Courtesy Hillel UW
Hillel at the University of Washington’s Greenstein family executive director Rabbi Oren Hayon with a group of Hillel interns.
In early December, news came out that the Hillel Jewish student group at Swarthmore College, a small school outside of Philadelphia, had voted to break from Hillel International’s guidelines on Israel and embrace a model supported by a student group called Open Hillel. The collective of Jewish activists “[encourages] local campus Hillels to adopt policies that are more open and inclusive than Hillel International’s guidelines, and that allow for free discourse on all subjects within the Hillel community,” according to the Open Hillel website.
Swarthmore’s Hillel is the only one thus far to move in that direction. Almost immediately, Eric Fingerhut, president of Hillel International, made his organization’s position unequivocally clear: “Hillel will not partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice: Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility,” according to an open letter posted on Hillel’s website.
Given that Hillel chapters do, for the most part, operate autonomously, questions about what it means for Hillels on campuses across the country have emerged, including in Seattle. The answer, according to Oren Hayon, executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington, is not much.
“Swarthmore Hillel is not a bellwether for the rest of the Hillel world; this does not indicate that Hillel as a movement is out of touch with students or local campuses when it comes to its Israel policy,” Hayon told JTNews via email from Los Angeles, where he was attending a conference of the Western Hillel Organizations.
Fingerhut spoke at the conference, and Hayon said he “left the discussion feeling completely assured that Eric and his office are truly committed to a pluralistic approach to student engagement with Israel and that he deeply respects the autonomy of individual Hillels and their leadership when it comes to creating our own individual approaches to Israel programming.”
Hayon said his staff is committed to supporting Israel, but also to differences of opinion, and the international guidelines allow for that.
“The guidelines don’t specify any groups in particular at all (Eric Fingerhut made an emphatic point about this the other day) in order to let individual local Hillels determine whether groups (Palestinian student clubs, Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, etc.) in their community are considered ‘in’ or ‘out,’” Hayon wrote. “We are an incredibly diverse community, and we constantly strive to remain accessible to all young Jews, regardless of their background, their level of religious observance, or their political perspective.”
He added that “it’s very important to me personally that I and my organization will be able to inspire students and Jconnectors [the young adult program] to deepen their connection to Israel as the Jewish homeland, but individuals will never be turned away from Hillel because they don’t share my feelings about Israel.”
That said, Hillel UW has every intention of upholding the Israel guidelines.
“I don’t think that Hillel UW would benefit from cosponsoring programming with organizations who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state,” he wrote. “Our openness to an honest appraisal of modern Israel does not mean that Hillel UW will open its doors to the organizations that spread lies or demonize Israel.”
Another vote this month has fewer direct ramifications for Hillel as an organization, but can be reflected on campuses at large. On Sunday, the American Studies Association voted, by a two-thirds majority, on an academic boycott of Israel. The association, which according to its website is “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” applies to institutions and not individual Israeli academics. But the announcement sends a larger message that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel is gaining legitimacy.
Unlike other campuses in Washington State, most notably The Evergreen State College, the BDS movement has not made significant inroads at the UW, Hayon said. But given precedent at colleges like Evergreen, he worries about the effects of BDS, which make Jewish students feel threatened and alienated.
“Successful BDS campaigns on campus often go hand-in-hand with the weakening of local Hillels, the dissolution of civil discourse on campus, and the growth of feelings of fear and alienation in Jewish students,” he wrote. “My job is to ensure that every Jewish student feels safe on UW’s campus, and that no one is made to feel intimidated or afraid because of their religious identity or ideological convictions.”
Mikael Kvart, Hillel UW’s board president, acknowledged that the education on Israel the Hillel staff has been engaging in has come at the expense of other work the organization should be doing.
“Although BDS activities on campus in some ways are an opportunity for educating our constituents about Israel and what is really going on, it is also to some extent a distraction from Hillel UW’s core mission of being a catalyst towards a meaningful Jewish life for young Jews,” he told JTNews.
Hayon said Hillel UW has spent “an enormous amount of time this year working to keep our students and young adults educated about the issues,” but in a way that he said can help them have an informed dialogue while staying true to their own values.
At the end of the day, Hayon believes Jewish students should feel free to organize in any way they wish, and it’s not the role of Hillel to change itself based upon the desires of a specific campus while giving rights to its name and resources.
“If an individual McDonald’s franchisee unilaterally decides to stop selling hamburgers, or to paint the golden arches blue,” he said, “it won’t be very long before he has to change the sign outside his restaurant.”
The front page of Quixey.com, an Israeli mobile app-search company that raised $50 million from investors in October.
Waze, ScaleIO, PrimeSense, Onavo, and Intucell might not sound like household names to the general public just yet, but Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, Cisco and eBay, to name a few, have paid serious attention to them in 2013, buying each of them for hundreds of millions. The one exception is Waze, which Google purchased for over $1 billion this past June.
These titans of tech have been purchasing multiple startup companies in Israel since 2000 and are part of the reason why Israel is the only other country, after the United States, with the greatest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, according to the 2009 best-selling book “Startup Nation” (Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Twelve Publishing).
“The climate is extraordinary,” said Jonathan Medved, the internationally recognized founder and creator of OurCrowd, the online individual-investor funding platform for Israeli startups. “This [coming] year, there will be $2.3 billion invested in Israeli startups — approximately 600-plus. These are huge numbers.”
On Medved’s site, single investors can pick from a curated selection of companies that OurCrowd has already put its own money into. He told JTNews his business continues to grow.
“For every 100 companies we look into, we select one or two,” said Medved. “We have 30 this year and next year we will have 50 or 60.”
Google made industry news when it won a bidding war against Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and others to ultimately purchase Waze, regarded as the world’s biggest social-networking-based navigation application and online real-time mapping service, according to Reuters.
IBM bought security firm Trusteer for a reported $800 million in 2013 and founded a new IBM Cyber-security software lab in Israel.
According to research from Israel Venture Capital, Israel’s high-tech companies raised more than $4 billion from 2011 to 2012, compared with the $2.4 billion that was raised from 2009 to 2010.
The Startup and Private Equity Directory reported that from 2003 to 2012, “772 Israeli were acquired for $41.6 billion and in the third quarter of 2013, 162 companies raised $660 million from local and foreign investors, the highest quarterly amount since 2000.”
“In the last 22 years, there have been 1,000 Israeli companies purchased,” Medved said. “Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Google, and Facebook are not buying one or two companies. They are buying lots of them. Since 1990, some of them have been buying double-digit companies. Today, there are 300 multinational research and development centers in Israel.”
But while these impressive acquisitions make headline news, smaller companies purchased hundreds of lesser-known Israel startups in 2013 as well.
According to Forbes Magazine, some of the larger acquisitions in October alone included Assurion’s buyout of Soluto, a web-based remote manager for PCs for $100 million, and Quixey, a “search and discovery engine for apps that closed a $50 million Series C round of funding from new investors,” the article said.
Washington State, arguably an emerging tech hub in its own right, has also been paying attention to Israel’s success.
Chuck Broche, founder of the Broche Group, a public affairs, government relations and strategic communications firm, also sits on the board of the Washington-Israel Business Council. He and his associates have been working closely with the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association’s president and CEO Chris Rivera to build connections between Israeli high-tech and Washington innovators.
Broche is hoping to capitalize on three events in Washington scheduled for June 2014 — his group’s June 18 Seattle pitch to a select group of invited Israeli companies to highlight the region’s high-tech offerings, a WBBA Life Sciences Conference in Seattle on June 19 and 20, and the national WBBA conference in San Diego on June 23 and 24.
“We are calling it a mini-conference or a workshop,” Broche told JTNews. “Our goal is to bring over a half-a-dozen or more Israeli companies that are in the biomedical sector because we have a very strong biomedical technology sector in Washington State already.”
In the not too distant future, Broche envisions a group of Washington business leaders, accompanied by either a member of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the governor or a congressional member, who would travel to Israel on a trade mission.
“We are still a small dot on the map of the Israeli minds,” Broche said. “Most Israelis do not know what’s going on in Washington State and most people in Washington State have a vague idea about what’s going on in Israel.”
Broche is also hoping that Washington will become popular as the “friendlier” place to start a technology business. The WIBC website includes a section on everything a prospective entrepreneur might need to know to start a business in the state.
“When you’re dealing with technology and you’re dealing with creative people, we don’t want to be limiting their creativity or their applications of technology,” Broche said. “We want to be the group that is helping facilitate that.”
Courtesy Sephardic Adventure Camp
Rabbi Solomon Maimon enjoys a t-shirt with the logo of the camp he created more than 65 years ago.
The dinner to honor Rabbi Maimon will take place on Sun., Jan. 12, 2014 at 5 p.m. at Sephardic Bikur Holim, 6500 52nd Ave. S in Seattle, and is open to anyone who would like to join SAC to honor Rabbi Maimon for his years of service. For more information, contact Sephardic Adventure Camp at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 206-257-2225.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Rabbi Solomon Maimon has been a pillar of Seattle’s Sephardic community since he moved here as a young child in the 1920s. Though he initially accompanied his father, Rabbi Abraham Maimon, who moved to Seattle from Tekirdag, Turkey in 1924 to serve as the rabbi at Sephardic Bikur Holim (SBH), Solomon Maimon quickly made a name for himself as a religious leader in his own right. At the age of 17, he left Seattle to attend Yeshiva University in New York, and upon his graduation, became the first Sephardic rabbi ordained in the United States.
Rabbi Maimon returned to Seattle after his ordination to serve as SBH’s full-time rabbi. His true passion, however, was working with children, and that was reflected in his work helping to found several children’s programs in the greater Seattle area — namely, the Seattle Hebrew Day School (which later merged with the Seattle Talmud Torah to become the Seattle Hebrew Academy), and the Sephardic Adventure Camp (SAC). On January 12, Rabbi Maimon, now 93, will be honored for his work with the camp at a special dinner event at Sephardic Bikur Holim in Seward Park.
Rabbi Maimon founded the Sephardic Adventure Camp in 1948 as a way to help make Judaism fun and educational for kids, in addition to the experiences they were already getting from their Jewish day schools and congregations.
“We practice and we pray and we play,” Rabbi Maimon said of the SAC experience, adding that the experience of camp steeped in Jewish tradition needs to be truly fun for the children to want to attend. “You have to be with them day and night, and feed them, and love them, and make it fun — real fun. It’s not an easy job.”
The camp is a two-week program that generally runs from late June to early July, and includes all the typical markers of a sleep-away summer camp — from swimming to hiking to arts and crafts. But it also includes the hallmarks of an immersive religious experience, like Sephardic culture sessions, morning and evening Orthodox prayer sessions, and a Shabbat observance at the end of each of the two weeks. SAC is staffed by religious leaders, yeshiva students, and former campers, and it attracts campers from all over the United States, Canada, and Israel.
“The camp is a success,” said Rabbi Maimon of his flagship program. “Everybody who ever came had a great time, and they learned a lot.”
Rabbi Maimon believes it will be those former and current campers who will join him and his family at the event. SAC expects between 200 and 250 people at the dinner, which will include a celebration of Rabbi Maimon and his founding of the Sephardic Adventure Camp, as well as an opportunity for the whole SAC family to learn about how to carry on what Rabbi Maimon started and continue to serve the campers of the greater Sephardic community.
“I’m almost 94, so it’s not easy to get out and do music with the kids,” joked Rabbi Maimon, who said he hopes the dinner will include some favorite camp sing-alongs and lots of ruach, the Hebrew word for spirit.
JDC saw a turnout of over 800 participants in this year’s Limmud Keszet Poland, held just outside of Warsaw.
It’s been nearly a quarter century since the fall of Communism, which began with the Revolution of 1989 in Poland. The crumbling of the Soviet Union gave those who did not fit into Poland’s homogenous population permission to finally reemerge and rediscover their heritage.
But the change was not immediate, and it has taken the last 25 years to see a significant transformation that arguably could not have been possible without, at least for Poland’s Jews, the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. The JDC’s work in Poland over the last 20 plus years has been especially significant. In places like Warsaw and Western Poland (which, prior to 1945, was a part of Germany), the efforts of the JDC have been focused on revitalization by developing the community infrastructure, leadership, and educational resources necessary to ensure a Jewish future.
Since the democratic opening of the region, pilgrimages to Poland have mostly centered on connecting with the sadder part of Jewish history in places like Warsaw and the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“They really come for Jewish death, not Jewish life,” said Karina Sokolowska, the JDC’s Poland country manager, who visited Seattle earlier this week.
Karina has been working with the JDC for the last 20 years and has seen the changes both in the organization and her home country as progress has rapidly been made in conjunction with the now thriving Jewish communities in Poland. “I have definitely lived and led the transition,” said Sokolowska.
Sokolowska draws a direct correlation between what she calls a “natural link between people who are interested in the genealogical side of the Jewish story and Poland and Polish-Jewish history,” she told JTNews. “I think what really brings their interest now is the Jewish renewal in Poland.”
Given how Poland’s Jewish population, at one time one of the largest in the world, was decimated during the Holocaust, the country “is not really seen as any kind of a place for the Jewish community to be thriving,” Sokolowska said, “and that’s exactly what it is, from my point of view, and this is the story that I’m sharing.”
Sokolowska’s job is not only to put forth efforts toward the revitalization of the Jewish communities in Poland, but she also shares that narrative with other Jewish communities around the world. Her Seattle visit included audiences with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State.
“Most American Jews — and this is certainly the case in Seattle — came from Eastern European roots, which include territories that are Poland today and former Poland that grandparents and great-grandparents emigrated from,” said Michael Novick,the JDC’s executive director of strategic development.
Sokolowska focuses much of her attention, both while in Poland and when she visits the States, on sharing the present and future of Polish-Jewish life, rather than delving too deeply into the past.
“We’re trying to not get involved in teaching Holocaust,” said Sokolowska. “But it’s unavoidable. For us, it’s figuring out a way to deal with it. It’s very hard.”
With the JCC Warsaw having just opened its doors in October and turnouts of nearly 1,000 Jewish Poles at the Limud Keszet education conference outside of Warsaw in late November, it’s becoming apparent that Poland’s Jewish identity is resurfacing and a resurgence is slowly but surely occurring.
“For three years running, Limmud Keszet Poland has been the largest gathering of Polish Jews in the country since the late 1960s,” according to the JDC. Having just run its sixth program, Limmud drew Polish Jews who ran the gamut of Jewish identification and demographic backgrounds for a weekend of learning and entertainment.
The goal of the JDC’s efforts in Poland is twofold, according to Sokolowska: First, it wants to be able to create an opportunity for people to be Jewish in Poland, whatever that may mean.
“I want my kids to be able to have a Jewish identification that I was not able to have,” said Sokoloska, who grew up under Communism.
Second, though this may still be years down the road, the Polish-Jewish community hopes to be self-sustaining and less reliant on the efforts of the JDC to coax those who may still live in fear or ignorance of their Jewish heritage. The change has certainly been extraordinary in a place where, “quite honestly, I could not have imagined 20 years ago it happening,” Novick said.
Courtesy Bet Alef
Rabbi Olivier BenHaim shows off the new ark commissioned for Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue’s 20th anniversary.
For some, it may seem like only yesterday. Yet it was just over 20 years ago that Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue’s charter members first ushered in the Jewish New Year together in Seattle.
Back in the summer of 1993, a rabbi and his family had just arrived in the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles, with the hopes of integrating a more spiritual Jewish practice into an evolving Seattle Jewish community.
“I appealed largely to people who were not connected with synagogues,” said Rabbi Ted Falcon, Bet Alef’s founding rabbi. Falcon started out as a Reform rabbi in Los Angeles, but became engaged in spirituality in the 1970s.
“I got involved in spirituality and what was called ‘non-duality’ back then,” said Falcon. “In those days, synagogues were not interested in that, but one could pursue spiritual paths through psychology.”
He sought a degree in psychology and, in pursuit of Jewish spirituality, in 1976 began to teach. He then helped establish the Jewish Renewal congregation, Makom Ohr Shalom, in 1978 and served there until his family headed north to Seattle.
By the fall of 1993, Falcon had formed a group that called itself Bet Alef Meditational Synagogue, and the approximately 40 members celebrated as they opened the doors to their first High Holiday services.
“Bet Alef is a different kind of animal than what I had in Los Angeles,” Falcon said. “The first couple years were kind of shaky, but then it found its own way.”
Falcon found that, by and large, Bet Alef appealed to those who sought out other spiritual traditions, particularly attracting those who hadn’t known spirituality in their Jewish upbringing.
“The goal was to provide a spiritual alternative for those who the existing institutions were not as helpful as they might have been,” said Falcon. This sentiment resonated for Jews like Olivier BenHaim.
Currently the rabbi at Bet Alef as it celebrates the 20-year mark, BenHaim never thought he would be the spiritual leader of a meditative synagogue, let alone a rabbi. He laughed when he said he didn’t take a straight path to becoming a rabbi.
Having grown up in France, BenHaim had few Jewish options. With a background in modern Orthodoxy, he decided at 18 to make aliyah and study in Israel.
“Those were difficult years living in Israel,” said BenHaim. “There was a lot of political turmoil, and during the first intifada, I was called to the army. At the same time, in the middle of my service, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered.”
BenHaim saw Israel’s population fracture and divide, with many Israelis cheering on the stalemate of the peace process. With so much in flux around him, he experienced a spiritual crisis and decided to leave both Israel and Judaism behind.
“I met my wife, followed her back to the U.S., and decided to stay,” BenHaim said. The two moved to Seattle, at which point he began to embark upon a spiritual path through Buddhism.
“There was a Buddhist-Jewish dialogue at that time at the Museum of History and Industry,” BenHaim recalled. “A Buddhist nun was having a conversation with a Rabbi — Rabbi Ted — and he was talking about spirituality.”
BenHaim described experiencing an “Aha!” moment.
“I didn’t realize that this was part of our practice,” he said. He began to understand he didn’t have to go outside of Judaism to find spirituality, but instead, he could “come home.”
At that point, it became clear to BenHaim that Bet Alef was a good fit for him — perhaps too good a fit.
“Rabbi Ted started to involve me in different aspects of the synagogue,” BenHaim said. “I led services a couple times and thought ‘I could do this.’”
Bet Alef hired BenHaim to work in administration at the synagogue and, slowly but surely, he began to work his way up to taking over the reins as rabbi. “I got a BA and then MA in Jewish Studies at the Hebrew College of Boston and in those five years, I was Rabbi Ted’s apprentice,” said BenHaim. “I was running the office — so I learned to do the office side of things.” At the same time he was teaching classes and officiating at lifecycle events.
In June of 2009, BenHaim received his ordination. As Falcon retired, there was a six-month transition period, and then BenHaim took over officially as the rabbi in January 2010.
Looking at the changing tapestry of both the Seattle Jewish community and Bet Alef as a spiritual alternative to traditional Jewish paths, BenHaim and Falcon see the last 20 years as not only necessary then, but it continues to be necessary now.
“For me it’s really important that we are completely involved in the life of the Jewish community as another option,” said BenHaim. “We’re not competing with any other synagogue, we are an alternative.”
As Bet Alef grows and evolves, BenHaim hopes to continue to respond to the need for inclusiveness for adults and children alike.
“I want to make sure that there is a generation of Jewish kids that know that this is an option,” BenHaim said. “ It’s important for me to say that this is available and available at whatever age you find it.”
This is the second year Bet Alef is offering its Shabbat school, B’yachad, which allows for family learning together.
“This is not ‘drop your child off to Sunday school,’ but instead an opportunity to come in and learn together,” BenHaim said. “Once the family leaves, they can keep talking about what they learned. People are really connecting with that — it’s wonderful.”
Bet Alef celebrated its 20th anniversary by moving into a new physical space in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, as well as commissioning and dedicating a new ark, made by former Seattleite Gabriel Bass, a woodworking artist who now lives in Israel.
Daisy, when she was a toddler, had her own stuffed menorah to celebrate Hanukkah, despite the fact that her family’s not Jewish.
Among the many millions of us who celebrated Hanukkah alongside Thanksgiving, a few active Facebook users came upon a small phenomenon: People who observed Hanukkah who aren’t even Jewish. These aren’t people who have Jewish spouses or family members who brought their holidays into the relationship. Instead, on their own they learned about the holiday and decided lighting a menorah would fit nicely into their lives.
Lisa Davenport of Bellevue grew up without religion, but “I’ve always had a lot of Jewish friends and always had a great deal of respect for the Jewish faith and drawn a lot of inspiration from Jewish writers,” she said.
She would have been satisfied to leave her Jewish involvement at that, were it not for her daughter Aya, 15.
“She was invited to several Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs and she loved it. She kept saying, ‘Why aren’t we Jewish?’” Davenport said. “She really wanted to celebrate Hanukkah.”
Aya wanted her own menorah, “so this year,” Davenport said, “I went out and got a menorah.”
And for eight nights the family lit the candles. They didn’t know the prayers, but they talked about the Hanukkah story, and compared it to difficult times in their own lives.
And, Davenport added, “I went to Goldberg’s and had a latke.”
Debra Kumar’s interest in Judaism goes back to 1994, upon the sudden death of her mother. For part of her life she had been raised Catholic, but her family left the church and she dabbled in other Christian denominations. “But then when my mother died,” she said, “everything flew out the window.”
So Kumar took it upon herself to learn about different world religions, “and when I got done, it was Judaism that spoke to me most logically,” she said. “I loved reading about the rituals, and the family traditions, and the traditions that are carried on in the community.”
The first of Kumar’s three children came along in 1995, and since then she and her husband, who is Hindu and comes from India, always made a point of talking about different faith traditions, though they don’t adhere to any single one. They put up a Christmas tree each year, she said, and they also light candles.
“We’ve had a menorah for a long time. I found it at a garage sale,” she said. “We’ll light the candles, and we’ll know what the meaning of it is.”
Though they have a lot of Jewish friends, Kumar noted, they haven’t actually celebrated the holiday with them.
“I’ve been to Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, that’s about it,” she said, but she finds them to be beautiful ceremonies.
“I’m always moved when I attend one of those and listen to the child read from the Torah,” she said.
Paige Stockley “grew up in a very liberal Episcopalian family and never knew any Jewish people growing up in Bellevue,” but “The Diary of Anne Frank” sparked an interest in the Holocaust at the age of 13.
“Gradually, I read more and more about the Holocaust, to the point where for the last 15 years, it is the only subject I read about (WW2 in general) because I continue to be shocked that such a thing could have happened,” Stockley told JTNews in an email.
When Stockley, a cellist, went to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music, she made many Jewish friends.
“Occasionally they would invite me to Passover celebrations,” she wrote, but she had yet to celebrate Hanukkah.
Fast forward to a decade ago, when she bought a house in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood next door to Dick and Kim Asia. The Asias would hold a lavish Hanukkah party each year, to which Stockley and her family were invited.
“I was thrilled to be a part of his Hanukkah celebration, in particular because it was a great way for my daughter to learn about Jewish traditions in a way that was very meaningful, considering that Dick was our neighbor,” she said.
In addition, she said, “it fits in with my politics — I think she should know about other traditions.”
What made the party more special, Stockley said, was that the Asias had been like parents to her after her own parents went down in Alaska Flight 261 in 2000.
Last year was different, however. Dick Asia was diagnosed with cancer in fall 2012. Because there was no party, her daughter Daisy “lit our menorah and put it in the kitchen window facing Dick and Kim’s living room,” Stockley said. “She cried and prayed for Dick.” He died a few weeks later.
This year, Stockley held the party. “By this time, Daisy was an expert on spinning the dreidel, knew the Hanukkah story inside out, and looked forward to the food and games and presents,” she said.
And with her other Jewish friends who joined her for this year’s celebrations, Stockley said that going forward, her home is the place to be for Hanukkah.
Desiree Pollock, also of Bellevue, hasn’t lit candles recently, but she did for quite a few years. It all started with her husband Aaron, who isn’t Jewish. But his college fraternity had a bunch of Jewish guys, so he would celebrate with them.
“Throughout the years we just were always around those kinds of holidays,” Pollock said.
When one of those Jewish frat buddies moved to the area with his wife and needed a place to stay while they built their house, the Pollocks volunteered their home for Jewish celebrations.
“Depending on what was needed, we’ve had some Hanukkah celebrations, we did Passover a couple times,” she said.
The family doesn’t practice a religion, Pollock said, but she’s always enjoyed the Jewish celebrations.
“There’s a reason for each one of those holidays, it’s not just getting together and having the food,” she said. “There is a family involvement, and so I like that.”
Pollock’s two kids, both of whom have left the nest, actually attended Catholic school, so they had exposure to world religions, at least on an academic level.
“When you go to a religious school, that’s built into the curriculum,” she said. “There’s no getting away from that.”
And while the kids were invited to plenty of Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, “I don’t think it much of an affect on them, other than understanding another culture,” she said.
While all of these families are happy to celebrate, they also wanted to educate. Stockley’s 8-year-old daughter Daisy knows exactly why her family celebrates Hanukkah: “Because we have many Jewish friends and we want to celebrate their traditions, too.”
Respect plays a part as well.
“I’ve been very careful because I don’t want to be disrespectful,” Davenport said.
Kumar echoed those sentiments.
“It’s kind of funny that we still adhere to this little ritual, and I hope that Jewish people don’t find it offensive,” she said. “We’re acknowledging Hanukkah, we’re acknowledging the events that occurred, and the customs that are built up around that.”
Kumar noted that her family’s candlelighting tradition was for her kids to learn about a different tradition. She is positive that as adults they will have a better appreciation for all faiths.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have done it had I not had a certain affinity for Jewish faith to begin with,” she said. “We’re a blended family and we already come from pretty distinctive upbringings, and it works beautifully.”
Teens who want to make change
Visonary teens — those who want to take action and make the world a better place — may have a venue to do just that. The California-based Helen Diller Family Foundation is accepting nominations for 10 teens, five from outside of California, to receive $36,000 each to help teens bolster their social justice projects and recognize their service. Past nominees have been recognized by the United Nations Foundation, the White House, and former President Bill Clinton.
These teens can be nominated by any member of their community except a family member, or they can nominate themselves. They must be Jewish, between the ages of 13 and 19, and they can’t be compensated for their service. The social justice projects are not required to benefit the Jewish community specifically, and they can serve populations locally, nationally or globally.
To nominate a teen, visit www.dillerteenawards.org, or contact email@example.com or call 415-512-6432 for further information.
Teens who want to experiment
Scientific teens — those whose interests lie in the sciences and hope to make a career out of research and gaining knowledge — can apply to join the month-long Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Science Institute at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, which takes place during July 2014. Incoming high school seniors with interests in multiple fields can apply for one of 19 spots at the institute, which will consist of intensive study among small groups, as well as a week in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea to study the ecological and geological characteristics of the region.
Each student chosen will receive a full scholarship for the program, which includes airfare to Israel. To apply or for further information, contact Rebecca Server at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Ladino Day takes place on Thurs., Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at Hillel at the University of Washington, 4745 17th Ave., NE, Seattle. Free, but RSVP required at ladinoday.eventbrite.com. Space is limited.
It took more than 500 years of waiting, then six or so months of planning, and on Dec. 5, the last day of Hanukkah, the first International Ladino Day will take place in Seattle and cities around the world.
“It came as a result of a proposal by an institution in Jerusalem called the National Authority for Ladino, which is an official organization in Israel,” said Devin Naar, the Marsha and Jay Glazer Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, and heads the Sephardic Studies Initiative in the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.
Ladino, the language that many Jews of Sephardic heritage spoke over the centuries as their day-to-day tongue, came close to extinction with the eradication of many of Europe’s Jewish communities during the Holocaust. The last generation of native Ladino speakers is aging, so the language’s champions want to celebrate it while those speakers are still alive.
The hour-and-a-half-long event will be “an attempt to highlight the richness and diversity of the Ladino language and culture,” said Naar.
Given that the Seattle program is a collaboration between community members and UW faculty and students, the presenters will range in age from 19 to 90-plus, Naar said.
A group of 20-plus Ladino speakers that meets each week in Seattle’s Central District will play a prominent role in the event, telling histories of the city’s Sephardic History.
“I’ve got a whole history of Sephardic Jewry and how it got started in Seattle,” said Isaac Azose, hazzan emeritus of Sephardic Congregation Ezra Bessaroth. He translated portions of the history into Ladino, and then distributed them to members of the weekly Ladino group for them to read onstage. Azose will lead a few songs as well, including Flory Jagoda’s Sephardic Hanukkah hit “Ocho Kandelikas.”
Also attending will be Lela Abravanel, a Greek-born woman who now lives in the Seattle area who has collected more than 500 Ladino proverbs.
“I’ve asked her to share her top five,” Naar said.
In addition to Jewish Studies sponsoring the program, the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies is involved, as are Congregations Sephardic Bikur Holim and Ezra Bessaroth, and the Seattle Sephardic Brotherhood.
Azose told JTNews that everything started in January of this year, when Zelda Ovadia, who works for a Ladino-language magazine called “Ki Yerushalayim,” posted — in Ladino, naturally — a message to the online Yahoo! listserve Ladino Komunita.
“Organizing something like this, it would be necessary for a lot of cooperation among different facets in the world,” Azose translated to JTNews, “but with everyone’s good will, we can do the impossible.”
The Israel National Authority for Ladino’s founder and head, Yitzchak Navon, a native Ladino speaker, listened and issued the proclamation for Dia de Ladino Internacionale. Conversations that followed between Azose and Naar, among others, fueled the drive for a Seattle event.
For this year’s event, Seattle joins cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Dallas in the U.S., and Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Madrid, and Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel to celebrate the language and culture.
“The aspiration, I think, is that it would be an annual event and that it would be celebrated annually on the last day of Hanukkah in a variety of places across the world,” Naar said, “so our hope would be to do another program next year.”
Prof. Noam Pianko, director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, said the International Ladino Day was just one in many initiatives within the center’s Sephardic Studies Program that has gathered steam over the past two years. That includes bringing in a visiting professor, David Bunis, who heads the Ladino language program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and, starting in winter quarter, the only Ladino language course in the U.S. that will use Hebrew letters instead of transliterations.
“One of the advantages of having the Sephardic Studies Program at the University of Washington is, thanks to Devin’s leadership, we are able to mobilize around a major event like [International Ladino Day] and provide a home,” Pianko said. “It shows how quickly the Sephardic Studies Program has grown into a real central player in helping to contribute to Sephardic life and culture in Seattle.”
Lauren Berkowitz, right, discusses neighborhood issues with outgoing Burien mayor Brian Bennett and Spanish interpreter Margarita Gallo in the Olde Burien neighborhood during her successful city council campaign.
If you would have asked Lauren Berkowitz three years ago if she’d be running for a spot on Burien’s City Council, she probably would have laughed. But the 29-year-old University of Washington law student wasn’t planning a path to political victory after finishing her undergraduate degree at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2007.
Following her graduation, Lauren worked as a union organizer for First United Food and Commercial Workers 21 and then with the Washington Federation of State Employers.
“There are very few disincentives for people to violate labor laws,” Berkowitz said, so she decided to go back to school and concentrate on a law degree that specializes in public-interest labor laws.
The call to serve her community came about from her need for social justice where she lives. After living in North Highline for three and a half years, Berkowitz felt frustrated that the city wouldn’t meet basic neighborhood needs.
“Our neighbors were promised things like sidewalks and haven’t seen them built,” she said. “Only one or two parts of Burien have all of those services, but they already have representation. I needed to get involved in order to get representation.”
Once she decided to run and began to go door to door to campaign, Berkowitz realized her neighbors’ concerns lined up with her own.
“They want sidewalks, animal control, traffic regulation,” she said. “I’m a person who knows how to bring people together.”
While another grueling year of law school at the UW lies ahead of her, Berkowitz will be taking her Position 1 seat in January.
“It’s definitely tough, but I like to be busy and social justice is paramount,” she said.
She believes her city council role dovetails nicely with her studies.
“There are a lot of labor concerns in Burien and there isn’t a lot of representation in those areas,” she said.
Five years ago, Berkowitz and her campaign coordinator Jeff Upthegrove met while he was making the transition to becoming a full-time campaign manager. Back then, Berkowitz wasn’t necessarily interested in politics, but he definitely saw in her a spark for public service.
“Lauren decided to run because she lives in North Highline and had a sense that the council in Burien was disconnected from a lot of the residents,” Upthegrove said. “She felt that her skills as an organizer would bring more citizen involvement in the city.”
That was the basis of Berkowitz’s message: More citizen involvement, more input, more listening to people’s needs, such as the need for sidewalks, streetlights, safe routes to school, traffic control, and other neighborhood issues.
“We raised about $14,000, which is fairly large amount in a Burien race,” said Upthegrove. “[Her opponent] Jack Block, Jr. outspent us by a few thousand dollars.”
Berkowitz’s campaign primarily used that money for direct mailings, but the primary focus was voter contact — knocking on every door possible. Upthegrove said that between Berkowitz and her supporters, they knocked on about 5,000 doors.
“That’s why I believe she won,” said Upthegrove. “When you meet a candidate face to face, it’s compelling.”
Block has held the council seat for eight years. Berkowitz said the biggest difference between them was her coalition-building experience.
“I have the ability to find common ground and have people come together in a collaborative way to accomplish those goals,” she said.
While there were not many contentious issues in the race, Berkowitz represents an area of Burien located close to a portion of unincorporated King County that the city would like to annex. In the end, Berkowitz said, this issue nearly cost her the victory.
“Though my opponent was pro-annexation, he decide to run as anti-annexation,” she said.
While Berkowitz had prepared herself for some level of criticism based on her age, she was caught off-guard by personal attacks she encountered on the Burien Blog.
“I was expecting to be told I was inexperienced; it’s an easy attack,” she said. “I can’t say that I’m surprised, but it was unexpected and disappointing.”
Typhoon Haiyan as viewed from space.
Several Jewish organizations have set up funds to help provide aid for the wounded in the Philippines, the families of the more than 10,000 victims, and the people left homeless in the Typhoon Haiyan’s wake.
Jewish Federations of North America is taking donations online at bit.ly/1i7EDpD or through the mail at Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Funds will be distributed through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is focused on providing on-the-ground aid for survivors. Donations to the Orthodox Union and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are also being directed to the JDC.
The Union for Reform Judaism will distribute funds collected to aid groups already working in the region. Donate online at urj.org/socialaction/issues/relief.
American Jewish World Service will be channeling funds primarily to local Filipino aid groups. Donate online at bit.ly/19inkKt.
Hillel at the University of Washington’s J-Kick campaign creators Rayna Shoihat, left, Josh Furman, center, and Oren Hayon toast what they hope will be the product of four years of learning for UW freshmen who take part in the Vintage UW wine-making program.
On November 4, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle launched what it is calling one of its most innovative “value-add” programs ever to be introduced: They set up a website and then mostly stepped away, saying, “Good luck, and may the force be with you.” The new Federation-sponsored site, J-Kick, combines “Jewish” and “Kickstarter” as a way for local organizations to raise project funds.
Kickstarter, if you’re not familiar, is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. The company’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life. Since launching in 2009, 5.1 million people have pledged $867 million, funding 51,000 creative projects such as films, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, and food-related projects. People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and one-of-a-kind experiences in exchange for their varying levels of support.
J-Kick was born out of a desire and need for the Federation to continue forging ahead in its mission to engage a younger, ever-evolving Jewish audience. While the Federation itself continues to raise money with its traditional Jewish population, its leaders have come to realize that engaging Jewish millennials means tapping into a new way of fundraising and communication.
“Federations emerged years ago in order to centralize fundraising and grantmaking within the Jewish community, and that was great, but this is not your grandfather’s Federation,” said Jim DiPeso, the Federation’s director of communications. “Today’s Federation donors have new ideas and new ways of thinking about getting the most out of their philanthropic dollars.”
J-Kick is open to 501(c)(3) organizations in Washington State or individuals who have a 501(c)(3) organization as their fiscal sponsor. Projects must serve the Jewish community in Washington State, have a fundraising goal ranging from $1,800 to $18,000, and cannot be under consideration for any other Federation grant while being listed on J-Kick. From the time the project goes live on the site, the funding goal must be reached by 30, 45 or 60 days — a period determined by the project’s manager. A project will receive funds if it reaches a “tipping point”: Two-thirds of the fundraising goal.
Allowing organizations that already receive traditional Federation funding — applying for and receiving specific programming grants each year — to get more creative and specific with their fundraising is exactly what the Federation intends to encourage with J-Kick.
“This is a way for new ideas that maybe don’t fall within the traditional funding guidelines to get funded and people can get excited about it,” said Keith Dvorchik, the Federation’s president and CEO. “We can use it as a way to broaden and expand what’s offered in our Jewish community.”
Since the launch earlier this month, eight projects have appeared on J-Kick. They vary from the “Schechter Tub,” a hot tub for Camp Solomon Schechter, to Vintage UW, which will allow Hillel students to create and bottle their own kosher wines.
Rabbi Oren Hayon, executive director of Hillel at University of Washington, said he is intrigued about how his agency’s experience using J-Kick will go.
“Vintage UW is a little bit of an experiment for us; we’re not sure how people are going to respond and we’re not sure how it’s all going to work,” said Hayon. “We’ll see how this works differently from our traditional fundraising.”
Given that J-Kick is so different from its other fundraising efforts, Hillel leaders are excited to see if the campaign is successful.
“Because it’s a really student focused project, we’ll be able to reach students and other people in new ways,” Hayon said.
As of Nov. 13, the project had received donations from nine funders, totaling 15 percent of the $1,800 effort, with 37 days left to donate. Another project, Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue’s “Living a Life that Matters,” which will bring in a Jewish Zen master for a Shabbaton weekend, has brought in $2,147 of its requested $5,744. That campaign incorporates incentives, such as lunch with the special guest for the highest donation level, to sweeten the pot.
Local entrepreneur Dan Shapiro believes that the successful projects will be the ones that engage the hearts and imaginations of the Jewish community.
“If J-Kick allows donors to feel more connected to their community, everyone is going to benefit,” he said.
Shapiro launched a Kickstarter for a children’s board game in September, which raised more than $630,000 — over 25 times its original goal.
“The advent of crowdfunding has changed the relationship of people to projects that they care about,” said Shapiro. “With services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, people can find inspiration and role models in projects that bring them joy, and then back those in a way that is both affordable to them and meaningful to the project creator.”
But Kickstarter disallows charity fundraising, so Shapiro sees J-Kick as having the potential to bring this same ethos to a new type of program.
“That should be an opportunity, not a chore, for the people who work tirelessly to support it,” Shapiro points out. “By opening up ‘the budget’ to the community, and letting people vote with their pocketbooks, I think we could see a renaissance in Jewish community support.”
However, Max Temkin, a Chicago-based entrepreneur who co-created the wildly successful Kickstarter project Cards Against Humanity, is skeptical. He doesn’t believe the design of J-Kick will hold up when compared to the Kickstarter model. Over email, Tempkin told JTNews that “crowdfunding is revolutionary and it’s changed my life and I’m happy for any opportunity for people to get to make their own things, but I don’t think J-Kick is a great tool,” he wrote. “They charge backers when the project reaches 67 percent of funding, which seems like it would lead to a scenario where people have money from backers but not enough money to execute their project,” with regard to the “tipping-point” policy implemented by J-Kick.
