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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn College’

Judaic Studies class, Brooklyn College

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Question: Some critics feel the Holocaust has come to define Jewish identity in America and that it takes away from other aspects of Jewish life and culture. Agree?

 

 


No. The Holocaust represents just one of the many struggles we as a nation have faced. It’s good that we devote much time to commemorating the Holocaust – it shows the power of religion and faith, and it doesn’t take away from other aspects of Jewish culture.


- Janet Salem, student

 

 

 





Yes. People do tend to link Jewish identity with the Holocaust, but this is not a negative. Clearly, the message of the Holocaust hasn’t penetrated, since genocide is still with us – we say “Never Again,” but we see that other people are facing extermination. The Holocaust needs to be a part of our Jewish identity – there is nothing wrong with that.


- Joseph Setto, student

 

 



No. I feel not enough attention is paid to the Holocaust. Commemorating the Holocaust shouldn’t be done just once a year. The Holocaust didn’t happen such a long time ago and we are already forgetting about it. The generation that went through it is dwindling, and what will future generations know about it? I don’t think the Holocaust has become the central Jewish experience; the exodus from Egypt and the founding of the state of Israel, to mention just two examples, are at least as important to Jewish identity as the Holocaust.


- Faigy Stein, student

 

 

 






No. The Holocaust may be associated with Jewish identity, but it doesn’t define us as a people. We need to introduce the history of the Holocaust from an early age while we still have survivors who are alive and can share their memories with us. We also need to learn from the Holocaust in order to be more sensitive to other acts of genocide.


- Aviva Weiss, student



True Role Models (Part Thirteen)

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005

This is the 13th 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.

I once thought that my study of logic would prepare me to understand how the world behaves. Living in Israel these past months has cured me of this assumption.

The logic of freeing 500 terrorists escapes me. For a majority of the right wing Likud party to vote to give away hard-fought-for territory and to transfer their own citizens from their property and homes in order to get nothing in return from their sworn enemy but “promises” – which these right-wing leaders themselves understand to be empty promises – is beyond understanding.

To continue the process, knowing that no matter how much you give away, the enemy will not be satisfied, as we have already heard on the news this morning, is beyond comprehension. Yet, we endure and pray and know that a day will come when a majority of reasoning and believing Jews will come from the Diaspora to Israel in order to out-vote those who no longer have any faith or self-respect. We are here, and here we will remain!

Shalom Cohen grew up in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens and Fruma (Faith Elfenbein) grew up in Woodmere. Shalom spent many summers in Bnei Akiva’s Camp Moshava and grew up knowing that Israel is the Jewish homeland. Faith joined Bnei Akiva in high school and quickly internalized its teachings and ideology. The year after graduating high school, Shalom and Fruma took part in Bnei Akiva’s year long Hachshara program working and living on a kibbutz in Israel.

When the Hachshara year ended, they returned to Queens College. After they married in 1982, they continued living in Queens where they were Bnei Akiva youth leaders. Meanwhile, Faith earned her Master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language.

Two years later, Shalom and Faith became Bnei Akiva emissaries to South Florida. For two years, they lived in North Miami Beach and while Shalom worked during the day as a computer programmer, Faith stayed home with their newborn baby and ran the Bnei Akiva office and planned its activities from their home.

In 1986, Shalom and Fruma made aliya to Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv in Emek Beit Shean. For 11 years, they lived a happy and fulfilling life on the Kibbutz with their growing family. Ein Hanatziv has a very Israeli atmosphere, and Shalom and Fruma integrated into Israeli culture and language.

Shalom worked in the dairy barn (with its 400 cows) and Fruma worked in the children’s houses and then went to teach English in the regional school.

In 1997, with mixed emotions, the Cohens left Kibbutz and moved to a Yishuv, Hashmonaim. There they found many warm and caring friends and neighbors. Their children totally adjusted to the independent life style. Today, Shalom works as a Network Administrator for the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Israeli government and Fruma teaches English in junior high school.

The Cohen’s daughter, Mazalit, 20, finished two years of Sherut Leumi (national service), one year working for Bnei Akiva in Ginot Shomron and the second year as a counselor for the American girls’ program in Midreshet Harova in the Old City.

Zamir, 18, is completing 12th grade and is busy exploring his different options for army service beginning next year. He has been an active member of the volunteer police for two years.

Yonit, 17, is finishing 11th grade and is busy with her matriculation tests. Ayal is in 8th grade and Achva is in 5th grade. All the children take an active part in the youth activities in the Yishuv and are socially welcoming to the many children of new families that come to live in Hashmonaim every year.

The Cohens are a family that believes that living in Israel is a Mitzvah that cannot be distinguished from any other Mitzvah. It is no less important than keeping Kosher or observing Shabbat. Raising children in Israel without the benefit of close by grandparents is a big disadvantage, but this is the land of the Jews, and this is where they belong!!

