FeminIsrael Celebrates Israeli Women

feminisrael-21-150x150The American Zionist Movement and World Zionist Organization are proud to support FeminIsrael, a project that celebrates Israeli women and their accomplishments. During the year, WZO’s Beit Ha’am and Voices Fellowship each provide programming about women’s achievements and challenges in Israel as part of a broader dialogue about social change in Israel. Discussions cover topics as varied as equality for women, religious pluralism, coexistence, economic challenges and more.

Each March, in honor of Women’s History Month, FeminIsrael takes these discussions a step further. Through its educational events and speakers throughout North America, FeminIsrael focuses on Israeli women who have improved their communities and inspired the people around them. Organizers hope these events will serve as motivation for new advocates of feminism, and that whether in a local Jewish community or on a college campus, attendees will become active voices for change.

This year, FeminIsrael is partnering with AZM, B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in New York City, ARZA, Makom and the Inter Agency Task force, which helped find speakers.

In the New York area, FeminIsrael will be hosting “Women. Israel. Religion,” a Beit Ha’am Z-Talk, on Sunday, March 23. The panel promises to be truly thought provoking, with speakers from a variety of backgrounds, and is co-sponsored and hosted by B’nai Jeshurun Congregation. For more information and to register, visit here.

To plan a FeminIsrael event in your area, please contact Tova Birnbaum at TovaB@wzo.org.il.

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Participate in the AZM Purim Connection 2014

AZM_PurimIllustration_smallFebruary 10, 2014/10 Adar 5774

Did you notice it’s Adar? Well, really Adar I.

Soon it will be Purim. The streets in Israel and Jewish neighborhoods around the world will resonate and echo with the laughter and gaiety associated with Purim. It is a day meant to let it all hang out before returning to the stresses and strains of daily life.

But away from the merriment stand Lone Soldiers, olim,who are  immigrants to the Jewish State, standing guard in defense of a newly-adopted Homeland. It is Purim. Who will send them Purim gifts, mishloach manotYou can through the annual AZM Purim Connection, now more than 25 years old. A gift of $36, $54 or more will brighten the routine for these shomrim, guardians of our future and tell them they are cared about and remembered.

The Purim Connection will also reach Israeli children who will gain a new perspective on Jewish life when they receiving a gift from far away.  AZM engages day schools and synagogue classes in the US to collect here for mishloah manot that go to eager hands over there.  Your personal donation will be joined with those from the schools, bringing joy to many in Israel. It will happen if you make it so.

For American Zionists and supporters of Israel, there is no ad de lo yadah, not knowing the difference between Mordechai and Haman. We are ever conscious of the need for strength, vigilance and harmony among Jews on Israel’s behalf. The AZM Purim Connection is the perfect way to demonstrate that connection.

Please deliver the joy of Purim to an Israeli student, soldier, friend with the message of solidarity and love of Zion.. For $36, $54, $72 or more you can be a Mordechai or Esther to an old friend, new friend or about to be friend.

For the Jews There was Light, Gladness, Joy and Honor—and so may we be blessed

Please give generously.

Zion Greetings, Purim Sameach.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, President

William D. Hess, Chairman, Purim Connection

Karen Rubinstein, Executive Director

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Israeli Women, Jewish Women and the Challenges of Multiple Identities

feminisrael-panelOver 100 people gathered in the community room at B’nai Jeshurun synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side on Sunday, March 10th for a unique program marking International Women’s Day.  The program was part of a month-long observance of Women’s History Month that the AZM and WZO jointly mark as “FeminIsrael. ” Each year FeminIsrael explores the challenges facing Israeli women and celebrates their accomplishments and the accomplishments of women worldwide.

The 90-minute program left everyone wanting to know more, and most of the audience remained for another hour to speak directly with the panelists — each an accomplished woman in her own right.  The program, sponsored by B’nai Jeshurun, the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Movement also featured the works of an Israeli artist, Sharona Eliassaf.

Participating in the program were: Tova Birnbaum, shlicha for the World Zionist Organization; Liron Mor, a graduate student in literature at Cornell University; Elana Sztokman, Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA);  Amal Abusif, Associate Director of Academic Programs for Kivunim; and Shani Rozanes, Director of Events and Public Programming at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

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More Than 1000 Mishloach Manot Delivered to Southern Israel for Purim

Children in costume at NAAMAT centerFor more than 25 years, the American Zionist Movement has proudly been donating mishloach manot (traditional Purim gift baskets) to Israeli children and soldiers for Purim. Because of the numerous recent attacks faced by those living in the south of Israel, this year AZM focused on Ashkelon and its surrounding areas in order to show solidarity with residents there. More than 1,000 mishloach manot were distributed to a variety of organizations and community centers in need of extra support.

AZM donated the majority of mishloach manot to organizations in and around Ashkelon related to children. Children at Neve Hanna, a children’s home located in Kiryat Gat, and in the children’s ward of Barzilai Hospital, were delighted to receive their candy and noisemakers. The gifts enhanced the Purim celebration at the Kehillat Netzach Israel Ashkelon Preschool as well as at several NA’AMAT daycare centers. At the Ashkelon Family Nest, which assists young mothers and their children, recipients both enjoyed the surprise and were educated on the importance of volunteering and helping others. Ethiopian immigrant children at the Beit Canada Absorption Center celebrated Purim for the first time, and their mishloach manot made the experience even more exciting.

As in the past, in conjunction with Yashar LaChayal, an organization that provides necessities to soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, AZM donated mishloach manot to soldiers on Israel’s front lines. Lone Soldiers who are based in the Ashkelon area also were recipients of AZM gifts.

