Tag Archives: JFNA

Send in the Clowns

jill maxBy: Jill Max, Chair, The Associated’s Israel Engagement Center

I hate the circus. The primary reason for these feelings stems from my childhood and my family’s requisite annual pilgrimage to Madison Square Garden to witness the “greatest show on Earth.” The smell of the menagerie was bad enough, but it was the clowns that really freaked me out. Fear of clowns: Coulrophobia (it’s a real thing, Google it).

When I discovered that we were going to hear from Tsour Shriqui, the Director of Medical Clowns, I immediately worried that he would bring one of their professionals with him. Fortunately, he was alone and thanks to him, I was able to see clowns through a different lens. Medical Clowns are actors who spend several months training before they are sent to work with patients in hospitals throughout Israel. There is extensive research about the positive effects on the patients they work with, particularly children, their parents and people with PTSD. The clowns are very busy these days, many have been sent to hospitals in the South like Barzilai and Saroka.

As we wound our way North through the hills to Nazareth, I was struck by the serenity and quiet in this largely Muslim Arab town. When we arrived at the Nazareth Industrial Park, perched on a mountaintop, we gravitated to the outdoor patio on the top floor and marveled at the breathtaking view.

The Nazareth Industrial Park was built 2 years ago to promote the development of industry in the Arab sector of Israel. It is the first Arab/Jewish industrial park. We learned about the Interagency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues, a coalition of 100 Jewish Federations, foundations, religious and service organizations dedicated to learning and raising awareness about Arab society and Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.

We had the opportunity to hear from Julia A-Zahar, a leading Arab businesswoman whose company, Al Arz Tahina produces some of the best tahini and halva in the country. She is also a community activist, lay leader and the Chair of the the Masira Fund, a program for the advancement of people with disabilities in Arab society. It was an inspiring afternoon, particularly following our experiences on our way out of the Tel Aviv in the morning.

As the bus continued to wind through the mountains, I watched the sun beginning to retreat behind both clouds and hills. We arrived at Baba Yona Ranch and were greeted enthusiastically by representatives from Dalton Winery. The weather was glorious and the wines were lovely; however, we soon learned that we were not exactly going to relax and enjoy a leisurely outdoor dinner. Instead, we were divided into three teams and tasked with preparing the meal ourselves. Under normal circumstances, I would have loved this activity, but I was tired, and soon realized there were too many cooks in this makeshift kitchen. I headed back to the wine tasting and had a great conversation about what we’d learned in Nazareth with some new friends from the Lehigh Valley Region of Pennsylvania.

It was the first time since my arrival that I momentarily stopped thinking about sirens. I looked up at the clear, starry sky, breathed in the clean air and let out an audible sigh of relief.

Jill is currently in Israel on the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Campaigner’s Mission.

Israeli President Shimon Peres told 3,500 GA listeners that Israel must have courage.

Peres Calls For Peace, For Courage

President Shimon Peres addressed the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly on Monday with a message of courage and call for a celebration of human life.

Israeli President Shimon Peres told 3,500 GA listeners that Israel must have courage.

Israeli President Shimon Peres told 3,500 GA listeners that Israel must have courage.

Peres, speaking to the close to 3,500 attendees at the federation’s annual conference, coined “The Global Jewish Shuk,” told listeners that he remembers the days of Israel’s founding, when the people arrived to a small piece of land, which was unfriendly, with swamps in the north and desert in the south and with only the mosquitos as neighbors – the rest were enemies.

“There was no water. We had two lakes. One was dead and the other was dying. There was one river, the Jordan River, which is full of fame and short of water – not for irrigation. … We had no guns. We were outnumbered with no support,” said Peres. “But you know what we discovered? The greatest treasure in life is the human being. When you have nothing, you have people. Israel is a story of people.”

Peres said that he has heard of the debate about whether or not Israel should be – or is – more Jewish or more democratic and at the notion that there would even be such a discussion he scoffed. .

