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The community is invited to the 17th annual Purim Gala on Sunday, March 8, at Oakwood Country Club, as BIAV recognizes two local organizations devoted to “growing the good in Kansas City” — Mitzvah Garden KC and Friends of Sheffield Cemetery.

This year’s event marks the first time Congregation Beth Israel Abraham & Voliner will highlight the mitzvahs of Jewish organizations — feeding the hungry and honoring the dead. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}“We look forward to a joyous celebration as we celebrate deserving ‘home grown’ organizations for their good work,” said co-chair Lisa Bernard.

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Music is a universal language bridging barriers and building harmony among disparate groups of people.

Two Kansas City area foundations are to build harmony from hatred — RRACE (Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality) and Faith Always Wins. The nonprofit organizations are conducting a songwriting contest seeking compositions that address the subject of racial, religious and/or cultural equality and acceptance. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}Songwriters ages 14-21 are invited to submit original works now through Feb. 28 for the first Faith, Love & Song competition. Winners will be announced at the SevenDays Celebration taking place in April 2015.

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Berkley Selvin, 16, organized a mitzvah outing to KC Kosher Meals on Wheels for B’not Lev BBG in December. She is pouring a vegetable kugel mixture into muffin tins so they can be baked.

It has been said before and its bears repeating — there are hungry Jewish people in Kansas City. KC Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) is one of the organizations that strives to help these people by providing healthy, kosher meals and companionship to any member of the Jewish community who is elderly, living with a disability or recovering from illness. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}KMOW began delivering meals to seven clients in May 2013. The list has now grown to 40, which is more than a 400 percent increase in only 20 months. The program serves people on both sides of the state line who live in Jackson County, Missouri, as well as Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Paris’s Grand Synagogue during a ceremony Sunday, Jan. 11, for the victims of last week’s Islamist terror attacks in France. Haim Zach/GPO

JEWISH FEDERATION OPENS EMERGENCY FUND TO AID FRENCH JEWS — Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City stands in solidarity with the 500,000-strong French Jewish community, the families and friends of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo and kosher market shootings and the entire nation of France. For those interested in providing philanthropic support to the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Jewish Federation has opened the France Emergency Fund. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}The funds will be used to address security needs of the French Jewish community, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims and their families. To donate, go to www.jewishkansascity.org/france.

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Kayla Israel

SINGING FOR CHARITY — As one of her Bat Mitzvah service projects, Kansas City native Kayla Israel recently hosted “An Evening for Eos,” a benefit concert to raise money and awareness for eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID), which Kayla has been living with for many years. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}She now lives in Champaign, Ill, and was joined on stage at a theater there by her music teachers (Deb and Jim Dobbs) as well as three of her local theater friends (Maddie Henson, Ally Miller and Maddy Childress) for an evening of Broadway songs.

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Elderly Jews in Eastern Ukraine receive warm clothes and bedding as part of JDC’s annual Winter Relief program. Courtesy of JDC

The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City’s mission is to sustain and enhance Jewish life at home and around the world. It takes money to do that, which is why the Jewish Federation raises funds year round and makes annual allocations to fund a variety of programs locally and internationally. Representatives of two of those recipient agencies — the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee — were in town in mid-December to explain to leaders of the Jewish Federation what they are funding and why their donations to these agencies are vital to the welfare of Jews in Israel and overseas.

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Dr. Jeffry Gerson donated his time last week to perform comprehensive eye exams for fellow Jews who needed them. Here volunteer Rae Pfau helps him with a patient.

Since Dec. 25 is a national holiday when most people do not have to work, Jewish people often look for ways to spend the day. Optometrist Jeffry D. Gerson decided to spend it helping Jewish people in need by providing comprehensive eye exams, and in some cases, eyeglasses as well.

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Amy Silverman Cohn (right) and her mother Hedra Merson were shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Mall last week and they ran into comedian Jay Leno just outside of Five Guys restaurant. He was nice enough to pose for a photo with the two ladies!

TEAMING UP AGAIN, THIS TIME WITH ‘SHREK’ — The White Theatre and The Theatre in the Park will be teaming up once again this summer to co-produce “Shrek.” The first co-production between the two theaters was the 2013 production of “Hairspray.” {mprestriction ids="1,3"}I’ve been told it helped reduce costs, increased production value and combined talent so well that they decided to do it again.

“The collaboration with the Theatre in the Park allowed us to access more potential actors than normally audition at the White Theatre, which allows us to expand our talent pool and our audiences,” said Krista Blackwood, director of Cultural Arts at The J.

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The Jewish Community Foundation has recently undergone a complete redesign of its brand identity. Local design firm Indicia has created a fresh and modern brand for the organization that reflects the Foundation’s creative and innovative approach to philanthropy. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}Central to the new identity is a logo that pairs simple, clean typography with an organically drawn plant. The plant’s symbolism echoes the Talmudic saying, “As my ancestors planted for me before I was born, so do I plant for those who will come after me,” and signifies growth and prosperity. The complete circle surrounding the plant evokes the cycle of life and represents the many services the Foundation provides for donors of all ages and stages of life.

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Beginning with the issue of Jan. 8, The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle is changing its website, www.kcjc.com, from a free website to a site available to subscribers only. Print subscribers will receive a digital subscription at no additional charge.

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Much like what will happen when Jewish Federation launches its Good Shabbos KC initiative Feb. 6, two Kansas City families recently enjoyed celebrating Shabbat dinner together by lighting candles, giving tzedakah and saying the prayers over wine and challah. Shown here are Stephanie Pollack (clockwise from left), Morgan Sonnenschein, Sheila Sonnenschein, Ken Sonnenschein, Sam Goller, Marium Zahir (partially obscured), Jordan Pollack, Ben Oberman and Roberta Goller.

Good Shabbos KC, a new Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City program, hopes to be a hospitable way to bring Jews together for a monthly Shabbat dinner while raising awareness about its mission: To sustain and enhance Jewish life at home and around the world. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}Once a month on the first Friday of the month, beginning Feb. 6 (the Shabbat before Super Sunday) through and including Jan. 1, 2016, members of the Jewish community will invite people to their homes for a Shabbat dinner through this effort coordinated by Jewish Federation.

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The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Service is set to take place Sunday, July 11. Shown at last years interfaith service, a joint event of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Jewish Community Relations Burea|American Jewish Committee, is the Rev. Robert Lee Hill of the Community Christian Church (from left), Leonard Pitts, the main speaker of the 2012 service, and Judy Hellman representing JCRB|AJC.

People of all faiths are invited to come together for a special service in support of civil rights and to further the work of an icon of the 20th century who strived to make all people equal. 

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