July/August 2017
CURRENT PERSPECTIVES                                 

News from Israel
This  week started with the news that the government of Israel would not implement the agreement made 16 months ago to create an egalitarian space at the Kotel. Instead, they would put an official freeze on the agreement. Many Jewish representative bodies made statements protesting the Israeli government's actions, including the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. You can read some of these statement here:
Along the lines of breaking with world Jewry, a bill may be introduced to the Knesset to give Israel's haredi-Orthodox dominated Chief rabbinate control over all conversions in Israel. This bill not only impacts non-Orthodox conversions, but would also impact Orthodox conversions, such as the conversion case with well-respected Rabbi Haskel Lookstein last year that caused a spur of protests  across the Orthodox community. If passed, this bill could also impact thousands of people in Israel and abroad  who went through conversions according to Jewish law and who are currently recognized as Jews under the Law of Return.
In recent Pew Research Center findings, while the rest of the world lacks confidence in US President Donald Trump's abilities in international affairs, Israel and Russia ranked him higher than former President Barack Obama . These results come from interviews in more than three dozen countries.
Israel is making efforts to quash or defeat a vote set to be held in the coming days by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which would list the Cave of the Patriarchs as a world heritage site and include a clause stating that Israel is not the sovereign power over Jerusalem. If the Cave of the Patriarchs is indeed recognized as a world heritage site, Israel will be condemned each time it erects a security checkpoint or conducts work in the area on the grounds that it is damaging a world heritage site. The resolution was submitted by Arab countries and will be voted upon by 21 nation representatives during the UN body's World Heritage Committee when it meets July 2-12 in Krakow, Poland, for its annual assembly. Israel needs seven votes against in order to block the motion. The clause about Jerusalem was a last-minute addition inserted into the resolution.

A thawing has occurred in the relationship between Hamas controlled Gaza and Egypt as last week, Egypt began delivering a million liters of fuel to Gaza, temporarily easing a power crisis that has left the enclave's two million residents with only a few hours of electricity per day. The deliveries came two days after Israel started to reduce the electricity it supplies to Gaza, following PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's decision to stop paying for it amid a PA dispute with Hamas. The current Egyptian government led by former military leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had closed hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border and accused Hamas of supporting Islamist radicals inside Egypt, including near the border. The Hamas terrorist organization said they had begun building a new buffer zone along the southern border with Egypt on Wednesday as the Islamist movement seeks to improve ties with Cairo. The 100-meter wide "safe area", stretching 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) along the border between the enclave and Egypt, will be equipped with surveillance cameras and military posts, officials said. "It will be a closed military area and therefore it will be easier to oversee the border and prevent smuggling of drugs and infiltrators," said Deputy Interior Minister Tawfiq Abu Naim.

Evidence of the use of plant dyes from the time of Kings David and Solomon has been recovered, according to a new study. The research, published Wednesday in the prestigious journal PLOS ONE, was led by Dr. Naama Sukenik of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with a research team from Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Excavations conducted since 2013 in the Timna Valley and directed by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University have recovered dozens of fragments of 3,000-year-old textiles, which were preserved thanks to the region's extreme arid climatic conditions. The textiles date to the early Iron Age (12th - 10th centuries BCE), the time of the biblical kings David and Solomon and some are decorated with a red-and-blue bands pattern.

Farewell to Milwaukee:
What a time of contradictions! A wonderful time in terms of the beauty of nature, the weather, the sweet feelings people share with us as we say our goodbyes. Looking at the kids and the mileage they have done (physical, because we got to see so many stunning parts of the US), but also in terms of personal growth. At the same time tumultuous. It's dramatic to change our setting and uproot ourselves, once more, this time for good.
A few weeks ago, I sat in our kitchen and wrote:
"It's that time of year again when the mint faithfully shoves its leafy head through the still frozen ground, sprouting all over the shlichut house garden. This strong mint plant that was planted here years ago by a shaliach (perhaps Nilli, Alon, Nir or Rakefet) who probably just missed the mint tea with sugar he was used to having at home had no idea it would last through Wisconsin's intimidating winters. The resiliency and perseverance of the mint brings to mind both Israel's resiliency and that of this shlichut program!
I sit here, in the same kitchen that generations of shlichim before me have sat in, gazing out the window at Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Bader Hillel Academy, where generations of shlichut children have gone as those cute bunnies and squirrels, soon to be replaced by pigeons and street-cats, when we return to Israel (our parallel universe). I sit here, sip my tea, notice the bitter-sweet taste of the mint leaves as they mirror my inner state.
If there is one thing I learned from being here is that you can experience contradicting emotions at once:
  • I can long for home and feel at home at the same time.
  • I can miss my friends and family while being amongst them.
  • I can want time to speed up and slow down at once.
  • I can love and hate winter on the same day.
  • I can want things to be more similar to Israel and enjoy them being different.
Being a shlichah in Milwaukee was Beshert. I knew this community was a good shiduch for myself and my family. I got to fulfill the dream of being a community Shlichah, a long-time dream of mine. We also have to be a bit Meshigane to leave it all and follow the call. It takes trust and a feeling of Shlichut (mission).
Milwaukee is special. I knew nothing of it 3 years ago, yet discovered a treasure of genuinely nice people who share values of Zedaka and Arvut Hadadit, kabbalat Ha'acher, friendship, Hachnasat Orchim and Tikkun Olam. Coming from a kibbutz, we cherish community life. We were thrilled that so much of it exists here. My favorite part was making friends and being invited into your homes and hearts. I learned so much from you about how to sustain a thriving and diverse Jewish community with all the establishments. You have a lot to be proud of, including your Zionism (I was amazed at how many people know and love Israel, with all the complexities) and perseverance (maintaining the shlichut program for 50 years). Read more.
The Zehavis

View photos and video of the Shlichut Celebration. 

Aviva (left)
Secular studies, Jewish studies, Hebrew, and social action projects are all part of the weekly schedule at Isaac and Helaine Heller EIE High School, a program that Milwaukeean Aviva Silverman returned from last month. Located on Kibbutz Tzuba in the Judean Hills, Aviva learned about Judaism and Israel in a hands-on way. The program also included a trip to Poland to learn about the Holocaust, which Aviva said was one of the most meaningful parts of the semester experience. The school days are long - 11 hours a day from Sunday -Thursday, with homework after, but this makes time for trips around Israel, social action projects such as bringing birthday boxes to kids whose families cannot afford birthday gifts, clearing paths at national parks, visiting elderly and specialty weeks like gadna, Israeli army training where the group learned about the ethical code of the Israeli army. Aviva lived with fellow classmates in a dorm-style guest house. She said living on her own was a great preparatory experience for college, something she is approaching since she is a rising senior at Nicolet. The group included students from across the US and Canada, providing Aviva with a new network of friends from many places. She had an incredible and meaningful learning and life experience. 
Israeli Scouts -Tzofim Caravan
July 6 * 6 pm
Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd.
Women's Art program with Amit Yaniv-Zehavi
July 13 * 7:30 pm
Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Pl.

Jewish National Fund of Wisconsin Guardian of Israel Dinner
August 30 * 6 pm
River Club of Mequon, 12400 Ville Du Parc Dr., Mequon
Keren Weisshaus, new community shlichah, speaks at Congregation Sinai
September 8 * 6:15 pm
Congregation Sinai, 8223 N. Port Washington Rd., Fox Point


The Israel Center, a department of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, serves as Israel's central address in the greater Milwaukee community. Our mission is to create connections between the people of Israel and Milwaukee through cultural, professional, educational and travel experiences. These connections are developed in part through Shlichut and Partnership2Gether, two programs that are made possible through the Milwaukee Jewish Federation's partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Learn more.


Questions? Email or call Rabbi Hannah Greenstein, VP outreach, Israel and overseas, at 414-390-5764. 

The Jewish Community Relations Council, a department of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, builds strategic relationships to protect and defend Jews, individually and collectively. Our mission is to speak as the representative of the Jewish community on issues of public affairs and public policy by convening and mobilizing the Jewish community through education, advocacy, social justice, and support for Israel.
Learn more at www.MilwaukeeJewish.org/JCRC or contact Elana   Kahn through email or by calling 414-390-5736.