Sunday, April 14, 2013

Twinning program forms bond between students in Israel, Arizona

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:00 am

Twinning program

Students in April Goodman’s sixth-grade class at Temple Solel exchanged Purim masks with students in Kiryat Malachi, Israel as part of a twinning program.
Photo by April Goodman
A program that aims to connect Phoenix students with Israeli students identifies the similarities that children in both countries share — even something as simple as being fans of Superman.Two local religious schools — the Raker Religious School at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley and the Mark L. Haberkorn Religious School at Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale — are participating in this “twinning” program piloted by the Israel Center that uses technology to connect students in the two countries. The program is part of the Israel Center’s Partnership2gether (formerly TIPS) program, which aims to strengthen ties between the Israeli communities of Hof Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi and the U.S. Jewish communities in Tucson, Phoenix and Seattle. Shahar Edry, the new director of the Israel Center, has said that although the program had a slow start, it has come together and they hope to expand to four religious schools in the coming school year.
“We try to build values and relationships between the students,” Edry said.
When the program launched in August 2012, the local students sent their counterparts ID cards with a picture and some information about them so the Israeli students could learn about who they are.
The main purpose of the twinning program is to focus on the similarities between school-age Jewish Americans and Israelis, according to Stacy Rosenthal, Beth Israel’s religious school director. The program uses themes of identity and community to bring the two groups together, she said.
An example of how Edry has acted as a liaison between the Israeli and American schools is by teaching the students in Phoenix slang words in Hebrew that they wouldn’t learn from reading a textbook, Rosenthal said.
One thing the children found interesting is the fact that the workweek begins on Sunday instead of Monday, Rosenthal said.
At Temple Solel, April Goodman, who teaches sixth-grade at the temple’s religious school, is navigating through the program and communicating with a class of students the same age in Kiryat Malachi, Israel.
Goodman said that the kids have had a great reaction to the gifts and videos they have received from the Israeli students and she also enjoys bringing in real experiences to the classroom.
“Whenever you can bring in a real person or connect with a community, it really motivates the kids to learn,” Goodman said.
Goodman and Rosenthal each had the opportunity to tell the students why there were a few weeks in November, during Operation Pillar of Defense, when the students in Israel weren’t going to school. They both said that they had to explain how the Israeli students were under constant rocket attack from Gaza and why it was taking longer than usual to send and receive packages.
Although this may acknowledge a serious side to things, it also strikes a chord with the Jewish students and they have come to realize that the Israeli students are their friends, according to Goodman.
Rosenthal said that the kids feel a real connection with the students in Israel: “The kids are now talking about how they can’t wait to go to Israel and meet their new friends.”
The fourth-grade students at Beth Israel have been communicating with a fifth-grade classroom in Kiryat Malachi and have also had only positive experiences so far, Rosenthal said.
One part of the program is for the children to write letters back and forth to each other in Hebrew and English so they are both learning a foreign language. Edry, along with both Hebrew-school teachers, tries to be available to translate for the students whenever necessary.
All four of the classrooms in Phoenix and Kiryat Malachi have sent videos as well and plan to do a live Skype video call at the end of the school year, which will allow them to interact with one another in real time.
Both Valley schools hope to expand the program and get past the obstacles that have come about in the first year of starting the program.
Rosenthal and Goodman have already talked about sitting down together with the Israel Center to discuss what worked and what didn’t work in order to make sure the students get even more out of the program next year.
Edry plans to work with his colleagues in Israel to make sure there is communication on both ends, and also plans to hire a shaliach here in Phoenix to help him expand the program. He said he views the Israel Center as a middle ground to helping maintain this relationship and work to build it up even more.
Goodman said that coordinating these events can be difficult with the time difference and the time it takes for a package to actually get to Israel.
However, in doing so, it has also made the students more aware of other parts of the world and it has sparked curiosity and questions, she said.
“It’s highlighted the fact that we need to teach kids more about Israel, including what it’s about and why it matters.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Roni Keidar's Visit to the US: Arizona

Roni Kedar has lived in Israel since 1951 when at age 7 she made aliyah with her parents from England.  She married Ovadia, an immigrant from Egypt, and together they settled on Moshav Netiv Haasara  on the Sinai Peninsula.  In 1982, 40 of the 72 members of the moshav (after the peace agreement with Egypt and the return of the Sinai to Egypt) moved to a new location just feet north of the border with Gaza.  The new Netiv Haasara has more than 700 inhabitants now.

