[Newsletter] August / Elul

Dear Siach Community,

It seems that we just blinked and the summer has already gone by. The Olympics are long forgotten and we are trying to savor our last days of vacation and quality time with the family.

The month of Elul has already begun which means countdown to the holiday season is approaching. Elul is traditionally a time for introspection and stocktaking – a time to review one’s deeds and spiritual progress over the past year as we prepare for the new year. Elul serves as a reminder for us, who are dedicated to the value of Tikkun Olam (restoring the world), that we also must not forget about self-restoration (T’shuvah). It is time for us as individuals, as a community, and as a nation to venture on a quest for self-improvement.

In this newsletter, you will find in our spotlight feature, how the concept of self-restoration and introspection has lead to the revival of a long forgotten Elul tradition that can enrich and partake in the process of world-restoration. Additionally, you will find a very moving piece that calls for action and responsibility following the tragic burning of a social justice protester in Tel Aviv.

Finally, make sure to check out some of the great opportunities that our network is proud to present, from a special stipend, to continued learning about Shmittah to alarge number of service announcements, Mazel Tovs, and milestones.

Wishing you a meaningful Elul,
The Siach Team – Judith Belasco, David Brown, and Limor Friedman


Siach Stipend Opportunity

[Image]With the Siach conference nearly three months behind us, we are excited to offer you new opportunities to further expand your horizons and circles of networks. Siach is happy to announce the availability of up to $200 stipend towards your participation in a future conference of your choice. This conference can be related to your professional field or towards your quest to enhance your own Jewish identity or sense of Jewish peoplehood. Upon completion of the conference, grantees are requested to write a blog post or article about the conference, which will be shared with the larger Siach community.

Applications for this unique opportunity are due by November 1, 2012.

The conference you wish to attend must be held before August 31, 2013.
To find out more information or if you have any follow up questions, feel free to contact Limor Friedman, siach@heschel.org.il

Apply for a Stipend


Beit Midrash on Shmita
Opportunity for our North American Members

[Image]Building on the energy and interest during the Beit Midrash session on Shmita – wealth, work, rest, food, and debt – at this year’s Siach conference, Hazon, one of Siach’s founding partners is planning to bring a Kevah educator to lead seven lunch-time sessions about Shmita throughout the fall and early winter at Makom Hadash (125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY).

The class is limited to 10-12 people and participants are asked to commit to attending all seven session (or at least six of the seven). The course will be held a from 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM on the following dates: September 20th and 27th, October 11th and 25th, November 8th and 29th, and December 13th. Members are encouraged to come early to enjoy their lunches. The course is free to Siach participants.

If you are interested, please email: Judith.Belasco@hazon.org to reserve your spot in the course. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Spotlight on a Siach Partnership:
Rosh Hashanah LaBehema

Aharon Varady (The Open Siddur Project, USA) has joined forces with Yossi Wolfson (Ginger, Israel) and Shmuly Yanklowitz (Uri L’Tzedek, USA) to revive the Mishnaic idea of Rosh Hashana LaBehama, Rosh Hashana for animals.

[Image]So what is “the New Year for Animals?”

According to the Mishnah (Rosh Hashanah, Chapter 1, Mishna 1) the first of the month of Elul is “the new year for tithing of beasts,” the same source that tells us that Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for trees. Originally, Tu B’Shvat served as a marker of time for taxation and tithes for trees and it has transformed into a spiritual/activist holiday relating to the celebration of the environment and the natural world surrounding us. The hope is that the first of Elul can also become a holiday celebrating our relationship with animals, particularly those exploited in agricultural factories. Whereas tithing animals is not relevant nowadays – cruelty to animals in agriculture is harsher than ever. Jewish teachings about our duties to animals are thus more relevant than ever and a day dedicated to the issue is a pressing need. By renewing and reclaiming the first of Elul in this manner, we can take a day that was once connected to sacrifice of animals and can transform it into a tool for their protection…

Continue Reading “Spotlight on a Siach Partnership: Rosh Hashanah LaBehema…”


A Personal Tribute to Moshe Silman

By Rabbi Idit Lev (Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel)

July 14, 2012 was the anniversary of the social justice protest in Israel and we, the people from the social protest movement, organized demonstrations all over the State. I took upon myself to organize the demonstration in my own town of Haifa.

There was one person who had become homeless that my organization – and myself – was close to. He promised us more than once, that if he remained homeless, he would burn himself as a final act of protest. We tried our hardest to convince him not to hurt himself and thought had had listened.

But when I was on my way home from the demonstration in Haifa, I got the news: Moshe had burned himself in the biggest demonstration that night in Tel Aviv. Instead of going home, I drove for almost two hours to the hospital where he was taken and spent the night at his bedside…

Continue Reading “A Personal Tribute to Moshe Silman…”

Rabbi Idit’s eulogy for Moshe. Read more about Moshe’s personal story.


