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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘program’

Florida Couple Joins IDF Summer Volunteer Program

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Editors Note: Perri and Ira Plitt are retirees, originally from New York and now living in Boca Raton, Florida. They recently completed their second stint as Sar-El volunteers for Israel. They are also my dear machatunim.

 

My wife, Perri, and I recently returned from a trip to Israel. Although many people travel to Israel, most are not aware of the Sar-El program and the wonderful opportunities it provides to help the Jewish homeland, to get to know individual soldiers, and to meet interesting people from all over the globe.

Sar-El is the Hebrew acronym meaning service for Israel and is part of the organization Volunteers for Israel. The program originated from practical need.

During the summer of 1982, in the midst of the First Lebanon War, the majority of able-bodied men were called up for army reserve duty, leaving entire farms with crops ready for harvest unattended and on the verge of being lost for the season. Dr. Aharon Davidi, a”h, the former head of the IDF. Paratroopers and Infantry Corps was moved by the farmers’ distress and sent a recruitment team to the United States. Within a few weeks, some 650 volunteers arrived in Israel to lend their support through volunteer labor. Inspired by the success of that endeavor, Sar-El, the National Project for Volunteers for Israel, was founded in the spring of 1983 as a non-profit, non-political organization.

The Sar-El program is not a luxury vacation. We were given uniforms upon our arrival at an IDF base. Then men and women move into separate dormitories, four to eight to a room. There are no joint accommodations for married couples. Picture your summers in sleepaway camp with bunks and army cots. If you are lucky enough to be placed on a deluxe base, there may be air conditioning.

Perri and Ira Plitt on an IDF base.

Perri and Ira Plitt on an IDF base.

Meals are taken in the dining room with the soldiers. Breakfast and dinner are usually dairy and salads, while lunch is the main meal of the day, generally chicken. Like summer camp, you will probably make friends with others and form lasting relationships. Unlike summer camp, you will be working with a purpose – for the benefit of Israel.

Uniforms cannot be taken off base. Volunteers are responsible for their own accommodations Thursday evening through Sunday morning. Different programs and cultural events are offered during the week.

Individual jobs include cleaning and restocking medical field packs, cleaning and refurbishing communications equipment, sanding and repainting protective headgear, and repairing tanks. The type of base determines the type of work.

While some tasks seem menial, like filling a huge sack with expired batteries for disposal, all contribute to the “big picture” of helping the Israeli army. In our particular case, the commander and soldiers in our area kept relaying how appreciative they were. The commander wanted the dedication and hard work of the volunteers to serve as role models and provide inspiration.

One of the soldiers we met had been in an elite combat unit. After suffering an injury, he became a Sar-El madrich (leader). He said he had never given a moment’s thought into what went into the packing of the 80 lb. backpack he took into the field. However, watching us clean and check each item gave him a whole new prospective and an appreciation for how each small piece contributes to the success of the whole.

Soldiers expressed confusion as to why we would leave our comfortable American homes to volunteer on a base. Sar-El volunteers choose to volunteer as an expression of unity and support for our brothers and sisters in Israel. We want to serve, albeit in a small – but we hope significant – way. We look forward to volunteering for Israel in the future.

Ira Plitt

Israeli National Service Program Incorporates 120 Young French Female Immigrants

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

A total of 120 French women, aged 18 to 23, have immigrated to Israel in 2016 through a specialized program, called Shlomit, which coordinates and finds Israeli citizens placement in national service, also known as Sherut Leumi.

French immigration increased from 1,900 immigrants in 2012 to 7,800 in 2015 and French immigrants make up 25% of all immigrants to Israel. However, the year 2016 has seen a particular upsurge of French women deciding to immigrate through the Shlomit organization and particularly through one of its branches, Shilat, which is specifically for religious women.

Shlomit was the first organization to extend national service opportunities to all Israeli citizens, regardless of sexuality, race, or financial status. The group’s mission is to enable every young Israeli citizen exempt from military service to serve the country and to make a significant contribution to the advancement of Israeli society.

