INSIDE: Waking Up Disenchanted Jews A Gathering of Womanpower With Chutzpah Teaching Jewish Children in Uganda Summer 2014
MAGAZINE OF NA’AMAT USA Summer 2014 Vol.29 No. 3
Showing Off...................................................................................4 Na’amat takes foreign diplomats and press corps to see some of Israel’s best programs for women and children. By Michele Chabin
Editor Judith A. Sokoloff Art Director Marilyn Rose Editorial Committee Harriet Green Sylvia Lewis Elizabeth Raider Edythe Rosenfield Lynn Wax Marcia J. Weiss NA’AMAT USA Officers
Spiritual Entrepreneurs Are Waking Up the Young, the Bored and the Disappointed.....................................................8 Experimenting with technology, music, movement and drama, rabbis are shaping worship and study to be more moving and meaningful. By Rahel Musleah
Na’amat Israel: Why We Do What We Do........................................14
PRESIDENT Elizabeth Raider VICE PRESIDENTS Jan Gurvitch Ivy Liebross Gail Simpson Marcia J. Weiss TREASURER/FINANCIAL SECRETARY Debbie Kohn
Leadership seminar participants experience a life-changing week.
departments President’s Message By Elizabeth Raider.................................................................... 3 Heart to Heart: “Mzungo, mzungo, good morning” By Linda Herzberg.........................18 On the Go: I’ve Got Something to Say!
Around the Country..................................................28
Na’amat Woman (ISSN 0888-191X) is published quarterly (fall, winter, spring, summer) on the Internet, with winter and summer issues also in print, by Na’amat USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to NA’AMAT USA National Office, 21515 Vanowen St., Suite 102, Canoga Park, CA 91303.
Signed articles represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Na’amat USA or its editor. Websites: www.naamat.org and www.naamatwoman.com
Take Action! Sex Trafficking Must Be Stopped By Marcia J. Weiss.........................................................26
CHAIR/NATIONAL FUNDS Harriet Green
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By Judith A. Sokoloff.....................................
RECORDING SECRETARY Debby Firestone
Our cover: Amichai Lau-Lavie, spiritual leader of Lab/Shul, at a Simchat Torah “Unscrolled” event at Times Square in New York. See story on page 8. Photo by Jennifer Lee Photography at www.jenniferleephotography.com.
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Mission Statement The mission of Na’amat USA is to enhance the status of women and children in Israel and the United States as part of a worldwide progressive Jewish women’s organization. Its purpose is to help Na’amat Israel provide educational and social services, including day care, vocational training, legal aid for women, absorption of new
immigrants, community centers, and centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. Na’amat USA advocates on issues relating to women’s rights, the welfare of children, education and the United States-Israel relationship. Na’amat USA also helps strengthen Jewish and Zionist life in communities throughout the United States. Na’amat USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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ur 2013/2014 organizational year has been a milestone in terms of new ventures for Na’amat USA. After 88 years with New York City as our organizational home, the Na’amat USA national board made the decision to move our national office to a new location. We considered many options before voting to relocate to the San Fernando Valley, part of the greater Los Angeles area. The transition phase required time, energy and planning, and I thank all our area and council offices, as well as our general membership, for their patience and understanding during the move and the process of getting everything up and running. The national office in New York was officially closed in December 2013, and Na’amat USA moved into the San Fernando Valley office in February. Our new staff has worked diligently to make this transition as smooth as possible and to ensure that the national office continues to provide the services and materials needed by our members Regarding the magazine, it has been our good fortune to have Judith Sokoloff continue as editor of our award-winning Na’amat
Woman. As to the format of the publication, we are continuing to evaluate distribution through Internet-only or print (which always appears online, too). As technology progresses, many organizations have been publishing their national magazines only online. The Na’amat USA national board voted to initiate a trial period of alternating print and online-only editions during 2014. Spring 2014 was our first onlineonly issue; summer 2014 is being distributed in print and digital editions. Fall and winter 2014 will continue to alternate. We have had many comments about the format, and I thank you for your feedback. We learned a lot about the process with the spring 2014 digital-only issue, which was absolutely gorgeous with its expanse of artwork but lengthy for an online read. Adjustments are in progress. In March, Na’amat USA and Na’amat Israel co-sponsored a week-long leadership seminar in Israel, comprised of women from
The Na’amat USA national office has moved to California! Na’amat USA 21515 Vanowen St.,Suite 102 Canoga Park, CA 91303 Phone: 818-431-2200
across the United States, under the direction of Ivy Liebross, national leadership vice president. Jan Gurvitch, national fundraising vice president, accompanied the group on an extensive tour of Na’amat facilities with the opportunity to spend time with Na’amat Israel leaders. It was a life-changing experience for the participants (see story on page 14). The national board meeting was held in April in Chicago, and it was a wonderful chance for the board to meet with members of the Chicago Council and the Midwest Area. You’ll soon be hearing about our new national fundraising campaign, which will focus on Na’amat’s services for women in Israel. We’re also making plans for Na’amat USA’s 90th Anniversary — just a year away! During the meeting, it was announced that our updated membership database will be launched in July. And we’re looking forward to the International Na’amat conference in Israel in February 2015. I thank all of you for your support of Na’amat activities, campaigns and events. Your involvement with Na’amat USA impacts the lives of women, children and families in Israel every day of the year. We take much pride in knowing that our organization’s work here provides a direct link to the educational and personal success of Israeli citizens. Yasher Koach!
Showing Off Na’amat takes foreign diplomats and press corps to see some of Israel’s best programs for women and children. by MICHELE CHABIN
he Israeli Government Press Office and the Ambassadors’ Club of Israel wanted to mark International Women’s Day, held around the world on March 8, in a way that would be both educational and inspirational. “We wanted to show the many faces of Israel to foreign journalists and the foreign diplomatic corps,” said Orna Adelberg-Kasher, the Government Press Office official who organized the study day. The hosts were also eager to show them some of the country’s best programs empowering Jewish and Arab women. It was no surprise, then, when the groups organized a tour of two of Na’amat Israel’s most impressive facilities and invited leading Israeli feminists to discuss the challenges in a panel discussion attended by the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai. The tour was an opportunity to expose members of the Ambassadors’ Club — foreign ambassadors and heads of missions in Israel, honorary consuls representing foreign countries, presidents of binational chambers of commerce and chairs of national economic organizations — to the real Israel. Stationed here for years at a time, these 4
professionals have a real desire to know Israel beyond diplomats’ dinners and newspaper headlines. Embassy participants represented Italy, El Salvador, Moldova, Spain, Croatia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Nepal, the People’s Republic of Congo and Taiwan. It was also an opportunity for Na’amat officials to show off the good work the organization does on a daily basis. And it was a chance to form relationships with the nearly 50 participants, some of whom expressed an interest in adapting Na’amat’s model to needs in their home countries. The first stop was the Na’amat Hashalom (Peace) Day Care Center in the Arab-Jewish community of Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv. Jaffa’s only bilingual Arabic Hebrew school welcomes Jewish, Muslim and Christian children. The group was met by Shirli Shavit, Na’amat International Department director; Diana Habash, Hashalom director; and Liora Lenger, chairwoman of Na’amat Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Seated in the flower-filled courtyard by the entrance, we heard how Na’amat, the largest women’s organization in Israel, is working toward the full participation of women in social, eco-
nomic and political spheres of Israeli life and for full equality between men and women. Without quality day care, Shavit emphasized, parents — especially women — cannot go out to work. Fees at Na’amat centers are on a sliding scale based on the family’s income. Na’amat’s 280 centers throughout Israel care for some 20,000 babies and toddlers ages 3 months to 4 years, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. At Na’amat’s multipurpose centers for children at risk, the hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, the movement runs two youth villages (also known as agricultural high schools), home for 600 troubled teens, and 18 technological/vocational schools for 3,500 youths at risk. “The students gain confidence, acquire a profession and can integrate into the labor market,” Shavit explained. She noted that Na’amat operates 30 legal aid bureaus that assist more than 10,000 women annually with legal counseling on issues ranging from personal status to domestic violence. The bureaus also offer family counseling, mediation, workshops and support groups. The press and diplomatic corps toured the beautiful, recently renovated center. Bright and spacious, the
two preschool classrooms, for children ages 1 to 3, were overflowing with books, toys and activity areas for reading, drama and art, among many other amenities. Just days before Purim, the classrooms were filled with decorations marking the holiday. As we watched from the sidelines, the teachers — one speaking in Hebrew, the other in Arabic — directed the children toward a large round tarp, which they lifted and lowered in excited waves to the sounds of festive music. When the Hebrew-speaking teacher said, “Let’s sing and dance,” all the children understood. Paired up, they sang “You’re My Friend, I Am Your Friend” in Hebrew and “Frère Jacques” in Arabic and Hebrew. Then they proudly showed off their ability to count, first in Hebrew and then in Arabic, before running into the schoolyard. Watching the kids playing together outside, director Habash explained that the preschool’s goal is to help the children appreciate diversity. “It teaches them about other people and other cultures, traditions and festivals. The more interested they are, the less frightened they are of the ‘other.’ It’s sad there aren’t more schools like this one.”
