Rosh HaShanah Message 5775 – Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

vernon featured imageAs we approach the new year, Rosh Hashanah 5775, there are many challenges for the Jewish people. Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in the State of Israel. After Operation Protective Edge, Israelis feel vulnerable to the many terrorist organizations that surround them. We mourn with those families who experienced loss during this past summer. We pray for a full recovery for those who suffered physical and psychological injuries and we pledge to work together on their behalf.

Throughout Europe and on social media, anti-Semitism was again a major issue. We understand that it is legitimate to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel. However, it is not acceptable to de-legitimize the State. Anti-Zionism has become merely another code-word for anti-Semitism. Not only is the physical security of Jews around the world in danger, our spiritual well-being is also being challenged. We must work to strengthen knowledge of the Hebrew language, to promote a meaningful Jewish identity, to secure the next generation’s positive ties to the State of Israel, and to exhibit support for the Jewish people throughout the world.

In truth, every year has been a challenging year for the Jewish people from the moment that Abram began his long journey to the Land of Canaan. We have met those challenges throughout the ages and we will meet them currently as well.

As President of the American Zionist Movement I pledge to work together with our officers and our Board to find solutions to our challenges and to create a strong, vital and vibrant Jewish community in the Diaspora and in the State of Israel.

Shana Tov U’Metuka to you, your families and the Jewish world,

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
President,
American Zionist Movement

ShanaTova crop

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AZM and WZO Co-Sponsor Technion’s Robotics Competition

Robotics logo sml

The American Zionist Movement is partnering with the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Activities in Israel to sponsor the Technion’s Robotraffic Robotics competition, organized with the Leumi Robotics Center at the Technion in cooperation with World ORT. The competition will foster robotics education and traffic safety as well as educate about correct driving behavior. The largely Israeli competition has also recruited several teams from Ukraine and South America, and in March 2014 an all-girls team from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, won the Careful Driving award. This year, thanks to efforts by WZO and AZM, there will be entrants from the United States. Teams sent from the US via the Zionist Movement will also be treated to a 3-day program in Israel to visit major sites and to be exposed to the Israeli hi-tech industry. 

A limited number of schools in the US will be invited to create a team of students for the 2015 competition. Their challenge will be to build an autonomous robocar that can move according to traffic rules (traffic lights and signals) while keeping a safe distance from other cars and obstacles and avoiding accidents. 

The WZO is seeking schools with strong science departments interested in fielding a team. For more information about the contest in the US, please contact Einav Gelberg at einav.ogi@gmail.com.

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Register for the WZO’s International Bible Competition

bible contest2There is no book that expresses the diversity of our values as a people more than the Bible.

The International Bible Competition is a golden opportunity to reconnect with our roots, to return to our values and strive for excellence.

If you love the Book of Books, the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Movement invite you to register for the International Bible Contest for Adults, where you can show off your knowledge of the Bible.

For more information and to register, visit here.

 

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Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Fall 2014

Meet the Recipients

The American Zionist Movement awarded seven exceptional candidates with the Helyn B. Reich Memorial Scholarship for Fall 2014. The winners are proud Zionists and intend to do their utmost to promote and support the State of Israel.

Rose BayerRose Bayer will be volunteering as an EMT for Magen David Adom while in Israel with MASA’s Career Israel program. Her commitment to Israel is so strong that she extended her time there before even starting the program.

Rose plans to become a doctor and believes working hands on in the medical field before attending medical school is crucial to the learning process. The experience she will gain from working in Israel specifically, she says, will prepare her to interact with immigrants and foreign patients at later stages in her career as well as provide her with a different perspective of health care.

Rose’s love of helping others shines through in her outlook on Zionism. “Zionism is an unconditional love and support for not just a nation, but also a people,” she said.

Read Rose Bayer’s essay.

 

Erica BergsteinErica Bergstein is excited to spend 10 months in Israel with the Israel Government Fellows program, affiliated with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. She hopes that her internship in a governmental office will advance her leadership skills as well as provide new and deep connections with Jews and Israelis from all backgrounds. Erica is active in her local Jewish community in Baltimore and, after her immersion in Jewish history and culture while in Israel, intends to be a resource for others when she returns to the United States.

