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Sophomores Ariel Silverman (left) and Mackenzie Haun (right) were two of 36 students who were members of the KU Birthright trip to Israel in January. They are pictured in Tel Aviv-Yafo.

To decide on a single way to describe my Birthright experience would be nearly impossible. Was it exciting? Yes. Eventful? Yes! Impactful and life-changing? Most definitely. Before my trip to Israel with KU Hillel, I had been once before when I was 12 years old. The difference between going on a family trip and going on a college trip is incredible, and I am grateful for the opportunities to have been both times. It’s difficult to say what my most favorite part of Birthright was, but there were a couple of instances that truly stood out.

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Religious freedom in Israel still needs addressing

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Shawn Edwards

There are more than 100 Jewish film festivals in the United States. Seen as a way to provide an authentic connection to Jewish heritage, the popularity of Jewish film festivals has grown in recent years. Now in its 17th year, The Kansas City Jewish Film Festival (KCJFF), put on by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, has also grown.

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“Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes” 

by Laura Frankel. 

(Agate Surrey, (c) 2015, 256 pages)

SAN DIEGO — Laura Frankel knows a thing or two about kosher food. As the former chef and founder of kosher fine-dining restaurants in Chicago and New York, and current executive chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, Frankel’s professional focus is on creating sophisticated kosher food, on par with anything non-kosher.

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“The Seven Good Years,” 

by Etgar Keret. (Riverhead Books, 2015)

 

“Lies, First Person” 

by Gail Hareven. (Open Letter, 2015)

 

“Thirst: The Desert Trilogy” 

by Shulamith Hareven. (Restless Books, 2015, originally published in 1996)

 

Israeli authors are not easily categorized. Etgar Keret is quirky, funny, weird and able to tell amazing stories in brief narratives that remain with readers long after the books have been read. Others like Gail Hareven develop characters who are the epitome of the unreliable narrator, but manage to engage the reader whether or not their stories are true or imagined. Shulamith Hareven, Gail’s mother, rewrites biblical stories of Genesis and Exodus from the points of view of rebels against the leadership of Abraham, Moses and Aaron. Three of their books have been recently published or republished for American readers.  

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Adapt to climate change

Elisabeth Kolbert, in an article titled, Unsafe Climates (The NewYorker Magazine Dec. 7, 2015) writes of climate conditions in Syria that allegedly have caused the displacement of large numbers of people. John Kerry has voiced a similar view that national insecurity in the Mideast is connected to climate change.

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Wendy Anderson

Hanukkah is a special time to come together with family and loved ones to celebrate culture and tradition. The miracle itself. The candles … The presents!

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Insulting attack

When I created Rabbis for Romney prior to the 2012 election, I was attacked by 1,600 Rabbis for Obama. Liberal rabbis are doing so again following the article “Rabbi for Trump seeks ‘like’-minded Jews” published in this paper on Dec. 31, 2015. Such is the case of the letter written by Rabbi Alan Cohen (Jan. 4, 2016), in which he stated “the content is an embarrassment to the rabbinate.” He is entitled to his opinion, but that comment is personally insulting. This article was picked up by Jewish newspapers around the world, including Israel, because it is newsworthy.

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Support without substance

I was appalled by Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg’s statement of support for Donald Trump as reported in the Debra Rubin article in the Dec. 31, 2015, edition of The Chronicle (“Rabbi for Trump” seeks “like”-minded Jews). All of his reasons for support are without substance. Just because Trump is the GOP frontrunner or has a Shabbat observant daughter are hardly reasons to support someone whose choice of language is inflammatory and derogatory. Trump’s views are certainly contrary to Jewish values.

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Don’t forget community’s first Jewish Book Fair

I was excited to read that Chabad House Center planned to initiate their first-ever Jewish Book Fair on Dec. 20. But I wanted to correct the article in The Chronicle that suggested this is the first Jewish Book Fair in our community. My mother, Gloria P. Gershun, of blessed memory, helped co-found the Annual Jewish Book Fair at the Jewish Community Center in 1994 and was active in its growth and support for many years.

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The children in Haiti Todd Stettner and Tricia Uhlmann visited recently love to be in photos. Here Uhlmann shows the children who attend the mountain school photos on her mobile phone. The school receives help from JDC and Heart to Heart International. Both organizations are partners with the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.

Repairing the world is something we think a lot about at the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. So when Patricia Uhlmann, immediate past board chair of the Jewish Federation, and I were asked to visit medical clinics in Haiti with Heart to Heart International (HHI), it was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.

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