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Brady chapter gives Kansas Citians forum to speak out

Brady chapter gives Kansas Citians forum to speak out

Harold Koch Sixty-one years ago, on Aug. 20, 1953, the Koch family’s lives changed forever. A purportedly unloaded gun went off and killed 14-year-old Leo Koch. Read more...

Beth Liss inspires giving at National Young Leadership Retreat

Beth Liss inspires giving  at National Young Leadership Retreat

Co-Chair Designate Beth Liss speaking at the Jewish Federations of North America National Young Leadership Retreat. For Beth Liss, accepting the post of co-chair designate and, next year, co-chair of... Read more...

Author, outstanding programs highlight Jewish Federation Annual Meeting

Ari Shavit A dedicated young leader, two community programs and two local educators will be honored as part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City’s 81st Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Sept.... Read more...

KC SuperStar announces winner; Liberty Fruit makes challenge grant

Photo by Brian Turner: Taking part in the check presentation ceremony for KC SuperStar winner Keith Klein (center) are Lori Blinn (from left) and Edward Rose, representing the family of Craig Citron, for... Read more...

As baseball playoffs approach, book gives insight into Jewish major leaguers

“American Jews and America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball” by Larry Ruttman (University of Nebraska Press 2013) “For American Jews, baseball has been the tent of Abraham, offering... Read more...

Listening Post

World War II vet Maury Dubinsky was invited by the Kansas City Royals to sit in its ‘Seat of Honor’ on Wednesday, Aug. 13. The 91-year-old was a Navy pilot who flew Corsair planes. He still actively... Read more...

Men with K.C. ties provide support to Israel’s Lone Soldiers

Earlier this month Jason Barnett helped issue Israeli IDs to new immigrants who will be joining the IDF in three months. Throughout Israel’s history, volunteers and supporters from all over the world... Read more...

Event to teach women about mitzvah of baking challah

Women will learn how to make and braid challah at the Mega Challah Bake Sept. 2. “The warm, delicious smell of Challah brings something peaceful into the atmosphere of the home.” Read more...

Listening Post

Celebrating a couple of auspicious birthdays are (from left) Eliyahu Eisenbach, 1, Tehila and Shalom Eisenbach and Sarah Zeldin, 102. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU AND YOU — This birthday was truly a family... Read more...

KC SuperStar finalists include Jewish contestant

Paris Naster is one of 10 finalists vying to become the next KC SuperStar. This year marked the first time 17-year-old Paris Naster auditioned for KC SuperStar, the Jewish Community Center’s “American... Read more...

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Letters to the Editor

Irresponsible comparison to Holocaust On Saturday, Aug. 23, the New York Times published an ad signed by about 300 Holocaust survivors, their direct Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Interfaith Council needs to despise anti-Semitism In response to the letter written by Sheila Sonnenschein and Rev. Mary McCoy of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (Aug. 14), I wonder if it... Read more...

The structure of racism: Change begins with all of us

For decades, structures have existed that created and sustained Ferguson, Missouri’s, damaged relationship with its police. They have quietly worked their magic, and brought about the shooting of Michael... Read more...

Letters to the Editor

Israel is the victim I can’t help but find a correlation between Muslim migration into Europe and other non-Muslim countries and the rising clamor of anti-Semitism in those countries. Hamas instigated... Read more...

The spiritual journey of a lifetime

Ten local women participated in the 2014 Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project trip to Israel last month. Posing for this photo at the Decks in Tiberious are Stacy Wright (back row, from left), Patricia... Read more...

Letters to the Editor

We need to combat hate Anti-Semitism is a worldwide problem that is getting worse, especially overseas. Our best protection is education, making living conditions better for others and swift eradication... Read more...

The underlying war: Islamism versus democracy

Are Jews the canary in Western Civilization’s cultural mine? Read more...

Turning 80

During my journey through life, as the years have rolled on, I have discovered that time flies even when you’re not having fun — and suddenly even a watershed event can sneak up on one, as it did me.... Read more...

