Summing up the Pre-Pesach 5779 Delegation to Scandinavia

Guest Post from Rabbi Johnny Solomon

Tonight I delivered my final session in Malmo (Sweden) alongside Avigayle Adler as part of the OTS Amiel BaKehila delegation to Scandinavia.

Having travelled from Copenhagen this afternoon, we were met in Malmo station by Rabbi Moshe David HaCohen and as we walked towards the community centre, we heard about the opportunities, and challenges, facing this special community.
When we arrived at the community centre, we met members of the community who were there to collect some basic Pesach foods which are now being sold through the community centre, and this was followed by a fabulous art activity for children led by Avigayle.

Soon after we popped out to visit the stunning synagogue and heard about its history, and we then returned to the community centre for a further art activity for adults which was then followed by my presentation titled, ‘Serving God Together: The Making of the Unified Haggadah’ where I told the story of Rav Goren’s Nusach Achid Haggadah and made a number of remarks about cohesion and unity in Jewish communities and in wider society. We ended the evening with a panel discussion addressing how we can achieve unity while celebrating diversity.

It has been an incredible privilege to spend the past week visiting and learning from the Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen and Malmo communities, while also sharing Torah ideas and connecting with so many wonderful people. In truth, it is impossible to put into words my admiration for the many wonderful leaders and community volunteers who we have met, and I thank each and every one of them for their kindness, hospitality, and for teaching me so much about their special communities.

Benzi Gruber – IDF Br. General (Res.)

Brigadier General Bentzi Gruber is Vice Commander (reserves)
of Division 252, an armored division of 20,000 soldiers. As an entrepreneur, he
has established Internet startups, been a real-estate developer and initiated
biotech research.  He is founder of “Chesed in the Field,” a non-profit
that brings together IDF reservists and chronically ill and disabled children
for special events throughout the year instilling the values of community and
social responsibility in the hearts of thousands of soldiers.  Gen. Gruber
also established “Ethics in the Field” to shatter myths and present the facts
missing in today’s discussion of Israeli counter terrorism.

Gruber lectures
(weekly) on ethics, social responsibility and leadership to IDF commanders and
officers across Israel, in order to ensure that the IDF remains the most
ethical army in the world. His commitment and dedication to education has had a
profound impact on thousands of soldiers in the Israeli military.

A graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion and the Jerusalem
Institute of Technology (Machon Lev), Gruber received a PhD from the The
International University of Business and Law (London).  He has spoken at
national conferences, community events, synagogues, military academies, college
campuses, and middle and high schools around the world.

Lital Shemesh – Journalist

Lital Shemesh – Journalist

Lital Shemesh is a News
Anchor and TV presenter in Channel 20.

Shemesh travels around
the globe, drawing on her military and journalism experience to explain how why
the media coverage has negative effects on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In
her talks she also presents her perspective on how to achieve women’s empowerment
through their participation in male dominated arenas. During her military service,
Shemesh served as a combat soldier with the Israeli Border Police, a unique
position for women. This experience later led her to cover conflict zones as a
journalist, including the volatile Gaza border.

Ms. Shemesh is an
out-spoken publicist who expresses her unique opinions openly and gains
massive social media traction on a daily basis. As a social media expert, she
has lead several viral campaigns. Her talks include advice on how to become an
influential social media figure.

She holds an MA in
American Jewish Studies.

Shemesh is also a TV
formats creator, winning the International Formats Awards is Kiev and at MIP TV
Festival in Cannes.  

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Avigayle Adler – Jewish Arts Educator

Avigayle Adler is the founding director of the Open Studio in Jerusalem. She has been teaching art and creativity since she was in high school. She has a MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew University and is a graduate of the Pardes Educators’ Program.

Avigayle Adler

Avigayle made aliya from Denver, Colorado seven years ago and has been running the Open Studio every since. She has been an artist-in-residence at several summer camps, seminary programs and museums throughout the United States and Israel. Avigayle has been awarded the distinction of Oman Mitztayen, or “Outstanding Artist” by the ministry of absorption and highlighted in Celebrating 70 Extraordinary Women of Israel in The Times of Israel.

Avigayle specializes in mosaics, glass painting and paper-cutting, but her true talents lie in helping to bring out the inner-artist in each child and adult she works with.