In the late 1980s, Roni and her family lived in Egypt while Ovadia served as an agricultural consultant to the Israeli Embassy.  There they met and made friends with many Egyptians.  And through those contacts, the seeds of a way to communicate were born.

In Roni's retirement, she decided (in addition to spending time with her 5 children and many grandchildren) to study international relations to help understand the impossible situation they are living in and to create a new reality of peace in the region on both sides of the border.

Roni is active in a group called "Kol  Acher"--another voice.  People in her region have suffered emotionally and physically from rockets landing and flying over their communities, but she knows taht there are people across the border that have had the same type of suffering.  She also helps transport very ill people from Gaza to get medical treatment in Israel.

In Tucson, Roni spoke to over 1000 people in 16 different groups,  as a guest of the Weintraub Israel Center. In addition to the Heartbeat of Israel lecture, she held a question and answer session on Friday, March 1 following the 7 p.m. Shabbat service at Congregation Chaverim, and spoke at St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church, on Sunday, March 3 at 12:30 p.m.  Keidar also gave the final lecture in the Israel Past and Present adult education series cosponsored by the WIC and Temple Emanu-El, “Building Alternative Bridges for Peace Under Fire,” on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. (prorated fee, $15), and presented a lunch and learn at the Jewish Federation-Northwest on March 5. "Kol Acher: Nurturing Peace on the Gaza Border" was one of her topics.  The photo below is of Roni before she spoke at St. Phillip's Episcopal Church on her views of peace.

She spoke to two of Dr. Hammer's classes at the University of Arizona.
She also spoke at Or Chadash congregation to 40 people.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

U of Arizona Birthright Trip to Israel--esp Hof Ashkelon


In late December two Birthright groups, one from the Seattle area and one from Arizona, presented "stations" at schools describing their US communities.  The Arizona group met with a Hof Ashkelon school and the Seattle group was in a school in Kiryat Malachi.  Here is a comment from one member of the Arizona group and a picture of the group:

Birthright participant shares thoughts on Hof Ashkelon school visit

Working with children has been my passion ever since I can remember. I have worked with kids of all ages and have played a leadership role for many years. Having the opportunity to hang out, play, teach, and interact with the students in Israel was eye opening. The students really enjoyed each of the ten stations that we had set up for them. Both the children and the students in our Birthright group learned a lot from this activity. Having met these students has made me realize how fortunate we are to have a strong partnership with Hof Ashkelon and has encouraged me to stay connected with this community in the future.  Being able to interact with "real" Israelis showed our group that people are so much more than what you just hear and see via television, the internet, and other social media outlets. Interacting with the children made me aware that people have so much in common and the media does not always portray that accurately. I feel honored that I was able to have this experience and I will continue to share what I learned from my visit to Hof Ashkelon with others.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lasting Effects of Projects--part 4

Kefiada volunteer, hosting American volunteers in her family home, a counselor to  summer camp in Seattle, student volunteer in Kiryat Malachi, Young Adult Project coordinator, People-to-People Coordinator--yes, this blog is about Inbal Attal-Cohen.

Inbal Attal-Cohen grew up with the partnership, starting when it included 15 communities in the US.  For a number of years, American volunteers came to Kiryat Malachi to help teach English in a summer camp called the Kefiada.   For several years, Inbal was a junior counselor at that camp, and many of the America volunteers stayed in her family’s home.  That was Inbal’s introduction to the partnership.

When she was 17 in 2001, she went to Seattle as a summer camp counselor for almost two months, the first year of the program.  She worked both at the Sephardic Day Camp with Racheli Hemmat and also at the JCC. There were four other teens with her and an escort.   From that first experience, she learned that she had a “family” in the United States and how important it was to be in touch with American Jews because they shared a common destiny.  She has many good memories from her experience in Seattle.  People who didn’t know her and the others warmly opened their homes to the group.    It took them two or three days to settle in, but then the experience was amazing.  She was there before Facebook and Skype existed, so it was not easy to stay connected electronically after the visit.  Now with such possibilities, the connections are stronger.

