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ADL honors Corporon, LaManno families for fighting hate

ADL honors Corporon,  LaManno families for fighting hate

ADL In Concert Against Hate honorees included Lukas Losen (front row, from left); Mindy Corporon; David Friedman, ADL Washington, D.C., Regional Director; Melinda Corporon, Alissa LaManno, and Jim LaManno.... Read more...

Native son set to discuss K.C.-based novel at Unity Temple

Native son set to discuss K.C.-based novel at Unity Temple

Jamie Metzl has spent a lot of time dealing with national security issues. He has served in the Clinton White House as a member of the National Security Council, worked in the State Department and as... Read more...

Listening Post

  Bicycle riders planning to participate in the Arava Institute and Hazon Israel Ride in Israel later this month include Jimmy Rosenbloom (from left), Sheila Sonnenschein, Ken Sonnenschein and Ed Meltzer. BICYCLING... Read more...

A perfect 10: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ kicks off White Theatre’s 10th anniversary season

  The White Theatre begins its 10th season on Nov. 8 with a production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ ‘Les Miserables’ was one of the most popular plays produced by the theater in its ninth season... Read more...

Downtown Minyan celebrates 10 years of prayer and camaraderie

  The Downtown Minyan, which holds afternoon services in a conference room at the Bryant Building every Monday through Thursday, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It began meeting Nov. 1, 2004 The... Read more...

Listening Post

  Yoni and Naftali Schwartz (from left) came all the way from Israel to see the Royals play in the American League Championship Series. Childhood friends and former Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy classmates... Read more...

Doctors take issue with film discrediting shaken baby syndrome

  Scott Olitsky, M.D. Doctors from all over the country read the Oct. 2 article about "The Syndrome," the documentary that premiered last weekend challenging the validity of shaken baby syndrome, written... Read more...

Listening Post

  The Jewish owners of ANB Bank were in town for a VIP reception last week. The bank is the financial sponsor of the Jewish Community Center. Many members of the Jewish community attended the reception... Read more...

KU Hillel to showcase vibrant Jewish life at the Kansas campus

  About 50 Jewish high school juniors and seniors attended Jewhawk Day last year. The event is sponsored by KU Hillel and the University of Kansas Office of Admissions. Over the years KU Hillel has... Read more...

New play at Unicorn focuses on views of the younger Jewish generation

  Photo by Cynthia Levin A new play at the Unicorn Theatre is promising to have a lot of chutzpah this fall. Read more...

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World Series brings thoughts of Rabbi Margolies and his love for baseball

At 6:20 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, my clock radio awakened me in my home in the Bronx to the radio announcer saying, "Giants and Royals in Kansas City tonight. Game one of the World Series." "I am dreaming,"... Read more...

Author recreates the life of the first Yiddish humorist in biography

Author recreates the life of the first Yiddish humorist in biography

  The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye," by Jeffrey Dauber. (Nextbook, Schocken, 2013.) Read more...

As November election approaches, we can learn a lesson from Kristallnacht

The 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous "Night of Broken Glass," is Nov. 9 and 10. Kristallnacht is a harsh reminder of the anti-Jewish violence that rocked Germany, occupied Austria and areas... Read more...

My daughter’s passing and the Kansas City Royals improbable playoff run

Jeremy Krashin With my daughter on her death bed, my wife, Julie, and I spent the day reciprocating her love, hope and inspiration with as much of the same as we could. Ilana was 3 days old and was not... Read more...

Documentary not factual; shaken baby syndrome does exist

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child abuse kills over 1,600 children every year. Most child abuse victims are infants less than 1 year old. Abusive Head Trauma is the most... Read more...

I am finished aplogizing!

I am finished apologizing that I am unable to marry gay and lesbian Jewish couples. Thus, I write this personal, open letter to my congregation, as well as to the entire Jewish community of Kansas City.... Read more...

Making our facilities safe

Thank you for providing me with such a warm welcome to the community. It’s been a pleasure to meet so many of you and I look forward to the opportunity to meet more of you over the coming months. Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Introducing Hebrew learning opportunities We wish the K.C. Jewish Community a L’Shanah Tovah V’Metukah — a sweet near year filled with Hebrew learning! From across the Jewish community, we are... Read more...

Letters to the Editor

Both sides suffer (Editor’s note: This letter to the editor, originally  published in the Aug. 28 issue, is reprinted in its entirety with corrections.) The latest issue of The Chronicle features... Read more...

Five days of ‘wow’ at the national Sinai Scholars Retreat

KU’s Sinai Scholars recently attended the Sinai Scholars Retreat in Chicago. Shown are Arie Mello (top row, from left), Rebeka Luttinger, Ethan King, Nechama Tiechtel, Betsy Jacob and Sammy Katz. Bottom... Read more...

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Birger Bat Mitzvah

Birger Bat Mitzvah

Emily Birger Julie and Michael Birger announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Emily, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Emily is the granddaughter of Marianna... Read more...

