August 28, 2018, Elul 5778

The High Holidays Are Almost Upon Us
Gideon Aronoff
Executive Director
I 'm excited to be celebrating my first High Holidays as the Executive Director of the Masorti Foundation. The days since I started have been action packed as I traveled to Israel, got to meet Masorti leaders, rabbis and congregants, and learned about the depth and breadth of what Masorti offers.

As we embark on the Days of Awe, we want to provide thought-provoking resources to enrich your holidays: readings, songs and reflections. For an extra bit of sweetness, we include a moving story--the gift of a Sefer Torah donated by a Conservative congregation in Ottumwa, Iowa specifically for use at the Egalitarian section of the Kotel.

Later in the month, we'll be sharing a beautiful letter from former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro and Julie Fisher, about their deep affection for, and commitment to, Masorti Israel.
Finally, I want to introduce the newest member of the Masorti Foundation team--Alan Grossman, Assistant Director of Development. Alan comes to Masorti with a rich and diverse background in fundraising and communications-- most recently at American Friends of Bar-Ilan University. Please join me in welcoming him to the Masorti Foundation and take a few minutes to read Alan's excellent blog post on World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder's NYT Op-Ed.

The work of Masorti in Israel--advocating for democracy, inclusion and an expansive view of Jewish tradition--has never seemed more crucial, both for Israel and for the Jews in the Diaspora.

S hana Tova Umetuka, Warmest Wishes for a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Sweet New Year here and in Israel,
Preparing for the High Holidays
The High Holidays come early this year but Masorti has you covered!

We've gathered some wonderful things to make welcoming 5779 especially meaningful and sweet.

Rabbi Nativ is a third-generation Israeli, was a paratrooper in the Six Day War and has served as rabbi in Masorti kehillot in Haifa, Beer Sheva, Omer and Karmiel.
Listen to this Sephardic melody set to a piyut written by Freha Bat Yosef, born in Morocco in the 18th century.

Sing along with Masorti's talented performers; you can find the lyrics in English and Hebrew here.
Former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro and Julie Fisher Tell a Personal Story of Falling in Love...with Masorti!

Dan, Julie and their three daughters needed a spiritual home while Dan was serving as ambassador in Israel, and they found in Masorti exactly the values and qualities they were seeking: warmth, tradition, inclusivity and modernity. They immediately became strong advocates for Masorti and remain committed today. The story merits it's own email--look for it in your inbox next week!

Dan and Julie urge you to give generously to Masorti this New Year. It's the most impactful and meaningful way to help build the Israel we want for ourselves and for future generations.
An Impressive First:
Abayudaya Jews Participate in BIRTHRIGHT Program &
Celebrate at Ezrat Israel!

Do you remember your kids' excitement about their Birthright trip?

Imagine the joy of these Ugandan Jewish kids arriving in Israel. Their participation in the Birthright program was organized through the thoughtful and committed work of Masorti and MAROM Olami.

This made possible the joyous march from Dung Gate to Ezrat Israel for a dedication of a Sefer Torah and Shachrit services. Click on the picture to watch the the march and service. (Watch closely and you can catch a glimpse of Yizhar Hess dancing in the background!) You'll feel simultaneously uplifted and maybe a little teary-eyed!

Masorti Salutes Ronald Lauder 's Op-Ed in The NYT
"Israel, This is Not Who We Are," says long-time Jewish leader and philanthropist, Ronald Lauder.

In his sharp opinion piece, he articulates a concern that the democratic and egalitarian nature of the Jewish State is being eroded.

Mr. Lauder cites the nation-state law, the government's withdrawal from the agreement concerning the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel and the recent detention of a Masorti rabbi for officiating at a wedding, as his key concerns.

And of course, these are issues that are crucially important to Masorti.

Ronald Lauder wonders if the Israel we all "cherish is losing its way."

 As the High Holidays approach, we fervently hope not.

A Sefer Torah Travels from Ottumwa, Iowa to Ezrat Israel
In an act of extraordinary heartfelt generosity, the Conservative Congregation, B'nai Jacob in Ottumwa, Iowa, has donated a Sefer Torah for the express purpose of making it available at the Egalitarian Section of the Kotel.

B'nai Jacob was founded in 1898; their current building (pictured above and built in 1915) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

This gift is is not the congregation's first--they also donated a Torah scroll to a synagogue in Paraguay.

" We all feel good about the Torahs being donated to places where they will be used and appreciated... " says Sue Weinberg of B'nai Jacob, whose grandparents and great-grandparents were founding members. " If we are able to visit Israel again, it will be very exciting to see [the Torah] used at Ezrat Yisrael. Next year in Jerusalem is coming true for one of our Torahs!"
The Masorti Flower, Perach Ha Masorti, the name of our newsletter, reflects a teaching by Chaim Nachman Bialik about the flower, seed and fruit of Agada and Halacha . Read it here .