Inbal feels that the People-to-People programs are the core of the TIPS partnership and that without it, no real partnership exists.  Inbal has a sister and brother and nephews in California, and she says that what she does through people-to-people programs in the partnership is what she hopes American Jews do for her family in the U.S.

After high school, Inbal entered the army, becoming and officer and serving for 3 years and not the standard  24 months.  After the army, she entered university.  While there, she was a coordinator for a community involvement program sponsored by TIPS.  While a student, she met Arye Levy, who at that time was the manager of the TIPS partnership.  She interviewed and was hired as the Western Region Network (WRN) People-to-People coordinator in 2007 and has had that job since then.  She also supervises the Over –and- Above projects for the WRN.

In 2008, Inbal got several local young adults together to begin to work on ideas for a program to benefit young adults.   In the spring of 2009, the TIPS partnership approved funding for a staff person to begin a Young Adult program in Hof Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi, and Inbal was hired for the job.  A leadership group of 15 was assembled and under Inbal’s coordination/guidance, an amazing program has been set up in Kiryat Malachi, creating a variety of initiatives in the city for Young Adults. Her management skills, ability to work well with others, and her drive to succeed have made this program successful and has brought the city to the table in project discussions.

Inbal said that she would not have ben where she is today without the partnership.    Now 15 years after her introduction to the partnership, Inbal really has left her mark on it.  She has been recognized by the Jewish Agency for her amazing abilities and has just been hired to start a new position at the activism unit in the Jewish Agency as a young adult project manager.  

We wish her the best in her future, are excited to see where she will lead this project in other places in Israel,  and look forward to hearing more wonderful things from her.

Lasting Effects of TIPS Projects--Ex. 3, Youth Leadership

While Dina Tanners was in Kiryat Malachi in January, 2013, she interviewed a few people whose lives have been impacted by a TIPS partnership project. Her is an example of a young woman currently involved on the town youth council.  She was too busy to meet this week, so her advisor gave me some information about her.

Elinor Yaso is the chair of the Kiryat Malachi Youth Council.  She is a senior in AMAL high school the secular public secondary school in Kiryat Malachi with approximately 750 students.  This is her second year as chair.

She first joined the Youth Council at the beginning of 10th grade.  She joined as part of the new program in high school where teens have to do serious volunteering in 11th and 12th grades to get a "bagrut" in community service, and they have to do a limited amount of volunteering in 10th grade.  The Youth Coucil was considered a volunteer community service program, so she decided to join it.   She was rather shy and reserved.  Elinor is Ethiopian-Israeli from a more modern family, and her parents  have encouraged to do well in school.

That year, there was a lot of leadership training in the Youth Council and Elinor went to all of the training  She began to see how she could become more assertive and speak out for the needs of the youth in town. 

She went to many meetings in Kiryat Malachi, representing youth locally in town as well at the regional and national level.

About a year ago when there were headlines nationally about people in Kiryat Malachi refusing to rent or sell apartments to Ethiopian-Israelis, Elinor spoke out on behalf of her peers.  She spoke  at regional conferences, to the press,  and on TV too saying that she has not felt discrimination in  Kiryat Malachi.  She speaks quite elegantly and people pay attention to her.

In the community she has also volunteered regularly in the Tzeva program for disadvantaged elementary school children. 

One summer because of her efforts in the Youth Council, she was chosen to participate in the Nesiya program, and traveled with Americans while they were on tour in Israel.  She  then went to the US to meet up with the same teens in an organized program during Hanukkah. 

Elinor is on the left in the picture below which was taken at a TIPS steering committee meeting at the end of Elinor's sophomore year of school when Youth Council members attended the meeting and spoke.

She has participated on committees on the regional level in Ashdod and also for all of the South of Israel.

She was named a remarkable volunteer by a committee of adults from the local Education Department as was Bentzion Zandani, a local teen who is handicapped and uses a wheelchair to get around.    The local committee also nominated her to be recognized as a remarkable teen volunteer nationally (for teens who volunteer in unique settings).  The town should hear soon whether she has been accepted and will get an award on the national level.

If Elinor had not joined the Youth Council and had gone through leadership training, she probably  would not have developed in the assertive and elegant person/speaker she has become.

