JUF News Express
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In this Issue:

• Upcoming Israfest will benefit Israel Children's Zone

• Young adults help 'Feed Chicago'

• 19th Annual Bernardin Lecture discusses the legacy of Vatican II

• Illinois Reps participate in National Hunger Seder

• Congress moves to block Iran diplomat

• Rep. Brad Schneider introduces Hezbollah sanctions bill

• Diller Teen Fellows and Write On for Israel deadlines approaching

• From JUFNews.org and around the web

 

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Upcoming Israfest will benefit Israel Children's Zone

Celebrate Israel here – and help make a difference there.

Israfest, a month-long celebration of Israel’s culture, music and 66th anniversary beginning May 6, will benefit the Israel Children’s Zone, a JUF initiative working to transform the educational system in our partner region of Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir.

In partnership with a variety of Israeli agencies and organizations, JUF is coordi­nating and enhancing programs for 8,500 at-risk students from first to sixth grade. The initiative will work to provide longer school days, hot lunches, study centers and more, as well as give each child sufficient individual attention and help toward achieving his or her goals.

“Israel Children’s Zone is about changing the connection between teachers and principals, their students, and most important, the family -- the home, the parents,” said Dan Harkabi, Israeli Chair of JUF’s Partnership Together committee. “This is a major shift, to look at kids, and each kid, as a whole world. It’s not just changing one school; it’s changing the whole area.”

Help JUF make an impact on these children, their families and their community. Support Israel Children’s Zone today or call (312) 444-2905. Those who raise $100 or more will receive a $100 JUF Israel Experience Voucher or JUF Mission Voucher. (Limit one voucher per person per year.)

Young adults help 'Feed Chicago'

Some 100 young Jewish adults volunteered on April 6 for “Feed Chicago,” a citywide day of service providing food assistance to people in need of all faiths, hosted by JUF’s Young Leadership Division and TOV Volunteer Network.

“Feed Chicago” served as the culminating event of JUF’s Hunger Awareness Project, a year-long initiative to raise awareness and mobilize volunteers in the area of hunger and food insecurity.

“On Passover, we say ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat,” said Ellen Hattenbach, Chair of the Hunger Awareness Project. “Feed Chicago was a truly meaningful opportunity for young adults in our community to live that beautiful Jewish value as we prepare for the holiday.”

From stocking food pantries and delivering groceries to cooking and serving meals for people in need, the volunteers all made a significant impact at the 12 service sites.

“My friends and I had a valuable experience donating to, organizing, and cleaning Connections for the Homeless in Evanston,” said volunteer Sam Berry. “It was truly rewarding to see the positive impact that we had on the shelter through our work on Sunday afternoon."

Photo: Sam Berry (center) and fellow volunteers help clean and organize the food pantry at Connections for the Homeless.

19th Annual Bernardin Lecture discusses the legacy of Vatican II

Drawing over 200 community members and religious leaders representing the Catholic and Jewish communities in Chicago, the 19th Annual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Jerusalem Lecture took place March 31 at Temple Sholom in Lakeview. 

Sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation and the Archdiocese of Chicago, the yearly event honors the legacy and memory of the late Cardinal Bernardin, whose efforts to encourage public dialogue with the Jewish community opened new horizons for scholarship and interreligious dialogue.

Francis Cardinal George gave welcome remarks, followed by guest lecturer the Rev. John W. Crossin, executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking on “What Changed at Vatican II: Past, Present and Future Perspectives on Catholic-Jewish Relations.” Watch the lecture here.

Next year’s lecture will take place on March 9, 2015, and feature guest lecturer Rabbi David Sandmel, rabbi-educator at Temple Sholom and soon-to-be Director of Interfaith Relations for the Anti-Defamation League.

Photo: Rev. John W. Crossin.

Illinois Reps participate in National Hunger Seder

Last week, JUF hosted a community “Hunger Seder” to focus on those who face food insecurity, part of the year-long JUF Hunger Awareness Project. On Wednesday, members of Congress, the administration and advocacy groups participated in the National Hunger Seder in the Capitol, an event that raises awareness among elected and appointed officials about hunger in our communities. 

This year, the Seder focused specifically on seniors who struggle silently with hunger.  For example, the Four Questions in the Haggadah provided important background on senior hunger programs, statistics and challenges for seniors facing food insecurity.      

Illinois Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider participated, along with Amy York, director of JUF’s Washington office.

Congress moves to block Iran diplomat

The House passed legislation yesterday that would prohibit known terrorists from obtaining visas to enter the United States as ambassadors to the United Nations.