Off one classroom, a bomb shelter disguised as a playroom was filled with soft Gymboree-style climbing toys. “There have been times we’ve had to use the shelter,” Habash recalled, referring to November 2012 when rockets were fired toward Tel Aviv from Gaza during Israel’s war with Hamas. “We just hope and pray we will use it only for play in the future.” In the center’s organic garden that the children helped plant, 3-year-old Elena said she “loves to play” and that “it’s fun to learn Arabic.” Her family speaks Hebrew and German at home. Her friend Malik, whose family speaks Arabic, said in perfect Hebrew, “I love to come to this gan (preschool).” Our next stop, in a leafy district of Tel Aviv, was the Na’amat Glickman Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence in the Family. We were accompanied by Orit Earon, the center’s director, and Ruti Ozeri, director of the shelter. It was shocking to learn that it is the only battered women’s shelter in all of Tel Aviv, Israel’s second largest city, with a population of more than 400,000. At the
time of our visit it offered a safe haven for seven women and their children, all referred by the city’s Department of Social Services. Renovations were underway to accommodate five more women and their children. In addition to housing, the center annually provides counseling to 700 women and men on an outpatient basis. The abusive spouses learn how to control their anger and not relapse into abusive behavior whether physical, emotional or economic. Earon explained that the shelter often has a mix of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, tourists and others who typically stay a maximum of six months. “But if the dangers still exist and the woman has nowhere else to go, we don’t force her to leave,” she said. The center “provides the women with group therapy and legal aid to help them achieve an independent life.” In contrast to the turmoil in the women’s lives, the shelter is a tranquil Tour participants enjoy seeing the Jewish, Arab and Christian children at Na’amat’s Hashalom Day Care Center in Jaffa. Photos by Rivka Finder
place surrounded by high bushes to ensure privacy. The 200-square-foot rooms contain trundle beds with brightly colored covers. The center also offers a welcoming on-site day care center and playground for the younger children. The older children attend local schools. All the preschoolers receive art and play therapy as well as regular playtime. Ozeri recalled how one of the women who came to the shelter “was so skinny we thought she was anorexic. But we quickly learned that her husband had starved her by not giving her any money to buy food.” Our group got a chance to speak to some of the Glickman residents. Seated in the shelter’s courtyard with the other women as her three young children played, “Ruth” (she requested a pseudonym) cradled her month-old baby in her
arms. She had been living at the center for eight months after fleeing her abusive husband soon after learning she was pregnant. “We’re trying to arrange a place for her to live,” Ozeri said. “Most of the women’s stays are significantly shorter.” “Sarah” (she also requested a pseudonym) said she had been living at the shelter for four months. “It’s giving us a roof over our heads. I had no other place I could go. It’s my first time here and I hope it will be my last.” Earon summed up: “The shelter is the place where the women come to heal and learn to become empowered and self-sufficient.” The day culminated in an animated panel discussion on “Strengthening the Status of Women” chaired by press office director Nitzan Chen. Participants included Na’amat Israel president Galia
Wolloch; attorney Gali Etzion, Na’amat legal counsel and legislation department director; Dr. Rodaina Jaraisy, Na’amat Nazareth region chairperson; Dr. Leeat Granek of the Public Health Department at Ben-Gurion University; Knesset Member Stav Shafir; Orna Sasson-Levy, head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Gender Studies Program at Bar-Ilan University; and Vered Pear Swid, general director of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel. This group of powerful women had an earful to share with the audience.Etzion began the discussion with a cautiously optimistic assessment. “I think we’re in a not so terrible position. We have a lot of laws related to equality,” she said, but noted that they are not always enforced.
Preschoolers at Na’amat’s Hashalom Day Care Center in Jaffa are exposed to both the Hebrew and Arabic languages and celebrate a multitude of holidays, including Purim (bottom right).
Jaraisy pointed out that Israeli Arab women suffer from the same discrimination Jewish women face, compounded by Israeli society’s attitude toward Arabs as well as gender roles in Arab society. Despite these challenges, Jaraisy said that Arab women in Israel have definitely made strides during the past 20 years. “They are now expressing more power within family life and taking part in decision making in many aspects of day to day life,” Jaraisy continued. “But it’s not enough.” Arab women, she explained, are still expected to shoulder the brunt of parenting and housekeeping, which is why just 27 percent of Arab women are in the labor force, compared with 64 percent of Jewish women. That’s mostly due to two factors, Jaraisy said: a dearth of job opportunities, especially in the north of the country,
where most Arab citizens of Israel live; and values and norms within Arab society, “which still prefers women to work inside their village or town. There are also fewer day care centers in Arab municipalities. Na’amat is working hard and treats us with equality, but more needs to be done to close the gap.” MK Shaffir pointed out that the gaps between women and men in Israeli society are shrinking, thanks largely to the work of the country’s feminist activists, but that women are still badly underrepresented in virtually all spheres of Israeli life. With a few exceptions, Shaffir said, “women are not getting into the higher echelons in the military,” which for men is usually a steppingstone for a high-paying job in the private sector or an entry into politics. We have
many ceilings to break.” At the end of the day, Reut Portugal, assistant to the president of the Ambassadors’ Club of Israel, said the program had accomplished its mission. The dignitaries remarked that they had learned a great deal about Israeli society and Na’amat from the site visits and lively discussions. “It is important for us to expose the ambassadors to all aspects of Israeli life,” said Portugal, “so they can see what is positive in the State of Israel, and not just the crises.” n Michele Chabin is a journalist living in Jerusalem. She covers the Middle East for The New York Jewish Week and other publications. She wrote “An Israeli Flair for Fashion” in our winter 2013/2014 issue.
The photos above were taken at the Glickman Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence in Tel Aviv. The picture on top left includes Na’amat president Galia Wolloch, second from left, and Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat international Department, far right.
Spiritual Entrepreneurs Are
Waking Up the Young, the Bored and the Disappointed
Experimenting with technology, music, movement and drama, rabbis are shaping worship and study to be more moving and meaningful. by RAHEL MUSLEAH
side for over an hour. Only a handful of people entered. A month later, Brous repeated the experiment. This time, more people ventured in, but they stood in lines like soldiers. The third time, those who came in moved about freely, creating an intense energy that resulted in a profound prayer experience. Today, says Brous, the once-a-month service draws about 200 participants. “We’re giving people a chance to experience what it means to push beyond self-imposed limitations and embrace discomfort. It’s now our favorite service.” Brous’s unwillingness to tolerate any “inauthentic” religious environment fuels her creative endeavors. “If a ritual doesn’t feel stimulating or it feels like people are fak-
ing their way through it, we try to figure out how to break the model,” she states. Her community of almost 600 households shares an ethos of “pious impiety,” combining a deep reverence for tradition with an urgency to reclaim the essence of Judaism. Across the United States, inclusive, non-denominational, cutting-edge communities like IKAR are mixing the old with the new, embracing transformative innovations to engage a younger generation and re-energize the older ones. Charismatic leaders — both clergy and laypeople — have become spiritual entrepreneurs of sorts. They are experimenting with technology, space, time, music, movement and drama to create worship and study that are empowering, moving and meaningful. “People want an
IKAR congregants symbolically cast their sins into the Pacific Ocean at a tashlich ceremony on Rosh Hashanah.
ne Friday afternoon last year, Rabbi Sharon Brous realized she wasn’t looking forward to Kabbalat Shabbat services at IKAR, the progressive Los Angeles congregation she founded. She checked with her associate rabbi, who felt the same way, and together they decided on a radical experiment. Instead of their usual space, they chose to hold services in a much smaller room, kept it empty of chairs, and hung a sign outside: “Discomfort is better than boredom.” Most of the Friday night congregants were confused and fearful of a space without boundaries, so they stood out-
Women work on a quilt at Romemu’s Sacred Quilt Workshop. It will be used to decorate their worship space in New York.
in their lives. At the same time, thousands of unaffiliated young Jews are seeking spiritual expression that is not tethered to existing institutions. Denominational lines among liberal and non-Orthodox communities, already blurring, don’t matter that much anymore, especially to those in their 20s and 30s. Many of the start-up communities call themselves non-, post- or multidenominational. “I grew up Reform; my parents are Reconstructionist; I was turned on to Judaism by the Orthodox and I went to a Conservative seminary. And I didn’t want to choose,” says Brous, 40. “At
Courtesy, Sixth and I
instantaneous experience — something that speaks to the heart almost immediately,” says Ron Wolfson, co-president of Synagogue 3000, a transdenominational organization for synagogue success. Many young innovators are no longer content with staidly-named Beth Shaloms and B’nai Israels. They are creating their own intentional spiritual communities, building search and experimentation into their identities: Lab/Shul and Romemu (Exalt) in Manhattan; IKAR (Essence) and Nashuva (We Will Return) in Los Angeles; Mishkan (Sanctuary) in Chicago; even the secular sounding Sixth and I in Washington, D.C., named for its geographic location. “Young people are rejecting the conventions of 20th-century American Jewish life but are intrigued by Jewish ideas and culture,” says Brous. “This is the moment for the blossoming of innovation, which is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. We are just articulating it differently so people can find meaning in it. Otherwise, the next generation is voting with their feet — out the door.” According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Religion and Life Project, less than one-third of American Jews belong to a synagogue and only a quarter say religion is “very important”
IKAR we have a wide tent in terms of personal ritual observance, and we try to engage in fundamental questions about what it means to be a Jew in the world.” “Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist are like TV channels. These were the only choices people had a few years ago. That’s not where we are today,” says Amichai Lau-Lavie, spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. Its website describes Lab/Shul “an everybody friendly, popup, experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings, based in NYC, reaching the world.” Its name salutes the successful University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the educational experiment begun by John Dewey a century ago. The whens, hows and whys of being Jewish are all on the table, says LauLavie, 45. He traces his ancestry to a long line of rabbis, is gay and has three children. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer and performer, he founded the groundbreaking Storahtelling project, which creates theater from biblical narratives, and he’s now a JTS rabbinical student. A Storahtelling board mem-
Sixth and I in Washington, D.C., attracts large crowds of members and visitors to its concerts and other cultural events.
Photos on pages 10-11 by Jennifer Lee Photography
ber, Michael Dorf, urged Lau-Lavie to broaden the project into a synagogue. He offered City Winery, the club he owns in New York, for once-a-month services. “We appeal to people who’ve been disconnected from or disinformed about what Jewish tradition and the Jewish community have to offer them,” says Lau-Lavie. “Some have never had a role model; some are looking for something new and exciting.” Innovation in Jewish worship is
On Simchat Torah, Lab/Shul unravels a Torah scroll in a Manhattan park so all can embrace it.
not dramatically new, asserts Lau-Lavie. “In every age, influenced by their surroundings, people have tried new ways of making religion work. One-hundredfifty years ago, there were organs in German and American Reform synagogues; and in Middle Eastern synagogues, they used chanting like what they heard next door. We adapt in every generation. It’s a really old story, where we come together to pray, study and be there for each other.” Creating new Jewish rituals so we can find meaning in tradition goes back millennia, agrees Rabbi Shira Stutman, director of Jewish programming at Sixth and I. The Passover seder, which was crafted by the rabbis of the Talmud, is a prime example. Rabbinic pioneers like Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism; Shlomo Carlebach, the “Singing Rabbi”; and Zalman SchachterShalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal, have changed the landscape of American Judaism. Individual rabbis
have also been influential. Synagogue 3000’s Wolfson notes that when Rabbi Harold Schulweis came to Valley Beth Shalom in Los Angeles in the 1970s, he introduced dialogue with the congregation during the service, transforming it from a passive group to an interactive classroom. And in the past decade, fueled by a do-it-yourself spirit, more than 100 independent minyanim have sprung up around the country. “What I realized after speaking to hundreds of unaffiliated Jews is that what they reject about Judaism is not Shabbat and the concept of creating holy time; what they reject is the ‘please rise, please be seated’ formality, the formality of responsive reading,” says Brous. “They reject the style, not the substance, so we have to figure out how to communicate the substance in a different style. That’s the creative challenge.” A new digital reality sets this generation apart, says Lau-Lavie. Technology and electricity, prohibited by Jewish law on Shabbat, is a way of life for the plugged-in generation and some of its leaders. At Lab/Shul, highlights of the prayers are projected on screens. Hala-
If a ritual doesn’t feel stimulating or it feels like people are faking their way through it, we try to figure out how to break the model.
