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The US Congress will vote on the Iran deal around Sept. 17, during the Ten Days of Awe that fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That gives members of Congress and concerned citizens like us less than seven weeks to read the 159-page document, digest it and make a decision.

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Lisa Schifman posed with an IDF soldier while visiting Israel last month.

During an exercise near the end of the recent Jewish Federation of North America’s Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission to Tbilisi, Georgia, and Israel, we were asked to select a photograph taken during the mission and describe why it was our “aha” moment. After looking through hundreds of photos taken on our journey, I carefully chose one of our group smiling and posing with young, handsome Israeli soldiers at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Gaza border.

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“Open Up the Iron Door” by Rabbi Avi Weiss. (Toby Press, April 2015)

When I lived in New York in 1960s and was active in Zionist circles, I recall being part of demonstrations and walks for Soviet Jewry. “Let My People Go” was the chant I remember most but “one, two, three, four, open up the iron door” was undoubtedly also part of our mantra. 

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Look differently at the Iran deal

According to a past article in the Atlantic written by Christopher Thornton, “A World Public Opinion poll found that 51 percent of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, a number consistent with other polls, meaning that Americans are more widely liked in Iran than anywhere else in the Middle East ... Many Iranians regard the American ideal, at least as they perceive it, as a symbol of all they want their own society to be — free, prosperous, ‘great’ — but isn’t.” 

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Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn

Standing behind Rabbi Cukierkorn

The board of directors and congregants of Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City stand behind our rabbi, Jacques Cukierkorn. He has been a steady, strong and inspirational leader since our founding four years ago. We appreciate him and his family for staying with us when it would have been easier, in many respects, for them to leave. Our congregation’s warmth and inclusiveness owes much to Rabbi Cukierkorn’s values and leadership. We look forward to his service as our rabbi for many years to come. 

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Mary Greenberg

The recent bout of commentaries on fighting anti-Semitism fall far short of what needs to be done.

We Jews need to proactively address the critical problem of anti-Semitism. In his wisdom, Rabbi Hillel asked three questions: “If I am not for me, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? If not now, when?” 

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“Drawn From Water: An American Poet, An Ethiopian Family, An Israeli Story” by Dina Elenbogen. (BkMk Press, 2015.)

In the past few months the problems facing Ethiopian Jews in Israel have been regularly in the headlines. An Israeli policeman beat an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, and his actions were caught on video. Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis began protesting in Tel Aviv, calling attention to Israel’s biased treatment of its Ethiopian citizens. Like African-Americans in the U.S., Ethiopian-Israelis primarily live in low-income housing. Few of them have been given college opportunities. A large percentage of Ethiopian Jewish men are in prisons. Dina Elenbogen’s memoir of her friendship with some Ethiopian families over 25 years presents readers with a more nuanced view of the experiences of Ethiopian immigrants to the Holy Land.

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Iran, the proposed destruction of Israel, Obama and Kerry

I applaud the K.C. Jewish Chronicle for publishing the articulate column by Mr. Ben Cohen (July 30, 2015). Mr. Cohen describes the Iran/Obama/Kerry “executive agreement” as a lousy, feeble deal. Among his points: why claim “24/7 continuous monitoring” when the Iranians have 24 days to approve inspections? Why take Qassan Solaimani, responsible for the death of American soldiers, off the sanctions list? Does it bother Team Obama that Iran’s Supreme Leader addressed a “Death to America” rally a day after the deal was announced?

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Don Goldman

When I planned a sabbatical in Israel, I was looking for a break from my real life. But I also wanted to do something in Israel that would let me go beyond being a tourist and experience just a bit of real Israeli life.  The core of my month-long sabbatical in Israel was spent volunteering at Mercaz Klass, helping low-income children learn English. This after-school program is a bit off the beaten track, only about 20-minute bus ride outside the German colony in Jerusalem, but very much outside the typical tourist’s journey.

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Ellen R. Portnoy

Our recent European adventure had the added delight that our daughter and her fiancé came with us for the cruise section of the trip. They live in Israel, so we do not see them very often. In fact we were looking forward to getting to know our future son-in-law a bit better.

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Evan Traylor

So, what exactly is your background?”

“Both of your parents aren’t Jewish, are they?”

“Wait, so you’re just like a Jewish Barack Obama!”

Growing up as a half-black and half-white person who is also Jewish definitely raised some interesting questions and responses upon “revealing” my identity to my friends.

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Recently, the Israeli consul, based in Chicago and the German consul met at the Jewish Community Campus. They discussed the diplomatic relationship between their respective countries which was established in 1965. They agreed that Germany is a strong supporter of Israel. It was an event not to be missed. Thanks to the Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee CRB for presenting the discussion.

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