or she probably likes to cook. The four books listed here were published within the last couple of years, so there’s a good chance your host doesn’t yet own them — and what better than a cookbook to subtly convey to your host that you’d love more holiday meal invitations? (Find more Jewish cookbook suggestions here.)
“Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More” is written by Shannon Sarna, the editor of The Nosher food blog, part of the 70 Faces Media family that includes My Jewish Learning. In this gorgeous book, she pays homage to Jewish baking traditions while re-invigorating them with modern flavors and new ideas.
The mother-daughter team of Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman in “The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine” features recipes for German-Jewish cuisine as it existed in Germany before World War II, and as refugees later adapted it in the United States and elsewhere. The dishes are a departure from better-known Eastern European Jewish fare and focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Israeli baker Uri Scheft’s “Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking” offers sweet and savory recipes for European, Israeli and Middle Eastern favorites.
For vegan cooks — or those who often have a vegan family member or guest at their table — “The Superfun Times Vegan HolidayCookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers meat- and dairy- and egg-free recipes for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (break-the-fast), as well as dishes for a variety of other Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.
Honey dishes
It is traditional to dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah, and a special honey dish can add extra beauty to the practice. We like a stainless steel and glass one that says “Shana Tova Umetuka” (a good and sweet new year) in Hebrew and a Rosh Hashanah apple plate and honey dish set with a pomegranate design available in red, blue and gray.
Food
Why dip good apples and challah in mediocre honey? The Savannah Bee Company, a gourmet honey purveyor, sells a variety of beautifully packaged artisanal honeys, including several variety packs. Or encourage your host to sample some raw honeycomb. The company also sells numerous other honey-based products, like body lotions and soaps. All their honey is KSA kosher-certified.
For Rosh Hashanah, Zingerman’s, a Michigan deli and mail-order gourmet superstore, bakes its own honey cakes, round challahs, mandelbrot and rugelach, and sells an array of gourmet honeys from around the world.
Love marzipan? Try Rosh Hashanah “Marzipops.” A gift set of these marzipan lollipops contains 10 lollipops: two each of a honeypot, a red apple, a challah, a pomegranate and a shofar. They are gluten-free and vegan, but are not certified kosher.
Assorted items
Barbara’s Gifts is based in Israel but ships to the United States. Its Rosh Hashanah gift box contains a pomegranate hand towel, pomegranate challah cover, Jewish calendar tea towel, pomegranate-shaped trivet, pomegranate fabric placemats, a pomegranate notepad and set of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards.
If your host likes scented candles, try an apples-and-honey one. Just make sure you don’t try to eat it after reading the description: “Brown sugar glazed apples blended with warm cinnamon, golden clove and grated nutmeg wrapped in sweet caramel honey drizzles and hints of pure maple syrup.” You can also find a variety of pomegranate-scented candles here.
Off the beaten path
Who doesn’t need a Rosh Hashanah-themed smartphone cover/case? Luxlady offers some in various sizes for popular iPhone and Android models.
Children and adults alike will enjoy accessorizing with High Holiday-themed nail decals from Midrash Manicures.
Nothing quite right? Try searching for Rosh Hashanah on Etsy or visit The Sabra Patch, an Etsy-like online store for Israeli artists. Whatever you buy, best wishes for a sweet and Happy New Year!

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High Holidays vocabulary

High Holidays vocabulary

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Prisma/UIG via Getty Images
A page from a Machzor dating from the beginning of 14th century

