Run Jerusalem Run

By: Drew Fidler

Last week, I had a surreal experience. I went to see my brother-in-law’s brother run the Jerusalem Night 10K (ריצת לילה בירושלים). It was a crisp night with a completely clear sky. I could not help but marvel at the spectacle of this historic location combined with such a modern day occurrence. The full moon was bright and it shined magnificently against the Jerusalem stonewalls of the old city and the Jaffa Gate as a thousand runners from 13 to 80 stood ready and waited for the race to start. As music pumped loudly in the background, I could not help but stare at the magnificent site in front of me. It was one of those moments when you realize just how special Jerusalem is and can be.

In Jerusalem, layers of stone and history back drop every ordinary moment. In the daily hustle and bustle of life, you can forget why this place transfixes and mesmerizes visitors and locals of every age. However, every now and again you have a moment that reminds you of the magnitude of this place: the historical power and magnificence that lies within the walls to the Old City and the cobblestone streets. It is amazing how one city can be so graceful and commanding all at once. Some people call it Holy, others call it awe-inspiring, for me it is simply breathtaking and I revel in the privilege to get to live here and experience these moments.

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, thats the frustrating part about these moments they just sort of sneak up on you, so the pictures that I do have are all from a cell phone. However, I think they still get the point across. Enjoy the pictures below, and mazel tov to Jamie Metzl who won a pillow for coming in first in his age group!!!

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By: Drew Fidler

The hardest part about moving to a new country besides the different language, converting from metric to imperial, and generally navigating in a city where all of the streets crisscross in a completely unidentifiable pattern is establishing a routine and finding friends. As I am currently spending my days looking for a job, I have to find ways to fill the time that is not spent writing emails, making phone calls, or going on meetings and interviews. Its genetic, if I do not go out of the house get away from the computer I tend to go a little crazy.

It was in one such crazy moment that I decided it was acceptable to post an ad on JANGLO. (JANGLO is an online website designed to help connect Jerusalem’s English speaking community. They post apartment listings, job listings – hence why I spend the majority of my time here -, events, and have message boards covering just about every topic one could imagine.) You see, I have joined a gym and started Ulpan (Hebrew language classes, the stories from which could each fill a blog post of their own) but I was still looking for a way to make friends and find things outside to do outside of my hobbit home.

Immediately after posting the message I felt ridiculous. It sounded like a dating ad – “fun and athletic individual new to the Jerusalem area looking for fun things to do”. I immediately wanted to take it down and hide under the covers from the embarrassment. However, I left the post up, after all what was the worst that can happen? Two days later I got my answer…

I was speaking with a potential new friend that I had made in my Ulpan and she looked at me and smiled. “I found your ad,” she said to me. I was completely mortified; my head was spinning with possible answers and excuses. However, just as I was about to give a self-deprecating response which I hoped could keep this person I barely knew from judging me, she said, “I have wanted to do that forever”. We then spent the rest of the break talking, commiserating, and bonding over the chaos and hilarity of living and looking for work in a foreign country (and of course other peoples responses to my original post).

Not bad for my first foray into the online friend finding world (but I think from now on I will rely on my in-person people skills).


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Walking into a Shul in Vienna

By: Stephanie Rosenau

Walking into the synagogue in the Jewish section of Vienna, I noticed the beautiful blue vaulted ceiling, the dark wood that lined the walls and the sea of kippot in the men’s section below.  It felt familiar, and it felt good to be in shul after an emotional week on a mission in Odessa, Ukraine with THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. My siddur was in German and Hebrew and I tried to compare the two languages to help me understand my bubbie’s first language, Yiddish.  We chanted the morning service, listened to the Torah and enjoyed the Barber shop-like quartet that complimented the chazan.  In all, seven people from this mission participated in the service.

