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KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

Rae Pfau is the first paid employee the Mitzvah Garden has ever had. She serves this summer as the garden’s volunteer coordinator and is being paid through KC Leadership Tomorrow, a summer internship... Read more...

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

Every year, the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle. Statistics indicate that of the 75,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States, about one-third live below poverty level. While... Read more...

B’nai Jehudah announces ‘interim’ year of music

Coleen Dieker The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah has announced to its congregation that it is embarking on a journey of musical exploration that they are calling “an interim year of music.”... Read more...

Listening Post

CDC teachers Barbara Abramowitz and Liz Bigus. STUDENT BECOMES CO-TEACHER — About 20 years ago Elizabeth Bigus was a 3-year-old preschool student in Barbara Abramowitz’s class at the Jewish Community... Read more...

Visitors, residents send K.C. folks messages they are safe

Members of the Jewish Federation’s Shorashim 2 mission visited an Iron Dome command center outside of Ashkelon in May 2014. Shorashim 2 was a mission for men only to learn about contemporary issues facing... Read more...

Special fundraising campaigns initiated: Israel needs you now

Late last week the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, through the Jewish Federations of North American, launched Operation Relief and Respite in response to the current tensions in Israel. Read more...

Survivorship courses to help cancer survivors incorporate ‘Back in the Swing’ lifestyle

Among other things, Barbara Unell spoke about the ‘Back in the Swing Cookbook’ at The Duke Cancer Center Survivorship Center in Durham, N.C., last fall. “This is a plan for wellness versus illness.”... Read more...

NCJW Back to School Store offers new clothing, school supplies to underprivileged kids

National Council of Jewish Women’s Back to School Store will impact 200 children living in poverty in the Kansas City metro area, primarily from Jackson County, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan. Read more...

Israeli Scouts to bring high-energy performance to Campus, B’nai Jehudah

Friendship Caravan Assif While things in their home country are a little tense, a group of young Israelis will be here to share their talents and their love of their country. On Friday, July 25, the Friendship... Read more...

Listening Post

Howard Haas (left) and Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem. MELTON@HBHA — While traveling in Israel, Howard Haas, head of school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, met with Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem... Read more...

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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...

Letter to the Editor

Half-truths and anti-Semitism I was irate after watching the late CNN news on July 10. Anderson Cooper pretended to deliver a factual report about Israel’s bombing of Arab residences, with a slight... Read more...

Amidst turmoil, life in Israel continues to be meaningful

My mother wants me to come home. I’ve been calling her every day, and she wants me on a plane immediately. She has been watching the news and following events as they unfold here in Israel and she is... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Conference gives families hope My husband Harold and I were fortunate to attend the Mucolipidosis Type 4 (ML4) Foundation Family & Research Conference last month in Atlanta. ML4, a relatively unknown... Read more...

We mourn three senseless deaths caused by hate, again

Our Jewish community has held two memorial services in the last three months — 77 days apart to be exact. Thousands of people attended the first one, as the Jewish community grieved for the senseless... Read more...

‘Soul Encounters’ reminds us of Rebbe’s message

Rabbi Sholom Wineberg The name “Soul Encounters” appropriately identified the program at Chabad House Center, which took place Tuesday, July 1, 3rd of Tammuz. Nearly 100 people attended. Read more...

Letter to the Editor

No champion of Jewish values I cannot share Washington Jewish Week/JNS.orgreporter Dmitriy Shapiro’s lament for the demise of Eric Cantor’s political career (The Chronicle, June 19, or www.jns.org),... Read more...

Federation mission gives participants unique look at Eastern European Jews

Alan Widman (left) and Stacey Belzer (right) visit with Sybil Sylvian in June. Sylvian’s picture was featured on Page 1 of The Chronicle in January as part of a story about the KU Hillel European Leadership... Read more...

'State of Deception' exhibition should not be missed

“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” — Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf,” 1924   I attended a press preview this week for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums... Read more...

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Chase Bat Mitzvah

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

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...

Zwillenberg 50th Anniversary

Morris and Linda (Fein) Zwillenberg will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, July 26. They were married at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Hartford, Conn., on July 26, 1964. Read more...