The mishloach manot were distributed by Marty and Terri Davis, who, in their capacity as Ashkelon community activists, are passionate about helping their community. In a letter of thanks to AZM, they shared how important the packages were to recipients.

[The mishloach manot] put smiles on the faces of many children and Soldiers. Try to imagine a child in the hospital missing out on the Purim festivities and, from over the ocean, special gifts arrive to help them celebrate! Even those with serious health problems were able to smile.…For us it is an emotional experience, and we would like to thank AZM on behalf of all the children and soldiers in Ashkelon for bringing them such joy and happiness.

 To help AZM continue its mission of supporting and promoting Zionism, donate here.

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Purim 2012 Brings Gifts and Goodies to Soldiers and Children

volunteer with soldiers

A volunteer poses with soldiers who came to take the Purim gifts back to their units.

The 2012 Purim Connection was another stunning success with lots of thank yous coming in from across Israel.

AZM with help from AMIT, Mercaz,  and many individuals and synagogues across the country brought Purim joy to schools in Kiryat Malachi, soldiers in the front line units across the country, and to many Lone Soldiers (IDF soldiers who serve without the support of their families.)


An important part of our Purim Connection is the role that young Jews studying or volunteering in Israel play in the packaging and delivery of the Purim mishloach manot. This year’s volunteers from Magshimey Herut, Habonim-Dror and the kibbutz ulpan program were all on extended stays in Israel as part of  MASA Israel Journey programs.  Among the volunteers to AZM’s Purim Connection were: Raphael Falk,  Andrew DuFour,  Benjamin Scholom, Brett Godette, Yossi Cohen,  Izzy Eisen,  and Eugene Kikoin.

One of the Lone Soldiers, Gidi, who received an AZM Purim package posted on the Kehillat Netzach’s Facebook Page, expressing his happiness and gratitude. When you see comments like these you know how important it is to participate in these programs:



soldier with gift

הפורים בכלל לא היה מורגש, ולקבל חבילה מושקעת שכזאת. אוהב אתכם ומוקיר תודה. גידי איגנשטיין
thank you everyone for the great parcel for purim! it feels amazing to return from a hard week of training and still get to feel the happiness of purim with your kindness. gidi eigenstein.

We hope that next year even more congregations and individuals will help to us tell send the message to those in Israel that even though we live here in America, we are always thinking of Israel’s soldiers and citizens who are truly on the front lines of the Jewish people.

Thanks to all who helped bring this to reality!

children on Purim

Four children from an AMIT elementary school in Kiryat Malachi in Purim costumes..

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Miri Shalem Talks About Gender Discrimination in Israel

On Wednesday, February 29th 2012, we had the pleasure of hearing Miri Shalem speak to us about the challenges facing Israel today.

Miri Shalem, Organizer of Flashmob in Bet-Shemesh, Brings a Vibrant Perspective on Religious Life in Israel.

“We felt like we had power to change the world” proclaimed Miri Shalem to an attentive audience, who attentively listened to Miri speak.

Shalem, a resident of Bet Shemesh, organized a flash mob of 250 Jewish women of various backgrounds, to peacefully demonstrate against women’s segregation and inequality.  While she confessed she is not a professional dancer, she articulated her passion for using dance as a form of self- expression and community strength.

As the Director of the JCC in Bet Shemesh for the past 17 years, Miri has seen the city change before her eyes. A beautifully diverse town has become populated with a community of Haredim. This change led to a clash over culture and conduct. Miri felt passionate about the importance of keeping her community feeling alive throughout these changes, and created a dance night for women only.

When the story of eight year old Na’ama Margolese came to light, Miri’s passion peaked. Na’ama, who was spit on by ulta-Orthodox men on her way to school, grabbed the attention of the Jewish State, the world, and more specifically, of Miri.

Shalem felt dissatisfied that while there was so much talk about the situation, no action was taken to stop the violence against the female gender in the community. Using dance as her voice and social media as her guide, she brought together a choreographer, a videographer, a producer, and 250 local women for a public dance one Friday afternoon in January. The local women danced for a recorded 3 minutes, and spontaneously for about an hour following that.  “The women felt confident and empowered, and we couldn’t stop dancing…We didn’t care what people would say”, said a proud Miri.

With over 175,000 hits, the YouTube video of her flash mob to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” has truly left a mark on the world. As Miri articulated so beautifully over lunch, “Don’t stop us now…. No one will be able to stop us now or ever…”

This event was sponsored by the following:

American Zionist Movement

Bnai Brith International

Dorothy and Harold Greenwald Foundation

Hadassah – NY Region

Jewish Community Relations Council of New York

Jewish National Fund

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

World Zionist Organization

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FeminIsrael: Celebrating Israeli Women and Their Accomplishments

FeminIsrael is a joint project of the American Zionist Movement and WZO/Hagshama. Held each March in conjunction with Women’s history month, FeminIsrael celebrates  Israeli Women, their accomplishments, and their contributions to Israeli society and the betterment of the world.

FeminIsrael speakers visited communities and campuses across North America.  Even in places where there was no speaker, the accomplishments of Israeli women were celebrated with FeminIsrael programs.

FeminIsrael Programs

Movies with a Discussion Guide:

Syrian Bride
Aviya’s Summer
Aviva My Love

Powerpoint Presentation:

Female Voices: A look at how Israeli society has been influenced, shaped and represented throughout its history by the country’s top female musicians.

Shira: Women in Poetry: An explanation of women poets in Israel and their influence on Zionist and Israel cultural history.

Questions? Want to Participate?  Please send us an email.

FeminIsrael is a joint project of the American Zionist Movement and WZO/Hagshama

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