web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Bnei Akiva’

Fifty Years Of World Bnei Akiva

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

         I recently joined an overflow crowd of more than 1,000 current or former Bnei Akiva members for a reunion at the Jerusalem Theater. We gathered for the concluding session of the 11th World Bnei Akiva Convention: A Salute to Yoske Shapira.

 

         Greeting old friends and acquaintances was a true pleasure, especially for the participants of the first Bnei Akiva Hachshara in Israel, held during 1956-1957 in Kibbutz Yavne. It was the 50th anniversary of our year in Hachshara, and we were happy to celebrate it with the delegates to the 50th year of the World Bnei Akiva Organization.

 

         Bnei Akiva, over 70 years old in many countries, combined its individual branches at its first convention in 1956 to form the world union. Only a few of the original Hachsharaniks were able to show up for the reunion but we were excited to find one or two friends from Hachshara who many of us hadn’t seen in 50 years. Despite the years, it was with a warm feeling of friendship that we reminisced and reacquainted ourselves. In the theater, our group (spouses included) sat in a reserved section and was presented with beautiful roses to mark our golden anniversary.

 

         We were fortunate to be joined in the theater by the 100 Bnei Akiva delegates present. But due to the huge turnout, a large TV screen carrying the program was set up in the lobby to accommodate the guests who were unable to be seated in the theater.

 

         The evening’s highlight was the honoring of Yoske Shapira, who served for 20 years as the first director of World Bnei Akiva. In later years, Yoske was the founder of Tehillah, which assisted new immigrants. He also founded Children, which worked with youth in the Diaspora and was in memory of children murdered in the Holocaust, and Oze, which assists young children in poor neighborhoods. Yoske was also a minister in the Israeli government from 1984-1989. He is credited with initiating the Bnei Akiva Hachshara programs in Israel.

 

         Bnei Akiva played a very important role in my life. Without Hachshara in Israel, my wife, children, grandchildren and I might not be living in Israel today. During my formative years, my religious family was too poor to pay even the minimal tuition in yeshiva and I was forced to attend a public high school. Without Bnei Akiva, I might never have remained religious.

 

         Later, when I entered the computer profession, jobs often required work on Friday evenings and Shabbat. It was only the influence of my Bnei Akiva friends and the religious strength I had gained in my youth that gave me the ability to refuse to work on Shabbat and to raise my children in a wholesome religious environment.

 

         Bnei Akiva is the largest Zionist youth movement in the world. The World Bnei Akiva convention is held every five years to review past accomplishments and to plan for the next five years. At this year’s assembly, Zev Schwartz was confirmed as the new director, replacing Gael Greenwald. He succeeded Yitzchak Stiglitz, who assumed responsibility from Yoske Shapira. They were all honored at this 50th anniversary celebration.

 

         One hundred young delegates from 25 countries of the earth’s four corners were represented, including from the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, Russia and South Africa. Many plan to settle in Israel in the coming years, while some plan to return to their native countries and serve as future Jewish leaders.

 

         The central theme of the convention was pioneering (chalutziut). In that spirit, each delegate pledged to do their utmost to encourage both Jewish religious practice and the making of aliyah.

 

         During the convention, the young delegates visited Sderot, the city under constant rocket attack, along with the northern cities of Israel. They also spent some time participating in mitzvah projects.

 

         It is very thrilling for the youngsters to gather at a convention with others from around the world who share the same Zionist religious agenda. Please encourage your children to join Bnei Akiva, attend Camp Moshava and come spend a year in Israel on the Bnei Akiva Hachshara.

Lodz Jewish Cemetery

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

        The cemetery in Lodz is said to be one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, with about 230,000 graves. It was first opened at the end of the 19th century with a large separate building for the preparation of bodies for internment and funerals. Today there is an exhibit of original pre-war items used by the burial society.

 

         By the beginning of World War II, in 1939, the cemetery already contained many of the elaborate tombstones and mausoleums for which it has become famous. The grave markers run the full gamut from that of Israel Poznanski, the largest mausoleum in the cemetery, to those of people who were interred during the Shoah, when tombstones were not allowed. Indeed, one finds parts of bed frames embedded in the ground, often twisted in a particular shape, as a means of identification.

 

 


Mass grave of Bnei Akiva youth group members.

 

 

         There is also the Ghetto Field, a vast, seemingly empty field that is the final resting place of the 45,000 people who died in the Ghetto. During the Shoah, the death rate among Jews living within the ghetto was very high. Dozens of funerals were held each day, with the number going as high as 170 funerals on one terrible day. While these graves remained unmarked, the Jewish community offices kept meticulous records of each grave. Today there is a program through which Israeli soldiers have been coming to Lodz, clearing the field and placing markers denoting dates and the names of the departed.

 

         The job of caring for the cemetery is a tremendous one and never ending. Groups come from Israel on a regular basis to work clearing the wild growth of trees, bushes and high weeds. Schoolchildren from around Poland also come to do their part. Most of the time they are working among graves that are just names, and in many cases the people clearing the area have no concept of who is buried in these hallowed grounds.

 

 



The Ghetto area after being cleared of debris and markers placed by the Israeli soldiers.


