AZM’s 2018 Purim connection brings Purim joy to Israel’s Border Police and children

An important aspect of Zionism is maintaining our global Jewish unity and our personal ties to the people and land of Israel. Therefore, for nearly 30 years the “Purim Connection” program of the American Zionist Movement has helped maintain that bond by providing Mishloach Manot packages to those living in and protecting Eretz Yisrael.

This year, for the 2018 Purim Connection, the American Zionist Movement collaborated with its member organizations, networks and volunteers in Israel on two exciting projects in celebration of Purim. This includes partnerships with our Purim Connection coordinating partner, the Israel Forever Foundation, along with  Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, Yashar L’Chayal, AMIT Children and Bnei Akiva.

Mishloach Manot – baskets of treats – were distributed to impoverished Israeli children and to Israel’s Border Police “Magav” (מִשְׁמַר הַגְּבוּל) to bring Purim joy to the guardians and citizens of Israel. The brave men and women of the Border Police guard and protect the State of Israel and are often the first line of defense against urban and cross-border terrorism.

Students from AMIT volunteering

The Purim baskets were distributed with the help of the Israeli organization Yad Ezra v’Shulamit whose main goal is to help end hunger among Israelis. Miri Schreiber, the volunteer coordinator of the organization, wrote to AZM the following heartfelt thank you note: “Thank you once again for helping increase the Purim joy. It was a true testament of the power of unity, bringing together different groups within the ‘Klal’ for such a beautiful case. May we continue to work together to change the face of poverty in Israel.”

 

 

 Members of the Border Police sent videos thanking AZM and our partner organizations for organizing the Purim initiative and for providing them with Mishloach Manot. Austin, a lone soldier from Colorado who drafted into the Border Police, spoke emotionally about how truly wonderful the initiative was, and how deeply appreciative their entire unit was of the caring gesture.

In addition, Amichai Bacharach from Yashar Lachayal – an organization aimed at providing support to IDF soldiers – thanked AZM by mentioning that “the soldiers were thrilled to receive them! They thought that it is amazing that so many people care about them from overseas, and they were also happy with the quality of the mishloach manot themselves.”

The Border Patrol is a special unit that is under the auspices of – but separate from – the Police Dept. of Jerusalem. They are a joint force between the army and the police, and the Border Patrol also works with officers from both. When Israeli young adults are drafted into the IDF, some are offered a job in “Magav”, which is the Border Patrol. If they accept the assignment, they are trained as specialty police officers, and technically do not serve in the IDF. The Israeli Border Police is renowned for including a large number of soldiers from minority backgrounds, being a particularly popular choice with Druze recruits, but also includes many soldiers from Arab Christian and Bedouin background.

Some go on to choose this as a career, and some move from the police dept or army into Magav, and are professionals, as opposed to those fulfilling their 3 (or 2) year national service commitment. The “magavnikim”, or border patrolmen/women do get called back for “miluim”, reserve duty, but fulfill that reserve duty within the Border Patrol, not the IDF. The Border Police has recently become among the most popular and competitive combat units for new IDF recruits, presumably because of the increase in tensions and violence in Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

Through the 2018 Purim Connection, AZM sent over 400 packages to the Border Police women and men and just as many to Israeli children that enabled them to receive some Purim joy, and we are so thankful to our supporters who allow us to carry on such meaningful projects. 

 

Photos from AZM Washington National Conference 2017

Videos from AZM Washington National Conference 2017

*Click on 3-line icon on top left of screen below to see full list of videos*


Have the Courage to Dream This Hanukkah

“All human deeds begin with a dream, and dreams they shall become.”

– Theodor Herzl

azm-flyerFrom the Maccabees, to modern Zionist heroes, national pride and sovereignty has marked the path of Jewish history.

2017 will mark numerous significant Zionist Movement anniversaries. In the coming year, the modern liberation movement of the Jewish people celebrates the 120 anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

American Zionists played a major role in realizing these contemporary milestones, and continue to work on behalf of the people and nation of Israel. Our mission today is more heavily focused on building bridges of understanding and support between the global Jewish community and Israel.

As we begin the Hanukkah season, help us rededicate ourselves to our vital mission by making a generous year-end contribution. Please donate today.  We thank you for your support.  Happy Hanukkah

NYC Celebrates Israel 2016 – Theo Herzl Joins In

 

FLOAT3Despite the torrential downpours, spirits were high as celebrants made their way Fifth Avenue on Sunday. June 2nd.  Zionism: The Spirit of Israel was the theme and Herzl’s beard was filled with words associated with Zionist values.  Theo Herzl marched alongside the float on Sunday and even managed to snag a few press interviews.