Cole Bat Mitzvah

Cole Bat Mitzvah

Hannah Cole Brian and Karen Cole announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Hannah, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Congregation Beth Shalom. Hannah is the granddaughter of Robert and Nita Levy and... Read more...

Hennick Bat Mitzvah

River Hennick Elizabeth and Mark Hennick announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, River, at 5:50 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Hotel Sorella. Read more...

Pinson Bar Mitzvah

Maxwell Pinson Janice Pinson and Jeff Pinson announce the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Maxwell, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

Kosoglad Birth

Jack Leonard Kosoglad Michelle and Max Kosoglad announce the birth, Sept. 4 of a son, Jack Leonard. Grandparents are Arlene and John Rubenstein of Prairie Village, and Cynthia and Jerome Kosoglad of... Read more...

Rose Bar Mitzvah

Daniel Aidan Rose Julye and Mark Rose announce the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Daniel Aidan Rose, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at Congregation Beth Shalom. Read more...

Steinzeig Wedding Anniversay

Alan and Gloria Steinzeig Alan and Gloria Steinzeig recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. The couple married on Oct. 9, 1949, in Oklahoma City. Read more...

Caviar Bat Mitzvah

Morgan Danielle Caviar Allison and Zane Zismer announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Morgan Danielle Caviar, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at Congregation Beth Torah. Morgan is the granddaughter... Read more...

Fink Bar Mitzvah

Samuel L. Fink John and Robin Fink announce the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Samuel L. Fink, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Sam is the grandson of Sid and... Read more...

Hedrick and Yagerman Engagement

Erica Hedrick and Zachary Yagerman Shelley Hedrick and Thomas Hedrick of Kansas City announce the engagement of their daughter, Erica Hedrick, to Zachary Yagerman, son of Hillary and Howard Yagerman... Read more...

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Hyken, Harvey R.

Hyken, Harvey R.

Harvey R. Hyken Harvey R. Hyken, 74, passed away Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center. Funeral services were held in the chapel at Kehilath Israel Blue Ridge Cemetery Oct. 27, followed by... Read more...

Jacobs, Anne

Jacobs, Anne

Anne Jacobs Anne Jacobs, 80, formerly of Kansas City, Mo., passed away Oct. 21, 2014, in Aurora, Colo. Funeral services were held Oct. 23 at Feldman Mortuary followed by burial in Emanuel Cemetery, both... Read more...

Ledgin Barbara H.

Barbara H. Ledgin Former Kansas Citian Barbara H. Ledgin passed away Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, with daughter Stephanie at her side. Born Betty Tomsky in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Dec. 28, 1929, she was the fifth... Read more...

Zenitsky, Joe

Joe Zenitsky Joe Zenitsky, age 96, passed away peacefully at his home in Leawood, Kansas on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. He was born to loving parents, Mary and Ben Zenitsky, in Kansas City on Dec. 11, 1917.... Read more...

Nachum, Carmella

Carmella Nachum The Nachum family is sad to announce the death of Carmella Nachum (85) in Jerusalem, Israel, on Sept. 11, 2014. Read more...

Bloomberg, Leon

Leon Bloomberg, 94, passed away Oct. 6, 2014, in Luthersville, Md., a suburb of Baltimore. The funeral was held Oct. 8 at Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. in Pikesville, Md.; burial at Anshe Emunah Aitz... Read more...

Morgen, Florence

Florence Morgen Florence Morgen, 93, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend, passed away on Sept. 30. Funeral services were held Oct. 2 at Downing & Lahey Mortuary East, followed by burial at... Read more...

Seymour, Keith Goldin

Keith Goldin Seymour, Ph.D., died Sept. 29, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center after a four-month battle with pneumonia. Burial was Oct. 3 in Fairfax, Mo. Read more...

Zoglin, Rose

Rose Zoglin, 90, of Leawood, passed away Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Read more...

Bresel, Barbara

BARBARA BRESEL Barbara Bresel, 72, of Overland Park, Kan., passed away Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, at her home. Funeral services were expected to take place Wednesday, Oct. 8, at The Louis Memorial Chapel,... Read more...

IDFWO helps widows and children cope and thrive after tragedy in Israel

By Barbara Bayer



Those who know Harvey Bodker understand that he can get very emotional about the causes he deeply believes in. His newest cause is the IDF Widows & Orphans Organization (IDFWO), and he learned about it by chance on an airplane last summer.

It all started in August when Bodker, who is an active alumnus of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, was on his way to the fraternity’s 100th anniversary celebration. His plane to New York was delayed for several reasons, one being that a group of foreign students was stuck in security.

“As it turned out, there were 42 youngsters and 10 adults from the Israel Defense Forces Widows & Orphans Organization,” he said.