 

        

         But every now and then there is a famous name – a Rubinstein, Tuwim and Szyk can be found – but there are many tombs of famous rabbis scattered throughout the cemetery. One interesting feature is that the wives of famous rabbis also have elaborate tombstones. Located separately, these are some of the largest grave markers dedicated to women to be found anywhere. There are also numerous mass graves for multiple victims of German terror. There is the grave of nine Bnei Akiva members who were part of the resistance during the Shoah. Their grave is an often-visited site by scouts and other youth groups (during my recent visit I found a Bnei Akiva pennant and many candle stubs at the site).

 

         During the last days of the Ghetto, when the Russian army was approaching, the Germans sent most of the remaining Jews to Auschwitz, but kept about 800 to clean up the area. As the Russians approached, they were forced to dig pits near the wall of the cemetery, which they suspected would be their own graves. The Russians advanced so quickly that there was no time for the final executions, and the Germans ran away, saving the 800 Jews and leaving the pits empty. These pits have been left open as a reminder of the lives saved and the graves not used.

 

         The cemetery is still in active use today, but it is the history within that draws thousands of visitors every year.

True Role Models (Part Nineteen)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

This is the 19th and final part of this series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early Olim to Israel from America and to disprove the thesis that Olim in the early years of the state were unsuccessful shnorrers. A new series is planned for the near future to tell the stories of the modern day Olim especially those who came via Nefesh B’Nefesh. Those who are in the process of making Aliyah are invited to send their stories to dov@gilor.com.

* * *

Renana and Jay (Yaakov) Wolff made Aliyah in 1993 from Oak Park, Michigan, where they were serving as the Bnei Akiva internal emissaries (young couples who, prior to leaving to live in Israel, serve in towns that do not have a large Jewish college presence). These emissaries run the Bnei Akiva and help it grow. Renana was raised in the Young Israel of Far Rockaway, NY, and received her BA in Accounting from Queens College. Jay was involved with Bnei Akiva in Spring Valley, NY, and received his BBA in Marketing Management from Baruch College. He pursued Graduate Studies in International Business at Pace University and Wayne State University. In the USA, Renana worked for Ambassador Steel in Detroit as the comptroller and Jay worked for Morris Kosher, one of Empire Foods’ master distributors, in Hazel Park, Michigan. They were also very involved in the plight of Soviet Jewry.

When they came to Israel they decided that they did not want to hear the usual large amount of a foreign language spoken in an absorption center, so they settled in Kibbutz Merav, a religious kibbutz located on the Gilboa, overlooking the Shomron on one side and the Beit She’an valley on the other side. It was simply beautiful. They quickly excelled in the use of the Hebrew language, thanks to the great yeshivot they had attended in America. There was, however, very little work on a Kibbutz for an American marketing manager, so after making the rounds of all the odd jobs on kibbutz, they moved in 1997 to the town of Beit Shemesh. Yaakov took a job working for a Shomer Shabbat advertising and public relations firm. Renana is now starting her own catering/retail food business.

The deteriorating health of Renana’s father forced the Wolffs to put everything in storage and to return to the USA, again as emissaries. This time they worked for the Young Israel in West Hempstead. Renana was the youth director and Jay became the Director of Advertising at Net2phone. In 2002, after the death of Renana’s father and the end of Renana’s contract in 2001, they moved back to Beit Shemesh where they still live today. Yaakov works in Jerusalem as the Director of Partner Relations for Net2phone where he works with partners in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Their most important treasures are: Gavriella Orit, 8; Tehilla Esther, 5; Ayelet Moriah, 5; Hodaya Ilanit, 3; and Chaim Avraham, 1. They invite anyone to contact them for any help in making this dream of the Jewish people a reality. (See family picture on this page)

* * *

Lila and Jack Perry have lived in Israel for 23 years with their three sons and seven grandchildren. They came on Aliyah from their beautiful home, complete with a very large swimming pool, in Atlanta, Georgia, where they lived a good life. They left behind many good friends and a wonderful community. They came because they and their children felt a powerful force pulling them towards the land of Israel. They did not have marital or other problems, but were a very happy successful family. Jack was a successful salesman with a good company. In Israel, Jack is working with the largest commercial laundry in Israel and is very successful, but is making a small percentage of his previous salary in America.

They, however, are very happy in Israel and do not miss the life in America. They are pleased that many of their good friends – and even their rabbi – have followed them to Israel. They invite anyone who needs convincing to visit them in their home to see what they have accomplished here. They apologize that they can no longer invite you to swim in their pool, as they no longer have one, but they would be happy to serve you a good meal and introduce you to some of their friends who had made Aliyah long before they did, to show you how they exist in this wonderful country of theirs.

Lila adds that her husband is a Holocaust survivor who came to America and went to night school. He worked as a salesman for a well known textile company and was doing very well in America before they decided to live in Israel. Their oldest son is a senior technical writer and after studying computers, he worked as a systems analyst-developer. Their middle son owns an insurance company and their youngest son is a comptroller for a large furniture company. Two of their boys received their education in Israel after finishing high school in America and the other son received his education in America. All of their boys are self sufficient and making a living, maybe not as much as they would have made in America, but they wouldn’t think of returning to America to make more money.

