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If you want to be in the know about what’s going on at our organization, you’ve come to the right place.

Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.

Here’s some news I’m happy to share. Last month, with the support of my board, I renewed my term as Executive Director of the Federation for another three years.

I’ve learned a great deal during the past three years. And I can’t wait to create the future and to see what we can accomplish together in the next three years.

Camp Ideal runs from June 12- July 28, and we have so many amazing things in store for our campers! But, to make it even more special, we need your help. Part of our daily programming is often “workshop” hours, where we invite community members to come in to share a skill or hobby with our campers.

Many things as individuals keep us from seeing each other. However, on Sunday, May 14, community members gathered together at the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley to celebrate Mother’s Day and to share the beautiful spring day as a community.

On Thursday evening May 11th, our son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who live in Rehovot, Israel were trying to navigate one of the dilemmas of life in Israel: how to find normalcy in an often-abnormal situation.

Those who have been to the Federation in the last year or two will surely have noticed our effort to revitalize and beautify our campus. Clean, fresh landscaping and fighting back the overgrowth and weeds have brought beauty back to our campus. We now have turned our attention to the Federation building.

When Temple Beth-El recently sold its 73-year-old cherished home, it felt like one more bittersweet chapter of Diaspora in the history of the Jewish people: the 118-year-old Temple congregation had to leave behind yet another Anatevka and find its next shtetl “somewhere else.” At least for the sculptures, that somewhere else is now firmly planted in the warm and welcoming embrace of the Jewish Federation.

As many of you know, I recently attended the Israel at 75 General Assembly (GA). I also visited my mom and four siblings in Israel. There were many memorable highlights of my visit, including the precious family time I had celebrating a joint birthday with my mom, who is 95 years young.

As World War II drew to a close, South Bend and Mishawaka Jewish leaders organized to address various common concerns. The Jewish Community Council was born at a time of death and rebirth for world Jewry. The murder of 6 million European Jews by Nazi Germany during WWII and the imminent birth of the State of Israel as the Jewish National Home.

Pirkei Avot teaches that one should “calculate the cost of a mitzvah (commandment) against its reward, and the reward of a sin and its cost.” Buying matzah for Pesach or a lulav for Sukkot will cost me extra money but will bring me closer to Hashem. In today’s language this calculation is termed a “cost-benefit analysis.”

We are beyond excited to announce that The Liberal Jewish Fellowship will be forging a partnership with The Ark Synagogue in Northwood, UK, one of the largest, most vibrant, and most influential Progressive congregations in England. This will give us access to an extraordinary array of virtual programming.

One berry, two berries, pick me a blueberry! Blueberry season is almost upon us here, in Michiana, and I would be remiss as a food columnist if I didn’t share at least one recipe that enthusiastically bursts with their sweet, juicy, blueberry deliciousness!

We added a few books to the list, unable to resist Spare, by Prince Harry, even though we all know it’s ghostwritten. Speaking of ghosts, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a novel mostly told by a ghost’s point of view.

BBYO is celebrating its 100th anniversary! In anticipation of the celebration, the Michiana Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Federation are planning a kick-off on Sunday, August 20, 2023 from 3-5 at Jewish Federation with snacks and a discussion of how we can plan for a full-blown reunion in Summer 2024! Slideshow? Singing? Softball?

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in our Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance program on April 16th, especially those 8th grade students from Patrick O’Malley and Melissa Lindley’s Language Arts classes at Discovery Middle School.

As I write these lines, Jewish communities worldwide are marking off the seven weeks between the Festival of Freedom (Passover) and the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot), the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This special time of year offers an instructive paradox. On the one hand, all eyes look forward to the great moments at Mount Sinai. On the other, according to the sages of the Kabbalah, each of the forty-nine days in the interim has its own unique qualities and opportunities.