* * *

Benjy Weiss came on Aliyah in 1967, after many years as a Bnei Akiva member and leader. Before coming to Israel, Benjy was a staff member at the IBM, T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights.

In Israel, Benjy joined the faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and he became a full professor in 1974. In 1973, Benjy married Bracha Shkolnik and they have six children, all of whom live in Israel. Their three eldest children are married and have produced several grandchildren. Benjy and Bracha’s youngest child is in her second year of army service.

In 2000, Benjy received a rare honor when was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a Foreign Honorary Member. Like many of his fellow American olim, Benjy left behind his family, a great career and an excellent salary in order to tie his destiny in with the Jews of Israel.

* * *

Steve and Mindy Frankel made aliyah as part of Garin Matityahu to Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzchak in May of 1976. Steve and Mindy were active for many years in Bnei Akiva. Steve is a Brooklyn College graduate who studied political science, and Mindy has a BS in education, also from Brooklyn College. Steve went to Israel with a volunteer mission during the Yom Kippur War with 100 other Bnei Akiva members from the USA and Canada. In 1971, Mindy attended the Bnei Akiva Hachshara in Kibbutz Yavne.

After coming to Israel, Steve was asked to be the Madrich of the Hachshara in Israel from 1981 to 1984. In 1985, Steve and Mindy and their family left kibbutz and moved to Neve Tzuf. Three years later, they moved to the Hashmonaim settlement as the 35th family. Steve is presently the Israel program director for the United States and Canadian Bnei Akiva and the director of the American program “Mach Hach” in Israel. Mindy teaches English in the Ulpana in the new city of Modiin. They have four children, two of whom are married. One is a soldier in Hesder and their youngest will become a soldier in March. They have one grandson.

They feel that they gave up absolutely nothing to live in Israel, but rather have gained by living here far more than anything they could have had in the Diaspora. There is nothing more natural for them and for all Jews than to live at home.

True Role Models (Part Seven)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

This is the seventh 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.

One of the unexpected dividends of our coming on aliya 20 and 30 years ago is the practically 0% rate of intermarriage of our grandchildren. How many of our yeshiva friends who remained in America, especially those who strayed from Orthodoxy or whose children strayed, can boast this percentage? Even if someone who came on aliyah became less religious, his grandchildren, thank G-d, and his great-grandchildren will remain Jewish.

Today, a religious and Jewish Holocaust pervades American life and decimates our numbers as more and more Jewish youth intermarry (some studies report a 60-75% intermarriage rate). It is time for young couples to realize that only in Israel will they be able to guarantee the survival of our people. Please join us in building Israel and in keeping your (great) grandchildren Jewish.

Zev (Milty) Gerstl came on aliya from Brooklyn. He left the USA after receiving his BSc from Cornell University. In Israel, he completed his PhD and had the privilege of serving in the IDF for 20 years (miluim). Zev raised a family, has four children, and worked his way up from a researcher to the head of the Institute of Soil, Water & Environmental Sciences in the ARO (Ministry of Agriculture).

Today, he is a scientist again, having finished his term as director, and is working on problems of soil and water pollution.

* * *

Yogi and Shulamith Rimel made aliyah in 1989 from Chicago with three small children. Currently, they have five children. Yogi came with a B.A. in Business & Management from Northeastern Ill. University and an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before he came on aliyah, Yogi was the director of marketing for a major Chicago amusement company. Shulamith has a B.S. degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She served as a Hebrew school teacher prior to aliyah.

In Israel, Yogi is the CEO of a 120 bed long- term care facility and Shulamith is the office manager for a 215 family Yishuv in the Shomron. Yogi and Shulamith came to Israel for ideological reasons. Yogi did not want to reveal the salaries they left behind. ‘Suffice it to say that we don’t make here today what we made 15 years ago in Chicago!’

Yogi and Shulamith’s eldest son is in the IDF (Kravi – Nachal) and their daughter serves in Sherut L’uemi (National Service) working with olim at Tehilla. Their oldest son Ephraim, 20 – studied in Hesder in Gush Etzion and is now in Nachal. Menucha, 18 – is doing Sherut Leumi in Jerusalem at Tehilla. Tziona 16 – is in the 11th grade Ulpanat Ofra. Yigal, 13 (Bar Mitva 3 weeks ago) is in the 7th grade in Talmon, and Dvora, 8 – is in 3rd grade in Neve Tzuf.

What other details would you like about us?

* * *

Judith Berger came on aliyah in 1976 from Toronto, where she had a wonderful job as a nurse in the delivery room of a large hospital. She was young and single, liked her work very much, and was an integral part of the professional team.

