Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF)’s national gala was one of the largest and most prestigious galas in the American Jewish philanthropic community held online on last Sunday. This year’s gala brought together thousands of FIDF supporters representing all chapters across the United States to express their appreciation for the brave young soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who risk their lives to protect the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.

This FIDF initiative aimed to enable the global FIDF family to unite for an unprecedented night of giving and extraordinary solidarity, saluting Israel’s IDF protectors, despite the limitations posed by the pandemic.

The program featured several segments to honor IDF soldiers, including Lone Soldiers, who joined the IDF with no immediate family in Israel. Among those being recognized at the gala was a female Black Hawk Pilot, Cpt. T., who will participated in an opening segment called “Air, Land, and Sea,” in which active-duty soldiers will take the audience on a dynamic and action-packed training mission. Another segment, focusing on one family’s multi-generational story, will highlight FIDF’s Witnesses in Uniform Program.

Pvt. Noa Kirel in her IDF uniform. Photo credit: Shai Franco.

The gala also featured a live performance by global pop star and active IDF soldier Noa Kirel, who recently signed a deal with Atlantic Records, the largest ever for an Israeli artist.

Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel also performed live, as will the IDF Musical Ensemble featuring IDF soldier Eden Alena, who will represent Israel in the next Eurovision Song Contest.

FIDF National Chairman Rabbi Peter Weintraub and Israeli-American actress, model, and host Moran Atias presided as masters of ceremonies.

Many distinguished guests were expected to participate in the gala, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz; IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi; Founder and Chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Pastor John Hagee; and President and CEO of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) Yael Eckstein. FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir   who will be succeeded this month by incoming FIDF National Director and CEO Steven Weil - will give a farewell speech after six years of unprecedented organizational growth.

Kirel, an active IDF soldier, recently signed a deal with Atlantic Records, the largest ever for an Israeli artist.


Mosaic United partnership with Hillel, Chabad, and Olami enters 5th year under shadow of COVID-19

Wednesday, 16 September 2020, Mosaic United, Jerusalem – Mosaic United has joined together with its campus partners to invest more than $20 million and take its global campus initiative into its fifth consecutive year.

The Campus Pillar is the longest-running program of Mosaic United, a strategic partnership between the Government of Israel through the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and global Jewry.

In its first four years, Mosaic United invested more than 400 million NIS in building new centers of Jewish life and supporting Jewish identity and engagement programming through its campus partners – Hillel International, Chabad on Campus International, and Olami.

“Our continued support for the Mosaic Campus Pillar is a vivid declaration of our commitment to Jews around the world, to building Jewish identity, and to growing the connection between young Jews and Israel, Minister of Diaspora Affairs MK Omer Yankelevitch said. “It is important that Jewish students everywhere know that Israel stands with them and values our connection – even and especially in trying times like these.”

Philanthropists will provide 50 million NIS in support which will be matched by 25 million NIS furnished by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

Rabbi Dr. Benji Levy, CEO of Mosaic United, said, “As Jewish life on campus is being challenged, we are proud to support strengthening the Jewish identity of our future leaders at over 400 universities across the globe.”

Begun in the 2016-7 academic year, the historic partnership between Israel and the leading providers of Jewish life for college students has seen more than 100,000 Jewish students complete one of the campus partners’ programming tracks


Acclaimed musician, Sarah Aroeste, live from her home to yours, brought Ladino words and music to young and old. Aroeste is an international Ladino singer/songwriter, author, and cultural activist, who draws upon her Sephardic family roots from Macedonia and Greece (via Medieval Spain) to bring Judeo-Spanish culture to new generations. Aroeste works to introduce Sephardic culture to wider audiences.

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles



                    Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

                                      Heiko Maas


TEL AVIV – Yesterday evening, the Shimon Peres Prize was awarded for the fourth time by the German Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation. The prize, donated by the Federal Foreign Office in memory of Shimon Peres, totaling 20,000 euros, is awarded annually to two future-oriented German-Israeli projects that have made particular contributions to the development of German-Israeli relations. The winning projects are selected by an independent jury.

Due to the current restrictions on travel and gatherings, this year's award ceremony took place online. Speakers at the ceremony included Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, Berlin Mayor Dr. Klaus Lederer and Professor Dr. Tsvia Walden, daughter of Shimon Peres.

The following projects were selected by an independent jury and will share the prize:

Environmental Educational Partnership between Israel and Germany convinced the jury with its sustainable cooperation, which brings young people in both countries into contact with one another and enables them to work together on one of the most urgent issues of our time - climate protection.