* * *

Reuven and Judy (Klipper) Rosenstark came on Aliyah from Washington Heights in 1991. Reuven is originally from Canarsie, Brooklyn, and Judy is originally from Monsey, NY. Judy graduated from Stern College, and worked as a computer programmer for the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. Reuven graduated from YU, received Semicha, and worked as a teacher in ASHAR and Yeshiva of Flatbush.

Both of them were raised on the ideology of Bnei Akiva and knew that their goal was to make Aliyah. As soon as it became realistic they made Aliyah to Alon Shvut with their oldest two children. Reuven learned in Yeshivat Har Etzion for several years. Now they live, with their six children, in Efrat, where Judy is a dental assistant and Reuven is the Rav Beit HaSefer in Orot Etzion and a rebbi in Yeshiva Tichonit Orot Yehuda.

Their thoughts on Aliyah are simple, “It’s definitely the thing to do”. Israel is the ONLY place to raise Jewish children and they thank G-d every day that their children, even the teenagers, agree. Whenever they have visited the United States, the children express the feeling that they are so happy that they live in Israel. The family feels that they have totally acclimated to society in Israel. It obviously helps that they are in a very mixed area with many Anglo-Saxons. They work, however, in an Israeli environment and are thankful to feel totally at home in Israel. The only advice they can think to offer you is, “COME NOW, the longer you wait, the older the children get and the harder it is, but it is never too late!”

* * *

Ruth (Jaffe) and M’Chaim Lieberman both made Aliyah separately in the early 80′s. They met here in Israel while hiking with common friends and were married in Jerusalem in 1994. They continue to hike the country as a family hobby with their five children – Merav, 9; Avital, 8; Yitzie, 6; Yair, 4; and Adiel, 1. They live in Alon Shvut, in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem.

M’Chaim, a lawyer by profession, spent the last six years as the department head in Rasham Haamutot, the government’s registrar of non-profit organizations, a division of the Justice Department. He has just reentered the army as a full-time judge in the military court near Jerusalem, trading civilian life for the bench.

Ruth is involved in Israel’s political world, having worked as an aide to Beni Begin and later as an advisor to government minister Benny Elon. She is involved in local politics as an elected member of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. She also works closely with the press, including foreign reporters, and with the U.S. Congress.

“Being a part of Israeli society came naturally to us,” says Ruth. “Our language improved with time, and we just jumped right into our government positions. Of course you get laughed at as an Oleh, for using an idiom in the wrong way or for not having a full grasp of the culture, but the advantages largely outweigh any disadvantages. The fact that we moved to Israel from the United States is often appreciated by the Israelis we deal with,” she adds.

M’Chaim adds: “We enjoy being on the cutting edge of Israeli society with an awareness of the news and of what’s going on around us, rather than positioning ourselves outside mainstream Israel. Of course we do enjoy living here in the Gush, among both veteran Israelis and ex-Americans (whose mentality is closer to ours in many ways).”

* * *

When Reuven Artzi was about 11 years of age and attending “Hebrew School,” a very old teacher explained to him the map that was on the back cover of his Hebrew workbook. “This is the Land of Israel; this is the homeland of the Jewish people,” he explained. Reuven Artzi was perplexed and asked, “If this is our Land, what are we doing here in America?”

Eager to be in “our Land”, Reuven Artzi at the age of 14 became an active member of the religious Zionist youth movement, Hashomer Hadati, in Boston, Massachusetts. The movement was based on the ideas of modern Jewish religious socialism, focused on Kibbutz life. When Reuven studied the Hebrew language and culture, contemporary and classic Hebrew literature together with Talmud and the books of the Prophets, all in Hebrew, at the “Hebrew Teachers College” (H.T.C.), it brought Eretz Yisrael as near as possible in the Diaspora.

Reuven Artzi came on Aliyah in 1951 and since that date he has been a member of Kibbutz Shluchot, in the Bet Shean Valley. His three children and their offspring live in various parts of the country. Despite the hardships which all Olim have gone through, Reuven believes that Israel should be in every Jewish heart and, if possible, “Aliyah” to Israel should be on everyone’s minds. He is living in Israel today because of the map on the back cover of a Hebrew School workbook of many years ago.

* * *

Esther Margolis (nee Shizgal) grew up in Montreal where she was very active in Bnei Akiva. She relates that she cannot remember a time that she didn’t want to live in Israel, although she had never visited because the family could not afford the cost of a trip. At one time she even entered the world-wide “Chidon Hatanach” (Bible Quiz) because the first place prize was a trip to Israel, but she finished third.

She eventually came to Israel on a one-year program after high school (in 1979) and spent the year at Michlala, in Jerusalem. She then served in Sherut Leumi, in Tzfat. After Sherut Leumi she studied special education at Bar Ilan University. Her family came on Aliya four years later, in 1983. Soon after finishing university, she met and married her husband, Marcel, who had also come on Aliyah in 1983, from London. They were married in 1985 and, in 1991, moved to Efrat after the birth of their third child. Marcel works as a real estate appraiser, and Esther works as a secretary at the local child development center. Their oldest daughter is now in Sherut Leumi (in Kibbutz Yavneh) and their son is finishing high school and will be entering the Israel Army Hesder program in Ma’aleh Adumim. Her only claim to fame, she says, is that she has never been back to Montreal since leaving, and she and her husband have not left the country since 1988, when they visited her husband’s family in England. Esther refuses to go abroad to “stam” travel. Her daughter was in Canada for a visit as a high school graduation gift from her grandparents, and fortunately was not impressed by what she saw. As she put it when she came back, “How can they stand to live there? They don’t have any life; all they have is money.” Esther’s parents live in Jerusalem, and her three siblings with their spouses and children live in Beit Shemesh.