During the flight he chatted with two of the young Israelis and one of the leaders. The group had been at a Jewish summer camp in the Wisconsin Dells and were planning to spend the remainder of their trip in the New York area.

Coincidentally, or maybe more appropriately luckily for the IDFWO, that group was also invited to attend AEPi’s Shabbos dinner event on the USS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier now a museum in New York. 

When Bodker first met some members of the group on the plane, he didn’t know that all the teens on the trip were orphans, in the Israeli translation of the word. That means these teens had lost one parent — usually a father — who died while protecting Israel. 

“I went to pieces, when I heard that,” Bodker said. “From then on I was bound and determined I was going to get to know them and their cause better.”

Meeting these young people, was “mind-boggling and life-changing” for Bodker. It was such a moving experience that he brought a fundraiser and an “orphan” — Daniel Tuksar, director of resource development, and Roi Schiffenbauer — here to get the word out about their organization and help them raise money. He arranged speeches at Congregation Beth Shalom, Kehilath Israel Synagogue and with the ROMEOS (a group of retired Jewish men) and organized a private event for friends to hear their story.

Tuksar was thrilled to be here, saying “it’s not every day you meet a Zionist like Harvey.” He pointed out that during the beginning, the IDFWO was a part of the Israeli government, but since 1991 it has been independently run and funded completely by private donations.

Tuksar explained IDFWO works with more than 5,000 widows and about 3,000 boys and girls who are left without a parent. Only seven professionals run the organization along with a voluntary chairwoman — a widow herself who is democratically elected by her peers.

“The bottom line for the organization is for the widows to spend time together,” Tuksar said. “This is important to them, so it’s important to us. When they get together they are able to talk, to relate to each other, cry, laugh, hug and embrace each other. We do our best to keep them connected.”

IDFWO takes women on retreats, sends presents to the widows on Rosh Hashanah, connects widows with each other, offers classes and provides emergency medical and financial assistance.

“It’s just a warm, second home to them,” Tuksar said.

But the majority of the work IDFWO does is with the children. The children continue to live with their surviving parent.

“We are there for them whenever the father is supposed to be with them,” Tuksar explained. These times include the beginning of first grade — providing them with backpacks full of school supplies — Bar-Bat Mitzvah trip to North America to Jewish communities (this is where Bodker met the kids) and a Bar-Bat Mitzvah celebration at the Western Wall attended by Israeli dignitaries who embrace the children. Camps are also held during various times during the year especially Chanukah, Sukkot and Passover vacations. The camps are for kids between the ages of 12 to 18 from all over Israel.

“We do fun stuff but we also have therapy sessions,” Tuksar said. “They are usually the only kids in their schools who have lost a parent so you can imagine how important it is to spend time with each other.”

IDFWO also presents scholarships and wedding gifts to these now-grownup teens.

Roi was almost 13 when his father was killed in a helicopter training accident in Romania. He’s now a junior in high school and will join the IDF following his high school graduation. He was featured in story that aired on Israeli television, which was shown to those attending the private event. He spoke about his father, what it was like when the family heard about the accident, and why the IDFWO is important to him and his family.

“The only people that can understand my loss are the people who have experienced the same loss as me. So we have the same things in common and we can talk about our loss. It’s very nice to see someone who can understand you,” said Roi, who lives on Moshav Kidron, an area he described as “a very nice neighborhood near Tel Aviv.”

Roi explained that the organization’s activities for the widows, especially the vacations and camps for the children, are very important to them.

“It’s very hard for my mother to handle three kids during this vacation,” he said, explaining that while he and his older brother were on IDFWO-sponsored trips and activities, she could rest and care for only one child.

Roi’s older brother is now in the IDF. His younger brother just turned 12, making him eligible for IDFWO camps and trips.

“He can take the Passover trip and then the Bar and Bat Mitzvah trip to the USA,” Roi explained.

This is the second time Roi has been to the United States, the first time he came was on an IDFWO Bar-Bat Mitzvah trip. This fundraising trip lasted 10 days and took him to Key West, Fla., where they experienced “nice weather,” and here.

Roi said it was very generous of Bodker to host the Israelis in his home and called him a “very nice man.” They had a very busy few days here, visiting the Harry S. Truman Library, eating Jack’s Stack barbecue, and attending the Kansas City Symphony as well as making the four presentations. 

“This organization is very important for me and my friends. I hope people understand my needs because it’s very hard without our fathers and this organization really serves as a second home for us. It’s very, very nice to be there with my friends,” Roi said.

Tuksar pointed out that taking care of kids like Roi and their families takes money. For instance it costs $300 for first-grade supplies per child, $1,200 per child for the Bar-Bat Mitzvah celebration in Israel and $900 for the three annual retreats per child.

“If we don’t support them, who will,” Bodker notes.

Tax deductible donations may be sent to P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., 317 Madison Ave, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017. Make checks payable to: P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, stating in the memo section the donation is for IDFWO.