cha (Jewish law), says Lau-Lavie, citing Mordechai Kaplan, “has a vote but not a veto in how we operate.” The downside of the digital age is a sense of aloneness and alienation, so community is a priority. Lau-Lavie says, “We allow and invite people to be vulnerable in a public place, to be inspired, to be able to cry, laugh and ask for what they need.” To create that space for vulnerability, he translates the liturgy onto a personal plane. “It sounds clichéd, but everything is a journey about our souls and our aspirations. When you unpack tefillah (prayer), there are only four words you need to know: thanks (What are you grateful for?); wow (Where is there praise in your life?); oops (What needs to be fixed?), and please (What are you asking for?),” he says. “It’s a very simple theology. Liturgy is about con-
cepts anyone can understand. It translates to ‘It’s about me.’ Then it moves to the ‘we’ as we share with each other.” Lau-Lavie is not alone in using the language of technology. In South Florida, The Tribe, a community-building group for people in their 20s and 30s, held a Rosh Hashanah “experience” last year at the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach. Rabbi Amy Morrison invited participants to anonymously text their regrets, goals and thoughts, which were then projected onto a screen. For Stutman, God is front and center. “More people are yearning for a conversation with something greater than themselves, I might call that God, and many synagogues have not been places Jews can find God — crazy as that sounds.” Ironically, many Jews are more comfortable with Eastern modes
of spirituality than they are with Judaism, so Sixth and I sometimes introduces Jewish spirituality by way of “sacred learning” through other faith traditions, yoga, meditation (often associated with Buddhism), even gospel-style music. “We are walking a fine line,” Stutman admits, “but our goal is clear: to expose people to Judaism.” Different services rotate by week, described by their features instead of in denominational terms: a “summer camp service,” “mixed seating,” “Carlebach melodies.” Both a synagogue and a cultural center, Sixth and I attracts some 100,000 visitors (not all are Jewish) a year to concerts and book events. An estimated 8,000 come for Jewish programming. Many are just-off-the-bus Birthrighters and others newly interested in their Jewish heritage. To hook them,
Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist
The Establishment Goes Experimental
nnovation is igniting change not just in intentional spiritual communities but also at established synagogues. Synagogue 3000, which spearheaded the field of synagogue
are like TV channels. These were the only choices people had a few years ago.
transformation in 1994, has launched a new project, Next Dor (Generation). This “bold program of synagogue engagement,” according to its website, will establish a network to engage the younger generation by connecting them to synagogues in every major city in the United States and Canada. Next Dor currently has six pilot sites. Creating visionary rabbis is the goal at the Clergy Leadership Incubator, a new program of Rabbis Without Borders sponsored by Clal: The National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership. The two-year program mentors and encourages congregational rabbis in the second to seventh
That’s not where
Celebrating Sukkot at Temple Israel in Omaha, which is part of an interfaith campus.
we are today. Courtesy, Temple Israel of Omaha
Sixth and I sometimes goes Hollywood. The draw last Shavuot was actor Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”), who studied Talmud on stage with Stutman’s colleague, Rabbi Scott Perlo. “If we had said, ‘Come study Talmud with the rabbi,’ how many would’ve come? When we said, ‘Come study Talmud with Josh Radnor,’ 650 people came,” says Stutman. “We hope it’s not the beginning and the end. We hope they will come back again for Shabbos and more traditional learning and community.” Not surprisingly, the communal stage reflects the personal trajectories of visionary leaders. Stutman grew up in a Conservative Jewish home (“God was never discussed”) and was ordained as a Reconstructionist rabbi. Her marriage forced her to question all her assumptions about how to live a Jewish life and why. Her husband, a private school administrator, had little Jewish education but was committed to learning. “Before that it had never occurred to me to live any other way. Once I met him I had to be more thoughtful about living a Jewish life. We practice Judaism not just 12
because we want our grandchildren to practice it but also because it’s inherently meaningful today.” Romemu, which calls itself “an oasis in New York where you can focus your heart and catch your breath,” and promotes itself as “Judaism for body, mind and spirit,” started as an expression of Rabbi David Ingber’s search. Raised in a modern Orthodox home in Long Island, Ingber, 45, studied at many yeshivot before leaving Judaism to immerse himself in Eastern religions. He returned to Judaism through Jewish Renewal, was ordained by SchachterShalomi in 2004, and founded Romemu soon after. It has grown to 515 households spanning the spectrum: Jews by choice, interfaith couples, interracial couples, ultra-Orthodox dropouts, commuters from Westchester, LGBT, teens to 80-year-olds. “The pivot within American religious life toward the confluence of psychology and spirituality has helped us make our service less about Jewish identity and more about personal transformation and communal connection,”
says Ingber. Rooted in tradition but unabashedly eclectic, Romemu integrates strands of mysticism, world spiritual music, meditation, silent contemplation, ancient philosophies and physical awareness. There are guided meditations during kabbalat Shabbat, yoga before Shabbat morning services, ecstatic chant folded into the traditional liturgy, and cleansing juice fasts in preparation for Pesach and other holidays. In contrast to Sixth and I, Ingber says his intention is not to use these channels as ways to bring people closer to Judaism. “We’re not doing yoga in order to get to daf yomi (daily Talmud study). I consider yoga a way to teach Torah of the body and I don’t think we have that in Judaism. The natural movement of your body opens you to prayer.” And then there’s the music. Spiritual communities are engaging music directors who are breaking the old-style cantorial model and suffusing prayer with greater devotional depth. “Music is the crowbar that pries open the heart, awakening us and reminding us continued on page 26
Center started six years ago as a “simple project” to build a new synagogue, driven by Azriel’s Israeli background. In 1973, he worked at a summer camp in Wisconsin, then traveled across the United States in a station wagon with five Israeli friends. They came home two days before the Yom Kippur War. Two of his traveling companions were killed in the war. “I needed to do something as a result of open wounds that never healed,” recalls Azriel, who later returned to the United States and was ordained as a Reform rabbi. On 9/11 and in the days after, he took his congregants to the local mosque to prevent violence and hate crimes. He arranged interfaith dialogues but discovered they did not have a lasting impact. Azriel realized
he could not create a plan just based on his own dreams and the pain of burying his friends. “I had to engage my congregation of 800 members, who had to agree to march to Religious school at Temple Israel of Omaha. a different Promised Land. Some came kicking and screaming and some were ignited by it.” He says The three communities that the emotional, spiritual and have created a Memorandum mental leap of faith took time, but of Understanding to guide now most are excited. them. They have already shared The synagogue opened Pesach services and broken before Rosh Hashanah 2013. The Ramadan fasts together, and the mosque will break ground this youth groups are teaching one summer and the church soon another about their respective after. Appropriately, they are religions. “We can break the sharing the site of the former walls of separation and create Jewish country club, founded friendships,” says Azriel. when Jews were not allowed in — R. Musleah other country clubs.
There’s a strong spiritual dimension at Romemu services.
Courtesy, Temple Israel of Omaha
year of their careers in the areas of innovative thinking, change management and institutional transformation. According to its director, Rabbi Sid Schwartz, the inaugural group of 20 includes “entrepreneurs” who are creating new models of spiritual communities; assistant rabbis of larger congregations who are developing urban satellites for young adults; and rabbis of established congregations who are cultivating empowered organizational models of community. Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel of Omaha initiated a completely different kind of experimentation: building a campus that will house a synagogue, mosque, Episcopal church and an interfaith center in the shape of Abraham’s tent. On a logistical level, the Trifaith
Na’amat ISRAEL: Why We Do What We Do Leadership seminar participants experience a life-changing week.
he Na’amat USA leadership seminar participants not only saw more of Israel in a week than most people see in two or three, but they were treated to an in-depth, up-close view. By the end of their journey, they truly understood the essence of Na’amat — how, with compassion and dedication, the movement improves and strengthens the lives of thousands of Israelis on a daily basis. The seminar started in Na’amat Israel headquarters in Tel Aviv, where they met with president Galia Wolloch, past president Masha Lubelsky and attorney Gali Etzion, director of counseling and legislation. From then on, the participants were in the very capable hands of Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat International Department. It was on to Jaffa where they visited Hashalom Day Care Center for Jewish, Muslim and Christian preschoolers. Ayanot Youth Village near Tel Aviv, next on the agenda, included meetings with students and a wonderful lunch. The women met principal Liora Deckel and students at the Holon Technological High School. They toured the Glickman Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence in Tel Aviv, meeting with director Orit Earon and shelter director Ruti Ozeri. They actually had a free afternoon and evening at this point. And they did get to do some sightseeing as they traveled. On a visit to Beersheva, hosted by Hagit Pe’er, Na’amat Negev region chair, they toured a Na’amat day care center, community center and women’s rights center and met the mayor. In Sderot, the target of numerous rocket attacks from Gaza, they talked with Yehudit Uliel, chair of Na’amat Ashkelon region, and visited the 14
Kassam (Missiles) Museum at police headquarters. From there, they checked out Na’amat ’s bomb-safe multipurpose day care center. A somber expedition took participants to Yad Vashem and Mount Herzl Museum. On Mount Herzl, they “walked in the footsteps of great women in Zionist history,” learning about the lives of those buried there. A journey to Nazareth brought them to the beautiful new Na’amat Technological High School for Arab Girls and, on the same site, the Professional Training Center for Women. A farewell dinner with Galia Wolloch topped off the trip. The participants are still kvelling! Following are comments from the participants and leader Jan Gurvitch, Na’amat USA national vice president of fundraising. Na’amat USA is sure it will be hearing a lot more from these dynamic women in the future.
Jan Gurvitch East Windsor, New Jersey
any people say that to visit Israel properly one should experience the sights, sounds, tastes and, most important, the people of Israel. The same is true for a Na’amat leadership seminar. I was privileged to head the group of 11 women who were selected for their dedication and leadership skills. They were ready to experience that “aha moment” when everything comes together
and you really get it — that Na’amat is not just a membership organization but a movement of women dedicated to the needs of women, children and their families. Our seminar did introduce us to the sights, sounds, tastes of the country and, above all, the work of Na’amat Israel. At each installation we heard how Na’amat helps preschool children, teens and women from disadvantaged backgrounds to get the support and education they need. The staff members were inspiring, with skills and passion for their work perfectly matched. And Na’amat hospitality can’t be matched. At each stop, we were served delicious home-baked treats and fresh fruit. The sounds of Na’amat were heard at Ayanot Youth Village where we attended a wonderful concert given by Ayanot’s sister high school, Kanot. The energy and enthusiasm of the performers, singing and dancing to traditional and modern music, was matched by the audience, moving in cadence with the music and cheering at the completion of each number. It doesn’t get better than that, especially after you’ve had your “aha moment.”
