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I was thrilled to see the wonderful article about the University of Kansas students that are on the Birthright Israel trip this winter. Studies by Brandeis University have shown that this is one of the most effective ways to enhance Jewish identity and insure Jewish continuity. {mprestriction ids="1,3"}But, as in most things in life, this “free trip” is not really free.

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Members of K.I. gathered several times this summer for a Shabbat Alfresco experience along with members of Temple Israel. It was held outdoors at K.I.’s Millie and Saul Kass Patio.

My family — including my wife Marlene, my children and my in-laws — has come to love and value our second home, Kehilath Israel Synagogue.

My family has been affiliated with K.I. for more than 15 years. I often wonder why so many Jews are not affiliated with a synagogue.

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We would like to thank the Jewish community for your generous toy donations to CASA during the SPIN 1000 event at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday, Dec. 14. The children we represent have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, and the foster parents and relatives who care for them often struggle to provide basics such as food, clothing and school expenses. There is rarely money left for toys. Your generous donations will help us provide holiday gifts and birthday presents for these children — who have very little joy in their lives.

Thank you so much for including us in your wonderful Hanukkah celebration.


Our world community and our K.C. Jewish community know the swastika as Hitler’s “symbol.” But we should know as well that the swastika is at least 3,000 years old, and has a positive meaning in many of the old civilizations around India and beyond, being widespread in their old art. One can find a more complete history of the swastika on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (www.ushmm.org) or by Googling the topic. I think it is important for us (and my parents escaped from Warsaw in early September 1939) to have the history of the icon and then see how it was distorted in its usage. This knowledge may help explain the use of it in the particular wrapping paper that started the public cry — for it reminds me of old decorative art in India.


The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council is shocked and saddened by the recent attack at the Somali Center of Kansas City, which resulted in the death of 15-year-old Abdisamad “Adam” Sheikh Hussain. We applaud the quick response of law enforcement units, which are investigating this incident as a possible hate crime. There is evidence that the community had been dealing with anti-Muslim statements and threats prior to this incident.

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In the spring of 1968, I was attending Southwest High School. It was a difficult moment in American history. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. The country was seething with racial tension. On April 9, the day of King’s funeral, Kansas City officials had decided not to close schools. That decision led to riots in the city, leaving five dead and over 100 arrested.

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“Lucca’s Stories” by Rachel (Lucca) Ginsburg (Veni Vici Books, Amazon kindle, paperback, February 2014)

It isn’t often that a reviewer has to choose how much to write about the publisher when reviewing an equally interesting book, but that is the case here.

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When our children move what do they take with them? What did I take with me from the West Virginia home where I grew up? Wonderful memories of a good childhood free of parent-induced guilt and the belief we should always do our best so we have no regrets.  What reminders of home do our children display? More importantly, what moral and spiritual legacy do they carry with them? What actions will they be remembered for in their new communities?

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The spinning-top name (not the game) appears to be of recent origin, perhaps first employed in the 19th century. From the German word drehen meaning to turn or to spin our Yiddish-speaking forefathers forged the neologism dreidel despite the fact that the German term Kreisel for a spinning-top existed. In southern Germany the final /l/ sound often is used to indicate diminutive objects suggesting that the word dreidel originated from this geographical area. Alternatively speakers of Yiddish no longer living in southern Germany may have created the word dreidel. In any event, the creator or creators of the word dreidel cleverly selected a German word root to name a distinctively Jewish object, thereby, avoiding a German word to commemorate an upbeat rabbinic holiday.

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Participants of the Community Mission to Israel visited Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. It provides a gorgeous view and was the site of one of the largest tank battles in history during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

If you’ve ever been on a Jewish Federation mission to Israel, you understand that being part of such a journey is perhaps -----the----- most impactful way to experience Israel. That was certainly the case when our group of 17 went to Israel in October. 

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A young man in Kansas City was killed Dec. 4 after being deliberately run over by a car in an event that is being investigated as a possible hate crime. On behalf of Shoulder to Shoulder, a national campaign of religious and interfaith organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States and around the world, Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park responded to the fatal violence and conveyed the interfaith community’s condolences for the family and solidarity with the local and national Muslim community:

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“A Bintel Brief” by Liana Finck. (HarperCollins, 2014.)

“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir” by Roz Chast. (Bloomsbury, 2014.)

“Lena Finkles’s Magic Barrel” by Anya Ulinich. (Penguin, 2014.)

“El Iluminado” by Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin. (Basic books, 2012.)


All four of these new works of graphic literature feature the author/illustrator as the central character. Yet each one is utterly different from the others and all of them are examples of the talent Jewish graphic artists bring to the genre.

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