Esther believes that the best thing she ever did was to come to Israel at a young age, before she became used to doing things “the American way.” That may be why she does not miss anything, and she believes that she has the best possible life (although she sometimes wishes that she lived in the Golan Heights…)

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

True Role Models (Part Eighteen)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

This is the 18th part of this series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early Olim to Israel from America and to disprove the thesis that Olim in the early years of the state were unsuccessful shnorrers. Many of us Orthodox Zionists have been very disappointed in the negative attitude of non-religious Jews towards settlers but, despite the vote against the referendum, we have faith that Israel will grow and prosper rather than shrink and wither. Come help us grow.

Myrna Frankel was born and raised in New York City which, she feels, is such a fantastic place to live that she would still be there if Israel had not been beckoning to her all the days of her life. Her love for Israel and Zionism began in 1947 when her oldest brother volunteered for work in the Haganah, bringing the illegal ships to Palestine. His ship, the Geula, was captured and returned to Cyprus, but he was saved by other members of the Haganah who smuggled him off the ship while it was in port. She became an ardent Bnei Akivanik in her teenage years, and was committed to making Aliya. Her work for the Educational and Recreational Association took her behind the “Iron Curtain” in 1965 in the capacity of assistant director responsible for the first Jewish group (as a group) to visit the “Iron Curtain” countries. A short but fateful visit to Auschwitz cemented her decision that despite the difficulties in getting there, Israel was the one and only home for her as a Jew.

Her dream came true in 1973 when she and her husband and their two little children packed their bags and flew to Israel, exactly one month before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Myrna is a graduate of Brooklyn College and her husband is a graduate of Yeshiva University. Her husband was at the height of his career as a computer consultant when they had to decide whether they were ready to go into business and invest 5-10 years to make enough money to make Aliya, or to go when the children were still little enough to become ‘Israeli” more easily than they would as teenagers, and take their chances on finding new employment. They opted to come on Aliyah and have never looked back in the 31 years that they have been here.

Today Myrna works in interior design. Three of her four children work in education: Her eldest is an English teacher. Her second daughter has been working in hi-tech for eight years. Her third and fourth children work in informal education, leading birthright groups, tour guiding, Israel Experience, Zionist Seminars, and other educational programs. All four have graduated from universities in Israel. Myrna has seven grandchildren – all in Israel and all contributing to the growth of our phenomenal homeland. Ken Yirbu! (see family picture)

* * *

Jeremy Ben-David grew up in a suburb of London and qualified (with honors) as a Civil Engineer. He was an active member of Bnei Akiva and in 1984 he accomplished his dream of coming to live in Israel. He made Aliyah as a young man of 23, for ideological reasons. Israel was always a part of his growing-up identity.

In 1985, he entered the field of Intellectual Property and he received his Israeli Patent Attorney license in 1987. In 1995, he founded the Jerusalem firm of Jeremy M. Ben-David and Co. Ltd. His father came on board as his partner in 1996. This year, the company he founded was cited as the 6th largest Patent Attorney firm nationally by Dun and Bradstreet (out of about 30 firms in Israel).

Jeremy grew up in Kingsbury, a suburb of London. During his teen years he was very active in Bnei Akiva, at the branch level, the national/regional level, and, of course, at Bnei Akiva camps. After leaving school he did not go to Hachshara, but went for a year to Yeshivat Keren B’Yavne, before going back to England to obtain a B.S. in Civil Engineering. In 1984, he made Aliyah with a British Bnei Akiva Garin, ‘Yeter’, to Kibbutz Alumim. His first act was to change his name from Davis to Ben-David. It was on kibbutz that he met his first wife, Gail Bleiberg, who was a volunteer at that time. Gail is from New York, and has an MA in Math. On deciding to marry, they left kibbutz and went to live in Jerusalem. Soon after, in 1988, they moved to Givat Zeev, with their one-year-old daughter Tal. During the next few years they had four girls, Tal, Tamar, Michal and Nava, now aged 11-17.

Jeremy’s parents made Aliyah in January 1985, and went to live in the then brand-new neighborhood of Ramot Bet. They have been living in the same house for 20 years. In 1985, after leaving the kibbutz, Jeremy was unable to find a job in civil engineering since that was the nadir of the slump in construction. Jeremy started working for a patent attorney in Rehovot, where his father also had started to work. After obtaining his patent attorney license in 1987, Jeremy continued to work for the patent attorney in Rehovot. After that, he worked for a Tel Aviv law firm for a couple of years. On Lag BaOmer, in 1995, at the time when the internet and e-mail had just become available publicly, Jeremy went off on his own, as a single practitioner, renting a small office in Ramat Gan. In early 1996, his father (who until that time had still been working for the patent attorney in Rehovot), came on board as his partner.