Letters to the Editor

Why can’t Jews speak Hebrew? How come so few Jews in North America know how to speak Hebrew? Sure a lot of them know how to read Hebrew from Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and there is a flowery English translation... Read more...

Why we’re letting our daughter stay in Israel in wartime

Let’s just say that missiles and bomb shelters were not on the itinerary of our 16-year-old daughter’s pilgrimage trip to Israel this summer. I spoke to her this morning. Yeah, the alarms are unnerving,... Read more...

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Chopp Birth

Chopp Birth

Elizabeth and Isaac Chopp announce the birth June 4 of a daughter, Stella Rose Chopp. Read more...

Buchbinder Birth

Buchbinder Birth

Baree Nottberg and Scott Buchbinder of Overland Park announce the birth June 27 of a son, Theo Everett Read more...

Zwick-Pohlman Engagement

Arvin and Tammy Zwick of Overland Park announce the engagement of their daughter, Heather Ashley Zwick, to Andrew David Pohlman, son of Jeff and Robin Pohlman of Memphis, Tenn. Read more...

Nerman Wedding Anniversary

Margaret and Jerome Nerman will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on Friday, Aug. 8. They are lifelong residents of Kansas City and have lived in Leawood since 1990. Read more...

Krashin Birth

Daniel and Jacki Krashin of Wilmete, Ill., announce the birth May 20 of a son, Drake Evan. They are also the parents of Madilyn Paige. Read more...

Unowsky Bat Mitzvah

Keri and Daniel Unowsky announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Sarah Beatrice, on Saturday, Aug. 9, at Beth Sholom Synagogue in Memphis, Tenn. Read more...

Weiner-Conley Engagement

Barbara and Jeff Weiner of Prairie Village announce the engagement of their daughter, Rebecca Brooke Weiner, to Jason Robert Conley, son of Randi and Larry Haith and Kim and Bob Conley. Read more...

Bock-Lewis Engagement

Lynne and David Bock announce the engagement of their daughter, Hannah Rose Bock, to Joshua Aaron Lewis, son of Sheryl and Jim Lewis of Deerfield, Ill. Read more...

Chase Bat Mitzvah

Debbie and Jeff Chase announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Talia Faye, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Congregation Beth Torah. Read more...

Passer-Wolkofsky Engagement

Sandy and Steve Passer announce the engagement of their daughter, Emily Passer, to Peter Wolkofsky, son of Michael and Vicky Wolkofsky of Queens, N.Y. Read more...

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Obituaries

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Eberman, Steve

Eberman, Steve

Steve took his final victory lap on earth on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, and passed peacefully at Garden Terrace. Read more...

Fichman, Charlotte

Charlotte Fichman, 86, of Overland Park, passed away Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at Village Shalom. Read more...

Nussbaum, Marie

Marie Nussbaum, 94, formerly of Prairie Village, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, at Sweet Life of Overland Park. Read more...

Rainen, Marc H.

Marc H. Rainen, 66, Kansas City, Mo., died on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, at the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., after a short struggle with cancer. Read more...

Braeman, Aaron

Aaron Braeman, 100, of Overland Park, died on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, at Village Shalom. Read more...

Brown, Peedee

Peedee Brown (nee Roseroot), 74, of Overland Park, formerly of Fairway, died peacefully at her home on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, surrounded by her loved ones. Read more...

Hipsh, Sam Harry

Sam Harry Hipsh, 95, of Leawood, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Read more...

Mittelman, Sara

Sara Mittelman, 97, was born May 10, 1917, and died Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center. Read more...

Sher, Peyton

Peyton Sher, 90, international boxing matchmaker and promoter, of Leawood, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, at the Kansas City Hospice House. Read more...

Zingher, Fran Meadow

Fran Meadow Zingher, 92, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Read more...

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

By Barbara Bayer

Editor

 

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.