During the week of Passover, we saw rocket attacks on Israel from both Lebanon, Gaza, and even from Syria. While the American media had trouble connecting the dots to make sense of these attacks, for most Israeli analysts the root cause was clear. The serious security challenges facing Israel can be understood by looking at what is called the “Axis of Resistance” that is coordinated and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We are pleased to present you with the lineup for this month's film festival and hope you will join us either virtually or at DeBartolo! The committee and I have been working diligently over the past several months to get us here, reviewing hundreds of trailers and watching dozens upon dozens of films to find the right mix for this year’s edition. The 8 films we landed on will delight, provide perspective and hopefully lead to thoughtful discussions with other filmgoers.

Passover is behind us and the count-up (Omer) to Shavuot has begun. Shavuot commemorates the day that we experienced Hashem’s mass revelation and willingly accepted the Torah. With the declaration of “Na’aseh V’nishmah”- “We will do and we will listen” – we formally gave our pledge of allegiance to Hashem and His Torah. On Shavuot we officially became the nation of Israel and would soon accept the principle of “kol yisrael araivim zeh bazeh”- we are all responsible for each other.

In all my time learning about the Holocaust at both the Jewish Federation and Sinai Synagogue, I have never truly been able to understand the lesson of the Holocaust. Yes, it was one of the worst things to ever happen to the human race, but so what? While it may seem like a blatantly ignorant question to ask, it is a very real question that came to my mind. In my mind, and I’m sure in at least a substantial portion of other kids, I simply couldn’t understand what needed to be done.

Pizza, boxed wine and a dozen Jews sit in a living room to discuss the political situation in Israel…could be a recipe for disaster, but this first community sitdown in one of our Partnership cities, Toledo, was an amazing way to understand the mind set of everyday American and Israeli Jews living in the US.

I have vague recollections about the first time I had tilapia. Mainly, I remember that I didn’t like it. But since I kept hearing it praised and seeing recipes for tilapia that sounded good, I figured I’d give the fish another chance.

The following is an update of Temple Beth-El’s move into the future. Since we all are looking ahead at options for change, I wanted to describe what we have done and what we still have to do.

Avi Liberman's quirky style has made him a favorite in comedy clubs from Los Angeles to New York. Born in Israel, raised in Texas, having gone to college in New York, and now living in Los Angeles, his style is a winning combination of life experiences and topical issues told through a varied blend of characters and voices with worldwide expertise.

Whenever I go shopping these days, I am in a state of disbelief. Who would have ever thought that basic necessities such as eggs, milk, and bread would be priced like luxury items? With Pesach around the corner, people are going to have to make tough decisions when preparing for the holiday. And, in reality, it’s not just for Passover, but indeed every day that prices remain elevated. People are having to make hard choices.

On Wednesday, November 30th, our community came together for a night of fellowship in support of the inaugural Lisa Lerman Community Bridge Award, named in memory of the Federation’s late president Lisa Lerman Z”L, who selflessly gave her time to bring together all Jews of our community.

Nature constantly reminds us how to orchestrate change. Inevitably, trees let go their leaves. There’s no fuss. It’s expected. And for our part? We plan for the change every year.

But, before a forest lets go the leaves, it dazzles us with a final burst of glorious color. This, after all, is a celebration. Leaves are like the memories from which trees receive energy. The forest celebrates this good fortune each autumn.

And so today, I talk about orchestrating change in our own Jewish community. Change presents itself whether it’s welcomed or not. And just as in nature, we too celebrate the memories that give us strength.

On the evening of Sunday, December 18th, nearly a hundred people showed up to celebrate the beginning of the festival of lights by lighting the giant Chanukiah in the Jon Hunt Plaza outside the Morris Performing Arts Center -- an annual tradition in South Bend thanks in large part to the organizing efforts of Jody Freid.

Recent antisemitic events involving well-known celebrities have drawn widespread attention to a disturbing trend in American society. We have seen this develop over the past several years: the resurgence of antisemitism. According to the ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), “Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021… This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979…”

In Israel of 2022, most people will not only know the phrase ‘Novi Godd’ means ‘New Year’ in Russian, but they will recognize it as a holiday. Before I talk about how and why it is so relevant to Israel, and to me personally, let me give you some background.

