Shabbat Dinners Entice with a Taste of Israel

By Laurel Fairworth

Photo by Shiran Pasternak https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingi0/

Photo by Shiran Pasternak https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingi0/

Sitting around a table and sharing a meal is an easy and natural way to connect with people of backgrounds different from one’s own. That’s why the Israeli American Council (IAC) has launched Shishi Israeli, an Israeli version of traditional Shabbat dinners taking place over the next several months in Center City, the Main Line, Elkins Park and Cherry Hill, NJ. It is hoped these Shabbat celebrations will help bridge the gap between American Jews and the Israeli community. Yoni Ari, IAC Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter, says, “Friendships and the understanding of each other’s culture can take place while breaking bread and jointly savoring the Friday night tradition.” These Shabbat evenings are open to all, especially to Israeli Americans unaffiliated with a synagogue. Ari continued, “Shishi Israeli is not religious, but rather it is a joyous cultural experience showcasing an Israeli flair with food and music.”

The Friday night events feature singing, dancing, and of course copious amounts of ethnic cuisine. A traditional dinner consists of Moroccan style fish, chicken with fruit, and meatballs with hummus. “Israelis love a big table laid out with all the courses served at the same time. That way they can eat whatever they want depending on their mood,” explained Ari. “This is the typical Jewish way to welcome the new week.” It is hoped that the program will be a magnet for many families from both the Israeli and American communities, creating meaningful and during connections.

Special emphasis will be placed on the next Shishi Israeli scheduled for February 10, 2017. In honor of Tu Bishvat, donations will be collected to plant trees to replace those burned in the recent forest fires that swept Haifa. The following dinners are March 17 in Elkins Park, March 31 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia and early April at a date to be determined in south New Jersey. All of the events are in partnership with local groups which means each is unique. However they will have in common the same Israeli zest for life and Middle Eastern culinary flair.

Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu B’Shvat

By Richard H. Schwartz

By מרכז להב"ה מגאר Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25110674

Olive Tree. Photo: Pikiwiki Israel.

One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of the four questions which consider how the night of Passover differs from all the other nights of the year. Many questions are also appropriate for Tu B’Shvat, which starts on Friday evening, February 10, in 2017, because of the many ways that this holiday differs from Passover and all other nights of the year. [Read more…]

Anti-Trump Rallies

Protest Poster: "First they came for ..."

Protest Poster: “First they came for …”

Editor’s Note – Events are moving quickly. This initial story will be expanded on over time.

At Philadelphia International Airport and locations throughout the U.S., on Saturday and Sunday thousands of protestors demonstrated against President Trump’s ban on immigrants. There were frequent developments in Washington and the rest of the country as well.

 

Time Line, in Reverse Order

 

Tuesday, January 31st

Tuesday, 8 pm: Trump scheduled to announce his pick for the Supreme Court. This justice could be the crucial vote that decides the legality of Trump’s immigration ban.

Tuesday, Morning/Afternoon: Senate Democrats spoke at length about former Acting Attorney General Sally Yate’s courage in defying Trump. The Republican majority allowed them to speak, even though it delayed the vote to confirm Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General. That vote is expected to take place on Wednesday, February 1.

Monday, January 30

Monday, Late evening: Yates is replaced by Dana Boente, who immediately reversed her directive. Meanwhile, Yates is still packing up her office after a 27 year career with the Justice Department.

Monday 9 pm: Attorney General Sally Yates has been fired for refusing to defend the ban. Earlier she had sent a letter to her staff explaining the she thought the ban was illegal and unjust. She wrote that the Justice Department would not defend the ban in court. [Read more…]

Common Cause: No Issue of Voter Fraud

“The facts are clear; the research has been done. Election officials, leaders of the president’s own party and other leading election experts confirm that there is no evidence of election tampering, as President Trump alone claims. There simply is no alternate fact,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan, grassroots watchdog organization, working to assure government accountability and the right of all Americans to make their voices heard in the political process. [Read more…]

JCCs Receive Bomb Threats Twice in One Month

For Jewish community centers (JCCs) around the country, 2017 began with a series of security scares. On January 9, 16 centers in nine states received fake bomb threats, causing many evacuations and a disruption in normal operations. It was a similar scenario just nine days later when, according to the JCC Association of North America, a wave of bomb threats caused 27 JCCs in 17 states to quickly engage in security protocols to ensure the safety of their participants and facilities. [Read more…]

Writers Resist Restrictions on Free Expression

Independence Hall. Photo: Wikipedia

Independence Hall. Photo: Wikipedia

Over 35 prominent Philadelphia authors, journalists and poets will read for hundreds of members of the literary community and concerned citizens at Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty on Sunday, January 15 at 2 PM to protest the potential erosion of cherished American rights such as free expression in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election. The event will be held at the National Museum of Jewish History and is free and open to the public.

“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” will take place in sight of Independence Hall. It will feature Beth Kephart, Liz Moore, Thomas Devaney, Nathaniel Popkin, Herman Beavers, Lorene Cary, Carmen Machado, Fran Wilde, former Philly Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock, and dozens of other members of the local literary community. Many of them will be reading seminal Philadelphia freedom texts from the American Revolution to the 21st century.

It’s one of 50 simultaneous Writers Resist events around the US, which will include readings and speeches by authors like Cheryl Strayed, Alexander Chee, and Mary Karr, former U.S. Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove, and journalist Amy Goodman.

“Writers Resist” was conceived by poet and literary activist Erin Bilieu. She became concerned during the recent Presidential campaign about public cynicism and the disdain for truthfulness that have eroded democratic ideals.

“Writers are acutely aware when the uses of language are empty,” she said. “Whether you live in a red or blue state, or another country that cares deeply about the American experiment, there is no more important battle than our right to truth.”

“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” is being organized by local authors Nathaniel Popkin, Alicia Askenase, and Stephanie Feldman.

“We’re bringing together writers at the birthplace of American freedoms, and we’ll be reading from historic texts to remind us of the legacy we all need to protect,” says Popkin. “We’re coming together because as writers we must speak up for the First Amendment, for dignity and truth.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty” Facebook page #WritersResist. “Writers Resist” is a national network of writers driven to #WriteOurDemocracy by defending the ideals of a free, just and compassionate democratic society.

EVENT DETAILS
“Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty”
Sunday January 15, 2017
National Museum of American Jewish History, Dell Auditorium
5th and Market Streets
2-5 PM
Free and open to the public.

New Year, New Challenges

-Burt Siegel

As soon as it became obvious on Election Night that Donald Trump would become the next president of the United States, millions of us reacted in ways similar to how Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes the series of emotions we feel when a loved one dies: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. We probably should add outright fear to that list. [Read more…]

20 Lone Soldiers Make Aliyah, Fulfilling a Modern-Day Story of Hanukkah

Group of olim. Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Group of olim.
Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Seventy-two new immigrants (olim) from North America landed in Israel on December 28, including 20 soon-to-be IDF (Israel Defense Forces) lone soldiers. Lone soldiers serve in the Israeli army without family support in Israel. [Read more…]