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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...

Mission to Eastern Europe gives KU Hillel students insight into global Jewish community

Some college students choose to relax during their winter break and vacation at a beach resort. Then there are others, such as a group of 20 students from KU Hillel who took part in the KU Hillel European Leadership Mission, choosing to wake up earlier than they do during a school day to learn all they can about the global Jewish community.

ELM, funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City’s Israel and Overseas Committee, is a high-level trip for top Jewish student leaders at the University of Kansas. The goal of ELM is to give students a deeper understanding of the economic and social issues that the Jewish communities in Bulgaria and Romania experience on a daily basis. The trip was led by KU Hillel Executive Director Jay Lewis, KU Hillel Director of Development Carly Stein and Jen Berman, an alum of KU Hillel who works for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

This is the seventh time the Jewish Federation has funded KU Hillel’s leadership mission — the previous six to Israel. All leadership missions are intended to give these students insight into the global Jewish community.

“It’s an investment in the future of our Jewish community,” Lewis explained.

Eastern Europe was chosen for this year’s leadership mission instead of Israel because the Jewish Federation is deeply invested in these communities as well as Israel. The change in venue would also give students a different perspective on global Jewry.

“The American Jewish education system does a nice job educating about Jewish life in the United States and what it means to be Jewish in the United States. We also learn a lot about Israel. But generally the only thing we learn about Jewish life outside the United States is Holocaust history,” Lewis explained.

“We think this was an opportunity to prepare these emerging leaders in our Jewish community and help them better understand Jewish global peoplehood and Jewish life outside the United States and Israel,” he continued.

This investment in KU students has proven to be a valuable one to the Jewish Federation, said its Associate Executive Director Alan Edelman.

“Our tradition teaches, ‘kol Yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh/ all of Israel (the Jewish people) are responsible for one another.’ The KU Hillel leadership seminar in Bulgaria and Romania, and in the past to Israel, operationalizes this important dictum by offering a service learning opportunity for these emerging Jewish adults who want to make an impact in overseas Jewish communities. By providing the funds to support the students participating in this program, the Jewish Federation shows its commitment to our overseas partners as well as to these students, who will become tomorrow’s Jewish communal leaders. An important aspect of being a ‘total’ Jewish leader is an awareness of world Jewry and taking action on their behalf,” Edelman said.

In Eastern Europe the group did a tiny bit of touring so it could better understand the history of the area. The majority of the trip was devoted to community service work within those Eastern European Jewish communities. They did such things as visit with seniors in their homes as well as senior living facilities and adult day care centers. They also visited with school students and Jewish leaders, both young and old. They visited three cities, the capitals of Bulgaria and Romania, Sofia and Bucharest, where the majority of the Jewish people live and Brasov, Romania, where the Jewish population is only about 200.

Lewis said the trip was transformative for every participant in probably 20 different ways.

“They absolutely got a good understanding about the Jewish community and what Jewish life is like in Romania and Bulgaria,” Lewis said.

Everyone, Lewis said, was inspired to see how hard people are working in Romania and Bulgaria to make sure Jewish life thrives there. Pearl Sonnenschein, a sophomore from Overland Park, said the third day of the trip while they were in Bulgaria had the greatest impact on her.

“We learned traditional Bulgarian dances with the elderly in the morning, and in the afternoon we visited senior citizens in their homes to learn about their lives during the communist era and the Holocaust. That day was the most impactful day for me because I gained a newfound respect for the elderly. I learned that every generation in the Jewish community is important to look after. We tend to give special attention to the younger ones because they are the next generation and will soon be the leaders in our community, but we must not forget the older generation. Their stories, experiences and life lessons are ones not to forget,” Sonnenschein said.

Stephanie Pollack, a senior from Overland Park, said the trip had a huge impact on her perception of Jews living around the world.

“This trip had an incredibly humbling impact on me. It opened my eyes to the connection Jewish people have with each other, near and far. Our visit to the Rosen Home in Bucharest, Romania, showed me just that. An elderly woman, Silvian, held my hand and cried when I told her I was Jewish traveling with a group of Jewish students my age. Her love for Judaism was almost as strong as mine, regardless of her age or geographical location. Now and in the future, I will be able to relate to a complete stranger across the world. Using the mitzvot of ‘loving a stranger,’ as the people in Romania and Bulgaria did for us,” she said.

Lewis said the students are all asked to “do something” after the trip is over.

“There is not one normative. It’s a short-term expectation, but it’s the long-term expectation that we put very clearly to the students. The reason why the Federation subsidized their trip and why KU Hillel is doing this and investing in them is that we are anticipating that they are going to be leaders in the Jewish community for the next 30, 40, 50 years. They need to bring this experience to their leadership roles and we are expecting them to be engaged and invested in the Jewish community,” Lewis said.

Having watched those who participated in six other leadership missions, Lewis believes that plan is working.

“They are definitely engaged in Jewish life wherever they are. Many of them tell us that out of all the things they did Jewishly at KU, this was the most impactful,” Lewis said.

Pollack, a member of Congregation Beth Shalom, said this experience will spur her to provide more for her Jewish community.

“These communities rely not only on their leaders but the young adults working as madrichs (teaching assistants). These people sometimes volunteer their time to make programs better and help the children or elderly enjoy each day being Jewish. This has inspired me to keep a closer eye on the problems we have here and be able to find a solution using the assets we have available. There are many things I hope to do in the future in Kansas City and Lawrence for my last semester at KU, the ideas coming from what I experienced in Bulgaria and Romania. The inspiration the leaders of their communities have given me is timeless and I am so thankful I was able to be a part of this mission trip,” Pollack said.

Sonnenschein hopes to share the information she learned on the trip with others in the Jewish community.

“We learned about how the JDC and the Jewish Federation of Kansas City have helped both Jewish communities in Romania and Bulgaria. Without them, the Jewish communities over there would basically have nothing,” Sonnenschein said.

She also learned that help doesn’t come solely in the form of money.

“Spending time with the communities there is another form of service, and a very important form of service. I learned that there are Jewish communities all over there world — some that are as prosperous as ours in the United States, and others that are on their way to being prosperous, like in Eastern Europe. But, as the saying goes: wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish. And you have a special connection with that person, even if you live a million miles away from them.” Sonnenschein said.

Based on everything she’s learned, Sonnenschein, who is a member of Congregation Beth Shalom, said she plans to take on a greater role in the Jewish community here, especially after she graduates.

“Even though we have a fantastic Jewish community in the Greater Kansas City area, there is always room for improvement, and I want to be able to help with those areas,” she said.

The participants kept a blog during their trip. You can read more of their impressions while they were in Eastern Europe at Kansashillel.blogspot.com. Lindsey Havens, a sophomore from Chicago, also wrote a commentary about the trip in the University Daily Kansan, published Jan. 20. You can read it at http://kansan.com/opinion/2014/01/20/havens-service-trip-teaches-meaning-of-living-and-surviving-2/.