With a Master’s Degree in Emergency Health and her related experience in that field, Erica believes she is uniquely qualified to work in the Israeli government and will gain insight on how Israel deals with the challenges it faces to ensure the State’s safety and security.

“A state like none-other, the Zionist movement has allowed Israel to be the homeland for Jews all over the world…” she said. “However, it is evident that this would not be possible without the groundwork and function of the Israeli government.”

Read Erica Bergstein’s essay.

 

Samuel CrystalSamuel Crystal has been fascinated by the history of the Land and people of Israel since he was young. Fittingly, he will be interning at an Israeli government office or similar organization through MASA’s Israel Government Fellows program.

Samuel’s love of archeology and history has inspired him to learn more about politics and lobbying, and he would like to work in a related field when he returns to the United States. “I see [Israel] as the land my ancestors died for, a safe haven, and a fascinating window into the ancient lives of the Jewish people, as well as many other cultures,” he said.

Read Samuel Crystal’s essay.

 

Tamara GavrilovThrough MASA’s Career Israel program, Tamara Gavrilov will be putting her legal expertise to good use when she works as a Foreign Law Clerk for Judge Daphne Barak-Erez of the Supreme Court of Israel. As an attorney, Tamara is looking forward to the opportunities she’ll have to practice legal research as well as to learn more about the political dynamics in Israel.

An attorney specializing in Tamara has been an active supporter of Israel since high school. She advocates for Israel  and related causes through diverse methods ranging from legal action to fundraisers to skydiving. “Zionism …[gave me] a sensation of personal responsibility, as both a Jew and a citizen of the world, that I continue to carry with me today,” she said.

Read Tamar Gavrilov’s essay.

 

Lindsay GordonTo add new experiences to her love of the environment, Lindsay Gordon will be working at the Zalul Environmental Association in Israel through MASA’s Career Israel program. There, she will both advance her professional goals as well as attend seminars, take an Ulpan class, volunteer, and travel around Israel.

Since she first visited Israel on her Birthright trip, Lindsay has felt a connection to Israel and has had a strong desire to return there. She is excited to do her part to support Zionism and believes there are endless opportunities to grow and learn as a Zionist. “Zionism is to embrace Judaism; to represent all that Jewish People have accomplished centuries and millennia before us and build upon those accomplishments with confidence and pride despite obstacles,” she said.

Read Lindsay Gordon’s essay.

 

Bailey_MezanThis fall, Bailey Mezan will be participating in the MASA Career Israel program, working at the Israeli Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites. In keeping with her love of activism, her position there will allow her to conserve, rehabilitate, and promote sites that present Israel’s modern history.

On her first trip to Israel, Bailey was amazed at how open everyone was about their Judaism. She realized that we must fight for the recognition of Israel so that Jews will always be able to express their religion and continue to thrive. “Being a Zionist means never again allowing the Jews to dissolve into another nation; for we will never be the same as the rest of the world,” she said.

Read Bailey Mezan’s essay.

 

Hannah SouthworthDespite growing up in a small town in New Hampshire with very few Jews, Hannah Southworth has embraced Judaism and her relationship to Israel. She will be working in Tel Aviv at a women’s health-related organization through the WUJS Intern Tel Aviv program, taking advantage of her background in women’s health and non-profit administration.

Hannah is a trained Doula and wants to have a career in midwifery. She hopes to attend births in Israel and to record women’s birth stories. Hannah believes that learning about women’s care and births in Israel will provide her with invaluable experience as a health care provider, no matter which country she works in.

Hannah wants to spend her career helping to enhance the birth experience for Jewish women. “I believe that being a Zionist today means that I should give back to the community that gave so much to me,” she said.

Read Hannah Southworth’s essay.

 

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Operation Protective Edge – Resources and Materials

flag The American Zionist Movement expresses its concern and support for the welfare of our brothers and sisters in the State of Israel and for the soldiers who are currently involved on the battlefield. We encourage you to use the information below to show your solidarity with Israel, remain updated regarding what is happening in Israel, demonstrate your support and share with friends and colleagues accurate information about the situation.