Susan Agiert West Hills, California
o much stood out for me during our seminar: the beautiful children in the day care centers, the lovely young adults in the schools and all the devoted women and men who make everything run so smoothly. Everywhere we went we saw plaques to commemorate the donations that have been made by Na’amat members from all over the world but mostly from Na’amat USA and Na’amat Canada. This made me feel proud to be a member of our movement. Learning firsthand about the won-
derful things Na’amat does for women and children has given me a great story to use as I begin the process of starting a new chapter of the San Fernando Valley Council. I am thankful for having been given the opportunity to attend the seminar and especially to meet so many amazing women along the way.
Dawn Baron Chatsworth, California
y trip to Israel was an opportunity of a lifetime. Shirli Shavit, head of the Na’amat International Department, is such a motivating, inspiring and passionate person. No stone was left unturned as we toured the beautiful day care centers, Ayanot Youth Village, the Arab girls high school in Nazareth and everything in between. What stood out for me the most was the genuine love the teachers and directors have for the children of all ages and cultural backgrounds. I noticed a day care teacher caressing a child’s face and telling the children that they’re beautiful.
I realized that in California the educational environment is so sterile! Instead of putting the decision on the child to fail, the Na’amat staff makes sure they’re loved and never gives up on them. You can see it. This is what I am so proud to be a part of. Na’amat does this while promoting coexistence -- that is the best part. Culture, subculture, history and different philosophies are just a few invaluable things I learned about in Israel. I was able to understand and be inspired because of Na’amat, and I will be forever amazed and grateful.
Leslie Berlin Melville, New York
hen presented with the teenagers and the programs at Kanot, I was not only impressed with Noam, the director, but also thoroughly moved by the personal stories of these kids. This was the case at all the facilities, but a few stories really hit home. Visiting Sderot opened my eyes to the stresses that Israelis live through
with the threat of missiles and bombings. The police chief explained what they live with daily, how often missiles hit this town and what they do to stop attacks. In the day care centers with bomb shelters, each caretaker has 15 seconds to get four babies to safety. This left me feeling so grateful for the life I grew up with in the United States. The seminar was a wonderful life experience. What we learned our first day at Na’amat headquarters — about the goals for the centers and the advocacy work — almost paled in comparison to experiencing each facility’s uniqueness. What I found most fascinating was how each facility caters to the needs of the area it’s located in. Na’amat is such an extraordinary organization and I am proud to be a volunteer with such extraordinary women. Seminar participants meet at Na’amat Israel headquarters in Tel Aviv. From left: Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat International Department; Jan Gurvitch, seminar leader and national vice president; Barb Kitsberg, Esther Radom Pullan, Reina Slutske, Dawn Baron (sitting), Masha Lubelsky, past Na’amat Israel president; Suri Mansouri, Rahel Haym, Alison Pasternak, Susan Agiert, Diane Rishe, Debbie Paperman and Leslie Berlin.
Rahel Haym Woodland Hills, California
n this trip I saw how the founders of Israel went through terrible hardships to establish the State of Israel on May 13, 1948. Now we are enjoying the fruits of their effort — and the same goes for Na’amat ’s first leaders. I will train myself to be a good leader and believe in myself. I will transfer all my knowledge and enthusiasm to other Golda chapter members and persuade them to be more proactive. When I accept the responsibility of Golda chapter president, I will follow the path of the successful leaders to lead our group on a bigger mission and help make us more responsible.
Barb Kitsberg Buffalo Grove, Illinois
appy 66th birthday, Israel! I had the most wonderful opportunity as part of the Na’amat Leadership Seminar to visit Independence Hall in Tel Aviv. There are no words to describe the feeling I had standing in the very room where David Ben-Gurion spoke those special words declaring Israel’s statehood. Hearing his voice and joining in with my new Na’amat friends as we all sang “Hatikvah” was something I will never forget. This trip was an amazing opportunity. It was so well organized down to every detail, and we have Shirli Shavit, director of the Na’amat International Department, to thank. Visiting the Ayanot Youth Village and learning about its history was uplifting because of the wonderful opportunities that we in Na’amat have given to these kids and families who need our help. I loved seeing all that these children do and how enthusiastic they are about their lives. We should be very proud of this incredible place. The Glickman Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Domestic Violence was very meaningful in a sad way. I saw that there is a need for women and their families to get help, but I am sad that this is the reality. What we do for these women and children saves their lives. Na’amat is such an important part of Israel, and Israel needs our help. We need to increase our membership and get our name out there to the general 16
public so that we can get increased funding for these amazing Na’amat projects. I am proud that Na’amat is working in a proactive way. We are not just helping — we are educating and empowering women. We work to change the laws in Israel so that they strengthen families. I will never answer the question “What is Na’amat?” in the same way. We are not just “an organization that helps women and children in Israel.” We do so much more! I am going to be my council vice president this coming year. I hope to spread the word about our importance.
Suri Mansouri Tarzana, California
hat affected me the most was Ayanot Youth Village where Na’amat takes children of dysfunctional families and turns them into strong, educated, motivated citizens. One student told us that whenever he remembers the tough times he had with his family and can’t concentrate, he goes to hold one of the ponies. This calms him down so he can go back to studying. We went to the domestic violence shelter and saw some of the battered women and their children. One woman had a newborn baby. It’s so sad, but Na’amat has a place for this kind of family. The preschool in Jaffa with Jewish, Muslim and Christian children learning Hebrew and Arabic was another highlight. Only politics and adults are to blame for injecting prejudice into their pure souls. Israel needs more day care centers and more youth villages. Israel needs our help. We are here to spread the word and put our energy, our time and experience into this. Everyone who goes to Israel should have a tour of these facilities to be able to feel and see what goes on.
realize the extent until I got to see with my own eyes how much we really do. I was impressed with so many things, but what stood out most were: 1. Hashalom Day Care Center in Jaffa. Here we got to see Jewish and Arab children playing together. 2. The Glickman Center. This visit had a particular impact as so many people think domestic violence is what happens to “other” people. It is wonderful to know that Na’amat is there for this unfortunately often taboo but important issue. 3. The Technological High School for Arab Girls in Nazareth. I don’t often think about Jewish organizations helping Arab causes, but when I saw this place, particularly meeting the deaf girls, it made perfect sense. If we are not there to show them the way, who will? This trip has made me want to make sure that people in Los Angeles and across the country see exactly what Na’amat does and how they can help.
Alison Pasternak Woodland Hills, California
he seminar was fascinating, enriching and emotional. Everyone we met who was involved with Na’amat was kind and warm. The children at the day care centers were adorable. The part that stood out for me the most was visiting Ayanot Agricultural High School. The kids were open about the difficulties that brought them there. To see their growth and love of education was beautiful. I will move forward in getting more women involved with my chapter and getting everyone excited about what we can do to help raise money and make the positive changes in our lives that come with helping others.
Debbie Paperman Beverly Hills, California
o begin, I must simply say thank you. Although I have been to Israel many times, this was a truly unique experience. I came knowing only that Na’amat was an organization that helps women and children in Israel. I didn’t
Esther Radom Pullan at Ayanot Agricultural High School.
Esther Radom Pullan, Oak Park, California
loved each and every minute of the seminar, especially meeting all the wonderful Na’amat USA and Israeli women. Shirli Shavit was amazing, not only for the unbelievable itinerary she and her staff put together, but also for the love and care we received. Each day was filled with learning and inspiration. Although I have been a member of Na’amat for years, actually seeing some of these facilities for myself was a whole new experience. I was so impressed with the unique Ayanot Youth Village. I think of all the beautiful and confident high school students there who a short time ago were not succeeding and had no confidence. I also wish to mention two day care centers — so different and yet so representative. Hashalom center in Jaffa fulfills our dream of living together in peace and harmony among Jews and Arabs and our three religions. The day care center with a bomb shelter in Sderot still affirmed life even under such difficult and dangerous living conditions that this city constantly endures under fire from nearby Gaza. Every one of us is more impressed than ever and motivated to do our best for Na’amat.
Diane Rishe Oak Park, California
rom this seminar I came home with the understanding and spirit of Na’amat in Israel and the United States. What was in danger of becoming ephemeral transformed into a tangible experience that will last a lifetime.
Reina Slutske Los Angeles, California
looked into their eyes: little children playing with their friends under the bright Jaffa sunlight, best friends hugging each other at the school in Lod, the teachers in Nazareth whose names I don’t always remember but who somehow shone for us. They were a part of my Israel, and all of them were a part of Na’amat. Na’amat is an organization that I support because of my personal beliefs, but I never knew the blessings I would receive in return. Coming on this trip, Israel was different for me than it had been for many of my friends. They went on Birthright, where they sailed through the country on buses. They were touring, partying, spending a few hours here and there and just barely scratching a 5,000-yearold itch of heritage and culture. For me, the honor of being a part of this world as a Jew was having my Holy Land with people in it, not just attractions. It’s the people that make a country, not the tourism. And Na’amat represents a lot of them. About one in four children in Israel has gone through Na’amat day care, but it’s not only about
that. It’s the unseen women in the battered women’s shelter and the workers that support them, the teenagers who feel that the world gave up on them but have found the warm embrace of our technological schools. It’s the Muslim and Christian children along with the Jewish children. This is Israel, the real Israel. The one that Na’amat sees and the one it supports. As I sat on the beach with the boy I met in Jaffa that night, he lit up when I told him I was with Na’amat. I come from a country where if you mention this word, people give you a confused look. Older women may recognize it as Pioneer Women. But as I told him, his eyes softened and he understood. It is a living, breathing organization that actually helps the citizens of this country, no matter who they are or where they come from. Na’amat is the people of Israel — all of them. And over the course of a week I saw it. Sometimes the universe sees what you want and says, “No, that isn’t the right experience for you. But watch this awesome thing you’re about to get!” It gives you the vision to see what you are meant to see, the people you are meant to savor and the message that you will take with you back to the people who make up your world here. Our world is more than just a word or landmarks. It is the people who touch our souls, willing to see us beyond just the exterior, and fill our souls. That is Na’amat, plain and simple. n
Above: Seminar tour visits the grave of Golda Meir on Mount Herzl. Right: Class for deaf students at the Arab High School for Girls in Jaffa.