-          Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI)
-          Naturschutzbund Deutschland e. V. (NABU)
-          Naturschutzjugend (NAJU)

Inclusion in German and Israeli Societies was selected for its positive and practical approach to diversity and the focus on the successful inclusion of marginalized groups in both countries.

-          Bildungsstätte Bredbeck education center
-          Sapir College Sderot, Department of Public Policy and Administration
-          University of Bremen, Institute of Religion and Religious Education

At the event, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas said, “Shimon Peres dreamed of advancing understanding through technology. We remember him as the ‘godfather’ of Israel’s start-up nation. Therefore, I am sure that he would have enjoyed the fact that this evening’s celebration is taking place virtually.

“Shimon Peres had another dream too – The dream of German-Israeli friendship. After the horrors of the Holocaust, this dream came true. But it was Shimon Peres, more than almost anyone else, who worked to make this happen. For example, in 1986 he was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit this city, Berlin.”

At the event, Professor Dr. Tsvia Walden, daughter of Shimon Peres said, “I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the family and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German government, and especially the German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation for the generous support and efficient management of the prize for the fourth year in a row.

“The prize perpetuates and helps fulfill the legacy of Shimon Peres - to strive in every way, constantly and tirelessly, to make the world in which we live and which we will leave to future generations, a better and more just place.”

The 20,000 Euro prize awarded for the fourth time by the German Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation.


A group of people walking on a sidewalk Description automatically generated Boston, MA, Sept. 8, 2020 -- At a time when social distancing will limit student trips to Israel and in-person campus programming, Northeastern University Hillel, the Consulate General of Israel to New England and Returning the Sparks announces the launch of the first-ever Israeli Art Lending Library (IALL).

The innovative public-private partnership will be housed at Northeastern University, and it will allow students the opportunity to bring a piece of Israeli art back to their dorm rooms for the year. Art lending libraries exist at several universities, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California, Berkeley, however this is the first art lending library to showcase Israeli artists.

IALL provides a social distancing-friendly means for selecting Israeli art, while granting an opportunity for students to learn more about the art’s subject and origin from the safety of one’s own dorm.

Framed Israeli prints, photographs, and original pieces were curated based on feedback Northeastern University Hillel received from student leader focus groups this summer.

Some of the art that will be available include: Serenity by Benjamin S. Tagger “Serenity” by Benjamin S. Tagger. Tagger's art represents him as a gay young architect, playing with and exploring the lines between masculinity, geographic boundaries, colors, and his obsession with maps. According to the artist, a symbolic description of space, representing the world in an abstract manner, a map is never neutral.

“Face” by an anonymous Yemin Orde youth artist. Yemin Orde Youth Village is a home, school and safe haven for 430 at-risk youth from around the world. With the help of Yemin Orde’s team of dedicated educators and professionals, plus its successful ‘Village Way’ methodology and its popular art therapy program, fragile youth receive a quality education and heal in a supportive and loving environment that allows them to gain confidence, self-esteem, grow and thrive.

A picture containing graffiti, colorful Description automatically generated “Enid” by Shimon Wanda.  Wanda is a multi-disciplinary contemporary Ethiopian Israeli artist from Kiryat Haim. He began drawing at a very young age as a self-taught artist who believes in testing the limits and exploring various techniques.

“Bride from Yemen” by Shai Yossef. Yossef was born in Rosh Ha’ain and often uses his art to engage in social issues.  He likes to “sculpt” his artworks on canvas, and he is known for his oil paintings which are influenced by social values and the Bible.

Type your paragraph here.