By My Jewish Learning Staff

(MJL via JTA) — Here are some important Hebrew words and terms you may encounter over the High Holiday season.
Akedah — Pronounced ah-keh-DAH. Literally “binding,” the Akedah refers to the biblical story of the binding of Isaac, which is traditionally read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
Chag sameach — Pronounced KHAG sah-MAY-akh. Literally “happy holiday,” a common greeting on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays.
Elul — Pronounced el-OOL (oo as in food). The final month of the Jewish calendar, it is designated as a time of reflection, introspection and repentance.
Het (also chet) — Pronounced KHET (short e). Sin, or wrongdoing.
L’shanah tovah u’metukah — Pronounced l’shah-NAH toe-VAH ooh-meh-too-KAH. A Hebrew greeting for the High Holidays season that means “For a good and sweet year.”
Machzor — Pronounced MAHKH-zohr. Literally “cycle,” the machzor is the special prayer book for the High Holidays containing all the special liturgy.
Selichot — Pronounced slee-KHOTE. Literally “forgivenesses,” selichot are prayers for forgiveness. Selichot refers to two related types of penitential prayers: the prayers that customarily are recited daily at morning services during the month of Elul, as well as the name of the service late at night on the Saturday preceding Rosh Hashanah consisting of a longer series of these penitential prayers.
Shofar — Pronounced shoh-FAR or SHOH-far (rhymes with “so far”). The ram’s horn that is sounded during the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible in reference to its ceremonial use in the Temple and to its function as a signal horn of war.
Tashlich — Pronounced TAHSH-likh. Literally “cast away,” Tashlich is a ceremony observed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah in which sins are symbolically cast away into a natural body of water. The term and custom are derived from a verse in the Book of Micah (7:19).
Teshuvah — Pronounced tih-SHOO-vuh. Literally “return,” teshuvah is often translated as “repentance.” It is one of the central themes and spiritual components of the High Holidays.
Tishrei — Pronounced TISH-ray. The first month in the Hebrew calendar, during which Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot all occur.
Unetaneh Tokef — Pronounced ooh-nuh-TAH-neh TOH-keff. Literally “we shall ascribe,” a religious poem recited during the Musaf (additional service) Amidah that is meant to strike fear in us.
Yamim Noraim — Pronounced yah-MEEM nohr-ah-EEM. Literally “Days of Awe,” a term that refers to the High Holidays season. Sometimes it is used to refer to the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, which are also known as the Aseret Yimei Teshuvah, or the 10 Days of Repentance.
Yom tov — Pronounced YOHM TOHV or YON-tiff. This is a general term for the major Jewish festivals.

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A guide to the High Holidays prayers

A guide to the High Holidays prayers

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The pages of the Machzor Roma on display at the National Library of Israel

By Rabbi Iscah Waldman

(My Jewish Learning via JTA) — The High Holidays prayer book, or machzor, emphasizes the themes of the Days of Awe — introspection and repentance.
Rosh Hashanah as the
opening day of a court trial
“The great shofar is sounded. A still small voice is heard. This day, even the angels are alarmed, seized with fear and trembling as they declare: ‘The day of judgment is here!’”
In a loud and trumpeting voice, the cantor describes the shofar ’s blast, then softly and gently describes a “still, small voice.” This poignant line from the Musaf (“additional”) service sets a tone for the High Holidays. It is a dichotomy that is played out over and over throughout the liturgy of the Days of Awe. On these days, we sing of the king, judge and awesome sovereign who sits in judgment over us, while at the same time we appeal to God’s mercy and longstanding tradition of forgiveness, likening God to a shepherd sheltering a flock.
Rosh Hashanah is the first day of court. In the liturgy, we see this played out in the number of references to God as sovereign, ruler and a most judicious king. Additions and different emphases start as early as the beginning of the Shacharit (morning) service, with the word Hamelekh (the King). While these words also appear in the liturgy of Shabbat morning, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur they are highlighted in such a way that a new leader begins the service with a powerful note on the word “king” itself.

Additional prayers

The structure of the morning service on Rosh Hashanah is similar to weekday and Shabbat services. It is, however, additional piyyutim (liturgical poems) such as L’eyl Orekh Din (“to the God who sits in judgment”) or Adonai Melekh (“Adonai is King”) that evoke the seriousness with which we would approach a trial with the true judge.
Torah readings on
Rosh Hashanah
The Torah reading on Rosh Hashanah is from the story of Isaac’s birth, describing God’s kindness in giving a child to Abraham and Sarah in their old age (Genesis 21). On the second day we read the story of the binding of Isaac, which ends with a ram as a substitute for Isaac (Genesis 22). The shofar that is so prominent on Rosh Hashanah is considered to be symbolic of this ram.
U’netaneh Tokef:

Who shall live and who shall die

As the continuation of the piyyut U’netaneh Tokef quoted above tells us, on Rosh Hashanah we are inscribed into the book of life or death, while on Yom Kippur the book is sealed. These simple lines open us up to the possibility of teshuvah (repentance) and of reflection on our past deeds. U’netaneh Tokef is recited on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as an introductory piyyut to the Kedushah (literally, holiness) in the Musaf Amidah. The key line of this prayer follows on the heels of a long rhetorical piece that demands to know who among this congregation will be here next year: How many will perish and how many will be brought high? But, the liturgist notes, even those who are fated for the worst can depend on the following precept: “Penitence, prayer, and good deeds can annul the severity of the decree.”

