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Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 by Erin Steibel

I felt lost when I learned of my dad’s late-stage cancer diagnosis. Despite having a top team of doctors battling his disease, I knew that prayer was my only weapon in this fight.  I couldn’t shake the feeling, though, that there was more we could be doing.  Our sages teach that repentance, prayer and charity can remove an evil decree.  My father has always modeled that charity encompasses good deeds, so I started thinking that if we could encourage others to embrace …

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Four Jewish Camps in Four Weeks: We Are All Different in the Woods

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 by Wendy Verba

As the program officer for Jewish overnight camps at the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, I made it my mission this summer to visit all four Northern California camps to see, first-hand, how they are helping build the next Jewish generation with the Federation’s support. It was at my final Shabbat at Camp Tawonga, just outside Yosemite, when the power of camp suddenly came clear.  As the morning sun filtered through the trees at Makom Shalom (&ldquo…

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Welcome and Be Welcomed IRL (In Real Life)

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016 by Lisa Lisser

Shalom all — Thank you all for responding to our Wexner Hospitality app survey!  We had 137 respondents, both North American and Israeli.  We are listening.  Our Wexner Summit working group has been hard at work this summer exploring options for powering our vision to build an online platform for North American and Israeli Wexner alumni (and others) to connect IRL (“in real life”) when we are traveling in each other’s home countries.  Utilizing our ow…

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Meetchabrim Jerusalem Walk: Making Connections Between All Sectors of Israeli Society

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016 by Ram Shmueli and Mark Schwartz

From 1958 to 1971 around Sukkot Israelis from all different segments of society used to go on a two-day walk from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem.  The 30-kilometer walk was connected to the ancient custom of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year — on Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot.  Before there were social networks or even the term "networking", Israelis would get to know about different Israeli life experiences through this walk.  At its peak, approximately 1.25% o…

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Ocean-Spanning Work on Shared Values and Mutual Obligations

Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Einat Hurvitz

On August 23, 1950, the President of the American Jewish Committee and US industrialist Jacob Blaustein visited Israel.  In an historic meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, Ben Gurion and Blaustein issued statements expressing their mutual understanding about the relationship of American Jews and Israel, in what became known as the Blaustein-Ben Gurion accord.  Three issues were at the focus of that accord — representation, dual loyalty and Aliyah. Ben Gurion decla…

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P2P (People to People) Update

Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Anita Greenwald

The P2P (People to People) working group from the Wexner Summit "Stronger Together" has been busy working on multiple projects that connect Israelis and North American Jews.   While at the Summit, we realized what a gift it was that alumni from four of the Wexner programs were meeting and working together.  Right there, within the Summit group, was a P2P experience.  To expand on that and utilize the potential within the room as well as with all Wexner alumni and to create a way …

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Creating Inclusive Access to Judaism and Israeli Heritage

Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Amy Bressman and Susan Borison

Our "Stronger Together" Wexner Summit working group identified the lack of institutional recognition and tolerance of non-orthodox Jewish ritual, practices and beliefs in Israel as one important factor wearing away the North American Jewish Community's feeling of connection to Israel.  Our concern was actually twofold — from the Israeli perspective, Israel was illustrating a true lack of religious freedom for non-orthodox Jews and creating a distancing of non-orthodox Israeli Jew…

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From Uzhgorod and Ashkelon and Isabella Freedman - Got Torah?

Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2016 by Karyn Gershon

When your husband is the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic and your son is ready to become a Bar Mitzvah, what do you do when the Torah in your congregation is found to be pasul (not kosher)?  If you are Tamar Newberger, you find your way to Project Kesher.  For the past twelve years, Project Kesher has placed Torahs throughout eastern Europe, working to maximize access for women whether a community is Progressive (Reform), Masorti (Conservative) or Orthodox. The placement in Pragu…

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Connecting in Jerusalem

Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2016 by Mark Schwartz and Ram Shmueli

Our Working Group from the Wexner Summit: Stronger Together: [Re] Imagining the Israel-North American Jewish Community Relationship is launching our first in a series of programs open to the entire Wexner Network.  Connecting in Jerusalem will take place on October 19 - 20 in Israel.  Our group, consisting of Wexner alumni across four Wexner Foundation programs, are promoting this together to all of our own networks in order to broaden the connection that North American Jews …

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Kennebunkport Kickoff

Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2016 by Eyal Jacobson

This year, the Summer Institute with the 28th Wexner Israel Fellowship (WIF) cohort was held in Kennebunkport, Maine.  I was among the eight Fellows who were accompanied by WIF Alum Maria Ben Assa (Class 27) and Foundation staff members Or Mars, Elisha Gechter and Aliza Storchan.  This three-day institute, the first one for us current Israel Fellows about to begin our year at Harvard, was about transforming the group into a team and about delving into leadership lessons.  We grapp…

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