Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Memorializing Richard Schoenstadt: Fierce Israel advocate

The Schoenstadt clan at last year's event. 
By Kate Schoenstadt

The Richard Schoenstadt Memorial Foundation (RSMF) was established just after the first anniversary of Richard’s death by members of his immediate and extended family. We felt that Richard’s voice, his message, was far too great to disappear on June 13th, 2012, when we lost him to a 20-plus-year battle with leukemia. Every year, we build upon his legacy. Instead of recalling the way in which he was taken from us, we choose to continue the work he deemed the most important while he lived. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gratitude for lone soldier daughter's 'mom away from mom' in Israel

Adina, with her parents and NBN co-founder Tony Gelbart (second from left). 
By Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz

It was on August 17, 2015 that Adina, our youngest daughter, wearing a T-shirt that read Olim L'Tzahal (moving to Israel to join the army), boarded an El Al plane. Our hearts burst with pride as parents who raised her in a deeply Zionist environment. 

The words of Arik Einstein’s song "Uf Gozal Chatoch et Hashamayim" sounded like a bombastic awakening: 

“Fly away my little bird, cut the sky
Fly where ever you want
Just don’t forget there is an eagle in the sky
Be aware, fly away.”

And then it dawned on me. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book preview: 'Becoming Israeli,' 40 personal tales of making aliyah

Akiva Gersh, center, a teacher at JNF partner Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Photo cred: Joey Rushfield

Beloved AMHSI teacher Akiva Gersh has just released a new book, "Becoming Israeli: The Hysterical, Inspiring and Challenging Sides of Making Aliyah." Here, he shares his story and an excerpt from the book, which is now available on Amazon.

By Akiva Gersh

As a kid growing up in New York, Israel was really far away. As in off the map. Not only because Israel was in the Middle East and I was in America; it was far away in heart and mind as well. I paid no attention to Israel and the people around me never spoke about it. I can only recall obscure memories of Israel from my childhood, like images of Israeli soldiers flashing across the screen during the 6 o'clock news or my Hebrew school’s honorable, but unsuccessful, attempt to get us students to like falafel. 

Fast forward many years. I'm fresh out of college and come to Israel with a backpack on my back after having traveled through West Africa for two months. My arrival in Israel was the climax of a three-year journey searching for more spirituality and deeper meaning. I had already begun to discover new and inspiring sides of Judaism that were previously unknown to me but I knew Israel held important answers to many of my still-lingering questions. My plan was to find those answers and then return to America to continue the rest of my life.

But something happened. Immediately I felt something in Israel that I never felt anywhere in the world at any point in my life. 

I felt a deep sense of being home.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to entice employees to Israel's Negev? A brainstorm in the desert

By Tamar Gil, director of resource and development at Tor HaMidbar

Think of high-quality HR, and maybe a large high-tech company or fancy corporate business come to mind. It’s unlikely you'll think of a midsize chemical company in Southern Israel. But Hugo Speyer, HR director at Chemada on the Gaza border, along with dozens of other human-resource professionals, is working to change that. 

That desire for change took the spotlight recently, as history was made in the Negev. More than 150 senior HR personnel and representatives from more than two dozen employment agencies came together for the Negev’s first ever conference for human-resource professionals May 22. Organized by The Lauder Employment Center-Tor HaMidbar and the Southern Manufacturers Union, the conference offered a unique opportunity to connect the main players in Negev employment, and fostered a discussion on how to best show job seekers the desirability of jobs in the Negev.   

Friday, June 9, 2017

In the JNF Kitchen: From Israeli ice cream shop Buza, fresh fruit sorbet

Buza ice cream Israel

Ice cream shop Buza in Israel's Western Galilee has graced us with this delightful recipe for prickly pear or strawberry sorbet -- the flavor is up to you! 

Buza, the Arabic word for ice cream, is co-owned and operated by Alaa Sweetat, a local Muslim, and Adam Ziv, a Jew from Kibbutz Sasa. Their ice cream is Italian-inspired and produced from the finest ingredients, 100 percent natural. Their main store is located in the center of Maalot-Tarshicha, a Jewish-Arab town in the culturally diverse Western Galilee. Friends Sweetat and Ziv are models for co-existence. What brings people together if not ice cream?!