With many of the project managers creating the J-Kicks being new to crowdfunding and how to budget exactly what may or may not be needed to carry out a successful project, this may lead to underfunded, impossible completions, implied Temkin.
DiPeso said the idea of modeling J-Kick this way was to straddle between two crowdfunding schools of thought: One that gives projects the money only if they reach their goals, and the other that allows projects to take whatever they’re pledged, regardless of the goal.
With the all-or-nothing model, “it creates a sense of urgency, so it really behooves the agency listing the project to really get out there and create a compelling message and market the project,” he said.
At the same time, the Federation didn’t want agencies who didn’t reach their full goals to end up with nothing.
“We’re looking for some middle ground,” he said.
Every year just before Hanukkah, our intrepid JTNews staffers and our neighbors eat lots and lots of kosher treats — sweet, savory, liquory, kale — so you have a good resource for what, besides latkes and jelly doughnuts, you can serve at your Hanukkah parties or take as gifts. This year presented us with a new, once-in-a-lifetime challenge: How can we integrate Thanksgiving into the festivities?
So integrate we did. So while you’re busy cooking the turkey, behold the bounty that our forefathers and their pilgrims have created so you can celebrate the holidays — whether together or whether you wait for the weekend — in gut-busting style.
All things Thanksgiving
Shoshannah marked the little Two-Bite Pumpkin Tarts from QFC ($5.99) as a favorite. I liked the flavor and consistency of the pumpkin purée with real cream cheese on the top, but could have used a bit more of the filling and a bit less of the crust.
They are “great,” said Sara. “I can have two without overdoing.”
“Delicious,” raved Nicole.
We also tried Trader Joe’s pumpkin cheesecake ($6.99), which got raves all around. “Smooth and good flavor,” noted Becky.
Cheryl loved the Jewel Date Co.’s organic date pecan rolls (Central Co-op, $8.99.) “Heavenly,” she exclaimed. Dikla concurred with a simple, “Yum!” Lynn said they were okay — “if you like dates.”
Trader Joe’s joined the pecan party with its pecan pralines ($5.49), which got ratings that ranged from Becky’s “good flavor” to “great!” to Lynn’s “delicious!” Or, as Shoshanna put it, “Pecans are perfect!”
Some other notables: “Licorice twists are a quality product and should be part of everyone’s Hanukkah gifts,” noted Jean. You can find Newman’s Own Sour Apple Licorice Twists at Central Co-op ($2.29).
To drink, we tried Genesis organic apple-ginger juice from Central Co-op ($3.69) which got competing requests for both more apple and more ginger. While one taster thought it had a “very sharp ginger taste with just an essence of apple at the end,” Emily found it wasn’t flavorful enough. “But it still tastes good,” she said.
For the game
Thanksgivukkah just isn’t Thanksgivukkah without football. Isn’t that what the Maccabees were fighting for? We tried chips galore, some of which we’d never seen before — like Food Should Taste Good’s kimchi chips (Central Co-op, $3.29) which got universal likes, especially when dipped in such tasty dips as Trader Joe’s smoked salmon dip with capers ($3.99). According to Cheryl: “Best. Combo. Ever.”
But pairing the Kimchi chips or Snack Factory’s garlic cheese pretzel thins (QFC, $2) with some Bone Suckin’ Mustard (QFC, $5.99) also got great reviews.
“Bone Suckin’ Mustard is da bomb,” exclaimed Cheryl.
“Very tasty,” said Nicole, while Addison noted it is “very good with pretzel crisps.”
The chip market has clearly gone Middle Eastern, judging from the Boulder Chip Company’s sesame hummus tortilla chips (Central Co-op, $3.29) — “delicious and totally addicting,” said Emily — and Flamous O’s falafel chips (Central Co-op, $5.19). “Yum, without the mess,” said another of our tasters. Try either of them with Sabra’s cucumber dip (QFC $5.99), also known to you food connoisseurs as tzatziki.
And in case, after all this food (and maybe some beer) you’re not already feeling pickled, how about some actual pickles? We tried Dietz & Watson kosher spears from Albertson’s (3.59) which got one vote of “perfect,” though Jean considered them too be too bland. “I like mine with more crunch,” said Emily. But also on the plate we tried Bubbie’s pickled tomatoes, which Dee said were “just like New York.”
“Surprisingly good,” echoed Benjamina.
Bread and cheese
After the big game, but before the big meal, or if you’re just getting the party started, we couldn’t beat the selection of crackers, breads and cheeses. The big favorite? Trader Joe’s Holiday Hot Herb Brie Dip ($4.99). “Fabulous!” said Lynn.
I couldn’t agree more, even after it had cooled. We tried it on La Brea Bakery’s sweet potato pecan bread (Albertson’s, $4.99) — “my favorites!” said Dikla — and Schwartz Bros. rustic black olive loaf (QFC, $3.99), which she called crunchy, with a nice texture. For the gluten-free folks, Back to Nature’s gluten-free crackers (Whole Foods, $3.99) seemed to do the trick.
Cheryl couldn’t stop raving about Trader Joe’s dukkah spice mix ($2.99), which when mixed with their XV black truffle olive oil ($4.99) and sopped up with the olive loaf, rocked her world.
If you’re looking for a little sweet to go with the savory, we tried three different goat cheeses from Trader Joe’s: Called “holiday logs,” each was coated with wild blueberries ($4.49), apples and cinnamon ($4.49), or cranberries ($3.99).
Benjamina found the apples and cinnamon “a little too sweet” while I liked the sour bite that came with the cranberry. “Perfect for the fall,” agreed Sara.
As much as we recommend so many items each year, we did find a couple you should avoid as well. Taste, of course, is subjective, but everybody who tried these items hated them.
We picked up Katz’s gluten-free cinnamon donuts from Whole Foods ($5.99) because we thought something that’s been certified gluten-free in the kosher world might be held to a higher standard than the current GF marketing craze. No such luck. We couldn’t even chew ’em. We’ll sum it up with this simple review from Ruth: “Tastes like a dry sock.”
Same with Brad’s Piña Kale-Ada leafy kale chips from Central Co-op ($7.99). “Atrocious! Gross!” said Emily. “Ew,” agreed Cheryl. “I will stick to real kale.”
Yes, yes, we know. We also tried the dessert first. But why not finish with something sweet, as well? So we’ll go Hanukkah style with Silver Lake Cookie Company’s Hanukkah butter cookies, in lovely little star and dreidel shapes topped with blue sugar crystals (QFC, $3.49). “Bland!” said Emily. “Delicious!” I said — but I’m a sucker for a good butter cookie, especially when they’re as cute as this. Shoshannah found them kind of dry.
Brown & Haley’s Almond Roca cookies (Albertson’s, $3.99) — that’s right, they’ve taken those yummy, foil-wrapped bits and turned them into cookies — got a warmer reception. “Nice looking, and taste good, too,” said Lynn, but Nicole didn’t like the flavor of the chocolate, plus it had a “weird texture.”
We’ll finish off with an Israeli favorite, which Dikla said reminded her of her childhood, Galil-Hashahar H’Aole’s cocoa spread (Albertson’s $4.89). “Yummy,” said Lynn. Dip in a Trader Joe’s whole-grain pretzel stick ($1.99) — or your finger — and you’ll be in heaven. We certainly were.
Naomi Kramer and Charyl Kay Sedlik take part in a training session to talk about I-594 at signature gathering spots and in synagogues.
It has been almost one year since the Sandy Hook school shooting that rocked the nation last December.
As demolition crews this week razed the school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 1st graders and six employees were killed by a 20-year-old gunman, grassroots community organizers have been taking to the streets in Washington State with petitions for new gun-reform legislation, Initiative 594, which community leaders hope will appear on the fall 2014 ballot.
I-594 would require background checks for online sales and private transactions, such as those that occur at gun shows. The checks would be conducted at federally licensed firearm dealers, where potential buyers must already undergo such scrutiny before purchasing a new weapon.
Helping to lead the way for the I-594 campaign is Cheryl Stumbo, a former marketing director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, who filed the motion with the secretary of state. Stumbo was one of five women wounded during the 2006 shooting at the Federation’s offices. One woman, Pamela Waechter, died in the attack.
Stumbo now works with the non-profit group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility as one of its faith organizers.
“We go out and help different organizations work with their social justice congregation members and faith leaders getting those congregations activated around this issue,” she told JTNews.
Because of the divisive nature of this issue, WAAGR decided to dedicate organizers to the faith community.
“We help support their efforts because [the faith communities] support this issue of gun responsibility and background checks,” Stumbo said.
Stumbo did not immediately gravitate toward gun-reform activism. Even after physically healing from the incident at the Jewish Federation, she continued to struggle with the winding path of emotional recovery.
“Whenever I saw anything on the news [about the shooting] I would feel a little destroyed for a few days or a week,” she said. “I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I wanted to do something about it.”
Once she made that decision, it became easier for Stumbo to become proactive in the gun-reform movement in Washington State. “I went down to Olympia and testified about the bill that [State Rep. Jamie Peterson (D–43rd)] was trying to advance for background checks in the state,” Stumbo said. “That’s when I met Zach Silk.”
As campaign director for Washington United for Marriage, which successfully worked to pass the referendum last year to uphold same-sex marriage, Silk had moved on to the group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to lead the initiative campaign for gun responsibility. Working closely with Silk was Zach Carstensen, the director of government relations and public affairs at the Jewish Federation.
“This community, this Federation has had firsthand experience with gun violence,” Carstensen said. “At the most basic level, that is the reason why this Jewish Federation cares so much about this issue.”
Carstensen emphasized the mandate that Federation leadership has issued over the years since the shooting to pave the way for significant, impactful gun reform. He points out that the Federation has supported all manner of policy solutions — mapping public schools and religious schools, increased security funding for vulnerable institutions, and in particular, improving the mental health system in the state.
Alongside the efforts of the WAAGR, the Federation continues to seek comprehensive solutions to gun reform.
“Fifteen Jewish organizations have endorsed the need to have universal background checks,” Carstensen said. “We’re going to keep growing that list, follow every lead and every possibility until we make a change in the state.”
Another key player in this effort, Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, has been working with his congregation, Seattle’s Jewish community, and the faith community at large toward gun responsibility education and reform.
“This has been a long-standing concern, especially with the Reform Judaism movement,” Weiner said. “The real catalyst was the Connecticut shooting.”
In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Weiner and other Seattle clergy banded together and made a pledge to work toward making a difference with gun reform.
“Washington is at the forefront,” Weiner said. “Our state has the opportunity to again lead the way in sensible social policy.”
On the other side of the coin is the Second Amendment Foundation, whose headquarters in Bellevue are working toward an initiative of their own, Initiative 591.
I-591 was written this past spring by Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
The two key points I-591 address are the confiscation of guns or other firearms from citizens without due process by government agents and that government agencies requiring background checks on the recipient of a firearm should be illegal unless those checks meet a uniform national standard.
Dave Workman, communications director for Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said I-591 is a much simpler initiative than 594.
“If I wanted to buy a firearm in Bellevue or Spokane or Walla Walla, it should be no different than any background check in another city in the United States,” Workman told JTNews. “There’s no reason to add a bunch of hoops for people to jump through.” Currently, no uniform national standard for background checks exists, but Workman believes there should be.
“Why do you want to make it more difficult to exercise a fundamental civil right?” he asked.
Both initiatives will ramp up their efforts to meet the January 3, 2014 deadline for gathering the 246,372 required valid signatures for the initiative to appear on next fall’s ballot. Stumbo said WAAGR’s goal is to have all of its signatures by December 14, the anniversary date of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Alise Shafer Ivey, founder and director of Evergreen Community School in Santa Monica, Calif., will teach two courses for local Jewish early-childhood teachers on Nov. 4 and 5. Ivey is a pioneer on helping young children explore and develop their higher-level thinking skills.
“All the big ideas of society and community and how people have to behave — all those big ideas and big questions, the little ones are testing their theories,” said Liat Zaidenberg, director of education services at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, which is sponsoring the event. “We thought that bringing her to expose her ideas, with her examples, here in Seattle would be beneficial to all the teachers.”
Ivey’s two courses will be hands-on and put her theories into practice, Zaidenberg said.
The first course, “Thinking About Thinking: Developing Metacognition in Young Children,” will take place Mon., Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. at Seattle Hebrew Academy. The second, “Doubting and Believing: The Roots of Constructivism,” is scheduled for Tues., Nov. 5, at 4 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom. STARS, Clock Hours and JTC credits are available for both courses. Each will focus on how teachers can develop their students’ cognitive abilities and support their ideas. Interested teachers should contact email@example.com or 206-774-2256 for registration information.
“I’m excited to bring someone like her to our community,” Zaidenberg said. “We have to be open to make our work better and work toward excellence, and this is a great way to start and continue.”
Dr. Saul Rivkin, who founded the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, will be honored on Nov. 9 by the center for his 17 years of work in research and treatment of the disease. The center is named for his first wife, Marsha, who died of ovarian cancer in 1993. The award, called the Babs Fisher Valor Award, is named for Fisher, a member of the Jewish community who died of the disease in 2004. According to the Rivkin Center, ovarian cancer affects approximately 200,000 women worldwide, 18,000 of them in the U.S., and 70 percent of those diagnoses are terminal. However, the center also notes that 90 percent of early diagnoses offer greater chances for survival. Jewish women who carry the BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation, which is better known for its high connection to breast cancer risk, also has a 45 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Rivkin was one of Swedish Medical Center’s first medical oncologists when he began working there in 1971, and retired from Swedish this past July to devote more time to the Rivkin Center.
For the fifth time in its seven-year existence, the Kavana Cooperative was listed in the annual Slingshot Guide as being among the top 50 innovative Jewish organizations in the country.
In light of the recently released Pew Research Center survey on American Jews, “It’s nice external validation that the work we’re doing here is important for the bigger picture, particularly with all the talk in the Jewish community in recent weeks,” said Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Kavana’s founder and executive director.
Kavana, based in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, formed in 2006 to bring together prayer, community-building, and social justice to allow any of its participants to express their Judaism in ways that make them feel most comfortable. With the Pew study showing that Jewish organizations do need to adjust to the changing landscape of involvement, “ours is one of the models that’s being held up on the national level,” Nussbaum said.
While Slingshot was originally formed by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies in 2004 to help young Jews with family foundations understand where they should direct their funding, it has since become a resource for creating best practices and connecting these organizations.
Meeting with these organizations has “been a really nice source for a peer network. Out of that have grown a number of collaborative relationships,” Nussbaum said.
At the same time, however, with the funding opportunities that being included in the guidebook present, “it’s really nice for our individual donors to understand that the work we’re doing is important,” she said.
Torahthon will be held on Wed., Nov. 6 at 7 p.m., and on Sun., Nov. 10 at 9:30 a.m. at Herzl-Ner Tamid, 3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island. On Wed., Nov. 13 sessions will take place at 7 p.m. at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1441 16th Ave., Seattle. Cost is $15 per session, or $36 for all three days. Visit www.h-nt.org to register online or call 206-232-8555, ext. 207.
Torah study goes way outside the box at each year’s Torahthon. This year, at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation’s seventh event, they are going to need an even bigger box.
Learners can take in political sessions like “Israel’s Settlements: Fulfilling God’s Will or Leading to Disaster?”; social justice topics like “The Immigration Debate: 1914 and 2014”; eco-sessions on “What’s Jewish About Jewish Environmentalism”; or traditional prayer subjects like “The Kaddish: What is it and Why?”; and even personal development modules like “Jewish Criticism: Must I Tell You When You Are Wrong?”
But don’t stop there.
There will be wider opportunities this year to expand your mind with topics like “Southern Rabbis and Civil Rights” or “Sex: What is the Jewish Perspective on Pleasure?” Going further out, how about “The Jewish Virgin Mary,” or even “Breaking Bad and The Yetzer HaRa: Morality Tale or Moral Relativism?”
Of course, there’s plenty of traditional and analytical text study, too, which is why the variety of teaching at the event has enough to satisfy questions that many Jews probably haven’t yet thought of.
“A record number of teachers approached us, without having to be asked, and offered to teach,” Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, senior rabbi at Herzl-Ner Tamid told JTNews. “We tried not to turn anyone away. We had more offers than we could accommodate this year — a wonderful problem to have.”
During his teaching, Rosenbaum will examine the male-female duality of the Shechinah, the Hebrew word for God’s feminine qualities. If God is one, posits Rosenbaum, than both male and female must operate simultaneously.
“For example, on the High Holidays, I quoted thinkers who believed that women are better at relationships than men,” Rosenbaum said. “Do we agree, or is that sexist?”
Rosenbaum cited the Talmud, the compilation of Jewish law and legend, which says that when two people study together the Shechinah is there, too. This “presence,” Rosenbaum said, embodies “receptivity, acceptance, listening, and relationship.”
On the continuum of an individual’s tendency to focus on the self, Temple De Hirsch Sinai’s senior rabbi, Daniel Weiner, will take on the subject of the yetzer ha-ra, or the “evil inclination,” which according to Weiner, the rabbis say we all have but probably don’t manage very well.
Through the lens of Walter White, the cancer-plagued former chemistry teacher who decides to sell crystal methadrine in AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” Weiner told JTNews that this often rejected or hidden part of our personalities can also be used as a force for good, even when it seems so “bad.”
“It has opened a window into the soul of our cultural moment, as many of us were both horrified by his descent and rooting for his success,” wrote Weiner in his course description.
But, without giving it all away, Weiner told JTNews that we also have the ability to transform this part of ourselves.
“Remember, the rabbis also teach that the yetzer ha-ra is necessary for a healthy ambition,” said Weiner. “A channeling of the yetzer ha-ra is what is advised. There’s no way to extinguish it.”
Shirah Bell, the senior teacher at The Mussar Institute who directs its core program, Everyday Holiness, may be able to help with that. Bell’s central mission is to guide individuals toward turning their daily schedules into spiritual opportunities.
Her session, “Guilt-Free Parenting! Mussar Principles for Raising a Mensch While Becoming More of One Yourself,” could transform a parent’s daily routine of car trips to and from the market and school into a personal growth class.
“Interactions with our children give us ample opportunities to see where our behaviors and attitudes are poor reflections of our pure soul,” Bell told JTNews. “Rather than ‘fixing’ our children or our spouses, we can use the difficulties to get to work repairing ourselves.”
Bell also holds local Mussar classes and mentors individuals in Mussar and spirituality.
“As a parent we can treat our children as seeds that are sprouting,” said Bell. “They can sprout on their own, but our job is to guide the direction of the growth. We can do that most effectively if we improve our own character while we guide our children in improving theirs.”
Other courses will bring in out-of-town guests such as Alan Elsner, J Street’s vice president of communications, and Dr. Alon Tal, founder of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.
Torahthon 7 is being co-hosted by Temple De Hirsch Sinai and supported by grants from the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the Alfred & Tillie Shemanski Foundation, and several other local co-sponsors including synagogues, Jewish schools and university programs.
Temple Beth Am’s new rabbis, Jason Levine and Ilene Bogosian.
When Rabbis Beth and Jonathan Singer announced they would be leaving their positions as co-senior rabbis of Temple Beth Am earlier this year, it left this North Seattle synagogue in the unenviable position of having to find not one new rabbi, but two. Following multiple discussions within the synagogue community and with the Union for Reform Judaism’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, Beth Am introduced its two new rabbis at the beginning of August. One plans to stick around for a while. The other hopes she won’t.
Rabbi Jason Levine, Beth Am’s new assistant rabbi, graduated from Hebrew Union College this past spring.
“For me, as a new rabbi, it’s an extremely supportive place,” Levine told JTNews. “People so far have been very receptive to a new rabbi who’s still learning on the job, learning the ropes as I go.”
Levine, a born-and-bred Midwesterner — he grew up in St. Louis and Cleveland — originally intended to become a scientist. He didn’t actually feel the call of the rabbinate until he went to college.
“I got involved in a lot of community-building activities, social justice activities, a lot of interfaith activities,” he said. “All the things that I love doing in my life are the tasks and roles of the rabbi, and they just melded perfectly together.”
Where he particularly found joy in the idea of becoming a rabbi was the idea that “I could work with people, help them during the difficult parts of their lives, the celebratory parts of their lives, help them grow up together, [and] help them enjoy life together,” he said.
While many of his fellow rabbinical students stayed relatively close to HUC’s Cincinnati campus, “I was keeping my options open as wide as possible,” Levine said. “I love traveling, I love trying out new places, so geography was not limiting for me.”
Among other options were returning to Hillel to work with students, but Levine said he doesn’t see a big difference between that and what he’s doing at Beth Am.
“One of the things that I’m happy about here is this sense of curiosity, this sense of community building, this sense of responsibility to the world, which is so passionate in the Hillel community,” he said, “along with the sense of informality and just sheer fun.”
On the flipside of Levine is Rabbi Ilene Bogosian, whose role as intentional interim senior rabbi is to be just that: Interim. Bogosian had long dreamed of the rabbinate long before women were allowed ordination. And because women — “they called them girls in those days,” she said — did not go to seminary, Bogosian instead became a psychiatric social worker.
“I’ve since discovered that a lot of the women of my generation who had a calling for the rabbinate wound up in psychology one way or another,” she said.
But she reached a turning point in her career, and someone suggested she actually go through with rabbinical school. Upon ordination, she spent 10 years at a Hillel in the Boston area, but decided she wanted to work with a broader population. That work included chaplaincies in long- and short-term care facilities. Then the Reform movement’s placement director suggested interim work.
“I was very skeptical at the time, I think partly because of my psychiatry background,” Bogosian said. “And here I am, nine years later, still doing this work, and getting feedback from people that there’s something about my presence and the way I work with congregations when they’re in transition that is very useful, very helpful.”
Rabbi Deborah Prinz, who oversees CCAR’s intentional interim rabbi program, told JTNews that “the need is very clear for there to be a transitional time for the congregation to regroup and recover and reassess what it is and what it wants to be under the circumstances in the intentional interim period.”
Due in part to her social work background, Bogosian has a “great skillset in this area,” Prinz said. “We turn to her as one of the veterans and really skilled people in the field.”
The intentional interim program began because leadership within the URJ and CCAR became concerned about congregations making mistakes in their rabbinical searches.
“Congregations that didn’t allow themselves this time and the expertise of an intentional rabbi would often find themselves having an unintentional interim,” Prinz said. “The rabbi would end up staying for a year or two instead of a longer time.”
While Bogosian has her normal rabbinical duties — leading services, comforting bereaved families, teaching courses — she also has the role of providing guidance for the temple’s rabbinical search committee.
“There’s an additional layer of the awareness of helping the congregation through this huge change, and it varies from congregation to congregation as to what it may or may not need for that intentional interim period,” Prinz said.
Because she is by design not allowed to be in the running for the permanent position, Bogosian knows she will hand her reins to a new rabbi at the end of the one-year process, and will also help the new rabbi transition onto his or her pulpit.
“The most challenging part of my year is the part when I have to say goodbye,” she said, “because part of the integrity of my work is I have to disappear, for the most part, at the end of the year so that people can bond with their new rabbi.”
Having a home base, a husband and strong support network, and the kids out of the house makes her transitions much easier, she said.
Elizabeth Asher, Beth Am’s board president, said the decision to go with an interim rabbi and assistant rabbi was the right one.
“We’re both learning from each other,” she said. “Out of that learning we’re both growing and I think the temple is on a steady course.”
One thing both Levine and Bogosian have found is that their new synagogue is an active, busy place. “There’s so much energy here. People are so engaged and committed,” Bogosian said. “There’s a higher proportion than in many places of people with core levels of involvement in this community, and I enjoy seeing that.”
“To find a place like Beth Am is a rare thing indeed, where there are so many things happening at once, and people are so open to each other,” Levine said. “I could not think of a place I’d rather be to start my rabbinical career.”
The annual luncheon for the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center takes place Thurs., Oct. 31 at 11:30 a.m. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. for the exhibition. At the Westin Seattle, 1900 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Minimum donation of $180 requested. Visit www.wsherc.org or call 206-774-2201 to register.
When JTNews caught up with Mark Weitzman this week, he spoke to us from Turkey, where he was taking part in a seminar on Holocaust education.
“It’s organized by a French non-governmental organization that works particularly with Arab and Muslim organizations, in conjunction with the Turkish Foreign Ministry,” said Weitzman, director of government affairs and director of the Task Force Against Hate and Terrorism for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in New York, as well as its associate director of education. His biography also includes serving as the Wiesenthal Center’s chief representative to the United Nations and a member of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief for Europe’s Organization for Security and Co-operation, among other national and international committees.
Weitzman will visit Seattle on Thurs., Oct. 31 as keynote speaker at the annual luncheon for the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.
Turkey, it turns out, is very interested in joining the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a 30-country body dedicated to promoting educational opportunities about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The nation is one of five with observer status seeking entry. Weitzman, appropriately enough, is the IHRA’s chair of anti-Semitism and Holocaust Education.
The IHRA was formed in 1998 and began to gather steam after the Durban, South Africa conference in 2001, “when the Jewish community realized it had been essentially ambushed at the Durban World Conference Against Racism, and that international organizations were more important and had a role to play on these issues,” Weitzman said. “A number of us began focusing on this because it affects not only getting our issues heard, but it also affects policy.”
Countries must satisfy three requirements before they will be admitted to the IHRA: A national day of commemoration for the Holocaust, committing to a national Holocaust education curriculum, and opening sealed World War II archives. Germany, for example, opened its archives at Bad Arolson to the public only as recently as 2007.
“That was very difficult, but that’s really been helpful for many of the scholars,” Weitzman said.
Weitzman said both the organization and teachers at the grassroots have to take active roles in ensuring the countries follow through on the education requirement and not just pay lip service.
“We see in places like Hungary, for example, over the last couple of years where there were significant issues in terms of education and the national curriculum and Holocaust museum there,” he said. “That became, politically, a controversial issue.”
The Hungarian government has been able to get past the issue over the past few months, Weitzman said.
Though he will be speaking most specifically about Holocaust education during his Seattle visit, Weitzman said the Holocaust is just one symptom of the spread of hate.
“The issues related to the Holocaust are the issues related to prejudice on a lot of levels,” he said. “There are still issues around the world related to this in general, [not only] on the Jewish anti-Semitism issue, but, for example, dealing with freedom of religion and belief in general.”
He cited as examples attempts to ban Jewish and Muslim religious practices, such as circumcision and ritual slaughter in Europe, as well as the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Dee Simon, executive director of the Holocaust Center, said she invited Weitzman “because his résumé is just filled with positions that he’s held in international organizations talking about bigotry and hate,” she said. “He was just the right person to talk about global Holocaust education and the trends that are happening.”
Among those trends are honesty about the Holocaust, Simon said, which she finds heartening. However, “we’re seeing other countries who are just experiencing the opposite effect, where Holocaust education is waning.”
At the luncheon, which is expected to draw a crowd of 650, Simon said the event is focusing on its outreach programs by honoring her mother, Frieda Soury, a Holocaust survivor who has been educating students in the Eastern Washington town of Grandview, population 10,862. Longtime executive director Laurie Warshal Cohen and her husband Michael Cohen will be honored as well.
An exhibit beforehand will showcase artwork by students from around the state who have been affected by their Holocaust education. That includes the work of Kaylee Kim, a senior at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma whose entry on the Roberts Commission took fourth place in individual exhibits in this year’s National History Day contest.
Jewish Family Service CEO Will Berkovitz explains the services his agency provides to Sen. Patty Murray (D), who visited the JFS Polack Food Bank on Wednesday.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray visited Jewish Family Service Wednesday to tour its Polack Food Bank and speak with community members about federal funding.
“One of the reasons I wanted to be here today is to remind all of us that these are people with lives that want their hopes and opportunities that this country’s always offered,” Murray told reporters. “It’s our job to make sure that all of us collectively — as Jewish Family Service does so well — make sure that our community is strong. By helping all of you be strong, our country is stronger.”
Murray (D), who chairs the Senate budget committee, spoke about the need to restore funding to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“We have to scour the budget to cut responsibly,” she said.
Murray has been working with fellow Democrats and with Republicans in the Senate to come to a budget agreement in the coming months, especially in the wake of the 16-day shutdown of the federal government earlier this month.
“I am looking forward to the big challenge that bridging the significant differences between the House and Senate budgets presents,” she said in a recent press statement. “I am absolutely committed to finding common ground, and I hope Republicans are too.”
Murray met with JFS’s CEO, Will Berkovitz, its board president Eric LeVine, and community members who have benefited from local social-service programs over the past years such as those offered by JFS.
During her visit, Murray spoke with Emma Chapman, a single mother whose child has benefited from the federal Head Start program. Chapman said she herself has been able to make significant career advancements due to the assistance of the program.
Syreeta Bernal talked about the food bank and some of the dietary needs she and her child require, which she has been able to satisfy due to SNAP funding. Starting November 1, however, many benefits will change as JFS begins to see the effects of cuts from the SNAP program.
“That’s five meals a month that families won’t get,” Berkovitz said. “Because of the government shutdown, people weren’t able to work and end up at our food bank for emergency services.”
The direct impact on the agency itself is relatively minimal. One-eighth of JFS’s funding comes via federal aid for its programs — specifically for its the refugee-resettlement programs.
“There were 28 refugees that weren’t able to get out of their countries,” Berkovitz said.
But it’s the indirect effects of the shutdown JFS leaders are seeing as having the most negative impact.
“Our clients are exactly the people who are in the crosshairs of this public debate about what’s the role of society to help those people on the fringes, or those people who are trying to claw their way back up,” said LeVine.
“I think these kinds of cuts that have hit — from the sequester, from the government shutdown, from the budgets that have been coming forward — can really damage our country in the future,” said Murray. “So that’s why I came here today.”
Yossi Klein Halevi’s new book, “Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.”
Yossi Klein Halevi and Kasim Hafeez will speak at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, from 6–9 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 3. $36. Register online at www.standwithus.com/chapters/northwest/.
Although Yossi Klein Halevi will no doubt discuss his new nonfiction book, “Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation” (HarperCollins, 2013) during his StandWithUs Northwest keynote address at Town Hall on Nov. 3, he might as aptly have named the book “How I Learned to Love Kibbutzniks, Rediscover Religious Zionism, and Imagine a New Jewish Future.” For Halevi, in revealing the disparate life stories of the seven men of the 55th Brigade who fought in the victorious 1967 battle for the Old City of Jerusalem, this international journalist realized that once again it will be the dreamers who transform his country.
Each of the paratroopers in Halevi’s book went on to follow his passion, political and artistic, in their divergent lives. They serve as a chronicle of Israel’s transition from a Socialist labor-based society to a more modern Israel where settlers seemed to have laid claim to the national narrative.
When asked if this decade-long project altered his ideological or political views, Halevi told JTNews he is more committed than ever to the middle path.
“I was and remain a centrist,” Halevi said. “When I began the book in 2002, I went into this project pretty set on how I understood the Israeli conflict and Israeli society. That position has been strengthened for me. The left is right about the occupation and the right is right about peace.”
Halevi also said he’s begun to see Zionists and kibbutzniks in a new light, holding that both possessed the sort of dream Israel requires today to forge a new future.
“I always saw the kibbutzniks as wimps,” Halevi said. “This gave me a belated experience of how strong the kibbutz movement was. I didn’t grow up with the romance of the kibbutz movement. I fell in love with it. I was writing a eulogy to the kibbutz movement.”
Halevi reflected on his own Zionist upbringing when it was necessary to save the Jews of Europe and there was “no time for distraction.”
“I came out of the curmudgeon side of Zionism,” said Halevi. “It was almost a dreamless Zionism.”
He now recognizes that at the core of the Zionist dream lays a “true utopian movement.”
Rob Jacobs, StandWithUs Northwest’s regional director, asked Halevi to appear at its 2013 annual community reception because he represents what Jacobs hopes the local Jewish community can emulate.
“He’s a thoughtful and strong centrist Zionist,” said Jacobs, “a man who is open to hearing from all sides, who has made a point of reaching out to people across the political and religious spectrum. His new book reflects exactly that openness, to hear and to respect differing opinions.”
Jacobs hopes that some of Halevi’s message of compassion and tolerance will leave its mark on the local Jewish community, particularly in light of recent conflicts in King County over Middle East bus ads and the continuing effects of contentious political rhetoric surrounding Israel.
“We’re hoping that Yossi’s talk will demonstrate that the division in Israel and here leaves us less able to deal with problems and crises that confront us,” Jacobs said. “We hope that, as a result, we as a community will try to find ways to come up with more common goals, better ways of communicating.
Jacobs added that the divisions noted in Halevi’s book reflect not only Israel’s current political climate, but the clashes in American Jewish culture as well.
“In the face of growing and all-too-frequently over-the-top, unfounded and biased criticism of Israel, our own inability to unify weakens us as a community,” Jacobs said.
Kasim Hafeez, a pro-Israel British Muslim will also be a guest speaker at the event. Hafeez, a former Islamist who now supports Israel, wrote the book “Muslim, Zionist and Proud: How I Went from Hating to Loving Israel and the Jewish People.” Hafeez sits on the advisory board of SWU in the United Kingdom.
Halevi also continues to look toward a brighter future for Israel when, once again, new dreamers will dream again and propel Jews to even greater accomplishments.
“The question my book asks is, ‘What is the next big dream?’” Halevi said. “My dream is that we will create a new Judaism that will re-inspire the whole Jewish people. We don’t have a Utopian, avant-garde, inspiring Israel today. For the first time there’s no one inspiring us in a grand vision, which is symptomatic of a sense of drift within Israelis and Jews in general. We’re in an ideological hangover.”
Dr. Eli Lewis of Ben Gurion University of the Negev used anti-inflammatory medications for lungs to stop diabetes in some patients.
Don’t call it a cure, but children and adults with Type 1 diabetes may soon get a peaceful night’s sleep and live injection-free lives. A new combination of safe and well-tested drugs already in use for other conditions has been shown to reverse the disease or lessen the dependence on insulin for many people.
The results of three clinical trials by Dr. Eli Lewis and his team at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has Lewis sounding cautious and understandably reluctant to declare it a “cure,” but his research showed that many subjects who were treated within three or four months of diagnosis — and that early treatment is key — no longer needed insulin. The research team also found that patients with a longer history of diabetes 1 were often able to get off of their nighttime insulin.
The research has been so successful that many doctors in the U.S. and Israel are using the drug on an off-label basis in their practices.
“What we found in these three trials is the sooner the better,” Lewis told JTNews while speaking at Stanford University and the Diabetes Technology Society in the Eastern U.S. “Some kids were 4 years old and we also had a 30-year-old. The response was very positive, regardless of the age group as long as it was really early after the diagnosis that the treatment was started. It’s hard to reverse the disease after one or two years.”
However, Lewis said, even the later-diagnosed subjects found some relief from the treatment.
“There was always a slight improvement,” he said. “Even the ones where there was no major change in their glucose levels ended up reaching the nighttime without insulin. If you ask any parent, that is exactly the stressful area.”
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that transports glucose or sugar into cells to produce energy. Nearly 26 million adults and children have Type 1 diabetes in the U.S, and over 200,000 of them are under 20 years old.
Yet despite a 100-year clinical record of using insulin injections to manage glucose, blood-sugar levels remain “dangerously high over 60 percent of the time,” according to BGU researchers.
“They take insulin and go to bed,” said Lewis. “They all stopped taking their nighttime insulin. That’s a huge benefit.”
The drug Lewis used to treat the diabetes, a natural human blood protein called Alpha-1 antitrypsin is primarily used in preventing or slowing the progression of lung disease and decreasing inflammation from smoking, asthma, or respiratory infections. It has been used for years to treat lung conditions such as emphysema.
When combined with a procedure called T-cell depletion, the patient’s immune system did not reject the transplantation of the healthy animal cells in the pancreas.
“Until now, medicine didn’t have anything to offer kids, but this is revolutionary,” Dr. Andy David, Israel’s consul general to the Pacific Northwest, told JTNews from his office in San Francisco. Two of David’s three young children have Type I diabetes.
In one of only a handful of interviews he’s given about his family’s experience with the disease, David, who has been working and living in San Francisco with his family since 2012, was both proud of Israeli scientific contributions and optimistic about the future.
“It’s a Nobel Prize-level discovery,” David said.
David’s oldest child, a boy, was the first to be diagnosed at the age of 5. When his second child, a girl, was diagnosed he began to look for research that might be promising. That’s when he found Lewis’s work.
His children were the first to receive the drug in Israel and he is hoping to find a physician in the United States who will administer a yearly schedule of treatment for his daughter, although he admits the U.S is more conservative medically, which makes such a doctor more difficult to find.
Today, his thriving 8-year-old girl has been completely off insulin injections for three-and-a-half years after receiving Lewis’s drug therapy. She has none of the diabetic symptoms that afflict her older brother, who was too far along in his progression of the disease to benefit from Lewis’s research.
“There are more and more children that are affected by this,” David said. “It makes sense to screen every child once a year or every six months in school. It’s a simple glucose test that takes seven seconds and the answer is immediate.”
Still, though his daughter is symptom-free, there are no guarantees since the research on the correct dosing procedures is ongoing.
“We continue to watch her diet and she will not drink Pepsi or Coke,” David said.
This new Israeli stamp honors the Sephardic language of Ladino.
Do you speak Jewish?
It sounds like a funny question. How does one speak a religion, a culture, a people? Jews are Jewish. They speak Hebrew.
Or Yiddish. Or Ladino. Or Judeo-Iranian, or Judeo-Arabic, or even — according to linguist Sarah Bunin Benor and others — Jewish English, also known as “Yinglish” or “Hebonics.” Throughout time and from place to place, Jews have spoken their own Jewish language.
This, in relation to Judeo-Spanish, is the point Professor David Bunis made before a packed audience at Hillel at the University of Washington on October 9, at a talk titled “Ladino/Judezmo as a Jewish Language.”
Bunis is the University of Washington Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor for 2013-2014, a position supported by the Stroum Jewish Studies Program, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), and the Samis Foundation.
Backed by a PowerPoint presentation, Bunis outlined the linguistic characteristics of Judezmo (a term he prefers to Ladino, which technically refers to a literal style of translation between Hebrew or Aramaic and the language of Sephardim) and the history of the language.
Judezmo originally meant “Judaism,” and by the 17th century, Judezmo was known in the Ottoman Empire as “the Jewish language.” Eighteenth-century Bible translations use Judezmo to mean Jews, or the Jews’ language. Like Yiddish, Judezmo was usually used in secular, profane contexts, while Hebrew was used in the holy sphere. Israel commissioned a commemorative Ladino stamp and may be establishing the first International Ladino Day on December 5 of this year.
Bunis, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who now lives in Israel, first became interested in Judezmo in high school when he came across a chapter on Jewish languages in the book “College Yiddish.”
“I really became fascinated with [the language], and corresponded with its speakers,” he said.
By 1980, he had earned his doctorate from Columbia in linguistics, with a focus on the Hebrew-Aramaic component of Judezmo.
Since that time, he said, the interest in Judeo-Spanish and comparative Jewish languages has grown, particularly in Israel and Europe, where students are looking for new research angles.
“I think Judezmo is taken more seriously today,” he said. “It’s more widely known.”
