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

Get ready for a fun-filled Seder with our special “Passover Pack”! Perfect for the little ones, this kit includes a creative craft to make your own Seder plate, a playful bag of toys representing the ten plagues for interactive storytelling, and a charming kiddush cup just for kids.

The weekend I wrote this column, I was reading a book my mom of blessed memory gave me called Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean. The book is about how a generation of swashbuckling Jews carved out an empire in the New World in their quest for treasure, religious freedom, and revenge.

It was quite the read of an untold tale of Jewish valor and seafaring adventure during the Spanish Inquisition. The 17th century began with Jews outlawed in the New World and most of Europe, and it ended with our freedom.

Fast forward to today, I’m infused with a daring and adventurous buccaneering spirit to address the challenges in our New World. We are at a momentous time for our Jewish community. Our ability to plan our future will test both leadership and community in 2024. Sinai and Temple are discussing their respective futures—and in the coming weeks, I’m hopeful their conversation to discuss options and opportunities will expand to include the Federation.

My vision for 2025 sets forth a renewal of our community as a welcoming, strong, stable, inclusive, and supportive ecosystem for Jewish life. The vision speaks to the idea that our Jewish community is knitted integrally together, where pluralism is a value rooted in Jewish ideas and tradition.

Watching the news on and after October 7th, I was struck by emotions that, I am sure, were shared by many who have a close emotional relationship with Israel but live far away. People wanted to help but felt helpless at the same time, watching the death toll rise and the worry about more violence to come.

At first, I did the only thing I figured I could do; I sent a donation to Magen David Adom. As an emergency physician and paramedic, this cause seemed to fit with what I had hoped, to help the injured. If I couldn’t do it myself, I would enable those who could.

One of the most controversial aspects of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the issue of refugees. The false accusation that the creation of Israel was accompanied by “ethnic cleansing” of the local Arab population is one of the pervasive myths that continues to fuel the fires of the conflict and undermines the hopes for peace.

A significant component of Jewish Family Services is speaking with clients and understanding their concerns, worries, and needs. Sometimes, this part of the job requires some “digging” to uncover what has brought the person to our door. I don’t mean hiring an investigator, but instead really hearing what the person is saying.

At January’s Sunday Funday, I led a discussion about the melting pot in Israel, one of the most controversial ideas in our nation’s history. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, said that different people coming to Israel will go through the melting pot. The question that comes up is: Why did Ben Gurion want to implement this cultural assimilation in Israel?

Our Jewish Federation is incredibly proud to be a community resource for all. Over the 60 years I’ve been a part of the South Bend Jewish community, I’ve seen the Federation embrace our differences and emphasize inclusion, kindness, and respect.

To further this aim that our Federation is for everyone, the Jewish Federation Board of Directors, at their January 17th board meeting, voted to repurpose the art supply room into a non-kosher kitchenette.

I met the mystery/crime author Lori Rader-Day at the Midwest Writers Conference in Muncie, Indiana, in July 2023. She agreed to join the Jewish Federation Book Club’s session on Death at Greenway, her novel that takes place at Agatha Christie’s summer home during World War II. Despite its title, this book is not written in the style of a Christie murder mystery, rather, it’s an interpretation of what it might have been like for two women hired to take care of ten children under the age of five who had to evacuate their homes without their parents during the London Blitz.

Food boards are having a moment. We’ve watched them evolve from cheese boards to dessert boards and to butter boards (not too sure about that one), but one thing I am sure of is that most of us truly appreciate a well-done food board. Glorious mixes and matches of flavor, texture, and color are showcased on oversized plates, boards, or trays. Whether made for two, twenty, or two hundred—the numbers don’t matter because, large or small, it always feels a little bit special to be served in such a way.

As you may be aware, our local Jewish Federation is in the midst of its 2024 Annual Fundraising Campaign, which revolves around the theme “It’s Moments Like This.” Kehillah, Chesed, Tikkun Olam—these values weave through our vibrant community.

Our tradition teaches us that just one mitzvah can change the world.

Mitzvot, doing good deeds, is the Divine assignment the Jewish People were given. Proverbs teaches, “A mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light.” Our sacred texts and the Rabbis’ teachings leave no doubt that the Jewish People are on a mission to bring light into the world.

Here at home, as we contemplate the promise of our Jewish future, the communal assignment is clear: in our mission to create a safe, secure, and sustainable community, we should look beyond the short-term solutions which would be analogous to lighting a match, taking delight in the fire’s flare, only for it to burn down and quickly die.