The women of the Orthodox community would often request that she attend their births and she was in great demand. She also enjoyed the social life in Toronto. Judith was very active in Bnei Akiva and NCSY and nonetheless decided to join her fate with the settlers of the Jewish homeland. She left her family, left her friends, left a good job with a good income and came to Eretz Yisrael and did not run away from her birthplace.

Avraham and Judith met and married in Israel. Avraham Berger, from Cleveland, was a successful computer programmer with a Masters degree, his own home, and many friends. When he decided to come on aliyah, his life was going very well but he felt that he wanted to move to the Jewish homeland. He made aliyah in 1977.

Avraham and Judith worked hard and today, they own their own home in Yerushalayim. They have children of whom they are very proud and who are contributing to building up the Holy Land. Avraham and Judith are also foster parents of infants prior to their adoption.

Judith has built a wonderful career in professional nursing. She worked for many years first as a nursing instructor in the maternity and medical departments of Shaarei Zedek Medical Center, and then as a team leader for a medical information service. She is very involved in establishing a special project for teenage girls from religious families at risk.

* * *

Chaim and Naava Livne (Lipnick) came on aliya in 1977. Chaim had a BA in Economics from Brooklyn College and an MA in Jewish Education from JTS. Naava had a BA from Brooklyn College in psychology. They came to Kibbutz Maale Gilboa with a group from Bnei Akiva as soon as they finished university. They did not look for professional employment in the USA because they did not want to make any commitments or to get ‘bogged down.’

Before aliya, both Naava and Chaim were very active in Bnei Akiva, holding at one point or another almost every administrative position that there was, from Rosh Moshava to National Secretary to Rosh Seminar, Madrich and Merakez Snif and Mazkir Galil N.Y. In addition, Naava worked as a librarian in the Yeshiva of Flatbush.

After aliyah, each place where they lived was chosen for ideological reasons, and wherever Chaim went, his youth work and administrative skills served him well.

For seven years they remained on kibbutz where Chaim worked in the orchards, became the manager of the turkey coops, and eventually the counselor for the Australian Hachshara (those who spent a year in Israel).

Naava worked in agriculture and gardening. After they left Maaleh Gilboa, they lived in Tekoa for two years where Chaim became the General Secretary (administrator) and Naava took care of the landscaping.

They spent two years in Beit Yatir in the south Hebron Hills where Chaim worked in the vineyards and orchards and eventually became the general secretary. Together with Moshe Hager, Chaim set up the military preparatory school (Mechina) in Yatir and was the administrator of the Mechina for seven years, until it reached economic viability.

Later, as General Secretary (administrator) of Tekoa, he helped establish the yeshiva of Rav Steinzaltz in Tekoa. At present, he runs Amutat Orot Ezion in Efrat which runs kindergartens and boys and girls elementary schools with an enrollment of 1,000 students. For the past few years, he has also worked as the assistant director and emissary in Camp Moshava 1O.

Naava was also very busy during this time. She worked on Beit Yatir doing landscaping and agricultural work, she was in charge of the grocery store, and started the Regional Library in Har Chevron. She oversees and services each Yishuv library, is the initiator of projects and activities, and has established a regional library in Susia with about 20,000 books. Anyone who has books (in any language) in good condition is invited to donate them to the library.

Chaim and Naava have seven children – their oldest daughter did one year of Sherut Leumi in the Midrasha in Beit Shean, then went into the Army and worked with Noar Raful. Today she works as a social worker (Hebrew U.) and as a tour guide. Their second daughter did Sherut Leumi as a branch director for Bnei Akiva in Afula Ilit. She has a degree from Machon Tal in bio-information and computers and services the Moetza Ezorit Har Chevron website. Their oldest son is at present in the army in a special unit called Maglan.

We had a response by a professor who was willing to be a statistic – but not to be featured by name. She and her husband made aliyah in 1969. She had completed her Ph.D. in psychology, as well as a clinical internship, and was teaching at Brooklyn College. Her husband had also received his PhD and was teaching at LIU. They had a lovely Boro Park home of their own, on the best street, and many good friends. In other words, they had it made – and the sky was the limit.

Here in Israel, they both taught at Bar-Ilan University until retirement, getting the inadequate salaries that such occupation provides. They have, B”H, three sons who have succeeded here despite the difficulties. Their eldest is a professor of computer science with an international reputation at Tel Aviv University. Their second son is a clinical/ educational psychologist who works within the system in Jerusalem. Their youngest (much in the news of late) is a fellow at the Shalem Institute, and a political commentator and campaign manager much in demand.

“‘It hasn’t been easy – but oh, how grand!”

(To be continued)

(Comment may be sent to dov@gilor.com)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/true-role-models-part-seven/2005/01/19/

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