Cry out. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like

a shofar.
—Isaiah 58:1


Join Jews across the nation in sounding a clarion call for accountability for a new year of compassion, transformation and justice for all.  Each year during the communal observance of Rosh Hashanah, Jews blow a shofar, a primitive instrument made from a hollowed-out ram’s horn. The Talmud (the primary source of Jewish religious law) teaches that the three types of shofar sounds heard during the holiday represent three types of cries: the t’ruah (staccato notes that sound like an urgent alarm), the sh’varim (medium-length blasts that sound like crying) and the t’kiah (long, summoning calls).
In other words, each blast calls us urgently to wake up and pay attention to the suffering in the world: the plight of those afflicted with disease and physical and mental suffering; the strain of the oppressed laborer; and the desperation of those entrenched in poverty.
On each day of Rosh Hashanah, we hear 100 shofar blasts—a repetition designed to reawaken us to our responsibility.
Today, nearly half the world’s population lives on $2 a day or less. Millions of children die from hunger each year. Billions live without sanitation, safe drinking water or fundamental citizenship rights.
Here in our country, close to 30 million people lack health insurance, about 40 million Americans live below the poverty line, and another 100 million are one paycheck away from an economic crisis. Access to justice is severely imbalanced and privileges affluent white people over people of color and those of lesser means.
And in Israel and Palestine, with the occupation in its 54th year, the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people is in peril; we continue to struggle to realize the promise of justice and equality and safety and security for all Israelis and Palestinians.
And on top of all that, this year, we are contending with a pandemic that has disproportionately affected the poor, the elderly and people of color.
The pandemic has also meant that Jews cannot gather to hear the sound of the shofar in our houses of worship. Instead, we have taken our shofars out into the streets to share with our neighbors a call for radical change in our society’s priorities.
Following the shofar blasts in our synagogues, we annually declare: “Today is the birthday of the world.” That announcement signifies an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to generating hope, growth and compassion for ourselves and for the most vulnerable among us.
Rosh Hashanah celebrates not only the creation of the world but also our creative potential and our agency and responsibility for creating a more just world. May we people of all faiths and backgrounds come together to sound our own clarion call of accountability so that this new year—5781 on the Jewish calendar—can be a year of  transformation, justice, and love for our communities, our nation, and the world.
You can participate in three ways:

Add your voice to the clarion call for accountability. In a short video clip (15-90 seconds), share what you sound the shofar for this year. You can load your video and see others’ here. When recording your clip, repeat and complete this prompt  "I sound the shofar for..."
Let us know that you want to sound your shofar for a better world by registering here. You’ll find the link to record your video at the bottom of the sign up sheet. You can also find it here.
Join in on the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah, September 20, at 4:00 PM ET for a collective/social distanced/virtual shofar blowing.


NEW YORK CITY – Latet Israeli Humanitarian Aid is hosting a unique and groundbreaking virtual conference with prominent American and Israeli leaders discussed the humanitarian responses to the Covid-19 health and social crisis on Monday. For the first time, key speakers from the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors joined together and discussed their handling of the pandemic in order to identify the best practices in reducing the effects of Covid-19.

Among those participating in the conference were Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York; Ronni Gamzu, Israeli Coronavirus Commissioner; Rachel Garbow Monroe, President and CEO of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and Jeff Swartz, Social Change Investor & Chairman, American Friends of Latet.

“During the first wave of the outbreak, the nonprofit sector has demonstrated its agility and efficiency, as a key component in the fight against the virus,” Founder and President of Latet Gilles Darmon said. “Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis is here to stay, and therefore this dialogue is a unique opportunity for the NGOs to build up their impact on the field. Bringing together Israeli and U.S. expertise will only make this discussion even more powerful.”

The conference concentrated on three main topics:
   – Food access in times of quarantine: a critical challenge for vulnerable populations;
   – Surviving Covid-19: the new normal of the elderly and Holocaust survivors;
   – Covid-19 crisis management: the need for a tailored response, for example with the Ultra-Orthodox community.

Israeli-American journalist Michal Divon moderated the dialogue. Speakers at the conference included Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, President, Achiezer; Gilles Darmon, President/Founder, Latet; Ronny Douek, Founder, Veshamarta Project, Sheatufim, Zionism 2000; Yael Eckstein, President & CEO, IFCJ; Pr. Ronni Gamzu, Israeli Coronavirus Commissioner& Director of the Special Operations Control Center; Melissa Greenberg, Executive Vice President, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Joel Greenberg, Co-Founder and Board Member, Seed the Dream Foundation; Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York; Yoav Heller, CEO, Maoz; Stuart Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, Selfhelp; Rachel Garbow Monroe, President and CEO, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Yehuda Morgenstern, CEO, The Bnei Brak Economic Dev. Corp.; Maj. Gen. (Ret’) Roni Numa, Israel Defense Force, Coordinator of BneiBrak Corona Virus Task Force for IDF; Alex Roth-Kahn, Managing Director, Caring Department, UJA-Federation of New York; Jay Sanderson, President & CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater LA; David Schizer, Dean Emeritus, Columbia Law School and former CEO, JDC; Bill Shore, Executive Chair, Share our Strength; Jeff Swartz, Social Change Investor, Chairman, American Friends of Latet; Eran Weintrob, CEO, Latet, Israeli Humanitarian Aid.

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