JUF News Express
Friday, May 16, 2014Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• Ukraine: "There is deep uncertainty"

• Keep celebrating Israel with more events this week

• Following Chicago visit, U.S. National Guard, IDF hold joint exercise in Israel

• Young leaders visit Jewish minority communities on mission to Baku and Istanbul

• Nominate someone for Chicago's Jewish 36 under 36 list

• Watch 'ELI Talks: Chicago' online

• JUF teen mentor reaches 'America's Best Cook' finale

• From JUFNews.org and around the web


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Ukraine: "There is deep uncertainty"

Just days after returning from his latest trip to Ukraine, Roman Polonsky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Russian Speaking Jewry unit, briefed JUF lay leaders this morning on what is going on there and how it is affecting the Jewish community. The situation, and reactions to it, vary noticeably from one region to another, he said, and from young to old.

In Kiev, Polonsky found an optimistic younger generation and older generations embittered by anti-Semitism among schoolchildren and in the workplace. All are afraid of war.

“People are afraid of the possibility of war with Russia, of anarchy, of an unruly crowd that can be turned against the Jews on a dime: ‘Here are the ones to blame!’” he writes.

Aliyah numbers are up 50 percent compared to last year in Kiev, he notes – nothing compared to Odessa (315 percent), the Dnepropetrovsk regions (266 percent) and the Kharkov region (200 percent).

In Odessa, 70 kilometers from where Polonsky was born, people are living rumor to rumor, he says, and the fear is “in the air, palpable.” He had discussions with Jews in Odessa who relayed stories of synagogue fire-bombings, the desecration of a Holocaust memorial, anti-Semitic graffiti and more.

“Society is now divided, split into opposing groups,” he writes. “Neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, son against father. The front line here runs in families. And Jews – Jews in trouble either way.”

For weekly updates on the situation in Ukraine, visit the NCSJ website, or read about the latest efforts of the JDC, JUF’s partner agency in Ukraine, to meet Ukrainians' growing needs.

Photo: Members of Odessa’s Jewish community learn about aliyah opportunities. (Photo by Roman Polonsky)

Keep celebrating Israel with more events this week

Chicago’s celebration of Israel continues.

This weekend, join JUF and the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest for the final act of the Israeli Jazz & World Music Festival, featuring renowned clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen, who plays three sets each at 9 p.m. tonight and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Then, on Wednesday, hear from Israel’s Channel 2 TV News senior correspondent in the U.S., Aharon Barnea, who will present a lecture in Hebrew entitled "The News and Other Stories" at 7:30 p.m. at Mayer Kaplan JCC, 5050 W. Church St., Skokie. Register online. A $10 tax-deductible donation to Israel Children’s Zone is required.

Israel Children’s Zone is a JUF initiative working to transform the educational system in our partner region of Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir. Support Israel Children’s Zone today.

Following Chicago visit, U.S. National Guard, IDF hold joint exercise in Israel

Hundreds of U.S. National Guardsmen and the Israel Defense Forces participated in a joint exercise in Israel on Tuesday. They were conducting an exercise designed to share information and prepare for humanitarian missions around the world.

The exercise was based on a scenario of a massive earthquake bringing down numerous buildings with multiple people trapped under the rubble – some wounded and some dead. The National Guard and IDF soldiers practiced entering the destroyed buildings and searching for survivors using technology and specially trained dogs from the IDF’s K-9 unit. Ambulances were called to the scene, as was a ZAKA rescue team to assist in the recovery of casualties.

The U.S. and Israel are constantly deepening the level of their military cooperation at an unprecedented level. This exercise comes on the heels of a visit from Israel’s Home Front Command to Chicago in March to tour the training facilities of the Illinois National Guard and lay out plans for future collaboration. That evening, they and other local security agency professionals were hosted for dinner at JUF headquarters.  Colonel Alicia Tate-Nadeau of the llinois National Guard, leads the U.S. National Guard Bureau in Tel Aviv.

Photo: Israeli soldiers (yellow hard hats) and American soldiers (red hard hats) carry a stretcher with a “wounded” survivor during Tuesday’s emergency response exercise.

Young leaders visit Jewish minority communities on mission to Baku and Istanbul

Several young Jewish leaders throughout the country recently traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan, and Istanbul, Turkey, to visit Jewish communities there, as part of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Young Leadership Cabinet study mission.

JUF volunteer Michael Teplitsky was among 75 young adults to take the trip and visit with these small Jewish communities, experiencing firsthand the work JUF accomplishes through its partner agencies, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“Jewish communities in the United States should care about these countries because they neighbor Iran, they are important allies of the U.S., and they are home to Jewish minority populations of approximately 20,000 within almost entirely Muslim populations,” Teplitsky wrote in a piece for JUF News.

Photo: JUF volunteer Michael Teplitsky (right) visits a Jewish man with respiratory problems in Baku through JDC’s Hesed Gershon welfare center.

Nominate someone for Chicago's Jewish 36 under 36 list

JUF’s Young Leadership Division and Oy!Chicago are looking to honor the movers and shakers of the up-and-coming generation. Nominate an extraordinary Jew you know to be part of “Double Chai in the Chi,” Chicago’s annual Jewish 36 under 36 list.  