After renting their present premises in Har-Hotzvim in 1998, Jeremy’s firm grew to about 22 employees, but the sudden downturn in the economy forced the company to shrink to 16 employees. They have started again to expand cautiously, as the economy shows signs of recovery.

Jeremy also became involved in the Zu Artzeinu movement. In 1995 he divided his time between the office in Ramat Gan and arranging for erection of a hillside outpost near Givat Zeev. On one hot day in August/Av, several hundred people from Givat Zeev marched to the slopes of Nebi Samuel and pitched tents and picnic tables. They were reinforced by residents of nearby Ramot. This euphoric event lasted over two nights, with many visitors making their way to the site during the intervening day, the most notable of which was MK Rehavam Zeevi (z”l). By the second morning, only a handful were left to face the radio journalists and the army that was sent to evacuate them. Jeremy remembers making an impassioned statement to Galei Zahal (which he later heard broadcast) that they would return, come what may, but they never did.

In 1999, Jeremy cooperated with a business associate and friend to establish a software company that would revolutionize the way that patent attorney firms worked. Everyone loved the concept, but, like so many other hi-tech dreams, it floundered and died. In the meantime, many of his basic concepts are being used worldwide. They were right in their thinking, but they developed it before its time.

Jeremy and Gail divorced at the beginning of 2003, although he continued to live in Givat Zeev. Jeremy recently married Susie Weiss (nee Diamond), originally from Baltimore, who has been in Israel for 25 years, 18 of which have been in Maale Adumim. During the last seven years Susie has worked for Jeremy’s firm. She has four sons: Daniel, Nachie, Avichai and Eitan, aged 16-24. Jeremy’s four girls are all still in school. The eldest one will go to learn for a year in Midrasha before going into the army. Susie’s four boys are doing a variety of things. Daniel is married and has just started studying medicine. Nachie is just finishing off the army in the Golani brigade. Avichai is studying in yeshiva in Eilat before going into the army, and Eitan is still at high school.

So, even after being in Israel for over 20 years, Jeremy is still occupied with making beginnings. But right now, he feels that he is in a good place, and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

To Be Continued

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com 

True Role Models (Part Sixteen)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

This is the 16th part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early olim to Israel from America, and to disprove the thesis that olim in the early years of the state were unsuccessful shnorrers. Every day, we see the need for more American Orthodox Jews to come to live in Israel. We need to vote those of little faith out of government. How can you continue to allow those who are willing to give away your heritage to our sworn enemy to continue to govern? It just doesn’t make any sense. This year, at the Seder table, when you stand up and declare “Next year let us be living in Jerusalem,” mean it sincerely and start to plan your Aliyah.

Mordechai and Barbara Goldman came on Aliyah in 1975 from Toronto, Canada. Barbara grew up in Toronto and was active in Bnei Akiva (madricha and rosh snif) and NCSY. She really wanted a shidduch with someone who had a desire to live in Israel. Mordechai came to Toronto for his doctoral studies, from the east coast of Canada (Fredericton, N.B. – the only one in Israel from his home town) in order to be in a religious community, where he could find his bashert.

Barbara received her degree from the University of Toronto in psychology and English literature. Mordechai received his PhD from the University of Toronto. They were married in 1970, with the clear goal of making Aliyah as soon as they finished their education. They were in the forefront of the Garin Aliyah in Toronto, which eventually joined with a similar American Garin to make Aliyah to Elazar. They made Aliyah with two little ones, and now, Baruch Hashem, have seven children, and many grandchildren, ken yirbu.

When they arrived in Israel, they did not go to an absorption center – instead Yishuv Elazar functioned somewhat as such. It made their absorption easier to be part of a group, but still the conditions were much harder than they are today.

They were among the 14 founding members of Elazar in Gush Etzion, which, at the time, was a Moshav Shitufi (collective moshav) based on industry. Barbara worked as a bookkeeper, which she learned at her father’s knee. Mordechai became part of the team in the chemical company, which was part of the Moshav. They lived without a phone for the first seven years in Elazar, and later in Netzer Hazani in Gush Katif.

They left behind family and friends in Toronto, with whom they kept in touch by regular snail mail. They encouraged their relatives and friends to come to Israel for family semachot, and arranged an array of bar and bat mitzvahs and weddings, Baruch Hashem, which many of them attended.

Today, they live in Beer Sheva, where Mordechai works as a chemist in Dead Sea Bromine Compounds Limited, and Barbara busies herself with organizing Torah classes for women in Beer Sheva, as well as other volunteer activities. They began a project called “Page-by-Page in Jewish History,” connecting the Jewish people to our unique history, according to the Hebrew calendar, which keeps them quite busy. They are always looking for new readers – at the moment only in Hebrew, but they hope to resume publication in English also. Readers may sign up on their site: http://www.jewishistorydaf.org/.

All of their children have served in the army and Sherut Leumi, except their youngest, who is still in high school. The children have settled throughout Judea and Samaria: Har Bracha, Shvut Rachel, Bet El, Kiryat Arba and Otniel. They are all passionate about Israel, and about the Jewish people and they believe, as their parents do, in the values of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, according to the Torah of Yisrael.