The shofar blasts

The shofar is perhaps the best-known feature of Rosh Hashanah services. There are two sets of shofar blasts on each day of the holiday. The first follows the Torah service. The second is intertwined with three unique sections in the Musaf known as Malkhuyot (verses relating to God’s Kingship), Zikhronot (verses relating to memory) and Shofarot (verses relating to shofar). Each of these sections contains 10 verses on each of the topics — Malkhuyot recalls that God is king, Zikhronot recalls God remembering us for the good and Shofarot gives quotes in which the shofar is sounded, in the past but mostly in the future, heralding future redemption. The sounding of the shofar is interspersed through each of these three prayer sections, showing itself to be a part of the prayer itself. In Reform and other liberal congregations that do not recite Musaf, these sections — and the shofar sounding — are added to the morning Shacharit.
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld has written in his book “The Jewish Holidays” that these three sections, unique to Rosh Hashanah, reflect three central principles of Judaism:
* The acceptance of God as King of Universe.
* The acknowledgment that God intervenes in the world to punish the wicked and reward the good.
* The recognition that God was revealed in the giving of the Torah at Sinai and again will be revealed at the end of days.
If we were to pick out one piyyut as an archetype of the theology of Rosh Hashanah, we might choose L’eyl Orekh Din. The poem begins by declaring that God “probes all of our hearts” and therefore will always divine our most secret thoughts and fears. It moves on to say that God suppresses wrath in judgment, so that regardless of the dark nature of our secret sins, God will suppress anger in discovering them. It ends by announcing that God acts with compassion, accepts God’s subjects and guards those who love God. We may take from this that even while we call Rosh Hashanah “Yom HaDin” (Day of Judgment), we can look forward to the end of the process in which we will be loved, accepted and forgiven our sins. This is the overall theological message that the Rosh Hashanah liturgy wishes to portray: We still have hope.

Yom Kippur: The Day of Judgment

If we view Rosh Hashanah as the first day of a court case, then we would see Yom Kippur as the day on which the verdict is handed down. The tension mounts as we near the Day of Judgment, and this can be seen in the liturgy as well. The evening of Yom Kippur begins with a once-controversial prayer, Kol Nidre, that has since become the symbol for the solemnity of the day. In this prayer, repeated three times, we pray that all vows and oaths that we have made throughout the year will be forgiven us, so that we might enter into this coming year with a clean slate, forgiven for any promises we might inadvertently have broken. Many rabbis viewed this as an unnecessary absolution that might lead people to sin by taking their vows too lightly in the future. However, this prayer had already proven to be so popular and powerful among the people, it has become a centerpiece of the holiday.

Forgiveness and confessions

All five services on Yom Kippur include a section known as Selichot (forgiveness prayers) and another one called the Vidui (confessions). The Selichot include a basic confession of sins, an expression of our contrition and reflections on God’s forgiving nature. We recite the 13 attributes, which are taken from a prayer that Moses recited in Exodus 34. In it, we assert that God is compassionate, patient and righteous. Included in the Vidui is the Ashamnu, which is an alphabetical acrostic of different sins we have committed. It is said in first-person plural because while each individual may not have committed these specific sins, as a community we surely have, and on this day our fates are intertwined.
We also read the Al Chet, a prayer that similarly lists transgressions we have made over the year. These two sections best reflect the theology of the day: We are in a state of self-reflection. We admit our sins fully, and even beat our breasts while doing so. We place our fates in God’s hands, for God is Tov V’Salah (good and forgiving).
Yom Kippur Musaf (Shaharit for Reform synagogues) is different from Rosh Hashanah in that we do not add Malkhuyot, Zikhronot and Shofarot, but instead include a section on the Avodah, a description of the sacrifices and rituals performed by the High Priest in the Temple on Yom Kippur. We also add a piece known as the martyrology, a solemn section where we recall 10 martyrs who were killed in most brutal ways, giving their lives while declaring their faith for the world to hear.

Neilah: The gates are locked

It is the final service on Yom Kippur, Neilah — literally “locking” (of gates) — which paints an image of the gates of heaven closing, lending urgency to our prayers and our need for repentance and forgiveness. We begin the service with a piyyut that asks God to “open the gate” and let us enter so that we might have a final appeal before God’s decree is sealed. There is a silent Amidah prayer, like at all services, which is repeated by the cantor. Throughout Neilah, the language of being “written” in the book of life used thus far in High Holiday liturgy shifts, as we instead speak of being “sealed” in that book.
The final section of Neilah includes a recitation of the Shema (“Hear O Israel …”) and these lines: Baruch Shem K’vod (“Blessed be God’s name …”) three times, and Adonai Hu HaElohim (“Adonai is our God”) seven times. We conclude with a long blast of the shofar.
Thus ends the period of the High Holidays. We begin with contrition and awe as we enter the courtroom for our trial. We end with the acceptance of our verdict and the assertion that Adonai is our God — powerful, all-knowing and, of course, compassionate.

