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E-News - January 22, 2016
January 22, 2016  |  12  Sh'vat  5776


We celebrate Tu B'Shevat this weekend.  Known as the New Year for trees,  it marks the midpoint of winter.  As a holiday today, Tu B'Shevat recognizes nature and our responsibility to preserve the environment for future generations.  I am reminded of the story of Honi the Circle-Drawer.

One day Honi was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree.  He asked, "How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit?" The man replied: "Seventy years." Honi then further asked him: "Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?" The man replied: "I found [already grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted those for me so I too plant these for my children."

Planting seeds for future generations is one of the most important traditions in Judaism.  Every day we are reminded of the great legacy left by past Jewish leaders.  We see it both on a global scale and right here on our own campus.  It is both our privilege and our responsibility today to carry on the mission of the Jewish Federation so that our future generations will benefit from what has been planted.

Our annual campaign is one way our community continues the cycle of building for the future.  Our tagline For Every Generation Federation ties directly to the story of Honi the Circle-Drawer and underscores the importance of ensuring for future generations.  The Intergenerational - International Tu B'Shevat Seder is another example.  I saw this first hand Wednesday when I walked into the JCC Auditorium and saw our CDC and Friedel children celebrating Tu B'Shevat with our Rose Blumkin seniors.  They were able to share the celebration with youth and seniors from Rosh Hanikrah Kibbutz via Skype.

Shabbat Shalom!
Alan Potash
Intergenerational - International
Tu B'Shevat Seder

Omaha's Community Shaliach, Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan, led an early celebration of Tu B'Shevat on January 20.  Students from the Pennie Z. Davis Child Development Center and Friedel Jewish Academy plus members of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home Hebrew class and other Blumkin residents participated. The group was joined by their counterparts at Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra* via Skype for this special event.  In addition to the seder featuring Tu B'Shevat foods, Wednesday's celebration included singing and dancing led by the CDC and Friedel students, video-recorded Hebrew greetings from the RBJH Hebrew class to Rosh Hanikra residents and live greetings from Israel. Often referred to as the "Birthday of the Trees," Tu B'Shevat marks the beginning of an agricultural cycle.  This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
 
*Rosh Hanikra is a kibbutz in northern Israel. It is located on the Mediterranean coast near the Rosh Hanikra grottoes and the border with Lebanon. It has a population of approximately 1,200.
Get your Sexy Back
Camille Metoyer Moten, local award-winning actress and singer, brings her special blend of music and motivation to the Jewish Community Center on Friday, January 29. During the presentation -- Get Your Sexy Back -- Camille will speak about aging with grace and purpose while sharing her inspiring personal journey. The performance, which includes Camille's delightful vocals, begins at 1:30 p.m. in the JCC Theater and is open to the community at no charge.

Presented by the Jewish Social Services under the sponsorship of the Ruth Riekes Richards Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha.
Israeli Wine Tasting with
Steve Kerbel
It has been said that Israeli wines are a way to taste the land of Israel itself.  So what better way to warm up on a winter evening in Omaha then by treating yourself to a variety of flavors found in a selection of Israeli wines.  Join wine enthusiast, Steve Kerbel, as he introduces attendees to a variety of choices during a special program co-sponsored by Beth El Synagogue, Beth Israel Synagogue, Temple Israel, and  the Center for Jewish Life.  

"If you have never explored the world of Israeli wines, this will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the distinctive tastes available," shares Steve.  "Also, Passover is just 12 weeks away," he adds.  "I will talk about several wines to consider for your seder table.  There is a marvelous world beyond those sweet wines on which many of us were raised."   

This Israeli wine tasting event will take place Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 7:30 pm at Beth El Synagogue.  The cost is $12 per person.  Event reservations are requested by February 1st and can be made via email to mkirchhoff@jewishomaha.org or by calling (402) 334-6445.

The younger members of our community will be able to donate their Tzedakah as they enter into the community-wide Purim Carnival at the JCC on March 20.

For more information or to volunteer please contact Louri Sullivan at lsullivan@jewishomaha.org  or 402-334-6485.

Kids Campaign Tzedakah cans are available at the Jewish Community Center, Friedel Jewish Academy, the Jewish Federation of Omaha office, Beth El Synagogue. Beth Israel Synagogue, Temple Israel, and the Chabad House.
JFO Expands Benefits of Jewish Experience and Israel Experience Grant Programs
The Jewish Federation of Omaha has recently approved expanded benefits for its Jewish Experience Grant (JEG) and Israel Experience Grant (IEG) programs.  This action highlights its commitment to the youth in the community by encouraging participation in programs that have proven to be of tremendous value in developing Jewish identity and cultivating Jewish values.  These grant programs, funded by the Jewish Federation of Omaha, provide non-income based funding for specific purposes.  Jewish Experience Grants have now been increased to $2,000 with a maximum of $1,000 used per summer.  JEG grants are for children in grades 3-11 and are designed to encourage attendance at a Jewish summer residential camp.  The Israel Experience Grant has moved from a $1,000 award to a $1,500 one-time grant with an expanded benefit of a $1,000 stipend to be used with Omaha's bi-annual community teen trip.  The IEG is available for students in grades 9-12 or young adults ages 18 to 26 for an approved Israel experience.  Full program information and application forms may be found by clicking here.
 