A Jewish studies program open to a wide range of Jewish experiences and a strong connection between the academy and the community make the UW an ideal place for a scholar like Bunis, according to Devin Naar, the Marsha and Jay Glazer Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies. Naar heads the Sephardic Studies Initiative within the Stroum Jewish Studies Program.
In addition to spontaneous applause during the lecture, when Bunis played a Hebrew-Ladino recording of Hazzan Ike Azose’s “Ein K’Eloheinu,” many attendees began to sing along.
“Where else are you going to find a captive audience like that?” Naar asked. “Not even in Jerusalem could you get 150 people out [for a lecture] on Ladino. It never happens.”
In his opening address, Naar hailed the progress of Sephardic studies at the UW. Recently, he said, he received a call from Yeshiva University in New York asking for help with its Ladino materials. Who could imagine, mused Naar, Yeshiva University would turn to the University of Washington for anything Jewish?
Having Bunis here for the year “makes the UW one of the only — if not the only university in United States — where undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study the Ladino language in its historical and socio-linguistic contexts,” said Naar.
Bunis is teaching four courses this year, including Ladino for Beginners in the winter.
“I want to try to help students who are interested in furthering their knowledge in Judezmo,” said Bunis.
If students advance enough, he may even teach them to read the calligraphic script known as Soletreo. Bunis and Naar both emphasized the community’s relevance.
“You have here a swath of the Jewish community who has not seen its language and culture valorized and celebrated and canonized into the realm of Jewish studies in the academy in the way that Yiddish has,” said Naar. “Now we have that opportunity to demonstrate to the community why their heritage is really valuable.”
“The community itself seems to be very dedicated to their Sephardic traditions” Bunis noted. “That was really heartwarming.”
While Naar pointed out that the UW has always been engaged with Sephardic studies, the initiative is now officially being instituted in the Stroum Jewish Studies Program. An active advisory board chaired by Lela Franco, a member of the program’s advisory board and chair of the Sephardic Studies Initiative, is working with the community to shape its goals and vision.
Several of this year’s events will headline Sephardic content, including a lunch-and-learn with Prof. Ilan Stavans in January and “Mixing Musics: The Sacred Songs of Istanbul Jews” in February.
Bassam Aramin, left, and Robi Damelin told the stories of how, though they lost children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they turned to reconciliation instead of anger.
“Two Sided Story” will screen again on Tues., Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. at Hillel at the University of Washington, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle, co-sponsored by the UW’s Stroum Jewish Studies Program. A question-and-answer session led by Shiri Ourian, executive director of American Friends of the Parents Circle–Families Forum, will follow.
“Losing a child is unlike no other pain I can describe,” according to Robi Damelin. More difficult still, Damelin said, is losing that child to an act of violence, when it is often easier to turn that pain into anger.
Damelin, an Israeli, and Bassam Aramin, who is Palestinian, told a crowd of 40 community members who gathered at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Oct. 13 how they could have simply turned their grief into rage. Instead, after each lost a child to violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, they sought understanding.
Damelin and Aramin are not alone. They are part of a unique grassroots organization called the Parents Circle–Family Forum (PCFF), which consists of more than 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost an immediate family member to the conflict. Founded in 1994, the PCFF’s long-term vision is to create a framework for a reconciliation process they feel plays an integral part of any future peace agreement.
“We can work together,” said Bassam. “We just need to discover our humanity.”
Sunday’s presentation by the PCFF was co-sponsored by St. Marks and Temple De Hirsch Sinai.
“[Rev. Steve] Thomason and Rabbi Daniel Weiner, of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, have been working for several months on developing interfaith programs at St. Mark’s and TDHS, which have a long history of service to the Seattle community beyond their own congregations,” said volunteer parishioner Steven Paul Moen, who led Sunday’s forum.
Damelin and Aramin each told the story of their personal struggle and journey toward creating an understanding of “the other,” which they stressed is essential for laying the foundation for the road to reconciliation.
“There is no revenge for a lost child,” Damelin said.
Her son was killed while serving in the army reserve by a Palestinian sniper. Aramin’s daughter was killed by an IDF soldier in front of her school. Both feel the same pain and have chosen to stand on a stage together in solidarity because they believe the only solution is a peaceful one. Both repeated in their talk that it is easy to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but neither label helps to further the progress of peace negotiations.
As members of the audience were invited to participate in a question-and-answer discussion, Moen emphasized that the focus on dialogue is PCFF’s reconciliation mission —not the difficult political or military issues facing the leaders and people of the Middle East.
“We feel that PCFF’s mission offers an encouraging message in what often seems an intractable struggle,” Moen said.
Rabbi Weiner echoed this sentiment, pointing out that Jews and Christians oftentimes find themselves at odds over this issue.
“Efforts like the Parents Circle try to transcend the controversy and focus on the universal issue,” said Rabbi Weiner. “I so value my relationship with St. Mark’s, and Steve [Thomason] and I are committed to continuing our relationship. This is a very significant way in which we are looking to do that. “
While there will always be outliers on the extremes only interested in continuing the status quo, Rabbi Weiner said he believes that “those of us in the mainstream middle are looking to help move the process forward in a productive and positive way.”
As part of the PCFF’s visit, following Damelin and Aramin’s discussion at St. Mark’s, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival screened the documentary “Two Sided Story” at the Stroum Jewish Community Center. Directed by Emmy-award-winning director Tor Ben Mayor, the 75-minute film follows a group of 27 Palestinian and Israelis who meet through a PCFF project. Among the participants are bereaved families, Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, settlers, former IDF soldiers, ex-security prisoners, citizens of the Gaza Strip, kibbutz members, second-generation Holocaust survivors, non-violent activists and more.
“Film has a way of inspiring a mutual experience,” said SJFF director Pamela Lavitt. “This was an opportunity to have a conversation with the subjects of the film, not just the filmmakers.”
Lavitt saw an incredible response and turnout by the community, noting strong attendance by local Israelis, and not just “the usual suspects” at the Sunday afternoon screenin.
“We felt the program managed to stay extremely engaging and positive,” Lavitt said.
She also said festival office received a handful of rare praise.
“We’ve received two or three ‘thank-yous’ for having the courage to bring the film,” Lavitt said.
The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens.
From where Bret Stephens sits, the Middle East can be all-consuming.
“Being as intellectually obsessed as I am with the Middle East, I have to check myself and make sure that I’m going to Asia and Europe and doing more than just covering the subject that I’m most inclined to cover,” said Stephens, the Wall Street Journal’s deputy editorial page editor, who writes a weekly column called “Global View.”
Stephens visited Seattle on Oct. 10 as a guest of the American Jewish Committee’s local chapter. While he treated his audience to a far-ranging question-and-answer session with Prof. David Domke, chair of the University of Washington’s department of communications, he spent time with JTNews earlier in the day to talk about global issues that specifically affect the Jewish community.
Stephens, 39, is best known today for his Pulitzer-award winning column in the Journal, but early in his career the Jerusalem Post recruited him to become the youngest editor in that newspaper’s history. He recalled the conversation with the Post’s then-publisher.
“I said, ‘Well look, I’m 28, I’ve never managed a thing in my life, but sounds interesting,’” Stephens said.
Stephens was with the Journal at the time, based in Brussels but writing more about Israel than his supposed beat, the European Union. His prescience by having his feet on the ground got him noticed.
“I wrote a piece that appeared about 10 days before the [second] intifada began,” he said, “the gist of which was, everyone wants Palestine to look like the American Colony Hotel, this Ottoman fantasy. But the Palestine that I saw was repressive, poor, increasingly fanatical, internally divided, and angry.”
Stephens wrote that there would be an explosion in the area, “which in retrospect seems perfectly obvious,” he said. “But at the time, no one really saw it coming, we were really in the peace narrative.”
Journalistically, he said, his two-and-a-half years at the Post were an intense, powerful experience, “but it was also a personally powerful experience. I became convinced that Israel’s side of the story was being poorly told and often invidiously told, and so I’m not quite sure where the journalism and the cause merged, but at some point, in a sense they did.”
While his columns span U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East as a whole, and occasionally other parts of the world, Israel more often than not finds its way into his arguments. The conservative bent of Stephens’s column hasn’t created many liberal fans, but to sit in conversation with him shows he can and does back up his statements with pragmatism and knowledge.
“What distinguishes a conservative or right-of-center editorial page like the Wall Street Journal from every other right-wing blogger with a two-bit opinion?” he asked. “We do a lot of actual journalism. We get on the phones. We don’t just opine…we go places.”
Over the past year or two he has traveled — somewhat to the disappointment of his three children, who would like to see more of their father — to Bahrain, to the Ukraine, and even to a naval ship in the Persian Gulf, where they were tracked by the Islamic Republican Guard Corps, Iran’s military.
“It was an eye-opening experience to spend some time in the gulf,” he said.
Since the summer, when the much-maligned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left office as Iran’s president, Stephens has been relentless in his drive to expose the supposedly moderate successor, Hassan Rouhani, as just as radical. And Stephens is unequivocal about his belief that negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran simply give the country more time for plutonium enrichment. But he also has trouble seeing Benjamin Netanyahu having the nerve to pull the trigger and unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear facilities — though he may have to.
“Israel is in a world of trouble if it strikes, but it’s in an even greater world of trouble if Iran becomes a nuclear power,” Stephens said. “When it comes to nuclear weapons, possession is use. This is what people don’t get about nuclear weapons. If you have nukes, you can do all kinds of things that countries without nukes can consider doing.”
To say that just because Iran has nuclear capability doesn’t mean it will be used is poor logic, he said.
“An Iran with nuclear weapons will consider doing things in the Persian Gulf, in Lebanon, with Hamas, in Syria, that they wouldn’t do without it,” he noted. “This was a regime that was planning on blowing up a restaurant in Washington, D.C. without the benefit of the nuclear umbrella. What would it do with [nuclear capability] if it felt it was invulnerable?”
Stephens has hit the Obama administration hard (not to mention what he calls isolationist Republicans) on not only dragging its feet with Iran, but its handling of crises throughout the Middle East — in Egypt and Syria in particular.
“A Syria that bleeds forever, and a Syria in which the United States doesn’t lift a finger to help push for the overthrow of Bashar Assad, is a Syria that is going to export violence and instability throughout the region, that is going to serve as a strategic partner of Iran, that is going to allow Russia to reenter the Middle East in a way it hasn’t since the Cold War,” he said. “None of that is good.”
While it’s nice to base a foreign policy on what he called dreams: “Dream: Israeli-Palestinian peace. Dream: A negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear crisis. Dream: Political reconciliation in Syria. Dream: A successful conclusion to the Arab Spring,” he said, “a better foreign policy is one that is aimed at keeping your nightmares at bay. Saying, ‘Okay, what are the three or four things we must avoid? We must stop? And how do we go about making them stop?’ That’s what I’d like the administration to do.”
Emily K. Alhadeff
From left: Mimi Sternberg, Naomi Newman, Stacey Winston-Levitan, and Tamar Boden, the women behind Hadassah Plus Art, posing near Peter Waite’s “Space Travel.”
On a cool evening in early October, approximately 60 women gathered in the contemporary Winston Wachter Fine Art gallery in South Lake Union. Over wine and Mediterranean-inspired appetizers, they chatted and perused the exhibits before taking their seats for a short presentation.
“Hadassah’s not just about our grandmas. It’s about us,” said Tamar Boden, a Hadassah regional board member and one of the event organizers.
The occasion, Hadassah Plus Art, was the first of three new “Hadassah Plus” events geared toward bringing a wider demographic of women into the Hadassah fold. Hadassah Plus Cuisine and Hadassah Plus Wellness are in the docket, due to roll out in early 2014.
The organizers didn’t spend much time talking about Hadassah, but quickly handed the proverbial mic over to Stacey Winston-Levitan and Mimi Sternberg. Winston-Levitan, a co-founder and owner of the gallery, briefly described the exhibitions: Erich Woll’s “When Things Go South” glass installation, and Peter Waite’s “Space Travel,” large paintings of architectural spaces laced with neon gridlines.
Sternberg, an art educator, tied the evening to Hadassah with a presentation on Marc Chagall’s stained-glass windows installed at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital chapel in Jerusalem. Sternberg said she first saw the windows as a 15-year-old on a visit to Israel and was “blown away.”
Through descriptions of five of the windows and a history of the artist’s life and relationship to Israel, Sternberg explained that the stained glass was meant by Chagall to be a “transparent partition between [his] heart and the heart of the world.”
Of the 60 or so women in attendance, Boden and her co-planner Naomi Newman estimated about 50 of them were new faces to Hadassah events. The turnout was mostly the result of outreach to about 300 women in their personal networks.
According to Boden, they received good feedback and acquired a handful of new members.
Newman noted the challenge of
recruiting women to yet another evening activity, which was partly why they chose to hold the event in an art gallery.
“Everyone loves art. It’s like food,” said Newman. “You don’t have to be a highbrow expert.”
Newman, who has a public-relations background, encouraged guests to attend by convincing them they deserved a night of art, wine, and the company of other women.
“Women forget that they are fabulous,” she said.
In addition to raising money for the organization’s medical and Jewish life initiatives, “Hadassah really stands for bringing women together,” Newman added.
“People don’t always take the time for themselves,” she said. “It’s good to allow women to enjoy life and something good.”
Courtesy Livnot Chai
Livnot Chai student Rebecca Brown chants Torah as a group of Muslim girls listen during the program’s Muslim/Jewish dialogue.
To learn more about both schools, as well as receive registration information, visit Livnot Chai at www.livnotchai.org or Jewish High at www.jewishhighseattle.com. Both are still accepting students.
When it comes to Jewish education, teens in search of something more than the typical classroom learning experience have plenty of options. While several synagogues around the area have long offered supplementary education within their walls, two programs have been growing either independently or as consolidations of multiple congregations to allow teenagers who might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet to study and work together.
The Livnot Project debuted last year as a social-justice-learning program between Conservative congregations Beth Shalom in Seattle and Herzl-Ner Tamid on Mercer Island. It has renamed itself Livnot Chai upon bringing the Chai School, a four-year-old joint program between Temple De Hirsch Sinai and Temple B’nai Torah, both Reform synagogues in Bellevue, into its fold as the school year began.
“Creating a multi-denominational setting for high school students is really important in terms of how they’re going to experience their Jewish selves in college and post-college,” said Julie Hayon, Livnot Chai’s director. “This model is setting them up to feel connected to the Jewish community in a more successful way.”
Students also attend from Everett’s Temple Beth Or, the Kavana Cooperative in Seattle, and Congregation Kol Ami in Woodinville, as well as a handful of students who are unaffiliated with a congregation. Hayon said the program will see some changes with its larger footprint.
“On the Eastside we broadened the curriculum,” she said. “Whereas Livnot was always purely a social justice-based program, this is three tracks: An arts track, called Bezalel, a chochma track, which is more philosophy and learning, and then this Livnot social justice track. All three are going to be through the lens of social justice.”
Yohanna Kinberg, associate rabbi at Temple B’nai Torah, is running the Bezalel track, which runs the gamut from songleading to photography.
“I have 30 kids in my elective, and they all have different interests,” Kinberg said, which means that within the curriculum she is “piloting ideas almost in real time, working with the actual kids.”
The ability to make on-the-fly changes to the program made integrating the Chai School into Livnot a big draw for the temples and for the teens.
“You need to meet them right where they are,” Kinberg said, “and provide them the best experience possible.”
Rabbi Jill Levy, Herzl-Ner Tamid’s director of congregational learning, called the growth of Livnot “an amazing opportunity.” For her students, it increases the course offerings while increasing their friendship base.
“We really feel like it’s crucial in the post B’nai Mitzvah years that these kids are part of one Seattle Jewish community,” she said. “I would call this a broad-reach effort to bring as many teens together as possible and to form a partnership that previously hasn’t existed in the past.”
Another addition to the partnership is the J.Team teen philanthropy program, which was a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. J.Team will consist of monthly get-togethers for students to discuss social justice and charitable giving. Hayon said that because they found challenges in getting kids to cross Lake Washington each week, this program will run concurrently on both sides of the water with occasional joint meet-ups.
“There are a lot of ways that we’re bringing the two sides together, through grade-level retreats and through some service-learning opportunities through the community, and also through trips,” said Rabbi Daniel Septimus, director of
congregational learning at Temple De Hirsch Sinai.
Opportunities include volunteering at events such as We Day, which will connect 15,000 teens from around the world in the spring to discuss creating social change.
Septimus said the consolidation of the schools creates better opportunities for everyone involved.
“What Livnot is bringing is wonderful community resources, such as the Muslim-Jewish dialogue we’re doing,” he said. “The more resources you have in the same room, the better. We’re living in an age in the Jewish community where we have fewer and fewer resources and we have to figure out better ways to better utilize them together.”
Because, as Kinberg noted, the curriculum for the original Chai School was already in place when Livnot approached, Septimus said he doesn’t envision a huge shift from what the original Chai School was doing, at least in the near term. But, he said, Livnot is “adding some more selections and options for electives, and of course bringing new kids into the fold.”
While many of the original Chai School teachers have been integrated into Livnot Chai, the model established last year in Seattle brings in teachers who are experts in their fields.
“The way that we’ve chosen teachers is to pick professionals in the community who are passionate about what they do in their own work, and we’re asking them to teach teens about doing that and getting teens involved in that kind of work,” said Hayon.
This method of bringing in experts is very similar to a popular course called Business, Ethics and Torah (BET), a part of the supplementary Jewish High that meets each week at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. One of Jewish High’s many offerings for high school credit, BET last year focused on personal finance, but is expanding outward this year to have more of a focus on the ethics and education of corporate business.
“It’s not finalized yet, but we’re looking at people who are in our community who are leaders of industry,” said Ari Hoffman, who oversees Jewish High as well as the NCSY youth group and Jewish Student Union groups that meet in public high schools across the Puget Sound Region. In addition, “some people are coming in from out of town who fit that mold as well who we hope to have the kids talk to.”
For teens interested in business careers, Hoffman said the mix of speakers from larger companies and local startups will be very compelling.
“One of the things that we based part of the curriculum on is the book ‘Startup Nation,’ and using key points to create a successful business,” he said.
Hoffman also noted that all of the graduates of the BET program last year who applied for internships both locally and as far away as Israel had been selected.
Jewish High’s principal, Rabbi Mark Spiro, said the other big draw for high school credit has been the conversational Hebrew courses, which qualify for language requirements.
One new Jewish High leadership initiative, Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP), brings together JSU groups and day school students — in this case from Northwest Yeshiva High School and Derech Emunah girls’ school — for a national challenge contest that helps the teens broaden their management and leadership skills by creating community service, education, Israel-related, and fundraising projects. The team will compete against other JUMP groups across the country. Judges in the past have included Donald and Ivanka Trump.
“They always have big names involved,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said enrollment has expanded from last year, in particular with junior high students whose parents are seeking more structured programs and teens whose families are unaffiliated with a synagogue.
Spiro pointed to one such graduate of Jewish High, who sought out a Jewish education of her own accord, and has since joined the Israel Defense Forces.
“She really got a tremendous amount out of the school and actually was going on to further her Jewish education,” he said.
Both programs receive funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and are also funded through tuition, grants and private donations.
A developmentally disabled Bedouin woman from the Negev Desert city of Rahat is a beneficiary of AKIM’s services.
It’s hard to imagine any organization having 64 locations inside of Israel, but with its newest office in Seattle, the list now includes three in the United States for the Friends of AKIM USA, the Association for the Habilitation of the Developmentally Disabled.
The satellite location is mainly a place to raise funds for the agency and share its vast expertise, but Pacific Northwesterners will also benefit from AKIM’s decades of expertise in offering employment-worthy job training and cradle-to-grave shelter to those who cannot fend for themselves.
“Our vision is that we will carry out projects that will facilitate the cooperation and sharing of the Israeli experience,” said Anat Brovman, director of the Seattle area’s Friends of AKIM USA office, which will most likely be located in Bellevue.
“The Seattle branch will be mostly concerned with fundraising and launching prospective projects,” said Brovman, “such as camps, visits to Israel to existing facilities, or sharing AKIM’s Israeli experience with local organizations willing to cooperate with us.”
Headquartered in New York, Friends of AKIM USA currently has locations in Palm Beach, Fla., Los Angeles, and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
In the U.S, AKIM is a 501(C)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
In Israel, AKIM operates within a $15 million annual budget, with half of its expenses covered by the government and Israel’s Social Security program and the other half generated from private donations and global philanthropy.
In 2012, Israel’s Minister of Health initiated mental health reform through a national health insurance order, which transferred the costs of mental health crisis services from the Ministry of Health to Israel’s HMOs. This change also combined the mental-health-crisis-care system with the general physical-medical-healthcare system.
According to Ha’aretz, one of the more “endangered” groups impacted by this shift in resources is the mentally ill.
AKIM in Israel operates group homes, social clubs, summer camps, workshops, and apartments for the disabled within commercial residential buildings for more than 30,000 disabled persons of all ages throughout the country.
“We believe that it is in our hands to improve and to turn our society into a better and a healthier one,” said Mica Danieli, head of AKIM headquarters in the U.S. “We believe that it can be done by providing the people with special needs with an equal attitude.”
A special IDF unit works with AKIM on a project called Sar-El, which consists of small groups of disabled individuals between 21 and 30 years old who are accompanied by Israeli soldier-mentors who provide them support, training and leadership.
“[The disabled] work in the kitchen and in factories assembling computers or performing other duties that are essential for the army,” Brovman said.
AKIM also collaborates with global companies on work training programs through a project called Open Market Employment. Ikea and Promedico are two businesses that employ AKIM participants and give them an opportunity to have a job.
“Once we all learn how to treat and to behave equally and with respect to those who are different from us,” said Danieli, “we shall enjoy life in a better and a happier society for us and for our next generation.”
AKIM’s New York administrative director, Ben Rabinovitch, told JTNews the organization wants to grow and is continually scouting for new locations, including potential outlets on Long Island and in Phoenix.
“We are interested in raising awareness and growing as much as possible here in the U.S.,” said Rabinovitch. “Our goal is to help people with special needs in Israel as much as we possibly can, and we will spread our message wherever and however we can in order to reach that goal.”
When asked why AKIM would open in Seattle, Rabinovitch said this population is a nice fit for AKIM’s goals.
“The Seattle metro area is home to a large and vibrant Jewish community,” he said. “It serves as a hotspot for young people looking to work in the high-tech and related industries.”
AKIM is open to all people who are disabled on a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, apolitical, and multicultural basis.
Tal Goshen-Gottstein will speak at Herzl-Ner Tamid’s Torahthon on the role of women in Israeli society on Sun., Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. Visit www.h-nt.org for registration information.
While she’s not a formal member of any diplomatic corps, Tal Goshen-Gottstein is an ambassador of sorts.
Goshen-Gottstein is Hillel at the University of Washington’s first Israel fellow, one of a handful around the country. The Israel fellow program is a joint venture between the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel’s Schusterman International Center. She was selected after an extensive search process.
“My focus,” Goshen-Gottstein says, “is to work with anyone who identifies as Jewish from age 18 to 32” interested in Taglit-Birthright — the fully funded trips to Israel for young adults — or MASA for older students.
But there’s more to her mission.
“I think the main thing is just having an Israeli walking around, smiling…talking to people,” she says.
She will also bring some Israel-centered programming to Hillel that could be “political, yes, but also food and cultural.” Mostly, she adds, “I want to be a resource for students who have questions,” about Israel and Judaism, no matter what their background.
“She really understands the value of pluralism,” says Rabbi Oren Hayon, Hillel UW’s executive director, “and recognizes the wide diversity of views on Israel within the young adult community in Seattle… She is the perfect professional to meet people where they are, and help deepen their understanding of Israel.”
Growing up Modern Orthodox in Jerusalem, Tal attended a religious high school, but says she is “not observant anymore.” She lived in Canada for the first four years of her life, so her English — her “first language, but not my strong language” — is fluent, but charmingly accented.
The 25-year-old has a strong interest in programs that combine “education and searching for Jewish identity.”
She first worked in the U.S. three years ago as a shlicha, or emissary, at the Conservative movement’s Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.
“That opened my appetite, if you can say that in English,” she says.
Tal just finished her BA in psychology and philosophy from Hebrew University, having submitted her thesis paper just this month. Most Israelis attend university after military service, so finishing school quickly is the norm. But Tal “wanted to get a broader education before I got a degree” and took an extra year of classes in the humanities: “a lot of Bible, Jewish thought,” she says.
As a commander in the IDF Education Corps — Israel’s is the only army in the world with one — Tal taught soldiers who didn’t finish high school in a GED-type program. She instructed immigrants from around the world and members of minority communities, including many from Muslim and ultra-Orthodox communities, in English, Jewish citizenship, history, computers and more.
“I loved it,” Goshen-Gottstein said. “We got a microcosm of the Israeli education system.”
Continuing in this vein after the army, she taught at a variety of places including Machshava Tova, a non-governmental organization “dedicated to narrowing the digital gap which exists in Israeli society,” according to its LinkedIn page.
“I’m not a computer expert,” explained Goshen-Gottstein, who worked “on the basic level” with students who might not have even known what a mouse is. She also helped job seekers with résumés and other life skills.
Attracted to the UW Hillel position by the “pluralistic and open minded” language in the job posting, she liked that the organization has a counseling program, too.
“There is something just really special about what is happening here,” she said.
One of the first students Tal helped was Daniel Sieden.
“She had just arrived in America,” Sieden said. She was “extremely helpful. She has connections to every other person who can be of service and use, plus an overall knowledge of everything going on.”
As an Evergreen College graduate who went on Birthright this year, Sieden wanted both to return to Israel and participate in a service-learning program. Currently accepted into the Ten Project India program, he is waiting to hear if he’s been accepted into a program in Israel to follow that.
“She’s really open minded,” Sieden noted, “and so incredibly helpful.”
Pluralism has a strong role in Goshen-Gottstein’s mission here.
“My focus is to work with [any young adult] who identifies as Jewish… It’s very important for me to convey the message that I am open to hearing about everything,” where Israel and Judaism are concerned.
“I really want to meet people,” she said. “I’m very interested in seeing different Jewish communities” here.
From the left, Rabbis Jay Rosenbaum, Daniel Septimus, David Fine and Yohanna Kinberg, assistant head of school Suzanne Messinger, and 2nd-grade Judaics teacher Tina Novick have breakfast in the sukkah at the Jewish Day School’s first rabbinical council meeting.
Think about the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle’s new rabbinical advisory council as a kind of virtual Jewish “Dear Abby,” only more like a “Dear Rabbi” multiplied by six.
For the 2013-2014 school year, a group of Seattle-area religious leaders was recruited to replace the traditional rabbinic authority figure at the K-8 community day school in Bellevue.
This rabbinical sextet will advise and guide JDS students, parents, and teachers in matters of Jewish law and ethical and moral dilemmas, becoming the rabbinic authority for the school.
“I think that the community rabbinical advisory group is a direct way for the Jewish Day School to walk the talk of being a community school,” Rabbi David Fine, the senior consultant for congregational systems for the Union of Reform Judaism, told JTNews. “It is genuine collaboration.”
The JDS board ventured out in this new direction after its rabbi of 13 years, Stuart Light, left in June for another position out of state.
“The rabbis will also offer a unique perspective to world events,” JDS board president and parent Jill Friedman told JTNews, “and I like that my child will see the guidance and different perspectives that rabbis can provide.”
Friedman also sees it as a direct reflection of the school’s purpose.
“Our families come from Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Sephardic backgrounds,” said Friedman. “It seems perfect that rabbis on campus reflect that diversity.”
Along with Fine, the other five clergy are Rabbi Bernie Fox, head of school at the Northwest Yeshiva High School, Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum from Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation, Rabbi Daniel Septimus, associate rabbi and director of congregational learning at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, associate rabbi at Temple B’nai Torah, and Rabbi Elana Zaiman, the chaplain at the Summit at First Hill and a JDS parent.
Septimus, who is also a JDS parent, told JTNews he looks forward to becoming involved.
“As a community Jewish school, it is vital that we as rabbis participate in the school, as well as serve as advisers to faculty, students and parents,” he said. “We hope to get to know the community over the next year.”
JDS is currently in the midst of an ongoing search for a new head of school to take over the reins after its longtime leader Maria Erlitz retired. Whether the school returns to one-rabbi leadership next year will depend upon several factors.
“The decision about future rabbinic staffing will depend, in part, on the success of the rabbinic council and its effectiveness meeting the needs of the school,” said Michael Downs, JDS’s interim head of school. “It would also depend, in part, on the profile of the head of school that’s hired.”
Downs takes a positive view of efforts that broaden JDS’s connections to the community and he encourages the creation of new partnerships with different groups.
“I applaud the school for its willingness to try this,” he said.
The group’s first face-to-face meeting in September was its first opportunity to discuss issues over breakfast in the sukkah and meet with students and faculty while touring the campus, some for the first time.
“I think it’s great that JDS is inviting rabbinic participation and input,” said Rosenbaum. “Though the rabbinic advisory council is new, I know that for years JDS has frequently invited rabbis from across the spectrum to teach lessons in the school.”
Communication will take place in various online formats that might include chat sessions and Skyping with students interactively in the classroom.
Beth Fine, an 18-year veteran JDS teacher and current instructional coach there, has expanded into the role of Judaic coordinator. Part of Fine’s new responsibilities include coordinating the main mode of communication between the rabbis and the school — email exchanges.
“This is a very busy group of people,” said Fine. “If a student or a teacher has a question, or a teacher is looking for a resource, we’ll start with those of us here, but then we’ll have another group to send it out to who have a depth of knowledge.”
Living Life as a Jewish Woman
Mondays, October 7-November 11 at 7 p.m.
Women are always evolving and seeking to find balance, direction and fulfillment. The Eastside Torah Center’s Rochie Farkash leads a six-week class on living a fulfilling life. First class on October 7: “Our Pioneer Woman: Studying the women of our past, to find inspiration and meaning in our lives today.” Following classes include “Rise and Shine,” “Is My Body My Own?,” “Fine Feathers Make Fine Birds,” “Jewish Feng Shui,” and “We Are Family: Keeping It All Together.” $25 for the series.
At Eastside Torah Center, 1837 156th Ave. NE, Suite 303, Bellevue.
Welcome, David Bunis!
Wednesday, October 9 at 6 p.m.
David Bunis, a world-famous expert on Ladino and Jewish languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will be spending the 2013-2014 academic year at the University of Washington as a Schusterman Visiting Professor of Israel Studies with the Stroum Jewish Studies Program and its Sephardic Studies Initiative. At this welcoming event, Prof. Bunis will give a talk on “Ladino/Judezmo as a Jewish Language,” focusing on the features unique to its Sephardic speakers and its shared elements with Yiddish and other Jewish languages.
At Hillel at the University of Washington, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle. For more information contact Lauren Spokane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-543-0138. Register at
“Sages in Collision”: Rabbi Daniel Landes Shabbaton
Rabbi Daniel Landes, director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, will discuss several rabbinic figures and the tension, polarity, and love that characterized their relationships. Landes will also give a talk for middle and high school students on Saturday at 10 a.m. on “The Lying Truth: When and If Deceit Trumps the Way it Went Down.” A dinner on Friday night will take place at 7:15 p.m. $18 per individual, $50 per family.
Contact email@example.com to make reservations.
All talks, except for Saturday night’s, take place at Minyan Ohr Chadash,
6701 51st Ave. S, Seattle. For a full schedule and to arrange Shabbat hospitality, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.minyanohrchadash.org.
Limmud Seeks Uncommon Jewish Perspectives
The first annual Limmud conference in Vancouver, BC, is seeking individuals with uncommon and surprising ways of applying Judaism or Jewish concepts to art, music, writing, performance or any expression of Jewish identity that arouses the senses.
To learn more about Limmud, or to submit a presentation proposal for consideration, visit limmudvancouver.ca. Deadline for proposals is early October.
Courtesy Hadassah National Office
Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah.
Marcie Natan is Hadassah’s 25th national president, and the first one to visit the Northwest.
According to Natan, who spoke with JTNews on an especially soggy Seattle morning, Pacific Northwest chapter president Jacquie Bayley said to her, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a sitting national president come to Seattle.”
Natan responded, “Jacquie, I’ll come!”
Over the course of her barely three-day stop in Washington State, Natan met with small groups in homes, at the Summit at First Hill, with the board and members in Tacoma, and spoke at the Seattle chapter’s kick-off event on September 22, “Daughters: From Generation to Generation.”
The Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization began 101 years ago when Henrietta Szold decided to do something about the disease and starvation rampant in pre-state Israel. Today, the international organization boasts approximately 330,000 women who dedicate time and money to a variety of causes, from medical advances at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to the Young Judea teen Israel program.
Natan, who is almost halfway through her term, is focusing in particular on two issues: Bringing younger women into the fold, and stabilizing the Israeli side of the organization.
Currently, the Israel-based Hadassah Medical Organization is running a deficit, and the shift in demographic patterns where many women no longer stay home with their children has undermined Hadassah relevance. According to a recent article in the Jewish Voice, Jews under 40 are less likely to donate to causes than older community members, and according to one study, they are more likely to give to Jewish organizations that support “non-Jewish people and causes.”
“My generation of women…was basically home with the kids,” said Natan. “You needed to do something with your head other than change diapers.
“I think the challenge for us is to figure out a way to allow those women to have a Hadassah experience which will connect them to Israel in a way that I don’t think the synagogues really do,” she said.
One of Natan’s projects is the Hadassah Leadership Fellows, a two-year program that includes a trip to Israel and encourages busy young women to commit to the organization.
“Writing the check is still important, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all,” she said.
Meanwhile, the American end of the organization is supporting the Israeli side.
“This American-based organization cannot support the research, do the capital campaign, and be responsible for the operational expenses,” she said.
Natan has been meeting with Israeli government officials, but it’s a challenge, she explained, as the government has no budget.
Despite the challenges Hadassah faces now, the organization is thriving in terms of its research and initiatives.
Among Hadassah’s many areas of research are advocacy for women’s health issues, including reproductive, breast, and heart health. In Israel, they’re working with religious Jewish and Arab communities to encourage check-ups. Lack of information, as well as discomfort due to modesty issues, makes both communities vulnerable, Natan suggests.
“We need to make them aware,” she said.
Because Israel has had no limitations on stem-cell research, Hadassah has contributed to great strides in research.
“We are very far along with ALS research, Multiple Sclerosis, and age-related macular degeneration,” she said. “We are cutting-edge, and a focus of our membership is on the state-of-the-art research that will illuminate the world.”
Natan described her visit to the Pacific Northwest as an “opportunity to meet people, touch people, and talk to people,” and, of course, to do a little fundraising.
“My hope is always to energize the membership,” she said. “At the same time, it is a gift for me…to see the commitment of the grassroots membership, and the passion and the love for Hadassah, for Zionism, for Israel, for the Jewish people — [it] kind of reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Courtesy Friendship Circle
Participants in last year’s inaugural Walk for Friendship take part in the 5K walk on Mercer Island.
Erica Nash knows firsthand about the importance of community support. Nash, who suffers from cerebral palsy, joined the Friendship Circle of Washington this summer as the director of its Walk With Friendship, which will be held next month. Now in its second year, the walk is one of the Friendship Circle’s two major fundraising events that help support the organization’s work with special-needs children and their families.
Nash emphasized the importance of programs like the Friendship Circle in the lives of parents of special-needs children.
“I was really lucky in that my community supported me,” she said of her childhood growing up in Providence, R.I. “[My parents] were the ones that needed the network of people around them, but they are so tapped into the community in Providence that they created what they needed.”
The Chabad-based Friendship Circle provides that community for families who can’t create their own, offering home visits and mentoring for special-needs children by local teenagers and young adults. It was this work that originally attracted Nash to the organization.
“I initially went in to talk about being their volunteer coordinator,” Nash explained, “And they said, ‘We have this event, what can you do with it?’”
But Nash, who came back to non-profit work after a seven-year break, said her role with the Friendship Circle is more than just a job for her.
“This isn’t about [money],” she said. “This is about me finding something that I can contribute to the community.”
(JTNews spoke with Nash in April after she sustained injuries stemming from her cerebral palsy in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.)
The Walk With Friendship, which will be held on October 13 at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island, is an event to both support the Friendship Circle community, and to bring visibility to the organization and the families it supports. As part of her role as the Walk With Friendship director, Nash has been pounding the pavement, trying to spread the word about the event to potential participants.
“Regardless of what someone can give this year, if they see something there, they’ll gravitate toward it,” Nash said of the event.
Last year’s Walk With Friendship raised $56,000, but this year’s goal — a whopping $100,000 — is almost double that. In addition to encouraging individual participants and teams to register, Nash has also been working closely to partner with local businesses interested in supporting Friendship Circle in its mission.
“Everybody’s been open to talking about what’s the best fit for them to be involved,” said Nash, who has already connected with more than two dozen business who will be sponsoring the walk.
However, Nash said the Walk With Friendship is more than just a fundraiser.
“The first thing that [the directors] told me was, ‘We want this to be a community event. It’s not just a fundraiser,’” she said. “ It’s a community festival.’”
The community aspect of the Walk With Friendship translates to every aspect of the event. Nash said many people want to get involved in something physical and healthy, but most events tend to be running-oriented. The fact that the Walk With Friendship is a walk instead of a run makes it more family-friendly. Participants can also choose between a 5K or 1K loop.
Nash has tried to spread the word about the event using social media, taking to Facebook to encourage participation in the event.
“I love social media because it lets people be a part of things at their own level,” she said. “Organizations like Friendship Circle thrive off of it because you can get people’s stories out there.”
There were 350 participants at the 2012 Walk With Friendship, but Nash expects a huge uptick this year. With the outreach she’s done in the Seattle area, she hopes that between 500 and 600 people will actually attend the event.
Register online for Walk With Friendship at www.walkwithfriendship.com or at the event. Walk With Friendship starts at 12:30 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 13 at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. For more information about the walk or sponsorship, contact Erica Nash at 425-444-4384 or email@example.com.
Carlos Alcabes hangs a Star of David at the front of Minyan Ohr Chadash’s new space.
On a recent Saturday evening, with the late summer sun setting behind them, about 50 adults and children squeezed around long tables, snacking on challah rolls, tortilla chips, hummus, baby carrots and grapes. After a bit of boisterous socializing, their voices rose with “Mizmor L’David” to the vaulted ceilings of the sanctuary at Minyan Ohr Chadash, Seward Park’s newest spiritual community.
The Shabbat of July 5 marked the birth of Ohr Chadash, which means “new light” in Hebrew. Started by five families who decided to split from Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath, the Modern Orthodox minyan arranged to use a room at the Caroline Kline Galland Home. But when the first Shabbat saw a turnout of nearly 100, the group’s leaders realized they would need to make a new plan.
On August 30, Ohr Chadash celebrated its first Shabbat in its new home, the social hall of the Vietnamese Presbyterian Church on the corner of 51st Avenue and Brighton Street.
“We were worried when we started, would anybody come?” said founding member Piera Willner. “It just shows there was a need.”
The regular crowd has settled to around 50 or 60 participants who appreciate the intimacy and participatory atmosphere. Many families were longtime members of BCMH.