From left: Susan Agiert, Rahel Haym and Na’amat president Galia Wolloch.
“Mzungo, mzungo, good morning. How are you this morning?”
A Danish teacher volunteers in the Ugandan Jewish community and feels connected. by LINDA HERZBERG
Jewish school, I casually asked the caretaker, “Do you need a teacher?” It took fewer than five rounds of mail to arrange my visit. Not many people know there are Jews in Uganda — the Abayudaya (People of Judah). The community is Conservative although men and women sit apart. There is a rabbi, Gersom Sizomu, educated in the United States and Israel. They have a synagogue with a lot of books and four Torah scrolls. The Jewish history goes back to colonial times. It’s a long story, but in short: A Christian political leader and miliUgandan students attend their Jewish school.
Photos by Linda Herzberg
appy voices reach me every morning when I leave the guest house on my way to Hadassah School. The grown-ups and the children gather to stare and call to me — about 5 feet 8 inches tall and white (mzungo) — and in case I don’t answer, the voices become more and more persistent and shrill. I rub my eyes every morning as I still don’t believe my luck. I am a Danish teacher working as a volunteer at the Jewish school. In my rucksack I have the complete edition of Hans Christian Andersen, yarn for knitting, crayons, paper. I have books on Torah and easy-reader books in Hebrew. I am in the middle of the bush. I am near Mbale in the eastern part of Uganda. On a good day it will take five to six hours to reach the capital, Kampala, and Entebbe. Apart from bringing 66 pounds of gifts, I have bought all kinds of medication, just in case. How did I end up there? By chance I read an article about this small community receiving a Torah scroll from Israel and, on a previous visit in November, my Danish friends and I went there for a Shabbat service. Visiting the
tary commander in Uganda read the Old Testament and found it interesting, informative and a guide for a sensible way of living one’s life. So he became a Jew, undergoing circumcision, and had the men in his household do the same. The family was expected to keep the mitzvot and take part in the Shabbat service in his newly erected synagogue. He influenced others in the community to become Jewish. That was in 1919. Today, there are approximately 2,000 Jews living in Uganda. Many were persecuted during the rule of Idi Amin, secretly living a Jewish life. My way to school is so beautiful. On my right, I see Mt. Elgon. The unpaved road is deep red; some houses are built of clay. There are many banana plants, the air is fresh, and people are smiling and waving, wishing me a nice day. I enter the school with five kids following me, touching my strange skin, feeling my hair, testing me. The entrance gate leads to buildings painted with Jewish quotations, symbols and other words of wisdom: “Remember to wash your hands.” “Abstain from sex.” “Don’t talk to sugar daddies.” But the quotation I love the most is “Books are silent teachers.” With a mixture of Muslim, Christian and Jewish children, Hadassah is partly a boarding school for children, some orphaned, from grade six and up. They begin school at 6 a.m. and end at 9 p.m. The word “education” is the mantra in this part of the world. It’s the only way out of extreme poverty. The school hopes to be among the best in Uganda. At the same time, the challenges are tough: They are fighting malaria, typhoid, AIDS and HIV, traffic accidents and poverty. Many children walk three to six miles every day. If a parent dies, there is no help whatsoever from the government. If they’re lucky, they will get adopted by an extended family. None of the kids has a watch and many of them need new clothes without holes. I teach two classes, 6th and the 7th grade. Their main language is English. “My children” write their first essay ever. The assignment is to write “My Story — My Life and My Dreams.” Almost all have lost a parent or sibling. They tell about traffic accidents, having 10 to 12 siblings in a fam-
ily, and their dreams about a life far away from poverty, a life with an education. They dream about being teachers, nurses, doctors, rabbis and visiting me in Denmark. I cannot show them where Denmark is as they do not have any maps. I do not ask them about their hopes of going to Israel one day. That dream is too big. Every Monday morning the whole school assembles, the teachers lecture, and the session concludes with everybody singing “Hatikvah.” There is a dress code: blue or yellow shirt and green skirt or trousers. On the shirt is printed a Magen David. Boys as well as girls can wear kipot (skullcaps). I teach democracy, teach them to choose between Hans Christian Andersen or Torah. They vote for the first time in their lives, learning the importance of every single vote and voice. I teach them about human rights, about the rights every child is born with. But these ideas have been neglected by the government: the human right to have clean water, free education, security and the choice of sexual orientation. They listen. A few of the students are tired as they have typhoid. I teach them Torah and we begin with Bereshit (“In the beginning…,” the first of the weekly Torah portions), the value of human lives, and our freedom to choose between good and evil. They write in Hebrew and ask about the different nekudot (vowels). In the class we establish a reading club. I have collected a lot of books from the library and they throw themselves into the books, hungry for reading. For the first time in my life, I really appreciate “The Ugly Duckling,” the fairy tale about an ugly duckling growing into a beautiful swan. That is hopefully their lives. In the afternoon, the teachers learn how to knit dolls. They are so enthusiastic that they knit during their breaks and in the evenings. If they can knit a doll, they can make clothes and maybe earn some money. Education costs. In the breaks, kosher food is served. Very seldom do the students get meat. The headmaster’s dream is to give every child an egg. Fridays are special. On my way to school, I am greeted continued on page 30 SUMMER 2014
On the Go!
Dateline NEW YORK — In a New York minute, you could name more Jewish (and Jewish-related) cultural events and happenings here than most hyperactive denizens could possibly take in. As your Na’amat Woman in the city, I’d like to share some of my personal favorites in this new column, which will morph into a Web blog (stay tuned). For starters, let me tell you about the truly inspiring event I attended in April — the Clara Lemlich Awards Ceremony, honoring women social activists in their 80s and 90s.
I’ve Got Something to Say! A Gathering of Womanpower With Chutzpah by JUDITH A. SOKOLOFF New York City, 1909. ’ve got something to say!” shouted Clara Lemlich in Yiddish during a tense, crowded meeting of garment workers in Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City. Standing in the audience, the 23-yearold interrupted Samuel Gompers and other union leaders seated on the stage. Lemlich demanded action and a stop to all the yakking. She inspired an unexpected vote to strike, which led to the “Uprising of the 20,000.” Thousands of courageous, primarily Yiddish-speaking immigrants — mostly young women in their teens and early 20s — launched an 11-week general strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry, rebelling against intolerable working conditions. It was the largest strike by women in American history. The predominantly male leadership in the needle trades and the American Federation of Labor was forced to get over its bias against organizing women. Over the next five years, the garment industry was transformed into one of
the best-organized trades in the country. Born to a Jewish family in the Ukraine in 1886, Lemlich immigrated to the United States with her family to escape the anti-Semitic pogroms in 1903. She found work in the garment industry and soon became active in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). The “Uprising of the 20,000” strike led to reforms, but it was the devastating fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory — one of few places that did not enter into a union contract — that ignited a movement to compel politicians to accept new ideas about the responsibilities of government. Lemlich was eventually pushed out of the labor movement for her leftist politics, but she continued to work for women’s suffrage, led a boycott of butcher shops to protest meat prices, campaigned for unemployment relief, and fought for tenants’ rights. Unstoppable even when she lived in a nursing home in her 80s, she helped to organize the staff. At the Clara Lemlich Awards, from left: Perry and Gladys Rosenstein, heads of the Puffin Foundation; honorees Agnes Wong, Sarah Martin, Joan Levine, Judy Lerner, Jane Kalmus, Marilyn Frankenstein and Barbara Bailey. Photos by Emily Holzknecht except for the picture of Kalmus by Jerry Speier
New York City, 2014. t the Clara Lemlich Awards Ceremony, I’m surrounded by a mass of womanpower and some very supportive men. For the last four years, Lemlich’s activist legacy has been honored, this time at the Museum of the City of New York, the elegant white-columned Georgian-Colonial Revival landmark on upper Fifth Avenue. Women in their 80s and 90s are awarded, though this year there was one younger exception. The event is sponsored by the Puffin Foundation, Labor Arts, and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. In the audience is Lemlich’s 90-year-old daughter, Rita Margules, a senior-housing organizer and previous honoree, along with her young, proud-of-his-heritage grandson. Each year the event becomes bigger, more inspiring — and guilt inducing. I criticize myself: “What have I done today to further — as we say Jewishly — tikkun olam (world repair/ healing)? And what will I do for the
larger good as I age into my 90s?” The seven honorees have never stopped fighting — for workers’ rights, women’s equality, social and economic justice, unity, peace, human rights and human dignity. Courageous and tenacious, they are mentors to young women and an inspiration to us all. The vivacious Judy Lerner, almost 93, declares: “I care... and I want to leave this world knowing I made a difference…in the lives of my children and your children.” She, as well as the other honorees, have made a profound difference — and I’d like to tell you about them. Not to make you feel guilty, but to learn and be motivated as I have been. And if you are a supporter of Na’amat, know that this is the milieu from which many of Na’amat’s earliest members arose — 89 years ago. Among the core members were union activists, feminists, socialists, Zionists — both here and in Israel. The American members didn’t call themselves Pioneer Women for nothing! Today, they continue to follow in the founders’ footsteps, working for women’s rights, children’s welfare and social justice. The stories of the dynamo honorees are long, but here they are in brief. Agnes Wong was an activist in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union for more than 30 years. Born in China, she lived in Hong Kong as a child and moved to New York with her husband in 1974. She soon took a job as a seamstress in a Chinatown garment factory and joined the local ILGWU. Wong walked out of her factory with 20,000 co-workers in the 1982 Chinatown Garment Factory Strike and later became a shop steward and local union member on the ILGWU Executive Board. In the union, Wong met strong
women leaders and learned English, leadership development and organizing. The union “brought me up,” she says. As she grew, she helped organize Chinesespeaking workers in various industries in the United States and Canada. She represented the union in the media and by lobbying government officials on human rights and workers’ rights. She continues to be active in labor coalitions and services for the sick in Chinatown. Sarah Martin and Joan Levine are honored as a pair. And what a daring duo they are! Martin, a resident of Grant Houses for 57 years, moved into public housing just after getting married. Joan Studer Levine was born to an activist family during the Great Depression. She’s a longtime resident of Morningside Gardens, a middle-income housing cooperative. These housing complexes sit on opposite sides of the street in upper Manhattan, but for 40 years, residents didn’t mix. Not until Martin and Levine got together to tackle trash and rat infestation and help form the Morningside Heights/West Harlem Sanitation Coalition. They developed a hands-on educational approach to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” which continues to be used by city agencies to educate volunteers and the public. Going from door to door in both complexes, they managed to get all residents involved. The women have brought their color-coded recycling bags for an on-the-spot demonstration. Judy Lerner has been a women’s rights and peace activist for more than five decades. She was a founding member of Women Strike for Peace in 1961. She was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and served on the board of directors of the Center for Constitutional Rights for more than 20 years. She currently chairs the International Com-