One of the highlights of the service was when Rabbi Steven Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom of Baltimore was given an aliyah. He shook the hands of all the men on the bima and participated in a minhag (tradition) of the shul.  After each aliyah, the Rabbi asked the person who just completed the aliyah to share the names of the individuals who were in need of a mishaberach (pray for the healing of the sick).  It was a joy to see a member of the Baltimore community participate in a tradition unique to a community 5,000 miles away.

In the past, I have participated in Shabbat services outside of the United States.  It has always been amazing to me to be able to walk into a shul anywhere in the world and take part in a service that marks the day of rest and unites the Jewish people. This service was even more special because I was able to connect to the Jewish community around the world while still being a part of our extraordinary Jewish community in Baltimore.


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How to Advocate for Israel When You Don’t Agree With All of Its Policies

Israel is near and dear to our hearts.  It is a land of deep connections and the homeland of the Jewish people.  As American Jews, we should be advocates for her well-being and security and let the American government know that we care.  Many face the question of how to advocate for Israel when they don’t agree with key decisions of the Israeli government.   How do you stand up for Israel when you may be opposed to some of her policies?

There are numerous organizations that support Israel and believe that their organization’s political positions are the ones that she should adopt.  Many of these organizations are criticized for their positions, whether to the right or left.  Individuals and organizations are, obviously, entitled to their own opinions.  But when Israel needs American Jewry, should we stand in support with a unified voice? When is it appropriate for an individual or organization to express concern with Israel’s actions and when is it detrimental?

Currently, some in the Jewish community believe that if they do not agree with all Israeli policies and actions, they can’t support her.  This can be misguided and harmful.

This coming Sunday, at “Israel!  A Morning of Israel Advocacy, Education and Community,” we will explore with a panel discussion, facilitated by Art Abramson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, how you can be an advocate for Israel even when you disagree with her positions.  Registration is closed online as of November 9, but walk-ins are welcome.

For more information about the conference, visit

Shoshana S. Cardin Announces 2011 Shoubin Lecture: William Daroff>>
Relationships Matter When it Comes to Israel>>
Honor Gilad’s Return with a Tree>>
How Well Do You Know Your Sister City?>>

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Shoshana S. Cardin Announces 2011 Shoubin Lecture: William Daroff

By: Baltimore Hebrew Institute

On Sunday morning, November 13, our community will come together at the Owings Mills JCC to share ideas, broaden our knowledge and show our support for Israel. The Israel Advocacy Conference evolved out of a meeting of a group of Jewish communal professionals who hail from the broad spectrum of the Jewish community. What began initially as an effort to share programming ideas quickly became a forum with a long agenda and a desire for community collaboration.   Ultimately, 18 community organizations and agencies joined the conversation, lay leaders were enlisted, and the Israel Advocacy Conference was conceived, planned and will soon take place.

The Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University, through the support of Shoshana S. Cardin and her family, is honored to bring the keynote speaker to this event. As a way to honor the memory of her parents, Mrs. Cardin created a generous endowment fund for a lecture series that originally took place every other year at Baltimore Hebrew University. Shoshana’s parents were avid Zionists who made Aliyah to Israel when they were young. Unfortunately, although they planned to eventually move back to Israel, they never did, for a variety of reasons. Shoshana’s father, Sraiah, was a staunch supporter of Israel and a leader of the Zionist movement. He was committed to keeping conversational Hebrew alive in the Diaspora. Sraiah also believed in making an honest assessment of Israel, including its “warts.” He did not feel that this attitude in any way detracted from his abiding love for Israel.

Sraiah taught Hebrew in the U.S. for many years. He wanted American Jews to interact with Israelis in a meaningful way, and felt that the best way to make this happen was for Americans to learn Hebrew.

The first two Shoubin lectures were actually delivered in Hebrew. However, in order to reach a broader audience, subsequent lectures were all delivered in English. The message of each lecture related in a substantive way to the idea that we in the Diaspora are inextricably intertwined with our fellow Jews in Israel.  Israel’s future depends on our love, support and in some cases, even constructive criticism.