Their oldest son has a degree in computers, their second son works as a systems engineer, and the next is a sofer stam. The fourth has a degree in bookkeeping; the fifth is studying economics and working for the army at the same time. Their oldest daughter has a B.Ed. from the Michlala in Jerusalem, and her husband (also from a family of olim vatikim) is an accountant.

Mordechai and Barbara, Baruch Hashem, have been successful in their Aliyah and in raising their children to follow in their ideals. They feel privileged to be part of an Aliyah which has come out of choice, and not out of hardship. They pray that all Jews in Canada and the U.S. will join them here, out of a desire to help build the land of Israel, and witness together with us the beginning of the Redemption. (see their family picture on this page).

* * *

Joel and Faye Horden came on Aliyah in 1973 from Spring Valley-Monsey, N.Y. At the time of their Aliyah, Joel was the Chief Management Scientist at the Headquarters of Martin Marietta Corp. in N.Y. They live in Herzliya. After coming on Aliyah, Joel worked as a Senior Computer Scientist for Tekem (Advanced Technology Ltd.), one of Israel’s first and leading software houses. Many of the projects he worked on were in the field of Air Defense for the Israeli Air Force.

After earning her MA at Bar Ilan University, Faye taught English in high school. They are the proud parents of five children – the last two, twins born in Israel, were recently married. They have 16 grandchildren from their oldest three children. Their oldest son, Meir, is on Shlichut as the Orthodox Rabbi of Stockholm, Sweden. Their second son, David, is a neighborhood Rabbi in Herzliya, a Rosh Kollel and is the head of the local Garin Torani. Their son-in-law is the rabbi of Carmei Tzur, a community near the Gush Etzion bloc in Judea.

* * *

Jonathan Patinkin came to Israel in 1969 from Chicago immediately after high school for one year to learn Torah at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY). He was a National Merit Scholar with offers from many of the top universities in the U.S. He was accepted to Yeshiva University to study biology, but deferred beginning his studies for one year to learn in Israel. One year led to a second, and after two years, he began studying biology at Hebrew University, since his parents had plans of coming on Aliyah.

He met his wife while volunteering at Shaare Zedek Hospital while studying for his Bachelor’s degree. After getting his BSc, he married an Israeli girl (Ruth Keller of Kibbutz Hafetz Haim), did six months army service, and received an MSc in biochemistry from the Weitzman Institute of Science. He has worked in the early Israel biotech industry, and is today a patent attorney in the biotechnology field.

His wife teaches Tanach in a girls’ religious high school in Yerushalayim. They have lived in Rehovot and Jerusalem, and for the last 22 years in Beit El. They have eight children, three of whom are married and six grandchildren, ken yirbu. The five girls are working and studying in various fields: special education, multi-media education, graphic artist, nursing and social work. Two of the boys (twins) study at Mercaz Harav, and the youngest boy is in 9th grade.

* * *

Rabbi and Mrs. Levy Van Leeuwen came in 1972 from Chicago with their two children. Levy had finished his M.A. in clinical psychology, had received S’micha from Skokie Yeshiva, and had been a day school teacher for five years. He was of course very active in Bnei Akiva. His wife was a teacher, and a La Maze certified instructor. They had many friends and were very happy, but they wanted to live in Israel. They left behind family and friends, many of whom eventually followed them to Israel.

In Israel, Levy worked as a school psychologist for 30 years. His wife raised seven children [b'li ayin hara] and they now have 16 grandchildren. Levy worked with Olim in moshavim and in the city. and with Ethiopian and Russian Olim.

Levy is very active in the field of psychology. He is a senior supervising psychologist, a certified specialist for the Ministry of Health, an instructor for the Israel Psychological Association, a former director of the Kiryat Arba Crisis Intervention Center, and a member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

(To Be Continued)

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com 

True Role Models (Part Fifteen)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

This is the 15th part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early Olim to Israel from America and to disprove the thesis that Olim in the early years of the state were unsuccessful shnorrers.

As Israelis suffer the stress of disengagement and the beginning of the dismemberment of the Jewish homeland, it is still important for American religious Jewish families to come on Aliyah. We cannot fathom Sharon’s logic and we cannot understand the faith so many Israelis have in the Arab leadership. but we must continue to hope and pray.

The weariness from continued bloodshed and the sad results of Arab terror and intransigence have placed many of those Jews with little faith in a mood to try anything for peace (even when we know that it will lead to more war and bloodshed). Come help us vote these fools out of power.

Howie (Chaim) and Rozy Feldman both came on Aliyah (separately) as part of the Garin Bnei Akiva that settled in Kibbutz Yavne. Howie came on Aliyah in 1968. Rozy (nee Monderer) came a year later. Howie was born and bred in Brooklyn, majored in Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University and graduated in 1967. In his youth, he was a member of Young Judea and following his year’s study program in Israel (Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi) he switched to Bnei Akiva. Rozy was born and raised in Kew Gardens, Queens. She went to Manhattan Central (YU) and following her year on Hachshara at Kibbutz Yavne, studied at Queens College, majoring in math.

Howie and Rozy met in Bnei Akiva. Howie was a leader and choreographer of the Bnei Akiva dance group in New York which performed together with all of the Zionist youth groups each year at Carnegie Hall. Rozy was also in the dance group. They met, they married and they settled in Kibbutz Yavne. They lived in Kibbutz Yavne for two years. He worked in the Kibbutz as a plumber while Rozy continued her studies in a new direction and received a Masters degree in Jewish Education from Touro College (Jerusalem) and a degree in graphic arts.