Let us pray for better days as we continue to show our support for the people of Israel.

 

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
WZO:
Tough Questions, Straight Answers (brochure)

Tough Questions, Straight Answers (with video clips)

Beit Ha’am (The People’s Army) – Operation Protective Edge

   The People’s Army English Version

   The People’s Army  Hebrew Version

 

Makom:
The Gaza Conflict – Materials for the Educator

The David Project:
Discussion Guide and Understanding the Hamas Tunnels

The iCenter: Operation Protective Edge:
As the conflict in Israel continues, we are looking for ways to bring Israel to our learners by gathering relevant resources, collecting authentic stories, and providing useful frames for educators and learners.
Resources to Teach and Learn

 

CAMPAIGNS
WZO:
Together We Win” Campaign

In collaboration with the online newspaper YNET, we call out to all supporters of Israel from across the world to express your solidarity with the citizens of Israel and the Machal Soldiers. Our slogan “Together we win” is derived from our belief in our cause. Email a picture of yourself, an Israeli flag, and the slogan “Together we win” to Eitan at the WZO.  The pictures will be featured on a special YNET feature.  Also, please post your photos to social media sites using the hashtag #togetherwewin.

Advocacy on the Internet
A selection of sites and resources for education and advocacy available on the internet.

Advocacy During Operation Protective Edge
A collection of articles, guides and other resources about Operation Protective Edge.

Hadassah: National Action Center
Send messages directly to Congress and the White House in support of Israel.

 

NEWS SOURCES
Minister of Public Diplomacy

Israel Defense Forces Blog: http://www.idfblog.com

Israel has recently launched a 24-hour English news television station: www.i24news.tv/en/tv/live.

Twitter List: Israel Under Fire

Twitter: IDF | Embassy of Israel

Facebook: IDF | Embassy of Israel

Conference of Presidents Daily Alerts

BICOM (Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre):  Sign up for daily alerts

Expert Speakers from the Israeli Consulate

 

DEMONSTRATIONS/RALLIES
Thursday, July 31 Miami Unites for Israel Rally 6:30pm (Eastern Time), Michael-Ann Russell JCC, 18900 NE 25th Ave., North Miami Beach, Florida

Tuesday, August 5 (Baltimore, MD): 9:00am – 5:00pm (Eastern Time) Vigil for Israeli Victims (location TBD)

 

DONATIONS
WZO: Help us help others. The World Zionist Organization is organizing opportunities efforts to alleviate the anxiety of those subjected to the worst shelling in the south, buy providing communities with entertainment, free-of-charge program at the Herzl Museum, etc.  To make a tax-deductible donation in the United States, please click here, or send checks to the American Zionist Movement, indicating that the donation is for the WZO war relief efforts. Contribute now.

JNF Emergency Campaign
JNF seeks to raise $5,000,000 for its emergency campaign. In this time of crisis, Funds raised are being used for the following: to purchase mobile bomb shelters costing $30,000 each; additional fire trucks at a cost of $125,000 up to $250000 depending; operating the Sderot playground 24/7, providing programming to children in the Bedouin communities thru our partner Green Horizons to name just a few of the special initiatives.

Stop the Sirens (JFNA Emergency Campaign)
Stop the Sirens is a community-wide campaign responding to urgent needs in Israel. The fundraising effort is coordinated by Jewish Federations of North America on behalf of Federations across North America, and in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.  Contact your local Jewish Federation for more information or local initiatives.  To learn more, please visit us online.

