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Making Judaism relevant to others is retiring exec’s lifetime achievement

 Making Judaism relevant to others is retiring exec’s lifetime achievement

During one of his many visits to Israel, Alan Edelman (second from left) took this photo with Chuck Udell (from left); Yoel Lavi, former mayor of Ramle; and Samir Dabit, of blessed memory, of Samir’s... Read more...

OP native and social media producer of CBS’ ‘The Talk’ impresses celebrities

OP native and social media producer of CBS’ ‘The Talk’ impresses celebrities

Jordy Altman, Photo by John Allen Phillips Five days a week, Jordy Altman is running around at a mile a minute. Read more...

Listening Post

The Village Shalom Father’s Day Run celebrated its 30th year of kicking off Father’s Day with fun for a good cause. Read more...

Diabetes researcher Kahn elected to National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Barbara Kahn (center), surrounded by a group of her research trainees in her laboratory at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School. Read more...

Rabbi to bring his message of justice to B’nai Jehudah next weekend

Rabbi David Saperstein

Strike out mitochondrial disease with ‘Bowling with Barb’ grand finale fundraiser

The 10th and final “Bowling with Barb” event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at Ward Parkway Lanes. The event raises funds to support research to find a cure for mitochondrial disease,... Read more...

Teacher produces e-book from her Hebrew course

Orit Kamara

Listening Post

JFS has begun Wipeout 2017, a communitywide toilet paper drive. Area camps and businesses are getting involved on both sides of the state line to help stock the shelves of the JFS Food Pantry at both the... Read more...

Local veteran recounts highlights of Honor Flight trip

Rudy Green in his Army uniform circa 1951.

KC native’s Bert’s Bites Crunchy Snack Granola fills a niche market

Roberta Intrater (left) and her sister Barb Mendelsohn at a Filoli estate and gardens holiday event in Woodside, California, in November 2016. Read more...

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Rebuilding and celebrating life in a Polish cemetery, despite all we’ve lost

Rebuilding and celebrating life in a Polish cemetery, despite all we’ve lost

In May, a group of 10 HBHA alumni worked to restore honor to a Jewish cemetery in Wodzislaw, Poland. Shown here in front of salvaged matzevot (memorial stones) are Jordan Pollack (back row from left),... Read more...

July 4th patriotism: When post war newcomers embraced American ideals

July 4th patriotism: When post war newcomers embraced American ideals

Olga and Miriam Levy in 1952. Miriam now goes by the name Mary. Read more...

Letter to the editor

Gross misrepresentation of facts As a former resident of Dearborn, Michigan, I find Lee Levin’s letter published in the June 15, 2017, issue of The Chronicle inconsistent with reality, and a gross... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Condoning the hate it condemns The letter from officers of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC), charitably speaking, can only be interpreted as the result of ideological blindness. Read more...

Mistakes: A wonderful opportunity to learn

Most parents’ reactions to their teenagers when they’ve “messed up big-time” is that of anger. Read more...

Letters to the Editor

GKCIC takes a stand against rally We call upon the Kansas City community to join with us, the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, in rejecting any agenda that furthers hate, violence and discrimination.... Read more...

New award winning Jewish fiction will provoke discussion

  “And After the Fire” by Laura Belfer. (Harper Collins, 2016) 451 pages Read more...

Margolies study abroad scholarship enriches student’s experience in Israel

Ever since I was a young child and took my first trip to Israel, I knew that it held a special place in my heart. I did not know quite what it was at the time, but I knew that I had to return at some... Read more...

Thinking outside the box

When I first came to town in 1997, Jewish Kansas City was thriving. All the major shuls were filled with families and children who were dedicated and committed to their respective synagogues. There... Read more...

Women see Israel ‘from the inside out’ on unique Federation mission

The itenerary of Jewish Federation Women’s Mission 2017 included a graffiti art tour in Tel Aviv. Shown here are Phyllis Carozza (front row, from left), Lori Ravis, Diane Ravis, Marge Schlosberg, Diane... Read more...

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Schiff Fish Engagement

Schiff Fish Engagement

Michael Schiff and Cara Fish

Lewinsohn 60th Wedding Anniversary

Tom and Alice Lewinsohn

Rosenthal Graduation

Harrison Michael Rosenthal

Bass Honor

Twelve-year-old Tori Bass recently was honored by reStart. She is shown here with Executive Director Evie Craig. Read more...

Gilman Honor

JFS Care Management Team Manager Laura Gilman was recently presented with the Field Instructor of the Year award for Avila University’s Social Work program. Read more...

Navran Bat Mitzvah

Tricia and Andy Navran announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Avery Navran, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

Abrams Bar Mitzvah

Geoffrey Abrams Stephen and Mara Abrams announce the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Geoffrey Abrams, at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 27, at Congregation Beth Shalom. Read more...

Kohnle Birth

Harper Madison Kohnle Mindy and Steven Kohnle of Olathe announce the birth Jan. 25, 2017, of Harper Madison Kohnle. Read more...

Stolte Bar Mitzvah

Elijah Stolte Jennifer and John Stolte announce the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Elijah Solomon, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 13, at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

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Debolt, Ellice

Ellice DeBolt nee Geiderman, 59, beloved wife of Vernon for 37 years; loving mother of Lauren (David) Lenn, Sarah and Catherine. Devoted daughter of Jeanette (Mallin) Geiderman Lewis and the late Sylvan... Read more...

Haith, Alec Garin

Haith, Alec Garin

Alec Garin Haith, 21 of Leawood, Kansas, passed away June 18, 2017, in Leawood. Read more...

Levitan, Howard

Howard Levitan, son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, 74, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, June 22, with his family at his side. He was born March 11, 1943, in New Jersey.... Read more...

Bormaster, Howard

Howard Bormaster 91, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away June 17, 2017. Graveside service and interment took place June 20, 2017, at Mount Carmel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations... Read more...

Friedman, Rebbetzin Miriam Tzimel

On Sunday morning, 17 Sivan, 5777 (June 11, 2017), Rebbetzin Miriam Tzimel Friedman passed away. She was 101 years old and the mother of Rabbi Benzion Friedman of Torah Learning Center in Overland Park,... Read more...

Hoffman, Harry

Daniel Harry Hoffman, 90, a lifelong area resident, passed away June 17, 2017. Funeral services were held Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at Louis Memorial Chapel; interment followed at Mount Carmel Cemetery.... Read more...

Sachar, Nancy Adler

Nancy Adler Sachar, a descendant of the first Jewish family to settle permanently in Kansas City, died early June 14, 2017, of kidney illness. She was 83. Read more...

Vile, Joel D.

Joel D. Vile, 84, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away at his home on June 15, 2017. Funeral services were held Monday, June 19, 2017, at Louis Memorial Chapel; interment followed at Mount Carmel Cemetery.... Read more...

Kahn, Susan K.

Susan K. Kahn, 56, of Prairie Village, Kansas, passed away June 6, 2017. Graveside services were held Thursday, June 8, at Kehilath Israel Blue Ridge Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions... Read more...

Koenig, Jerry

Jerry Koenig of St. Louis, Missouri, died Sunday, June 11, 2017. He was the beloved husband of Linda Koenig; dear father and father-in-law of Laurie (Jeff) Horn and Lynn (Ted) Dyer; dear grandfather of... 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.