“The first democrat on earth was Moses. … Every person was born in image of the Lord, which was first declaration of democracy. When it says [in the Torah] we should not be like slaves and what fight oppressors, a second declaration. When it says love your fellow man like yourself, a third declaration,” Peres said. “Democracy is a love of people and a belief in them.”

Answering questions posed by David Horovitz, founder and editor of “Times of Israel,” Peres made clear that the strength of the Jewish people is its brains and he said it is in science and education that the Jewish state should invest. He also called on the people to stay focused on peace.

“Peace is our goal,” he said.

Though he did not indicate that there would be an easy path.

Is peace at hand? He said people have to understand, “We are negotiating not because we agree, but because we do not agree. Negotiating is to convert disagreements to agreements, to convert enemies to friends. … When we start out it is difficult, complicated, we have to change many prejudices.”

And he said sometimes the greatest prejudices lie within your own people and it is them you have to convince.

A final call to action was to the young generation.

“We are not owners of land, we are creators of ambition,” said Peres. “The ambition is to do and to make a better world and now is your time.”

He continued: “Logic has a limit, not courage.”

Find out what is happening with the Washington, D.C. delegation>> 

 

 

Emergency Response to Typhoon Haiyan: Ways To Give

The Jewish Federations of North America are mobilizing a communal response to the super Typhoon Haiyan, which has wrought widespread destruction in the Philippines. JFNA on Nov, 10 opened a mailbox for Federations to support relief efforts by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which is raising funds for relief efforts.

JDC is consulting with local officials, the Filipino Jewish community and global partners to assess the evolving situation on the ground in the Philippines, where one of the strongest storms on record has wrought widespread destruction. More than 10,000 people are feared dead, with reports of ocean surges as high as trees. The central city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte is among the worst hit on the Pacific nation.

The Federation-supported JDC has led relief efforts for previous storms in the Philippines, and helped support the local Jewish community in a nation that sheltered 1,000 European Jews fleeing the Nazis during World War II.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Filipino people suffering from this terrible storm’s unimaginable destruction,” said Cheryl Fishbein, chair of JFNA’s Emergency Committee.

The JFNA Emergency Committee is coordinating the Federation response with JDC and its global disaster relief partners. Donations can be made on our online relief page or given by mail at Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268.

Jewish Federations have a proud tradition of supporting the Jewish communal response to disasters around the world and at home, raising tens of millions of dollars for emergency assistance and longer-term aid. Most recently, Federations supported the national response to severe flooding in Colorado. In recent years, Federations responded to tsunamis in Japan and southeast Asia, the Haiti earthquake, and Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast.

Other ways to give:
>>The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore: associated.org/typhoonrelief or 101 W. Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore 21201 (Attn:Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund)

>>American Jewish World Service: https://secure.ajws.org/site/Donation2?df_id=6421&6421.donation=form1

>>B’nai Brith: 800-573-9057

>>Union of Reform Judaism: http://click.mail.rj.org/?qs=e3e3dccf3029c27b4295cd1d891f79d30e3a375361225b4a3e73ae6bbea4c64a


Follow JFNA at its
General Assembly in Jerusalem>>

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Jewish Federations Participate in Peace Process Briefing at the White House

The Jewish Federations were invited to participate in a small gathering of top Jewish communal leaders at the White House on August 8. At the meeting, the group was briefed for approximately 90 minutes by Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Special Envoy Martin Indyk on the status of resumed Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. The Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees Chair Michael Siegal, who attended the meeting, issued the following statement:

“Secretary Kerry reaffirmed his and the President’s commitment, optimism and realistic approach to guiding the peace process forward. The meeting had a seriousness of purpose, and a hopeful tone that something of value can be accomplished. We recognize that the course ahead will be challenging, but there is an opportunity today that cannot be missed. Jewish Federations applaud Secretary Kerry, Ambassador Rice, and Ambassador Indyk for their hard work and wish them success.”