“BCMH is in its 123rd year. It’s the oldest established Orthodox synagogue [in the region], and there are prescribed ways of doing things,” said Willner. “There was a group of us that, within the lines of halachah [Jewish law], wanted changes, and those changes couldn’t happen at BCMH.”
Among those changes are a wood and glass mechitzah, the divider between the men’s and women’s sections, as opposed to the traditional setup of women in the balcony. During the Torah processional, the Torah is marched around to the women’s side. Women and teens can give divrei Torah — short speeches about the weekly Torah portion after Shabbat morning services — a role typically left to the men.
“The Torah coming over to the women’s side is a huge thing,” said Willner. “It makes a big difference. And it’s not possible at BCMH.”
Ohr Chadash counts among its regulars BCMH’s former rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Kletenik, and his wife, Rivy Poupko Kletenik. Kletenik’s contract with BCMH ended June 30 of this year.
That particular Shabbat afternoon, Kletenik was giving a short talk on the concept of teshuva, or repentance. Rivy Kletenik, who used to lead well-attended classes at BCMH on Shabbat afternoons, conducted a series of High Holiday preparation classes for the new minyan.
Willner is excited to have the rabbi involved.
“We didn’t know until we became public if he would join us,” she said. “He really has brought his knowledge and know-how.”
Minyan Ohr Chadash meets on Shabbat and holidays for all services. Services are lay led. Willner says the minyan’s future is still being written.
“We know we have a lease for a year,” she said. “We just want to keep doing what we’re doing as best as we can and figure it out as we go. It’s working right now. I couldn’t have told you what it would look like nine weeks ago.”
Ohr Chadash leaders managed to put together High Holiday services with lay leaders, guest speakers, and childcare while arranging the new space, which required rabbinic approval because it is attached to a church. Over the weekend of October 11, it will host its first scholar in residence, Rabbi Daniel Landes, director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Landes will give several lectures about the interactions and tensions between rabbinic sages, and how they shaped Jewish history.
The largest constituency of Ohr Chadash is adults with grown children, but younger families and couples such as Willner and her husband are attracted to its vibrancy and sense of partnership.
“I’ve become way more religious!” Willner said. “I go to shul a lot more.”
Adrienne Query-Fiss, another younger member, said her attraction to Ohr Chadash “was about making change in a place that felt so resistant to making change.”
Query-Fiss is happy to have found a place she feels comfortable raising her infant son. “I started to feel like there was a voice — maybe it wasn’t mine — but it was people like me.”
Carlos Alcabes, a member of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, attended Ohr Chadash with his wife, Meryl, because when it met at Kline Galland it was close to his house. He now attends every Shabbat and hosted kiddush at their home all summer.
“I really like the singing. I like the fact that women are not so far away that they cannot see the service and participate,” he said. “You feel you count.”
“In the past eight weeks of creating this, we’ve become close with these families,” said Willner. “I step back and think, we really created a community.”
An earlier version of this story stated that women and teens give divrei Torah during services. In fact, they speak after the service is over. JTNews regrets the error.
Rob Carmel and his fellow soldiers walk the Appalachian trail.
“For 32 years, my job has been to be a soldier. Now my job is to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other until I get to Katahdin,” says my husband, Rob Carmel, when he has been asked how hiking the Appalachian Trail has changed his life. He is a man of few words, a leader in his community of former soldiers, walking off the war like Earl Shaffer did 65 years earlier.
In 1948, Shaffer decided he was going to “walk off the war” to work out the experiences of World War II. Four months later he became the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
Now Rob and a small group of veterans are walking off the experiences from their more recent deployments through Warrior Hike, a non-profit organization that helps veterans process their experiences by thru-hiking the 2,200-mile trail. Partnering with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Warrior Hike created the “Walk Off the War” program in light of the psychological, spiritual, and physical benefits of hiking.
Rob, who is using this experience as a way to transition from active duty to retirement, is the oldest of this year’s Warrior Hike group, having turned 50 on the trail in May. The group started with 14 men and women, four of whom will complete the full hike.
Rob has had four deployments — to Somalia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan in the field artillery specialty — sometimes being responsible for thousands of soldiers at a time. Though he never suffered any glaring physical injuries, he has seen friends and co-workers killed, children blown up by Iraqi suicide bombers, and he carries guilt for each family who had a soldier come home in a box because he sent him to do a job. If he didn’t have PTSD, I’d be worried.
While Rob went to Georgia looking forward to finally not being a leader, his quiet determination and commitment put him squarely in that position again.
“We all have similar goals, but this hike isn’t for everyone,” he says. “You have to commit yourself completely; there is no halfway if you want to finish.”
Rob tries to inspire the others, but is thankful not to be responsible for their lives.
“Trail life is not so different from real life,” he says. “Some days are sunnier than others. Sometimes your path is unclear. We have days that feel like uphill climbs — usually because they are — but we help each other get through it.”
The hikers get support from “trail angels,” people who provide for them, give them rides and places to stay, and sometimes even snacks and water left anonymously by the side of the trail. Initially, it was difficult for Rob to accept the generosity of strangers. He eventually came to accept and appreciate the “trail magic.”
The last day of Rob’s hike begins and ends on opposite sides of Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. That day happens to fall on Yom Kippur. Our initial thought was that it was extremely inconvenient that he would be hiking through the High Holidays. I grumbled about the frustrations of living as a Jew in a Christian world. Don’t people understand the need to be at services?
Then I realized how impressive that significance is for us as Jews. Each year, our Jewish traditions provide us with an opportunity to take stock of ourselves and the lives we lead, to note where we have fallen short, and what we can do to improve ourselves. By beginning the process a month before, we have the opportunity to proceed deliberately, so we view teshuva — repentance — as a challenge rather than an impossibility. To be successful, we must push ourselves to improve, but we also must realize our limitations. We can be aware of the immense spiritual challenge before us while still knowing that the only way we can even begin to meet that challenge is to take it one step at a time.
Like the preparation for the High Holidays, through-hiking is a reflective practice. Stepping out of regular patterns allows us to deeply contemplate our lives. We can acknowledge our strengths and come to terms with our challenges. This reflection allows us to see beyond ourselves to our relationships, commitments, communities, and responsibilities. One step at a time, we begin to see our connections more clearly.
As Rob travels through this process, he can come home with meaningful insight into how to move back into our community while taking on a new role. This challenging hike is preparing him for not only a new year, but a new life. As he pushes himself and his fellow veterans to continue to put one foot in front of the other, they are putting the years they spent deployed behind them, hiking toward a more complete healing.
When Rob returns, he will have had the time he needed to let go of the experiences of war as he moves into a new year and a new life. When you hear the shofar blow, closing this year’s reflective journey on Yom Kippur, remember Rob stepping off the trail, returning to the Pacific Northwest, and a life renewed.
Catherine Carmel is director of Jewish Family Life & Learning at Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia.
Judge Ann Schindler swears in state Rep. Tana Senn (D–41st) at the King County Council chambers following her confirmation on Sept. 9.
You could say she was hand-picked for the job. When Tana Senn was sworn in as the newest member of the state legislature on Monday, the moment followed a whirlwind of activity after Senn’s predecessor announced her resignation from her seat earlier in the summer.
“About six weeks ago, right before Marcie Maxwell stepped down — about 10 minutes before she stepped down — she gave me a call and she said, ‘Tana, I’m taking a job with the governor’s office, and would love for you to put your name in to replace me in the legislature,’” said Senn, 42.
After some consultation with her husband and two children, she decided to throw her hat into the ring.
“I looked at my kids and I thought, ‘this is going to be really hard,’” she said. “I also looked at them and I thought, ‘I have to do this, because we need more women and people with kids in Olympia.’ I thought it was really important to do this.”
From there came a nomination process through the 41st District Democrats — because Maxwell is a Democrat, the Democratic party recommends a nominee. After Senn rose to the top of that process, her name was submitted to the King County Council for a vote. Senn met with council members last week, and was sworn in during a council meeting in downtown Seattle on Sept. 9.
“I was very impressed with the local government experience, and I think that will be very helpful to all of us in Olympia to have more people who have local government experience,” said council member Kathy Lambert prior to the vote.
Council member Jane Hague said Senn “served admirably in other civic responsibilities and has shone, and I think this is an obvious next step forward.”
The council voted 8-0, with one member absent, to appoint Senn to the seat.
“Tana’s lifelong passion for policy and experience on the City Council will serve her well in Olympia and allow her to hit the ground running,” said Maxwell in a statement. “Our district is lucky to have her represent us.”
Senn’s current government experience is as a sitting Mercer Island City Council member. She plans to keep that seat.
“I’m very committed to Mercer Island and Mercer Island City Council, and I’m proud of not having missed any meetings,” she said. “I realize the time in Olympia might not allow that [to continue].”
But, she said, because the upcoming session is only 60 days, “at most I would miss a couple meetings, I would think.”
Senn has also previously chaired the government affairs committee at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and worked there for two years as its director of marketing and communications.
As she begins to go out and meet the citizens in her district, which covers Mercer Island, parts of Bellevue, Sammamish and Renton, as well as some rural areas, Senn said she has three issues she wants to focus on.
“A transportation package [is] desperately needed for the entire region, but especially for the 41st, which borders I-90 and 405 and 167, so that’s a critical issue,” she said. “Fully funding education, of course — we’ve got to continue our work in that direction. And then making our communities safer, and passing background checks for gun purchases.”
Though it’s still four months before the next session begins, Senn said she’s excited to get to know her constituency and her colleagues.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the Jewish caucus, I’m excited to be a part of the women in Olympia and keeping that number up, and I’m very honored to be replacing Marcie Maxwell,” Senn said. “She was quite an impressive woman and I know there’ll be big shoes to fill.”
Judy Lash Balint
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8th) meets with a contingent of Seattle-area expatriates and press members during his visit to Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM — Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8th) made his first visit to Israel last week, not as part of a formal congressional delegation, but with a small group of first responders whom he regards as his peers.
Reichert, who spent the majority of his working life in law enforcement before his election in 2004, spent a week learning about Israel’s security operations and meeting Israeli defense personnel in a visit organized by Proactive Global Security (PGS), a private security consulting company.
PGS, a recipient of Department of Homeland Security grants, specializes in training U.S.-based first responders in the latest Israeli security techniques and has previously provided consulting for Pierce County and other Washington state security personnel.
In promotional materials for the Reichert trip, PGS stated: “Our goal is to provide critical training in first response, and be a partner in establishing the foundational relationships necessary to develop a regional response plan, which includes coordination between the public and private sector.”
Reichert was accompanied by Capt. Peter Brummel of Eastside Fire and Rescue; Acting Lt. Erik Allen, Deputy Director of the Washington State Fusion Center; Detective Tim Renihan of the Seattle Police Department Intelligence Division; and officers from Fairfax, Va. and Denver, Colo.
Speaking at a dinner in Jerusalem at the end of the trip, attended by a number of Israeli opinion makers and a smattering of Seattle-area immigrants, Reichert said there was no substitute for seeing Israel’s security situation on the ground.
“I was aware of the size of Israel on a map, but when you travel to the border with Syria and Lebanon or down to Gaza, you realize how small it really is,” he said. “Small and surrounded by enemies.”
Referring to the years he spent solving the Green River killings, “I thought 19 years was a long struggle,” Reichert said. “But 65 years is a really long time and you have many more years ahead of you.”
“People in the U.S. can’t understand how you survive and continue to fight,” he added.
Given Reichert’s law-enforcement background, he said he was most moved by his meetings with Israeli soldiers, in particular those stationed a few hundred yards from the border with Gaza.
“Those tank brigade soldiers have an incredible sense of commitment and professional dedication,” he said.
The group met with Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, and deputy defense minister Danny Danon as well as security officials at Ben Gurion Airport and the Port of Ashdod. They were introduced to police department officers in Jerusalem and Sderot and medical personnel from Magen David Adom and Hadassah Hospital.
Brummel, of Eastside Fire and Rescue, told JTNews it would take him several months to digest the material he’d been exposed to in Israel. Learning more about the Iranian nuclear threat from Steinitz was an eye-opener, he said.
Brummel also expressed admiration for regular Israelis he’d met during the visit.
“The passion Israelis have for their country and the commitment to go about your daily life in areas where people don’t want you is remarkable,” he said.
“Israeli police are in a remarkably more complicated situation than we’re in,” said Acting Lt. Erik Allen of the Washington Fusion Center, a coordinating body of city, county, state and federal first responders.
Allen was on duty during the attack on the Jewish Federation building in Seattle in July 2006 and recalls the urgent intelligence sharing that took place between local and New York police departments and ultimately with Israeli intelligence, in an effort to determine whether the perpetrator was part of a larger conspiracy.
Allen said the contacts with Israeli intelligence and police officials made on this visit will be invaluable in developing and maintaining a positive relationship to fight terror.
“Email and phone calls can only do so much,” he said.
Though Allen learned plenty to bring back to his post in Seattle, the Middle East conflict left him with much more ambiguity.
“Overall, I don’t know whether to be encouraged or discouraged by the situation,” he said.
Since entering Congress, Reichert’s only previous trips abroad have been to visit U.S. troops. But he believes this visit to Israel will leave a lasting impression.
“Israel and the U.S. need to be united. Your enemies are our enemies,” he said. “This trip will have a ripple effect.”
Courtesy Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Hillel UW staff pose with their award at the Hillel Institute in St. Louis, Mo. in July. From left: Tal Goshen-Gottstein, Reyna Shoihat, Josh Furman, Talia Stein, Rabbi Oren J. Hayon.
On July 29 and 30 at the Hillel Institute in St. Louis, Mo., Hillel at the University of Washington was presented with a Visions and Values Award from Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life for its innovative development program.
Four other Vision and Values awardees include Hillel at Kent State, Santa Barbara Hillel, MIT Hillel, and the University of Maryland Hillel. Each Hillel was given the award for its own exemplary characteristic. Hillel UW was chosen because of its accomplishments in its development program.
Hillel UW’s executive director Rabbi Oren Hayon is enthusiastic about the staff involved in receiving this award, stating that it is the “staff’s hard work that brings students through the door.”
The Hillel has been able to “bolster and enlarge the development team,” said Hayon. According to Hayon, what makes Hillel UW unique is that it has “support from the whole community, not just students, parents, and alumni.”
Indeed, it is the support from the whole community that was harnessed in Hillel’s new development strategy that made it possible to receive this award.
The “key to successful development is being really good at cultivating relationships,” said Hayon. By creating meaningful and long-term relationships with donors and investors, UW Hillel has taken leaps and bounds in the development aspect of the organization. According to Hayon, if the staff’s enthusiasm and energy is palpable to the investors, students, and community at large, they will be more inclined to get involved with the Hillel as well.
Galit Ezekiel, director of development and operations at Hillel, plays an instrumental role in the new development strategy, said Hayon. Ezekiel is “an extraordinary star of our team here,” he said, and it is “because of Galit’s tremendous success and abilities” that Hillel was honored with this award.
“At Hillel UW we strive to create innovative development strategies and seek out new opportunities and strategic partnerships,” said Ezekiel by email. “That said, this award is a testament to our outstanding volunteers, lay leaders and staff.”
Hayon said it is a “point of pride” that the UW Hillel has gotten national
“We submitted a nomination for the award months ago but were surprised to be selected as this year’s award recipient,” said Ezekiel. “We were told by Hillel International that there were a number of excellent Hillels vying for the development award, and we are extremely honored to receive this recognition.”
The award brings Hillel UW national, even international, recognition among the Hillel community.
“I’d also like to acknowledge and thank our exceptional donors and supporters,” said Ezekiel. “Through the difficult economic climate the past few years, they have stood by us, demonstrating a commitment to our work with young Jews.”
Courtesy Torah Day School
Back-to-school season is always a little chaotic. All the more so for Torah Day School, which in addition to preparing a new school building this fall had about three months to hire a new head of school.
The Orthodox day school in South Seattle lost its temporary Columbia City home when Seattle Public Schools decided to re-commission the building for a middle school. The school came upon more hard times when one of its teachers was charged with child molestation in May. Head of school Rabbi Sheftel Skaist stepped down, leaving a vacancy with three months to fill.
Despite a delay in permits for the new, semi-permanent school on Beacon Hill — leaving students to spend the first month of the new school year between Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath and the Seattle Kollel — everything seems to be under control. Three days before the first day of school on August 28, Rabbi Moshe Abady moved to Seattle from Los Angeles to take the reins.
When JTNews connected with Abady, he had been up since 2:30 in the morning.
“It’s not an easy transition for us,” said Abady, who with his wife Leora has eight children between the ages of 1 and 17. However, he feels leading Torah Day School is an opportunity and a responsibility for personal growth not available in L.A.
“I’m seeing a community which is very ripe for growth. I’m seeing a lot of real people,” he said. “I’m coming aboard…at a very unique time in Seattle’s history. We have an opportunity to embrace the new leadership and to use it as a springboard for growth. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Abady spent 12 years as a middle school Judaics teacher at the Maimonides Academy in Los Angeles, where he also served as director of co-curricular activities, adult educator, and program coordinator for parent learning. In addition to serving as rabbi at two Sephardic congregations, he was the Sephardic Studies Chair at Yeshivat Shaarei Yerushalayim in Har Nof, Israel, before coming to Los Angeles. He holds a master’s of educational leadership from Bellevue University.
This is Abady’s first head of school position.
“I’ve developed a passion for leadership,” he said. “I’ve always felt I’d go into leadership. Even though it is my first experience bring head of school, it feels very natural for me.”
TDS board president Binyomin Edelstone said the search committee worked with several organizations to come up with a candidate pool so late in the year.
Abady, Edelstone explained, had started thinking about a change in the early spring, and his rabbinic mentors encouraged him to pursue the job.
An initial 12 candidates yielded four or five serious ones, and two, including Abady, were invited out. The position was initially offered to the other candidate, who turned it down.
But Edelstone is happy with the outcome.
“After the first interview we felt great,” he said. “There were a lot of things that attracted us to him….Since coming here there’s been great chemistry between him and the people he’s met.”
Abady is technologically savvy — he has his own YouTube channel and encourages technology as a learning tool — and though he lacks prior head of school experience, Edelstone thinks his fresh perspective could work to his advantage.
Abady will also be more involved in school security. After the spring scandal, TDS brought out the director of Aleinu Family Resource Center, a program of Los Angeles’s Jewish Family Service that educates, counsels, and sets policies regarding various issues, including abuse in Orthodox schools, for a two-day seminar with kids, parents and staff. The school also received a comprehensive physical security assessment.
“Rabbi Abady has plans to be a lot more present in the classrooms,” Edelstone said. “He knows and the teachers know that the doors are open and the he can walk in at any second.”
Maimonides Academy is “a school with very high academic standards, very organized, very professional,” said Abady, and he intends to carry those standards into his new role. He also hopes to introduce more education about Sephardic Jewry, to continue “the Seattle tradition of mutual respect but individual pride [in students’] own customs.”
Abady’s main passion is helping teachers become those that students remember, teachers who are excellent educators but who also deeply care for every student.
“That’s a culture that already exists in many of the teachers at TDS,” he said. “My goal is to help them maximize this part of themselves.”
This article went to press describing the former teacher charged with child molestation as convicted, when in fact he has only been charged. JTNews apologizes and regrets the error.
Independent media ethics forum, the Washington News Council (WNC), will attend this year’s Alliance of Independent Press Councils conference September 9-12 in Tel Aviv. Israel’s President Shimon Peres will address the conference. The press councils review complaints from organizations or individuals against media outlets that have produced unfair or unethical stories about them, and John Hamer, WNC’s president and executive director, will join a panel on the topic of “Ethical Dilemmas in the Age of Transparency.” The WNC is the only one of its kind in the United States. Hamer, who wrote for the Seattle Times for 13 years and started the “Lifetime Letters” project to help Soviet Jews in the Gulag, lives with his wife, Mariana Parks, on Mercer Island. They are members of the Stroum Jewish Community Center.
Rep. Derek Kilmer meets with Israeli president Shimon Peres during a weeklong trip to Israel this month.
If there’s one thing Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) learned during a weeklong trip to Israel, it’s that nothing in the region, in particular peace talks, is simple.
“I don’t think anybody was Pollyannaish about thinking it’s going to be easy,” Kilmer told JTNews.
Kilmer was part of a 37-member U.S. congressional democratic delegation in Israel in August to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, receive high-level military and diplomatic briefings, and tour sensitive security zones, including the northern border with Lebanon, the Gaza border, the Golan Heights, and the Syrian and Jordanian borders.
The American Israel Education Foundation, the educational affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, sponsored the visit that allows lawmakers to learn about Middle East issues that influence U.S. policy. Kilmer, a former state legislator, began his first term this year in a district that encompasses the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, Tacoma and parts of the South Sound, and nearly all of the islands in the Puget Sound. He is a Princeton University graduate and a University of Oxford Ph.D.
At the top of the list of issues to be discussed on his visit was the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“There are very complicated areas of disagreement,” Kilmer said. Among other complex issues, “there’s an ongoing discussion about security, because if there is a two-state solution, how do you ensure Israel’s long term security? That is a challenging needle to thread.”
The group met with members of the Israeli government to discuss the importance of strengthening the long-established partnership between the U.S. and Israel as the U.S.‘s only reliable democratic ally in the Middle East.
Kilmer said he saw first-hand the threats that Israelis face “basically along every border.”
“That’s really, really important,” he said. “When you’re sitting there across from Gaza, there’s a reality of rockets from Hamas. When you’re up on the Lebanese border, there’s the reality of the presence of Hezbollah. These threats to Israel are very real.”
In addition to meetings with Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and a negotiator on the Israeli side, they also went to Bethlehem, and finally to Ramallah in the West Bank, where Kilmer spoke with chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, along with another negotiator in his party.
“The most positive thing to come out of all of the discussions is the degree to which there was appreciation for the role the United States was playing in trying to reignite the peace discussion,” noted Kilmer. “Erekat mentioned Secretary of State John Kerry by name numerous times and the very active role he’s playing.”
Kilmer said he was surprised by how “substantially developed” Ramallah was, saying he met Erekat in a “really upscale hotel.”
In March 2013, Kilmer was one of 338 cosponsors of H.R. 938, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), “to strengthen the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes.”
The legislation reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to partnering with Israel in several areas including technology, homeland security, cyber-security, intelligence, energy, water, agriculture, alternative fuel technologies, an Israel visa waiver program, and military defense and deterrence.
“That strategic cooperation was a key element of the trip I went on,” Kilmer said. “We met with a group of young innovators and talked about trade relationships and our economic relationship and our nation’s military partnership. I also visited an Iron Dome battery.”
Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-missile defense technology, showed its effectiveness during the November 2012 Pillar of Defense operation, and most recently as last week in cross-border skirmishes with Syria.
When Kilmer met the families in the rocket-plagued border town of Sderot, located about a half of a mile from Gaza, and toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, it was the safety of his young daughters and the past plight of his 103-year-old Holocaust survivor grandmother back home that suddenly became very personal.
“I have two little girls,” said Kilmer, who is not Jewish. “I cannot imagine what that’s like. The children’s recreation center had to have its roof reinforced because of concerns about rocket fire from Gaza.”
One mother told Kilmer they don’t have post-traumatic stress disorder, but “constant traumatic stress.”
“Sitting and talking to the kids and the parents, that’s a very real experience that you don’t get from a policy briefing,” he said. “Not only do you see how an investment like [Iron Dome] provides protection, you see what it protects.”
Rabbi Pinchas Dunner, left, and Cantor Meir Briskman.
With the departure of Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath’s rabbi earlier this summer, members of the congregation’s religious committee knew they would have their hands full finding someone to lead services for the quickly approaching High Holy Days.
“Repentance is a big goal [of the holidays], and it’s something that’s difficult to achieve fully,” said Michael Friend, who chairs BCMH’s religious committee. “An excellent rabbi and excellent cantor help us do our spiritual work.”
The committee set out to find not only a rabbi to lead services, but also a cantor to chant the powerful melodies unique to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They were lucky enough to find both in Rabbi Pinchas Dunner, who is currently serving as mashgiach ruchani (spiritual counselor) and Jewish studies teacher at Yeshiva University High School in Los Angeles.
“We were looking for somebody fresh, somebody young, somebody who could bring a balance of professionalism and warmth,” said Friend of Dunner, adding that the spiritual leader is truly a multi-dimensional rabbi who will be able to relate to congregants on multiple levels.
Rabbi Dunner was born in London to a family with a rich history of Jewish involvement. His grandfather, Rabbi Josef Hirsch Dunner, served as chief rabbi of Prussia prior to World War II. In 1938, he escaped to the United Kingdom with his family, where his son Avraham would go on to serve as an educator and as the executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis.
“My parents and grandparents on both sides were exceptionally actively involved in Jewish life and Jewish affairs,” Rabbi Dunner recalled. “Wherever I went, there were references to my family being involved all over Europe. I couldn’t escape it.”
A fifth-generation rabbi, Dunner left religious service for several years to work in business, but eventually left that because he “just wasn’t happy.” He has since found a calling in Southern California, teaching at YULA and working with secular Israeli expatriates to connect them to Jewish life and culture.
Joining Rabbi Dunner will be Meir Briskman, who will serve as ba’al tefillah (prayer leader). A world-renowned Israeli conductor and composer, Briskman knew he had a natural affinity for music at a young age, but received no formal music education until he was in his twenties.
“I was raised to study in yeshiva,” said Briskman, who grew up in a Haredi Orthodox household and whose father still teaches at Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. At 24, with two years of private music lessons under his belt, he began attending the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. It was there he would receive his two bachelor’s degrees — one in musical composition and the other in conducting — and his master’s degree, also in conducting.
“I found a connection between my musical world and my religious world [through cantorial work],” explained Briskman, who conducts the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute Choir and the Jerusalem Cantors Choir. Briskman also has his own choir, Lishmoa el HaRina, which, at only a year and a half old, was invited to participate in the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland this past July. Briskman called the performance at the festival, which is the biggest Jewish music festival in the world “an honor.”
Briskman was approached by one of his singers in the Jerusalem Cantors Choir to help lead High Holy Day services at BCMH. He submitted his audio files to the religious committee at BCMH, and Friend was floored.
“I was absolutely amazed at what I was listening to,” said Friend. “He has a beautiful voice.”
Friend is looking forward to the combination of talents Dunner and Briskman can bring to services at BCMH. He hopes that the services will not only provide spiritual meaning for current members, but for non-members, as well.
“Maybe there are people that never thought that traditional Jewish worship could be a meaningful path,” he said. “If [we] could speak to those people and get them excited and give them new thoughts, that would be very important. It isn’t just about helping bring the congregants we currently have to a higher state, but also reaching out.”
For Rabbi Dunner’s part, he is excited to come to Seattle to lead BCMH in prayer.
“I understand the community in Seattle is particularly warm, particularly special, wonderful and hospitable,” he said. He hopes that services will allow congregants time for introspection, and that they will view Rosh Hashanah as a positive jumping-off point for the rest of the year.
Briskman, too, is looking forward to leading BCMH in morning services, or Shacharit.
“It’s too much to ask that 100 percent of members will feel something,” he joked, “but I hope that many of them will feel something from my davening. If that happens, that’s all I need.”
BCMH has audio and video clips of Rabbi Dunner and Meir Briskman on its website, www.bcmhseattle.org. Services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath are free to the public. You can reserve your seat by calling the BCMH office at 206-721-0970.
Courtesy Akiva Zablocki
One-year-old Idan Zablocki will require a bone-marrow transplant that his family hopes will cure him of the the rare genetic disease Hyper IgM.
Rather than throw their 1-year old son Idan a birthday party this past July, Amanda and Akiva Zablocki of Manhattan celebrated in a more unconventional way: By finally picking a hospital for Idan’s bone marrow transplant. Idan has Hyper IgM, a rare and genetic immune deficiency disorder that affects two in a million people and leaves them with an inability to produce antibodies. His only hope for a cure is the transplant, which carries a 10-15 percent risk of fatality.
Amanda, 28, and Akiva, 33, chose Seattle Children’s Hospital, after months of intensive research, interviews with doctors, and exhaustive trips to cities across the U.S.
“Not only was the bone marrow transplant first invented at Seattle, but immunologists at the hospital’s lab were the first to discover Hyper IgM,” explained Akiva. “Seattle is also the only hospital in the country to use Treosulfan, a chemotherapy drug that is associated with significantly fewer fatal risks and complications than other pre-transplant drugs. The choice for our family is clear.”
The hospital’s transplant floor was built last year, “a huge plus if we have to live in a hospital nearly 24/7 for several months, and we loved the entire staff we met there,” he added.
Akiva, a survivor of a cancerous tumor on his brain stem that was diagnosed when he was 25, is no stranger to spending inordinate amounts of time in hospitals. But despite the couple’s confidence in Seattle, Amanda and Akiva are understandably nervous about leaving New York and virtually their entire support system behind when they fly to Seattle in September.
“We hope that we can build a new support network in Seattle, starting with a couple of good friends who live there,” said Amanda. “We’ll also be looking into joining a synagogue in the near vicinity of the hospital. The more integrated we feel, the more outlets we will have to keep up our strength for Idan as we leave behind our friends and family.”
One friend in the city is Dr. Ohad Manor, a friend of Akiva’s since they were 6 years old. He recently arrived in Seattle to do postdoctoral work at the University of Washington.
“He has always been a resilient and resourceful person, qualities which became even more evident and pronounced after his battle against cancer,” said Manor. “I couldn’t believe it when he told me of Idan’s situation.”
Manor just enrolled his son in pre-school at Congregation Beth Shalom, about a mile from the hospital, and expects to meet more families who he can then introduce to the Zablockis. Meanwhile, he said, “I will support Akiva and his family in any way that I can.”
David Aaron Engle, a close friend of Akiva’s who works at Microsoft, is confident the Zablockis will find a community in Seattle.
“They are both impossible not to like, and I’m sure they will make friends quickly,” Engle said.
“I see Amanda and Akiva’s love and dedication to each other and to Idan, that I believe that will carry them forward through this considerable challenge.”
But while carving out a community and support system is its own daunting task, the Zablockis will face a much bigger challenge in Seattle.
“Unfortunately, our belief that this hospital is the best place for our son’s surgery matters little to our insurance, which informed us that because the hospital is out of network, it will only pay for whatever it deems reasonable — along with a $50,000 co-pay — and the rest is on us,” Amanda said. “The transplant will cost between $600,000 and $1 million, so we will end up needing to cover at least $250,000, and possibly much more.”
The family launched a social media campaign to raise both awareness and funds for Idan’s medical care; and Amanda, an attorney, and Akiva, who holds a master’s degree in public health, use their combined knowledge and negotiating skills for hours on the phone each day with insurance administrators battling for more coverage.
“Instead of spending the remaining precious days with our son before the transplant and planning for our trip to Seattle, we are spending most of our time dealing with insurance and trying to come up with creative solutions,” Amanda said.
A fundraising page for the Zablockis can be found at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-fight-for-idan/63532. Seattle community members who can offer support and resources are encouraged to contact Akiva and Amanda through the site and at www.facebook.com/HelpFight4Idan.
The Jewish community of Rhodes, Greece came to life when 35 people from around the world journeyed to the island recently for a special service. The service was held in the synagogue in which the Jewish story is infused in every brick, ingrained in every stone of the mosaic floor…
Last month I went to synagogue for a Friday night service with my son-in-law, my future son-in-law, and his father. The synagogue filled, the rabbi called out the page numbers in Sephardi and Ashkenazi prayer books and the proceedings began.
So what makes a Shabbat service newsworthy? Why was this night different from every other night?
Because it was a Shabbat service like no other — it brought together 35 people from Israel, the U.S., South Africa and Australia with the objective of celebrating the aufruf of my daughter’s fiancé.
In so doing, we honored a once-vibrant community that was decimated by the Nazis. We paid tribute to a community that saw one-third of its finest destroyed in the Nazi camps, leaving but a handful to call it home. We brought the Jews of Rhodes back to life.
The Jewish community of the Isle of Rhodes numbered 5,000 at its peak. So vibrant was it, so rich in tradition, it was dubbed Little Jerusalem. But exactly 75 years ago, its world came crashing down on September 1, 1938. That Friday evening, the community was shattered to learn that Mussolini had enacted a raft of decrees, which effectively spelled the beginning of the end for the Jews of Rhodes.
Jews were henceforth forbidden to attend public schools, teach, own property, manage businesses, or serve in the army. Jewish graves were to be exhumed, kosher slaughtering was banned, other Italians were forbidden from marrying Jews, Jewish schools were closed, and Jews who had settled on Rhodes in the previous 20 years had to emigrate or be imprisoned, fined and expelled.
The news devastated the community and many made plans to emigrate. My father, 25, was an accountant and engaged to be married to Becky Hassan.
Fast forward five weeks. Yom Kippur. My father spent the day in synagogue with his father. The following day he set sail for South Africa — never to see his parents again.
His intention was to settle in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and bring out his parents, teenage sisters, and Becky, his fiancé.
It wasn’t to be.
His parents and sisters were deported to Auschwitz, where his mother was gassed on arrival and his father perished toward the end of the Holocaust. What of Becky? She too was deported to Auschwitz and that was the last he heard of her. Informed that she had perished, he married the woman who became my mother.
Some years ago, while on holiday in Cape Town, he overheard the name Becky Hassan — it was the same Becky Hassan to whom he had been engaged half a century earlier! She had survived — and been told he had perished — and was living in Belgium, a grandmother in her 70s. He was a grandfather, also in his 70s, living in Johannesburg. Several months later, he flew to Belgium and they spent an hour at Brussels Airport, reminiscing.
When Jews were banished from Spain during the Inquisition, they dispersed across Europe, many finding refuge on Rhodes. The Spanish, or Sephardic, Jews outnumbered the original inhabitants. Their language, Ladino, and customs became the way of the land.
They initially lived in peace under the Knights of St. John until the Knights ordered them to accept Catholicism, or be expelled or put to death. For a period, the community was virtually non-existent, so the remaining Jews welcomed the 16th-century conquest of Rhodes by the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent. Jews returned to their faith and the community flourished under Turkish rule for 400 years.
Most lived in the Jewish Quarter — a fortress of cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and open-air markets. They were confined to a dozen streets, the names of which had a charming logic — The Wide Street, The Cold and Windy Street, The Street to the Sea, The Street of the Great Synagogue, The Street of the Fig Trees, The Street of the Crazy Ones.
This vibrant community included six synagogues, a school, kashrut facilities, and the pride of the community — a rabbinical college with an international reputation, where my mother’s father served as the principal. My father, whose father had been a tailor, worked as a translator at Salamon Alhadeff & Son, one of the island’s largest banks with a staff of 500 and 20 branches on the mainland.
My father’s community was steeped in tradition. The family gathered to light the Shabbat candles, which the mother did with her head covered. After the blessing over the wine, children kissed their parents’ hands and were told, “We hope to see you married.”
It devised its own remedies: Headaches were treated with slices of potato and cucumber on the forehead, while infected eyes were washed with tea and blue beads around the forehead. And the superstitions: If you saw a hunchback, you had good luck. If you touched the hunchback, you had better luck. You never drank water while standing. Babies born on Fridays were considered intelligent. If a child had hiccups, parents intoned, “Let the hiccups go to the bottom of the sea and keep my child from harm.”
This was the community whose existence came crashing down in 1938. Of the 5,000 Jews on the island, over 3,000 departed — my mother’s Menashe family on the last ship that was allowed to leave. Italian forces occupied the island and the remaining 1,757 Jews were able to live in relative peace over the next five years.
But Italy capitulated and on July 19, 1944 German forces arrived — with orders to liquidate. The Jews were ordered to report to the Aviation Palace, where they were held for four days with neither food nor water.
Turkish Consul-General Selahattin Ulkumen, a Muslim, was aware that 42 of the incarcerated Jews had Turkish origins.
“I went to the Commander, General Von Kleeman, and asked him to release the 42,” he said later. “The commander said that according to Nazi law, all Jews had to go to concentration camps because Germany needed manpower. But I knew their real purpose — to kill them in the gas chambers. So I objected. I said Turkish law didn’t differentiate between whether a citizen was Jewish, Christian or Muslim. According to Turkish law, all citizens are equal. I said I would advise my government and it would cause an international incident.”
Ulkumen saved the 42, issuing Turkish passports to them against Nazi orders and enabling them to flee. Five of the 42 were Alhadeffs, members of my family.
He paid a price for his courage. German aircraft bombed the consulate, where his wife was about to give birth. She was injured, yet had the baby and died a week later. Her mother committed suicide upon hearing of her daughter’s death. Turkey severed relations with Germany and Ulkumen was arrested. He survived and in 1990 was declared Righteous Among The Nations.
On July 23, 1944, these 1,757 Jews were marched to the port, deported to the mainland on three cargo vessels and transported to Auschwitz, where 1,604 were murdered, including 151 Alhadeffs.
This was the community whose memory we honored last month. Thirty-five of us assembled outside the modest yet magnificent 450-year-old Kahal Shalom Synagogue that Friday morning for a “Jewish walking tour” of Rhodes. Our leader was Isaac Habib, a knowledgeable South African whose family came from Rhodes and who spends four months a year there as a guide.
He led us to the sites of the rabbinical college; the French-Jewish school established by Baron Edmond de Rothschild; the remains of synagogues destroyed by Royal Air Force bombers attacking German troops; the cobbled square where Jews socialized, known today as The Square of the Jewish Martyrs; the Chevra Kadisha; the recently built six-sided Holocaust memorial, each face inscribed in a different language — and Alhadeff Park on Alhadeff Street, where we paused for a group photograph.
The service that evening was preceded by Lionel Lubitz, a cousin of the fiancé, who led a rousing pre-Kabbalat Shabbat on his guitar. His music prompted congregants to break into spontaneous dance. The following morning, the Sydney Jewish Learning Centre’s Rabbi David Blackman conducted the aufruf — a profoundly poignant moment, given the community history and the family story. The wedding following three days later in Jerusalem, thereby closing the circle.
As for the seats on which we sat — they were the same seats on which my father sat the last time he saw his father, on Yom Kippur 1938, before the grandfather I would never meet was deported to Auschwitz.
I had a palpable sense that my father, my grandfather before him, and all the Jews of Rhodes knew we were there.
Vic Alhadeff is chief executive officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on Twitter: @VicAlhadeff.
All photos by Joel Magalnick
Rabbi Joshua Samuels looks out at what will be the sanctuary and social hall of Bellingham’s Congregation Beth Israel.
The front of the new Congregation Beth Israel from the front of the 17-acre property.
The construction of a new synagogue in Bellingham has been a decades-long process. But much has changed, in particular over the past year — including an actual structure.
“In a year we went from a hole in the ground to this magnificent shed,” said Rabbi Joshua Samuels of the northwest Washington city’s Congregation Beth Israel, of the two-story wooden shell at the back of an otherwise empty seven acre-lot.
The full size of the Reform congregation’s parcel is 17 acres, and the rest of the forested land will remain that way for the time being, with the possible exception of a road deeded to the city to connect the two neighborhoods the synagogue’s land straddles.
The genesis of the project goes as far back as 1990, when Beth Israel’s leadership launched a campaign to replace its 1925 synagogue near downtown Bellingham. They purchased the land in 2003, and have patiently raised money since to move forward in building phases.
