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E-News - June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015  |  2 Tamuz 5775

In the aftermath of another mass shooting, this one in a house of worship, it appears it has been motivated by hate. This attack is reminiscent of the shooting that took place in Kansas City last year.

The suspect in Wednesday's shooting communicated hate filled messages on the internet. Why did he commit this horrendous attack? What motivated him? What filled him with such hatred that he needed to attack this church? We can only hope to find the answers to these questions in the coming days and weeks. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Charleston community.

As we follow the news about Charleston, what comes to mind is the community. What role does the community play in responding to these types of situations?

Always in the back of my mind is the teaching of Hillel: "If I am not for myself who will be for be, if I am only for myself what am I, if not now when."  When I look at local, national and international news I reflect on Hillel's teachings and how I connect them to our Jewish community.

Each of us plays a leadership role in our community in different ways. We celebrated one way last week with the results of the first year of Life & Legacy?, so many of us individually committing to the future financial security of our community. We also see future generations engaged as well with a record number of kids attending Jewish camps, and young adults taking advantage of Birthright Israel experiences. We also see it when we provide generous financial support to communities in need (Ukraine, Nepal, Houston).

This week I spoke at B'nai Brith's Bread Breakers about our community's demographics and our health and well-being. Our Jewish community is filled with individuals that take leadership seriously and this is why we are strong, vibrant, positioned for future community building and able to help Jews and others in need here and around the world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Alan Potash
Life & Legacy? - 1st Year
The Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation (JFOF) celebrated the one year anniversary of Life & Legacy? with a community celebration on June 11. Guest speaker, Arlene Shiff of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation  reported Omaha's results: 195 Legacy conversations and 22 group presentations resulting in over 300 Legacy commitments valued at $9.8 million.

JFOF Executive Director Howard Epstein is grateful for the response from the Omaha Jewish community. "The community's outpouring of generosity is truly incredible," he said.

Meanwhile, JFNA's Endowment Committee allocated more than $572,000 from its unrestricted endowment to enhance Federations' multigenerational philanthropy program and, in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, extend Create a Jewish Legacy to small Federations to support their efforts to secure bequests.
Welcome Rabbi Ari!
Beth Israel Synagogue welcomed Rabbi Ari Dembitzer on June 14 with a reception and dinner in his honor. President Toba Cohen-Dunning spoke, followed by the keynote speaker, Camp Simcha camper Luke Weber.
NCJW Board Installation
June 14, 2015

JCC Summer of Awesomeness!
Top: College All-Stars Basketball Camp Middle: June 12 Camp Shabbat ends a great week
Bottom: June 15-19 Cheer Camp
Youth Director Megan Berlin reports the number of JCC campers far exceeds previous years.  Campers are busy making glazed clay pots, building water rockets and visiting Fontenelle Forest, among other activities. "We've added in a Chugim (enrichment) period for older campers and it appears its made a huge difference," she said.

Next week campers look forward to the JCC All-Stars Soccer Camp and Academy of Art Camp: Bravo for Birdbaths. Campers age 2-5 have the Wacky World of Water, K-3 day camp is Slime and Grime and grades 4-7 camp is titled, "I'm All In".
Operation Protective Edge -
1 year later
Israelis in the South continue to rebuild and recover nearly a year after Operation Protective Edge ended. The $55 million Federations raised is critical to that ongoing effort, helping to bolster the region's economy and networks of support, revitalize affected communities and empower new leaders to enhance communal resilience.  Learn more

 Overview of Relief Allocations
Ukraine Update
As the global community works to help the 1.3 million Ukrainians displaced during the country's continuing crisis, a group of 18 Federation leaders arrived in Ukraine on Monday to embark on a philanthropic mission. Currently, the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) serves 6,023 Jews in the conflict zone.

JDC's CEO provides an update on the situation facing the Jewish community in Ukraine.

To learn more:
The global struggle to respond to the worst refugee crisis in generations (NYT)

Support Federations' Ukraine Assistance Fund

Click for more on Jewish Federations of North America
Record # of women elected
to Israeli Parliament
Image courtesy of CNN
The Knesset is 24.2% female, which puts it ahead of the United States, after recent Israeli elections swept a record number of women into the Knesset, according to a recent CNN story.  The new Knesset also has a record number of Arab members.
US Supreme Court Ruling
-Implications for Jerusalem-born US citizens     
Last Monday's Supreme Court ruling that American citizens born in Jerusalem may only list their birthplace as Jerusalem, (rather than as Jerusalem, Israel) received harsh criticism from US Jewish groups.
See New York Times Story

A headline posted on the Times of Israel website explains: "ADL, AJC and Conference of Presidents express disappointment, concern over ruling barring Jerusalem-born US citizens from citing Jewish state on passport."

The original case was brought by the parents of now-13-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, in an effort to have "Israel" appear on their Jerusalem-born son's US passport.

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League said, "It is sad and unfortunate that Israel -- as a sovereign nation -- is the only country in the world whose capital comes under such scrutiny and has to defend its right to determine where its capital city exists," Foxman continued. "It's time for the Executive Branch to face the reality: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," he concluded, echoing statements made Monday by Israeli leaders.

The executive branch's policy since Harry Truman's presidency "has been to recognize no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem, leaving the issue to be decided by negotiation between the parties to the Arab-Israeli dispute," the Obama administration said in a brief in the case.
What we're reading and watching
As parents send kids off to overnight summer camps, Omaha writer and Temple Israel member Joey Hoffman, in a New York Times blog, shares her story of dropping off her daughter - who at age 3 needed three major organ transplants - at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin.

In an Atlanta-area public high school, lunch comes with a side of Jewish learning. Meet the Jewish Culture Club.

In anticipation of the 4th of July holiday, a fascinating essay on American Jews coming full circle. All is not as it was for Jews in America

Times of Israel - Lord Sacks: BDS makes it 'almost impossible' for Europe's Jews to support Israel

Jerusalem Post - Spanish citizenship bill for Jewish descendants set to pass

Newsweek -  Bicyclists 'Ride for the Living' from Auschwitz to Krakow

Ten ways Israel is treated differently, according to AJC Director David Harris (Huff Post)

Michael Bloomberg Gifts $100 Million To Cornell Tech, a partnership between Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.  The Bloomberg Center is expected to set the gold standard for graduate technology education.
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Did YOU Know?
Charitable giving has reached an all-time high and religious organizations have rebounded since the last recession. In fact, philanthropy has reached an all-time high, both in real dollars and inflation-adjusted dollars. Giving USA's annual survey, considered the most respected annual study of American philanthropy, is a joint-project of the Chicago-based Giving Institute and Indiana University's Lilly School of Philanthropy.
Upcoming Events

Omaha Teen Trip to Israel
Hurry! Registration ends
July 1. Contact your synagogue clergy for an application or click here.

Temple Israel
Shabbat Speaker Series
July 10  |  6-7 pm
Rabbi Ari Dembitzer

Backyard Concert Series
August 16, 23 , 30
Sundays, 5-7 pm

Jewish Federation of North America General Assembly 2015
November 8-10
Washington, D.C.
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Louri Sullivan
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402-334-6485 
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