NEXTGen is constantly redefining what it means to be young and Jewish in the Michiana region, creating space for Jewish young adults (age 21-45) to build connections beyond religious affiliations. The NEXTGen group provides the opportunity for Jewish Young Adults in our community to Learn, Grow, and Lead together to build a better future for our community.

Whenever I ran into a particular friend of mine, I asked what he was doing, and he would retort, “Just trying to remain relevant.” I always got a kick out of that response, but never thought much about it. I figured it was a cute throwaway line. That was until I did my Chaplaincy residency.

This month, I’ve decided to share one of my very favorite recipes with you. It is the recipe I use for rugelach. If you are not familiar with this delicious pastry, rugelach are cookies that are made from dough that is rolled into circles, cut into wedges like pizza, and rolled into crescents. The most popular fillings are chocolate and cinnamon, but fruit filings are very common as well.

The group agreed that Anne Tyler, while being obtuse, is a master of characterizations and relationship nuance. We discussed in great detail aspects of protagonist Willa’s quirky new family-of-choice as opposed to her family-of-origin, which is the crux of the story.

As World War II drew to a close, South Bend and Mishawaka Jewish leaders organized to address the vital issues and concerns of the day. Their efforts led inevitably to the founding of our own Jewish Federation.

On the weekend of November 11th, our Federation was honored to host "Women Leading a Dialogue," an interfaith delegation from Israel comprised of fifteen Muslim and Jewish women who came to share their inspiring project that promotes coexistence in Western Galilee. Their visit was sponsored by Partnership2Gether (P2G). Here in South Bend, the members of the delegation were provided home hospitality by members of our Jewish community.

Rare is the person who’s fearless about food, especially when traveling. Bourdain’s memoir begins eating his first oyster as a child, thus setting off a lifetime of culinary adventures.

The Michiana Jewish Historical Society is proud to announce 2023 as our YEAR OF THE STORY with the kickoff at our annual meeting on December 11, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. at The History Museum, 808 West Washington Street, just west of downtown South Bend.

I am excited to share this recipe with you today. I know I almost always say this…but only because it’s true!

Sometime this past weekend (journal­ism time), I was combing through my emails when I came upon an article reviewing a recipe for a one-pot risot­to. Hmm, I thought. I like risotto. The article said something to the effect that “this was the best rice dish this blogger had ever made” and perhaps something more about it “hitting all the right notes.” It was an Ina Garten recipe from her newest cookbook, Go- To Dinners, and the blogger was giving it a rave review.

On October 23rd, the Jewish Federation opened its campus to the broader Michiana community for our 2nd annual Fall Fest! Thanks to everyone who showed up to enjoy a beautiful afternoon on our Federation campus, not to mention all of the volunteers who helped make this event possible. You are appreciated!

A year has passed since I wrote about my goals as program director at the Federation, and before I made my “New Year’s resolution,” I thought it right to look back at how we did as a team with my past goals. Helping our community discover (or rediscover) their Jewish identity was top on my list when planning and implementing programs in my first year on the team. I believe we achieved this through youth and adult programming, and of course, summer camp activities. We gave the community insight into how our Jewish lives are relevant in South Bend through programs involving Jewish food, harvest season get-togethers, kosher dates nights, and so much more.

Chanukah has one overriding theme, namely “Do your best and Hashem will take care of the rest.”

If the Maccabees, before they began their campaign, would have considered the overwhelming odds against their victory against the Assyrian-Greeks, they would never have started the rebellion. They would have given up before they began and just tried to survive by lying low. But, instead of lying low or assimilating, which is all the Hellenists wanted, they chose to trust Hashem to help them, as had happened throughout our history, and decided to ignore the odds, and fought.

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