Aside from Beth Israel, the only other Jewish organizations in Bellingham are Chabad and Hillel at Western Washington University. Given the community’s small size — Beth Israel’s membership currently stands at about 220 families — finding an angel to fund a $7 million project has been challenging at best. Without a large pool of money, the project must be completed in fits and starts.
“When we have enough money to clear the land, we clear the land. When we have enough money to build the foundation, we build the foundation,” said Dave Goldman, the chair of the capital campaign. “A lot of it is being patient. Fiscally responsible and patient.”
“We’ve done this while running a synagogue in the black, and not gone and done it with a loan,” said Jeff Jaffe, a second-generation Beth Israel member and past-president, who has been one of the prime forces behind getting the new synagogue constructed.
The next big push is to raise enough to begin protecting the existing structure from the elements, including installation of windows and roofing materials. Goldman said he hopes to have that money raised soon — recent rains have left shallow puddles on the subfloor in what will be the sanctuary.
The front of the building is currently being covered with concrete ground from a large rock that used to sit where the building now stands, molded to look like Jerusalem stone.
A look inside shows the bones of what will be a light and spacious structure when it’s finished. Just past the grand front entrance is a room that has Samuels excited: The library. Though most of its members probably don’t know it, the synagogue has an extensive collection of books, but due to lack of space in the current building they have remained in boxes at Jaffe’s home.
Samuels envisions classes, study sessions, nearly anything related to Jewish learning. It can “really serve much more of a purpose than a library,” he said.
The majority of the main floor will compose the sanctuary and social hall, where exposed wood beams already line the ceiling and tall windows look out onto forest land.
“Right now it’s like a Jewish barn,” said Rabbi Samuels.
The front of the building, where workers are putting up the homemade “Jerusalem” stone.
A patio behind the sanctuary will allow for outdoor social gatherings. A 6,000-square-foot second floor was added late in the game “for the cost of the floor,” according to Goldman, that can be used as recreation space or classrooms.
The main floor will also include a large kitchen and the rabbi’s study. Underneath, a second, smaller kitchen will be placed alongside eight classrooms, which will fit the 100 registered kids in the religious school — more than twice as Beth Israel had signed up before the arrival of Samuels and a new education director.
Rabbi Joshua Samuels and capital campaign chair Dave Goldman look onto the lot from the second floor.
There’s a reason Beth Israel purchased such a large parcel of land: It wants to be the center of “the infrastructure of Judaism in the city,” according to Goldman. That means the buildup of a Jewish community center, a day camp, even a Jewish senior center — but any such growth would be years down the road. But it also addresses a reality that faces synagogues in general and fundraising to complete this project in particular: People don’t want to donate to a project to build a lovely building. They want to donate to something relevant to their lives.
“My spiel to people is we’re not building a new Beth Israel synagogue,” Jaffe said. “What we’re doing is a Jewish center in the North Sound of Washington.”
In the middle of August, Samuels and the synagogue’s lay leaders were grappling with the bad news they had just received: Their near-term aspiration, to hold High Holiday services in the partially finished building, had been denied by county inspectors, due to potential liability issues.
Samuels had been hoping to get as many people as possible to the site just to see what has been built so they could see where their donations have gone — and possible finish the project.
“We felt that having Rosh Hashanah here would have been the most extraordinary moment in our community’s history,” he said.
None of Beth Israel’s leaders can say for certain when the building will be finished. But they say they are willing to do whatever they need to for their congregation to take ownership.
“I’ll sit on the floor until the office is done,” said Samuels. “I don’t mind being uncomfortable as long as our community can gather here.”
Mass Distraction/Creative Commons
Need a place to spend your High Holidays? We’ve got a compilation of services across the state, and they’re all happy to welcome you in. Please contact the individual congregation for tickets or any further information.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 4. Candlelighting 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Thursday, September 5. Candlelighting after 8:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Friday, September 6. Candlelighting 7:21 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: Friday, September 13. Candlelighting 7:07 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Saturday, September 14. Fast ends 8:13 p.m.
Click to find services by denomination or area:
Greater Seattle area
Throughout Washington State
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND/KITSAP PENINSULA
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE, Seattle
Contact: Heidi Piel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-524-0075 or bethshalomseattle.org
Tickets are $200 for non-members.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Prospective member open house 5:45-6:45 p.m. Meet Rabbi Jill Borodin, eat some apples and honey, and stay for services, 6:15-7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Traditional Rosh Hashanah service in a vibrant and spiritually energetic environment. They provide special programming for families with children pre-K and K and 1st-5th grade as well as activities for those under 5. Tashlich: 5:30 p.m. Gather at Ravenna Park for a traditional Tashlich service.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30 p.m. Erev Yom Kippur Mincha. Kol Nidre follows, including the traditionally haunting sounds of the cello.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Appropriately solemn Yom Kippur prayer services for exploring the soul, complemented by learning and engagement to engage the mind and expand the heart. Includes family services for children in 1st-5th grade and programs for children under 5. Final shofar at 8:10 p.m. and break-fast meal at 8:20 p.m.
Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island
Contact: Rebecca Levy at Rebecca@h-nt.org or 206-232-8555, ext. 207 or www.h-nt.org
Tickets $50 per person for each holiday.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6-7 p.m.
Jewish New Year Rockin’ Eve: 3-4 p.m. For preschool and kindergarten families (open to non-members). Led by Rabbi Jill Levy and Chava Mirel.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Main sanctuary service 8:15 a.m.-6 p.m. Inquire for pricing.
Youth and family service: 1st-5th grade: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Preschool and kindergarten: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Family Tashlich: 12:45 p.m. 6th-8th grade: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 9th-12th grade: 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Parallel service: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Mercerwood Shore Club, 4150 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Family service, 1st–5th grade and 6th–12th grade: 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Inquire for pricing.
Youth and family service: 6:30 p.m. 1st–5th grade family service: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:40 a.m.– 8:06 p.m. Main sanctuary service. Inquire for pricing.
Parallel service: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. At Mercerwood Shore Club, 4150 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island.
Youth and Family Programs: Preschool and kindergarten: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. 1st–5th grade: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 9th–12th grade: 10:15-11 a.m. 6th–8th grade: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Meets at Prospect Church, 1919 E Prospect St., Seattle.
Kadima’s High Holy Days services are Reconstructionist, progressive, interactive, and lay led. Free. Donations accepted.
Contact: Kathy Gallagher at email@example.com or 206-547-3914 or www.kadima.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Children’s service: 10-11 a.m. Potluck lunch. Tashlich: 2:15 p.m. at Madrona Park.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Children’s service: 10-11 a.m. Yizkor: 5 p.m. Ne’ilah: 6 p.m. followed by break-fast at 7 p.m.
Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle
Tickets are $50 for members, $70 for non-members
Contact: Elizabeth Fagin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-527-9399 or betalef.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m. “Preparing for the Journey.”
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m. Service and children’s programming. Tashlich at Madrona Beach, 853 Lake Washington Blvd.
Sunday, September 8: Preparing for the High Holy Days: 2-4 p.m. “Deciding to Forgive.” Time for learning, reflection, meditation, discussion and exploration through the medium of creative art expression with Rabbi Olivier BenHaim. Registration required. Free for Bet Alef members; $10 for non-members.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m. “The Yearning of the Soul.”
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Worship and programming all day, including morning worship, healing circle, Yizkor and Neilah and break-fast. Quality children’s programming and childcare throughout the day.
Family Yom Kippur Service: 1:45 p.m. Rabbi Olivier BenHaim leads this unique interactive service bringing parents and children together to experience healing and forgiveness as they step into the New Year. Free.
Congregation Eitz Or
At University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave., Seattle
Reb Arik Labowitz will be joined by his team of “super-hero holy music makers” whose combination of musicianship and spirit elevate souls and connect hearts.
Contact: email@example.com or 206-467-2617 or www.eitzor.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:45 pm. Kiddush with honey and apples at 9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: Services: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Vegetarian potluck lunch: 1-2 p.m. Tashlich and shofar service at Green Lake: 4-5:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Break: 1-4:45 p.m. Healing service: 5-5:45 p.m. Yizkor and Neilah: 6-8 p.m. Havdalah: 8-8:30 p.m. Vegetarian potluck break-fast: 8:30-9:30 p.m.
Congregation Tikvah Chadashah
RSVP for location, Seattle
CTC, Puget Sound’s GLBTQ Chavurah, will host lay-led, participatory High Holy Day services in an informal setting. All are welcome. Free.
Contact: Harley Broe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-322-7298 or tikvahchadashah.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 8-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.
Upper Queen Anne. Location provided upon registration.
Tickets: $18 per partner; $180 per non-partner
Contact: email@example.com or www.kavana.org/events/high-holidays-kavana-0
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 5:30-8:15 p.m. Communal dinner: 5:30 p.m. Service: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Family services and program: 9 a.m. Morning services: 10 a.m. Youth discussion group: 12 p.m. Tashlich ceremony and BYO picnic lunch: 2 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Lighting of memorial candles in honor of deceased relatives: 6:30 p.m. Kol Nidre cello rendition: 6:45 p.m. Kol Nidre prayer services: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.-8:15 p.m. Yom Kippur meditation workshops: 9 a.m.-8:05 p.m. Family program: 9 a.m. Yom Kippur morning services: 10 a.m. Youth discussion group: 12 p.m. Book of Jonah text study and meditation: 5:30 p.m. Neilah closing service: 6:45 p.m. Final shofar blast and Havdalah: 8:05 p.m. Break-fast meal: 8:15 p.m.
Paths to Awakening
At Unity in Lynnwood, 16727 Alderwood Mall Pky., Lynnwood
Rabbi Ted Falcon, with musicians led by Stephen Merritt, welcomes all who yearn to open their hearts more fully to themselves and to each other in a warm and supportive spiritual environment.
All services $140. Rosh Hashanah (both services): $70. Rosh Hashanah (single service): $38. Yom Kippur (both services): $75. Yom Kippur (single service): $41. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay. Please email to make financial arrangements. Contact: Ruth Falcon at RabbiTedFalcon@gmail.com or www.RabbiTedFalcon.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: “The Celebration of Creation”: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: “Beginner’s Mind”: 10:30 a.m. Worship: 2:30 p.m. Tashlich at Edmonds Beach.
Kol Nidre: “The Song of the Soul”: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: “Returning to Source.” Morning worship: 10:30 a.m. Chanting meditation: 1:30 p.m. Healing service: 2:30 p.m. Yizkor and concluding worship: 4:30 p.m.
Secular Jewish Circle
Location provided upon RSVP
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-528-1944 or secularjewishcircle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Rosh Hashanah Ceremony 7-9 p.m. Join Secular Jewish Circle for reflection, poetry, and music. Pause for introspection, hear the shofar, enjoy traditional foods and music with other secular, humanistic Jews. Donations accepted.
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1441 16th Ave., Seattle.
Celebrations for all. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah offers services and celebrations for Jews of all abilities.
Contact: Marjorie Schnyder at email@example.com or 206-861-3146 or www.jfsseattle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah service: 4 p.m. All are welcome to join in prayer and celebration and to hear the sounding of the shofar.
Bet Chaverim Community of South King County
25701 14th Pl. S, Des Moines
Small, friendly congregation welcomes visitors to High Holiday services.
No tickets required. Suggested donation $50 per individual, $75 per family per holiday.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-577-0403 or betchaverim.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Led by Rabbi Harkavy, Cantorial Soloist Neil Weinstein, and choir.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Congregation Kol Ami
16530 Avondale Rd. NE, Woodinville
Tickets $75 per service, $250 for all four services. Childcare provided. No one turned away because of inability to pay. Any contribution for tickets can be applied to dues for new membership.
Contact: Admin at email@example.com or 425-844-1604 or kolaminw.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
Children’s Service: 9-10 a.m. Special service geared for the little ones.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Children’s service: 9 a.m. Yom Kippur morning service: 10:30 a.m. Study and meditation: 1 p.m. Afternoon service: 3 p.m. Yizkor/Neilah service: 5 p.m. Break-the-fast potluck at a member’s home: 6:30 p.m.
Meets at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 3050 California Ave. SW, Seattle.
Contact: Sheila Abrahams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-935-1590 or www.khnseattle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9 p.m. Begin with kavana, an intention, to open to the possibility of transformation during these Days of Awe. Bring a small item, poem, or something that symbolizes your hopes for the New Year, and together create a Mishkan, a sacred space, so that prayers might be lifted higher.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Shofarot (Call of the Shofar): Being Present.” The powerful sound of the shofar calls you to wake up, to be present. What do you need to pay attention to as you enter into this new year? Children’s service: 8:45 –9:15 a.m. Tashlich and picnic: 1 p.m. at Alki Beach, grassy area, 63rd and Alki. Bring your own picnic.
Kol Nidre: “Malchuyot (Awe): Standing in the Presence of the Mystery of Life.” What might it mean, metaphorically, to come before the Maker? How would our deeds, our words, our lives be measured?
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Morning service: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. How do we become more present to ourselves, in a world that continually seduces us away from who we are and who we want to be? Children’s service: 8:45-9:15 a.m. Afternoon workshops: 2-4 p.m. Afternoon service: Yizkor, Ne’ila 4-6:45 p.m. “Zichronot (Remembrance): Connecting to Past and Future Generations”: How does history guide who we are and what we envision for the future? Break-the-fast immediately following services.
Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St., Seattle
Tickets $65 for single service, $225 for all services.
Contact: Stephanie at email@example.com or 206-525-0915 or templebetham.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:30-10 p.m. The High Holy Days are a time for reflection, introspection, and reconnection. Observe them at a variety of services, which meet the spiritual needs of this diverse community.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Gather for the Jewish New Year to celebrate creation, the miracle of life, and inner potential for renewal.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-10 p.m. The call of the evening prayer beckons you to let your longings and prayers combine in a powerful expression of hope.
Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. On Yom Kippur, look deeply at the path of life, and reflect on the ability to turn to a better, more meaningful direction.
Temple Beth Or
3215 Lombard Ave., Everett
Led by Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall and Cantor Ellen Dreskin. Tickets required.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-259-7125 or templebethor.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Oneg after services.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.: Morning service: 10 a.m. Dairy/vegetarian luncheon: 12:30 p.m. Reservations required. 2 p.m.: Children’s service. Tashlich service at Everett Public Boat Launch (West Marine View Drive at 10th Street): 3:15 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre): 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 10 a.m. Text study with Heidi Piel: 1 p.m. Children’s service: 3 p.m. Afternoon service, Yizkor and conclusion: 4:15–6:30 p.m.
Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue
Contact: Karen Sakamoto at email@example.com or 425-603-9677 or templebnaitorah.org/index.aspx
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 5-9:30 p.m. Join TBT for an exciting kick off to Rosh Hashanah. Contemporary service: 5 p.m. Traditional service: 8 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Traditional service: 9 a.m. Youth service (grades 1-5): 9 a.m. Teen service (grades 6-12): 9 a.m. Contemporary service: 12:30 p.m. Children’s & family service: 3:15 p.m. Tashlich at Phantom Lake: 4:15 p.m. Please join the Sha’arei Tikvah service at 4 p.m. at TDHS. Babysitting available.
Kol Nidre: 5-9:30 p.m. Contemporary service: 5 p.m. Traditional service: 8 p.m. Babysitting available.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Traditional service: 9 a.m. Youth service (grades 1-5): 9 a.m. Teen service (grades 6-12): 9 a.m. Contemporary service: 12:30 p.m. Yom Kippur study sessions: 1, 2, 3 p.m. (attend one or all). Children’s and family service: 3:15 p.m. Mincha service: 4 p.m. Yizkor: 5 p.m. Ne’ilah concluding service: 6 p.m. Break-the fast: 7 p.m. Times are approximate. Babysitting for morning service available.
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1441 16th Ave., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue
Contact: Wendy Dessenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-323-8486 or www.tdhs-nw.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Services offered at both Bellevue and Seattle locations. Tickets are required.
Rosh Hashanah First Day – Seattle: 10 a.m. Kulanu, intergenerational family service. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Contact temple for more information. KIDdish Club (2.5 years-pre-kindergarten): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Tashlich, casting off sins: 3 p.m. at Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah service: 4 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah is a partnership with Jewish Family Service to offer services and celebrations for Jews of all abilities.
Rosh Hashanah First Day – Bellevue: Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Family service: 1:30 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m. Offered at both locations.
Yom Kippur – Seattle: Kulanu, intergenerational family service: 10 a.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. KIDdish Club (2.5 years-pre-kindergarten): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Afternoon Yizkor, Neilah/closing service and break-the-fast reception: 3 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Yom Kippur – Bellevue: Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Family services: 1:30 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Afternoon Yizkor, Neilah/closing service and break-the-fast reception: 3 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath (BCMH)
5145 S Morgan St., Seattle
Contact: Dee Wilson at email@example.com or 206-721-0970 or www.bcmhseattle.org.
Non-member adult: $225. Non-member children (age 13-17): $50. Non-member student: $75.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m. Mincha: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 7:45 a.m. Shacharis: 7:45 a.m. Torah reading: Approx. 9:40 a.m. Sermon: Approx. 10:15 a.m. Shofar blowing: Approx. 10:40 a.m. Mussaf: Approx. 11 a.m. Mincha: 7:15 p.m. Tashlich following Mincha. Candlelighting for second day after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 7:45 p.m. Shacharis: 7:45 a.m. Torah reading: Approx. 9:40 a.m. Sermon: Approx. 10:15 a.m. Shofar blowing: Approx. 10:40 a.m. Mussaf: Approx. 11 a.m. Mincha: 7:30 p.m. Candlelighting for Shabbos Shuva: 7:22 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:10 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Shacharis: 8 a.m. Torah reading: 10:45 a.m. Sermon: 11:30 a.m. Yizkor: 12 p.m. Mussaf: 12:15 p.m. Mincha: 6 p.m. Ne’ilah: 7:15 p.m. Fast concludes: 8:09 p.m.
Capitol Hill Minyan
1501 17th Ave., Seattle
The Capitol Hill Minyan offers traditional Orthodox services and a warm environment in the center of Seattle.
Contact Rabbi Ben Aaronson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-659-SHUL (7845) or www.capitolhillminyan.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 8:30 a.m., shofar: 11:15 a.m. Mincha: 7:20 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:15 a.m. Mincha: 7:20 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 5:45 p.m. Break-the-fast: 8:15 p.m.
Chabad House Seattle
4541 19th Ave. NE, Seattle
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m.
Rosh Hashana First Day: Services: 10 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: Services: 10 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:25 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:08 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m. Ne’ilah: 7:15 p.m.
Chabad of the Central Cascades
24121 SE Black Nugget Rd., Issaquah
No membership fees or tickets. Hebrew-English prayerbooks. Warm and friendly atmosphere. No background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services. Free.
Contact: Rabbi Farkash at email@example.com or 425-427-1652
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Light candles at 7:25 p.m. Services at 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Tashlich and evening services: 7:30 p.m.: Light candles after 8:28 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Light Shabbat candles by 7:21 p.m.
Kol Nidre: Light candles: 7:07 p.m. Services: 7:15 p.m. Fast begins at 7:25 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Yizkor memorial services: 11:30 a.m. Mincha and Neila closing services: 6 p.m. Fast ends at 8:09 p.m.
Congregation Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St., Seattle
EB members free, non-members $200 per person, children $30 (covers all holiday services).
Contact: Susan Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ezrabessaroth.net
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6-6:30 p.m. Mincha, Arvit to follow. Early candlelighting: 6:21 p.m., regular candlelighting 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: 8 a.m.-8:12 p.m. Shahrit: 8 a.m., sermon and shofar at approx. 11 a.m. Mincha and Tashlich: 5:30 p.m., Arvit to follow. Early candlelighting: Not before 6:19 p.m., regular candlelighting: After 8:12 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:25 a.m.-7:20 p.m. Shahrit: 8:25 a.m., sermon and shofar at approx. 11 a.m. Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat: 6 p.m. Early candlelighting: Not before 6:18 p.m., regular candlelighting 7:22 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 3-7:06 p.m. Mincha-Hatarat Nedarim: 3 p.m. Kal Nidre: 6:45 p.m., Arvit to follow. Candlelighting: 7:06 p.m. Fast begins 7:23 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:25 a.m.-8:09 p.m. Shahrit: 8:25 a.m. Sermon: 12 p.m. Presidents’ message: 6 p.m. Neilah: 6:30 p.m., Arvit to follow. Fast ends 8:09 p.m.
Congregation Shaarei Tefillah Lubavitch
6250 43rd Ave. NE, Seattle
No event fees or tickets. Hebrew-English prayer books. Warm and friendly atmosphere. No background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services.
Contact: email@example.com or 206-527-1411
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m.
Rosh Hashana First Day: Services: 9 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: Services at 9 a.m. Evening services at 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:25 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:08 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services at 9 a.m. Ne’ilah: 7:00pm
Congregation Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island
All services free of charge.
Contact: Jo Kershaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-275-1539 or www.shevetachim.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Selichot services at 6:30 a.m. followed by Shacharit. Mincha at 7:30 p.m. followed by Maariv.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m.: Sounding of the shofar: 10:45 a.m. Mincha followed by Tashlich: 6:30 p.m. Maariv: 7:50 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m. Sounding of the shofar: 10:45 a.m.: Mincha/Maariv: 7:15 p.m.
Kol Nidre: Selichot: 6:30 a.m. Shacharit: 7 a.m. Mincha: 3 p.m. Kol Nidre/Maariv: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha/Neilah/Maariv: 5:30 p.m.
Eastside Torah Center
1837 156th Ave NE #303, Bellevue.
No membership required. All are welcome. Warm, friendly and family-like environment. Free.
Contact Rabbi Mordechai Farkash at email@example.com or 425-957-7890 or www. Chabadbellevue.org.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Mincha followed by Tashlich: 6:15 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 7 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: Mincha: 3:15 p.m. Kol Nidre and Arvit: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 5:45 p.m.
3412 NE 65th St., Seattle
Contact Gary Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
West Seattle Torah Learning Center
Contact for location details
Join the TLC family for inspiring, explanatory, and interactive High Holiday services. Come for it all or just pop in for a traditional holiday experience that is sure to leave you on a “high” for the rest of the year. Meals follow services. Free.
Contact: email@example.com or 206-722-8289
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 pm.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:45 a.m. Torah reading and shofar 10:30 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:45 a.m. Torah reading and shofar 10:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:45 am. Yizkor: 10:30 a.m. Ne’ilah: 6:45 p.m. Fast ends: 8:09 p.m. Light break-fast served.
Hillel at the University of Washington
4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle
Reservations are required at www.hilleluw.org/highholidays
Contact: Silver@hilleluw.org or 206-527-1997
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.
Throughout Washington State
Temple Beth Israel
Sumner and Martin Streets
No charge. Always friendly, meaningful services led by experienced and talented lay individuals.
Contact: Jane Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-533-5755
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Morning, memorial and concluding services throughout Yom Kippur Day are observed.
Bainbridge Island/Kitsap Peninsula
Chavurat Shir Hayam
Bainbridge Commons, Bainbridge Island
Chavurat Shir Hayam welcomes Reb Tiv’ona Reith. The theme will be “The Time Has Come — for What?” Guests welcome, no tickets or reservations are necessary.
Contact for times and locations: Sharon at 206-842-8453
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Services followed by potluck dessert.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Rosh Hashanah day services, study session, and Tashlich.
Kol Nidre: Contact for details.
Yom Kippur: Morning service, meditation, Yizkor, children’s Bibliodrama, Neilah, and break-the-fast.
Congregation Kol Shalom
9010 Miller Rd., Bainbridge Island
Tickets are $250. Price includes all of the Days of Awe services.
Contact: Janice Hill at email@example.com or 206-842-9010 or www.kolshalom.net
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-10 p.m. Led by Rabbi Mark Glickman and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Services followed by dessert potluck.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Led by Rabbi Mark Glickman and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Children’s services are free and begin at 9:30 a.m. Tashlich at Point White Pier. See web page for directions.
Kol Nidre: 7-9 p.m. Led by Rabbi Anson Laytner and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Rabbi Laytner is the program manager of the Interreligious Initiative at Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry and the author of several books.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Led by Rabbi Anson Laytner and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Children’s services are free and begin at 9:30 a.m. Potluck community break-the-fast after Havdalah.
Congregation Beth Israel
Please visit the synagogue website for updated location info
Contact: Mary Somerville at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-733-8890 or bethisraelbellingham.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tickets required — contact synagogue office. Family service: 9-10 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 10-11 a.m. Free. At Congregation Beth Israel, 2200 Broadway, Bellingham.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets required. At Leopold Ballroom, 1224 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. Family service: 9 a.m. Morning service: 10:30 a.m. Study session: 1:30 p.m. Tickets required. Yom Kippur afternoon service, Yizkor and Ne’ilah: 3-6:30 p.m. Tickets required. At Leopold Ballroom, 1224 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham.
Congregation Beth Hatikvah
1410 11th St., Bremerton
Non-member suggested donation: $75
Contact: Rabbi Sarah Newmark at email@example.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning service: 9:30 a.m. Torah/youth service: Approx. 10:30 a.m. Tashlich immediately following at Lions Park.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning service: 10 a.m.
Kol Nidrei: Evening service: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 9:30 a.m. Torah/youth service: Approx. 10:30 a.m. Yizkor service: Immediately following. Ne’ilah: Approx. 5:30 p.m. Shofar: Approx. 6:30 p.m. Break-fast immediately following.
Congregation B’nai Torah
3437 Libby Rd. NE, Olympia
All are welcome, no tickets needed.
Contact: Larry Perrin at 360-866-0862
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m. Tashlich following kosher dairy lunch.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m. Community break-fast following.
At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Jefferson and Tyler Streets, Port Townsend
Free; donations from non-members accepted.
Contact: Barry Lerich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-223-5333
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9:30 p.m. Lay-led services.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-9 p.m. — Bet Shira
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.– 9 p.m. Lay-led Yom Kippur, Yizkor, Neilah, closing, and potluck break-the-fast.
Rosh Hashanah services held at Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W Fort George Wright Dr., Spokane. Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services held at Unity Spiritual Center, 2900 S Bernard, Spokane.
No cost; donations suggested.
Contact: Faith Hayflich at email@example.com or www.spokaneemanu-el.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-10 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Children’s services (ages 10 and under): 9-9:30 a.m.: Adult and older kids’ service: 10 a.m. Community luncheon: 1 p.m. Tashlich at the river: 2 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Morning services: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Mincha family service at 4:30 p.m. followed by Avodah, Neilah, and Havdalah starting at 5:15, then a break-the-fast potluck.
Temple Beth Shalom
1322 E 30th Ave., Spokane
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Service with babysitting available.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Rosh Hashanah first day morning service: 8 a.m. Youth service for all ages: 10:30 a.m.-noon. Tashlich at Gersh residence: 5:30 p.m. Rosh Hashanah second day evening service: 6:30 p.m. Babysitting available at morning services.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8 a.m. Erev Shabbat service: 6 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Yom Kippur morning service: 9 a.m. Youth service for all ages: 10:30 a.m.-noon. Yizkor Service (approximate time): 1:15 p.m. Discussion with the rabbi: 5 p.m. Mincha and Ne’ila service: 5:30 p.m. Havdalah, shofar, and break-fast: 7:50 p.m. Babysitting available for morning services.
312 Thayer Dr., Richland
Contact: Dan Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-987-5548 or www.cbstricities.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Children’s service: 10 a.m. Tashlich: 5 p.m. at Lee Boulevard and Columbia River. Evening services: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Dairy potluck: 6 p.m. Erev Shabbat services: 7:15 p.m. (approximate).
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Services start at 9:30 a.m. Children’s service: 10 a.m. Yizkor: 11:15 a.m. Ask the Rabbi: 4:45 p.m. Concluding services: 6 p.m. Community break-the-fast: 7:45 p.m.
Chabad of Pierce County
2146 N Mildred St., Tacoma
Hebrew/English prayer books, no membership fees or tickets, warm and friendly atmosphere, no background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services.
Contact: Rabbi Heber at email@example.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:27 p.m. Say blessings 1 and 4. Services at 7 p.m. followed by community dinner.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9 a.m. Shofar sounding: 11 a.m. Evening services: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:23 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9 a.m. Shofar: 11 a.m. Light candles at 7:23 p.m. Say blessing 5. Evening services: 7 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:09 p.m. Say blessings 2 and 4. Fast begins at 7:09 p.m. Services at 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning services: 10 a.m. Yizkor memorial service: 12:30 p.m. Mincha and Neilah closing service: 5:30 p.m. Fast ends at 8:11 p.m. Break-the-fast meal.
Temple Beth El
At Temple Beth El, 5975 S 12th St., Tacoma
Free; donations requested.
Contact: Bruce Kadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-564-7101 or templebethel18.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 8-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning service: 10 a.m. Tashlich family service: 1 p.m. at Titlow Waterfront, Sixth Ave., Tacoma.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 10 a.m. With Congregation Beth Hatikvah, 1410 11th Ave., Bremerton.
Kol Nidre: Family service: 5-6 p.m. Regular service: 8 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Family service: 1-2 p.m.Yom Kippur afternoon, Yizkor and Neilah services followed by break-the fast: 3 p.m.
Congregation Beth Israel
1202 E Alder St., Walla Walla
Services $10 per person
Contact: Jennifer Winchell at email@example.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
1517 Browne Ave., Yakima
High Holy Day services will be led by student rabbi Abram Goodstein.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.templeshalomyakima.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services begin at 10 a.m. and resume around 3:45 p.m. with a break-the-fast meal after the service ends.
Jewish Community of the Palouse
At Unitarian Universalist Church, 420 E Second St., Moscow, ID
Free; no tickets required.
Contact: Myron Schreck at email@example.com or jcpalouse.wordpress.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:30-8 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-8 p.m.
Elizabeth Langevin shows how pea vines planted between corn stalks are intermingling and helping each other grow in the gardens of URJ Camp Kalsman.
The annual Jewish Family Service food drive runs from Sept. 5-27. Most synagogues and Jewish organizations will be accepting donations of non-perishable foods, toiletries and gift cards. The big food sort takes place on Sun., Sept. 15 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-861-3155 for location and registration information.
What’s in your garden? Are you willing to share what you’ve grown? As more studies emerge about the correlation between healthy eating and better performance in the workplace and classroom, food banks are beginning to make a more concerted effort to provide healthy produce and products for their clients. The Seattle area’s Jewish community has begun to join in.
With the opening of Jewish Family Service of Greater Seattle’s expanded food bank in 2010 and what it calls a “consumer-choice” model, its clients could choose items — including fresh produce — rather than accept a pre-stocked bag of non-perishable goods.
“We think it’s really important that people have access to healthy food,” said Jana Prothman, director of the JFS Polack Food Bank. “Most people on food stamps eat small amounts of fruit and vegetables.”
Now JFS has taken that idea a step further, adding partnerships with a number of fresh food producers to ensure its clients can eat more healthfully. On that list is the neighborhood farmers’ market, Oxbow Farm in Carnation, Congregation Beth Shalom’s garden, and several community gardens known as P-Patches.
“We want to spend locally where we can, and support local agriculture,” Prothman said.
JFS established its Food Bank Action Plan this year, which borrows from a similar effort released by the City of Seattle, by giving its clients “food that is fresh and nutritious and grown without harming its producers or our air, water, or soil,” according to the plan.
The plan’s goals are to go full circle in the lifecycle of fresh fruit and vegetables from supporting the farmers — preferably local — who grow them to ensuring that as little as possible goes to waste.
With the farmers’ market and P-Patches, the food bank is able to glean leftovers each week, sometimes bringing in as much as 400 pounds of produce. JFS generally goes through between 1,200 and 1,600 pounds of produce a week, Prothman said. The rest is purchased at discount from Oxbow or from local wholesalers, or provided by partnerships with Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline, the region’s central food bank agencies.
For clients, many of whom have not previously had easy access to produce items, JFS has also partnered with local anti-poverty organization Solid Ground to provide healthy cooking classes.
“If people don’t know what to do, it doesn’t do any good,” Prothman said.
The number of people served by the JFS food bank has leveled off at approximately 1,300 households each month, but that number is still far above the 800 households it served prior to the 2008 recession. For homebound clients and older immigrants, Prothman said she doesn’t expect to see them come off the list.
People living close to the poverty line still come in for food, though not always as consistently as during the recession. That demographic is “not improving nearly as much in the middle to upper range,” she said.
JFS has long partnered with local day schools and the Jconnect young adults group to assist in tasks such as bagging rice or delivering food to clients, but the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Kalsman in Arlington is taking things a step further.
“Last year, at the end of summer, we realized the garden was going to be producing stuff even after we were gone, and we should, as ethical people and nice people, do something with the food instead of letting it rot on the vine,” said Camp Kalsman director David Berkman.
So they called up the nearby Everett Food Bank, which sent a team to glean more than 700 pounds from the camp’s gardens and dozens of fruit trees. This year, the camp staff formalized the program into a program they named 2 Tons Together, which combines food picked and donated from the camp’s gardens and a collection of non-perishables when parents pick up and drop off their kids. Due to timing and logistical challenges, the non-perishables will go to JFS while the fresh produce will go to the Everett Food Bank and the Kirkland branch of Hopelink, which helps families in crisis.
“Being a youth-friendly organization, we thought, ‘That might be a good place,’” Berkman said of Hopelink.
Close to 400 pounds of plums, squash and greens have been delivered already.
The camp was able to launch the farming program through a grant from the Samis Foundation, which helped to enable the purchase of tilling equipment, the drip irrigation system, and seed starts. Given that Kalsman is a camp, the harvesting has an educational component as well, in both gardening skills and charitable activities.
“It’s been really amazing to watch them grasp on to want to give to other people,” said Elizabeth Langevin, who manages the farm.
Langevin, who participated in the Urban Adamah Jewish farming program in Berkeley, Calif. before arriving at Kalsman last year, has integrated the Jewish laws surrounding agriculture and feeding the poor into the lessons for the campers who sign up for farming activities. This summer, the teenage campers took trips to Kirkland to volunteer at Hopelink.
“One of our core values at camp and one of the resonating core values of Judaism is about community, and ideally about kehillah kedosha, holy community,” Berkman said. “It is great for kids at an early age to learn that they have a responsibility not only to themselves and to be stewards of the earth, but to be responsible for other people in the community.”
But ultimately, Langevin said, the kids learn best when they’re having fun and feel a sense of accomplishment.
“They’re weeding, they’re staking tomatoes, they’re pruning, we had them mulch,” she said. And when they picked what they grew, “it was exciting for them to say, ‘We harvested this!’”
Segev Kenner of Federal Way gets ready to check in his luggage at Kennedy Airport in New York last month before his flight to Israel to make aliyah.
She’s 69 and plans to spend a lot of time with her 24 grandchildren. They are 17 and 18 and preparing to join the Israeli Defense Forces. The last two are in their 60s and preparing to live out their lifelong dream. These six people are different, but they all share the same passion — each has decided to live in Israel.
With the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, which helps new immigrants from the U.S. and the U.K. navigate the red tape associated with resettlement there, the Seattle area said goodbye in July and August to four Jewish residents who flew out of Kennedy Airport in New York to Israel along with 231 others from the U.S. The remaining couple, Tzippy and David Twersky, will depart in September.
Billie Schreiner told JTNews she made her decision the moment she set foot in Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 outside of Jerusalem.
“Two years ago, Pesach, I was going to visit my good friends,” she told JTNews via email. “I got off the bus in Ma’aleh Adumim, looked around and thought, ‘I need to move here.’”
The divorced mother of four, with a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in Chinese medicine, added, “it was a solid decision although it took over two years to accomplish it.”
During her first visit to Israel in 1969, Schreiner immersed herself in Hebrew study in an ulpan program and became more religiously observant, but it wasn’t yet the right time for the move.
“I became shomer Shabbos in the middle of a Shlomo Carlebach concert,” said Schreiner. “I wanted to make aliyah but returned to Seattle to help take care of my ailing grandmother. There I married and had four fantastic children.”
Segev Kenner, 18, from Federal Way, now lives in Kibbutz Kissufim, located in the western part of the northern Negev Desert.
Although he was unavailable to speak with JTNews, he told a media agency for Nefesh B’Nefesh he was “going to protect and serve what is ours — that is why the IDF will suit me well.”
Joining Kenner this month are two more Washington State olim, Taeer Avnon, 17, of Seattle, and Yaniv Levy, 18, of Olympia, who were en route from Kennedy Airport when JTNews went to press on NBN’s soldiers’ flight. That flight was organized in cooperation with several Israeli organizations in addition to NBN, including the Jewish Agency for Israel and Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Tzippy and David Twersky, longtime Seattle residents with five adult married children between 27 and 39 years old still living in the U.S., admitted that one of the downsides of their decision to move next month is leaving behind family and friends in the States.
Born in Brooklyn, Tzippy Twersky moved to Seattle to marry David, a Boeing engineer who just retired after a 40-year career there.
The two were both raised in Orthodox homes and have long been active in Seattle’s Seward Park Orthodox community.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to live in Israel,” Tzippy Twersky told JTNews. “We have two of our children living there, as well. We’ve actively been planning our aliyah for approximately two years. We’ll be moving to ‘our’ country, our homeland.”
The couple plans to settle in Jerusalem and hopes to volunteer at charitable organizations. They have several friends and relatives in Israel, but the two mainly want to enjoy their grandchildren who live there. Tzippy Twersky said they both look forward to “getting to know our country — living our dream!”
Both Schreiner and the Twerskys have had to downsize their lifestyles and reduce the considerable possessions they’ve collected, saved, and stored over the years as a result of raising families and living in the same house for decades.
For Twersky, the process has been somehow transforming and positive.
“I’m looking forward to downsizing,” she said. “Making Aliyah — moving out of our home that we’ve lived in for 35 years — is a cleansing experience!”
Schreiner, however, found it to be kind of tough.
“I found out that it is easy to be a semi-hoarder in the States,” she said. “You can’t do that in Israel. No garage, the closets are full and, for sure, no extra bedroom. So ‘getting rid of’ was a long-time chore for me. It took me two years but I think I got rid of some personal baggage along with the papers.”
The Jewish Day School’s interim head of school Mike Downs will bring Hebrew language and stage direction to his year at the Bellevue academy.
The search continues at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle for a new head of school to replace the recently retired Maria Erlitz. But in the meanwhile, the Bellevue school has hired Mike Downs, a bilingual Hebrew and English-speaking, non-Jewish independent school leader who will take the reins for the upcoming academic year.
Downs, who lived in Israel for seven years with his Israeli wife, Ronit, and his then-young son Yoni, comes to the Pacific Northwest from Minneapolis, where he was head of school for 11 years at the Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. He intends to move back to Israel next year for his new post as superintendent of the Walworth Barbour American International School, which has campuses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“We are still in our head search process, but we are thrilled to have Mike Downs at the helm for this school year to help us with the transition and to continue to move us forward in our mission,” Jill Friedman, JDS’s board president, told JTNews.
JDS solicited help from the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, a support organization to Jewish schools, which recommended Downs for the position.
“It’s fortunate to have such experienced fresh eyes,” said Friedman. “We’re keeping all of our programs going under his experience.”
The JDS search committee has been looking for a new head since last September, when Erlitz announced her retirement.