“We endeavor to construct the best-suited combination between the particularities of the applicants, such as their specific skills, capabilities, place of origin, and languages, and those who could best utilize their services,” Shilat Director Osnat Tzadok told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Most of this year’s applicants are from the area of Paris, but some have also emigrated from Marseilles or northern France. They tend to settle in Jerusalem in particular, but many of them also reside in Raanana, Netanya, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, and Tel Aviv. Program participants volunteer in a wide range of sectors, including hospitals, hospices, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and special education.

“It is not easy to immigrate to Israel, to integrate oneself within a new culture and country without one’s family, and to be disconnected from all that is familiar,” explained Tzadok. “Our program makes it easier by allowing participants to better familiarize themselves with the Israeli mentality, fostering confidence, creating new relationships and friendships, and learning Hebrew,”

As of the end of July, most Shilat participants will already have completed most of the administrative steps that immigration to Israel entails and are expected to start their year of service in September, but some will still be in the process of filing various necessary documents and arranging exemptions from military service.

Shilat helps the women get through that bureaucratic process and provides the women with benefits equivalent to those of lone soldiers, such as an apartment, an internet connection to reach family members, funds for transportation, and some assistance in everyday expenses. The program helps the women with the psychometric exams for academic studies after their service and offers Torah courses to enrich their religious knowledge.

Salome Benichou, a Shilat participant originally from Saint-Brice, told TPS that “Sherut Leumi for French Olim is complicated due to the fact that there is no forum to formally guide us through the process, to centralize the opportunities, and to actively make contact with French people and institutions while also providing support.”

“Shilat provides both professional and personal assistance through coordinators that are always available yet it allows for enough independence for immigrants to find their own place in Israeli society. It is an excellent medium to materialize the strong brand of Zionism I was brought up in,” she added.

Leaders of the program report that it has been very successful in integrating French women into Israeli society and that it has had a virtually nonexistent dropout rate. Participants in the program say that the success is a consequence of both the importance of Zionism in Jewish culture in France and of the efficacy of the program itself.

“What we need to understand about the immigrants from France is that many of them spend a year doing Israeli national service after having already done a Masa program for a year while their counterparts in France and the rest of Europe have already finished their degree. That is a pretty significant concession for both French young women and their parents to make in favor of Zionism given the French mentality,” concluded Liora, who is currently completing her second year of Sherut Leumi.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Exclusive: Jewish Drug Abuse/Overdose Prevention Program Warns About Deadly ‘K2’

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

A New York-based Jewish anti-drug abuse program is warning the synthetic marijuana known as K2 has become a deadly threat.

Dozens of people collapsed in Brooklyn Tuesday after ingesting a bad batch of K2 synthetic marijuana.

"K2" is synthetic marijuana.

“K2” is synthetic marijuana.

News stations across the United States reported the incident, which made national headlines since the use of K2 is rising in the country.

“K2 is an extremely dangerous drug,” Rabbi Yaacov Behrman told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

The director of Operation Survival, a project of the Brooklyn-based National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE), Behrman said “K2” is a term used to refer to “any number of chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana.

“But because there is no precise formulation, its effects are highly unpredictable,” he said. “The behavior resulting from K2 use can range from mild aggressiveness to extreme violence. Other effects can range from nausea to kidney failure and even death.”

The affected users who collapsed on Tuesday were all rushed to local emergency rooms; several were reported in critical condition.

“One of the reasons for K2’s surge in popularity is that it doesn’t show up in drug testing,” Behrman explained.

“Our project, Operation Survival, is working with community educators and impact activists to prevent a recurrence of Tuesday’s incident.

“It is our collective responsibility to see to it that our community members are safe from this frightening epidemic.”

The project is aimed at education and prevention of substance abuse and overdose in the Jewish community, as well as the community at large.

Hana Levi Julian

Spanish, Portuguese Jews Support Sephardi and Mizrahi Heritage Empowerment Program

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Reconectar, the movement to reconnect the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities and the Jewish world, welcomed the recommendations made by Israel’s Ministry of Education’s Committee to Empower the Heritage of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in the Education System, led by Chairman Erez Biton.