The bill, S. 2195, came in response to Iran’s appointment of Hamid Aboutalebi as its new ambassador to the U.N. Congress reacted swiftly to the announcement because of Aboutalebi’s involvement with the group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 54 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Both chambers of Congress unanimously passed the Senate legislation, which was introduced and cosponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Peter Roskam 10 days prior.

Today, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that the U.S. will not issue a visa and that "[they] concur with Congress and share the intent of the bill."

Barring a proposed envoy to the United Nations is rare and could be a precedent-setting move that would test U.S. influence over the world body. The passage of the bill does not appear to have affected current nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Rep. Brad Schneider introduces Hezbollah sanctions bill

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider introduced HR 4411 - The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which aims to toughen economic sanctions against Hezbollah.

The bill “broadens financial sector sanctions against Hezbollah; forces other critical designations regarding that terrorist organization; and targets their media appendage al-Manar.” It also states “it is the policy of the U.S. to prevent Hezbollah’s global logistics and financial network from operating in order to curtail its domestic and international activities.”

The bill also would expand the capabilities of the FBI and other law enforcement to go after Hezbollah’s fundraising and international financing regime. Currently, there are 23 cosponsors of the bill, including Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Diller Teen Fellows and Write On for Israel deadlines approaching

Two JUF teen programs will only be accepting applications for a few more days.

Diller Teen Fellows is a 15-month fellowship that focuses on leadership, Jewish identity, tikkun olam and Israel through monthly workshops, weekend retreats, a 10-day peer exchange with Diller Fellows from JUF’s Partnership Together region in Israel, and a three-week Israel Summer Seminar with over 400 other Diller Fellows from North America and Israel. The program is open to students who will be high school sophomores and juniors in the fall of 2014. Applications are due by Monday, April 14. Watch the video to get a taste of the program and apply here

Write On for Israel, Chicago's leading Israel education and advocacy training program for high school students, is accepting applications for its new cohort of Fellows. The program, open to students who will be juniors in the fall of 2014, combines study, skills-building workshops and high-level, hands-on, behind-the-scenes trips to Israel and Washington, D.C., to prepare the next generation of pro-Israel students and community leaders. 

Applications are due next Thursday, April 17, and suitable candidates will be invited for a personal interview soon thereafter. Go here for more information and to apply.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Iran’s “break-out time” – or how long it would take for Iran to produce fissile material for one nuclear weapon – is about two months.

Ron Pundak, a peace architect who in the ‘90s helped achieve the signing of the Oslo Accords, died today at age 59 after a battle with cancer.

With continued uncertainty in Ukraine, Aliyah to Israel and interest in Aliyah is rising. The Jewish Agency for Israel reports 375 new immigrants came from Ukraine to Israel in January through March, an increase of 70 percent compared to the same period last year.

Aliyah from France also is on the rise in early 2014, due to increased anti-Semitism. In January and February, 854 French olim arrived in Israel, a 312-percent increase from the same period last year.

Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, largely considered to be anti-Semitic, finished third in Monday’s elections, increasing its total seats in parliament from just over 15 percent to more than 20 percent.

Who is caring for the caregivers in Ukraine? Alan H. Gill of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee writes that those working for JDC on the ground also have their own needs, challenges and uncertainties.

Passover Seders in Nepal were threatened when the Israeli Foreign Ministry strike, which ended last week, stalled a large shipment of Passover supplies to Kathmandu. But thanks to word of mouth and social media, tourists have been filling their bags with matzo and Haggadahs in the event the supplies don’t arrive on time.

Those looking for a totally different, pop-culture take on Passover this year can check out a new interactive Haggadah from JDate.

Stephanie Goldfarb, a JUF senior associate of teen initiatives, will put her cooking skills to the test starting this weekend on the new Food Network show America’s Best Cook, a competitive reality series hosted by Ted Allen. The show premieres Sunday at 8 p.m.

EZRA Multi-Service Center, which houses JUF’s Uptown Cafe, has a new website including program information, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

And in the latest JUF News blog posts:

On Passover we return to the telling of our communal story, so Aaron Cohen returned to his journal and found a poignant reflection from Passover 2004.

Christine was finally able to go out into her yard, unearth her perennials and prepare her garden for a much-needed reunion with spring.

Cindy Sher writes a touching list of reasons she loves her mom, Judy, in honor of her birthday.

April is Autism Awarness Month. Deb Weiner of Keshet Chicago shares a remarkable New York Times article about a man who was able to better communicate with his autistic son through Disney movies.

Moving a parent from their longtime residence is not just a physical challenge, but also an emotional one. Your Eldercare Consultants have tips for managing the move.

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