Israel was built on the core values of Zionism and still proudly carries these values today. We were thrilled to celebrate this beautiful country of ours, together with other Zionists from all over the Tri-State area and beyond, including some from our northern neighbor Canada.

Sponsoring the float were AMIT, Bnai Zion and Hadassah.  Many other organizations joined the Zionist line of march following behind, including Ameinu, Habonim-Dror, Hashomer HaShomer, MERCAZ USA, Forest Hills Jewish Center, Hebrew Tabernacle and Young Judaea.

See an album of photos here, a video of the Celebrate Israel Parade here, and of the AZM float at the Parade here.

Spread Some of the Joy of Purim in Israel

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Dear Friends,

Believe it or not, Purim is right around the corner! As we prepare for our parties and plan out our costumes, we also have a special opportunity to spread some Purim joy in Israel.

Please join our campaign to send Mishloach Manot to the members of the Jerusalem Border Patrol, and police officers stationed in Jerusalem’s Old City, a unique combination of IDF soldiers and police officers tasked with ensuring the security of our sacred capital. Over the past few months, a disturbing number of vicious terror attacks have changed the daily reality in Israel – primarily in Jerusalem. This new wave of violence was just starting to become the frightening norm as we attended the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem this past October. Tensions could be felt throughout the city, and country. Jerusalem businesses have suffered, tourism has decreased, and parents don’t leave their homes with their children without carrying handheld items for self-defense.Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 11.36.39 AM

While tragic news spreads quickly, what we don’t see or hear about in the US are the numerous attacks thwarted. Over the past six months, border patrol and police forces have seized countless weapons and prevented on average 2-3 terror attacks per day in the greater Jerusalem area. Just last week, Hadar Cohen Z”L, a 19 year-old border policewoman was killed in a terrorist attack at the Damascus Gate. Brave young men and women apprehend criminals and stop terror in its tracks; heroes we rarely hear about and don’t recognize enough.

Please join us in thanking them. As the Jewish nation, we have a responsibility to protect Israel, our Homeland. Though we may not be there personally, we can support those on the front lines who work tirelessly to keep our eternal capital safe so that Jerusalem’s civilians can walk the streets safely.

Imagine the pride and joy of a young officer receiving a show of appreciation from the global Jewish community this Purim.

Your gift of:

  •  $36 will provide one policeman with a basket;
  •  $180 will ensure an entire team will receive baskets.

In addition to this important initiative, and as in years past, the American Zionist Movement’s Purim Connection
program will continue to celebrate Purim with children in Ashkelon and other Israeli towns and villages.

  •  A gift of $300 will provide mishloach manot for an entire class.

Every gift counts and even a small donation will help an officer or Israeli child to enjoy the holiday. All gift baskets are purchased in Israel, therefore providing critical support to small Israeli businesses. Our friends and colleagues in Israel will hand deliver your gift basket.

Mishloach manot can be easily ordered via our website, please include a personal message that will be delivered with the basket.

This year’s campaign will be dedicated in memory of our dear friend and colleague, Marty Davis, who was instrumental in ensuring the success of this program in Israel. Marty made a difference and is sorely missed.

Amidst the latest wave of terror, we reflect on the meaning of Purim, a celebration to commemorate one of many stories from our collective history that exhibits our unique ability to stand up to our enemies, and unite as a people to overcome danger. In these difficult times, the American Zionist community, whose members are from vastly different backgrounds and perspectives, must join together to boost the morale to those who protect and serve, Israel and world Jewry. In doing so, we send the crucial message to Israel that we stand by her side, now during this difficult period, and always.

This Purim, join this initiative to do something different, do something special. Please order your mishloach manot baskets today or mail in a check to:

American Zionist Movement
40 Wall Street, Suite #706
New York, NY 10005.

The AZM, the American arm of the World Zionist Organization, is committed to the strengthening of Israel – locally, and around the world. JOIN US in uniting as a people, overcoming fear, and making this Purim a very special one for Israel’s quiet heroes.

We thank you for your support.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz                                                           William D. Hess

President                                                                          Chair, Purim Connection

Sig Will + Vernon

 

 

 

 

P.S. We ask that you make your gift by March 9, 2016.