“It is an important day for Sephardi Jews where our history, culture and tradition will be recognized and taught in the Israeli school system,” President of Reconectar Ashley Perry (Perez) said. “This has taken far too long, but it is vital that the scope of Jewish history and culture be widened to include Jews from the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.”

“However, there is still more work to be done and it should be widened further to include our millions of Sephardi brothers and sisters who were forcibly disconnected from us over the centuries and are seeking a reconnection to the Jewish world. Our education system should be preparing the formal Jewish world for the immense and necessary challenge of reconnecting our people,” Perry said.

Beginning in the 14th Century, hundreds of thousands of Jews were forcibly converted, or otherwise disconnected from the Jewish People, and many among their descendants, numbering around 100 million, are seeking different levels of reconnection with Israel and the Jewish world.

Perry, who is also Director General of the Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities, Chaired by MK Robert Ilatov, said that the more Israeli children travel to Spain, as the recommendations state, the more they will encounter the story of the Anousim who are becoming more and more aware of their Jewish roots.

“We have an enormous opportunity to use our shared history and traditions, to empower and embolden relations with those who share our roots and heritage whether in the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America or among Latinos and Hispanics in the US,” Perry said. “We have a moral, ethical and even a halakhic mandate to do so, and the more we learn about our roots in the Hispanic world and the more the Hispanic world learns about their possible Jewish roots, the closer the potential relations between our communities will grow.”

Perry was also heavily involved in placing the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries on the national and international agenda while he worked in government as advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other politicians, including former MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon, who passed a law to create a day of commemoration in the official Israeli calendar.

“The history of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa is sadly overlooked, even though every other Jew in Isr

ael comes from this region,” Perry said. “It is vital for Jewish Peoplehood that the vibrant and ancient Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa and their subsequent ethnic cleansing in the Twentieth Century are understood and studied.”

“It is absurd that it has taken 68 years for Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews to be able to learn about their own history and culture, and it is hoped that their history will be placed on an equal plane to the history of other Jews from around the world,” Perry said.

Jewish Press Staff

Bennett Plans to Bolster Jewish Identity, Connection to Israel, via New Education Program

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

During Monday’s meeting of the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett presented a program to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora and foster closer ties between Jews overseas and the State of Israel.

The new initiative, which is being promoted jointly by the Education and Diaspora ministries, will fund Jewish studies programs, Hebrew ulpans, and classes in Israel studies for school aged children around the world.

During the meeting, Bennett said the plan was to begin with a pilot program, focusing on dozens of elementary- and high-schools in Latin America and Europe, as well as the appointment of a planning committee to establish criteria for school programs to train teachers, and assist administrators in Jewish schools.

The committee will also operate a support network to connect educators in the Diaspora with their counterparts in Israel.

Diaspora Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud) called to strengthen Jewish identity among Jewish teenagers overseas, because, he said, they are feeling less and less connected to Judaism and the State of Israel.

Bennett responded that “Israel is responsible to protect and strengthen Jewish identity and affinity for Israel among each and every Jew everywhere in the world.”

“Jewish schools [serve] as important community centers, where the next generation is educated, and as a meeting place where Jewish identity is formed in wider circles. The State of Israel must aid educators to continue and expand educational programs bringing together the many parts of the Jewish people,” Bennett reiterated.

Bennett further said that his office was monitoring anti-Semitic activity and is accompanying Jewish communities abroad that are dealing with the phenomenon. His office is also following efforts in foreign countries to curb anti-Semitism through legislation.

Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Dvir Kahane presented the ministry’s activities to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora. The ministry spends tens of millions of dollars on such activities, which are also aimed at sharply increasing the number of Jewish university students who come to study in Israel, as well as assisting Jewish schools, mainly in Europe and South America.

One feature of the new campaign is to have Jews from abroad video themselves as they talk about their Jewish lives and their connection to Israel. Sample videos have already been posted on the Diaspora Affairs Ministry site.