William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of United Jewish Communities will deliver the Shoubin Lecture at the close of the Advocacy Conference. Daroff is a leading advocate for the American Jewish community’s agenda in Washington, D.C. He is a respected voice for the national Jewish community and is a key player in both domestic and foreign policy issues.

We hope that you can attend.

Israel!  A Morning of Advocacy, Education & Community
Sunday, November 13, 2011
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
See the full agenda and register online at

Relationships Matter When it Comes to Israel>>
Honor Gilad’s Return with a Tree>>
How Well Do You Know Your Sister City?>>

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Walking through Machne Yehuda – the big open-air market in Jerusalem- on Thursday night, I ran into friends who were the previous tenants of my apartment in the heart of Jerusalem. We were comparingnotes on the quirks of the apartment and how best to maximize the space (I affectionately call this apartment the hobbit home) when we got to the topic of the bodega next door. She couldn’t help but laugh and switch into English to explain:

“Did you see the sign? It says 24/6,” she laughed. “That’s Israel, 24/6”.

In a lot of ways she is right. Sunday through Thursday the market is bustling with people and vendors screaming and bargaining, the streets are clogged with buses and cars, the new train is packed tighter than the New York City subway, and tourists, locals, and protestors alike take to the streets. Over the last two weeks since I returned to Israel, that 24/6 has been packed with constant activity and news worthy events.

After five years of captivity, Gilad Shalit has come home to Israel. Last Tuesday, I walked past the Prime Minister’s house and saw them taking down the tent that has represented the constant battle to bring him home.

Students and Israeli citizens have taken to the streets to fight against the rising cost of living here in Israel. I have seen the tents set up in Gan Sacher. Families with children and old couples opting to live in a tent because they cannot afford the rising price of homes in Jerusalem. I went to a student protest about the price and inaccessibility of the new bus and train payment system in front of the Central Bus Station.

This is to say nothing of the people who continue to live their normal lives. They go to work or school in the morning and come home at night. It is the same as any other city in the world with one unique difference: despite everything else that is going on, as Friday draws to a close and the sun begins to set the entire country begins to get a little quieter. The buses stop running and the cars stop honking, the market shops close and the men hocking their wares stop shouting, people travel home to see family or cook dinner with friends and the frenetic pace of life in Jerusalem calms down even if its just for 24 hours. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or secular, Jewish or not, Friday night to Saturday night the country is calm.

This is what I love about Israel. The true weekend – the option to just unplug the computer, take a deep breath, unwind, reflect on the week, and prepare to move forward. Then Saturday night comes, stores re-open, buses and cars flood the street with a cacophony of honks and motors, people push and shove along the sidewalks, and the 24/6 starts all over again.


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Relationships Matter When it Comes to Israel

Did you know that last year the United States Congress appropriated THREE BILLION DOLLARS in security assistance to Israel as part of the overall Foreign Aid Bill?  Or that more than three quarters of both the House and Senate recently co-sponsored a piece of legislation backing tougher sanctions on Iran in an effort to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon?  Why is it that the United States and our top legislative body are so committed to Israel’s safety and security?

The answer is simple: YOU.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) encourages and empowers everyday American citizens like you to enter and participate in the political process.  Every day AIPAC activists are reaching out to members of Congress by phone, email or by visiting them personally on the hill or in their home district to educate them on the importance of a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel.  As relationships between AIPAC activists and members of Congress grow, so does that member’s level of knowledge about Israel – and why she is such a strategic asset to the United States.

To learn more about AIPAC and how YOU can make a difference in the U.S.-Israel relationship, go to  You can also come to the “Israel! A morning of advocacy, education and community” conference on Sunday, November 13. The Shoubin Lecture/keynote address will be by William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America. Eight breakout sessions will offer informative and action-oriented topics such as Israeli history, politics, current events, how to advocate, ways to get involved through AIPAC and more!

Honor Gilad’s Return with a Tree

How Well Do You Know Your Sister City?

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