Archives for December 2012

Top Chef Chanukah: Chicago Sizzles

On December 10, ViZion Chicago, the American Zionist Movement’s Young Leadership division in Chicago, partnered with Temple Sholom’s 20’s and 30’s group to present Top Chef Chanukah. Two teams, the McAbees and the Oilers, competed to cook the most delicious latke this side of the Atlantic.  Well known for their expertise in food and Jewish holidays, Rabbi Shoshana Conover, Temple Sholom’s assistant rabbi; Bryan Gryka; chef at Milt’s BBQ for the Perplexed; and Guy Hollingsworth, President of AZM Chicago, judged the latke entries.

Teams were provided with the secret ingredients zucchini, sugar, and cayenne pepper, and they wasted no time being creative in their recipes. Though the McAbees impressed everyone with their latkes topped with crème fraiche, sautéed onions, and balsamic vinegar, the Oilers won over the judges with their Shnitke, a combination of schnitzel and latke, and their menorah-shaped latkes. Winners received a gift certificate to new, local kosher restaurant Milt’s BBQ for the Perplexed and the runners-up received free entry to the December 14 Shabbaton in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.

Next month, ViZion Chicago hosts stand-up comedian Joel Chasnoff as he discusses the many sides of Zionism. And keep an eye out for an upcoming film series! Click here for more information.

New Leaders Elected at AZM Biennial Assembly

Marlene Post and Bill Hess

Marlene Post, departing Chairman of the AZM Board with outgoing President Bill Hess in a relaxed moment at dinner.

The room was full to capacity. Hurricane Sandy had caused a change in both date and venue for AZM’s Biennial Assembly in New York, but it hadn’t diminished enthusiasm levels. On December 17, the audience was eager to hear the different perspectives offered by speakers about Zionism and our role in it.

The short program packed a good punch, providing serious substance as Conference of Presidents Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein, Ameinu National President Kenneth Bob and World Zionist Organization Vice Chairman David Breakstone presented “Gaza, the UN Vote and the Aftermath.” American-Israeli comedian Joel Chasnoff then lightened the mood with his pitch-perfect

Francine Stein

Francine Stein addressing the biennial

rendition of Israelis and their attitudes. AZM Executive Director Karen Rubinstein was impressed with his ability to characterize so many kinds of Zionists so well. “Joel’s program offers a unique and entertaining way to open conversations about Zionism with North American groups,” she said. Chasnoff also modeled a new program promoted by AZM and the WZO to help Americans explore the meaning of Zionism today.

The AZM Biennial also serves as a meeting to elect new offices for the organization. Completing five years as President of AZM, Bill Hess passed the torch on to Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, rabbi of the North Suburban Synagogue, Beth El of Highland Park, Illinois. Rabbi Kurtz is a well-known figure in the Zionist world from his many roles in Mercaz and Mercaz Olami and thanks to his deep involvement with the Jewish Agency for Israel. In his acceptance speech, Rabbi Kurtz touched on the pillars of Zionism suggested by Solomon Schechter and urged attendees to work even harder to promote and support Zionism. “I believe that we at AZM must lead the way … and be a partner with others who are already doing fine

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz (left) Rabbi Bennett Miller (right)

Two New Presidents: Newly-elected president of AZM, Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, pictured with the new president of ARZA, Rabbi Bennett Miller.

work,” he said. “We can only do so if we work together, put aside our differences and see the greater whole, the more noble purpose, the grand challenge. We may not complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.”

Also elected were Kenneth Bob as Chairman of the Board; Harvey Blitz of the Religious Zionists of America, David Newman of ARZA and Leonard Petlakh of the American Forum of Russian Jews as Vice Presidents; Judy Shereck of Hadasssah as Treasurer and David Krantz of the Green Zionist Alliance as Secretary.

At the conclusion of the business meeting, participants gathered for a dinner honoring Bill Hess. Several speakers toasted Hess and extolled his contributions to AZM, and he was presented with a tzedakah box as a gift of appreciation for his dedication to the Zionist Movement.  The evening was also full of surprises, with a performance by singer Lisa Berman and a sing-along at the end of her set.

Bill Hess pictured with AMIT leadership

The top leadership of AMIT took time to pose with outgoing AZM President Bill Hess.

Joel Chasnoff Presents the Schizophrenic Zionist in Chicago

Make your reservation now for a Comedy Event to be remembered!

Regular entrance: $10

Students: $5

Or, email Chaya Segal, AZM Chicago

Rabbi Kurtz of Chicago Elected to Head American Zionist Movement

(New York, NY – December 17, 2012)

The American Zionist Movement announced the election of its new officers who will serve over the coming two years. The election took place on December 17th in New York City with the slate of officers being unanimously accepted by the delegates.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

The new slate of officers is headed by Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, who will serve as President of the American Zionist Movement (AZM). Rabbi Kurtz, the Rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois, was born in Toronto, Canada. His election to the position of President of the American Zionist Movement is only the most recent in a number of key positions he has held in the Zionist world, including President of MERCAZ USA and President of MERCAZ Olami, the world-wide Zionist organization of the Conservative/Masorti movement. He has held numerous other positions of communal responsibility on the local, national and international level including serving as president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis. Rabbi Kurtz is an associate member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been elected to its Executive, and serves as deputy chairman of its Russian Speaking Jewry Committee. Rabbi Kurtz will be succeeding William D. Hess of New Orleans as president of AZM.

Elected to the position of the Chairman of the Board of the American Zionist Movement was Kenneth Bob, who is the president of Ameinu. Bob is also a member of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization, and the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors. In his professional life, Kenneth Bob is an experienced entrepreneur and currently serves as President of RenewTricity, a solar energy development company.

Others elected to office were: Harvey Blitz, David Newman and Leonard Petlakh, Vice Presidents; Judy Shereck, Treasurer; and David Krantz, Secretary.