MERCAZ USA: Neve Hanna Campaign
Neve Hanna Children’s Village, located in Kiryat Gat, has been regularly shelled by rockets from nearby Gaza.  Residents have been forced to spend most of their days and nights in shelters. The American Friends of Neve Hanna, through MERCAZ-USA, is bringing the children to a quiet area in the North of Israel. To donate to this campaign: call 212-533-2061 or pay online and indicate that it is the Neve Hanna Operation Protective Edge campaign

Ameinu in partnership with Dror Israel

Dror Israel has opened summer camps in the north for children from areas of the south hit hardest by rocket fire, and are also running activities for children and teens under safe conditions throughout Israel. In addition building on its  longtime educational partnership with the IDF, is providing lectures and other educational activities to soldiers on the importance of the military operation as defense of the state of Israel, in accordance with the laws of war, and in the spirit of Jewish and democratic values, rather than as an act of revenge, hatred and indiscriminate violence. To give to Dror Israel follow the link and designate your gift to Dror Israel to support these activities.

Support the IDF
There are a number of campaigns that support IDF soldiers in a variety of ways. We are listing a few lesser known initiatives here in which the donations go to soldiers; administrative costs are covered by an individual donor or volunteers do the work.

Get InVESTed in Our Boys Campaign
In coordination with commanding officers on the ground, funds are being raised to provide as many bullet proof vests as possible to provide for the soldiers engaged in combat.

Yashar L’Chayal Gaza Operation Emergency Fund
Yashar LaChayal brings soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces what they need when they need it.

Yashar LaChayal has developed relationships with IDF commanders around the country, and therefore they are quick to contact our representatives when their units or individual soldiers are in need of assistance.  But we do not wait to hear from them! Yashar LaChayal representatives are on the move, visiting IDF bases throughout Israel, on the borders and in remote locations, to see what the actual needs of our soldiers are.  Once we determine what is lacking, we set out to fill the gap.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Frontline Operation Campaign
As the brave IDF soldiers destroy terror tunnels and root out Hamas from Gaza, let’s show them the support they have from around the world.  FIDF supplies the IDF soldiers on the frontlines with snack packages, toiletry kits, and undergarments kits.  Let’s help keep their minds focused on the battles and not their wellbeing needs.

For more information on how to become more actively involved with FIDF, please contact your local FIDF chapter, or visit www.fidf.org.

Standing Together
Our brave soldiers are once again at war, facing an enemy that has sworn to kill us. We are now collecting from our supporters so we can deliver food and cold drinks, water packs (called “shlukerim”) that hold more water than standard canteens, knee pads that wear out very quickly in the field, and underwear. Because you can never have enough underwear.

 

 

**The list above is provided by AZM should be used as reference only.  This list is not exhaustive and there are many other ways to help. While we have made every effort to vet the provided information appropriately, AZM is not responsible for the accuracy of the information on each site.  When determining where to make a donation, please do your own research.  AZM is not responsible for how donations are allocated by funds not managed directly by AZM. 

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Second Annual Layla Lavan Celebrates Israel

layla pic2More than 250 young professionals gathered together at Libation on July 24 to celebrate Israel at the Second Annual Layla Lavan, All-White Night. Based on the all-night festival held in Tel Aviv that highlights the city’s cultural life, this year’s Layla Lavan similarly featured numerous Israel-themed activities. “We wanted Layla Lavan to engage everyone with Israel’s dynamic culture and to give people of sense of getting a bit of Israel in New York,” said Karen Rubinstein, Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement, which sponsored Layla Lavan. “The concept is a great one and we think Layla Lavan can be built on from year to year, bringing in a growing number of participants and activities.”

The evening, which was co-sponsored by Isramerica in partnership with Masa Israel Journey and Bridging the Gap, was initially planned several months prior to Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces’ current military activity. Organizers faced a dilemma about whether to cancel, but ultimately decided the event would continue as planned, though with several minor adjustments. “Israelis would be the first to say that life must go on, so we decided to take the same approach and celebrate everything that Israel has to offer,” said Sivan Hadari, founder of Isramerica and Layla Lavan Event Manager.

With the emotions of the precarious situation in Israel in mind, Hadari invited IDF Captain Amir Telem to speak about his experience in the Air Force. He emphasized that events like Layla Lavan bring together communities and should continue despite difficult times. “In Israel, we don’t take it for granted that you have to fight for freedom for your country,” he said. “Every generation in Israel has a mission to protect the Jewish land … [and] our mission here in the US is to support the soldiers as much as we can.”