mittee of Peace Action at the United Nations and serves as a director on the United Nation’s Non-Governmental Organizations/Department of Information Executive Committee. Her participation in peace missions and advocacy for women’s rights have taken her all over the world. Lerner recalls one of her earliest instances of activism in the 1960s when her neighbors were building fallout shelters and children were practicing hunkering under their desks in case of a nuclear attack. She made a sign stating “Peace is our only shelter!” that marked her front lawn for years until it wore out. Jane Kalmus, not able to attend the event, has served the City of New York since 1961, when she worked as director of communications for Mayor Robert F. Wagner. She founded the National NonPartisan Voter Registration Campaign in 1984. As its president, and in leadership roles in other organizations, she remains devoted to enhancing voter participation. For the last 30 years, Marilyn Frankenstein (the youngest awardee) has been developing a theoretically based practice in critical mathematics education. “Reading the World With Math” targets teachers working on interdisciplinary math and social studies curricula, providing ways to use math as a tool to interpret and challenge inequities in our society. An example of using statistics for social justice education: Twelve million children die of hunger a year. Can we read off a list of their names? No, they are dying faster than we can speak their names. Barbara Bailey is the president and co-founder of the New York City Labor Chorus and has devoted more than 40 years to a civil service career in both federal and city government. A trailblazer continued on page 30
BOOK REVIEWS The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel By Susan Jane Gilman New York: Grand Central Publishing 512 pages, $26
he Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street is a wonderful rags-to-riches story spanning much of the 20th century. In her darkly comedic novel, Susan Jane Gilman tells of the immigrant experience and the rise of the frozen confection industry through the story of the fictional Ice Cream Queen Lillian Dunkle. The book begins with 6-year-old Malka Treynovsky waiting — with the family’s meager assets bound into her threadbare coat — for the ship that will deliver the family from the pogroms of Russia to Cape Town, South Africa. The “goldeneh medina” is anything but for the Treynovsky family. They end up in dire straits when Malka’s father, prone to drinking and gambling, deserts the family. Three months after the family’s arrival on New York’s Lower East Side, Malka is the victim of a near-fatal accident. Run over and permanently disabled by a horse-drawn Italian ices delivery truck, little Malka is abandoned in the hospital by her own family who has no means to care for her. She is taken in and eventually adopted by the Dinello family, who own the truck. Motivated by remorse, kindly patriarch Salvatore Dinello recognizes the little girl’s clever nature. He helps her regain her strength and earn her keep when he employs Malka as the family ventures into the ice cream business. Transplanted from Orchard Street to Mulberry Street, a distance of only a few blocks, Malka leaves her former identity and destitute poverty behind when she moves into an Italian Catholic world and becomes Lillian Dinello. With resourcefulness and cunning, homely Malka lives out the dream of fame and fortune that her father had only envisioned. She also begins a pattern of conniving and manipulative behavior. 22
At 22, after the death of the Dinello family patriarch, Lillian marries Albert Dunkle, a handsome, wellmeaning, illiterate Jewish immigrant with no family. While on their honeymoon, the Dinello heirs cut Lillian out of the business. This gives her the opportunity to remake herself and build the Dunkle Ice Cream Empire. Narrated by Lillian in her outrageously arrogant and irreverent manner, the story switches back and forth in time. From the first chapter, the reader is aware of the fact that the aging Lillian, adored as a public figure and television personality, has fallen into heavy drinking and is facing legal problems. Readers will be eager to discover the details of the scandal in this laugh-outloud narrative. Gilman engagingly relates details of the rise of the ice cream industry through a chatty narrative style that tears down the “fourth wall” — the imaginary boundary between a fictional work and the audience. She bases some of Lillian’s story on that of Tom Carvel, the American inventor of soft ice cream. When the Dunkle ice cream truck breaks down, Lillian frantically reblends and refreezes the melting inventory to create the first soft-serve ice cream. Like Carvel, Lillian establishes the business model of roadside franchises just as the highways to the beaches are opening up, and to avoid waste, she concocts new flavors by instructing her franchisees to mix broken cookies and toppings into the Dunkle product. Lillian’s crazy ice cream flavors reflect the times. For World War II, it’s Welcome Back Walnut, Victory Vanilla, Armistachio. But she can go too far. Her frozen “mocktail milkshakes” taste a little too much like the real thing and almost destroy her business and its wholesome image. Lillian continuously reinvents herself. During the 1952 polio pandemic, it is a fact that scientists tried to blame
the ice cream industry for the spread of polio. In the novel, the ice cream consortium tries to convince Albert to keep his outspoken wife out of sight, since her lame leg and cane (from the childhood accident) are visual reminders of the devastation of the polio epidemic. Lillian overrides them all. In a brilliant marketing coup, she encourages the public to believe that her disability is a result of polio, rebrands Dunkles as the most trusted and wholesome ice cream company in America and associates it with finding a cure. She makes herself the face of the company and a television star as the ice cream queen, wrapping her own cane in peppermint stripes. Gilman constantly winks at the reader with tidbits relating to the modern pop culture. Lillian tries to ignore the premium ice cream trend (represented by a company she refuses to name but calls Umlaut). Raging against the extravagant ice cream brands, Lillian says: “The whole beauty of ice cream was its democracy. Always, always it was cold and sweet and affordable for everyone. Suddenly elevating it to a luxury? Why that went against the very essence of ice cream itself. You might as well start charging money for water.” Lillian’s downfall is not only due to her greed, paranoia and need for revenge against the Dinello family, but also her inability to experience a loving connection. As Lillian’s life unravels, one sees the parallels to her description of eating ice cream in the early pages of the book. “Whenever I first put it in my mouth, I experienced an explosion of delight. But … [as] soon as I began to lick the spoon, the ice cream inevitably started to turn to liquid…. It was like love: No sooner had I finished it than a devastating sense of loss always set in.” Readers, taste this book, savor it and enjoy it as a refreshing summer read. It will be over all too soon. — Marilyn Rose
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir By Roz Chast New York: Bloomsbury Books 228 pages, $28
How About Never— Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons By Bob Mankoff New York: Henry Holt and Company 304 pages, $32.50
she took inside their crowded Brooklyn apartment, she captures, in her uniquely moving, funny, insightful and compelling way, what it’s like to be a child who is losing her parents. We understand what it’s like for those parents — stubborn, wanting to remain independent and unable to remain so — to be finally removed from that life because their only child had no choice but to extricate them. Her parents both had difficult childhoods. They attempted to overcome their histories by not talking about them, by not talking about any-
Roz Chast, CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?, Bloomsbury 2014
henever anyone presumes to speak for me, I become a little alienated, a little hostile. It’s hard to say why that happens, but it does. How and why Roz Chast speaks for me is somewhat mysterious, but she does. She is insightful, female and funny, and while her persona is that of a completely anxious middle-aged person, she persists in an unusual and fearless way, without the conventional need to conform, to pretend, to act as though everything is OK. Roz Chast — it’s impossible to call her just Roz — she’s a person whose last name is as much as who she is as her first. It was with great surprise (and some trepidation) that I saw my first Roz Chast cartoon in The New Yorker, in 1978. Her shakily drawn cartoons depict life as a series of crazy, small acts. They’re about people who are funny and confused by most of what happens, and about how hard life can be. They are people who are more comfortable with questions than answers, and in some way they are about Jews, urban Jews who are anxious and nervous and fully aware of how anxious and nervous they are. She often makes me laugh out loud. (A few years ago I wrote a book about Jewish mothers called Don’t Mind Me and Other Lies Jews Tell. My agent
said it needed an illustrator because the lies themselves needed help. I asked for Roz Chast, and both the agent and the publisher, Hyperion Books, said, “She’s too busy. She’ll never do it.” But someone sent her the manuscript and she said yes. Her drawings add immeasurably to the book. So now I have a personal reason to love her work.) When I saw an excerpt from her first graphic memoir in The New Yorker a few months ago about her parents getting older and dying, I knew I had to read the book. And I knew that Roz Chast would tell the story of aging and parents the way no one else ever would or could. Using drawings, documents and the photos
©Bob Mankoff/The New Yorker Collection/Condé Nast
thing very difficult. When Chast raised the subject of how they wanted to age and die, they suggested changing the topic to something more pleasant. They were really OK living in their Flatbush apartment (the home Chast grew up in and hated), burrowed into their space for a lifetime. In one of the funniest sections of the book, Chast photographs her parents’ apartment before they move. The grime-infused rooms document that her parents were hoarders. Her father’s desk was covered with papers he couldn’t possibly see or read. Everywhere she looked, there were piles of things that should have been scrapped or donated years before: a drawer full of jar lids (my own mother had the same drawer plus one full of rubber bands, and she kept adding more rubber bands from broccoli and lettuce), endless gloves, empty egg cartons, all those ridiculous things people save. Chast’s relationship to her parents is real and as difficult as all real relationships. I know, from being a daughter and then a mother, that the parent-child situation is never easy, full of problems that are often hard to fix and almost impossible to walk away from. Roz Chast’s mother, a retired assistant school principal, was demanding, critical and complicated. She was
always right and never let anyone win an argument. One day, she climbs a ladder to go into the “crazy closet,” where things that didn’t fit anywhere else were stored. She falls off the ladder and goes to the hospital. Her father is a gentle, kind and anxious soul. Dependent on his wife for life and strength, he becomes despondent. Dementia and panic overtake him, and things go downhill from here. Roz Chast shows us what family is, what life is, and even what death is. Reading her memoir, both wonderful and devastating, is a perfect emotional experience. Bob Mankoff is the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, and this spring he, too, published a memoir about growing up as a cartoonist and loving cartoons. His most famous cartoon line, mouthed by a businessman on the phone, is: “No, Thursday’s out. How about never — is never good for you?” Hence, the title of the book. His book is much less memoir than Chast’s. It’s interesting that they both had unhappyish childhoods — a requisite, maybe, for humorists of all kinds. (Mankoff, by the way, is Chast’s editor at The New Yorker, and he loves her.) Mankoff comes from a family where humor is valued. Maybe, in a way, that’s what it means to be a Jew. Or at
least, that’s what it meant to be a Jew when Mankoff and Chast (and this writer) were young. Who knows today? He grew up in Queens, New York, in the 1950s where he became “a wise-cracking Jewish kid…did funny drawings, and turned my mother’s Yiddishisms into American humor.” He tells us that his father sent his mother a handbag from World War II with this note: “It’s pretty popular in Paris, so it should be OK in the Bronx.” Mankoff is not a personal writer. He tells us practical things about the cartooning business — how to come up with ideas, how to create cartoons, how to submit them to The New Yorker, how to be a successful cartoonist. He writes about what makes us laugh — or not. The book contains more than 250 cartoons created by the author and the cartoonists he admires. Mankoff is a person who is completely and totally in love with cartoonists, cartooning, and, most of all, cartoons. And it’s fantastic to learn about it all. — Esther Cohen
Shlepping the Exile By Michael Wex New York: St. Martin’s Press, 224 pages, $24.99