According to Yogev Karasenty, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s Director for Combating Anti-Semitism, most anti-Semitism is fueled by Muslims who were born in Europe. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – the anti-Semitic, fabricated text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination, is very popular in Egypt, he told the committee.

JNi.Media

Young Israel Congregation Youth Program For All Ages

Monday, June 6th, 2016

The Young Israel Congregation, serving the communities of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor, and Surfside, has become famous for its innovative youth program. Rabbi Avi Fried and his staff have accommodated youngsters from tots to teens in a fun-filled atmosphere.

A very special fun summer trip for all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders is planned on Tuesday, June 14 to Busch Gardens in Tampa. (E-mail RabbiFried@yicbh.org to reserve a spot.)

Father and child learning continues on Saturday nights. Children learn and enjoy ice cream and prizes.

High school teens are invited to learning and frozen yogurt every Wednesday night. Contact Rabbi Fried for times and locations.

Shabbos groups for children from ages 2 to 13 meet every week. They daven, participate in activities, have yummy refreshments, and receive tickets for really incredible prizes.

Young Israel Congregation is located at 9580 Abbott Avenue in Surfside. For more information about the youth activities, call Rabbi Fried at 305-866-0203.

Shelley Benveniste

Bibi and Obama Growing Apart on Iran while Rouhani Is All Smiles

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Associated Press reported that Israel and the U.S. have been growing apart on the Iran nuclear threat, so much so that there appears to be a rift between them these days. Essentially, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm tirelessly and at a high pitch, while the West sees genuine Iranian compromises in the Geneva talks.

The different views are only growing more so, threatening to leave Israel in isolation, as the talks between six global powers and Iran appear to be gaining steam, the AP surmises. western negotiators were upbeat after last week’s talks, going into the next round of negotiations, Nov. 7.

If you wanted a Munich moment – this is it, with the Czech ambassador sitting nervously in the waiting room while the British and French prime ministers and the Axis brutes decided his country’s fate.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing "peace in our time." But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West's willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing “peace in our time.” But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West’s willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

In fact, the louder Netanyahu cries out, the more shrill he is bound to sound in the face of the smiling Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

“I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program.”

The statement may reflect more how out of touch Bibi is with the winds blowing in Washington DC right now, than a practical strategy. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said the White House was going to offer Iran a chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets—sitting there since the 1979 Islamic revolution—if it scales back its nuclear program. The sanctions will stay in place for now, but Iran would suddenly receive a windfall.

In other words, Iran will receive between $50 and $75 billion, tax free, not for eliminating its nuclear weapons program, but for merely slowing it down.

This is vintage Rouhani, incidentally – the man was the architect of Iran’s winning strategy of fooling the world while flashing many winning smiles. One gets the feeling the Rouhanis wanted their boy to go into modeling for toothpaste ads, instead of running one of the three most evil regimes on the planet, but one thing led to another.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was “premature” to talk about easing sanctions, but he did not endorse Netanyahu’s tough line, saying the U.S. is planning a more “incremental” approach in response to concrete Iranian gestures.

It’s 2005 revisited, and Rouhani knows he’s already won this round. He managed to separate Netanyahu from his American benefactors, and isolate Israel which now looks like it’s frothing at the mouth while Iran is all pleasantries and pragmatism. All he has to do from this point on is keep talking, host a couple UN inspectors, mess with their inspections a little, nothing serious, make it impossible to get a real read of what goes on in those plants – but keep on smiling, denying, and never say anything hostile or aggressive against israel or the West.

Bibi cannot win this one, any more than Czechoslovakia could win the diplomatic war against Hitler. Few people know today that on paper the Czechs were superior militarily to the Germans. If they had decided to strike against the Germans, they could have altered world history. They didn’t need British or French protection, they were completely self sufficient in manufacturing their military arsenal. Indeed, it was his bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia that turned Hitler unstoppable.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bibi-and-obama-growing-apart-on-iran-while-rouhani-is-all-smiles/2013/10/21/

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