Their first daughter was born in Yavne. They moved to Ramat Chen and were active in the religious community. Three more children were born in Ramat Chen. Both Rozy and Howie were searching for some additional ideological purpose, so they sold their house and moved to the Elkana settlement in the Shomron. Rozy is serving on the municipal council. Howie joined the Mishmar Ezrachi and is on duty once a week. Howie set up a business in roof ventilation and Rozy became a lecturer at Talpiot Teachers’ College, teaching basic computer skills, graphic art, computer graphics and classroom design.

Their greatest assets are their children: Hadas is a sea-kayak instructor in Herzliya – she recently returned from circumnavigating Japan on a kayak; Dafna left a hi-tech career to work in the Nature Reserve Society, marking and mapping hiking paths; Tamar is a high school English teacher; Moshe is serving in an elite unit in the Israeli Army. (see the family picture on this page)

* * * * *

Steven (Shalom) Feigelstock made Aliyah in August of 1969. Prior to making Aliyah, he lived in Brooklyn and was an Assistant Professor of Math at the Polytechnic Inst. of Brooklyn. He left behind parents, a sister and friends in order to come on Aliyah. He is an Associative Professor and has been teaching math at Bar-Ilan since he arrived in Israel. Steven is married and has six children and ten grandchildren.

* * * * *

Iryah Mordechai came on Aliyah in 1980. She had a B.A. from Touro College in History and Judaica. In college, she was on the Dean’s List and was the assistant editor of the college paper. She was a Yeshiva of Flatbush student who was accepted to college on early admissions after 11th grade, with a Regent’s scholarship. In America, she was active in the fight to free Soviet Jewry, in demanding that the U.S. government not deport Jewish Iranian students when the Shah lost power, and she was a member and leader in Bnei Akiva and Moshava.

In Israel, Iryah studied law in Bar Ilan University in the days when many Israelis had to send their children to learn law abroad, due to the lack of space in the Israeli law faculties. She practiced law in a private office for a while and then in the public service in the legal department of the city of Netanya. After that, she was appointed the legal advisor of the City of Hadera. For the past six years, she has served on the bench as a Magistrate Judge for the State of Israel (a job which required her to give up her U.S. citizenship).

Three years ago, Iryah joined the too many Israeli citizens who were forced to sacrifice and become victims of terror when her husband, Yair (z”l), was murdered while preventing a terrorist bomber from performing a mass terror attack, leaving Iryah with five orphaned children.

Two of Iryah’s sisters and her brother made Aliyah long ago, and are no less “successful” in raising their families and in their fields of academic work. Iryah feels that, “With all humility, I don’t think that we match the criteria of unsuccessful schnorrers.” She was not the first or only North American to be appointed as a judge by Israel. There are so many ex-North Americans in key positions and doing service to the State that it would be quite difficult to include them all in an article.

* * * * *

Shlomo and Elaine Goldberg lived in New York City, Boston, Mass., Omaha, Nebraska, Washington D.C., and Monsey, New York. They came to Israel because they felt that they had a lot to contribute towards building a Jewish homeland. Shlomo has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT and worked for IBM Research. Elaine has a degree in Education with a major in English and Hebrew. She also has a Master’s degree from Brandeis in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

They came on Aliyah from Monsey in 1968 with three young children. Prior to coming, they sold a 10-room house and two cars. Eight other families from Monsey, who had been considering Aliyah, saw their enthusiastic absorption and followed them to Haifa. They too are all in Israel today with their families.

In Israel, Shlomo worked in the Technion for over 27 years as the chief engineer of the Computer Science Department. At the time of his retirement, he headed an engineering group that maintained all of the Computer Science Department’s computers and laboratories.

Elaine was the head of the English Department in the local religious high school for over 20 years and now is a lecturer in English and a teacher trainer at two teachers’ colleges. Thirty five years ago, she organized an English speaking branch of the Emunah women’s organization (to help new arrivals with their absorption into Israeli society), a group which is still strongly active.

Shlomo and Elaine have been happily married for almost 50 years and, with G-d’s help, have succeeded in raising four children (and numerous grandchildren) who are all proud Zionists. Their children are married, gainfully employed and raising beautiful families. Three of their children have university degrees and the fourth has a full semicha. One is a computer engineer, one is an occupational therapist and two work in education.

The Goldbergs have become a truly international family. Their eldest son married a girl from Strassbourg, France; their daughter married a man from Toronto, Canada; another son married a Sabra whose grandparents are of German extraction; and their youngest son is married to a fourth generation Sabra. All of their children and grandchildren are living in Israel and have never left (except for a brief vacation or business trips).

(To Be Continued)

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

True Role Models (Part Fourteen)

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

This is the 14th part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early Olim to Israel and to tell the stories of these true role models for American Jewry.

Unfortunately, the question as to where to raise your children and where you and they should live is not a hot topic in the American Jewish community. There is a great deal of inertia despite the open signs that Hashem wants you to go to live in Israel today. All of the standard excuses of money, job, family and convenience are important, but the need of your souls to live in the Holy land should not be ignored.