Halasz Birth

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz and Scott Halasz of Dayton, Ohio, announce the birth May 6 of a son, Ethan Falk Halasz. They are also the parents of another son, Jonah. Read more...

Unell Bat Mitzvah

Joe and Marcia Unell announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Alyssa Unell, on June 26 at Haas Promenade in Jerusalem. Read more...

Zeldin B'nai Mitzvah

Ashlyn and Alexis Zeldin celebrated their Bat Mitzvah commitment ceremony on June 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif. They are the daughters of Janine and Kevin Zeldin of St Louis, Mo. Read more...

Badzin-Fineman Engagement

Jim and Fern Badzin, Leawood, announce the engagement of their daughter, Brooke Michelle Badzin, to Nathan Gabriel Fineman, both of Chicago, son of Glen and Holly Fineman, Omaha, Neb. Read more...

Bergman-Kaplan Engagement

Victor and Susan Bergman announce the engagement of their daughter, Ruthie Bergman, to Asher Kaplan, son of Shlomo Kaplan, Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., and Judith Kaplan, Boca Raton, Fla. Read more...

Reidy Wedding

Jennifer Mayer and James Reidy were married Saturday, March 1, at the Overland Park Marriott. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

Alpert Birth

Jeremy and Ashley Alpert of Overland Park announce the birth May 28 of a son, Levi Caleb. Levi joins big brother Jonah Doni. Read more...

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Silverman, Inge B.

Inge B. Silverman, 83, of Leawood, passed away Thursday, July 17, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center. Read more...

Warshawsky, Arnold

Warshawsky, Arnold

Arnold Warshawsky passed away on Friday, July 18, 2014, after a lengthy battle with health issues for almost a decade, including COPD. Read more...

Waxman, Michael Bernard

Michael Bernard Waxman, 63, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Baldwin City, Kan., on July 16, 2014. Read more...

Chick, Stephen

Stephen Bruce Chick of Prairie Village passed away peacefully on Monday, July 7, 2014. Read more...

Freed, Ronald

Ronald Lee Freed passed away on Monday, July 14, 2014. Read more...

Gladstone, Donald

Donald H. Gladstone, 93, of Overland Park, passed away Thursday, July 10, 2014. Read more...

Hammer, Robert L.

Robert L. Hammer, 73, passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Read more...

Hoffman, Dorothy

Dorothy Lillian Hoffman, 91, of Leawood, passed away on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at Village Shalom. Read more...

Megerman, Charles

Charles Megerman, 67, of Overland Park, passed away Monday, July 14, 2014, at his home. Read more...

Plotsky, Edward

Edward Plotsky, 68, of Reno, Nev., passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at his home. A private service and interment will be in Reno. Read more...

Israel once again study abroad option at University of Kansas

By Kelli White, Contributing Writer

Study abroad. That’s something many college students dream of — especially those studying different languages and cultures. But for University of Kansas students in the Jewish Studies Program, studying in Israel was not supported by the university for more than a decade. Now, that has changed. 

When Professor John Younger became director of Jewish Studies on Jan. 1, 2013, he immediately set out to do two things: organize faculty meetings and start a study abroad program to Israel. 

“Since 2002, KU had not been supporting students going to Israel. Israel had been on a travel advisory warning and KU felt it could not officially support student travel there. They would have to un-enroll, go study, then re-enroll at the University,” Younger said.

Younger, along with Director of the Study Abroad Office Angela Perryman, formed a united front and approached the University Council Office to change things.

“We have a large Jewish student population — an estimated 1,600 to 2,000 students,” Younger said. “With that number, the university not sponsoring students to study in the core country was ridiculous. In other cultural departments, there is the assumption to study in the target country to learn the language and culture. For Jewish students in America, it seems obvious to go to Israel to immerse in the culture. Why have a Jewish Studies Program if they can’t go to Israel?”

In 2013, the University Council Office reconsidered University support for a study abroad program to Israel and created a review committee and petition process that allows students to travel to countries with warnings. 

