JUF News Express
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In this Issue:

• JUF, Jewish world leaders provide help in Ukraine

• Presbyterian document draws Jewish, Christian backlash

• 'Jewish Learning Never Stops' airs Sunday morning

• Symposium looks at disability law through a Jewish lens

• Birthright Israel summer registration now open

• Concert to pay tribute to late Israeli rock legend

• One final chance for a career-making Israel experience

• From JUFNews.org and around the web

 

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JUF, Jewish world leaders provide help in Ukraine

As violent demonstrations continue throughout Ukraine and uncertainty looms over the current agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, Jewish organizations are closely monitoring the situation in the world's fifth largest Jewish community and providing help where it is currently needed.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a major overseas beneficiary of JUF, has already taken action, having home care specialists stay with the elderly overnight to provide services in the safety of their homes. And given the shortages in supermarkets, suspension of metro service and the growing fear of going out in public, JDC has deployed emergency mobile units to deliver food, medicine, heating and cooking fuel, as well as other critical supplies.

"JUF and the international system we fund are able to do all this work because of what our donors make possible,"; said JUF 2014 Annual Campaign Chairman Lee Miller. "Our infrastructure is in place, on the ground, doing what we expect them to do: protecting and caring for at-risk Jews. Connected closely as we are to development in Ukraine, already earlier this month, as the first stirrings of unrest emerged, our Kyiv Kehillah Subcommittee made a $10,000 allocation to address the security needs of Jewish institutions in Kiev. We of course will do whatever else may become necessary."

JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council also met with Ukraine's Consul General Andriy Pravednyk, who provided reassurance that the government would work with local Jewish leaders to provide protection to institutions and investigate recent acts of violence committed against Jews in Kiev.

Recently, Jewish Federations of North America hosted a teleconference featuring a number of experts on the situation: Mark Levin, executive director of the National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia; Roman Polonsky, director of the Russian-speaking department of the JAFI; Ofer Glanz, director of the Former Soviet Union department at the JDC; and Zvika Klein, head of the international and Jewish Diaspora news desk for Maariv. Listen to the teleconference.

For more information, visit the NCSJ website.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons (via JNS.org)

Presbyterian document draws Jewish, Christian backlash

Last month, the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of Presbyterian Church (USA) released “Zionism Unsettled,” a congregational study guide and DVD that points to Zionism as the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A wide range of Jewish organizations are criticizing the IPMN literature, including American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League, whose statement says that it “may be the most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory” and demands PC(USA) repudiate the material.

Christians and interfaith experts also have voiced their rejection of “Zionism Unsettled.” The Rev. Christopher Leighton, Presbyterian minister and leader of the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies in Baltimore, wrote an open letter to PC(USA) calling the document “a dishonest screed that attributes the plight of the Palestinians to a single cause: Zionism.”

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace also issued a statement saying “the materials contain inflammatory statements and depictions that are misleading and in some cases flagrantly untrue,” and commended Leighton’s letter.

In a document circulated to ADL chapters and other Jewish organizations, Chicago Rabbi David Sandmel, ADL’s recently appointed director of interfaith relations, writes that “Zionism Unsettled” is part of a strategy that includes several boycott, divestment and sanctions resolutions that are expected to be brought to the next PC(USA) General Assembly in Detroit this coming June.

“We [ADL] recommend reaching out to Presbyterian friends, making them aware of ‘Zionism Unsettled,’ and encouraging them to write, preach, and advocate within their local presbyteries about it.” 

Read Leighton’s open letter to PC(USA) for a his analysis of “Zionism Unsettled.”

Photo from The Times of Israel

'Jewish Learning Never Stops' airs Sunday morning

Sunday, the public-affairs program "Sanctuary" explores the rich world of Jewish learning for adults, a world that can immerse students in the centuries-old wisdom of the sages and transform how they view their own lives today.

The show will air at 11 a.m. on ABC7-Channel 7.

From rabbinic scholars to neophytes with little Jewish background and no knowledge of Hebrew, there are study opportunities for just about everyone, regardless of age, observance or denomination.

“Jewish Learning Never Stops” features the Florence Melton School for Adult Jewish Learning; Svara: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva; Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel; and the collection of programs offered by JCC Chicago. Rabbi Michael Balinsky of the Chicago Board of Rabbis serves as guide, and the episode is hosted by Cindy Sher.

Following the broadcast, the program will be available for viewing online at www.juf.org/interactive.