“Double Chai in the Chi” shines a spotlight on those who make a difference through their work, who give back in their free time, who innovate and inspire, who are leaders in their communities and the Jewish community, or are simply Jews we should know. See last year's list of 36.

To nominate someone, fill out the online nomination form before May 27. You will receive an email confirming your nomination. The 36 honorees will be announced and profiled on Oy!Chicago on July 15 and recognized at YLD’s WYLD party on Aug. 7. To be the first to know, like Oy!Chicago and YLD on Facebook.

Watch 'ELI Talks: Chicago' online

Videos of some of the JUF News-sponsored ELI Talks – compelling live presentations that explore Jewish ideas about engagement, literacy and identity – now are available for viewing online. Watch talks from Spertus Institute CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis (“It Ain’t the Heat, It’s the Humility”), Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (“Divine Love: How Parents Can Help Us Rethink Judaism”), and Aliza Kline (“Why Ask Why?”).  The talks were taped in front of a live audience in Chicago on March 27.

Yesterday, Kline, co-founder of Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikvah, along with her fellow co-founder and renowned Jewish author Anita Diamant, followed up Kline’s talk with a live web discussion about curiosity and Judaism, moderated by JUF’s Linda Haase.

JUF teen mentor reaches 'America's Best Cook' finale

Stephanie Goldfarb is just one hour away from potentially being named the best home cook in the country. The senior associate of JUF’s teen initiatives is a contestant on Food Network’s “America’s Best Cook,” a new reality series that premiered last month that pits home cooks against each other under the guidance of famous chef mentors.

In the first episode, Goldfarb, 29, who lives in Edgewater, was selected by Iron Chef Michael Symon to represent “Team North,” impressing him with steak – and latkes. And ever since facing elimination in the second episode, Goldfarb has cruised through the last few challenges, despite at one point arguing with Symon over how to cook eggs for the classic Israeli breakfast food shakshuka.

Find out if Goldfarb is America’s best cook on Sunday at 8 p.m. on the Food Network.

From JUFNews.org and around the web

A report from the Anti-Defamation League made waves this week when it revealed that approximately a quarter of adults worldwide harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. The ADL Global 100 based its findings on respondents who answered “probably true” to a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes presented in the survey. The most commonly accepted stereotype (41 percent of respondents) was that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison this week after being convicted in March of taking bribes for the construction of the Holyland housing project in Jerusalem.

American-Jordanian Mohammed Abu Nakhla, who fled the U.S. nearly 10 years ago before being sentenced to 24 years in prison for opening fire on motorists in Chicago, was apprehended by Israeli police in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

A Palestinian woman who recently lived in Illinois is expected to plead guilty in federal court next week to a charge that she withheld information about her prior conviction in Israel when she applied for residence and citizenship in the United States. The conviction stemmed from her involvement in the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem. Rasmieh Odeh was indicted on the U.S. charge in October. She previously worked for Chicago’s Arab-American Action Network.

The administration at the University of California, Los Angeles will not take sides in a controversy started after the campus' branch of Students for Justice in Palestine led a move to require candidates running for undergraduate student government to sign an “ethics statement” pledging not to visit Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC and the ADL.

Ever wonder who holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Shabbat dinner? White City Shabbat in Tel Aviv is attempting to set that record at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 13.

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Jewish author Jonathan Safran Foer have teamed up to present “Cultivating Thought,” which will see two-minute essays and quotes from authors, actors and more printed on Chipotle’s bags and cups. Jewish minds and talents including filmmaker Judd Apatow, Pulitzer prize-winner Sheri Fink and comedian Sarah Silverman will be featured.

Watch “Connecting with Young Families,” the newest episode of “Sanctuary," as it looks at the many ways the Jewish community reaches out to the parents of young children.

See Jewish innovation happen live at JCC PresenTense Chicago’s “Shark Tank” event from 6 to 9 p.m. this Tuesday at John Barleycorn River North, 149 W. Kinzie. Based on the hit TV show, PresenTense Chicago fellows will compete for one of three micro-grants by pitching their ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs who will sit as judges. Register here.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is looking to award its annual Ralph I. Goodman Fellowship to a young Jewish thinker and doer (writer, artist, policy shaper, innovator, etc.) who will get to live and work in several overseas locations where JDC is active. Applications are due May 30.

And the latest JUF News blog posts:  

DePaul Law student Matthew Rudolph questions the motives of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel in response to several pro-BDS editorial’s printed in DePaul’s student newspaper.

Illinois’ temporary tax increase sunsets on Jan. 1. Some in the state capital are threatening cuts for human services if it's not extended. Suzanne Strassberger weighs in on the importance of these services through a Jewish lens.

Rabbi Yehiel Poupko explains why he has no interest in “the next big thing” and is instead looking for the next little idea.

Kosher bacon-flavored snack crackers, Michael Douglas’ “hora-related injury” and Manischewitz market expansion are among the unusual Jewish news stories Joel Schatz has been following this month.

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