For years, Bram Weber amazed people when he disclosed that he — an active AIPAC Young Leadership board member and passionate pro-Israel advocate— had never been to Israel. That changed in 2005, when Weber and his then-girlfriend, now wife Aimee, visited Israel for the first time. "She organized the entire trip," he says. "It was the most unbelievable experience."
With American Jewish families increasingly feeling the strain of what has come to be known as the Jewish day school “tuition crisis,” the allure of free, Jewish, public education in Israel is enticing, especially for those who are already considering aliyah for ideological or spiritual reasons.
By the time she was 7, Beejhy Barhany had fled her native Ethiopia, walking with her family and 300 villagers to Sudan, where they started a new life. After a few years they left again, this time taking a Jeep through the jungles of Kenya, on to Uganda, France and finally to Israel, which even at that young age she remembers was "like fulfilling a dream after exile."
Queens College will make history later this month when 30 or so students gather for what is believed to be the first course in an American university to explore Bukharian Jewish history and culture.
The three-credit course, “History and Culture of the Bukharian Jews,” will meet for the first time on Jan. 28, and its existence is a sign of the growing community of Bukharian Jews within the school’s student body.
Atara Eis advises women who are members of nine synagogues in Manhattan about the sensitive issues of taharat hamishpacha (Jewish family purity laws). She is one of only three women in the United States who do this; they’re called yoatzot halacha. A graduate of the Keren Ariel Program run by Nishmat and a mother of three, Eis lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and commutes to Manhattan one weekend every month. While in New York, she delivers between two and four classes with the goal of increasing women’s comfort with, and knowledge of, these laws.
Ari Hart has always seen the future of the Jewish people entwined with the future of the cultures that exist in their midst, whether it be in Biloxi, Miss., Spain or Chicago, all the locations of his youth. He believes that to take care of his own, he must also care for the stranger.
There’s an evanescent quality to Anat Cohen’s sound. Her clarinet (she also plays the tenor and soprano saxophones) immediately evokes the celebratory swing of klezmer, but the music she plays — be it the Brazilian choro or the swampy funk of New Orleans big bands — quickly transports the listener somewhere else. She moved to New York from Israel 10 years ago, and it’s clear that behind her majestic, piping hot compositions is a more elemental ability to adapt, transform, and simply keep things moving.
Though he now considers himself a non-affiliated Jew, Adam Kirsch grew up in Los Angeles where he attended the Conservative synagogue Adat Shalom and went to Hebrew school at Sinai Temple Religious School. "I received a good Jewish education at home," says Kirsch, whose father is the biblical scholar Jonathan Kirsch. "Though not yeshiva-like," he adds, as if to clarify.
* El Al Israel Airlines has announced several moves to upgrade its fleet and level of service. Israel’s national airlines has acquired one state-of-the-art Boeing 747-400 aircraft for long-haul nonstop routes. The new planes are equipped with advanced sleeper seats and an improved video- on-demand entertainment system. Upgrades have also been completed on the El Al 747-400 jumbo aircraft and four of its 777 aircraft.