Our thoughts and hearts are with the people of Israel and we want to reach out and help

Through Friday, Sept 5th (new extended date), the Pine Brook Jewish Center will be collecting donations for those students who have had to put their lives on hold to protect the State of Israel. Through American Friends of Tel Aviv University, we are going to help ensure that the young men and women of the IDF, many of whom will have fallen behind in their studies, continue their education. Our gifts will provide tuition assistance for those who withdrew for combat duty, fund comprehensive tutoring to remedy the effects of missed classes and exams, underwrite psychological services where they are needed, and provide financial assistance for missed paychecks or jobs lost by those students who are self supporting (as three out of four are.)


Please make your tax deductible donation payable to AFTAU (American Friends of Tel Aviv University) and put “IDF Scholarship Fund” in the memo. Send your check to Pine Brook Jewish Center 174 Changebridge Road, Montville, NJ 07045. Every donation counts. Let’s support our soldiers and send them the strong message that we care and appreciate their efforts in defending our Jewish homeland. May the memory of those lost in combat forever be a blessing and may those still defending the State of Israel return home safely to their families.

Israel Opportunities  – Mifgash- from Rabbi Finkel

I spoke about how Birthright has focused its trips to Israel towards a psychic medium hotline, so that one’s visit to Israel reaches across the boundary from “tour” to “experience” and we are transformed from visiting a foreign land to returning to our spiritual homeland. On the PBJC trip to Israel, last summer, we were fortunate to have had our guide bring us to his childhood home, where we enjoyed an evening of dinner and entertainment as we got to know him and his family, and got to meet Shuli Natan, the first voice to perform Yerushalayim Shel Zahav – Jerusalem of Gold, and the voice most associated with the song.

During our visit to the moshav of Nahalal, where Moshe Dayan grew up, we also experienced a very generous degree of home hospitality, and in the Druze village near Haifa, we, again, were at-the-end-of-the-day tired recipients of home hospitality. Even the transition from being on the move during the week towards Shabbat was punctuated by sharing this change of pace in Jerusalem in its Baka and German Colony neighborhoods and in Tel Aviv in the activities by the Old Port.

I love the ability to exchange and share Israel experiences with PBJC families who have traveled to Israel, and I am honored and flattered by families who have shared their itineraries with me and have asked my advice on food, accommodations, or shopping. I hope that every family in our congregation will have the opportunity to experience the joy of being in Israel.

As families look to plan ahead for the summer, let me suggest a few opportunities to connect to Israel with a special sense of encounter.

For our teens:
Our movement’s USY has it’s unique Eastern European/Israel Pilgrimage where the trip first visits Eastern Europe, exploring Jewish life in Europe before WWII, sees close up places of note in the Holocaust, the saddest chapter in modern Jewish history, followed by the Israel experience, a most joyous chapter in modern Jewish history.

Young Judea Israel Discovery: Young Judea’s past affiliation with Hadassah has given its participants special access to Israel. This year Young Judea has a trip which first visits Greece then arrives in Israel giving participants a sense of the immigrant experience and the degree to which immigrant absorption has been a key part in the lifeblood of Israel.

For our collegians:
A Junior year or semester in Israel. Most Israeli Universities have programs for overseas students; a growing number of American Universities have special coöperative programs in Israel. The two largest programs are those at Tel Aviv University and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

For a time of transition in one’s life or for someone who is finding him/herself:
Volunteers for Israel. This program began, I believe, during the 1982 Lebanon War to maintain Israel’s workforce in time of emergency. Like the stories of people we have known who volunteered in Israel in 1948, 1967, or 1973, VFI continues to provide a special entré into Israeli life, even when Israel is (relatively) quiet, or volunteer on a kibbutz.

Ulpan: For those who have said, “Someday, I’ll … learn Hebrew.”
For those 20-somethings or 30-somethings:
Kibbutz Ulpan: a great work-study program. Learn Hebrew on a kibbutz (collective farm, though may be a dated term) in a smaller community where one can be immersed in Hebrew and work on the kibbutz, sort of “singing for one’s supper” to subsidize the tuition.
For those a bit older: Ulpan Akiba: learn Hebrew in the beautiful Mediterranean Seaside community of Netanya.

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