Elie Wiesel Tribute

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:38am

Posted in: Holocaust Commission

2086 By now I'm sure all of you have heard the news that Elie Wiesel passed away last weekend.  As the tributes to this Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Laureate, humanitarian, and dedicated teacher poured out, the sorrow of losing one of the most powerful voices for Holocaust remembrance and against injustice of any kind was overwhelming.

An iconic spokesperson for the Holocaust’s enduring lessons, Elie Wiesel was one of the most recognizable voices through which millions first encountered the dark history of the Shoah. But most importantly, he broke the silence and refused to let the world forget.

It is hard to even comprehend what the world must have been like when everyone, including Jews, only wanted to forget the Holocaust. What a different universe we would live in if Elie Wiesel had not had the courage to speak and remember.
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Notes from Neve Michael: Purim and the Princess Dress

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 7:49am

by Hava Levene, Neve Michael Children’s Village director of public relations

About Neve Michael Children’s Village:  Located in Pardes Hanna, Israel, Neve Michael provides a home for 250 children. The majority of the children are victims of mental, physical or sexual abuse; ages range from 4 to 18 years old. Children living there have been removed from their parents’ care by Israel’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Services—usually because of unimaginable traumatic circumstances.

Your generous donation to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign directly and positively impacts the lives of children at Neve Michael.

Hava writes:
From Rosh Chodesh Adar to Purim, there are fun activities in Neve Michael Children’s Village. The children are a mosaic of Jewish culture and traditions including Ethiopian, Israeli, Russian, Moroccan, Libyan etc. We try and make sure to encourage the uniqueness of each culture through songs and traditions.

This is a story about “Batya,” who arrived at our Emergency Crisis Center.

UJFT donors strengthen Jewish identity 5,000 miles away

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 9:12am

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater helps Jewish families in Romania learn more about their heritage and religion through a camp in Cristian, Brasov.

Building strong Jewish communities and empowering Jewish identity--everywhere--are important UJFT goals.

Zoberman reflects on Yoffie

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 3:00pm

My distinguished colleague and dear friend, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, was ordained as a Reform rabbi in 1974, just like me, at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Whereas he attended the New York City Branch of the seminary, I was at the Cincinnati one which dates back to 1875 and is the oldest of the four campuses.

Rabbi Yoffie, President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), is a rabbi’s rabbi and a true “mensch”, who has left an indelible mark on the largest religious Jewish movement in America which he led with distinction from 1996 to 2012. Prior to it he served as executive director of ARZA, the Association of the Reform Zionists of America.

While president of URJ his emphasis was on greater engagement with Torah study as well as joyful celebration of Shabbat. In the spirit of K’lal Yisrael he challenged Reform Jews to also deepen their bond with the State of Israel, while urging the Jewish state to reflect a pluralistic Jewish world, recognizing the non-Orthodox religious movements.
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Behind the Story: Israeli Arab Tech Expansion Prompted by JDC Partnership

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:22am

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Israel & Overseas partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, better known as JDC or The Joint, continues its vital work of empowering Israel’s future.

Here’s a recent story highlighting one of its programs you may have seen, but never realized you played a part in!

Behind the Story: Israeli Arab Tech Expansion Prompted by JDC Partnership

A New York Times story “All-Bedouin Tech Company Hints at Shift in Israel” published on January 9 highlights the growing inclusion of Israeli Arabs in the tech industry and job market in Israel.

“Israel, with a population of about eight million, has long been a global leader in high technology. But the country’s Palestinian Arab minority, which makes up about a fifth of the population and includes the Bedouins of the arid south, one of the poorest and most neglected sectors of Israeli society, has been largely left out,” the piece said, setting the context for the increasing numbers now being employed in Israel.
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MLK Day – Why just one day a year?

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:59am

Posted in: Community Relations Council


Our seven-year-old came home from school on Friday and said, “Mommy, I am grateful for Martin Luther King, Jr.”  She went on to tell me that, “without him, I wouldn’t be able to be in the same class as my friends.”

