Dear Siach Community,
The story of Jewish peoplehood began in this past week’s parsha at Mount Sinai, when we received the Torah and became a nation. Our collective mission is tikkun olam, repairing the world, making our communities and the global community a more just and kind place to live.
It’s so inspiring to hear from all of you about the projects you are working on and the partnerships you are forming to make your community a better place. We are excited and proud to share with you this month’s newsletter, where you will read about: Avi Dnku’s personal account coping with racism against the Ethiopian community in Israel and working towards making real change; Kayla Zecher and ATZUM’s recent political activities battling human trafficking and its important recent achievements, and Aliza Abrams describes her recent service mission to the Ukraine. Finally, we will hear from Leah Zigmond about Shabbat Siach in the desert.
Registration for Siach’s second-annual conference is still open — It’s so exciting to see how many new members we are attracting to our network, and of course how many familiar faces have chosen to return. If you have not yet registered for this June’s conference on the Kinneret, there is still time to apply – but hurry, because things are gearing up, and plans are going ahead full swing! For the application form please follow this link. Full travel subsidies are still available!
We are excited to announce new sponsorship opportunities for Siach members to reconnect outside the conference: anyone who would like to host a dinner, conversation, or other Siach topic-related event is more than welcome to apply for funds. These opportunities will strengthen our community’s ties, and help keep the conversation going, and we hope you do not hesitate to take advantage of them — for details see below. Finally, be sure to check out the webinar co-sponsored by Siach on Durban’s Climate Change talks and its impact on Jews, Israel and the world.
The Siach Team – Judith Belasco, David Brown, and Limor Friedman
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.
Siach is excited to co-sponsor, along with Green Zionist Alliance and COEJL, a webinar on February 29th 1 PM EST/US (8 PM Israel / 6 PM UK) titled “Examining Durban: How Will the Last Climate-Change Talks Impact Jews, Israel and the World?”
What happened at the climate negotiations in Durban? And how can we be involved as a Jewish community? Join a discussion about the recent U.N. Conference on Climate Change Conference in Durban. Environmentalists Dr. Orr Karassin, Michael Schut and David Turnbull will present Jewish, Israeli and interfaith perspectives.
By Leah Zigmond, Director of Education Center for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan
This past Shabbat, several Israeli Siach participants came together at Kibbutz Lotan for an informal gathering of learning, talking, laughing, eating, and continuing to discover how we can all work together and support each other. All of us were coming from busy weeks of Tu B’Shvat celebrations and we started off the gathering with several circles to update each other about what we are doing in our lives and what “fruits” we have harvested since we last saw each other. On Friday evening after dinner, Einat Kramer led a session about the meaning of Shabbat and also about Shabbat and consumerism. The topic of consumerism followed us the next day throughout our morning nature walk as some of us talked about the collective lifestyle of a communal kibbutz versus a more independent lifestyle. We learned a lot about each other’s communities and the kinds of Shabbat celebrations we have at home.
By Avi Dnku
I was unaware, when the news broke in Israel, about a group of residents from Kiryat Malachi who refused to rent or sell their homes and apartments to Ethiopians. The home owners claimed that the Ethiopians would “lower” the market value of their homes.
It was painful for me to see and hear the residents of Kiryat Malachi expressing themselves in such a vulgar and disgusting manner, with racism and hatred in their hearts. I tried to hold back my tears! I was a professional staff member and educator with a group of young adults from America, and I thought it would be inappropriate to break down and cry in front of them. Despite my attempt to fight the pain, I cried.
By Kayla Zecher, Projects Coordinator for ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking
Addressing social justice issues in Israel is not easy. There is always something “more serious” to deal with. Security usually trumps all. However, something changed with this past summer’s national social justice protests. The topic of conversation shifted. Suddenly, there were serious issues on the table that did not have to do with security or war. There was room to talk about education, child care, and public health. It was finally possible to discuss our goals and aspirations for our society. The seeds planted over the summer bore fruit last week, when Israel moved one step closer to joining the ranks of countries working towards ridding our world of modern day slavery in one of its most globally pervasive forms: sex trafficking and prostitution.
By Aliza Abrams, Assistant Director, Department of Service Learning and Experiential Education at the Center for the Jewish Future, Yeshiva University
About three weeks ago, I returned from Kharkov Ukraine where I was leading a short-term service mission on behalf of Yeshiva University in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). While on the ground we learned about the welfare and services provided for those in need as well as did hands on service work within the communities of Kharkov and Poltova. A few of the projects included home visits to elderly members of the community, delivering food packages to low income families as well as doing repairs in a Jewish school and a youth center. Every person we interacted with thanked us for coming and for volunteering, and yet the students and I kept finding ourselves thanking them for allowing us into their lives to help them.
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!