From Hava Nagila at the Olympics to Israeli Technology at the U.N.

Originally posted on eJewishPhilanthropy

By Rachel Ishofsky, Associate Executive Director, Jewish Heart for Africa.

Last Sunday, an Olympic gymnast – Aly Raisman – did a floor routine to Hava Nagila. As one might assume, she’s Jewish. And when she got up in front of the whole world to perform, she broadcast this fact to all who watched.

There are times and places in which the whole world comes together. When that happens, the State of Israel and the Jewish people have an opportunity to share our best face with the global community. We don’t want to be the bad news people, we don’t need to let conflict define our international identity.

That’s why we at Jewish Heart for Africa have spent the last 18 months pursuing Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Our mission is to bring sustainable Israeli technologies to African villages. We take Israeli innovation and bring it to those who need it most. Solar technology allows us to provide rural medical clinics with light for nighttime medical care and refrigeration for lifesaving vaccines. It allows us to pump clean water for those who don’t have it, and to provide children and adults who don’t have access to light at night with educational opportunities even after the sun sets. Drip irrigation allows us to offer African farmers and their families the same technology that made Israel’s deserts bloom, giving them a source of food and income even during the dry season. In less than five years, we’ve completed 58 solar and agricultural projects, impacting over 250,000 people…

Continue Reading “From Hava Nagila to Israeli Technology at the U.N….”


SIACH Freecycle

This section is for you to post offers and requests.

Hechalutz (zohar@hechalutz.org)

An Israeli non-profit center for alternative Zionist education – is seeking Israel trip organizers in North America. We are hoping to partner with trip organizers (financially and otherwise) in order to expose the widest possible audience to our educational content. If you are connected to such an organization or individual and would like to explore this further, please contact Zohar Avigdori.

Matt Fieldman (mattfieldman@yahoo.com)

After being thoroughly inspired by Siach, he convinced his fundraising consulting company to spend more time and energy helping Israeli nonprofits raise money in the United States. Knowing that Israeli “amutot” can’t pay typical American consulting fees, they are going to offer significantly reduced rates for Israeli clients. Not only that, but they have an amazing and diverse team of consultants that will offer their contacts and expertise to help you. Matt was moved and inspired by the amazing leaders he met at Siach, and would welcome the chance to help you raise money, so please let him know if you’re interested in hearing more.

Learn more about Bloom Metz Consulting.

Yonatan Glaser (yonatan@btzedek.org.il)

At the Siach Conference last year the partnership between B’Tzedek and Project T.E.N. (of JAFI) started to form, and they just launched the new T.E.N.-B’Tzedek three-month service-learning program in Hyderabad, India. This new program is in addition to LIFE, B’Tzedek’s existing nine-month leadership development program for college graduates. LIFE is an internship-based career and leadership development program for participants from across the Jewish world together with their Israeli peers. Participants spend 4-months in India and 5-months in Israel in positions that advance their social justice agendas, all the while learning and participating in training and site visits.

Please pass on details to those who may want to apply, or who work with those who would want to apply (BOTH Israelis and young Jewish adults from around the world):

LIFE Program (applications close August 31st)
T.E.N.-B’Tzedek.

Neve Schechter – Tel Aviv (orlyd@neve.org.il)

We are happy to announce the opening of Neve Schechter Legacy Center for Jewish Culture in Tel Aviv. The grand opening will be accompanied by two days filled with cultural activities, lectures and music (September 6-7, 2012). Learn more.

Encounter (yona@encounterprograms.org)

Encounter is now accepting applications for their upcoming November 1-2 trip to Areas B and C around Bethlehem for Jewish professionals and lay leaders. Applicants with Israeli citizenship may apply. Please be in touch with any questions! Learn more.

Hava V’Adam Educational – Ecological Farm Modiin

The Educational-Ecological Farm is looking for guides for their Waste Separation Project in conjunction with the Modiin Municipality to run educational activities in schools as well as home guidance with city residents. A background in guiding and informal education is a must, experience in environmental and ecological topics are an advantage. The position is open to residents of Modiin and the surrounding area only. Send resumes to Tess.l@havaveadam.org.


Stay in Touch

We hope that you find this newsletter as meaningful and inspirational as we did, and we would love to hear from you.

  • Have updates about your social justice and environmental work?
  • Want to be the next newsletter’s featured partnership?
  • Do you have a mazal tov announcement that you would like to share with the rest of the Siach community?
  • Would you like to contribute an article to the next edition of the newsletter?

Please email us at Siach@heschel.org.il to share!

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