“It’s a great school and the people here obviously love their school,” Downs told JTNews. “There is so much here that is good and strong and exciting to be a part of. Maria Erlitz has obviously been a huge force for good at this school. More people need to know about it nationally and I think they’ll have a strong field to choose from.”
JDS students know they will have a new temporary leader this year, and many have already met him — electronically. Downs produced an introductory video of himself just for them.
“They already have a familiar face and he’ll be there in person when they come back in the fall,” Friedman said.
Downs is something of a renaissance man: He comes not only from a family of well-placed international educators, but he is also a former professional choral vocalist, stage director, and actor who holds a bachelor’s degree in theater and a master’s degree in fine arts, directing for the stage, both from the University of California at Los Angeles. He has directed more than 30 plays and appeared in several films.
One of Downs’s roles was as a CIA operative in the Academy Award-winning “The Killing Fields.” He also played a U.S. diplomat in Beirut in the 2003 made-for-TV movie “Held Hostage,” which starred Marlo Thomas.
But it was his attraction to music, which he pursued while at UCLA, that led him to his wife Ronit and the roles of a lifetime — of husband and father.
“She was in the music department and I was in the choir because I loved it,” Downs said. “She’s a magnificent musician, a beautiful soprano, and she teaches voice.”
Ronit Downs, whose parents are Romanian Holocaust survivors living in Israel, also taught at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul-Minneapolis. It was she who sparked his initial interest in Judaism.
“We got married and moved to Israel,” said Downs. “Our son was born there. I had become fascinated with Israel, the Jewish people, and Judaism. That’s when I transitioned to being a school leader.”
Downs’s Hebrew fluency is an added bonus for JDS, according to Friedman, and it will unite many of the families at the school.
“It’s a beautiful thing that brings together our Hebrew constituency and our Israeli families,” said Friedman.
He will have plenty of work to keep him busy, however. On his agenda will be helping to finish the school’s strategic plan, which will be its blueprint for the foreseeable future. He will also help implement the “inquiry-based model” of learning throughout all grade levels, from a pilot project of three grades, and he will help to mentor the staff.
This, said Downs, is where his years of stage direction transfer quite nicely to faculty direction and accomplishing the group’s goals.
“As a stage director, you’re working with really creative people who really have to have a sense of autonomy to be effective,” he said, “but they are also part of a larger whole, and they also have to be consistent with each other.”
“In a school, the school leader is also working with very creative people, the teachers. They really value autonomy. They want to create their own classroom on their own way, and yet they must also be connected. There must be alignment from one grade to the next.”
Downs said his skills as a listener who knows how to work toward “agreement and consensus” are tempered by his ability to also make tough decisions when necessary.
Ultimately, his mandate is to serve JDS’s mission.
“Most importantly,” said Downs, “I will help the transition from the previous permanent leader…to the next permanent head of school and keep the school strong through the year.”
When someone asks me Judaism’s position on a particular subject, I usually answer, “Which Jewish tradition do you want to hear?” I’m not just talking about the differences between contemporary religious movements, but the fact that Judaism — from biblical times to the present day — offers contradictory ideas about a variety of topics. For example, as Rabbi Elaine Rose Glickman notes in “The Messiah and the Jews: Three Thousand Years of Tradition, Belief and Hope” (Jewish Lights Publishing), there is no one idea concerning the Jewish messiah. The word itself comes from the Hebrew root mem-shin-chet, which means “anointed.” Anointing played a role in biblical times for priests, recovering lepers and kings, but, as Glickman writes, it simply meant that “oil [was] poured onto a person’s head.”
Glickman’s interest in the topic comes from her belief that “the conviction that the Messiah is coming is Judaism’s greatest gift to the world. It is a promise of meaning. It is a source of consolation. It is a wellspring of creativity. It is a reconciliation between what is and what should be. And it is perhaps our most powerful statement of faith — in God, in humanity, and in ourselves.”
However, she also believes that many people don’t understand the Jewish messianic concept or realize the many different representations of the messiah that have occurred throughout the centuries.
The author clearly notes that while the messiah is revered, he is not a divine being: “For all of the Messiah’s singular acts, he does not share in the divinity of God and, like all of God’s creations, must yield his place — and his glory — before the Most High.”
Jewish tradition generally accepts that the messiah will be a descendent of King David; however, his nature and his expected accomplishments are open for debate. For example, will the messiah be constrained by the physical realities of the world or will he have the ability to abridge natural law? Many stories treat the messiah as a kind of superhero, who will — as the prophet Isaiah suggests — make the wolf and lamb live together in peace.
One debate centers on whether the messiah’s miracles will be restricted to the people of Israel; by the time of the Babylonian exile, writers suggest that while God’s main focus will be on the chosen people, the rest of the world will not be ignored.
There are similar discussions about whether or not the Messianic Age will be preceded by a time of war and destruction. Those who prescribe to this idea see the messiah as a warrior. Apocalyptic literature focuses on the battles the messiah will have to fight, for example, with mighty chieftains and primordial creatures. Since the idea of a warrior messiah clashes with the image of a peaceful messianic reign, a second messianic figure came into being: Known as Messiah ben Joseph, he is said to be a descendent from Jacob’s son Joseph, as opposed to the patriarch’s son Judah (the ancestor of King David and, therefore, the second messianic figure now known as the Messiah ben David). In one variation of this tale, the Messiah ben Joseph will lead an uprising, only to be cut down by his enemies. After 40 days, the Messiah ben David will arrive and lead the Israelites to their final redemption.
Other traditions focus on a different type of messiah, the poor beggar who waits patiently for the world to be ready for redemption — a redemption that will only take place when all Jews perform a particular mitzvah, for example, celebrating the Shabbat at the same time. That raises the question of whether one can force the messiah to come. Some groups — including several mystical ones — believe it’s possible if only they can create the right circumstances. Others see this as an affront to God’s wisdom, noting these attempts can only end in chaos. Glickman also discusses false messiahs, the best known of whom is Shabbatei Zevi, a self-proclaimed messianic figure who converted to Islam when threatened with death.
The author also offers other interesting tidbits concerning the messiah and the end of days. There are debates about whether the dead will rise once the messianic age begins. If so, will they wear clothes? Would those with disabilities return whole? If a widower took a second wife, will he spend eternity with his first spouse or his second? Will humanity need to eat during the messianic age? Some tales do include a feast of the righteous, which will feature wine and the flesh of three great mythical beasts. Others see the feast as allegorical, interpreting the idea of food and wine to mean the ability to receive “esoteric knowledge of God so far withheld from humanity.”
Glickman concludes with a personal note about how she experiences a taste of the messianic age “through the observance of Shabbat.” She notes that “the rituals and ceremonies of Shabbat expressly foreshadow the days of deliverance. The elaborate Shabbat dinner parallels the Feast of the Righteous, the shunning of work corresponds to the era’s endless serenity and abundance, and the prayers and songs herald a time when all shall know Divine Presence.”
While I love the imagery Glickman uses, her suggestion will not satisfy skeptics or those who long for a time of peace and justice. However, her thoughtful exploration of Jewish ideas of the messiah makes “The Messiah and the Jews” an excellent education resource.
“It’s not very Jewish,” a friend commented, leafing through Jason Prangnell’s New Jewish Cooking, (Absolute, cloth, $37.50). But that’s half the point of these meat and parve recipes from London’s Bevis Marks Restaurant. Kosher cookbook authors have long extended “kosher” past the kugel, kasha varnishkes, bumuelos, or other cuisine of our parents’ or grandparents’ kitchens, and Asian and Middle Eastern influence abound.
The famed Bevis Marks restaurant is attached to the Sephardic synagogue of the same name. Its owners wanted to show that a kosher restaurant could serve cuisine as fine as any Continental restaurant with food that could be enjoyed by Jews and non-Jews alike. Pragnell takes inspiration from many cultures and alongside the meat recipes, provides lots of side dishes, desserts, syrups and even a few pages of cocktails, for which you’ll need the syrups. Rosemary gnocchi and vegetable tart share pages with Jewish classics such as dill latkes and “aubergine (eggplant) rice” from Turkey. Measurements are given in weight as well as volume, and recipes are surprisingly simple. Start by making the chicken or vegetable stock, as many of these recipes start with that basic ingredient.
Lavender shortbread was delicious, as was a perfect summer pea and corn bulgur pilaf, but a note of caution: Prangnell’s kasha “pilau” (pilaf) skips the usual step of coating uncooked groats in egg before cooking. This doesn’t work, unless you like mushy kasha, so keep the grains firm and keep the egg.
It’s good news-bad news that we have a new cookbook from the queen of kosher cooking, Helen Nash. The good news is New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple and Stylish (Overlook, cloth, $35). The bad news is that her husband had to have a stroke to give her the time she needed to stay home and go through the “arduous process” of developing and testing recipes for a book, while she cared for him. She lets us know in her introduction that she never intended to publish another cookbook, but it’s our gain.
With their European and Asian influences, Nash’s recipes produce food both for every day or special occasions that tastes good and is fun to eat. The shredded sweet potato with cumin salad was fresh and different, and the sesame-thyme chicken marinade is a guaranteed success. There are no Jewish holiday recipes here, but you’ll find plenty in her other books.
Despite the deceptively lavish photos, Esther Deutsch gives us equally fundamental and delicious recipes in Chic Made Simple: Fresh, Fast, Fabulous Kosher Cuisine (Manna11, cloth, $36.99). Deutsch, a New York-based food stylist, columnist and food editor of Ami magazine, relies on a combination of fresh and prepared ingredients, especially sauces, to simplify recipes. Her salads are especially creative. With summer fruit in season, try “spring mix with candied hazelnuts and pecans and balsamic-strawberry vinaigrette.” The kani (imitation crab) slaw was a hit at my house. As far as her presentation goes, enjoy the pictures, but don’t try this at home. It would take all the simplicity out of the preparation.
While those new kitchen experiments are cooking or cooling, settle in with Elissa Altman’s delightfully touching and funny memoir, Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking (Chronicle, cloth, $27.50).
Drawn from Altman’s blog of the same name, it’s more of a series of connected vignettes, each followed by a recipe or two (not kosher!) reflecting the author’s evolution as a cook, journeying from an obsession with the complex to appreciation of the basic.
We also learn about her parents’ complicated relationship with each other and with food. Her mother is a rail-thin fashionista who pushes food around her plate while her father sneaks Elissa out for steak dinners at New York’s best restaurants. This is also the story of love found, and the other thread here is her growing relationship with her partner Susan, a small-town Connecticut Yankee who grows her own vegetables and won’t turn on the air conditioning. This is a very sweet book with some marvelous — and simple — recipes.
The two similarly designed bus ads that contain two very different, opposing messages.
In the latest round of the political ad smack-downs between Middle East advocacy groups vying for turf on the sides of King County Metro transit buses, two are once again battling it out in a war of words.
In 2010, after a torrent of public outrage, Metro Transit removed a bus ad purchased by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign decrying U.S. spending that supports “Israeli war crimes.” A U.S. District judge upheld the ban, agreeing it was disruptive to bus service and it threatened the public peace. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently reviewing that ruling.
“The ACLU is representing SeaMAC in the lawsuit against King County Metro for censoring our ad in 2010,” SeaMAC spokesperson Ed Mast told JTNews.
That SeaMAC ad, and others, which included messages such as “Nakba: The ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine” caught the attention of the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative, which appears to have become SeaMAC’s most relentless would-be adversary.
One of its latest counter-ads, which claims Palestinian leadership is really calling for a “Jew-free state” went on six Bellevue-based buses last month for four weeks.
Mast rejected these assertions outright and said that any sources the AFDI claims as evidence are simply wrong.
“We’ve looked and we don’t find them, so they appear to be part of the fabrication,” Mast said. “In particular, we find no sources that make the alleged statement on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, Palestinian Authority policy has been the opposite: A Palestinian state would be open to all ethnic groups and religions.”
On Tuesday, however, while speaking in Egypt, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that “in a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands.”
Leading the charge is AFDI’s president, Pamela Geller, an author, speaker, internationally syndicated columnist, and an outspoken critic of honor killings in the Middle East who exposes the suppression of free speech in Islam in the U.S. and Europe. She has received awards from the U.S. Marine Corps and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. But Geller is also a polarizing figure. AFDI and other organizations she has founded have been condemned by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center for purportedly anti-Muslim statements.
Geller told JTNews she spent a lot of time proving the veracity of her ads to Metro Transit, whose 2012 revised ad policy is to reject any ad with “any material that is or that the sponsor reasonably knows is false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or would constitute a tort of defamation or invasion of privacy.”
“I sent [my sources] to Seattle transit and published them on my website, AtlasShrugs.com,” Geller said. “They were sent June 11, 2013. The back and forth went on for weeks.”
“We requested documentation to support her statement included in the ad and she provided it. The ad is running,” said Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer. “She complied with the advertising policy that we have. I can’t respond to her characterization.”
Switzer did say Metro gave the additional scrutiny to the AFDI ad because “the AFDI ad made an additional claim which said that the Palestinian Authority wanted a Jew-free state.”
Another AFDI ad, which calls for “Equal rights for Jews,” was a direct strike at a recent SeaMAC ad that Geller said she just couldn’t ignore.
“My ads are a response to earlier anti-Israel bus ads calling for equal rights for Palestinians in Israel, which they already enjoy,” Geller said. “When they put lies on bus ads, I will continue to counter with the truth.”
SeaMAC says its strategy is to use what it calls direct education “to discuss how U.S. support for Israel enables Israel’s continued oppression and subjugation of the Palestinian people.”
Rob Jacobs, regional director of StandWithUs Northwest, a pro-Israel advocacy group in Seattle, told JTNews his organization wishes none of the ads were running because it reduces what should be an important debate to slogans and one-liners.
“The ads by the anti-Israel group, SeaMAC, that claimed Israeli war crimes or that implies that Israeli Arabs do not have equal civil rights under law are just plain false,” said Jacobs. “And it’s wrong that Metro initially accepted the war crimes ad without asking for proof that the claim was true.”
But Jacobs added that AFDI’s assertions are “supported by the claims made by Palestinian Authority President Abbas and numerous senior members of his government over at least the past three years.”
StandWithUs is planning what Jacobs called a “positive” ad campaign of its own about Israel, which is set to debut on the insides of Metro buses.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle posted its own statement on its website that expressed concern over only the AFDI ads. Federation CEO Keith Dvorchik told JTNews he considers both sides’ ads to be divisive, especially in light of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that began this week.
“It ends up not helping in any way, shape or form. It doesn’t encourage dialogue, it doesn’t encourage community,” Dvorchik said. “The Federation works with Jews and Christians and Muslims about creating a better community for everybody, and that’s where we really need to be working.”
The local office of the American Jewish Committee, which advocates worldwide for Jews, Israel, and “human rights and democratic values,” issued its own statement saying that both groups’ ads are “unhelpful to the cause of peace and understanding in the Middle East.”
Wendy Rosen, the AJC Seattle regional director, wrote that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be solved on the side of a Metro bus in Seattle, Washington.”
Courtesy Jodilyn Owen
Midwife Jodilyn Owen on the job.
Twelve years ago, Jodilyn Owen was invited by her sister-in-law to her nephew’s birth as a “pseudo-doula” to boss her older brother around.
“The goal was to help him be involved in the way that he could,” she said. “I fell in love with being on that end of the bed, so to speak.”
She didn’t know that a doula was an actual job until her husband, Rabbi Benjy Owen, heard a story on NPR.
“He called me to tell me that people get paid for this thing I was running all over the neighborhood doing,” she said.
Owen is now phasing out her doula services in order to devote her time to midwifery and running the Essential Birth and Family Center, which she opened earlier this year in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood.
And her book, “The Essential Homebirth Guide” (Simon and Schuster, 2012) co-authored with colleague Jane Drichta, has already sold out of its first printing and holds a five-star rating on Amazon.
“Women read it and go to bed happy,” Owen said of the response. “It’s not about fear.”
Owen began training as a midwife with the Ancient Art Midwifery Institute in 2007.
“I got exhausted from witnessing everything and being able to do nothing,” she said. “What I was seeing was a lot of information being pumped into people and a lot of decisions being made without really true, informed consent on behalf of parents, instead of empowering them to use their own knowledge about themselves and their babies to move forward in their pregnancy and birth process.”
Her training, which included obstetrical emergencies and understanding infant personalities, took her to the impoverished South Pacific island of Vanuatu, where she gained the “muscle memory” to deal with newborn resuscitation and other life-threatening situations.
But once Owen was nationally certified as a midwife, she hit a wall. Licensure in Washington State is a highly bureaucratic, slow process, even though midwifery care saves the state millions of dollars per budget cycle, she explained.
So she set out to accomplish her other goal.
“I’ve always had this dream of creating a community gathering place for mothers and babies and families,” she said.
The Essential Birth and Family Center is the result of hundreds of hours of conversations with South End healthcare professionals. The small building located next to the Seattle Kollel rents space to practitioners offering acupuncture, massage, lactation support, nutritional counseling, doula care, and craniosacral therapy, as well as prenatal classes, parent support groups, infant and child CPR, babysitting classes, and more. Girl Sense, which the center developed and helps girls 8-9 years old channel self-awareness and manage stress, has become so popular it’s being introduced in Israel, Uganda, and other parts of the U.S. this year.
In addition, Owen feels strongly about empowering immigrant and minority communities in Rainier Valley.
“Midwifery is a white profession,” Owen explained.
It’s not easy for new immigrant midwives, who possibly serviced their entire communities back in Ethiopia or Somalia, to navigate the licensure or healthcare systems here.
“Cultural competency matters in birth,” Owen said. For new immigrants, “every time they turn around, something crazy is in front of them.”
After a long wait and some pressure on the system, Owen did receive her license to practice midwifery last fall. Now one of her activities is attending births with an unlicensed immigrant midwife from Ethiopia, so the midwife can still serve her community in some way. She’s also helping the woman obtain her license.
“They’re still the women that women bring their babies to,” said Owen. “Anything I can do to grow the midwifery community, I’m really into.”
Yet another thing Owen has spearheaded to grow midwifery care is a partnership with Swedish Hospital. Women who want fewer tests, longer prenatal sessions (up to an hour), whole-body care, and perhaps a shorter drive from their South End locations — but still prefer a hospital birth — can receive midwifery prenatal care through the center. They meet with physicians once per trimester and develop a relationship with the hospital staff.
“You’re not just a woman in a hospital gown,” said Owen. “You’re somebody that they know…. It’s old school obstetrics.”
There is a cost savings as well for the expecting parents and their insurance companies. Hospital birth costs vary — according to a GroupHealth representative, a vaginal birth with no interventions costs $15,780 and a cesarean with a three-day stay, prescriptions and labs bills at $24,532 — so the hospital doesn’t necessarily lose anything by relinquishing prenatal care. Homebirths and birth-center births can often cost less than $3,000, with prenatal care included.
“I’ve always believed women are safest where they feel safest,” Owen said. “It’s about meeting women where they’re at.”
In spite of the excitement around bringing life into the world and creating a network of natural birth supporters, Owen’s personal life has presented challenges to her work. A few years ago, she lost one of her own children to cancer.
“We really trust in mothers and babies and birth,” she reflected. “It works. People get pregnant and they stay pregnant and their babies usually live. That’s a very fundamental part of midwifery practice. So for me, coming into Sam’s illness was very shocking because it was the first time… ‘Oh, it doesn’t always work.’
“If it doesn’t always work — and will it ever work, and how can I trust that process again? — was part of my healing.”
Owen took a year off from midwifery school to grieve with her family.
“You just have to wake up and see it’s a new day one time. And then you do it again. And before you know it, time has gone by,” she said. “We have this question, what will we do with this day? We would look at each day with this question.”
Owen’s work with babies and mothers helped her through the grieving process and reemerged as her calling.
“From that first prenatal visit and that first birth, I knew, I miss this, and this is something that feeds my soul,” she said. “I want to be living, even with this tremendous loss in our lives. The way for me to do that was to follow my passion. I really wanted to show my kids that we must live. We must live.”
Owen’s lifelong connection to Seattle’s Jewish community also informs her work. She reflected on a recent trip to Rhodes, Greece, with her family.
“I saw a tombstone for a woman who was taken away by the Nazis and on her stone all of her children are listed by name and age on the day they were taken. There were six children — the youngest of which was only one week old. It was standing there that I felt my Jewish connection to what it means to usher in and protect life,” she said.
“At a week, everything is so tender and new. That woman’s life and death woke something up in me about the important role of the midwife in our community, and it is an honor to fulfill that role.”
Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder’s interim head of school Devorah Kornfeld.
Devorah Kornfeld moved to Seattle in 1974 and almost immediately became involved with Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder (MMSC), a private Jewish day school and the only Jewish Montessori preschool in Seattle. Now approaching 39 years of service with MMSC, Kornfeld is preparing to move into her newest leadership role as the interim head of school.
MMSC was founded in 1974 to provide early childhood education to Jewish children in the greater Seattle area. Over the last four decades, it has grown from a preschool to also include an elementary school, a middle school, and a girls’ high school. Though it was founded with the intent of providing a traditional Jewish education for the children of local Chabad Lubavitch rabbis, MMSC enrolls children from all denominations of Judaism.
“Our goal is to imbue kids with a love for Judaism,” said Tziviah Goldberg, a member of MMSC’s board of directors who handles business and development for the school. Goldberg is the mother of 10 children, most of whom have graduated from or are currently attending MMSC.
Goldberg emphasized that MMSC welcomes all Jews, whether or not they can afford tuition. A majority of the school’s operating costs are covered by the Samis Foundation, which supports Jewish K-12 education in the Seattle area. The remaining funds are raised by the school itself through a combination of fundraisers and donations from parents and alumni.
Until recently, MMSC had been led by Rabbi Yosef Charyton, who moved to Seattle a decade ago to serve as principal of the school’s growing programs. Charyton also oversaw MMSC’s move to its current campus in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle in 2009.
But as Charyton’s duties expanded beyond his original academic role to encompass more of the financial and administrative duties, many in the MMSC community felt that it was time to hire someone who could provide the school with the guidance it needed, both in an administrative and educational capacity.
Charyton recently accepted a position with a school in Montreal, opening up the leadership role for Kornfeld. Kornfeld, who has previously served as a Judaics teacher for all grades and as the principal of the girls’ high school, will serve as interim head of school through the 2013-2014 school year and possibly beyond, depending on the outcome of a search for a permanent head of school.
“She seems like the obvious person to take the helm in the interim,” said Goldberg, who called Kornfeld a “tremendous educator” who will “bring a different flavor” to MMSC.
“I like to take the best of the old and the best of the new,” said Kornfeld of her pedagogy, adding that she is looking forward to enhancing the curriculum already in place.
Kornfeld keeps herself up to date on the newest technologies and methods in education by collaborating with fellow Jewish teachers and participating in webinars. Two years ago, she attended the first-ever study group hosted by Yad Vashem Holocaust museum for Jewish day school teachers. The weeklong program, which had previously been offered to secular educators but never to Jewish day school teachers, focused on how to incorporate the Holocaust into the school curriculum.
In addition to her duties as interim head of school, Kornfeld has allowed herself six teaching periods for the upcoming year to maintain the student contact that she loves so much. Her primary focus, however, will be on the academic integrity and community of MMSC.
“[I want to] take a good thing and improve what we can, and to make sure there’s communication between students and parents,” she said. “[I want] to make sure everyone’s needs are being met and voices are being heard. And really, my goal is for happy children that feel good about themselves, and working with each child on their level so that they can do the best that they’re capable of.”
Sara Simon/Adar Images
The entrance of TDS’s new building on Beacon Hill.
Torah Day School, the Orthodox pre-K–8th grade Jewish day school in Seattle’s South End, will welcome the 2013-14 school year in a new space on Beacon Hill.
This is the third building for the school in its seven years of existence. The prior space, a school building in Columbia City, was rented to TDS on a three-year lease that expired this year. The Seattle Public School system will be re-commissioning it as a middle school this fall.
The new space is a former Presbyterian church on Beacon Hill undergoing structural and cosmetic upgrades to meet the school’s needs. Torah Day School administrators have signed a 10-year lease with an option to purchase the property.
“We looked at it creatively and said, ‘You can make a school out of this,’” said Ezra Genauer, chair of the building committee. “It’s a very nice piece of property.”
Other changes are afoot at the school, which is in the process of searching for a new head of school following the recent departure of Rabbi Sheftel Skaist.
Genauer is excited about the increased outdoor space and campus feel. While the school has no immediate plans yet to purchase the property, which is valued at approximately $4 million, he is hopeful the space will become permanent.
“The future potential was something attractive about this piece of property,” he said. “It just depends. We have not really put the pieces together yet to launch that kind of campaign. We’re focused on the short term.”
The short term has involved about $700,000 in upgrades, including a new sprinkler system and bathroom updates to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rooms were reconfigured and the sanctuary was converted into a multipurpose gym/auditorium. Water damage meant new floors and a new roof. An alarm system was installed and the lights were updated.
The Samis Foundation, which funds Jewish education initiatives in the area, is matching $300,000 raised by TDS. Most of the money has been raised through individual donors; according to Genauer, time was too limited to conduct a full-scale building campaign.
“We owe gratitude to Samis,” said TDS board president Binyomin Edelstone.
“We had to scramble a little bit, and given our requirements it’s not like there are many options,” he added. “It was important to stay close to Seward Park where most of our families are.”
Now they’re just waiting for the city permits to come through. Edelstone said the plan is to open the doors on schedule, on August 28, to the approximately 130 students enrolled.
With its double-overtime, lasting two months beyond its normal conclusion, our state’s recent extended legislative session was grueling by all accounts.
But it was necessary, points out Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46).
“It had, on one hand, a beneficial impact,” he observed recently. In April, “the odds of us winning the investment in higher education and ending…[the] tuition increase were still pretty long against us.”
Most of the more recently elected members of our state’s Jewish caucus agreed. Senators David Frockt (D-46) and Andy Billig (D-3), both former House members new to the Senate in the past two yeara, and Representatives Pollet and Jessyn Farrell (D-46) have all served fewer than two terms in their current offices. (Frockt and Pollet were appointed to their positions following the death of Sen. Scott White in 2011, but won their elections in 2012.)
All four said the failure of the transportation bill was their chief frustration of the session.
“The biggest disappointment was that we were not able to pass a transportation revenue and jobs package,” said Spokane’s Billig, who says we need investment “in our transportation infrastructure for our state to have a prosperous economy.”
The frustration of working with a divided government — a Democratic majority in the house and Republican majority in the Senate — was shared by all. The problem is complicated, says Frockt, by “a structural budget process that compels people to wait each other out…We need to be negotiating and working on [the budget] earlier in the session…not holding each other hostage.”
These legislators agreed, though, that the most positive accomplishments were in education and human services.
Pollet is proud the legislature “invest[ed] in higher education and…in not having any tuition increase next year,” as well as “our investment of a billion dollars toward our obligations [to] …children’s constitutional rights to basic education in Washington.”
He still gave those efforts a B grade, “not an A,” he said. “We should have done at least 40 percent more.”
Farrell is also pleased with progress in education funding.
“There was recognition that if we want to close the opportunity gap,” early learning funding needed to increase, she said, adding that she and Billig have worked closely on this issue. Pollet cited further headway on “providing health insurance for 300,000 people in the state of Washington.”
Few constituents complained about the extended session, Billig, Frockt, Farrell and Pollet all said. Most voters understood of the process and wanted the budget to reflect their support of health, education and human services issues, particularly in the liberal-leaning and well-informed 46th district which three of the four represent.
“People are pragmatic,” says Frockt, and “understand it was a compromise.”
But he did field complaints that the Senate was succumbing to “DC-style gridlock.”
Farrell heard constituents demanding “a good budget outcome that…preserves our social safety net…and preserve a strong investment in our K–12,” and understood “this was coming from a divided government,” she said.
She said she appreciated voters who came to Olympia to inform her of their views, and says the Jewish community was well-represented in lobbying for human services and homelessness issues.
The long session wreaked havoc with the personal lives of representatives and staffers.
“I survived the session with a lot of help,” said Farrell, who has two young children. She created an “intricate symphony of logistics” that included her husband, parents, other family members, and friends who chipped in so she could accomplish her “exhilarating and interesting” work. That she’s glad to be on summer vacation “is the understatement of the year.”
“I went into a tree,” said Frockt metaphorically, once the session was over. While on vacation with his wife while his kids were at Camp Kalsman, he recalled that during session he cut short a trip to a family wedding to return to Olympia for a vote.
“Of course, we didn’t vote,” he said, “I don’t like to complain…. It’s a real privilege to be in public service…[and] it’s part of the deal.”
During the break, these representatives balance other jobs with legislative issues. Pollet runs a citizens’ group that leads cleanup efforts at Hanford and is pushing the Navy to clean up radiation contamination recently discovered in Seattle’s Magnuson Park, in the heart of his district.
Farrell, an attorney, does some mediation, and will explore approaches to managing childhood obesity. Billig, co-owner of the Spokane Indians minor-league baseball team, will observe day-to-day workings of state government that includes riding with a state patrol officer, observing state-funded daycare, and spending a day with a corrections officer. This will give him “practical experience to use as we consider policy changes and budget changes” in Olympia.
Frockt, counsel to a law firm, said legislative work continues year-round. A report on education funding is due to the state Supreme Court and he’s “working with staff, [having] a hearing next week; there are things that go on. There are a lot of meetings.”
Wash. State Legislature
Former state representative Marcie Maxwell (D–41st).
State Representative Marcie Maxwell (D-41st) has resigned from her position to join Governor Jay Inslee’s Legislative Affairs and Policy Office as its senior education policy adviser.
Prior to serving three terms in the Washington State Legislature, Maxwell served on the Renton school board for eight years and served all King County school boards as legislative representative to the Washington State School Directors Association. She has extensive experience with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and arts education, and with maintaining a safety net for at-risk students, improving teaching and learning, and working for college access. She also has a background in banking and as a real estate agent and and small business owner. In her new role, Maxwell will be focusing on K-12, early learning, and higher education policy.
“I’ve been honored to serve the people of the 41st District in South and East King County, and believe that my new position in the governor’s office will continue my work on their priorities for our state,” Maxwell said in a statement.
Steve Kasner is banking on his 20 years of community service, including his role as the current chair of the East Bellevue Community Council since 2006 and his extensive teaching and sports coaching on the Eastside, to win the 2013 primary election bid for position 4 on the Bellevue City Council.
His message of change and his zealous promotion of total governmental transparency, coupled with open citizen involvement throughout every decision-making process, may just persuade Bellevuites that he is the candidate who will find solutions to the city’s challenges going forward.
Kasner, a married father of two boys, Aren, 21, and Kyle, 18, received the Seattle Times’ endorsement for Bellevue City Council on July 12 as one of the candidates who will bring “a fresh infusion of new voices” to it. It’s given him the extra mojo he needs to doorbell in order to compete with his opponent’s hefty cash reserves and run the race he thinks he can win.
“I believe in absolute open transparency and full disclosure, but many people don’t believe that,” Kasner told JTNews from his home in Bellevue. “They believe, ‘We’re in power and we’re going to do whatever we want and if the community doesn’t like it — tough.’ But I have my core values and that’s what I believe in.”
Several more endorsements for the former appointee to the West Lake Hills Advisory Committee add to the growing list, including the King County Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, NARAL Pro Choice Washington, now former State Rep. Marcie Maxwell (D-41st), and two former Bellevue mayors.
But the Municipal League Foundation, which rates candidates for character, involvement, knowledge, and effectiveness, pronounced two incumbents, including his opponent Kevin Wallace, “outstanding” and “very good.” It assigned Kasner a rating of “adequate.”
“I can’t tell you why I got the rating I did,” said Kasner. “They only called two of the six references that I offered and I was only interviewed by seven people. I believe they made a mistake in this particular evaluation of me and the race.”
According to Kasner, Wallace has unfairly painted him with a “liberal” label, but he defends what he calls his “democratic values.”
“I happen to identify myself as a Democrat and I am to the left of my opponent,” said Kasner, “but if you’re talking about bipartisanship, let’s talk about what I believe in — strong neighborhoods, open government, and reasoned decision-making. Those are not partisan values, those are community values.”
Kasner is expecting to be one of the two top-tier candidates to go forward into the general election out of the four primary candidates, including Bill Hirt and Jeffrey Talada.
The 54-year-old former sports coach who was frequently found at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island anticipates that the race will be nasty and rancorous.
But Kasner’s attitude borders on defiant.
“They’re a shadow government,” said Kasner. “There’s absolutely no transparency as to who these people are, what they’re doing and what their backgrounds are. The Planning Commission does all of the work before it gets to the City Council. I will never railroad something through.”
For the last two years, a fight over a future light rail route through South Bellevue consumed much of the council’s time. The next body will have to revise design and development standards for the city’s downtown core, grapple with new shoreline use regulations, and choose who pays the bill for new building projects — the taxpayer or developers.
“The council is the bottleneck,” said Kasner. “They’re so focused on messing around with light rail that they’re getting no other work done. They took 50 percent of their time to work on light rail at the expense of the vitality of the city.”
In 2003, when Factoria Mall proposed a South Bellevue Community Center there, Kasner led the effort, often amidst the voices of angry citizens who wanted it to be located at the mall, to develop it off of Newport Way, with baseball fields and tennis courts.
“The easy thing would have been to let the neighborhood have what they wanted and put the community center in Factoria Mall,” said Kasner, “but that wasn’t what was best for the community. Now, that property is just short of 50 acres in an urban city of 130,000 people.”
Kasner has already raised $15, 411, with some coming from his supporters and some taken from his own money.
Ultimately, he figures he will need roughly $75,000 to get his message out and contend with Wallace.
“Regardless of what money we raise in the community,” said Kasner, “I would self-fund the primary. My budget is between $20,000 and $25,000 for the primary and I am willing to put all of that in if I have to.”
On Rosh Chodesh Av, the first day of the Hebrew month of Av, the controversial group Women of the Wall were praying at the Kotel in Jerusalem when they were pelted with insults and hard-boiled eggs by a group of Haredi men.
The time and place are relevant: The first nine days of Av are a solemn lead-up to the day of commemoration for the destruction of both First and Second Temples. The Kotel, the Western Wall, is the last bit of retaining wall from the temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Why did the Romans destroy that holy structure central to Jewish existence? The sages answer: Because of sinat chinam, or “baseless hatred.” In other words, Jewish infighting caused the Jewish people’s own downfall.
Discussions of sinat chinam always pick up this time of year, but they seem to have a renewed sense of urgency this year.
On Sunday evening, July 14, nearly 800 people from across greater Seattle’s Jewish community packed Town Hall to hear René Levy address baseless hatred and its threat to Jewish peoplehood at “Jewish Peoplehood Crisis: A Call for Conversation.”
“When there are no existential crises, the concept of Jewish peoplehood suffers to the point of becoming obsolete,” said Levy. Living in a crisis-free era of Jewish history is a good thing, of course. But the Holocaust, the Six-Day War, the plight of the Soviet Jews — all things that bonded older generations — have become history to younger Jews.
Most troubling to Levy is that when young Jews turn to Jewish sacred texts, they “are unable to decipher our shared mission or our purpose as a people.”
What is needed is a renewed look at the purpose of Jewish peoplehood. In his book, “Baseless Hatred: What It Is and What You Can Do About It” (Geffen, 2011), Levy, a retired professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Washington and longtime member of the Sephardic Orthodox community in Seattle, outlines the genesis of peoplehood in the Torah, its function in Jewish history, and the causes for its failure.
When the fundamental concept of Jewish peoplehood self-destructs, it is typically due to a breakdown of mutual responsibility and the toxic spread of disgust for fellow community members near and far — starting with family. (For more background on “Baseless Hatred,” see our story “Manifesto for a Revolution,” Aug. 22, 2012).
Levy’s suggestion for uniting Jewish people and curbing the phenomenon of baseless hatred is to start with family. “Baseless hatred and in-laws are a match made in heaven, or perhaps hell,” Levy said to a roomful of chuckles.
“You are entitled to justice, not revenge,” he said. “It hurts, because deep down that person is important.”
Ironically, one must override the “primitive neural system” that is wired to shut out or “hate” threatening humans or behaviors, as well as ego, in order to wage peace and assist the survival of the community.
When all else fails, said Levy, ask yourself, “am I selfish enough to forgive?” Invoking an Eastern twist, Levy suggests that when we forgive, we become free and secure.
Not only that, but the Jewish community must commit to educating children and focusing philanthropic efforts on peoplehood.
“By perfecting themselves, Jews can perfect their communities,” said Levy. “And they can perfect the State of Israel.”
Levy left the audience inspired, but not entirely without skepticism. At the question and answer session, he was presented with questions about Jewish anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, members of which have endorsed a no-dialogue approach to Israel’s supporters.
“Even if we accomplish nothing, we have to sit down and talk,” said Levy. “Are you willing to accept that they are doing this because they expect such a high moral standard for Jews and Israelis?”
According to event moderator Joel Benoliel, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “René‘s presentation was masterful, unique, and beautifully presented,” Benoliel told JTNews. “He is a scientist at heart, and is schooled in the art of making scientific inquiry and bolstering conclusions with proof.”
The purpose of the talk was a call to conversation, and Levy hopes that will prove fruitful. A follow-up email to attendees asked for input on how to move forward, such as creating a curriculum, forming an organization, holding an annual discussion, or participating in relationship workshops.
While a large percentage of attendees were members of Seattle’s Orthodox community, the talk appealed to Jews across the board.
Rainer Waldman Adkins, a founder of South Seattle’s progressive Mitriyah community and an activist for the liberal Israel advocacy organization J Street, told JTNews he was initially skeptical about the topic, but wanted to find out if it would truly promote dialogue.
Adkins was impressed by Levy’s insistence on shared responsibility and empathy for others.
“The ability to listen to other people…to find a very basic commonality, those are critical tools in building connections between people,” he said. Adkins also said that while he’s experienced anti-Semitism, “the most painful contacts I’ve had have been with other Jews, because it seemed they were stereotyping me and not curious about what was motivating me.”
Adkins hopes the conversation will somehow continue, because the community needs it.
“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “It will certainly be a lot of hard work.”
David Chivo, the executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle — a sponsor of the event — praised the evening.
“Within Jewish life, there are always many voices, and at times they are in conflict with one another,” he said. “What Dr. Levy conveyed through the conversation he led is that the multi-vocality within our community is actually a source of strength, and that we can find ways to have differences of opinions and yet still care deeply for one another.”
Benoliel admitted he had no idea what he was getting into when he was asked to participate in the event. In the end, he was moved.
“The last time I felt a spiritual stirring in a large crowd like this was a few years ago when I went to Century Link Field to hear the Dalai Lama,” he said. “His message was actually very much in synch with René‘s when it comes to interpersonal relationships.”
Could it really be possible to elevate the nature of Jewish community, starting with family and working toward world peace by committing to a sense mutual responsibility?
“Yes,” said Levy at the conclusion of his lecture. “It could be that simple.”
Courtesy Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association
No Israeli businesses or researchers were represented at the 2013 Life Science Innovation Northwest biotech and biomedical conference this July at the Washington State Convention Center, but two savvy and shrewd Jewish communal leaders, Charles Broches and Barry Kaplan, are committed to changing the status quo.