However, if we put the lighted match to the wick of a candle, the flame lives. With this longer-term idea in mind, we should be thinking about our collective future as we continue our community conversations this Hanukkah season and into 2024.

As I sit on the bus back to Indiana, I have so many thoughts and feelings about the rally in DC today. My biggest takeaway right now is how proud we Jews are to be Jewish. From the most observant to the least affiliated, we were all there together today, proclaiming our love of G-d, Israel, and the Jewish nation.

While Israel is fighting a war for its survival against Hamas, Hezbollah, and their sponsors in Iran, there is another war being fought here in America. Especially on college campuses, this is an information war for the legitimacy of Israel

For more than two decades, the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement has been working tirelessly on college campuses to demonize and delegitimize Israel and its right to exist. Today, we are witnessing the troubling results of this campaign.

The joyous holiday of Chanukah celebrates the miraculous victory by a small band of Jews (Maccabees) over the entire Syrian-Greek armies. Strangely though, we don’t really celebrate the military victory, but rather the finding of untainted olive oil that was used to light the Menorah in the Temple. A possible reason for this focus is that while one could always rationalize the victory and take credit for it, the miracle of the oil could only be credited to G-d.

On October 7th, 2023, Simchat Torah, our family went to bed celebrating Shabbat and awoke in a stupor around 6:30 am to alarms we didn’t expect to hear, only six weeks into our Aliyah. We frantically yelled for our kids as they were jolted out of their sleep. We had 90 seconds to get out of bed and make it down four floors with six kids to the safe area of the lobby (our oldest was in a Mechina—a pre-military camp). We actually did make it down in time and finally met all our new neighbors in the bomb shelter.

I am writing to you on the 36th day of the war against the Hamas terrorist organization. I want to express my gratitude for you reaching out to me. I appreciate your love and support in these hard days.

On Shabbat morning, October 7th, my boyfriend Ran and I stayed at his parents' home in the center of Israel and woke up to the sound of sirens, like everyone else, at 6:30 AM. We initially thought it was a mistake and never imagined what was about to come.

October 7th will forever be a cursed day, marked by death and deep sadness.

For those of you noticing the title’s similarity to David Copperfield, you’re right. It’s deliberately a contemporary rendition of that Charles Dickens classic. Full of exaggerated characters, parallel plotlines, and similar names (such as Mr. Dick/Brother Dick, Mr. McCobb/Micawber, Agnes/Angus, Dora/Dori, and Tommy), one reader was grateful for having previously read the original since Demon Copperhead is a difficult book.

We have a special treat for you this issue. Our community member and Federation board member, Donna Barton Ayres, who shares our love of recipes, cooking, and all things culinary, gifted us this month’s article and recipe for her Aunt Ruthie’s chili.

Those of us defending Israel are facing a challenge. The problem is this: too many people in America are not getting the complete picture of what this war is all about.

I can tell you what it’s not about. Our war is not with the Palestinian people. Our war is against Hamas and anyone else who thinks Israel does not have the right to exist.

As I sit down to write this edition of Minute with Moshe, I have a heavy heart.

Today marks five years since the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh – the deadliest act of Antisemitism in our nation’s history. We are also learning today that in response to the devastating massacre of October 7, Israel is beginning the second stage of the War against Hamas with intensified ground and air operations into Gaza.

The tragedies of the Simcha Torah and Tree of Life attacks shattered the hearts of the Jewish people. Communities were devastated, leaving behind survivors and families who will never be the same.

On October 7, 2023, we were reminded that regardless of our affiliation or level of observance, our enemies viewed us through the same lens, namely as Jews. Our enemies don’t distinguish between philosophy, belief, or lack thereof, in Hashem; they just know that they hate us and want us dead. Imagine what a world it would be if in response to their hatred of us we decided to love our fellow Jews unconditionally. It doesn’t mean that we would agree on all issues, but it would mean we would disagree respectfully, and treat others as we want to be treated.

As many of you know, I came to the United States at the age of 23 after serving in the Israeli army and settled with my family here in South Bend. Aside from one aunt here in South Bend, the rest of my Israeli family remains in Israel. Despite the distance that separates us, Debbie and I have always maintained a strong connection with our Israeli family and friends. While here in South Bend, we have been a host family to the many Shlichim that have come to this community. This added another layer to my family’s connection to Israel. My love for Israel is shared by my children, who have all traveled there multiple times. Emily was fortunate to spend her entire summer doing an internship in a Tel Aviv hospital. This gave her the opportunity to strengthen her connection to the country.

The deadly unprovoked cross-border attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th is just one of several attempts by the terror organization that rules Gaza to sabotage the hopes for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The bloody history of Hamas that is backed by Iran is the key to understanding the tragic events that we are now seeing in the news.

In 1993, Israel signed onto the Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian Authority. As a result, Israel withdrew from the major cities of the West Bank. It was a time of great euphoria, and the hopes for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians were real.

An uncomfortable calm permeates the terminal. Future passengers, on their way to vacation destinations or business conferences, seem not to care at all about the war going on in my home. And why should they? But I can’t shake the feeling, the unease, as if I am walking in a parallel universe, a different plane of existence in which I can see them, but I am invisible to their perception. My heart feels as if it beats audibly, but they walk by smiling, drinking their hot coffee, rushing to visit grandma, and pay it no mind.

I never thought that one of my most important missions as an Israeli emissary would come so fast.

As you know I only arrived here one month ago. My heart breaks for those people who are now left with a hole in their heart, one that they will never be able to fill.

An experience from the Israeli army can show us how our community can come together to help. One of the first challenges I experienced as a combat soldier was in boot camp. Before the army you are an individual person who is interested in different topics. You have your own opinion about politics and your own perspective and world view.

I can’t fully concentrate. No matter what I do, some part of my mind is always thinking about the situation in Israel. I find myself wanting to check the news to see if there are any updates. Very often. I wonder if more rockets have been fired. Has the situation escalated even more? Is there any news about the hostages? Oh, the hostages! I can’t stop thinking, worrying, and praying about the hostages. I have to stop my mind from wondering what sorts of horrors they are faced with. I have to stop my mind from wondering if they are all still alive. It hurts too much to let my thoughts stray in those directions.

On the evening of October 2, 2023, we arrived in Israel with great anticipation of being with our kids, experiencing Sukkot, Simcha Torah, the 2nd birthday of our granddaughter, and the impending birth of another grandchild.

My son, Nick Clayton, has wanted to be an Israeli citizen and protect Israel and her people since he was 13. His love for Israel has never wavered. He is a lifetime member of Young Judaea, when starting at 13, he attended Camp CYJ in Wisconsin, and then Camp Tel Yehuda (TY) in New York. This culminated in spending a summer and then a gap year in Israel before college.

People are talking about our Jewish future -- and I’m encouraged by what I hear. Conversations about our shared vision start with “why?” When we start with “why,” it explains our purpose and the reason we exist and behave as we do. And the best way to answer the “why” question is with a rich, descriptive narrative articulating what we aim to achieve within our community.

For a Jewish community of our size, every moment matters. These moments work together to create a ripple effect that influences each of us. In my first year as Director of Community Engagement, I’ve seen the impact of these moments firsthand and I truly believe they fuel our community in those small, but powerful ways.

We had a terrific time building our community sukka at the Jewish Federation, enjoying wonderful treats inspired by the seven species of Israel, and making Sukka Birdies and other creative crafts. Take a look!

For more than a decade, Israel has been engaged in what the Israeli military calls “the operation between the wars” against Iran and its regional terror proxies. For the most part, these operations are not reported in the American media. To learn more about this dangerous situation, our community will host Middle East expert Dr. Jonathan Schanzer who will speak on the topic: Iran’s Multifront Strategy Against Israel.

First and foremost, I want to thank this amazing community for welcoming me and showing me the best hospitality. During the holiday, people introduced themselves and it is something I am surely not taking for granted, so thank you. I am glad to be a part of the Jewish community of Michiana.

Baruch Hashem, we surpassed our goal of $6,000 for our annual Rosh Hashanah Appeal. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us reach it. It is a true testament to the amazing generosity exhibited by our community. May Hashem bless you with a happy, healthy and sweet new year!

This month I am sharing with you one of my family’s favorite chicken recipes. Marsala chicken makes an appearance during holiday meals and other special occasions at my house. The flavors are amazing.

Prince Harry’s bestselling memoir, Spare, was ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer. His New Yorker article published in May, 2023, explains how he consulted with Harry for over two years. Together, they did a great job of relaying the overarching Diana tragedy and how her sons, William and Harry, took such divergent paths facing adulthood.

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