 

Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Spring 2016

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the Spring 2016 Helyn B. Reich Scholarship. They have been chosen for their impressive involvement in Zionist causes in the United States, ranging from activism on their university campuses, to their commitment to Tikkun Olam, and to relentlessly fighting anti-Semitism. We are proud to support the future Zionist activists of our country.
 
 

Isabel cropped Isabel Schneider will be attending Saving The Stones, in Acre, northern Israel. The practical training program is designed to give the foundation  needed to begin a career in conservation of built heritage and historic preservation. Isabel  graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and spent a year in Israel as a  Community Development Fellow, teaching English to Israeli students through small group tutoring and creative  projects. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and having experienced anti-Semitism personally, Isabel is a  proud and passionate Zionist. Isabel writes that “Zionism is the acknowledgement that Jews not only deserve to  exist, but also to thrive, and in order for that dream to be realized they must have a place of their own. That place is Israel.” While in Israel, Isabel curated art shows and was able to build strong connections with Israeli artists and writers. Following the program, she plans to keep working in museums in both conservation and curatorial capacities, to be able to impact the international perception of Israel as a cultural leader, and perhaps even make Aliyah in the future.

Read Isabel’s essay on her connection to Zionism
 

Ella CroppesElla Ozer, a current undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, will be attending Tel Aviv University this upcoming Spring. Despite Tel Aviv University not being part in the semester abroad program of her university, Ella decided to spend her semester in Israel. Born in an Israeli family with very strong Zionist values, Ella has participated in various programs in Israel and was a proud member of the Israeli Scouts. She is also extremely involved in Jewish and Zionist life on her university campus, partaking in Hillel and Chabad events, co-founding the IAC Mishelanu chapter, and advocating for Israel on a day-to-day basis. Having her cousins serve in the Israel Defense Forces has had a great impact on Ella and incited her to get involved in a program dedicated to helping IDF soldiers. She hopes that her semester abroad will help her decide whether she wants to make Aliyah upon graduation. She is, regardless, looking forward to creating strong and meaningful relationships during her Israel experience, that will last a lifetime.

Read Ella’s essay on her connection to Zionism
 

Hebrew Comes to The Forefront of Jewish Education

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 The American Zionist Movement has been  striving for over 100 years to strengthen the connection of American Jews to Israel. From the Tachles program to Cafe Ivrit, AZM has long held the belief that  Hebrew is an essential component of Jewish identity and attachment to Israel. For this reason, we are extremely proud to be partners in the new American Jewish initiative – The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture – to promote the teaching of Hebrew all across the United States.

The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture convened last week in New Jersey for its annual conference. The organization, established in 2013,  aims to connect people to the Jewish culture, religion and language through Hebrew. This November the Council attained one of its initial goals —  the establishment of professional network of teachers, which aims to “address the needs and professional growth of the tens of thousands of people teaching Hebrew in schools, synagogues, community centers and youth movements in North America, and to unite them under one parent organization to advance the study of the Hebrew language.(JPost article)..  

Speaking Hebrew is a way to strengthen one’s connection and attachment to Israel, Israelis, Jewish and Israeli culture, and even helps promote connections with other Diaspora Jews. Hebrew is a great way to bridge the cultural divide that can be felt between American Jews and Israelis.  The founding conference, established by the HLC, gathered 120 Hebrew teachers from all across North America, who were able to discuss and experiment with innovative approaches to teach Hebrew, and discuss the role of language in Israel education. The excitement and passion conveyed by the participants was palpable, and all were thrilled to be the educators that will hopefully transform and advance the teaching of Hebrew in the United States. 

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Israel Programs Expo — Education Reimagined

 

EXPO Logo EYEThe first edition of the Israel Programs Expo will be showcasing the latest educational, academic, cultural and other innovative programs available to enrich Israel initiatives in your community. The exhibitors  in the Expo, will be either tabling to present their offerings, or doing short presentations as previews for their programs. They will be covering every aspect of Israel programming from instructional materials, technology products, language learning, and more. It will be the perfect chance to find out about all of the different Israel related initiatives available to local communities in the Tri-State area.

The Expo is intended for people active in their communities and professionals who are responsible for creating Israel-related programming in their schools, communities, synagogues, or other institutions. Attendees will be able to experience the innovative programs available to them, while engaging one-on-one with the sponsors and exhibitors.

 

To take part in this great opportunity, please register here.

 

 

Israel Expo 11:30:15

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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

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