The event, sponsored by the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, drew nearly 1,000 participants from 20 states and 12 countries representing researchers from private and public companies, industry executives, investment bankers, research institutions, and global health organizations.
In a couple of years, as Broches and Kaplan continue to expand their contacts and connections at the WBBA, it’s very likely that Israel will partake of the life science bounty in this region.
“This is an area that is very hot in Israel, and it’s very hot up here,” said Broches, founder of The Broches Group, a public affairs, government relations and strategic communications firm. Broches sits on the board of the Washington-Israel Business Council. He is also the former assistant executive vice president for community development at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
The WBBA asked Broches to serve on its steering committee not only for his community involvement but also for his ability to bring WIBC members into the group. The WIBC invited its member list to the conference, however the initial response was low.
Broches said that although their efforts are in the early stages, the target is well within reach.
“Our goal here is to think of a way of putting Washington State’s biotech and biomedical on the map of Israeli companies,” he said, “and to strategically develop those relationships, so that there’s more business and research interaction between Israelis and Washingtonians.”
Even though Israel is one of the countries leading the world of research in the battle against diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, and it holds the patents on several technologies associated with those breakthroughs, the growing Northwest life science sector has yet to make those connections.
Blockbuster Israeli companies like Amdocs have a strong presence in Seattle, and Microsoft employs hundreds of Israelis locally.
“Since Israel is a world center of technology and innovation, including in the life sciences arena, as is Seattle, the potential for finding matches and good connections would seem obvious,” said Kaplan, who is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati Kaplan and WIBC board member.
WBBA’s 500 members represent a wide array of global health specialties, from bio-agriculture and biofuels to cancer research, infectious diseases, regenerative medicine, and health care information technology.
“Just walking through the poster presentations and listening to the podium presentations of the life sciences executives, one could see the associations,” said Kaplan. “Some of our local Northwest companies are working on the same problems, diseases, and issues, as are Israeli companies.”
The latest innovations in the Northwest include local WBBA biotech companies like Alder Biopharmaceuticals in Bothell, which developed an anti-migraine drug and a drug for autoimmune diseases developed in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb.
A Seattle company, Adaptive Biotechnologies, which emerged from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, developed a much sought-after “immune system profiling technology” that helps identify compatible study subjects for clinical trials.
Another Seattle company, Omeros, is working on a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs for surgeons to use in treating neurological disorders.
According to WBBA president and CEO Chris Rivera, the Israel tech sector would be a natural fit.
“It would be good to grow this over the upcoming years,” Rivera told JTNews.
“The goal for the next two days,” said Rivera in his opening address at the conference, “is to highlight the strengths and innovation found in the Northwest’s life science community. It is also to help facilitate partnerships and collaborations that will help support the continued growth of life sciences in the Northwest and beyond.”
Broches admitted these relationships take time and a certain amount of nurturing, so they won’t come about quickly. It begins with networking and gauging the level of interest on both sides.
But first, he said, he’s got to get the attention of this diverse group of researchers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and executives who travel the usual circuit of high-tech hubs.
“They generally go to the East Coast, Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia,” said Broches. “Then they go the L.A. and to the Silicon Valley and go home. They are not aware of the depth and the diversity of what’s going on in Washington State.”
Blake Jeffcoat’s winning art submission.
The first place art contest winner in the 9th-12th grade category is Alexander King, an 11th grader at Stadium High School in Tacoma. The image is one of three identical images, with the exception of the numbers on the arm, which correspond to the prisoners Alexander mentions here:
“I was inspired by the following: Rene Guttman, born December 21, 1937. Identification number: 16961. At the age of 5, he was used as a medical experiment by Nazi scientists. Renate Guttman, born December 21, 1937. Identification number: 70917. At the age of 5 she was used as a medical experiment by Nazi scientists because of Hitler’s fascination with twins. Eliezer Wiesel, born September 30, 1926. Identification number: A-7713. At the age of 16, Eliezer was beaten by other inmates for his food.”
Aria Saisslin, 6th grade, Kent Mountain View Academy, Des Moines, second place in the 5th-6th grade category:
“You see a hand with words in it and broken barbed wire while I see a Jew never giving up for what they believe in. When I see my drawing I see myself as this person never giving up hope, and doing what is right. I want other people to see my drawing as an encouragement and for them to never lose hope.”
Blake Jeffcoat, a 7th grader at McMurray Middle School, Vashon Island, first place in the 7th-8th grade category:
The image I drew represents the resistance of the Jewish people within the death and work camps, which to me was an even more powerful story than the struggles outside the camps. The barbed wire represents the prisoners bound in fear, which brought about a great solidarity with the prisoners. Their hands clenched tightly represents the determination of strangers to come together united in pain and fear. With this unity and incredible courage overcame great odds in defeating the German soldiers that held them captive in deplorable conditions. My inspiration was from the fight for freedom at Treblinka Death Camp.”
Writing contest winners
5th/6th grade, second place
Noah Yeager, Finch Elementary School, Spokane
Based upon the life of a young man who tried to help the Jewish resistance by carrying his violin case, filled with explosives, to a camp of Nazis who had come to love the man’s music.
Bielski replied, “Now we have a plan and we shall carry it out tomorrow. For now, make your last plans, Eli, and do what you must.”
So I left the Ziemlanka (a Ziemlanka is an underground house they used to keep the camp hidden) and walked through this twisted forest back to my Ziemlanka and buried my possessions under the soil of this hidden camp. This way, I will become like a ghost so I hide the evidence of my existence. It will all be gone except, of course, my violin. My true friend will miss me, but will stay strong. I will wait till the morning to give it to him. Then they will fill the case with explosives, but for now I must and rest and play my violin for the last time and I will savor every minute.”
7th/8th grade, first place
Jazmin Ruiz, 8th Grade, McLoughlin Middle School, Pasco.
By sticking up for those in pain
Their happiness can remain
We can never let this happen again
We must join together as a friend
I will remember those who died as brave
If only I could of saved
The thousands of innocent children
Whose lives had been stolen…”
9th–12th grade, first place
Lunden Laree Nugen, 10th Grade, Mead Sr. High School, Mead.
From a play, “The Interview.”
Randall: [clears his throat] So let’s get started. How old were you when the Nazis moved you to the camps?
Avner sucks in his cheeks and licks his lips.
Avner: [quietly] Fifteen. [Clears his throat and speaks louder] Fifteen. I was fifteen.
Randall: [nods] Were you with any of your family, or were you separated?
Avner: [still uneasy] My father had died the year before in the ghetto. My mother and sisters were taken away to a different camp.
Randall: Was that hard, not being with your family?
Avner: Yes…and no. On one hand, I didn’t know if my family was alright or not, on the other…I only had to worry about myself. It made surviving a little…easier.
A silence follows.
Randall: Do you know what happened to your mother?
Avner shakes his head.
Randall: Your sisters?
Avner: I know what I hope didn’t happen to them.
Randall: And what would that be?
Find excerpts, artwork, and, for the first time this year, videos and digital media from all of the winners at www.wsherc.org/writingcontest/WAC2013_winners.aspx.
The “Seattle 12” at a retreat last August in Aspen, Colo.
Founded in 1984 by Leslie and Abigail Wexner, the Wexner Foundation has become one of the premier organizations dedicated to the development of Jewish leadership. This month, the Wexner Foundation’s Heritage Program, which specifically supports volunteer leadership, will be sending a cohort of 100 students from five different cities, including Seattle, to Israel to learn how to better partner their local communities with Israeli Jewry.
In addition to the Heritage Program, the Wexner Israel Fellowship funds up to ten Israeli public officials each year to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship focuses on strengthening the leadership skills of Jewish professionals through Jewish education and philosophy.
The Seattle branch of the Heritage Program is supported by the Wexner Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the Samis Foundation. Amy Amiel, senior program manager for the Samis Foundation, said that while Samis typically focuses its efforts on Jewish K-12 education and Israel experiences for teens, the organization’s leaders felt that the Wexner Heritage Program played a significant role in the Samis Foundation’s work with Jewish youth.
“What Wexner is doing, which is growing committed and educated leaders in our community, is so powerful to our foundation,” said Amiel, who participated in the Wexner Graduate Fellowship program herself. “We know it will affect, both directly and indirectly, the very causes that Samis supports.”
David Chivo, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, called the Wexner Heritage Program a “twenty-first century toolbox.” He explained that the skills participants gain are “Jewish technologies” based on the Jewish history, text, and law studied during the course of the two-year program.
“The Wexner program is a symbol of what Jewish leadership and Jewish engagement can look like in Seattle,” said Chivo. “We’re creating a network of human beings filled with knowledge and commitment and appreciation of our heritage who can change our Jewish world.”
Rabbi Jay Moses, national director of the Heritage Program, echoed Chivo’s sentiments. “The program is meant to make [the participants] more knowledgeable, more competent, and more inspired Jewish leaders,” he said. Moses is an alumnus of the Wexner programs, having participated in the Graduate Fellowship program as a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
“Being in the Wexner Fellowship program exposed me to the best and brightest future Jewish professionals,” said Moses. “It gave me a framework for how to think about being a leader that still helps me as I navigate day-to-day challenges of working and being a professional in the Jewish community.”
Moses will be leading the Heritage Program’s upcoming trip to Israel, and hopes that the trip will help the program’s participants understand the modern religious, political, and social challenges faced by Israel. He emphasized that this trip is by no means a sightseeing trip or a way for participants to get a “shot in the arm of Jewish identity.”
“We take these folks to Israel to explore the issues up close and have them hearing right from the people who are living in Israel every day,” Moses explained. “The ultimate goal is for people to find a way of engaging more deeply with Israel, and to help advance a new kind of relationship between Israel and North American Jews.”
Tamar Benzikry-Stern is a participant in the Heritage Program and a member of the Seattle-based cohort that will be traveling to Israel with Rabbi Moses. Benzikry-Stern said she’s been to Israel a number of times to visit family, but is looking forward to the Heritage Program providing her with a different kind of trip.
“The program does a really thoughtful and intentional job of creating a cross-section of the community [within each cohort],” she said, adding that “it’s going to be really special being able to see Israel again with a group of people from my Jewish community that are coming at the issues from different places.”
Two of Benzikry-Stern’s fellow program participants, Brian Judd and Jeremy Derfner, are good examples of cohort members from diverse backgrounds. Judd, a Seattle native and self-proclaimed “Jew by choice,” converted to Judaism in 2007 and has been an active participant in Queen Anne’s Kavana Cooperative and West Seattle’s progressive synagogue, Kol HaNeshamah, which he and his husband helped found. By contrast, Derfner, who was raised in a Conservative Jewish community in South Carolina, now considers himself an atheist, but maintains a strong interest in the secular Jewish community.
“What I conceive of as leadership for myself is slightly different,” said Derfner. “I’m interested in new intellectual pathways for people who care about being Jewish, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable with the current institutional landscape.”
Regardless of their different approaches to Judaism, all three program participants are looking forward to the trip to Israel.
“The trip will allow us to interface with Israel in all of its complexity,” said Judd. “It will allow us to come home with some great experiences that we can share with the community to further our conversation around how Israel plays into our lives as North American Jews.”
For more information on the Wexner Foundation and its programs, visit www.wexnerfoundation.org.
Melissa Rivkin, second from left, with Alex, second from right, with grandparents Saul and Joyce Rivkin.
Today I said farewell to Alex, our latest foreign student who is returning to Latvia and then on to Hungary where he will enter business school in the fall. Our house seems empty. We are missing Alex already!
Alex is one of over 25 foreign students my family and I have hosted over the years. My husband and I started hosting students long before we had children of our own. In fact, just last summer, we sent our then 16 year old son, Mathias, to Spain to visit Jose, our first homestay student who came to us in 1991 when he was just 16. Today Jose is married with children yet he still has his boyish grin and still plays as hard as he works. I was envious of the stories Mathias told us of Jose, a real-estate developer, using his siesta time to go kite sailing off the Costa del Sol!
We’ve hosted students from Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, China and at least a half dozen students from Japan. Many of our students came to us through the English as a Second Language school I ran in the University District for 17 years.
This time with Alex from Latvia was different. Alex is closer in age to our kids than any previous student. He also attended Northwest Yeshiva High School, the same school our older son attends.
Alex is also the first Jewish student we’ve hosted. Instead of teaching Alex about Shabbat, challah, Passover or anything else Jewish as we had done with previous students, we compared our different traditions, food and customs. Alex fit right into our Jewish rhythm!
The fact that Alex is from Latvia was unique too. My paternal grandmother immigrated to the U.S. from Latvia nearly 100 years ago. My dad continuously peppered Alex with questions about Riga and the Jewish community there every time we got together. At Alex’s graduation from Northwest Yeshiva High School this week, my dad and stepmom attended and took video and photos when Alex received his diploma. Alex’s American grandparents, as we call them, felt pride in Alex’s achievements and in knowing that the Latvian Jewish community is alive and well.
Hosting a foreign student was an additional responsibility, of course. We opened up our home and our hearts to someone new. Alex quickly became a member of our family. We cared for Alex and invested in his safety, success and happiness. We made accommodations and compromises to make space for Alex. We gave up a bit of privacy and some free time. But our gain was immeasurable! We gained a window into Alex’s world. Our sons gained a new friend and a lasting bond. Our sons learned that it is important for our family to give of ourselves. We wouldn’t miss this opportunity.
This year NYHS will again be welcoming foreign and out-of-state students. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a host family, please contact me.
Veteran Host Mother
Director of Advancement at Northwest Yeshiva High School
In its brief existence, Israel has made enormous strides. But the popular impression that the state is an indefatigable miracle of creation is eroding. “Will Israel exist in 50 years?” is no longer a cynical question.
“That’s my husband!” Adi Koll exclaimed. “Sometimes he says, ‘Let’s go to Iowa…They have no problems.’”
At 37, Koll is a doctor of law and the award-winning founder of University of the People, which offers free courses at Tel Aviv University. And she’s one of the 19 members of the new Yesh Atid (There’s a Future) party in the Israeli Knesset, a party populated by a diverse group of individuals new to politics.
Koll was in Seattle last week as a guest of the Israel lobbying organization J Street to introduce herself and the party’s platforms, which claim to represent the broad swath of Israel’s secular middle class.
Yesh Atid is focused on reforming Israel’s civil society, from creating a more effective government to overhauling education and jump-starting the economy.
“We want to change the way politics have been done in Israel to make it more accessible,” Koll told JTNews.
Using social media to their advantage, Yesh Atid members invite Israelis to ask questions through a website called “Your Friend in Knesset” — a new move for Israeli politicians. The party also sports Facebook and Instagram pages.
When Yair Lapid, handsome news anchor turned finance minister, launched Yesh Atid last year, he invited Koll to join — and didn’t stop inviting until she said yes. Other members of the party include Haredi, American-born Dov Lipman; Penina Tamnu-Shata, the first Ethiopian-Israeli woman in the Knesset; and Mickey Levi, chief of police in Jerusalem during the second intifada. Others members are social activists, journalists, former military figures, and immigrants.
“We all came from the outside, and we all felt the need to make a difference, and we all decided that we want to do it from within,” Koll said.
As far as the hot-button issues in the American Jewish community, namely the conflict with the Palestinians and the religious-secular divide, “I’ll start with the easier one,” said Koll.
Koll has been working with Haredim to understand their world better, and to bring them into the fold.
“There are 26-year-old kids who have, like, $100,000 debt, and they have no way to cover it,” she said. And “working is not part of their tradition.”
She believes army or civil service, the shared experience among Israeli youth, will help close the gap.
“After the army, you work,” she said. “This is the main issue: Educating people to work and to support themselves.”
Americans should understand that the cost of living is the biggest concern to the majority of Israelis, Koll said, as opposed to the Iran threat or the “matzav,” the conflict.
“No one cares and no one talks about the matzav anymore. I think you talk about it more than us,” she said. “I’ve been here for four days meeting a lot of Jews that are involved in J Street especially, and they’re talking about Oslo agreements…. People in Israel don’t have a clue what the Oslo agreement is about.
“This is what Yesh Atid came to talk about,” she continued. “We can’t ignore it anymore if we want Israel’s future to be secured as a…democratic Jewish state.”
Additionally, the longer liberal, democratic ideals flourish among young Israelis, the sooner they’ll feel Israel is not their home, Koll explained. She cites the stagnated political process and Orthodox control as factors driving Israelis to other lands.
“This is a real threat,” she said. “The answer too often is that we shouldn’t be here. Yesh Atid comes to say that we have to be here, but we have to change.”
The problems are personal for Koll, who got married in the U.S. to avoid the rabbinic establishment. She would like to start a family, but is not religious enough to be approved to adopt and raise a Jewish baby, who would likely have to go through an Orthodox conversion first.
“These are things that bother people,” she said. “They don’t want to live in a country like that.”
Koll hopes Judaism can be a bridge between democracy and security, and that a new, pluralistic Jewish voice will emerge.
“I think protecting the fact that it’s a Jewish democratic country is something we need to do with all the forces that we have,” she said. “This is why I’m there.”
Likening the final 2013-2015 state budget deal to a tied score baseball game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee was philosophical about the inevitable compromises on new taxes and transportation funding. But, he said, he’s ready to work with it.
“We didn’t hit a home run, but we hit a solid double,” Inslee told reporters at a post budget-signing press conference in downtown Seattle Tuesday.
Off the table are catastrophic cuts to social services and help for the disabled that threatened to devastate the poor and needy in Washington throughout the early budget negotiation process.
Inslee said it “spared and in some cases, enhanced” critical social services for low-income residents, and extended healthcare to 300,000 citizens, while sometimes preserving and otherwise ending tax relief to businesses.
Jewish communal leaders and aid agencies are also breathing a bit easier now since the late-breaking forecast from Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council found more than $300 million in additional monies in state coffers that averted the need to slash assistance programs.
“In this challenging 2013 legislative session,” Rep. Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton), a member of the state’s Jewish caucus, told JTNews, “we’ve worked hard to approve a state budget that makes these smart investments and preserves our community values. Our Jewish organizations have been strong advocates for budget decisions that value education (K-12, early learning, and higher education), ensure safe and healthy families and communities, protect vulnerable people of all ages and abilities, and grow economic opportunity.”
The state was $900 million in the hole when lawmakers began hammering out this biennium’s budget, but the surprise additional revenue paved the way for a bipartisan agreement in the final hours of their second special session.
The “blacker” bottom line came from privatized liquor sales, lottery sales, an increase in housing construction permits, and an anticipated contraction in consumer spending due to a 2 percent payroll tax increase that didn’t happen.
Within the 483-page document the legislature fulfilled its obligation to fund $1 billion for K-12 schools — that’s $500 per student, paid for, in part, by cuts in state building projects, increases in state employee’s health benefit premium cost-sharing, and no cost-of-living increases for teachers.
“This quality budget takes meaningful steps forward in funding public education from early learning, through higher education, and it protects the most vulnerable with important human and social services,” Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) told JTNews. Carlyle is the chairman of the House finance committee and the House budget negotiator.
“Unfortunately, due to the Senate’s absolute unwillingness to close tax exemptions on the revenue side,” Carlyle added, “the spending plan is unsustainable in the long run and we will face similar challenges again soon.”
However, Rep. Cathy Dahlquist (R–Enumclaw), the lead Republican on the House education committee, said she was pleased with the educational outcome.
“This bipartisan bill is the product of collaboration with stakeholders and legislators that starts us down a path to improve student outcomes and better support teachers,” she said in a statement.
Zach Carstensen, the director of government relations and public affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, said he accepted the new budget, but he told JTNews the revenue won’t keep up with the cost of running the state, and these challenges will persist.
“In the final compromise budget there are things that are not so great but could have been a lot worse,” said Carstensen, who is acutely aware of the lingering budgetary woes from the 2008 economic fallout. “There’s nothing terrible about this particular budget, but it’s cumulative. We’re all going to have to struggle with [the effects of] the last five years.”
Carstensen said that Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes remain frozen at 2009 recession levels, which continues to impact the always rising cost of providing care at retirement, assisted-living, long-term–care facilities, and hospices like the Caroline Kline Galland Center.
Additionally, he said, the loss of state funding for these programs only puts more financial pressure on private Jewish agencies like Jewish Family Service to make up the difference.
In the current budget, Carstensen noted the supplemental food program is funded at 75 percent, which is below the level of need in the community. However, the 2013-2015 budget increased that amount by 25 percent from the previous biennium.
Still, Carstensen’s reference point reaches back to the start of the recession, when so many programs were downsized. Those cuts, he said, are only compounded today.
“It’s different than what it was a few years ago,” he said. “We had general assistance programs. We used to provide the disabled a modest cash stipend, a few hundred dollars a month, not enough to live on. Now, as they’re struggling with profound mental health issues and disabilities that haven’t quite reached the threshold to invoke federal support, we tell folks we’ll give you a voucher for housing.”
According to the state revenue report, Washington’s economy will continue to experience moderate growth; however, overall employment numbers will remain tepid, at best.
A rendering of how the foyer in front of the auditorium will look after this first remodel phase.
The Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Mercer Island site looks the same until you make your way toward the back of the building. That’s where you’ll find temporary walls in front of the old auditorium, and you’ll hear plenty of construction noise, but what the JCC will unveil by early next year will be a completely different space from the dark, outdated room that preceded it.
“All of it is going to be fully remodeled,” said Judy Neuman, the JCC’s CEO. “It’s going to be a very fluid and flexible space.”
Aaron Alhadeff, the JCC’s board president and capital campaign chair, said it’s no secret a remodel has been needed for the 45-year-old building. But just doing construction didn’t resonate with donors without an understanding of how it could benefit the people who will be using it.
“Once we shifted from what our facility needs were to what the community needs were, that’s when we got traction,” Alhadeff said.
Permits were obtained early last month and work began soon after. The project will not just create a new auditorium, but also rework the space around it so what is currently a foyer and classroom will become a modular space for multiple uses, with a library and play area to draw people in from across the region.
“You could have a reception in the foyer one moment, and you could have drop-in play space for a family in the unscheduled times,” Neuman said. “The library room will open up into the foyer so you can have that as two distinctly separate spaces, or one space.”
All of which will flow into the centerpiece of this project, the auditorium.
“One of the big things we’ll be doing is bringing natural light in,” Neuman said. That will come through the installation of skylights as well as windows on the north-facing wall that opens onto the building’s rear courtyard. Seating capacity will increase by 50 percent.
The way the space will be reworked will allow for the overall execution of the JCC’s programmatic strategy: The new audiovisual system will have digital projection capabilities, surround sound, and the ability to stream online video, in line with the agency’s takeover of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival last year.
While the festival wouldn’t move entirely in-house from its regular Seattle venues, this will create Mercer Island’s only movie theater, as well as a more inviting performance space.
“We’ll be able to bring all kinds of talent and artists culturally that we haven’t been able to serve before, from a standup comedian to dance troupes to musical ensembles to concerts,” Neuman said.
Alhadeff pointed to JCCs in New York and San Francisco that have become centers of Jewish culture.
“Demand is growing more and more every day for a cultural and performing arts central place in the Jewish community,” he said.
Alhadeff added that the space will be suitable for wedding and B’nai Mitzvah receptions as well. Still, Neuman noted that becoming a cultural arts and events center does remain secondary to the early childhood and camps programs, which will make use of the space on a daily basis.
This phase, which the JCC expects to be the first of several, raised $5 million and encompasses the remodel, land at the southern end of the property purchased from the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center that now houses the JCC’s Kesher garden, and programming dollars.
“The programmatic money we’re getting is as significant, if not more significant, than rebuilding the facility,” Alhadeff said. “We were definitely intentional about not building a wonderful vessel without being able to put anything in it.”
The campaign launched with a large lead gift and multiple community supporters, which Alhadeff called “angel funders,” as well as full board participation. For future phases, the JCC will need much wider community support, he said.
As for the next phase, “we want to see how the community responds before we put the date out there,” Neuman said. “Right now our schedule is to get this project completed.”
Courtesy Keith Dvorchik
Keith Dvorchik with his wife, Alison. They and their two kids will move to the Seattle area later this summer.
Come next week, when Keith Dvorchik spends his first days in his office at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, he’s got one item on his agenda: To listen.
“When I get off the plane, my first job needs to be to meet with people and to listen,” said Dvorchik, the Federation’s incoming CEO. “When I’m done meeting with people and listening, I need to meet with people and listen. I need to learn what’s going on. I need to learn what the strengths are and what the areas of improvement will be.”
The Federation’s board announced Dvorchik’s selection on June 28, with an official start date of Aug. 19, following a year-long search after the resignation of Richard Fruchter last July.
Dvorchik, 45, will come to Seattle from Hillel at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he spent 15 years as the student organization’s executive director and built the small organization into a powerhouse that serves between 8,000 and 10,000 students annually and has been recognized by Hillel International as well as by students both Jewish and non-Jewish.
When he began at Hillel, “there was very little impact on campus,” Dvorchik said. “We changed that fairly quickly. We made a decision that we would be out on campus, that we would be making a public presence, that we would become a significant part of the university and become an integral part of students’ lives.”
Today, he noted, the organization has strong ties with student government and has sent key leaders, including several student body presidents and former Gators football coach Urban Meyers to Israel. And if the students don’t know what goes on inside Hillel, they can’t miss the building: It’s across the street from the football and basketball stadiums, constructed from a capital campaign completed in 2004 under Dvorchik’s leadership.
“We were able to secure a site that nobody thought we ever could have secured,” said the lifelong sports fan. “You come to Gainesville, you literally cannot miss us.”
Though the bulk of his career has been at Hillel, Dvorchik’s life has taken some interesting twists and turns. He earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State in accounting, realized he’d made a mistake, and a year later returned to Penn for a master’s degree in counseling. His internship took him to Gainesville, where he ended up working in the criminal justice system with patients ranging from troubled adolescents to death-row inmates.
“When the Hillel opportunity was presented to me, I actually had two choices: One choice was to come work at Hillel, the other was to run an inpatient adolescent facility,” he said. “At the time, it was a big question.”
Dvorchik chose Hillel and threw himself into one of his greatest challenges during his tenure — building excitement for an organization that’s a five-hour drive from its biggest stakeholders.
“It’s not easy to come see what’s going on,” he said. “It’s not easy to feel the passion first hand.”
But it gave him insight into how Hillel needs to serve a community beyond its walls, which he believes that can transfer to Federation leadership as well. What he would like to see, he said, is a unified community with the Federation serving as its backbone.
At an organization’s event, for example, “it’s not just a JFS event, it’s not just a day school event, it’s not just a JCC event,” Dvorchik said, “it’s a communal event.”
He also wants to be sure that any organization — whether it’s his own or a partner agency — is doing top-quality work.
“We can’t waste people’s time,” he said.
Dvorchik has one pet peeve: “I don’t ever want to hear a reason for doing something is because we’ve always done it that way,” he said. “I don’t accept that.”
But he also doesn’t want to begin ruling with a heavy hand.
“I don’t know what the community wants and what the community needs,” he said.
Celie Brown, the Federation’s board chair as of July 1, said Dvorchik’s ability to listen is one of the key reasons he received her board’s vote of confidence.
During the search process, “one of the comments that we got the most was that ‘When he talked to me, he looked right at me and I knew he heard me,’ and that resonated with so many people,” she said.
Brown, who has a background in leadership coaching, said Dvorchik’s skills as “a change agent” resonated with her.
Dvorchik joins a Federation staff that has been humming relatively smoothly over the past year and has demonstrated a dedication to community building.
“We have the best staff since I’ve been volunteering. They’re all a team, they’re excited about him coming,” Brown said.
Will Berkovitz, who became CEO of Jewish Family Service on July 1, knew Dvorchik during his tenure as executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington. He called Dvorchik “a big-tent thinker.”
“He understands the diversity of the Jewish community [and] he understands the ability of how to engage the next generation, which I think is vital,” Berkovitz said. “[The Federation needs] somebody who is going to bring a very different perspective to what it means to convene community and what it means to build community.”
Rabbi Oren Hayon, the current Greenstein executive director at Hillel UW, agreed.
“I am personally very pleased about his background in the Hillel world because Hillel is an organization that rewards creativity, agility, thoughtfulness and innovation, all of which are qualities that will mean the success of the new Federation CEO,” Hayon said.
At the same time, however, Hayon cautioned that a lot is riding on Dvorchik.
“Everyone recognizes that the stakes are really high with this appointment,” he said. “It’s a time that the Federation needs to succeed.”
Rabbi Mordechai Farkash points out the design plans of the new Eastside Torah Center from inside the under-construction synagogue.
Rabbi Mordechai Farkash of the Eastside Torah Center is thinking about the full synagogue experience.
“When people come in the shul, there will be couches in a section of the lobby, so if they are not comfortable yet with going to shul, they can just sit in the lobby and wait for services to end,” said Farkash of his new $4.5 million synagogue set to open in the fall.
Farkash wants the elaborate 20,000-square-foot Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue to serve all Jews, whether they are observant or not, young or old, single or with a family, natives or travelers, and anyone in between, even those nervous about attending an Orthodox synagogue.
The property for the new synagogue, located at 16199 Northup Way, was purchased in 2006, with city permits acquired by late 2011. Since then, the building has been under construction and Farkash hopes to open its doors shortly after the High Holidays.
“It’s a home for every Jew, especially for Eastsiders,” he said about the diverse group of people that make up the Eastside Torah Center. “Some come for services, others for Bar Mitzvah celebrations, others for yahrzeits (anniversaries of a death), others for classes.”
Chabad emphasizes outreach to non-observant Jews, and subsequently caters to people who know very little or nothing about Orthodox Judaism. Farkash wanted the design of the building to keep any of these Jews in mind.
“There will be a women’s section on the main floor with a mechitzah (barrier) for people who feel it’s important to be up close,” he said. “And a more traditional upstairs balcony for women who are more comfortable with that.”
The location, about a half mile from its current spot on one floor of a Bellevue office complex, took its members’ housing situations into consideration as well.
“In this area there are opportunities for people to find comfortable and affordable housing,” Farkash said. “There are houses nearby for a million dollars or more, there are houses for $300,000 or $400,000, there are smaller houses, apartments or condominiums.”
Having affordable housing nearby benefits families who are not Orthodox but may become so in the future, Farkash noted. The synagogue will not have a set seating capacity, but will remain flexible depending upon how many people come to a given service or event.
“At Simchat Torah last year we had such a packed crowd at the Torah Center that we had to dance outside in the parking lot,” he said.
The facility will include an outside playground and approximately 50 parking spaces. More parking will be available at the church next door.
In addition to offices and a beit midrash, a space for learning, the synagogue will house the Eastside Jewish Public Library and have classrooms and a large recreation room with couches and ping-pong tables for the Torah Center’s teenage CTeen Club so they can talk and “schmooze,” Farkash said.
The Eastside Torah Center currently serves approximately 500 families. Some are regulars, while others show up for major events such as the High Holidays.
However, whichever the attendance style, everyone is welcomed, Farkash said.
“It’s an open door policy, [which is] Chabad’s traditional policy,” he said. “This is not a typical synagogue. It’s not just for members. It’s for every Jew to come and take advantage.”
Since 2002, when the current space for the Eastside Torah Center was purchased, the center has grown to the point where a new building made sense.
“This wasn’t something that was a priority for me to build,” Farkash said. “Construction and fundraising isn’t my cup of tea. I’m more of a people person in terms of teaching and counseling and creating opportunities for people to come and celebrate Judaism and life. But our place was just becoming too small.”
More than two thirds of the money to build the synagogue has been raised. Farkash hopes the sell the current facility for an additional $500,000.
Farkash and his wife, Rochie Farkash, are well-suited to the growth of the Chabad movement. When the couple started out 18 years ago, very few people were involved. Now their efforts have extended to more than a thousand participants.
Rochie Farkash’s parents, Rabbi Sholom Ber and Chanie Levitin opened Chabad’s first center in the Pacific Northwest in 1972; now, Rabbi Levitin is the director of Chabad for the Pacific Northwest. Mordechai Farkash was born and raised in Jerusalem. His brother, Rabbi Shalom “Berry” Farkash, runs the nearby Chabad of the Central Cascades.
The University of Washington Spanish and Portuguese Studies department chair Tony Geist, left, awards Al Maimon, right, the Luis Fernando Esteban Public Service Award for his work supporting the Sephardic community and culture. Esteban, the honorary consul of Spain, is standing in the center.
In a move that continues to cement the historic relationship between Spain and the Iberian Jews, a member of the Seattle Sephardic community received a public service award from the University of Washington for his commitment to preserving Ladino culture and heritage.
On Friday, June 14, the 2013 Luis Fernando Esteban Public Service Award was presented to Seattle native Al Maimon, a descendant of both the Turkish and Rhodes Jewish communities, at a graduation celebration for 80-plus graduates of the University of Washington’s Spanish and Portuguese Studies department at the Center for Urban Horticulture.
Officials presented Maimon with letters of commendation from statewide and international sources, after which Maimon gave the graduation address using a mixture of Spanish, Ladino and English.
Recalling all the solemnity of official proclamations — but laced with some informal Northwest humor — department chair Anthony Geist was joined on the dais by Luis Fernando Esteban, honorary consul of Spain in Seattle and the program’s namesake; Washington State Representative Marcie Maxwell (D-41) representing Gov. Jay Inslee; Dr. Ricardo Sanchez from Lt. Gov. Brad Owen’s office; and Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Sephardic Bikur Holim, bearing congratulations from the rabbi of the Israeli Knesset, Alex Hochman. A letter of commendation from Miguel de Lucas Gonzales, director of the Spanish government agency Casa Sefarad in Madrid, also attended.
“One person can make a difference,” Maimon said, lauding Esteban’s role in “so many ambitious and substantial educational, cultural and industrial projects here and in Spain.”
The award is presented in the name of Esteban for contributions to the region, in particular to its Hispanic community and the Spanish and Portuguese Studies department. In 2008 Esteban received the Washingtonian of the Year from Lt. Gov. Owen for his work on over 200 significant educational, cultural and commercial projects involving Spain and the state, according to the lieutenant governor’s office.
Maimon taught his audience a few phrases in Ladino, the amalgam of medieval Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and other languages, to show how it differs from modern-day Spanish.
Maimon, who retired from Boeing in 1999, is a longtime community volunteer: He is currently board president of the Samis Foundation, sits on the UW’s Sephardic Studies committee, and volunteers in his congregation, Sephardic Bikur Holim. He also sits on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and noted that his terms on the UW’s Stroum Jewish Studies Program advisory board and the Seattle Association for the Jewish Disabled Foundation are expiring. He is also transitioning from interim director of the Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle.
“I have a modest, informal ‘distribution list’ for matters of Sephardic/ Ladino interest and I do poke my nose in a lot of different places…to make connections across organizations and/or community divides,” Maimon said.
He has collaborated with the Spanish and Turkish consuls and communities, the UW’s library archives, and its Turkish, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese and music departments.
Through his award, Maimon hopes “to help achieve even greater accomplishments of academic scholarship and communal progress in understanding and realizing the dignity and true strength of diversity” in Seattle and around the world, he said.
Geist, of the Spanish and Portuguese Studies department, plans to further the department’s connection with Sephardic communities, specifically Seattle’s, one of the largest in the U.S.
“It’s been my dream for years to establish links with the Seattle Sephardic community,” Geist said. “We have many historical, linguistic and cultural points of intersection that go back to the Middle Ages and the period of convivencia [coexistence] when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together in peace for many centuries.”
(JTA)—Five years ago he was D-Black, a hip-hop artist rapping about the violence, gang activity and drugs of his African-American ‘hood. Today he’s Nissim Black, an Orthodox Jew davening in a Sephardic shul in Seattle and writing songs he describes as rap/urban alternative that “speak a message of hope and inspiration.”
The shift in his musical message will be on full display with his new album, “Nissim,” due for release later this summer.
Meanwhile, the changes in his personal life were underscored earlier this year when the 26-year-old musician was one of two grooms in a double Jewish wedding ceremony that became a communitywide project.
The story starts in 2008: Newlywed with an infant girl and then called Damian Black, he found himself at a crossroad after a friend was shot and killed at a nightclub where Black had been performing. Soon after, he lost his day job working with autistic children.
“I had a ton of questions and no answers,” Black recalls. There were questions about “religion, about God, about Christianity, about why aren’t Christians Jewish if Jesus was Jewish.”
Black began researching religion, reading about the Torah and begging his wife, Jamie, to study with him.
“We almost got a divorce,” she says. “We didn’t see eye to eye.”
But the more she read, the more she, too, found herself attracted to Judaism, ultimately taking the Hebrew name Adina.
“If this is something that can give me answers, I wanted it,” she says, adding that she felt like Judaism, unlike Christianity, welcomed questions. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Adina began urging her younger sister (by 10 months) and best friend, Sheree, to study with them. Nissim and Sheree together pulled in Bradley Brown, Black’s close friend since kindergarten, fellow musician and Sheree’s future husband. They, too, have taken Hebrew names: Chana and Yosef.
By 2010, the two couples—each with two young children—had moved to an Orthodox enclave in Seattle’s Seward Park and were studying for conversion at the Sephardic Bikur Cholim Congregation. Their conversions were finalized with visits to the mikvah, ritual bath, on Feb. 27. As is traditional with a conversion at the congregation involving someone already married, a Jewish wedding ceremony was next.
That’s when the four of them came under the wing of congregant Beth Balkany, who was saddened that each couple previously had had wedding ceremonies with just a handful of guests and no celebration. She was determined to make the couples Jewish wedding celebrations they wouldn’t forget.
Under Balkany’s direction, the March 5 double wedding became a community project.
“I was really excited to help them,” she says, adding that others felt the same way, often asking her, “How can I help?”
Through the local bridal gemach, a lending resource, Balkany found gowns that required just hems for each of the women. Nissim and Yosef provided a playlist for the DJ. A couple who married the previous day donated their flowers. The caterer donated his time, the photographer hers. Someone contributed money for a videographer, someone else makeup for the brides.
“I raised the money to pay for whatever goods and services, whatever couldn’t get donated,” Balkany says.
She pulled off a sit-down dinner for 170 people. Rabbi Simon Benzaquen officiated at the two separate ceremonies,; his wife, Cecilia, walked each bride down the aisle.
The guests came not only from their congregation but also from Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath, the Seattle Kollel and Ezra Bessaroth, Seattle’s other Sephardic synagogue.
“People just opened up their hearts and wallets and came out and danced,” Balkany says.
The couples were ecstatic.
“We had no idea that it was going to be as big and as fabulous as it was,” Adina says.
Says her sister: “The love you felt in the room; it was just amazing.
Courtesy Kol HaNeshamah
Kol HaNeshamah’s music ensemble performs the liturgy during a recent Shabbat service.
Yom huledet sameach!
Congregation Kol HaNeshamah in West Seattle celebrates its 10th anniversary on June 21. Founding rabbi Michael Adam Latz will be in attendance, along with former interim rabbi Anson Laytner and current rabbi Zari Weiss.
The celebration includes a potluck dinner, kabbalat Shabbat service, a video presentation, and speeches, as well as “a song presentation given by our ensemble, plus various toasts including a rabbis’ toast and founders’ toast, a song of celebration and a cake-cutting ceremony,” said executive director Sheila Abrahams.
