As hundreds of rockets continue to rain down on Israel and target Israelis where they live and work, the nation remains at a frightening standstill: Read more
At first glance, with earbuds snuggly in place and sunglasses perched atop his head, Ido Lev, a 34-year-old software engineer, looks like a typical Tel Avivian. But Ido has had anything but a typical life. In fact, he wasn’t born Ido Lev. He was born with a different name, into a Hasidic stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism deep in the heart of Bnei Brak, only four miles away from liberal Tel Aviv, and almost exclusively inhabited by Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. Read more
by Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder
Rabbi in Residence at B’chol Lashon
On the first night of the Northern California Rabbinic Mission of Israel, Rabbi Stacy Friedman opened our Federation sponsored trip by pointing out that just as we have seasonal Halloween pop up stores throughout our region, in Israel there are pop up Purim stores which similarly sell costumes, make up and accessories. For Rabbi Friedman, these stores are a reminder of how public life in Israel moves to the rhythms of Jewish life.
But Purim differs from Halloween. At Halloween, we don costumes to scare others. At Purim, we don costumes to see the world through different eyes. To literally put on a different point of view.
So it is only fitting that this trip is happening in the weeks leading up to Purim. The 17 rabbis traveling the country this week represent the full diversity of Jewish life in Northern California. We have different approaches to religion and observance, we serve big and small congregations as well as non-profits and in chaplaincy. We have many points of view. By traveling together we are learning to see Israel through each other’s point of view.
We are also “trying on” all sorts of Israeli points of view. Our itinerary is purposely introducing us to many different Israelis, who each tell a unique Israeli story. On our first day alone, we met with the founder of a youth movement for Orthodox gay teens, with the head of Israel’s premier civil rights organization, and with the leadership and students of a secular Yeshivah in Tel Aviv. At each stop we not only saw Israel through their eyes, but also saw the changes they are affecting on Israeli society and culture.
Paintings, too, capture different points of view. We saw the retrospective of 82 year old Naftali Bez. Bez came to Israel during WWII as a young man and has been painting what he sees since his early teens. Even our food came with a story and a new way to look at the world. Liliyot, a fine dining restaurant, fills its kitchen with an apprenticeship program for at risk youth. Graduating them to full time jobs in culinary arts. Good food and good works.
In Haifa, we learned about the thousands of foreign educational and non-profit leaders who make their way through the leadership training institute founded by Golda Meir. Each teacher from Ghana, social worker from Thailand, or government employee from Ecuador who spends three weeks learning from the best of what Israel has to offer becomes an unofficial goodwill ambassador. At the Technion, Israel’s leading technical university, we learned how the school is committed to reaching out to every sector of Israeli society from the Ultra Orthodox to the kids in crisis. At Beit Hagefen, a center dedicated to religious and cultural dialogue, we heard from a rabbi and a Muslim leader about how religious leaders come together to speak out against discrimination.
But while some points of view are easy to try on, others stretch us and make us see the world from places we may not choose to get to on our own. On Thursday, we experienced two radically different points of view. First we visited with the settlers in Hebron and had a chance to visit the holy burial site of Abraham, Sarah, Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob and Leah. We heard from a young army spokesman who is responsible for the security of over 600,000 individuals. And in the afternoon we went on a tour with Ir Amim where we learned about how the current political and security realities are effecting the Arab population. Whatever our points of view, we are challenged to consider opinions that we may have not considered before.
Next week, we return to Northern California to our congregations and organizations. We will be bringing back the new visions and experiences to share. And when Israel or Purim ‘pops up’ we will have a great many perspectives to draw upon.
On Saturday, a masked assailant dressed in black from head to toe opened fire on a gay teen center’s support group meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 2 members of the group: 16 year old, Liz Trubeshi, and 26 year old, Nir Katz, the support group counselor, and wounding 10 others. The gunman managed to find the secret location of the support group’s meetings; many of the kids were not yet out to their parents before the shooting. On Sunday, thousands in Tel Aviv protested the senseless murders, and crowds gathered in other Israeli cities as well.
An ad hoc group of San Francisco-based Jewish and gay organizations and individuals is organizing a candlelight vigil/memorial for tonight, Monday night, to memorialize the young Israeli victims. The safety of LGBT youth is of utmost concern; this could happen at any center anywhere in the world. Organizers are calling for LGBT centers around the country and world to also hold vigils on Monday.
People will gather at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St @ 16th St) at 6:00pm and march down Dolores Street and then down Market Street to the San Francisco LGBT Center (1800 Market Street @ Octavia St).
TONIGHT, Monday, August 3, 2009
|5:30pm||Gather at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav
(290 Dolores St @ 16th St, San Francisco)
|6:00pm||March from Sha’ar Zahav to SF LGBT Center
(1800 Market Street @ Octavia St, San Francisco)
|6:30pm||Speakers & Candlelight Vigil|
Content for this blog post was provided courtesy of San Francisco publicist and co-organizer Lisa Geduldig. Click here for the original press release.
For the past week, the Israel Center and the band YaRock have been on tour, bringing remixed Tel Aviv music to the Bay Area. Their program, consisting of classics from by Naomi Shemer and Shlomo Artzi, as well as modern hits from bands like HaDag Nahash, has received a warm welcome and dancing crowds.
The “Tel Aviv from Sand to Rock” tour has one final stop, a FREE concert at Stanford. All are welcome to attend.
Tel Aviv in Motion film series continues with Tel Aviv Stories סיפורי תל אביב
Inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s and Woody Allen’s 1989 New York Stories, young Israeli film directors Ayelet Menachemi (Ravens, Noodle), Nirit Yaron and screenwriter Shemi Zarhin (Aviva, my Love, Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi) created Tel Aviv Stories (1989), a feature made of three short movies telling stories of young women in Tel Aviv: One who tries to find the right guy, one who makes an effort to get a divorce from her runaway husband, and one who turns Tel Aviv upside down in order to save a kitten trapped in a storm drain. “Sharona, Honey,” “Divorce” and “Operation Cat” have turned into Israeli classics. Starring Yael Abecassis, Anat Waxman, Ruthi Goldberg and Sasson Gabai.
In Hebrew with English subtitles
Sunday, Nov 23, 6:00 pm
The city the New York Times named the “Capital of Mediterranean Cool” is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In April 1909, on a sand dune outside of Jaffa, a group of people founded a small neighborhood that would later become the center of Hebrew culture, and Israel’s economic, business, academic and entertainment capital. In the next series of blog posts we’ll tell you more about Tel Aviv and encourage you to pay this wonderful city a visit.
This year the Israel Center brings Tel Aviv to the Bay area! Art exhibits, rock and jazz concerts, evening cabarets, authors, film series, lectures and more… For details and updates, check the Israel Center’s website.
Last Sunday marked the launching of the year-long festivities with the screening of Jellyfish (Meduzot) by Etagr Keret. Kanbar Hall at the JCCSF was packed with an enthusiastic crowd of 350 Tzavta, The Hub and the Jewish Film Festival members. When asked about Tel Aviv, Etgar replied that for him, in Tel Aviv, as in San Francisco, there is a sense of cultural and social diversity. Orthodox and Secular Jews, Arabs and other foreigners all share this urban space with mutual respect.
We have more to share about Tel Aviv in future posts, but will sign off here with a few words from Mayor Gavin Newson speaking at the port of Tel Aviv in his recent visit to lsrael.