Another story of how the Youth Council changed the life of a local teen is that of Lital.
In May of 2010, Dina met with Lital to hear about the details of the functioning of the Youth Council.
She also asked Lital what the Youth Council meant to her personally.  Lital said that although she only had one year to be involved since its rebirth, it really helped her a lot.  Through the leadership training and participation in programs with her peers, she really learned what responsibility meant in depth and the importance of follow through.  She also learned how to deal with many different kinds of people. 
 Through the YC events and programs, she said that she was pushed out of her comfort zone and succeeded, growing and maturing.   She learned to organize speeches and speak in public, something that was not taught in her high school.   She is religious, so will not go to the army but will do "national service."  She originally had planned to work in an easy job in a nearby hospital.  But since her experience on the Youth Council, she decided to work with teens at risk in Petach Tikva, especially young Ethiopian-Israeli girls.  She feels that since she is capable, and should take responsibility to do something more challenging and will a greater impact.

Lasting Effects of TIPS Projects--Part 2, a marriage and a brit

In 2009, the Kiryat Malachi Young Adults group formally got off the ground with the formation of a leadership group.  The group since ins inception was very ably directly by Inbal Attal-Cohen.

Of the original 15 people in the leadership group, four remain today, including Einat and Yossi.  Enat grew up on Moshav Shafir.  Although she did not live in Kiryat Malachi, Enat did all of her after- school activities in the town while growing up, so she felt connected to Kiryat Malachi. 

Einat was brought to the Young Adult group in 2009 by a friend, Hila Kordana, who at that time was a staffer for the TIPS-supported project, Art City.  iEnat is a graphic artist, and she has greatly aided the Young Adults by doing all the grapics work for them.

Einat and Yossi, a lifelong resident of Kiryat Malachi and an employee of Pelefon, met in the YA leadership group in 2009 and started dating a year later.  The couple married on July 4, 2012.  Einat moved to Kiryat Malachi then and they live in the Herzl neighborhood, where they also volunteer and have brought new energy to the city.

Yossi and Enat
Without the young adult group, it is doubtful they would have met and gotten married!

Eitay was born and grew up in Kiryat Malachi.  He is a certified teacher, a techie, and also has his own computer store.  He met Hodaya and they were married in early 2011.  He had attended a few meetings of the Young Adult leadership group, and she went to several with him.  She really enjoyed the group, and since them has been the" push" for them to continue to go!  It has been a very good way for her to feel a part of Kiryat Malachi, her new, adopted home.
Hodaya and Eitay
On January 13, 2013, several members of the Young Adult steering committee attended the brit of Eitay and Hodaya's son, Eliyah.
Eitay's Parents and baby Eliyah
Eitay's parents for many years have run  once-a-week  food bank in Kiryat Malachi and distribute food for over 100 families in need on Thursday nights.  Many volunteers from Phoenix, Tucson, and Seattle, over the years, helped in the food bagging on Thursday evenings and  will recognize the photo of the proud grandparents above.

Lasting Effects of TIPS Projects--part1

Dovrat H from the community of Nitzan in Hof Ashklelon was a participant in the second Ethnic Flavors group whichcame to the US in the fall of 2010. Although there were seven participants, six from Hof Ashkelon and one from Kiryat Malachi, Dovrat only knew one other--Liat, her friend and business partner-- who also lives in Nitzan. Dovrat's triplets were about eleven years ago when she traveled to the US for almost a month together with the group. Her husband with support from neighbors and family helped with the triplets while she was away.

Now, more than two years later, Dovrat sat with us on Shabbat and told me how much the experience has influenced her life and that of the other participants.

Before they came to the United States, they met as a group regularly, at least twice a month for six months. 
Picture taken before departure for the U.S.
  They had clear expectations before the trip.  One was to develop friendships with Americans in the Jewish communities of Tucson, Phoenix, and Seattle. Their goal exceeded beyond their expectations.

Although several in the group had previously traveled to the US, this trip, where they were hosted in homes and worked with people in our Jewish communities, broadened their views of the Jewish world and also helped them see how similar we are as Jews, even though we live so far apart.

After they returned to Israel, they shared their experiences informally with their family and friends and formally with presentations in their communities.

Here are some of the long-lasting results from her visit to the U.S.:

First of all, she met new people from the vicinity whom she would never have had a chance to meet if it were not for this program. They bonded and the group of seven still meets once a month to socialize and do a variety of small projects.

