OTS Amiel BaKehila Celebrates its 100th Delegation

This week, OTS Amiel BaKehila celebrated the departure of its 100th delegation, as Rabbi Jaron Engelmeyer, Gaza border farmer Avichai Koch, and Educational Artist Sarit Gizbar departed for an eight-day delegation to Vienna, Basel and Bratislava. We are deeply gratified to have such wonderful partner communities who warmly welcome our delegations, and such incredible artists, educators and speakers, who have brought their talents, wisdom and knowledge to Jews of all ages in communities around the world!

1 Month (November 2019), 3 Continents, 13 delegations, 39 Communities

After taking a well-deserved break for the holidays, we’re back at full speed, excited that over the coming month 13 delegations will visit 39 communities on 3 continents!

Over the coming month, seven delegations travel to Latin America. For example, in addition to the talented Jewish educators traveling to each community, Hi-tech expert Daniel Ben Shimon will visit the communities of Parana, Santa Fe and Rosario, Argentina. Dani Limor, a former Mossad agent, will speak in Montevideo, San Juan and Bahia Blanca. Journalist Jana Beris will speak in Cordoba, Salta and Tucuman.

In the United Kingdom, Ethiopian activist Penina Redai joins Chef Yahav Kriti and Rabbi Reuven Spolter. In France, the communities of the Marseilles region welcome Marc Amouyal and technology and investment expert Bruno Malki. We also send our inagural delegation to Spain, as Rav Aharon Gulman accompanies hasbarah expert Gustavo Perednick and musician Ianir Kilinsky to Tormolinos, Barcelon and Palma de Majorca. Continue reading “1 Month (November 2019), 3 Continents, 13 delegations, 39 Communities”

Three Questions about the Jewish Community of…Buffalo, NY (USA)

With Rob Goldberg, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Buffalo

Tell us about Jewish Buffalo:
Jewish Buffalo is a relatively tight-knit community of approximately 10,000.  While it only represents less than 1% of the greater population in the region, its impact is felt through the leadership of so many families in law, medicine, education, and the arts.  Nearly 75% of the population lives in suburban areas, concentrated mostly in the Town of Williamsville.  There is a JCC system with both a city and suburban building, two Reform congregations, one Conservative congregation, 6 Orthodox shuls and a variety of other non-affiliated worship groups. The Federation system raises nearly 3M annually and supports a range of agencies – from the Hillel on the campus of the University of  Buffalo to a Jewish Family Service and Holocaust Resource Center – as well as a number of educational and engagement efforts that touch all sectors of the community.

Tell us five things that are unique to the Buffalo Jewish community? 

  • An overall spirit of cooperation among synagogues, rabbis and leaders
  • A warm and welcoming atmosphere that is symbolic of many Midwestern communities
  • An embrace of our reality as a smaller community (60 years ago we were double the size) and the commitment to be “small” and “mighty”
  • Innovation – Buffalo is a city known for innovation in aerospace, manufacturing, architecture, the arts and a variety of other sectors, and the Jewish community reflects that, in particular, the Federation that is always seeking new ways to engage more Jews in having a meaningful Jewish experience
  • Our proximity to Niagara Falls and the Canadian border
Please share a community program or activity that you feel would be beneficial for other communities to know about:
Security has been at the forefront of our agenda since the Tree of Life massacre last fall. Buffalo moved swiftly to raise funds (over $225,000), hire a dedicated security professional, and to begin to distribute grants for synagogues and agencies to harden their buildings, train leaders, etc. In less than a year, we’ve accomplished that and so much more and serve as a model for other communities of our size. There is, as a result, a general sense of appreciation among community members for this commitment to ensure a safer and more secure Jewish Buffalo, and the need and effort have brought us even closer together.

OTS Amiel Bakehila Partner Profile: Deborah Jacubovsky – Actress, Singer, Dancer and Playwright

Deborah Jacubsky

I traveled to Israel for the first time on a study trip at the age of fifteen and felt an immediate and deep connection with the land of our ancestors, our present and future. Since then I understood that Israel would one day be my home. Following my Aliyah from Chile in 2012, I met my husband in Shuk Machane Yehuda and we have a wonderful son. Kibbutz galuyot!
I am a creative mind that dreams day and night. Within my itinerary of activities with the communities is “Soul Dance”, Theater, music and artistic workshops with Jewish content.

Soul Dance
Seven years ago I created a dance movement called “Soul Dance”. It is a circle of tribal Jewish dance that is composed of Afro Latin rhythms, song and prayer in motion. Together we create a dance that reactivates the lost or sleeping heritage of the Jewish woman and reignites traditions we shared in ancient times prior to 2,000 years of exile. This dance helps us connect with God, with ourselves, with the circle of women in brotherhood and with the natural cycles of the planet and our bodies.
Through this experience, we let go of fears, anxieties and conventions about what is beautiful and aesthetic. We let go of personal and collective judgments and concepts about coordination and rhythm in order to learn to listen to the movement of our souls. It is incredible for me to see the transformation of women from the beginning to the end of the sessions. It fills my heart to be able to share tools that encourage living a more conscious and meaningful life. These dances he us understand that we are warrior women who fight in an internal war, one that makes us better human beings, using all the wisdom that lives within our wombs.
Every time I shared Soul Dance, without exception, the women enjoyed and managed to connect in a way that they did not know and that many times did not think possible. On several occasions, women who did teshuva or converted to Judaism approached me, and with tears in their eyes, they thanked me because they have not felt that level of connection for a long time. For many, it is a gift to know that they can find a way to express themselves, dance and sing with holiness.

Comedy is a very high form of healing for people. When the audience laughs collectively, it often ignores the fact that in addition to entertaining there is an even deeper phenomenon that is taking place. Laughter helps the person release endorphins, which in addition to relieving pain strengthen the ability of white cells to defend the body against viruses and bacteria. In short, laughter is both physical and spiritual medicine.
It has been a giant pleasure to be able to act for hundreds of people who have laughed out loud and also taken an important message to reflect. On these trips I have presented a monologue called “Bite The Tongue” based on the teachings of proper speech.

What has impacted me most has been the opportunity to meet the emerging communities that are made up of men and women who converted or are in the process – devoted and committed people of humble nature and exceptional values. They gladly receive the knowledge we share to feel closer to Israel, reaffirming the path chosen in the decision to live as Jews. It is inspiring and overwhelming.

To date, I have had the blessing and opportunity to travel to six countries and fourteen different cities with OTS Amiel BaKehila delegations. It has been an immensely rewarding experience for me on a personal and professional level.
My work brings joy, Jewish values ​​and empowerment on a personal and collective level. For me it is a blessing to be able to connect with the greatest number of people, listening to their stories and dreams, giving my support and maintaining connection with these people even at a distance. It is very inspiring and helps them feel closer to Israel.
Being able to represent Israel by sharing culture and spirituality with Jewish communities in the Diaspora is an honor and a huge privilege, and for that I feel grateful.
In November I will, God willing, be traveling with OTS Amiel BaKehila to Paraguay and Chile, the land where I was born. I hope to continue doing this beautiful and enriching work to continue connecting with the soul of those who live so far away but who are also part of our people.

We are creating indestructible bridges, from heart to heart.