Symposium looks at disability law through a Jewish lens

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership will present “Disability and the Law: A Jewish Perspective” at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at Spertus, 610 S. Michigan Ave. The symposium will focus on how issues of disability are interpreted through Jewish law, Israeli law and U.S. law.

The panel will include Deborah Pergament of Children’s Law Group, LLC, and professor at DePaul University College of Law and Case Western Reserve; and Rabbi Gideon Sapir, faculty at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Spertus’ 2014 Ezra-Sensibar Visiting Professor.

Pergament will discuss the legal rights of people with disabilities in America and how the Jewish community treats these issues, while Sapir will address the same from an Israeli and Jewish law perspective. The discussion will be moderated by JUF’s Associate Vice President for Government and Community Partnerships Suzanne Strassberger.

Tickets are $18 for the public, $10 for Spertus members and $8 for students and Spertus alumni, and can be purchased online.

Birthright Israel summer registration now open

Registration for Taglit-Birthright Israel summer trips is now open. Birthright Israel is a free, 10-day peer trip to Israel open to Jewish adults ages 18 to 26 who have not been to Israel on a peer trip since turning 18.

JUF offers Chicago community trips through organizer Shorashim in which participants are accompanied by Israeli peers. Together, Chicagoans and Israelis explore the beauty, excitement, complexities and people of Israel. Register through Shorashim.

For college students at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, JUF partners with Hillel International. Register through Hillel.

Trips fill quickly, so register as soon as possible. And while you're waiting to hear back, read Oy!Chicago's 18 Things You Inevitably Do on Birthright Israel.

Concert to pay tribute to late Israeli rock legend

Israeli House and City Winery will present a concert in memory of Israeli music legend Arik Einstein, who died in November. “Ani Ve’Ata – Sharim Arik Einstein” will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.

New York-based musician Moshe Bonen and friends will lead the event, which will include both songs and stories of Einstein and be conducted in Hebrew. Tickets are available now through City Winery.

To get a taste of the evening, check out this clip from the New York City tribute concert held in December.

One final chance for a career-making Israel experience

Illinois college students have the rest of this weekend to apply for the summer internship experience of a lifetime. Onward Israel is an 8-week program designed to develop their professional future and build their resume through a high-level internship, working side by side with Israeli peers.

This Tel Aviv-based program offers placements based on skills, interests and future plans. Participants intern four days a week, and spend another day learning about and experiencing contemporary Israeli society.

The admission deadline has been extended until this Monday, Feb. 24. Costs, details and more are at the Chicago Onward Israel website, or email the Israel Education Center at iec@juf.org.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

Reuters is reporting that at least two major U.S. companies, Boeing and GE, are seeking licenses to sell jet parts to Iran during the six-month easing of sanctions that was agreed to as part of the nuclear weapons talks.

In a recent interview with an Israel news network, Secretary of State John Kerry shared how discovering 10 years ago that he had Jewish grandparents  shaped his perspective on Israel.

Partners in the Tamar natural gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast have agreed to sell $500 million of gas to two Jordanian companies over 15 years. It is the first deal between an Israeli gas company and partners outside of Israel.

At least 265 Anne Frank books have been vandalized in 31 municipal Tokyo libraries since the end of January. The motive is unclear; police are investigating.

Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were exiled during the Inquisition would be able to gain Spanish citizenship through a bill announced in Spain earlier this month. The move has spurred Portugal to do the same.

Jan Koum, founder and CEO of WhatsApp, the messaging company Facebook purchased for $19 billion on Wednesday, is a Jewish immigrant who grew up in communist-controlled Ukraine. That experience influenced WhatsApp’s policy of not collecting personal information. The app has become increasingly popular among Hasidic Jews.

In Sochi this week, ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis became the first American pair to win Olympic ice dancing gold. White is not Jewish, despite earlier reports, but he does have several Jewish family members. And today, 18-year-old U.S, skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who also has Jewish family members, won the women's slalom event.

Young families can make a difference in literacy through PJ Reads, a hands-on volunteer event from 4-5:30 p.m. this Sunday at Solomon Schechter Day School, 3210 Dundee Road, Northbrook. Children will help sort books and make cards to donate to Bernie’s Book Bank, and also participate in The Dot and Susan Show, an interactive storytelling session about promoting literacy.

And in the latest JUF News blog posts:

Every time Anita Silvert watches the Olympics, she always asks herself the same thing: "Are they insane?"

Can a leader ever truly be just a "normal, regular person"? Jewish leadership expert Hal M. Lewis of Spertus weighs in.

Most of us are aware of what we need to do to be healthy, but Deb Weiner of Keshet Chicago explains why this is a challenge for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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