Second, they have maintained contact with people they have met in the US. They are in contact via e-mail and delight in the friendships. 

When some Jewish from those 3 US cities have come to Israel, Dovrat and the other 6 in the group host them in their homes and/or visit them elsewhere. 
Gathering with visit from Seattle in May, 2011
  Here are some examples.

Barbara from Tucson was in Israel in early January when I met Dovrat.  The group planned to see her and do something special togehter.  Lily from Seattle came to Seattle when her sister died and sat Shiva in the Tel Aviv area.  The women from the cooking group went in pairs to Lily's family's home to visit and support her in that sad time.

Also, they are very welcoming and have hosted others form the US partner cities who have spent time in Israel.  For example, Rochelle from Seatle, her daughter and two grandchildren spent a memorable afternoon and evening with Liat's family.  They ate together, climbed the local sand dunes, and swam at the beach, then Liat's children taught the visitors how to play an Israeli card game.  Although the children and their mother had spent almost a year in the Tel Aviv area, they was a very different experience for them.  The visit with such a delightful Israeli family was  a highlight of their stay in Israel.

Dovrat and Liat are trying to fine a way to create an enriching experience for future visitors. 

A woman from Seattle plans to spend about six weeks in Israel this spring, mostly in Jerusalem, to learn more about the various types of Jewish cooking.   The TIPS P2P staffer is working with the women cooks to set up a three-day program for her in Hof Ashkelon, learning to cook food from three different Jewish cultures along side the local women, and then share the cooked food with ill children in the local area

Friendships made through mutual interests like cooking are ones that will continue for many years.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Opera Comes to Kiryat Malachi

The Israeli Opera each year reaches out to several outlying Israeli communities to bring their residents a taste of opera.

This year, they chose Kiryat Malachi as one of the communities where they would perform an abbreviated opera together with local residents.  Because of the Art City Program, one of the programs that our TIPS partnership, the Israeli opera had a group in Kiryat Malachi that it could work with, including the Tzuza dancers and local singers.

They put on an "abridged" version of "The Magic Flute," in one act lasting an hour and twenty minutes.  Eight of the nine major performers were professionals from the opera.  The queen in the red costume was from Kiryat Malachi.  She did not sing, but she acted well.

Over 1500 people from the town were able to see the opera during the four performances, Jan. 6-8.  The two evening performances were Jan. 6-7 and two daytime performances were on Jan. 8th.

There were signs all over town advertising the opera.
Before the opera, some of the members of the Israel Steering Committee gathered at Cafe Joe's.
The auditorium was full for the opera.  The opera had been translated into Hebrew by Ehud Manor.  He tried to keep the meter and rhyming of the original lyrics.  The words appeared above the stage for the songs (not the dialog).
The Magic Flute, Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I'll include a lot of pictures that I took so that the readers of this blog can get an feeling for the performance.  We could not take photos with flash, so the pictures are not of great quality but they give a good idea of the performance.
The Orchestra
The costuming was amazing.  Look at the fingers of the dancers in the first scene of the opera.
The Prince is on the left
Second scene:
Three witches, all wanting to stay with prince
Papageno bragging (exaggerating/lying?)Papageno is a bird catcher who longs for a wife
Eddi and Dalia Yosef's daughter

In the third scene, the 3 witches "close" Papageno's mouth because of his bragging and lying.

Fourth scene:
The Queen of the Night makes her entrance
Look at the amazing headgear/hats!
Prince Tamino gets the magic flute
Dancers in hoop skirts enter
Papageno has gotten his voice back after promising not to lie again.
Adult and Ethiopian Girls' choir sing together
Note one of the women from the first group of Ethnic Flavors cooks to travel to the U.S., Mazal Caravani, is in the center of the photo!

Another scene:
Pamina, daughter of Queen of the Night
Pamina is soon captured by evil forces.  Tamino has heard of her beauty and searches for her during the opera.
Pamina's capture

Male dancers in another costume with huge heads, dancing in squatting position
The animal head gear on the dancers below was amazing.  The pictures below are all in chronological order.

Papegeno gets magical musical chimes and charms evil guys

Musicians enter, including 3 members of bands in Kiryat Malachi, adult singers,  and Ethiopian teen singing group.
The actress in red had a big role.  She is from KM

Papageno meets the love of his life

Nearing the climax....



The end to a wonderful evening!