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Federation annual campaign raises nearly $12 million

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas recently announced the results of the 2018 Annual Campaign, which raised almost $12 million for Jewish organizations.
Campaign leaders also celebrated the second year of a record-breaking $10 million in unrestricted gifts. Of that, $8 million was spread among 74 partner agencies and initiatives benefiting the Dallas Jewish community, as well as Israeli and overseas partner agencies, said Sarah Golman, the Jewish Federation’s director of global and local impact and allocations.
A total of 5,362 donors raised $11,425,762. Of that, $388,000 came from 970 new donors, giving campaign and Federation leadership a lot more dollars to allocate. The increase in unrestricted gifts means more dollars for core allocations to partner agencies, and funding opportunities for new programs and initiatives.
This year also marked a change in the Jewish Federation’s grant-making program. Instead of multiple pathways with various restrictions as in years past, organizations applied for long- and short-term grants. The new structure replaced the grants formerly divided as Community Impact and Outreach and Engagement grants.
Restructuring the grant program was a goal of outgoing Planning and Allocations Committee Chair Stefani Eisenstat.
“We went to the community and asked about their unmet needs,” she said. “The two grants were a compromise between the demanding needs of partner agencies, and opportunities for external agencies to apply for funds.”
The short-term grants are seed funding for new programs for any partner agency, as well as any nonprofit Jewish organization serving Dallas. Organizations can request up to $20,000 per grant. The long-term grants help partner agencies expand programs and meet existing needs for up to three years.
Any nonprofit Jewish organization benefiting the Dallas Jewish community may apply for these grants, even if it is housed outside city boundaries. For instance, Chabad at University of Texas at Austin applied for and received $10,000 toward its JGrads and JTribe programs. It qualifies because Dallas residents attend the state university 200 miles away.
Other short-term grant recipients include the statewide, Dallas-based Texas Jewish Arts Association. Founded in 2013 and run by artists, it received a $15,000 grant for The Sukkah Project: Dwell in Design, a design competition exploring various interpretations of the sukkah.
The annual campaign disperses funds primarily to its core support partner agencies, which help agencies meet operational and programming needs.
The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center was this year’s largest recipient, with combined allocations of $933,000. Other allocations include $866,000 to Jewish Family Service; a combined $1,107,000 to the six area Jewish day and high schools: Akiba Academy, Ann & Nate Levine Academy, Mesorah High School for Girls, Texas Torah Institute, Torah Day School of Dallas and Yavneh Academy; and $349,999 to Legacy Senior Communities.
Overseas recipients include $980,000 to the Jewish Agency for Israel and $513,000 to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Overseas donations totaled $2 million.
A.J. Rosmarin, who chaired the campaign and is the Jewish Federation’s chair-elect, explained the breakdown of donors.
Donors to the campaign include the Pacesetters or those who give $12,000 or more each year; the general campaign donors who give $500-$11,999 each year; and the community donors, who give $499 or less each year.
He is especially excited about the new short-term grants.
“We wanted to spread beyond partner agencies because we have more of an impact,” he said. “And the organizations were excited.”
The Jewish Federation was also proud of the Jewish Federations of North America’s nationwide effort of raising $27 million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Locally, the Jewish Federation collaborated with the American Jewish Committee of Dallas, the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service and Dallas Kosher, among others, to collect supplies to send to the region impacted by the hurricane, which devastated the Texas coast more than a year ago.
Young donors were a key part of the Hurricane Harvey effort and spearheaded by Dallas’ contingent of the Jewish Federation of North America’s Young Leadership Cabinet. Like other nonprofits dependent upon donations, the Jewish Federation wants to inspire young donors to give.
According to the Case Foundation’s annual Millennial Impact Report, more than half of young people born from 1980-2000 are interested in giving to organizations. And another study from the fundraising firm Blackbaud revealed millennials are less likely to give cash donations than older generations. But the report also concluded the giving gap is because they are less financially secure.
“Everybody is focused on cultivating under-40 donors to put them on the path to giving,” Rosmarin said.
He has another year to cultivate them. Along with serving as the organization’s incoming board chair, he is chairing this year’s fundraising campaign too.
“Everyone should feel good,” Jewish Federation Board Chair Mark Kreditor said. “Thanks to the campaign, we are so joyously excited to allocate funds, including to organizations who have never received funds before.”

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