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Listening Post

Anticipating the arrival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mathew and Bonnie Siegel (from left) and Enid and Pete Levi wait at the podium of the Prime Minister’s Office. They were among 70 participants from around the country participating in an AIPAC mission to Israel. Pete Levi is the current KC AIPAC council chair and Bonnie Siegel is the immediate past chair.

VOTE FOR AN ISRAELI DOG MUSHER — Once again Kansas City native Erik Claster hopes to be the first Israeli dog sled participant. He is vying to compete in Fjällräven Polar, an Iditarod-type competition in the Scandinavian Artic. As he puts it, “I live in a country where the impossible seemingly becomes possible ... and what could be more ‘impossible’ than a dog sled musher from Israel?”

Fjällräven Polar is an approximately 300-kilometer-long winter adventure across the arctic tundra. The participants will steer a dog sled all the way from Signaldalen, Norway, to the forests around Jukkasjärvi, Swedish Lappland.

About half of the participants will be selected by vote via the internet, where they have posted applications — including Claster — and are competing by country for places. The remaining participants will be selected by Fjällräven, a Swedish company that develops products to make it easier for people to enjoy nature.

The 37-year-old Claster now lives in the West Bank town of Efrat, where, as you can imagine, there is no dog sledding. He is quoted in the Times of Israel saying he’s “always had a penchant for adventure and crazy ideas.” Voting only takes place on Facebook. Here’s the link: http://bit.do/vote4Erik or search Fjällräven Polar and you should be able to get to the voting site. Voting ends Thursday, Dec. 14.

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Claster had more than 1,500 votes. The event takes place April 9-14.

George Lieberman’s portrait at the Johnson County Museum.

THE JEWISH CONNECTION AT THE JOHNSON COUNTY MUSEUM — Last week I finally had a chance to visit the Johnson County Museum at the new Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. Having spent many hours bowling at the old King Louie West, I was curious to see the building and the 1950s All Electric House inside the museum. The museum did not disappoint this Johnson County girl and I was pleasantly surprised to come across a photo of the late George Lieberman, who was instrumental in building the Jewish Community Campus, which opened in 1988.

Here’s the blurb under his photo: “In the 1980s, George Lieberman served as vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. At that time, the Jewish Community Center was located in Kansas City and Federation members were concerned that only 30 percent of the center’s users were Jewish. To better serve the Jewish community, Lieberman and the Federation relocated the center to Overland Park. Since that time, other major Kansas City Jewish service providers — such as Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy and Menorah Medical Center — have relocated from Kansas City to Johnson County.”

Now we all know the establishment of the Campus was much more complicated than this blurb makes it seem, and many, many people played a role in its creation and getting almost all the Jewish agencies to be headquartered under one roof, but it made me proud to see the Jewish community is mentioned in the history of Johnson County.