Exploring Judaism Class Passes
the Halfway Point


The "Exploring Judaism Class" taught by Scott Littky who is also Program Director at Temple Israel, has progressed beyond its halfway point.  Classes began on October 12 and will end on March 7.  They meet in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library for an hour and a half on Monday nights.  This is the second year that Scott has taught the class.  It has proven to appeal to a variety of people for a variety of reasons.  Some are participating as a refresher to what they already know about their Judaism.  Others are exploring Judaism from an academic perspective.  Another group has become actively involved in considering conversion and are participating as part of that process.  Scott has organized the class into four parts: I. Judaism as a Religion; II. Judaism as History; III. Judaism as a Way of Life; IV. Judaism as it is Practiced.  "I feel very fortunate as a teacher to be able to help educate adults who have an interest in Judaism.  I often feel that I get more out of learning with the class than they do," said Scott.
U.S. News Ranks Germany No. 1 - But do Jews Feel Safe There?
  This past Wednesday, January 20, U.S. News published an article ranking Germany as No. 1 - the best country.  Canada was number 2 followed by the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden rounding out the top five.  An excerpt from the article by Staff Editor Kevin Drew explains the basis for this determination:  "People view Germany as the best country for fostering entrepreneurship, and rank it high for the power it wields and the quality of life it provides its citizens. Undergraduate tuition has essentially been waived at many of the country's public universities... Globally, the country's leadership - in the form of Chancellor Angela Merkel - is as popular around the world as the leadership from the U.S., according to a Gallup poll. Its unemployment rate, below 5 percent, is among the lowest in the European Union. That contrasts to the 11 percent unemployment rate in the country when Merkel took office in 2005."  Read the full article here.

T he day before the release of the U.S. News Ranking, Patrick Gensing, a journalist for German website Tagesschau.de, published a report that explored the question "Are Jews in Germany safe?"  The short answer, he concluded, is that Jews in Germany feel threatened.  The article was picked up by "The Jerusalem Post" that wrote a follow-up article in which they quoted Daniel Killy, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Hamburg, as saying, "We are no longer safe here."  Find out why he claims this to be the case by clicking here.
 
2016 Annual Campaign
Kehilla-thon - Feb. 23
Over 80 Kehilla Cup "Ambassadors" have been working diligently on behalf of Jews in need, both in Omaha and throughout the world. Tuesday, February 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. the teams will host a Kehilla-thon during which they will reach out via phone and email to those who have not yet pledged to the 2016 Annual Campaign.
 
As of January 22, we have reached 78.95% of our goal totaling $2,613,128

Thank you for supporting our mission.  

Upcoming Events
Mitzvah Fair for Omaha
3rd & 4th Graders
January 24  |  9:30am - 12pm
Beth El Synagogue

Sunday Night Dinner:
Tu B'Shevat
January 24  |  6- 8pm
Beth Israel Synagogue

Temple Israel Poker Tournament
January 26  |  6- 10pm
Temple Israel

Macabbi Information Meeting
January 28  |  6:30pm
CJL Classroom

Shabbat Service -
Teen Israel Trip Reflections

January 29  |  6pm
Temple Israel

"Get Your Sexy Back"
Camillle Metoyer Moten

January 29  |  1:30pm
JCC Theater

Beth El Scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Bradley Artson
January 29-31
Beth El Synagogue

Friedel Jewish Academy
Science Fair

February 4  |  6:30pm
JCC Auditorium

Israeli Wine Tasting
with Steve Kerbel
February 6  |  7:30pm
Beth El Synagogue

JCC Saturday Night Dance Party
Ages 4-12
February 6  |  5:30-8:30pm
Youth Lounge

Omaha Artist Inc. Reception
February 7  |  2-4pm
JCC Gallery

Temple Israel Annual
Super Bowl Party

February 7  |  4:30-10pm
Temple Israel

Klutznick Learning Series:
Pirkei Avot
February 8, 15, 22 |  7-8:30 pm
Social Hall
 
Ben Rabb with Faerie Tones
YJO Social
February 12 
|  9pm
Reverb Lounge 
Community Calendar
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