Attendees took the message of standing together and staying in good spirits to heart, and danced to Israeli and American music all night. They lined up for henna tattoos, hammed it up at the photobooth, shopped at the mini shuk, and indulged in falafel and other Israeli snacks. They also participated in Café Ivrit, a space for practicing Hebrew through informal conversation and games. “I was so thrilled by the ruach [spirit] and pride at Layla Lavan,” said Allie Zur. “Coming together with so many people to share our love and support of Israel – especially in dark times like today – made me feel so connected.”
Visit here for more photos!

 

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The Great Embrace: A Call to Action

Dear Friends,

We invite you to join us in the campaign “The Great Embrace: A Call to Action” that the World Zionist Organization is launching in support of the families of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, sharing with them the sense of unity that has become the legacy of their tragic loss. Details can be found in the letter below.

Please accept the challenge and distribute it as widely as possible.

Sincerely,

Dr. David Breakstone
Deputy Chairman
World Zionist Organization

חברים יקרים,

אנו קוראים לך להצטרף אלינו לקמפיין “חיבוק של אומה” , בכדי לתת חיזוק למשפחות הבנים, ולהביע את אחדות העם בימים קשים אותם כולנו חווים.
כל הפרטים מופיעים במכתב המצורף.

אנו נשמח אם תרימו את הכפפה ותפיצו את המכתב בכל הדרכים שיתאפשרו לכם.

בברכה,

ד”ר דוד בריקסטון
סגן יו”ר
ההסתדרות הציונית העולמית


The Great Embrace: A Call to Action

חיבוק של אומה: קול קורא לעשייה


There is something you can do.

Throughout their ordeal, the families of Eyal Yiftah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer have repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the overwhelming support they have received from Jews around the world, declaring that it has been an amazing source of strength for them.

While their loss is inconsolable and the horrific pain will be theirs to bear eternally, perhaps we can offer them a modicum of comfort by demonstrating that the tragedy that has befallen them has palpably increased for all of us the spirit of “ahavat Yisrael” – the unity of our people.

Accordingly, we call upon you to join us in “The Great Embrace,” a campaign the World Zionist Organization has launched to get as many people as possible to write letters to the families, which we will deliver to them personally at the conclusion of the “shloshim,” the 30-day period of mourning.

Write one yourself and organize others to write as well. Even one line will be appreciated. They can be e-mailed to us at wzoInfo@wzo.org.il or posted to: Office of the Vice Chairman, World Zionist Organization, P.O.Box 92 Jerusalem 91000.

May the memory of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad be for a blessing and may our embrace of their families provide them some comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, a sentiment that takes on even greater meaning with Tisha b’Av just over the horizon.

יש משהו שאתם כן יכולים לעשות

במהלך ימי הייסורים של משפחות הנערים אייל יפתח, נפתלי פרנקל וגיל-עד שער, חזרו והביעו בני המשפחות את הערכתם והוקרתם לתמיכה הגורפת שהם זכו לה מיהודים מרחבי העולם, שלדבריהם היתה מקור כח בלתי נדלה עבורם.

בעוד אובדנם בלתי ניתן לנחמה וכאבם המחריד יהיה מנת חלקם לעד, אולי יכולים אנחנו להציע להם ולו קורטוב של נחמה בכך שנפגין באופן מוחשי את אותה “אהבת ישראל” שאיחדה את עמנו, לנוכח הטרגדיה שבצער רב נפלה בחלקם.

לפיכך, אנחנו קוראים לכם להצטרף אלינו ל”חיבוק של אומה”, קמפיין שהשיקה ההסתדרות הציונית העולמית במטרה להגיע לכמה שיותר אנשים על מנת שיכתבו מכתבי תמיכה למשפחות הנערים, שאנחנו באופן אישי נעביר לידיהם בתום שלושים ימי האבל. 

תכתבו מכתב פרי עטכם ודאגו לדרבן אחרים לעשות כמוכם, אפילו שורה אחת תמצא משמעות והערכה. את המכתבים שלחו לדוא”ל שלנו wzoinfo@wzo.org.il או למשרדינו בכתובת: לשכת סגן היו”ר, ההסתדרות הציונית העולמית, ת.ד. 92 ירושלים 91000.

