Middle East Expert David Makovsky Speaks at Gratz Gala

The crowd of 260 that attended Gratz College’s Jeffrey B. Plevan Annual Gala must have left the event with a spring in their step. From the videos during the cocktail hour to the accolades for the honorees – board member Leon Levy, retiring professor Dr. Saul Wachs and former College President Joy Goldstein – the whole event was supercharged with gratitude, positivity and optimism. Even the keynote speaker, David Makovsky, the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, offered a rather upbeat assessment of Israel and its relationship with its Arab neighbors, a topic more often described in terms of deep-rooted problems. [Read more…]

State Senator Daylin Leach and Daughter Brennan Honored

Brennan and Daylin Leach. Photo: CNN

Brennan and Daylin Leach. Photo: CNN

The Democratic Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth (DCLMN) held their annual Spring Dinner earlier this month. The theme of this year’s dinner was “The Shake It Up Party.” Given the unprecedented challenges facing our party and our country, we didn’t want to have a traditional fundraising dinner. Instead, we had decided to shake things up, do some unconventional things. So, we featured music and art that reflected the protest movements of the past and the resistance efforts underway now. We honored State Senator Daylin Leach, quintessential fighter for liberal causes and opponent of the status quo. We also presented Daylin’s daughter, Brennan Leach, with our first-ever Youth Honoree award. [Read more…]

Perelman Jewish Day School Celebrates 60

By Shira Wohlberg

On Wednesday May 24, Perelman Jewish Day School held its Tribute Event, celebrating 60 years of educating the minds and souls of thousands of children in the greater Philadelphia area. Over 400 members of the community – parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and friends – gathered at Har Zion Temple, where the school began, to celebrate this remarkable milestone. Attendees honored the legacy of Judy and David Wachs, their parents, founders Fannie and Abe Birenbaum, and their family, and paid tribute to Past Presidents.

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A Community Holds Candlelight Vigil in Face of Hate-Based Activity

Candlelight vigil at Ambler Church of the Brethren. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor

“Hate has no home here,” Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, said to a room of around 300, during an interfaith candlelight vigil in response to recent anti-Semitic and racist attacks.

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Young Generation Displays Next Century Entrepreneurship

By Laurel Fairworth

Judgement Day is coming June 5, 2017, for a group of local students. A trio of well known experts will decide which of the two dozen students involved in the Eitanim leadership building program, a national program with 17 groups across the US, has created a unique way to capture the past while looking ahead to the future of Israel. The Israeli American Council sponsored program is especially timely now in light of recent anti-Israeli sentiment. The judges have all demonstrated they have the right stuff, excelling in various businesses. Ami Miron, who was very successful in the public sector, says he is looking for innovation and the wow factor. “Technology is the tool to create bridges and connect the Israeli and Jewish communities. That is what I am looking for in these student projects,” explained Miron.

Ninth through twelfth graders at Barrack Hebrew Academy and various high schools in the Greater Philadelphia area were challenged during this seven month project to think outside the box. They were asked to innovate with the hope they would find a deeper connection with the Holy Land. Since September, the kids have been putting long hours into their inventions. Liat Dorani says she has been surprised about what she discovered. “Eitanim has been an amazing way for me to understand people I normally think I don’t have any similarities with. I got to learn there that these teenagers are the same as me, living and breathing pride in their Judaism and their pride in the state of Israel,” said Dorani. Fifty percent of the students are Israeli-Americans the other half are Jewish-Americans.

Tasked with developing unique ways to showcase modern Israel while honoring our collective past the teens benefited from the advice and guidance of mentors such as Shai Shermister. He rose to prominence at SAP and was in turn surprised about what he got back from the experience. He is looking forward to seeing the students’ finished products.

Students say they have developed a deep appreciation for those who preceded them and all things Israeli, and an unexpected friendship with each other. The idea for this exercise was that it would hone skills and help the group excel when they go to college.

The public is invited to view and try out the students’ creations on June 5, 2017, at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Please RSVP to sharonad@israeliamerican.org

Prof. Saul Wachs Retiring After 42 Years at Gratz College

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy, is retiring at the age of 85, after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Described as a legend within the field of Jewish education, Dr. Wachs will be honored with a tribute at the Gratz annual gala, an honorary doctorate at commencement and a scholarship prize created in his name. He has also been granted emeritus status by the Gratz College Board of Governors.

Dr. Saul Wachs

Dr. Saul Wachs

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Archbishop Sends Passover Greetings

Archbishop Chaput.

Archbishop Chaput.

Dear Friends,

Now that the annual observance of Passover is drawing near, I take this opportunity to send greetings to the Jewish community in the Philadelphia area. Both on my own, and in union with the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I offer my prayerful best wishes on this holy occasion.

We live in a time when global issues like war and persecution have resulted in many newcomers in our midst.  They are often made to feel very alienated.  The experience of the people of the Exodus has something very timely for us to learn.  They were urged to be just and kind to the stranger. We must apply this teaching to our day with greater devotion than ever. [Read more…]

The Antidote to Idol Worship

Photo Credit to the Office of Rabbi Sacks.

Photo Credit to the Office of Rabbi Sacks.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks recently returned for another visit to Kohelet Yeshiva, the Modern Orthodox high school in Merion Station, for Shabbat services, and gave a drasha (sermon) entitled “The Idols in Our Lives: Contemporary Echoes of the Golden Calf.” The legendary British rabbi served in London for over 20 years as the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He has received numerous awards and honors — including the prestigious Templeton Prize — and has written more than 30 books. [Read more…]

There Is No Such Thing as Sanctuary

As of October 2015, sanctuary status was claimed by 326 counties, 32 cities and four states, according to Philippe Weisz, managing attorney of HIAS Pennsylvania. Despite these numbers, Weisz explained that there is actually no such legal entity as “sanctuary,” since the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates freely. Weisz spoke during the inaugural session of HIAS Pennsylvania’s education series Welcoming the Stranger: Considering Immigration and Refugee Issues from a Jewish Perspective. The series provides background into American law and policy on these issues, as well as teachings on Jewish values. [Read more…]