n the late 1950s, a Hasidic couple who escaped from the Nazis is living in the unlikely place of Coalbanks, Alberta. They have an unlikely son, who makes for a memorable if somewhat off-putting character in Michael Wex’s first novel. A preadolescent/adolescent too smart for his own good, Yoine Levkes is unlimited in imagination and willingness to comment acerbically on everyone and everything, He chaffs at the limits imposed by his religion; faces anti-Semitism and bullying in public school; and has a sense both of superiority and displacement. He is also a highly sexed young man limited only by opportunity. Yoine starts by reading racy comic books — his stern father declares, “Not yet a bar mitzvah, and already a sex pervert” —
then goes on to win the lust of his guidance counselor and the love of the beautiful but far-from-Orthodox Sabina Mandelbroit. Though Shlepping the Exile is told in the first person and in a somewhat meandering manner, like J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Yoine is more successful sexually than the protagonist of that coming-ofage novel. He is also less complex than Holden Caulfield in a less complex plot. Complexity comes more from the characters surrounding Yoine — his put-upon but loyal mother who is almost liberated by her husband’s death; and, above all, the mysterious Kalman, publisher of fine Yiddish literature and purveyor of pornography. He has rabbinic ordination from the famous Mir Yeshiva, yet doesn’t quite believe in God. As an admirer of Wex’s works of
non-fiction, especially Born to Kvetch, I was disappointed with the onenote tone here. Certainly the author displays his earlier storytelling skills and sense of irony. I love the opening of the book, contrasting Mr. Levkes’s candy store with every other such store — smelling of the ink with which he writes Torah scrolls. Yoine captures the foibles of his elders, including the unsuitable suitors pursuing his widowed mother. There is a wonderful mythical tale of a rebbe who becomes a kugel because he had criticized his wife harshly. And there’s the funny but sad description of the happenings at the only synagogue in town: “It was the first election since 1924, when Khaim Mes flipped a coin with Getsl Jimmy Durante to see who got the shul and who the khevra kad-
disha, the burial society.” We laugh when Yoine says: “I was the only kid in Coalbanks who could say anal retentive in Yiddish.” But after a while, his obscenities become tiresome. A sentence like, “You ever so much as look at me again, [expletive], you or your [expletive]-for-brains pimple-friend” may be a bit hard to take for gentle souls, even if the bully deserves it and adolescents do talk that way. Wex supplies a glossary for the book’s many Yiddishisms, but it probably helps for continuity’s sake not to have to refer to it too often. He also assumes knowledge of cultural references that readers may lack, such as gangster Mickey Cohen and several movies. The Alberta-born Wex (one wonders to what degree the book is autobiographical) can be poignant — in the long shadow cast by the Holocaust. But most people will probably seek out this book for its humor. Whether it’s your brand remains to be seen. — Barbara Trainin Blank
Sex Trafficking Must Be Stopped!
by MARCIA J. WEISS
What is human (or sex) trafficking?
he 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…
shall exist within the United States,” yet human trafficking is present in every state, and few laws are in place to stop it. Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery, undermining our values and beliefs and promoting a severe breakdown in society. It is a horrific violation of human rights. Scores of women and children, both girls and boys, are trafficked each year within or across national borders as part of a $32-billion annual industry. The U.S. State Department estimates that 27 million people are trafficked for labor, sex and other exploitative practices across the globe every year. Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of sex trafficking. Cases are reported in every country and in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. As the fastest-growing organized crime enterprise and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world, sex trafficking is big business. Between 14,000 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually, and approximately 100,000 American children are victims of community sex traffick-
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what’s possible in our lives and in the world,” IKAR’s website proclaims. Basya Schechter, lead singer of the folk rock band Pharaoh’s Daughter, which blends Hasidic, Middle Eastern, devotional and ecstatic world music, recently became Romemu’s music director. “People really sing; there’s a real sense of ruach (spirit) in the room. The music feels undeniably Jewish even if it’s a Sufi chant,” says Ingber. Brous tries to take a fresh look at every holiday and ritual experience. In IKAR’s first year, she recast the tradi26
ing. Victims are generally under the age of 25, some as young as 12 to 14. Women and girls make up 98 percent of the victims. These staggering figures indicate that we must TAKE ACTION to ensure that the practice of sex trafficking ceases and that the traffickers and buyers are punished. Simple marketing principles apply: Demand drives supply and if there are no buyers, there will be no business. Current trafficking practices rely on secrecy and public ignorance to operate successfully. We must increase awareness and make trafficking a high priority in order to curb the practice.
Who are the victims? Victims of trafficking are among the most economically vulnerable in society. They are generally victims of poor economic conditions, economic deprivation and disadvantage, and lack of family support and education. They are enticed with the promise of a better life. Once recruited, traffickers use a variety of methods toward their victims, including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, threats of violence and forced drug use. Victims may also endure psychological harm, including shame, grief, fear, distrust, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Victims generally arrive in the U.S. on tourist visas but
tional Yizkor booklet, usually a list of congregants and the loved ones they have lost. On Rosh Hashanah, she asked congregants to choose someone they wanted to remember, to recall a struggle they had with the person, what his or her voice sounded like, and the greatest blessing the person gave them. Write a few paragraphs, she urged. The next day the office received 100 submissions. They were bound together into a Book of Memories, which was distributed on Yom Kippur. “Many people hadn’t been to Yom Kippur services in 15 to 20 years,” Brous recalls. “Yet they stayed the whole day because they were reading the Yizkor book. Then they found
overstay their time limits; others have fraudulent documents.
Where does trafficking occur? Trafficking is a national as well as a global problem. Aside from those victims trafficked within the United States, others come primarily from Latin America, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia. Entry points are strategic sites along the U.S.-Canadian border, the St. Lawrence River, airports and military bases, easy access ports in Florida and along the East and West coastlines. States like Pennsylvania are considered “passthrough” states for trafficking as well as a destination. Favorite airports in the East are Bradley in Connecticut and JFK. San Francisco is a popular entry point in the West. When the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) cracks down on one area of the country, the entry points shift elsewhere. Victims are moved in organized trafficking circuits from one place to another, from one brothel to another to prevent them from establishing contacts who could provide assistance, to escape detection from law enforcement, and provide a change of women for male buyers. Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl tend to attract increased sex trafficking.
each other and shared similar stories of brothers they had lost or fathers with the same names. It created a sacred space for memory and helped build community.” The booklet has become a regular and powerful part of High Holiday services. Social justice is not just an optional committee at IKAR. Members sign a “multilevel membership covenant” that features a commitment to be part of Minyan Tzedek, which has four paths of engagement: direct service (feeding the hungry, tutoring children); organizing to effect legislative change (immigration reform and preventing gun violence); global partnership (promoting human rights through an Israeli
What can be done? Major legislation is pending, aimed at awareness and remedies to curb and eventually eliminate sex trafficking. The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, HR 2283, elevates the State Department Trafficking in Persons Office to the status of a bureau, giving human trafficking a higher priority and allocating more resources to address the problem on a national level. The End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013, HR 2805, provides for the arrest and prosecution of the buyers of sex from minors and other victims, not just the traffickers. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2014, S 1738/HR 3530, proposes creation of a “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund” at the Treasury Department that the Attorney General can use to fund victims’ support programs. It would also increase law enforcement resources in the hopes of reducing demand for human trafficking by targeting purchasers. This bill passed in the House on May 20, but it is unlikely to pass in the Senate. If successful, all these bills would decrease demand for sex trafficking and increase the means of preventing it.
Take action! Urge your legislators to support the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2013. Let’s raise awareness of this outrageous practice and take steps to eliminate it. Let’s educate our educators
about the practice of targeting schoolage children to engage in sex trafficking. Let’s encourage local schools to make sex trafficking awareness part of their curriculum. NA’AMAT USA pledges to protect women and children. Let’s redouble our efforts to bring an end to this heinous practice of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking in Israel Israel has been taking serious, effective steps against sex trafficking over the past several years. In 2006, the government passed and implemented the Anti-Trafficking Law, which prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes strong penalties for traffickers. It also identifies sex trafficking survivors as victims rather than criminals and ensures that they are transferred directly to a state shelter and not placed in detention. In 2008, Israel ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 and ratified by 159 countries as of February 2014. With an anti-trafficking agency working with police cooperation, along with educational programs, Israeli officials say that most of the trafficking from outside the country has been stopped. Marcia J. Weiss, J.D., is NA’AMAT USA vice president of program and education.
solar energy project in Uganda), and green action (environmental sustainability). The topics were hammered out at a series of house parties. Another series of house parties, held weekly, encourages people to get to know one another. Hosts invite people in the same zip code to share wine, cheese and Torah study around issues they care about and that ground their struggles in the language of tradition, says Brous: “What does it mean to be 30 and single? Two of my friends in their 30s have breast cancer. How do I come to terms with that?” Brous grew up an “illiterate” Jew in Short Hills, New Jersey, with no rabbi or role model to guide her. Driven by
NA’AMAT USA Resolution on Sex Trafficking Sex trafficking is the most common form of modernday slavery. Scores of women and children, both girls and boys, are trafficked each year within or across national and international borders as part of a $32-billion annual industry. As the third largest and fastest-growing organized criminal enterprise in the world, sex trafficking is big business. An estimated 800,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders and additional individuals are trafficked within countries. WHEREAS trafficking occurs in every country, in all 50 states, and in all cities and towns, both large and small; WHEREAS victims of trafficking are generally under the age of 25, some as young as 12 to 14; WHEREAS an estimated 293,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims; WHEREAS sex trafficking promotes a severe breakdown in society, promotes organized crime groups, threatens government authority and encourages widespread corruption among vulnerable populations; WHEREAS agencies, educators and law enforcement at all levels must remain alert to this issue and address it vigilantly; NOW THEREFORE, NA’AMAT USA speaks for women and children in the United States and strongly urges our legislators to enforce existing laws aggressively and enact new legislation with harsh and severe penalties to deter those engaged in sex trafficking and purchasers.