On June 23, Kol HaNeshamah will continue its anniversary celebration with its Torah Restoration Project event. Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, a sofer (scribe), has been working since mid-May to repair their almost 100-year-old Torah, which was used by the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. The community received a match challenge for donations toward the restoration project from local Jewish philanthropists Marleen and Ken Alhadeff.
Kol HaNeshamah started in June 2003 and quickly became known by word of mouth.
“Kol HaNeshamah was the brainchild of a dozen founders who all got together at an Asian restaurant in West Seattle, Buddha Ruksa, and brainstormed ideas for founding the congregation,” Abrahams said. “We’ll have dishes from that restaurant to remember the founding of Kol HaNeshamah.”
Clearly, they were meeting a need.
“We photocopied prayer books and had enough for 40 people, but 90 showed up,” said Latz. “We didn’t have a plan to grow — we just grew.”
Originally called West Seattle’s Progressive Synagogue Community, the name Kol HaNeshamah was born at a retreat near Mount Rainier during a morning meditation session. The community is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, and meets on the first and third Friday and Saturday of the month at the Alki United Church of Christ.
“Part of the essence of the synagogue is our commitment to radical inclusivity,” said Weiss. “That was part of the founding and continues to this day. It’s a place where many people who maybe didn’t feel at home in other communities can feel at home in Kol HaNeshamah.”
She added that every single person becomes an integral part of the community.
“A lot of congregations have a commitment to welcome LGBT people,” she said. “But here at KHN it’s part of who we are, and it informs so much of our ethics.”
The congregation now has 130 household units, Abrahams said. It provides Hebrew school and educational programs for children and adults. Adult classes include a “progressive Yeshiva,” Weiss said, where participants study contemporary issues by looking at Jewish and contemporary texts and then applying progressive values to those issues.
Weiss is trained as a spiritual director, a newer position in the Jewish community, she said. She works with congregants to help deepen and explore their relationship with God.
“It’s become much more rooted as a community,” said Weiss. “These are people who have been though the different cycles of life with each other.”
Members are encouraged to help provide for the needs of the congregation, such as giving services during the High Holidays and cooking meals for each other, Latz said. Because the synagogue highly regards inclusivity, members do not need to buy tickets for the high holidays, or other things that might keep people out.
Adult B’nai Mitzvahs are also common. This year, eight members who never had the opportunity for the rite of passage as young adults signed up for B’nai Mitzvah.
Latz said he is looking forward to coming back for the weekend.
“I’m so proud to see what the new rabbi is doing, and have continued to be very proud,” said Latz.
“The people at Kol HaNeshamah are an incredible, loving, talented, smart and dedicated group of folks,” he said. “They’re bringing life into Judaism and care about each other.”
Latz noted the congregation was influenced by the book “Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue,” by Rabbi Sidney Schwarz.
“We strive to understand what it means to be Jews and a Jewish community in the 21st century,” Weiss said. “As the world changes dramatically, we look at how Judaism needs to change with it.”
Emily K. Alhadeff
Rabbi Moshe Kletenik in the beit midrash.
What is the role of the American Orthodox rabbi today? It’s a question with more than one answer, and it’s a question South Seattle’s Orthodox synagogues have been struggling with for years.
Rabbi Moshe Kletenik joined Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath in 1994 with the goal of creating a community of learners.
“There isn’t a single encounter with the synagogue that doesn’t involve learning,” he told JTNews. “I think there are many, many more people who study Torah on a daily basis.”
For the past 19 years, Kletenik has offered classes and study groups in halachah (Jewish law), Mishna, the weekly Torah portion, and celebrated a siyum haShas, the completion of the seven-year cycle of daily Talmud study. His wife Rivy complemented his offerings with talks on Tanach, Midrash, Mussar, Pirke Avot, and more.
But as of June 30, Rabbi Kletenik will no longer be the rabbi of the state’s largest Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue. In a controversial board move last summer, Kletenik’s contract was not extended.
Speaking with JTNews in his office at BCMH, Kletenik reflected positively upon his tenure.
“One of the truly rewarding aspects of being a rabbi is the opportunity to become involved in people’s lives, especially at critical times during their lives,” he said.
Torah study leads to action, and this philosophy is evident given Kletenik’s expertise on business, medical, and interpersonal ethics. In addition to expanding learning initiatives, Kletenik constantly consults on ethical matters, including end-of-life issues, healthcare directives, and wills.
“The teachings of Torah that we find within the Talmud, codes of Jewish law, and responsa literature throughout the centuries are current and can address any issue and any challenge that arises in a meaningful way,” he said. “That is what Jewish ethics is about.
“The more people become aware of it, the more people seek out guidance.”
In addition to advising his congregation, Kletenik initiated and chaired Jewish Medical Ethics Conferences throughout the 1990s, and has lectured locally and nationally on ethical issues concerning organ donations, pregnancy, and end-of-life issues. He served as president of the Rabbinical Council of America from 2009 to 2011, sat on Governor Christine Gregoire’s Faith Advisory Board (2007-2009), and is a member of the Kline Galland Home Health and Hospice Ethics Committee and the Holocaust Emergency Assistance Committee at Jewish Family Service, among other volunteer and board positions.
In 2008, he was granted the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Take Action award. Kletenik heads the beit din (religious court) with the Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle and presides over gittin, Jewish divorce.
Kletenik furthermore oversees three critical institutions run by BCMH for the Jewish community: The mikvah, eruv, and chevra kadisha burial society. Each of these requires halachic authority, which the synagogue will lack come next month.
According to BCMH board president Dan Birk, a matrix of local rabbis will be stepping up to help, and Orthodox Union-appointed rabbis will be available for halachic questions if they arise.
Birk said said the first step, before forming a rabbi search committee, is to figure out what the community wants.
“Our shul is a very diverse group of people,” he told JTNews. “We need a person that can understand the need of the community…In my mind, it’s all about achdus [unity] and getting along under one roof.”
Kletenik will not be involved in BCMH’s future plans, but confirmed he will stay in Seattle. Starting July 1, he will work for the Va’ad, where he plans to expand its services and educational programming and give the beit din more visibility.
Among the services he hopes to expand is business-dispute mediation.
“The Torah has guidance as to how we are to act in every aspect of our lives,” he said. “Whether it is our personal lives, whether it is our professional lives, in terms of our interactions with others, with Jews in the broader community, if one follows the dictates of the Torah — in terms of how we speak to others and about others, how we interact with others — we become better Jews and better human beings, and valuable members of society… But people make their own choices, and rabbis can only teach.”
Walking through BCMH’s beit midrash (study room), where he’s studied and taught for two decades, Kletenik appears momentarily wistful. But he expresses optimism at the future of Orthodox life and reflects positively on the changes he’s seen around him.
“If you look at the national statistics, I think more and more people are recognizing the value of the Torah lifestyle and the richness and beauty and meaningfulness,” he said. “As an Orthodox rabbi, it is certainly my hope that people will choose to be guided by the dictates of the Torah — and so many people are.”
Maria Erlitz has given the Jewish Day School direction, but visitors may still need a sign.
Maria Erlitz can sum up her retirement from the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle in two words: “It’s time.”
With an education consulting business that she put on hold for her position as head of school and a desire to slow down, Erlitz felt that now was the right time to say “l’hitraot” — until we meet again.
“It’s not that I don’t love what I do, but it’s hard to balance,” she said.
When she turns over the reins to Mike Downs, an interim head who will come to the Bellevue school while the JDS search committee seeks a permanent head, everything should be in place for a smooth transition.
“Sometimes you want to cleanse the palate from someone who’s been here a long time,” Erlitz said. “The school is in great shape, and in good hands, and it gives the search committee a little bit more time.”
Erlitz has spent the past five years as head of school of the Bellevue academy, but her history with the school goes back to its founding 33 years ago. Back then she was a recent transplant from New York and connected with a group of parents who wanted to give their children a Jewish day school education, but wanted something more pluralistic than the Seattle Hebrew Academy, at that time the only game in town, was willing to offer.
“They went to the powers that be and said, ‘How about if you get a little bit more pluralistic?’” Erlitz recalled. “And thank God that the Seattle Hebrew Academy said, ‘This is our mission. We are a Torah Umesorah modern Orthodox [school].’”
And so JDS was born. Erlitz started as an educator, then eventually became head of school. She left for many years to run a consulting practice that works primarily with day schools’ boards and leaders, but in 2008 when the call came to serve as interim head of school while the board searched for a permanent replacement, she took it. And when she asked to stay on as that replacement, the board jumped at the opportunity.
Since Erlitz retook over, the school has noticeably embraced education 21st-century style.
“Any vision, especially in education, if you’re not constantly improving you’re not doing your job,” she said.
Part of that vision is more intangible: Welcoming interfaith families or talking and writing about God and belief — sometimes in conjunction with people who practice other religions. But other parts are very much in line with leaps in technology.
“Because things are at your fingertips, to teach facts these days, and to have kids memorize facts and regurgitate facts, is really wasting time,” Erlitz said. “To have them discover the facts and research the facts — to support a burning question that they’re looking at is where education is going.”
That burning question, known formally as inquiry-based learning, has been piloted in three grades but this fall will become the standard for all of JDS.
“I’m certainly most proud that the inquiry-based curriculum is taking hold school-wide and we’ve been able to promote that,” Erlitz said.
Rabbi Stuart Light, the school’s head of Judaics, put the curriculum into practice Jewishly through a monthly program. During an assembly, Light would query students about Jewish history or practice and then send them out to the Internet and Jewish texts to discover answers for themselves.
“The amazing answers that come back, that’s the kind of education that you want,” Erlitz said.
Light, incidentally, is also leaving the school after 13 years to lead the Judaic studies program at a large day school in Irvine, Calif.
This style of education that Erlitz has pushed JDS toward — with the backing of the school’s board and its parents, who are fiercely loyal to the school (and have top ranking in a national survey to prove it) — is a decisive move away from the teacher at a blackboard talking at rows of children.
“Even the second grade or the first grade, the students can do their own project,” she said. “Now the kids can ask, ‘What kind of animals live in the rainforest?’ I want to research that. Every student in the class will study the rainforest, but in their own way.”
The school has been working on a five-year strategic plan in conjunction with
the Samis Foundation and Seattle Pacific University, but with the technology moving so quickly, it’s difficult to make decisions based upon what computers are available today if their basic capabilities are obsolete in that time.
Erlitz, holding up her iPhone with the Siri voice-recognition capability, wondered when all of computing would be voice activated.
“You want your first grader to learn to read? Let your first grader dictate their own story and have the words pop up,” she said. “I guarantee you that child can learn to read a lot faster than if they use Houghton Mifflin or Scott Foresman.”
One point of pride for Erlitz is maintaining the curriculum and quality of JDS’s education in the wake of the recession. Given the quality of Bellevue’s public schools, “if you don’t value Jewish, it’s a hard sell, because we have a hefty tuition,” she said.
“Even in the recovery from 2008, people are not feeling like, ‘Oh, I just have all this money and discretionary income,’” she said. “Especially in the middle.”
The school did sign on 10 new students for the year that just ended, “so we did kind of turn that curve,” she said.
As she wraps up her JDS career, Erlitz said she’ll miss the staff and teachers and especially the students, but she has trust that the school’s leadership can and will continue to improve.
Audrey Covner and Diane Dougherty under the chuppah, their daughters by their sides.
On Sunday, June 16, Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation witnessed history when Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum officiated the synagogue’s first same-sex wedding.
Audrey Covner and Diane Dougherty, partners for three decades and the parents of two teenage daughters, were married at the Seattle Aquarium before 250 friends and family members. Covner is the synagogue’s immediate past president.
Covner told JTNews she wants to “be able to show that the synagogue has really moved in a totally different direction.” The Mercer Island congregation has a reputation for being less liberal than North Seattle’s Congregation Beth Shalom, she said. Beth Shalom has been sanctifying same-sex unions for more than a decade.
Rosenbaum resisted support for same-sex marriage, but came on board about a year ago, around the time Referendum 74 was going up for a vote.
“I think what helped me, really most of all, was the fact that Audrey and Diane were members of our congregation for many years,” Rosenbaum said. “We got to know them as a family, and they in most ways were like any other family in Herzl-Ner Tamid. That’s what breaks down barriers: People getting to know each other one on one.
“Stereotypes get dispelled.”
Rosenbaum also cited HNT’s 2011 scholar-in-residence Stephen Greenberg, an Orthodox rabbi and openly gay man and subject in the documentary “Trembling Before G-d,” as a positive influence.
The Conservative movement approved same-sex marriages in 2006 and finalized the guidelines for wedding rituals in 2012. However, Conservative rabbis are not unified in their support.
Covner, a lawyer and activist who helped write the domestic partnership bill in California before moving to Washington, said she would have been happy with a 50-person backyard celebration. But the wedding, in part, was for the community: She wants to set a precedent for younger couples behind them.
“We fought so many years…to see this happen that we want to acknowledge that and all the people that did years and years of work,” she said.
Covner grew up in the Conservative movement and is thrilled with the support she’s received from her community here.
“We’ve never, ever felt uncomfortable,” she said. “We’ve felt so warmly loved and accepted here. It’s been such a wonderful thing to be part of my movement I’ve always been a part of.”
Both of Covner and Dougherty’s daughters attended the Jewish Day School. Currently one daughter, 18, attends the University of Washington, and the other, 17, attends Northwest Yeshiva High School.
The guest list included NYHS’s junior class, as well as Covner’s aging parents, and state Senator Ed Murray (D–43rd).
“Both Diane and I thought we would never live to see this day,” she said. “It’s just amazing to me that this happened within our lifetimes.”
Rosenbaum looks forward to future same-sex weddings under the auspices of his synagogue.
“We want Herzl-Ner Tamid to be seen as a place where gay and lesbian couples and singles are welcome,” he said. “I think this will send this message in a very clear way.”
“I’m so proud of Rabbi Rosenbaum,” said Covner. “It was not easy for him.”
Courtesy Galit Ezekiel
Pamela Waechter Jewish Communal Professional Award recipient Galit Ezekiel.
Around Passover time, Galit Ezekiel is busy. Very busy.
“I strive to meet every single person who comes to the lunches,” says Ezekiel, development director at Hillel at the University of Washington, to the community Passover meals the organization hosts each year.
Ezekiel, now in her 12th year at Hillel, was honored with the Pamela Waechter Jewish Communal Professional Award at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s annual meeting on June 20. The award, which honors local Jewish communal workers who rise above and beyond their job description at work and in their community, is named for Waechter, who was killed seven years ago during the shooting at the Federation’s offices.
Ezekiel says she’s thrilled to be recognized.
“In a smaller shop we wear many hats,” she says. “I’m pretty much involved in every facet of the organization.”
Rabbi Oren Hayon, Hillel UW’s Greenstein executive director and Ezekiel’s boss, says she is “responsible for keeping the heart of Hillel beating.”
Ezekiel was nominated by her coworkers for her work inside the building — her mentorship of staff and young adults, as well as her attention to the day-to-day details of running a Jewish organization — but they were blown away to learn how she lives her life outside of her job: As a board member and chair of the religious school at Congregation Beth Shalom, and a volunteer at both Seattle Jewish Community School and the Evergreen School.
“I’m really impressed to see how she shows the same devotion and excitement that she does during the day with us at Hillel,” Hayon says.
Since the primary mission of Hillel is to provide Jewish resources for college students, one of the most fun parts of Ezekiel’s job is to see those former students who were once scared, uncertain freshmen now making their mark in the world.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of alumni that come back,” she says. “I love that they think of Hillel.”
Hayon notes that while Ezekiel is a very skilled fundraiser, it’s not just because she’s a good salesperson.
“She’s good at that because she finds things she’s impassioned about and communicates to people about why our support and generosity helps that good work go on,” he says.
And she has been effective. Hired in 2002 to support the efforts to construct its new building, Ezekiel diversified the organization’s funding sources and has tripled Hillel’s fundraising over the past decade, according to the Federation’s notes about her nomination.
Ezekiel is so involved because she is devoted to her community, but also because she wants to instill these same values in her children.
“I think it’s really important do to that, and live a meaningful life, just as it was modeled for me as a child,” she says.
Hold the spinach puffs. After 15 years of serving the community, Seattle-based kosher catering company Nosh Away is closing its doors.
“Since 2008, business has steadily declined in the catering aspect,” said Phillip Klitzner, who runs Nosh Away with his wife Dayna. Corporate, private and non-profit spending all slumped along with the economy, and this year, sales were down by 30 percent from 2008.
Regular corporate clients tightened their belts, individuals are scaling back on weddings and B’nai Mitzvah, and fundraising dinners are seeing less turnout, with community institutions reducing full meals to lighter receptions, Klitzner explained.
In addition, some organizations over the years have opted to save money by using non-kosher caterers, bringing in boxed kosher meals to those guests who require them.
“There was always that threat,” Klitzner said.
Fortunate for the kosher-observant community, however, Nosh Away isn’t disappearing altogether. The Klitzners are shifting their focus to Affordable Kosher, the online retail and wholesale distributor of kosher goods they started in 2010.
Klitzner told JTNews they have plans to expand the product line, making the online store look more like an East Coast grocery store. They hope to expand their delivery timeframes and zones, too.
Affordable Kosher will continue to distribute to the remaining kosher caterers, which include Leah’s Catering of Seattle, and Eli Varon and Dalia Amon, who work out of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth’s kitchens, respectively. Leah’s is the only one under the supervision of the Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle.
The owner of Leah’s, Leah Jaffee, is concerned about the hole Nosh Away will be leaving.
“I have turned myself into an event caterer, and that’s what I do,” she told JTNews. She will not be stepping up to provide boxed meals at non-kosher functions, hotel meals, or bakery or Shabbat items.
“I financially cannot do that,” she said. She hopes outlets like Albertson’s, QFC, and Island Crust will work to fill such voids.
“My crew works really hard,” Jaffee continued. “I don’t think anyone realizes we’re up all night before a Sunday event. It’s not for lack of effort.”
Jaffee said she can still take on last-minute events, like brit milahs and funerals, but otherwise she advises her customers to plan ahead, and not to be afraid to call her.
“We’re all going to be okay,” she said.
Nosh Away will also hold on to some of its equipment to be of service to venues in need of kosher supplies, and Klitzner said they will be available to consult with non-kosher venues.
“I would work between hotels and the Va’ad to ensure successful event,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity for other caterers to do kosher once in a while,” he added, suggesting that high-end restaurateurs like Tom Douglas could expand their offerings in the kosher market. Another large caterer, On Safari, also does regular kosher events, preparing the meals in kashered kitchens.
Klitzner expressed some relief to be done with catering.
“I had a good time,” he said. “We were involved in a lot of people’s simchas. I wouldn’t have changed it, but it’s an opportunity for us to move on.”
Courtesy Marshall Weiss
American Jewish Press Association president Marshall Weiss.
It is somewhat of a triumph that the American Jewish Press Association is having its 2013 annual conference in Seattle, since the economic recession battered so many Jewish publications and general media in the U.S. and caused them to slash budgets and shed staff.
But for the 60 AJPA publishers, editors, freelance journalists, reporters, and staff who will arrive here next week, many for the first time, the conference’s concurrent business and editorial tracks will tackle some of the big questions that face them today: How to increase readership and circulation, grow economic bases, train reporters, and compete among increasingly diverse electronic platforms.
Over two days of programming, industry leaders, small startups, local journalists, academics from Israel, and even the head of a Jewish newspaper in Warsaw, Poland will offer insight into success strategies.
“I had a vision that I wanted to leverage the startup mentality here in Seattle and hopefully, to some extent, the social justice perspective of the Jewish community here,” said Joel Magalnick, editor and publisher of JTNews, who is chairing and helping to organize the conference.
Magalnick is a vice president of the AJPA.
“On the business track, we’re always trying to find better and more efficient ways of running the business end of the paper as well as collaborating and keeping up with technology,” Magalnick said. “On the editorial side, I think there always needs to be two goals — to try and enable us to do our jobs better….and there’s also the learning aspect.”
To discuss how they’ve increased their circulation, Josh O’Connor from Sound Publishing and Jim Fleigner, a circulation consultant from Impact Consultancy in California, will share models and initiatives they’ve employed to beef up their numbers.
Also, Tracy Recker, the editor of the widely read West Seattle Blog, and Rob Salkowitz from MediaPlant will lead sessions that feature strategies on attracting and keeping loyal readers.
“We’ve all lost so much ad revenue through the recession,” said Marshall Weiss, AJPA’s president and the editor and publisher of the Dayton, Ohio Jewish Observer. “Things are stabilized, we’ve adjusted to the new economy, and we’re coming back.”
Still, the newspaper industry as a whole has not figured out how to make money on their websites, although people are flocking to them and reading news on their computers, phones and tablets. Rick Kestenbaum, the chief operating officer and general manager at The New Jersey Jewish News, who is scheduled to talk about his paper’s decision to implement a paywall for readers that want to read its online version, told JTNews his paper has little to lose and much to gain by doing so.
“We get all of our circulation revenue and 99.5 percent of our revenue from our print edition,” said Kestenbaum. “Why give our content to so many people for no circulation revenue and so little ad revenue?”
Kestenbaum said “it’s a mistake” not to charge.
“Unlike a major daily paper, where much of the content is easily found elsewhere [world news, sports, etc.],” he said, “there is no alternative for news of the local Jewish community.”
Many other newspapers, however, both Jewish and secular, have not yet embraced this approach.
“There’s no one quick fix, cure-all, or solution for monetizing the web,” said Weiss. “I don’t know anyone who is really making it in the general media on monetizing the web. No one’s figured it out.”
The one essential factor in attracting and keeping readers, in addition to user-friendly websites and savvy technical innovations, say Weiss and Magalnick, is accurate and informed reporting.
Journalists who cover the Jewish community must bring the same knowledge and integrity to the job as those in the general media, said Magalnick, who included a training session, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Jewish Journalists,” for aspiring Jewish journalists in the conference and opened it to college students for free.
“I think the aspirations of any Jewish journalist, or any Jewish newspaper or publication, should be what people expect are the aspirations of the Jewish community — that we have high standards of objectivity and accuracy, the things that people are looking for in good journalism,” Magalnick said.
Weiss said a Jewish journalist must balance a kind of tension between being a part of the story and the community while remaining “apart” from it to cover it fairly.
“Ideally, you want someone who is literate when it comes to Jewish concepts, Jewish ideas, and Jewish values,” said Weiss, “and you want someone who has had a solid journalistic education.”
Kicking off the conference will be a discussion on Jewish journalism, based on a survey by Alan Abbey of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, which received more than 100 responses and will discuss the ethical, editorial and political challenges of reporting on local Jewish communities.
Weiss said that according to the feedback he receives from editors across the U.S., Israel is on the top of their list of hot topics.
“What I’m hearing from my colleagues in the Jewish media are the culture wars going on in Israel between the Haredi Israelis and the rest of Israeli society in terms of how they participate or don’t participate in Israeli society,” said Weiss.
On Sunday, June 16, Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation will witness history in the making when Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum officiates the synagogue’s first same-sex wedding.
Audrey Covner and Diane Dougherty, partners for three decades and the parents of two teenage daughters, will be married at the Seattle Aquarium before 250 friends and family members. Covner is the synagogue’s immediate past president.
Covner told JTNews she wants to “be able to show that the synagogue has really moved in a totally different direction.” The Mercer Island congregation has a reputation for being less liberal than North Seattle’s Congregation Beth Shalom, she said. Beth Shalom has been sanctifying same-sex unions for a number of years.
Rosenbaum resisted support for same-sex marriage, but came on board with it about a year ago, around the time Referendum 74 was going up for a vote.
“I think what helped me, really most of all, was the fact that Audrey and Diane were members of our congregation for many years,” he said. “We got to know them as a family, and they in most ways they were like any other family in Herzl-Ner Tamid. That’s what breaks down barriers: People getting to know each other one on one.
Stereotypes get dispelled.”
Rosenbaum also cited their 2011 scholar in residence Stephen Greenberg, an Orthodox rabbi and openly gay man and subject in the documentary “Trembling Before God,” as a positive influence.
The Conservative movement approved gay marriages in 2006 and finalized the guidelines for wedding rituals in 2012. However, Conservative rabbis are not unified in their support. The movement, which often finds itself struggling between Reform and Orthodox opinions, does not officiate interfaith weddings.
Covner, a lawyer and activist who helped write the domestic partnership bill in California before moving to Washington, said she would have been happy with a 50-person backyard celebration. But the wedding, in part, is for the community. She wants set a precedent for younger couples behind them.
“We fought so many years…to see this happen that we want to acknowledge that and all the people that did years and years of work,” she said.
Covner grew up in the Conservative movement and is thrilled with the support she’s received from her community here. “We’ve never ever felt uncomfortable,” she said.
“We’ve felt so warmly loved and accepted here. It’s been such a wonderful thing to be part of my movement I’ve always been a part of.”
Both of Covner and Dougherty’s daughters attended the Jewish Day School. Currently, one daughter, 18, attends the University of Washington, and the other, 17, attends Northwest Yeshiva High School.
The guest list includes NYHS’s junior class, as well as Covner’s aging parents, and Senator Ed Murray. In lieu of gifts, the couple is asking donations be sent to JDS, NYHS, and Herzl-Ner Tamid.
“Both Diane and I thought we would never live to see this day,” she said. “It’s just amazing to me that this happened within our lifetimes.”
Rosenbaum looks forward to future same-sex weddings under the auspices of his synagogue.
“We want Herzl-Ner Tamid to be seen as a place where gay and lesbian couples and singles are welcome,” he said. “I think this will send this message in a very clear way.”
“I’m so proud of rabbi Rosenbaum,” said Covner. “It was not easy for him.”
Itai Amon prepares to launch the balloon into the stratosphere.
What do you get when you combine a Wal-Mart lunchbox, a radar reflector, a parachute, and a giant, six-foot balloon? This unusual list of materials was collected and assembled into a device used to collect atmospheric data by three seniors at Northwest Yeshiva High School. Itai Amon, Shawn Sobel, and Shaina Stone set out to Moses Lake this past Sunday with their Astronomy teacher, Peter Brodkin, to collect evidence of the earth’s curvature as well as to study the relationship between humidity, temperature, and altitude. The balloon rose to 101,680 feet (about 20 miles), stretching to 30 feet in diameter at maximum altitude. Its temperature dropped from the initial 82 degrees on earth to a chilly -48 degrees in space, and the device was also able to record a humidity level of just 1 percent. The students tracked the balloon’s location using a GPS system attached to the apparatus. They recovered the balloon 112 miles away from the launch site in a cornfield among “seemingly endless wind turbines,” according to Mr. Brodkin, in Pullman, Wash., where it had traveled at a rapid 100 mph. Itai, Shawn, and Shaina greatly enjoyed this adventurous, hands-on learning experience and appreciate how it heightened their understanding of the classroom lessons.
The writer is a Northwest Yeshiva High School intern.
Courtesy Sacramento Kings
Dan Shapiro trains with former Sacramento King Ron Artest.
Leila Gray Shapiro entered the world last October 23. Because the Sacramento Kings’ NBA season was then beginning, her uncle Daniel, a coach on the team, couldn’t see little Leila for a while — so her Jewish baby-naming ceremony had to be delayed until last Sunday.
With the regular season long over and the woeful Kings again missing the playoffs, Shapiro would be back in Seattle to celebrate with his family.
Going forward, though, the Renton native’s work schedule promises to cause far less disruption. That’s because Shapiro has just left the NBA to become the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Washington Huskies men’s basketball team.
Shapiro, 35, very nearly moved home earlier this spring with the very same Kings, but the NBA blocked the franchise’s proposed sale and relocation to Seattle as the reincarnated SuperSonics.
In a telephone conversation this week, Shapiro said that “it was always a long-term goal [and] always a dream” for him to move back to Seattle, “but I didn’t know when” the opportunity would arrive.
The best he could do in recent years was to return every December 24 — the Kings usually had Christmas off — to partake in Latkepalooza, the Seattle Jewish community’s large singles event. That’s where the still-single Shapiro went to catch up with old friends; as a young man, he attended Hebrew school and Olympia’s Camp Solomon Schechter, played basketball for BBYO’s Eastside and Rainier chapters, and served as president of his United Synagogue Youth chapter.
Since taking his new job in late May, Shapiro has begun settling in. He found an apartment to rent in nearby Kirkland and plans to join the synagogue he was raised in, Herzl-Ner Tamid, on Mercer Island.
Shapiro spent eight years with the Kings. They reached the playoffs his first season there, but quickly sank to mediocrity and then irrelevance and haven’t returned to the postseason since.
Throughout his career, which began with Ohio’s University of Dayton in 2003, Shapiro said, he has not worked with another Jewish coach or player — with one notable exception. That occurred for two seasons, beginning in 2009, when forward Omri Casspi joined the Kings and became the first Israeli to reach the NBA. Casspi and Shapiro quickly became friends. They often shared meals in Sacramento and on the road, and celebrated Jewish holidays together. The two even lit Hanukkah candles in a room in the Kings’ arena following a 2009 game, joined by their mothers, who were visiting.
Casspi’s trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers two years ago curtailed their get-togethers. Shapiro and Casspi last saw one another in January, when the Kings and Cleveland played each other twice.
“I’m happy for him,” Casspi, reached Tuesday in Tel Aviv, said of Shapiro’s job with the Huskies. “He’s a class act, one of the nicest guys there was in the league — aside from his ability as a strength and conditioning coach.”
“We had some wonderful years in Sacramento,” Casspi said, likely referring to their friendship rather than the team’s play during their two seasons together that produced a 49-115 win-loss record. “The organization and players love him. He matured and grew up as a man there. Going to the University of Washington — I’m so happy for him.”
With the Kings, Shapiro helped players rehabilitate from various injuries, devised exercise and nutritional regimens to keep them in top physical shape and even helped them stretch their bodies before games. His job promises to be much the same at the UW, he said.
Huskies players so far seem impressed by Shapiro’s NBA pedigree, although the team’s head coach, Lorenzo Romar, actually played in the league. The players, Shapiro said, have asked how he enjoyed training such Kings players as Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.
In a June 6interview, Romar said Shapiro represents “the best of both worlds” through his NBA and college experience.
“I didn’t realize until I saw him [working with Huskies players] what a good teacher he was,” Romar said. Before he’d even begun supervising their weightlifting, Shapiro explained how specific exercises would activate various muscles — and how that would relate to basketball play, Romar said.
“He speaks the guys’ language while still holding their respect,” Romar said.
The challenge of helping young players to achieve their potential remains consistent in Shapiro’s new position.
“I’m training kids who are trying to get where I’ve been. I can help them work toward the same goal,” Shapiro said.
Huskies players already have “asked me certain questions: How high did this guy jump? How strong is that guy?” Shapiro said. “I’m excited about the new challenge: To get the most out of young athletes, to be a role model to some fine young men, to be an important character for teens in their development as winning athletes.”
Download a PDF of all of the Federation’s grants here.
If there’s one direction the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has gone with its agency allocations, it’s more deep and less wide.
“One of the focuses we had this year…was to grant in a more deep, impactful way than we did last year,” said Nancy Greer, the Federation’s interim CEO. “We were very thoughtful in that process, so you’ll see a number of agencies got everything they asked for in some areas.”
This is the Federation’s second community campaign under its new grant-based model in which it raises funds and allocates grants based upon individual projects in specific areas of impact instead of blanket allocations to cover operating costs. The community campaign ends June 30 and the Federation believes it will hit its goal, with current pledges having reached 96.7 percent as of June 3.
“Our target is to meet or exceed what we realized last year at $4.8 million,” said David Chivo, the Federation’s executive vice president.
Ken Weinberg, outgoing CEO of Jewish Family Service, expressed relief about his agency’s grants being roughly equivalent to what his agency received last year.
“Staying the same is the new up,” Weinberg said. “You just can’t complain about that. That is really doing very, very well.”
The Federation fully funded grants for JFS’s food bank and emergency services program, the Project DVORA domestic violence program, and the Seattle Association for Jews with Disabilities.
“I’m particularly pleased with the SAJD allocation,” Weinberg said. “Last year that caused a lot of pain, and I think that it’s clear that the folks at Federation really understood the need to support SAJD.”
SAJD went unfunded last year.
One JFS program partially funded by the Federation is a family volunteer program. The grant will “identify more clearly and create more family volunteering activities,” said Jane Deer-Hileman, director of JFS’s volunteer services. That includes creating program materials such as an online calendar and family volunteering toolkit, expanding the types of programs offered across the lifecycle spectrum such as a recent seedling-planting program to grow produce for the food bank, and to help fund an AmeriCorps VISTA member.
Some grant requests that resonated with the planning committees this year involve intergenerational activities: The second-generation program from the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center brings together children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors to meet and talk about their families’ experiences.
“This is a unique community and we’ve held one event, which was very successful, standing-room only,” said Dee Simon, executive director of the Holocaust Center. “There was a great deal of interest to continue the program, so we are working to create new activities that interest this unique group of people.”
A second Holocaust Center grant will help expand Yom HaShoah programming. The organization will receive $27,500, compared to $5,000 for 2013.
The Stroum Jewish Community Center received a grant for a similar request to launch an intergenerational program this fall.
“The goal is to integrate grandparents — not only of children in our school, but grandparents in general — into the early childhood [program] so that there’s learning going on and volunteering going on between generations,” said Judy Neuman, the JCC’s CEO.
A $60,000 grant for holiday programming is a 25 percent increase over last year’s. That grant expanded the JCC’s offerings, including an Israel at 65 event that Neuman said drew more than 500 people, and a Hanukkah event at Northgate Mall. She hopes to be able to do more such off-site programming in the coming year.
“To take some of these programs out and travel with them, as you scale them it costs considerably more money to pull them off,” Neuman said.
That’s why she’s unhappy that this grant, and the other four the JCC received for a total of $169,460, were only partially funded. Three requests did not receive any funding.
“This funding cycle marks the second consecutive year that funding has been significantly reduced,” Neuman said. “During those two years ‘J’ programs and services have grown significantly. We’re definitely meeting the needs of more community members.”
Having lost 50 percent of its funding dollars over that period, Neuman wondered if the Federation’s new funding process should take a more holistic approach.
“Looking at these program grants by their impact areas may be somewhat in isolation. It seems that it’s made it very difficult for people to walk away and understand how each individual grant connects and fits into the total JCC story,” she said.
But the Federation’s Greer said that is the part of the process.
“From our perspective, it’s really what we’re doing for the community as a whole, how we address specific needs,” she said.
Greer added that while the Federation values all of the agencies it supports and their programs, other grants in the same areas were judged to have a more significant impact on the community overall.
Of 133 grant requests to the Federation, 48 were funded at least in part, as were three special-purpose funds: For research, contingencies, and for emergency capital needs. JTNews, which received $22,700 last year for community-wide paper distribution, did not get funded. The Federation has provided financial assistance to its operations, however. Some organizations not on this year’s list, including Chabad at the University of Washington and Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Bremerton, received funding from separate Small Agency Sustainability grants or Small & Simple grants for $5,000 or less.
Between the funding for Jewish Family Service’s SAJD and the Friendship Circle, which runs several programs for special-needs children and their families, the planning and allocations committee saw a specific necessity to help people with disabilities.
Friendship Circle received grants totaling $64,000 to expand three projects: A summer camp, the monthly Sunday Circle, and its flagship Friends@Home program, in which teen volunteers hang out with special-needs kids in their homes.
“This is a very powerful program because a lot of times with these kids, this is their only social interaction. A lot of times these kids cannot easily go out into public,” said Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, the Friendship Circle’s executive director, of Friends@Home. “At the same time it provides tremendous respite and comfort to the families.”
That “the Federation is allowing an organization such as [ours] to really take it to another level is very, very powerful, and that’s something that the community at large can be proud of,” Bogomilsky added.
The Federation’s Chivo agreed.
“The importance of serving families who have children who have special needs in our Jewish community cannot be overstated,” he said. “It is an area in which our total community should be investing more… As you set the table for the whole Jewish community to sit around, if there is not a place for the family who has a child, who has children with special needs, then we’re not really a total community.”
The Federation also saw a need for programming in Seattle’s Northend. The Seattle Jewish Community School received $50,000 in grants that focused heavily on early-childhood development as well as for the emerging Jewish Junction, which seeks to provide a bevy of resources and services for families north of the Ship Canal.
Mazel tov to all of the graduates of 2013!
The 8th-grade graduating class of the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle. (Photo Courtesy JDS.)
The graduating class from the Jewish High supplementary community school. (Photo courtesy Jewish High.)
The Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder 8th-grade boys’ graduating class. (Photo by Nina Krasnow.)
The Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder 8th-grade girls’ graduating class. (Photo by Nina Krasnow.)
The Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder girls’ high school graduating class. (Photo by Nina Krasnow.)
Northwest Yeshiva High School’s class of 2013.
From left to right, front row: Rena Greene, Grace Almo, Ilana Polack, Talia Etsekson, Halle Friedland.
Second row: Sarah Boldor, Hermina Des, Shaina Stone, Naomi Stanley, Jessica Schwartz, Marissa Almoslino.
Standing: Dolev Nissanov, Itai Amon, Albert Maimon, Alex Satin, Garrett Becker, Shawn Sobel, Zev Behar, Joel Jacobs, Caleb Angel, Raymond Levy.
Not pictured: David Kintzer. (Photo courtesy NYHS.)
The 8th-grade graduating class of the Seattle Hebrew Academy. (Photo courtesy SHA.)
Seattle Jewish Community School’s 5th-grade graduating class.
Top Row: Ethan, Zachary, Joshua, Avishai.
Bottom Row: Alexis, Ava, Talia, Siena, Talia, Heather. (Photo courtesy SJCS.)
Temple B’nai Torah’s confirmands, top row, from left to right: Rabbi Jim Mirel, Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, Aliza Ben-Varon, Anna Good, Seth Hubbell, Emily Kaplan, Naomi Litwack-Lang.
Bottom row: Cantor David Serkin-Poole, Josie Mermelstein, Carly Rosenbaum, Lily Rosencrantz, Cayla Seligman. (Photo courtesy Temple B’nai Torah.)
Temple B’nai Torah’s graduating Chai School seniors: Daniel Kaplan, left, and Raphael Schuster.
Not pictured: Rachel Kahn. (Photo courtesy Temple B’nai Torah.)
Temple Beth Am’s 10th-grade Covenant Renewal class.
Back row, from left to right: Leah Neumaier, Isabel Mintz. Schuffman, Katya Grigerman, Robert Singer, Eli D’Albora, Levi Moore.
2nd row: Liora Silkes, Hannah Fishbein, Mikaela Koch, Sarah Freyd, Aaron Glickman, Adele Maxwell.
3rd row: Rabbi Jonathan Singer, Rose Soiffer-Kosins, Evelyn Larsen, Adi Carlyle, Abigail Merritt, Noah Simon, Moshea Cox.
4th row: Julia Morley, Molly Bermet, Zac Turner-Lipson, Emma Graham, Noah Santiago, Rabbi Beth Singer.
Front row: Sarah Rost, Eleanor Patz, Madeline McAllister
Not pictured: Michelle Goldman. (Photo by Leo V. Santiago Photography)