“Juggling the safety, personal passions and need for study is always the challenge from the perspective of the Study Abroad Office,” Perryman said. “But now having Israel as an option is really beneficial for students and makes sense for academic progress. And given the limited time we’ve had this option — less than one year — student interest has been high.”

Last summer, Perryman and Justine Hamilton with the Study Abroad Office connected with representatives from four Israeli universities to partner with KU and offer courses that satisfy KU credits. Younger hopes to expand those offerings as the program develops.

While the current Jewish Studies Program does not offer a major, the program has grown with more faculty, more courses and more students declaring minors. 

In the fall semester last year, KU officially supported students by offering an Innovation and Entrepreneurship trip to Israel that took place over winter break.

Professor Wally Meyer, director of entrepreneurship programs in KU’s School of Business, organized and led this learning adventure in which 21 students from all areas of study participated. 

“The importance of the trip was to help understand why Israel is so accomplished in entrepreneurship and technology innovation as evidenced by its standing as second in the world (behind only Silicon Valley) in the number of technology startups created each year,” Meyer said.

This trip was important for KU students interested in entrepreneurship, but also for the Jewish Studies Program in particular because it was the first University-supported excursion to Israel in such a long time. 

And it was a huge success. So much so, that another Innovation and Entrepreneurship trip is planned for January 2015. To sign up, students can contact Professor Meyer or the Study Abroad Office.

“The trip’s itinerary includes studying at The Technion Institute, visiting a dozen or more start-up companies and touring key historic sites,” Meyer said. 

In the post-trip analysis, all students were asked if they felt unsafe at any time and their response was “absolutely not.” 

“The most common conclusion from the students in their reflection papers was ‘it was a life-changing experience,’ ” Meyer said.

Everyone involved in supporting students going to Israel is happy that this is the first of many life-changing experiences for students. Including Rabbi Neal Schuster, KU Hillel’s senior Jewish educator, who was also involved in pushing the study-in-Israel opportunity forward.

“This is huge for the Jewish community,” Rabbi Schuster said. 

He explained the number of students studying in Israel in the past had dropped dramatically. Because the university didn’t financially support it and didn’t allow credits to transfer, students had to go to places like Florence or Barcelona when studying in Israel made more sense for their academic program.

“Now, when parents and students ask about studying in Israel, we can say, ‘yes, through KU you can.’ It’s refreshing to say that,” Rabbi Schuster said. “Now there is a significant upswing in students interested in choosing Israel.”

But as with any revisited idea, it takes time to catch on.

“For 11 years, all people said was ‘no, you can’t go there.’ It will take time for perceptions to change,” Younger said. 

Younger, who is an archaeologist and has excavated in Israel, is a member of the University’s advisory board and wants to develop the Jewish Studies Program to be like any other cultural or language program at KU. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship trip jump-started studying in Israel and he hopes to continue building interest with an archaeological tour this summer that will count for KU credit.

To make the tour cost effective, 15 students need to sign up. Right now, only four have submitted applications. But Younger isn’t worried yet.

“We are still getting the word out about this study abroad opportunity. This tour will be a great opportunity to introduce students [in the Jewish Studies program] to the idea that, yes, you can go to Israel!” Younger said.

 An Archaeological Tour of Ancient Israel May 20-June 13

The 2014 trip to Israel is a three-credit-hour course taught by John Younger, professor of classics and the academic director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Kansas. Younger is internationally known as an archaeologist and art historian; he has traveled widely in the Mediterranean and has excavated at numerous sites in Greece, Italy and Israel. 

The program will focus on the cultures in Israel from Neolithic to Medieval, concentrating on Jerusalem and the archaeological sites of northern and central Israel. Study will include the development of the Prehistoric, Iron Age, Classical, Roman, Byzantine, early Arabian and Crusader cultures in Israel. Contact with the art, architecture, and archaeology will strengthen student appreciation of our Israeli heritage. 

Students will visit Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth and Tiberias. By the end of the program, students will have visited most of the important museums and sites in northern and central Israel.

For more information on this course and the exciting opportunity to study in Israel, visit jewishstudies.ku.edu/study-abroad.