The Importance of the AIPAC Experience for Students

Written by Meshulam Ungar on . Posted in Features

Sorry, I just have to say it: lobbying Congress is better than going to school.

Last week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had its annual Policy Conference, where approximately 18,000 pro-Israel activists heard from both American and Israeli political leaders.

In Memoriam: Rabbi Amnon Haramati, Hero of the Modern-Day Exodus Story

Written by Sarah N. Stern on . Posted in Features

In these weeks when we transition from Purim to Passover, we transition from a narrative that takes place during the time when we were a people which had been cast out of our homeland, to that of our own national liberation movement. The story of Purim takes place in ancient Persia, during a period when we lacked direct prophecy from G-d. Part of the megillah is read in a mournful voice during verses meant to remind us of our expulsion from Israel and the loss of our national sovereignty. In the Talmud, it is written that “of all the religious texts, the ones of greatest importance are the Five Books of Moses and the Book of Esther.”

10 Years Later: Returning to My Old ‘Shtelar’ in Oradea, Romania

Written by Yitz Szyf on . Posted in Features

Those who know me may have heard me joke that I was once the Chief Rabbi of Transylvania (everyone was stunned to hear that Dracula needed a rabbi!). The truth is that it’s not a joke at all. Exactly 10 years ago, as part of a joint program between Yeshiva University (YU) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), I completed my official shimush (internship) for YU’s rabbinical program in Oradea, Romania. At the time, I was not just the Rabbi of Oradea, but the only rabbi in all of Transylvania.

Alternative Paths to Jewish Education

Written by Natasha Nadel on . Posted in Features

Jewish parents may choose to send their child to a secular school, whether public or private, for any number of reasons. The cost of private school is high; transportation can pose challenges; perhaps their child is gifted, has a special need, or even both. Non-Orthodox American Jews have a long history of sending their children to Sunday school and Hebrew school, generally until their bar or bat mitzvah, but sometimes beyond. For Orthodox parents who choose to send their children to any school other than a full-time Jewish day school, there is pressure to ensure that their children still receive a Jewish education.

Proudly Jewish and Zionist, at AIPAC I Am Not Alone

Written by Rena Wolinsky on . Posted in Features

For me, going to American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference (AIPAC) meant taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity: an opportunity to learn and be challenged, and an opportunity to feel accepted by the Zionist community.

My favorite session of the first day was Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campus Perspectives. The panel was made up of the StandWithUs President Roz Rothstein — an AIPAC campus fellow who has fought against a strong BDS community at the University of Michigan — and a staff member from Hillel International. Hearing them speak about how they have tirelessly fought against BDS and are having success gave me hope and ideas that I could apply when I go to college. They give me the courage to stand up for what I believe in, knowing I have a strong community to support me in my Israel advocacy. It was especially nice to see that protesters were properly handled so that conversations could still happen and everyone felt safe.

Israel Engagement Fellowship: Equipping Teens With the Knowledge and Skills They Need Today

Written by Meirav Steinlauf on . Posted in Features

I go to a rather large public school with only a small number of Jewish students, so often I am the only Jew in a room. I love being able to educate my peers about stuff I’ve grown up learning. Unfortunately, there was one aspect of being a modern-day Jew that I had trouble answering questions about.

It’s hard to be a Jew today without hearing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so being the only Jew in a room full of curious, educated non-Jews, I heard lots of questions about it. The problem was that I only knew the very, very basics.

Will These Posts Rise?

Written by Rabbi Jonathan Gross on . Posted in Features

“Live long enough to live forever.” That is the mantra of inventor, futurist, and thought leader Ray Kurzweil. Born in 1949, Kurzweil believes that humanity is on the brink of curing the disease known as “death,” and that people of his generation and younger will achieve immortality through technology.

Kurzweil and others are collecting data about themselves so that by the time their physical bodies are ready to expire, they will be able to download their personalities, their essence, onto a computer, and through the computer program they will live on past their death.

On Eagle’s Wings: A Very Special Seder in Korea 1953

Written by Deborah Scheinberg on . Posted in Features

On Sunday morning, March 26, before Rabbi Yehoshua Singer’s class on Pesach, I met with Stanley Schwartz at Am Hatorah in Bethesda to discuss some pictures he wanted to show me. The amazing pictures that Stan carefully removed from a very old discolored envelope were of a seder he attended in Munsan, Korea in 1953 as a 21-year-old marine from Brooklyn, New York. The pictures were a remarkable historical reminder for Stan of the “most memorable seder” he had ever attended.

Building Bridges: Israel’s ‘Project Community’ Sends Delegation to DC

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Features

On the trip, Israeli public figures learned about American Jewish perspectives on Israel, Jewish identity, and other important issues.

Twenty Israeli leaders — including eight mayors, top Israeli TV and radio journalists, heads of nongovernmental organizations, and a former Olympic athlete — recently came to Greater Washington to familiarize themselves with American Jewry and learn how Israel can best relate to Jews abroad.

Running for a Cause

Written by Ellie Guberman on . Posted in Features

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to run with a team of Berman Hebrew Academy students in the Jerusalem Marathon in support of the Shalva organization. Our team included sophomores Shlomit Bernstein, Aliza Goldschlag, Ruthie Vogel, and Eliana Werbel and freshman Judah Guggenheim.

“Shalva is an incredible organization that truly cares for children with special needs, making sure they are fully included in society,” said Guggenheim. “They develop close relationships with the children and their families, allowing them to live their lives feeling happy and at home.”

A Pomegranate Grows in Fairfax

Written by Rachel Kohn on . Posted in Features

When you are starting a newspaper, you can count yourself lucky if people pitch lots of stories for you to cover. Some of them are obvious choices, while others come from out of left field, but you have to keep an open mind. When Kol HaBirah’s publisher, Hillel Goldschein, asks me if I can head out to Fairfax, Virginia, to talk to realtor Dorit Paz about her pomegranate trees, I am a little skeptical there is a story to tell — and so is Dorit.