lack of knowledge and intrigued by Orthodoxy, she embarked on a course of study during her junior year of college in Jerusalem. At an outreach weekend devoted to proving the scientific existence of God, she walked out unconvinced by the codes and formulas but sure of her own faith. “I decided right then that I was going to be a rabbi, even though I couldn’t even say kiddush.” Today, she mentors young rabbis and shares her ideas with people across the country. As communities like IKAR and Romemu become more established, they are growing out of the temporary spaces they currently inhabit (IKAR meets at a JCC; Romemu at a Presbyterian church) and are looking for perma-
nent homes. “It’s a huge step,” Brous acknowledges. “But I don’t fear we will be institutionalized once we have a building because innovation is built into the culture of this community.” Whether in temporary or permanent homes, spiritual communities share a similar mission: to awaken the soul. “The more tools in the toolbox,” says Lau-Lavie, “the better.” n Rahel Musleah is a New York-based writer, singer and educator who presents programs on the Jews of India and Iraq. Visit her website: www.rahelsjewishindia.com. She wrote “Jewish, Funny and Female” in our winter 2013/2014 issue. SUMMER 2014
AROUND THE COUNTRY
π Cleveland Council held its Healing Lives/Pursuing Justice 2014 Tribute Event at Landerhaven events space. An award was given to Alexandria M. Ruden, J.D., senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. The funds raised will go to Na’amat’s Glickman Center for Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence in Tel Aviv. From left: Susan Haas, Myrna Groger, Alexandria M. Ruden and Nina Rothman.
π Cleveland Council presented a discussion on “What You Need to Know About Elder Abuse: Social and Legislative Perspectives.” Guest speakers were Wendy Cantor Dobo, LISW-S clinical manager of social work and case management at Jewish Family Services, and Sharon Comet-Epstein, J.D. in family law, collaborative attorney and mediator. “This very informative program taught us what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones,” said participant Robin Lieberman. The event was chaired by Rita Frankel and Reva Zaretzsky, co-vice presidents of programming. From left: Wendy Cantor Dobo, Reva Zaretzsky, Sharon Comet-Epstein and Rita Frankel.
π The Palm Beach Council Donor Luncheon featured guest speaker Lyon Roth, representing the Consulate of Israel in Miami. More than 100 members and guests heard his analysis of the Mideast situation at the Boca Greens Country Club. From left: Jacquey Oster, Southeast Area coordinator; Lyon Roth; Rhoda Birnbaum, council president; and Joyce Schildkraut, event chair.
π Golana/Sabra Club in Brooklyn, NY, holds a festive luncheon at Perry’s restaurant. Standing, from left: Irene Hack, Eastern Area co-coordinator, and club president Rita Noped.
√ Yoga and Reiki teacher Lin Goldkrantz holds a session for Na’amat USA members in Cherry Hill, NJ. According to participants, “stress release through laughter, wellness exercises and Reiki” was quite effective. Goldkrantz became a member at the meeting. From left: club president Fran Schavalia, Gwen Reisner and Diane Steinberg.
√ A record crowd of members and guests filled the Woodlands Country Club for Broward Council’s gala celebration of Israel’s 66th anniversary. Guest speaker Hava Holzhauer, ADL regional chair for Florida, spoke about anti-Semitism around the world. From left: Ruth Racusen, Broward Council co-president; Hava Holzhauer, ADL Florida regional director, and Bess Frumin, Broward Council co-president.
π The Shalom club provided a Mother’s Day gift wrapping service at a local mall, a fundraiser for Long Island/Queens Council. From left: Trudy Sinn, Linda Biderman, Francine Puskarich and Marsha Jafee.
Carole Wolsh, past president of Pittsburgh Council ® Na’amat USA, toured the beautiful Na’amat/Weiner Center for Women’s Health and Education in Karmiel, built by Na’amat Pittsburgh in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation. The visit was part of a Federation Volunteer Mission. Wolsh is standing on far right.
πThe attractive new Na’amat USA national office in the San Fernando Valley holds a welcoming open house. Special guests Bob Blumenfield (Los Angeles City Council) and Mathew Vallecilla (field representative for Hon. Brad Sherman, U.S. House of Representatives) presented national president Elizabeth Raider with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition. From left: national vice president Ivy Liebross, national board member Esther Friedberg, Western Area coordinator Hilary Botchin, national president Elizabeth Raider, Matthew Vallecilla, national vice president Gail Simpson and national board members Susan Brownstein and Susan Issacs.
π Proclamation from the New Jersey State Assembly honors Debbie Troy, member of the Esther Goldsmith club and the national board, expressing gratitude for her years of service for women, children and families locally and in Israel. The proclamation was presented at a club brunch.
I’ve Got Something to Say
Mzungo, mzungo, good morning
in her many roles, she has worked to achieve equal rights and held leadership roles in her union. On her retirement, she was asked to serve as director of the union’s newly created Retiree Division. The NYC Labor Chorus (founded with Bobbie Rabinowitz and Laura Friedman) has blossomed into an international, multiethnic and multigenerational chorus with more than 100 members. Bailey speaks about the “power of song to sound out an alarm about workers’ rights” and the need to “become a thorn in the sides of our foes in our activism.” Chorus members sing “Bread and Roses” and “Union Maid,” with the audience joining in. “You women who want to be free, just take a little tip from me. Break out o’ that mold we’ve all been sold, you got a fighting history….” The Clara Lemlich Awards Ceremony is particularly meaningful during a time of voices rising over the issues of pay equality for women, higher minimum wages and extending unemployment insurance. Unfortunately, a few days after the event, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have helped end pay discrimination. The good news is that President Obama signed an executive measure and a Presidential Memorandum, both of which will help curb discriminatory wage practices and empower victims to fight back. The event over, I return to my middle-class ILGWU-founded housing cooperative. It’s the only way I can afford to live in Manhattan for which I’m eternally grateful. I marvel at the power of women as I resolve to do more healing of the world. n
with the words “Boker tov v’ Shabbat shalom.” The children clean the “synagogue,” the hen is kicked out. On the blackboard, a teacher has written the most important sentences from the parashat hashavuah (weekly Torah reading). The candles are in their place. At sunset, 312 pupils quietly fill the room. Headmaster Aaron Kintu Moses plays the guitar, the wannabe rabbis read and lead the service. Everybody takes part — some with instruments, others just with their voices. Two orphans, five to six years of age, sit on my lap, and I wish that I could bring a child back to Denmark. We sing the same songs as we sing in my synagogue and we turn to receive the Shabbat bride. The headmaster talks about all the things I have contributed to. The school has its first computer (no Internet connection), mobile telephones, crayons, yarn, pearls, Jewish books, flashlights, calculators (running on sunlight). I feel so humble, having been born in the “good” part of the world. The school does not receive any money from organizations abroad and is struggling to keep going. The teachers are idealistic, earning $100 a month. On the other hand, the synagogue is “connected” to a few communities in the United States, Israel and elsewhere. On some days, a lot of women are making jewelry, which sells in the United States. Rabbi Sizomu, who also works as a teacher, takes good care of his community and is its spokesperson. At a conversion, a beit din (rabbinical court)
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Judith A. Sokoloff is the editor of Na’amat Woman. The Clara Lemlich Awards Ceremony is sponsored by the Puffin Foundation (puffinfoundation.org), Labor Arts (laborarts.org), and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (rememberthetrianglefire.org). The main organizers were Esther Cohen and Rachel Bernstein, founders of Labor Arts. 30
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from the United States arrives and takes care that everything is being done according to halacha (Jewish law). At the Shabbat service, I am offered a mitzvah but have to decline. I am from an Orthodox synagogue, and as a woman I was never educated in performing anything related to the service. But I watch in amazement as the women proudly put on their tallitot (prayer shawls) and read from the Torah. They are much better educated than I am. The service is amazing. People are dancing, singing and joyous. The rabbi talks about humanity. After the service there is kiddush. We carry the chairs to the rabbi’s house. There is no wine, too expensive. The weekly portion is discussed and 50 people participate and elaborate. Food is served and as a guest of honor, I get a tomato. Five orphans come. They are served by the rabbi and I share my leftovers with them. I had my doubts when I was riding in the car to the school that first day. But I do not regret one minute — I loved every one. Imagine a Jewish woman from Copenhagen feeling connected to a Jewish community in Uganda by culture, religion or just by being so well received. I was the first mzungo volunteer there in some time, and I am sure that if by chance you pass by, they will warmly receive you as well. n Linda Herzberg lives in Copenhagen. She is active in Jewish life, works in human rights organizations, and is a teacher of marginalized youth.
Na’amat International now has a Facebook page! Check out the latest news from our sisters in Israel and around the world — and don’t forget to pass the information on to your friends.
Visit NA’AMAT Installations! See Na’amat in action when you travel to Israel. Na’amat’s International Department will arrange for you to visit a day care center or technological high school.
Your Online Purchases and Searches Can Help NA’AMAT USA. It’s easy and it’s free with iGive.com! Join iGive.com for free — then shop and search and support our cause. A percentage of each purchase benefits NA’AMAT USA. Be part of the largest online network of shoppers, stores and worthy causes dedicated to turning everyday online shopping into much needed donations. It’s never been easier to support NA’AMAT USA. Shop at 1,300+ top-notch stores, including Amazon.com, Pottery Barn, Best Buy, Staples, PETCO, Expedia and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Smart shoppers will love iGive’s free shipping deals and exclusive coupons. That’s not all. You can raise a penny per search using iGive’s search engine www.iGive.com. And you will enjoy total member privacy.
Just contact Shirli Shavit at email@example.com at least two weeks ahead.
NA’AMAT was founded 89 years ago as Pioneer Women.
Today, we’re still pioneers, providing day care for more than 18,000 Israeli children.
When NA’AMAT was founded in 1925, we were pioneers, dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in pre-state Israel. Now, with the largest network of day care centers in Israel, NA’AMAT has become a world leader in early childhood education. In fact, the NA’AMAT day care program has served as a model for the Head Start Program in the United States. Our activities also encompass legal, family and financial counseling; the prevention and treatment of domestic violence; a technological education network; and advocacy for women’s rights.
Join NA’AMAT USA today and become a pioneer of the 21st century. NA’AMAT USA, 21515 Vanowen Street, Suite 102, Canoga Park, California 91303 818-431-2200 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.naamat.org 32