יהיה זכרם של אייל, נפתלי וגיל-עד ברוך ומי ייתן וחיבוקנו את המשפחות יעניק להם ולו מעט נחמה בתוך אבלי ציון וירושלים ולא ידעו לדאבה עוד, ברגש שנדבך נוסף של משמעות ניצק בו כשתשעה באב עומד בפתחנו.

 www.wzo.org.il

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Join AZM and Isramerica at 2nd Annual Layla Lavan!

Bring a little piece of Israel back home to New York City at AZM and Isramerica’s 2nd Annual Layla Lavan.

Register now to get early bird prices!

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Layla Lavan flier

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Zionist News of Interest

newsBelow are several news stories, articles, web sites and more that can serve as an additional source of material for Zionist organizations and supporters. This list will be updated.

 

Title:              “Keep Dreaming: He sang at my wedding”

Author:          David Breakstone

Publication:   Jerusalem Post

Date:            12/26/2013

Summary:     Memories of Arik Einstein. Regarded as “the greatest, most popular, and most influential Israeli artist of all time.”

Link:             http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Keep-Dreaming-He-sang-at-my-wedding-336239

 

Title:             “Center Field: Let’s wave the flag for Israel – even in hip Tel Aviv”

Author:         Gil Troy

Publication:   Jerusalem Post

Date:             05/07/2014

Summary:     “Critics so often define Israel by its problems that it is easy to forget how well this country of 8.2 million people works. The systems and structures that westerners take for granted can be taken for granted – which is not something we should take for granted.”

Link:              http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Center-Field-Lets-wave-the-flag-for-Israel-even-in-hip-Tel-Aviv-351479

 

Title:               “Can Zionism be the Answer?”

Author:           Rabbi Sid Schwarz (senior fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

Publication:     The New York Jewish Week

Date:              6/3/14

Summary:      “Our dilemma today is that at the very time that we desperately need an ideological linkage between powerful Israel experiences and the creation of robust Jewish communities for young Jews in America, Zionism is absent from the mix.”

Link:               http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/can-zionism-be-answer

 

Title:             Keep Dreaming: Zionism. Think again

Author:          David Breakstone

Publication:   Jerusalem Post

Date:             2/14/13

Summary:     Report on the conference cosponsored by iCenter and the AZM held in Chicago, February 2013. “Educators from Israel and N. America are working together to create a language for teaching about Israel in a way that will make it integral to Jewish identity.”

Link:              http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Opinion/Article.aspx?id=303326

 

 

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Best Practices and Programs

dialogueBelow are several innovative programs that encourage dialogue about Zionism, created by Zionist organizations from all over the religious and political spectrums. This list will be updated.

 

Organization:         Ameinu

Title:                     Third Narrative Initiative

Date:                     Continuous

Summary:              The Third Narrative (http://thirdnarrative.org) is an initiative of Ameinu, intended to engage progressive Jews and non-Jews who seek ways to combat unfair and inaccurate attacks from the far left while maintaining a progressive position via a vis the Arab-Israeli conflict. It gives progressive activists language and approaches with which they can discuss the conflict, Israel government policy, and Palestinian rights, while not relinquishing their approach to resolving the conflict. To quote Ameinu, “When it comes to this conflict, the truth is rarely black or white; it resides in a gray area where advocates on either side typically don’t like to venture. That is where we try to go with The Third Narrative.”

Link:                     http://thirdnarrative.org

 

 

Organization:      PRAZE Division, Hadassah

Title:                   Rethinking and Reaffirming Zionism in the 21st Century with Arnold M. Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Date:                  Wednesday, July 9, 7:30 pm EDT.

Summary:           Hadassah’s Defining Zionism in the 21st Century Series is an online monthly program that creates a welcoming opportunity for everyone to explore various perspectives of Zionism from the comfort of home. This program is free of charge and open to the community.

Link:                    www.hadassah.org/definingzionism

 

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