[Newsletter] Pesach

Dear Siach Community,

In just a few days, we will be sitting around the table with our loved ones to celebrate Pesach. When we sit down to begin our sedar, the very first call in the haggadah is:

Kol dikhsif, yeitei v’yeikhol. All who are hungry, come and eat.

[Image: Sitting Around the Room]Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of England, explains that “sharing food is the first act through which slaves become free human beings. One who fears tomorrow does not offer his bread to others, but one who is willing to divide his food with a stranger has already shown himself capable of fellowship and faith, the first two things from which hope is born. That is why we begin the seder by inviting others to join us”

Our first responsibility as free people is to worry about those who are less fortunate, those who are not sitting around the seder table, and those who can not afford a hot meal. It is our individual and collective responsibility to reach out and invite those individuals into our homes and into our seders. As members of the Siach community, we each, in our own way, in our own organization, strive to constantly keep this Jewish value as an underlying theme in everything that we do.

We are only two months away from the second annual Siach Conference and we are excited for the opportunity to reconnect and meet new colleagues and to bring our unique applications of this value into our global network. Together we can explore new ways to act on this responsibility, partner together, and deepen the conversation around collective action.

Wishing you and your families a happy and meaningful Pesach,
The Siach Team – Judith Belasco, David Brown, and Limor Friedman

Mars and Venus in the Jewish Community: An Honest Conversation about Gender Segregation

Rachel Azaria at the 2011 Siach Conference

Tuesday, May 1st, at 10 AM New York Time, 3 PM UK time, 5 PM Israel time.

Join us for an in-depth discussion about Judaism and gender segregation in Israel and the UK. Recently, these issues have come to light as real life cases have been publicized and sparked massive global attention. This Webinar will feature Rachel Azaria and Maureen Kendler, two leading women on gender issues within their Jewish communities, and will be moderated by David Rosenn.

Rachel Azaria, a member of the Siach Community and a member of Jerusalem Municipality who was relieved of her duties as a coalition member for her activism in regards to women’s rights in public spheres. Read about her experiences and thoughts.

Maureen Kendler lives and works in the Orthodox British Jewish Community and has grown concerned about recent events connected to the erasure of women in public spaces. Maureen has started to take a deeper look at what is happening at home and away in this area and is sounding a serious warning for the Jewish community about the peril of rendering 52% of its community invisible.

David Rosenn is COO at the New Israel Fund, charged with managing NIF’s day-to-day operations in North America and involved in setting and executing strategy for the organization overall.

To sign up for this webinar please email siach@heschel.org.il and you will receive a registration link and confirmation.

Siach Stipend – Jumpstarting the Conversation

[Image: Jumpstart the Conversation]Siach would love to help you continue or restart some of the conversations in your own community, and to at the same time reconnect with your fellow Siach members. North American and European participants — check out our newest initiative:

Are you holding an event where Siach-related conversations are going to be discussed? Are you bringing 5 or more Siach participants together at an event? Do you need extra funds to support this event or program?

Complete a short application to be eligible for up to $75 US toward making your Siach-related program happen. All US and European participants are welcome to apply. Israelis should look for details about the next Israeli gathering soon.

If you have any questions, please be in touch with Judith@hazon.org if you are in the US, and David@jhub.org.uk if you are in Europe.

Repairing the World with Our Eyes Open

By Talya Gillman and Will Berkowitz

What could a stroll through the tree-lined, litter-free, generally beautiful, and distinctly upscale neighborhood of Westwood, Los Angeles teach a group college students about the foundations of authentic service and quality social justice work? Simply put, quite a bit.

This past January, Repair the World convened a shabbaton for undergraduate student leaders from across the United States, on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles. Each of the more than 20 participants are currently Repair interns at various universities around country, tasked with leading their peers in service that is both meaningful to the volunteers, and valued by the communities that the students spend time and energy in. We structured the gathering in order to facilitate independent and group reflection and discussion on what it means, and what is involved in “living a life of [effective] service.”

Continue reading “Repairing the World with Our Eyes Open…”

Will Berkowitz, Senior Vice President at Repair the World, is developing innovative partnership initiatives with organizations across the United States. Talya Gillman, Partnerships Manager at Repair the World, works to coordinate partnerships with a range of organizations that engage Jewish young adults in local service-learning.

Environmental Peace in the Wild Middle East

By Amy Lipman Avizohar, Israeli Education Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Middle East

International Water Day occurs every year on March 22nd. At Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), leading up to this important day, we were working hard on planning youth camps for 130 “Water Trustees” from Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian Communities who share cross-border water resources. The camps were planned at three cross-border water locations in Israel—the Lower Jordan River in the north, the Alexander River in the center and the Besor River in the south. All basins suffer from dire pollution and degradation.

However, as often happens in the Middle East, the unexpected is expected and crisis is a routine. A week before the youth camps were supposed to take place, the South of Israel was under rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and tensions ran high. Emails were circulated sending support to the staff that live in the Eshkol Region in southern Israel and in Gaza. You may ask yourself, like I did, how can you actually work together in these conditions? Is it possible to meet and continue business as usual?

Continue Reading “Environmental Peace in the Wild Middle East…”

Amy Lipman is the Education and GIS Project Manager at Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional NGO jointly run by Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians, working together on cross border environmental issues.

Dilemmas of Safety Vs. Solidarity While Under Attack

by Naomi Efrat, Kama Community

This year’s Purim celebration at the community of “Kama” in Beer Sheva took us all by surprise. Not because of the originality of the costumes or Purim tricks, but a little before midnight, we heard the first siren warning of a rocket attack. We barely heard the warning over the music and dancing. By the time we started running to the communal bomb-shelter, the missile had already fallen. You would think that with rockets falling in the middle of the Purim celebration, that would ruin the festive spirit of the evening, but nothing could be further from the truth..

….מסיבת פורים השנה של קהילת קמה בבאר שבע, הפתיעה אותנו ולא בגלל המקוריות של התחפושות. איפה שהוא קצת לפני חצות נשמעה אזעקה בעיר. בגלל המוסיקה והריקודים בקושי שמנו לב, והתחלנו לרוץ למקלט המשותף שבדירת הקהילה זמן רב אחרי שהטילים נפלו…הייתם מצפים שאירוע כזה, של טילים באמצע מסיבת פורים, די יהרוס את השמחה, אבל האמת היא שהטילים רק העצימו את תחושת שותפות הגורל וכמובן את הצורך לרקוד ולשתות.

Continue Reading “Dilemmas of Safety Vs. Solidarity…” | בעברית

Naomi Efrat has been involved in social action for 13 years, serving as a program coordinator and educator, and currently serves as the Partnerships Director of the Rikma Center for Community Development.

Tired of your same old Pesach Seder?

[Image: Seder Table]This Pesach, we want to encourage you to bring some of your Siach-inspired work home to the seder table by adding some of the following supplements to your family’s experience. These materials, provided by the Siach community around the globe, enable you to re-examine some of the traditional Pesach values in light of today’s pressing issues.

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