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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

IRAC Passover Update

In This Issue: Celebrating Passover with Keren B'Kavod
• Celebrating Passover 'B'Kavod'
• Israeli Helping Israeli
• A Philosophy in Action
• Israel 2006: More kids under poverty line

For more information, please e-mail:
Rita Konaev
Development Associate
rita@irac.org
Visit IRAC on the RAC website!

The Pluralist
Newsletter from the Israel Religious Action Center

________________________________________
April 13, 2008
Dear Friend of the Israel Religious Action Center,
In Israel, the week of Passover is a popular time to take your family on
a vacation--to float in the Dead Sea or to play in what's left of Lake
Kinneret. Yet Passover demands that we relive events that shaped our
history and our people. We are encouraged to consider the "other": the
stranger, the orphan, the widow. We might say in Israel, 'To walk a
kilometer in another's sandals.' The seder is a great chance to
reconnect with loved ones but it is also the time to welcome the
stranger. In the past few years, IRAC has hosted pre-Passover seders for
foreign-workers and their families. It astounds me how well people from
as diverse regions as southeast Asia and western Africa can identify
with the story of Moses leading the Israelites. Passover is a time for
reliving our own past, but also for considering on the lives of our
neighbours and our guests. Everyone has a story of Exodus, a story of
seeking a home or a refuge, a search for meaning and identity. This
Passover, I hope all of Israel will take the opportunity to reflect and
consider. In our rough neighbourhood, a little empathy can go a long way.
Wishing you a meaningful Pesach, Anat Hoffman
________________________________________
Celebrating Passover 'B'Kavod'
Keren B'Kavod is the humanitarian aid and social action program of the
Israel Religious Action Center and the Reform Jewish Movement in Israel.
Keren B'Kavod provides food packages, warm clothes and other necessities
to needy families and facilitates cultural and educational activities
for disadvantaged youth across Israel, regardless of their ethnicity or
religion.
As the Passover holiday is approaching, Keren B'Kavod brought together
volunteers to prepare food packages to be distributed in the coming
weeks. The Passover food package project is the program's biggest
project and its oldest. This past week, the Keren B'Kavod staff,
community volunteers, and hundreds of Israeli high school students
gathered in the parking garage of Beit Shmuel, the center of the Israel
Movement for Progressive Judaism, and at a school in Haifa. A testament
to the Keren B'Kavod staff and volunteer-leaders, the energy of these
teenagers was focused on an assembly line where more than 2,000 boxes
containing food, games, toiletries and in some cases clothing coupons,
were quickly put together. The Keren B'Kavod boxes were passed from
hand-to-hand, quickly filling with non- perishable food-items. Between
the packing shifts, children from the Beit Shmuel kindergarten were
brought in and shown around the garage-turned- assembly plant and were
explained the importance of the project. Even the preschoolers did their
part, putting their colourful hand-drawn Passover cards in the packages.
________________________________________
Israeli Helping Israeli
The Passover package project unites Israel's Reform Movement to aid all
Israelis. The volunteers come primarily from Noar Telem, the Israeli
Reform youth movement, TALI Beit Chinuch, a Reform high school and
Mechina, the Reform Movement's pre-army program. The volunteers were not
only involved in assembling the holiday boxes but also in fundraising,
spending evenings calling members of Reform communities around Israel.
Tens of thousands of shekels have been raised through canvassing the
congregants from Israel's 24 Reform synagogues by the youth and adult
volunteers of the Reform Jewish Movement. In addition, the suppliers of
the components of the packages in many cases donated their products or
services or provided them at a discount.
The finished packages, stacked to the ceiling by the end of the flurry
of work, are distributed to Israeli families in need, regardless of
where they live or their ethnic and religious backgrounds. Reform
communities are in touch with their regional welfare councils to
determine the amount of need in each area. Keren B'Kavod distributes to
Jewish, Christian and Muslim families, to veteran Israelis and new
immigrants, to residents in cities and in development towns, to
residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages, and to foreign workers in
South Tel Aviv. The boxes are distributed throughout the year around the
time of a religious holiday: Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, Easter, and the
(Muslim) Feast of the Sacrifice, or in this case, Passover.
________________________________________
A Philosophy in Action
While helping families in need is the main goal of Keren B'Kavod, the
steps it takes in accomplishing these goals are in many ways an end unto
themselves. The continued success of the Passover project stems from the
culture of ownership and responsibility for the project and its goals
that is developing in the Israeli Reform Movement. "We are building a
circle of people to help," says Yoav Shafranik of B'Kavod. Keren B'Kavod
makes a concerted effort to work through welfare channels in order to
have a degree of anonymity towards the families it helps. Says Yoav, "We
are trying to be respectful of the families." That is the goal of Keren
B'Kavod: to make sure all Israelis live b'kavod (in dignity).
________________________________________

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