Eric Zimmerman was raised on the values of Bnei Akiva. He and his wife, Sharon, made aliyah in 1988, with their four-month old daughter, Dafna. Prior to their aliyah, Eric worked at the World Zionist Organization, assisting others to make Aliyah, and his wife was on the VP-track at Chemical Bank.

Their first stop in Israel was Kibbutz Ein Zurim, where they spent five great years, Eric as a farmer and Sharon in a variety of jobs, while bringing three more beautiful children into the world. They left kibbutz in 1993 and settled in Oranit – by all accounts a beautiful bedroom community of the Sharon region. Since then, Eric has served as the research grants coordinator at Bar-Ilan University and Sharon worked in the medical and R&D worlds. Sharon now works for a Europe-oriented technology-transfer company affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as well as for a non-profit educational organization.

Eric and Sharon came to Israel in order to make a difference; to contribute in words and action to the building and strengthening of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. Both are convinced that they are realizing that dream. Though it certainly has not always been easy, they have no serious regrets. They live in a vibrant mixed community of mostly single-family homes (villas) where they have many friends and many of the services found in bigger cities. Actually, come to think of it, they are living the American Dream, but in Israel. (see family picture)

* * *

Esther Rechtschafner, after her senior year in high school, attended the Bnei Akiva Hachshara in 1962. She came from a very Zionistic family and had always planned on coming on Aliyah. She wanted to stay after Hachshara, but went back to America, because her parents wanted her to. She was determined, however, to come on Aliyah as soon as possible. After having her back in America for exactly a year, her parents agreed that America was no longer for Esther, and she succeeded in coming on Aliyah.

Her parents had also been planning Aliyah for many years, and they joined Esther a few months later. Esther married Mordechai Rechtschafner, from Bnei Akiva, Australia, on Lag BaOmer 1965 and decided to settle in Ein-Zurim, one of the youngest Religious Kibbutzim, for they thought that Kibbutz was the best way to contribute to the welfare of the country. When the 1967 war broke out, Esther’s husband served in the unit that liberated Jerusalem.

Esther received a BA in Israeli and Jewish History from the Israeli Open University and a degree in Library Science from the Hebrew University. She has received much acclaim for her articles about the places in Eastern Europe that her grandparents came from:

1. “Reezekne, The City of My Roots” (The Latvian city that her paternal grandmother (z”l) came from)

2. “The Connection Between Rezekne and Ein Zaitim” (The Jews of Rezekne bought land near Safed over 100 years ago)

3. “Research on Cherkassy” (The Ukraine city that her maternal grandmother (z”l) came from)

4. “Sveksna” (The Lithuanian town that her paternal grandfather came from)

Esther and her husband have three daughters, all of whom served in the army. Idit is married to Koby, whose parents are also American, and they have six children. Idit works as a special education teacher in Bet Shemesh. Ayelet, the mother of two children, is the head nurse in Betar Elite and is married to Zachary, a Russian doctor, who works as a nurse in Hadassah and is finishing his Masters Degree in Judaism. They live in Zur Hadassah. Doria is a student in the Hebrew University.

Esther has been working for the past 20 years as the “house-mother” in Yeshivat HaKibbutz HaDati, Ein Zurim, and enjoys her work very much. Many of the students are children of former Anglo-Saxons.

Esther feels that it is important to add that they have never received financial help from their parents. They just never needed or wanted it. Her parents were never actually “well off”. Her father’s wealth was in his knowledge, and in his love for Israel. (Her father was a descendant of the family of the Vilna Gaon).

* * *

Chani Lior came from Brooklyn right after she completed high school. She left behind her family and friends but came because this is where she wanted to spend her life. In Israel, she studied Education and worked as a teacher for eight years. For the past 12 years, she has been working together with her husband to build up their family business. They were part of the founding Garin of Yishuv Beit Haggai where they and their family have lived for the past 18 years.

* * *

Barbara Blum and her husband Alex came on Aliyah from New York in 1968 for Zionistic reasons. Like many other Olim, they left behind their parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends, and gave up much of their financial security. Alex received his PhD in philosophy from N.Y.U., and was an assistant professor of philosophy on his way up. Barbara was a tenured teacher.

In Israel, Alex taught philosophy at Bar Ilan University. During his years of teaching, he was also the Head of the Department and Dean of Humanities. He co-founded Philosophia, the first international philosophical journal in Israel.

Barbara studied art at the Avni Art Institute and received a scholarship from the Israeli Ministry of Education and was accepted as a member of the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli Artist Association. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and three one person shows. She has also been writing, and has published a cookbook.

Alex and Barbara made their greatest sacrifice to Israel – the life of their first-born son, Moshe. He was injured in the Israeli Air Force in April, 1990. He received a spinal cord and brain injury and was left paralyzed from below the shoulders. He is in need of support from a breathing machine for at least several hours daily. They cared for him at home for 13 1/2 years as he fought valiantly to have a ‘normal’ life. He attended classes in university, painted with a brush in his mouth, had an exhibition of his works, and gave them and those working with him the strength to continue. He succumbed to complications stemming from his injury in August of last year. May his memory be blessed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/true-role-models-part-fourteen/2005/03/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: