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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Helping Jewish Children Of Incarcerated Parents Have A Summer Camp Experience

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Having a loved one in prison is a transformative and painful journey for an entire family. Spouses, children, parents, and siblings are affected by the experience. Often there is sorrow and shame, anger and depression. Children are especially impacted. They want their dad (or mom) to come home. They feel deserted and afraid. Wives (or husbands) also suffer. They are alone with all responsibilities and often have less money coming in to cover expenses.

It was already June and Anna Katz, the mother of three from northern California, didn’t know how she would keep her kids busy all summer. After her husband made a bad business decision that landed him in prison in February 2014, life as she knew it came to an abrupt end. With her meager income, and no longer able to rely on a steady paycheck from her husband, Katz could barely afford the basics. Paying for summer camp for her children seemed out of the question.

“I was worried about my daughter,” she said. “It’s so easy for kids to make the wrong choices and take a darker path. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to afford camp.”

The Aleph Institute stepped in. A nonprofit based in Florida, with additional offices in New York and Los Angeles, Aleph works to serve the needs of Jewish prisoners and their families throughout the U.S. prison system.

In 2011, Aleph launched the Summer Camp Placement and Scholarship Initiative, since renamed “The Aleph Institute Jonathan Stampler Camp Fund.” The endowment enables hundreds of children with parents in correctional facilities to attend Jewish summer camp by arranging all the logistics from beginning to end, while offering generous subsidies and scholarships to make camp a reality.

Aleph’s family services director Rabbi Shua Brook had been in touch with the family since shortly after the husband’s incarceration. The worried mother said, “The rabbis at Aleph were and still are my human angels here on earth. They became my extended family, helping in every detail of our life.”

Realizing the children had no summer plans and had never attended a Jewish camp, Rabbi Brook offered a full camp scholarship for all three kids, and found donors willing to cover the cost. The 13- and 11-year-old boys flew to overnight camps in the northeast while the youngest stayed in a local Jewish day camp. This summer, all three children have returned to those overnight camps and are having a blast.

Although Aleph helps hundreds of families with their urgent necessities – covering costs of housing, food, utility bills, etc. – and advocates for a long term solution of the family’s financial and emotional needs, Brook feels that certain “luxury” items, like camp can have an incredible impact on a child’s life.

“The benefits of camp are many,” he says. “First, it provides the parent at home going through the torture of having a spouse in prison a much needed respite. Also, it creates a fun and meaningful experience for the kids, in which they can make new friends and explore essential Jewish values. It helps the entire family have a positive Jewish experience and become more involved with their local Jewish community.”

This summer alone, Aleph sent 96 children to Jewish camps across the country. Forty-One children are attending overnight camps such as CTeen Heritage Quest, CTeen Xtreme, Camp L’man Achai, and CGI Poconos among others.

To reach out to Aleph for someone in need or to donate, e-mail family@aleph-institute.org.

The Aleph Institute, founded in 1981 at the direction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and headed by Rabbis Sholom and Aaron Lipskar, provides crucial financial, emotional, and spiritual assistance to thousands of shattered families – helping them persevere through extraordinary crises – while providing support for their loved ones in prison and mental institutions. Aleph’s benevolent mandate also encompasses spiritual assistance to thousands of soldiers in the United States Armed Forces across the globe.

Shelley Benveniste

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

200 French Jews Immigrating to Israel Wednesday, Biggest Group this Summer

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

More than 200 French Jews will arrive in Israel this Wednesday, July 20, aboard a special Aliyah flight organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and Keren Hayesod-UIA.

This is the largest Aliyah flight from France set to land in Israel this summer. Half the new olim are teenagers, children, and toddlers who will enter the Israeli education system at the end of the summer vacation. The newcomers also include several families where three generations—grandparents, parents, and children—will be making Aliyah together. The olim will settle in Netanya, Raanana, Jerusalem, and Ashdod.

The flight was planned months ago, without any connection to recent events in France.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said in a statement that “French Jews who immigrate to Israel are coming out of choice: they have a whole world of opportunities before them, and they are choosing to come to Israel. Their choice is demonstrates that Israel affords a sense of Jewish identity and attachment to those Jews who wish to take an active part in the Jewish story. We must do everything we can to ease their professional, educational, and personal integration into Israeli society and ensure that they feel at home from the moment they first set foot on our homeland’s soil.”

Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: “In light of the difficult weekend in Nice, I wish to welcome the immigrants from France who chose to immigrate to Israel now. French Aliyah strengthens Israel, and the Government of Israel works tirelessly to ease their absorption – the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption will continue to work to remove obstacles to employment and create new opportunities for young immigrants from France, to illustrate to them that Israel is their home.”

Numbering just under half a million, the French Jewish community is the largest in Europe and the second-largest in the world outside of Israel. French Jewish immigration to Israel has surged since the year 2012, breaking records for Aliyah from France and from Western countries. 2014 marked the first time in Israel’s history that more than 1 percent of a Western Jewish community made Aliyah in a single year, an achievement repeated in 2015, with the arrival of some 7,800 immigrants from France – the most ever. In total, nearly 10% of the French Jewish community have immigrated to Israel since the year 2000, half in the past five years alone.

In response to this unprecedented demand from French Jews, The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have developed a special plan to facilitate Aliyah from France and ease French Jewish immigrants’ integration into Israeli society. The plan includes efforts to deepen young French Jews’ Jewish identity, bring them to experience Israel on a variety of programs, provide French Jews with comprehensive Aliyah information and counseling, remove barriers to employment, and increase the number of Jewish Agency shlichim (representatives) in France.

David Israel

Summer Project: Flood the Internet with Subversive Temple Mount Images

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

“How bored are the Israel police?” Facebook user Haim Brosh was wondering, after a meme he posted, showing a photoshopped image of himself, carrying an Israeli flag in front of the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, with the title of the Zionist song “Carry a flag unto Zion” and a call for the Israeli government to finally raise the flag on the Temple Mount — ended up with his arrest in the middle of the street by police detectives.

The cops could not tell a photoshopped image from the real thing, and warned Brosh to cease and desist his subversive activities, such as, we assume, getting his picture taken with an Israeli flag in front of the Al Aqsa mosque with no one noticing.

Since then, a new genre of memes has evolved in the pro-Israel side of Facebook, which we would like all of us to join, because, hey, it’s hot outside and we don’t feel like watching TV right now. Also, we’re patriotic, imaginative, and we know Photoshop.

This is the original meme by Haim Brosh.

Original flag on temple mount image

This meme was added by Arnon Segal.

Israeli flag (Arnon Segal) on Temple Mount

This came from Lizi Hameiri‎.

Israeli flag (Lizi Hameiri) on Temple Mount

And Danny Gelman.

And Danny Gelman

Here’s Jameel @ Muqata with his son (they’re wearing T’fillin too)

Jameel with Flag on Temple Mount

Then the floodgates were thrown open with this amazing meme (which we already used for the cover image but we love it so much, we figured, what the heck), we believe by Sharon Gabay.

Israeli flags on Temple Mount And we went ahead and added the ones below, but before we share them with you, please download this image if you need a foundation background for your memes, and start uploading subversive Jewish Temple Mount images to mess with the fuzz. Send us your mind gifts to www.jewishpress.com/submit-article.

This is a good background image to use.

Temple Mount Basic

And this is what we started doing with it…

Temple mount flags 3

You recognize Tzipi Hotovely above, right? She said her dream was to raise the flag on the Temple Mount, so, there you go.

Temple mount flags 2

Temple mount flags 4

Temple mount flags 5

Temple mount flags 1

Looking forward to your contributions — be funny, if possible, but keep within the limits of a Jewish family newspaper. We hope to run a follow-up story with your best submissions.

David Israel

My Right Word: Summer Camp Learning to Be a Tunnel Terrorist

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website My Right Word}

Thanks to this news outlet, we have photographic proof of martyrdom instruction, terror-training and I would think, a war crime against children:

Thank you, Muthana Najar:

Oh, note: no Israel:

Ah, to be a child having “fun” in Gaza.

Yisrael Medad

A Special Summer Camp in Israel

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Summer can’t come soon enough for kids with special needs and their parents. Thanks to Seeach Sod, Israel’s leading center for special education, children with special needs have access to the services and support that they need to flourish, all year round.

Seeach Sod was founded by Rabbi Dov Levy z”l, who had a child with Downs Syndrome before there were any services or awareness about special needs. With nowhere to turn, he established Seeach Sod in 1971 to provide a religious educational framework for his son and other children with special needs.

Understanding the importance of schedule and routine for kids with special needs, Seeach Sod extends the school year, by creating a special camp experience for the kids for an additional three weeks in August, right after Tisha B’av.. Sue Lachman, mother of Seeach Sod student, Refoel Lachman (14), knows the importance of structure all too well. “He loves going to school,” Mrs. Lachman said, “But we decided to give him a day off and take him fruit picking with his nephews. We thought he would like it but he went berserk because he just wanted to be in school.”

To make sure that kids stay grounded, Seeach Sod handcrafts the summer program to make sure that each participant is being stimulated, challenged and supported according to his or her needs. The Kaytana (summer camp) takes place from 8AM-4PM every day with participants ranging in age from 5 to 21 years old. With special art projects, local trips and outings, “We make sure camp has all of the approaches that are perfect for each participant. Each week we do something fun and unique with different types of trips” Chaim Hirshman, Group Home Men Division Manager revealed. To accommodate higher-functioning special needs people Seeach Sod is highlighting a 5-day camp in Mitzpe Yericho, and features a Shabbaton, jeeping, roping, boating, sports and many other thrilling activities.

It’s an incredible amount of work but it pays off. “We organize three weeks of fun so they will return rejuvenated and ready to face the New Year,” Hirshman said. For most schools, end of year signifies a mark of growth for students. At Seeach Sod, the camp is their litmus test. “During camp time, we see how the residents are changing, growing and improving,” Rabbi Dovid Levy, Director of the Welfare Department and son of Rabbi Dov Levy z”l, said. “It puts them in an amazing mood. Additionally, when we see that when they are in a good space, their physical health is better. It impacts the entire year. Each year, we analyze the results and try and improve upon them the following year.”

Early on, Seeach Sod recognized that a crucial part of their work is to provide parents with a respite in order to rejuvenate and ensure they have the strength and energy to be fully present with their children. One of the ways they do that is with their Nofshon Respite program. If a parent needs to go away for a few nights, they can bring their child to the respite center, which functions like a mini-hotel, where they sleep over and spend their days doing activities and trips.

There are 15 nights during the year when parents can send their kids to the nofshon. “The fact that Refoel can go to the nofshon where we know that he’s safe is important,” Mrs. Lachman said. “During the summer, the staff works to give the parents a true break.”

“During the summer camp period, Seeach Sod adds extra staff so kids can go straight from kaytana to nofshon and parents can get a break,” Hirshman explained.

“He loves going to the nofshon. They take him out and do fun things with him,” Lachman added, “They have it all set up for us so that summer isn’t too difficult, which is wonderful.”

The summer program is so successful that other kids feel a bit left out. “The parents tell us that the other kids in their household are wondering why they don’t have these kinds of activities,” Rabbi Levy claimed. “So this year, we are offering each Seeach Sod resident to invite their siblings and family and spend a fun-filled day at a huge park with us.”

Knowing how hard they work, Seeach Sod also organizes a day of fun for the summer staff. “It’s not simple. They are working all the time while everyone else is on vacation and these aren’t easy weeks of work,” Rabbi Levy explained.

For the Lachman’s Seeach Sod’s dedication is not a surprise. “Everything they do is really special. They truly love everyone,” Mrs. Lachman said.

With a full heart, Seeach Sod staff creates unforgettable experiences for kids with special needs. “The smile that we see at the end of the summer is worth all the hard work,” Rabbi Levy said. “This gives us and the children the energy to start again from the beginning.” With Seeach Sod, summer is now something to look forward to for everyone.

For more information about Seeach Sod visit their website at: http://charidy.com/seso

Jewish Press Staff

Summer Food Fun

Friday, July 1st, 2016

It’s baaaaack!

Yup, summer is here for real, bringing with it that vacation vibe and, even for those of us who still have to report to work every day, there is something in the air that makes you feel like a kid again. County fairs beckon invitingly, the nearest pool seems to be calling your name and it just feels like the right time to pack up a picnic and head for a local park for a few hours of chill time or a night full of fireworks. Somehow, no matter how you choose to spend your down time, food always manages to factor into the equation. Let’s face it: our culture really does revolve around food, so why not stock your kitchen with items that make your life easier?

Eller-070116-SodastreamSeltzer makers have become a hot item in recent years and for good reason. With the ability to make fresh carbonated beverages on the spot and dozens of varieties to choose from for those who prefer flavored sparkling water, Sodastream may forever redefine your beverage consumption. While this nifty appliance’s reusable bottles may draw the environmentally conscious, not having to shlep soda from the store or find a place to store all those bottles has an even more universal appeal. A few things to know about Sodastream: If you want to be able to use it on Shabbos, be sure to get one that doesn’t use electricity and be vigilant about only carbonating plain water and not overfilling the bottle. Trust me when I tell you that not following instructions may result in a very wet and soggy kitchen counter. Sodastream offers a large variety of OU-certified flavors, both sugar-free and sugar-full, with kid-pleasing choices like Kool-Aid Tropical Punch and Fizzy Blue, and more gourmet choices like Stevia Grapefruit Lemongrass, Green Tea Litchi and Eboost Acai Pomegranate. Watch the sales, especially around holiday times, and chances are you will be able to find a good deal on a Sodastream, making it an even more appealing addition to your kitchen.


While hot weather equals barbeque season for many, grill pans give you the ability to capture some of the benefits of outdoor cooking without ever leaving the air-conditioned comfort of your kitchen. Because of their ridged bottoms that catch drips and juices, grill pans allow you to produce nicely-seared, fabulous burgers and so much more (think fish, chicken or succulent steaks) with those mucho-appetizing grill marks. While there is no doubt that cast iron pans offer superior heat distribution and other advantages, I can’t deal with a pan that requires so much TLC, making Cuisinart’s dishwasher safe CastLite series the answer to my dreams. Made out of enamel-coated cast iron with a non-stick interior, it provides the best of all possible worlds, producing great results with easy cleanup. While this pan may be almost 50 percent lighter than a conventional cast iron griddle, I strongly suggest you not drop this one on your toe; weighing in at five pounds, it still packs quite a wallop. What size grill pan to get? That depends on your priorities – a bigger pan will give you more cooking area, but requires more storage space, so choose accordingly. Me? I am loving my 11-inch square griddle, but if space is at a premium, a smaller model may make more sense.

Eller-070116-TrivetSpeaking of storage considerations, it is important to remember that no matter how big your kitchen is, it will quickly become cluttered and disorganized if you fill your drawers and cabinets with stuff you never use. You know what I mean. The pastry blender that hasn’t been used since we last had a Clinton in the White House. The turkey baster that you got as a gift at your bridal shower and is still in its original packaging even though your youngest kid is now 15. Give them away to a friend, donate them to a needy cause or throw them all out and then stock your kitchen with items that work for you. In my case, the last gadget that I thought was practical enough to have earned real estate space in my kitchen was a Joseph Joseph Stretch Expandable Trivet. What makes this silicone-nylon trivet so practical is that while it opens to a generous 21 ½ inches to hold hot pots or pans, it folds down to a surprisingly svelte 3 inches, taking up just a tiny little spot in your drawer. Whether you go with the funky lime green or the more discreet black, this is one product that definitely works for you.


Although the Westbend On Demand Corn Popper does take up a heftier amount of kitchen space than the trivet, you may just find that this machine has slimming possibilities of its own. Pour popcorn kernels into the dispenser of this sleek stainless steel hot air popper and with a press of the lever it pops a single serving of popcorn, a great, low-calorie high-fiber snack. Want to make a bigger batch for the whole family? No problem. Just depress the lever three more times and get ready to enjoy those white, fluffy bits of goodness. Best of all, this popper, which holds 28 ounces of popcorn, does all the measuring on its own, leaving you with nothing harder to do than to grab a bowl and a salt shaker so that you can crunch away.

Eller-070116-Tovolo-KnivesEntire volumes can and probably have been written on the importance of high-quality knives but I can tell you right now that I am not qualified to discuss the merits of one knife over the other or the superiority of a $150 knife. As someone who is not a gourmet chef and likes to keep things uncomplicated, my criteria are fairly simple: give me a knife that feels good in my hand, isn’t too heavy and, most importantly, does a good job cutting. While there are plenty of great candidates out there that are an asset to any kitchen, I am finding myself very impressed with my newly-acquired Tovolo knives. While they may be best known for whimsical items like smiley face spatulas and rubber ducky ice molds, the nice folks at Tovolo have also made a serious line of knives in a full range of sizes that can tackle just about any kitchen job. Made out of high carbon stainless steel with comfort grip handles, these knives get the job done. My favorite? The five-inch prep knife, which is big enough to handle most jobs without being overly cumbersome. Does the fact that these knives come in a rainbow of colors make me love them even more? Yup. Guilty as charged.

Alright, everyone, time for me to say farewell for now. I am going to take my own advice and toss both my pastry blender and the turkey baster, leaving me extra room for more cool kitchen toys!

Sandy Eller

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/summer-food-fun/2016/07/01/

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