I told her that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is one of my favorite holidays, too, because each year it reminds us of the importance of being inclusive and to use our voices to stand up for what is right.

We are constantly looking for ways to have meaningful conversations with our kids and this time, our daughter started a great one.  I decided to do some googling and found a ton of great ideas to further the conversation and to build on Dr. King’s great work at home.  Here are two ways that you, the Tidewater community, can bring the conversation into your home!
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Happy Chanukkah from the Kaplan Family!

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 2:56pm

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

1985 Dear friends,

Tonight is a special night, as we will light six candles on the Chanukkah menorah, and also light the Shabbat candles. On this Shabbat in particular, we will talk about sharing the joy of Chanukkah with others, and encourage our daughters to choose a worthy organization to give a gift of tzedakah. This season is commonly associated with gift giving, and I have often thought how meaningful Chanukkah could be if every family dedicated one night as a night of giving to those less fortunate as opposed to receiving gifts. We could give our children, our friends and neighbors, our community, the gift of philanthropy! Consider ending the calendar year, or winding down the celebration of Chanukkah, by creating a legacy to benefit our Tidewater Jewish community for generations to come.

It is my hope that the warmth and light of the Chanukkah menorah bring you and your loved ones happiness and fulfillment. From my family to yours, Happy Chanukkah!

Warm regards and Shabbat Shalom,
Scott, Erica, Liora and Eden Kaplan

Denise and Jason Hoffman Talk Legacy

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 8:32am

Posted in: Tidewater Jewish Foundation

Tradition and custom were a big part of childhood for both Denise and Jason Hoffman. Both experienced structure and ritual—but the juxtaposition was huge. While close geographically, their experiences were worlds apart.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Jason’s family was fairly observant. Weekly Shabbat dinners took place in his kosher home and attended a Solomon Schechter day school. Jason says of his childhood, “Being Jewish was certainly part of who we were.”

Across the water in New Jersey, Denise Vastino was busy living her own life. “We did all of the Catholic things. There was much structure and many rules. However, as I got older I began to stray from that mold,” Denise says of her own upbringing. “Like Jason in the Jewish world, I lived in a very Italian neighborhood. My friends were primarily Italian Catholics. We stuck together.”

Fast forward to 1999, when Jason and Denise meet at a mutual friend’s party. Denise was not feeling well, and Jason offered her his coat. The rest is history. Differences in their faith were not an issue. As their relationship progressed, the issue of faith took on more relevancy. “In my family there was an expectation that you would marry someone Jewish. The fact that I was moving towards not [doing so] was met with disapproval.” Denise and Jason focused on their relationship and what had brought them together: their common values and morals.

For the Love of Soldiers

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 7:46am

Posted in: Special Events

If you’ve been to Israel, you know that it is just as common to see soldiers on the street as it is to see kids playing in the park.

You have pictures of them in your photo albums and maybe you even have a child or a relative that has served as a “lone soldier” in the Israeli army. If you haven’t made it to the Holy Land yet, then you’ve either met a soldier who was visiting the U.S. or you’ve gotten to know them personally through last year’s Tidewater movie screening of Beneath the Helmet.

They are the brave young men and women who risk their lives day in and day out to protect the homeland of the Jewish people. Many of them know little about their heritage or history, and 30% have never even been to Jerusalem.
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What this mitzvah project means to the children of Pardes Katz

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 3:35pm

Posted in: Special Events

By Marilyn Johns, project chair

Music Education has been a passion of mine for over 35 years.  This year I am celebrating 31 years as a music teacher in the Virginia Beach public school system, and 40 years as a Jewish music educator and performer. 

I have seen the positive impact music has on people’s lives, when they are given the opportunity to create their own music and play their own instrument. 

During our Jewish Women’s Renaissance Program (JWRP) trip to Israel, summer of 2014, the women from the “Tidewater group” spent the morning visiting Pardes Katz (our sister JCC).  After a tour of the center we were given the opportunity to help preschoolers with a craft that they were working on. 

There was a piano in the room, so I naturally had to open the lid to the piano and began to play.  The children and teachers sang along. 
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