Exodus to Empowerment (Guest Author: Dana Talmi)

July 8, 2010

Dana Talmi profiles Avraham Nega Admasu for
PresenTense Magazine’s recent “Heroes” issue

Name: Avraham Nega Admasu
Home: Rishon L’Tzion, Israel
Profession: Material engineer, father, community leader
He’s a hero because: He’s empowering Ethiopian youth

Who is Avraham Nega Admasu?

A 38-year-old father of three, material engineer, and community leader, Avraham Nega Admasu empowers Ethiopian youth in Israel to connect to their culture and to integrate into the broader Israeli community.

Admasu is part of a garin—a Hebrew word that means “seed,” a collaborative community working together for the betterment of society, under the umbrella of the Friends by Nature.

The nonprofit organization works to empower and educate the Ethiopian community in Israel. Committed to planting the seeds for a successful and vibrant Ethiopian community in the town of Rishon Letzion, the garin is one of 10 such communities dedicated to strengthening the Ethiopian community from within.

Ethiopian Beginnings

Admasu’s path as a community leader is informed by his life story. He grew up among 11 siblings in Kabazit, a small village in northern Ethiopia.

During his childhood, he tended livestock with his father and helped the women bring water from the nearby well. In 1984, his family sold their livestock and bribed the necessary local officials, enabling 52 family members to leave the country secretly and make the 12-day trip to the Sudanese border by foot.

— Don’t stop reading now. Continue on to Israel. —

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Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

October 21, 2009
Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.

Israel

  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media

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  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity

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  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

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Making a Difference: Children of Ramle & Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Children

February 11, 2008
SirNicholasWinton
Photo sourced from Wikimedia
Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Children

Good People Doing Good Things

I admit it. I love feel good stories about people making a difference. Every once in a while, I feel we’re in need of a good dose of stories about people who prove our faith in humanity. Here are two examples.

Chess Club for Children of Ramle

Here’s a video about Daniel Prozumenshivov, an American chess player who started a chess club for minority and immigrant kids in Ramle, a low-income suburb of Tel Aviv.

Looks as if David and his partner are MASA volunteers.

Saint Nicholas

SaintNicholas

And while we’re on the topic of doing good, let me bring your attention to a man I have dubbed Saint Nicholas.

Sir Nicholas Winton of Britain, 98, has been nominated for a 2008 Nobel Peace for his work in organizing rescue missions to save 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children from concentration camps in 1939. He secured safe passage for the children through Germany and found them foster homes in Britain for the duration of the war.

Sir Winton’s heroic action was secret until his wife discovered documentation in the attic detailing his efforts. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, does not consider Sir Winton a righteous gentile because his family was originally Jewish, having converted to Christianity before he was born.

Keep reading to learn more about Sir Nicholas Winton and
his incredible efforts.

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Yad Vashem Honors Albanian Muslims Among Righteous Gentiles

October 30, 2007

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On Thursday, Yad Vashem will inaugurate an exhibition of Albanian Muslims who were “Righteous Among Nations.” This designation, the Jewish people’s highest honor, is awarded to those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Albania’s Righteous Actions

When the Axis Powers invaded Albania in 1939, the good people of Albania refused to release the names of their Jewish citizens. They provided false papers and helped their Jewish population hide amidst the general public.

They were so effective in their efforts that Albania became a safe haven for Jews fleeing other regimes.

Albania is one of the very few countries in Europe- and the only one under Nazi dominance- whose Jewish population rose during World War II.

Not a single Jewish life was lost to the Nazis in Albania.

What Made Albania Different?

What made the Albanians refuse to comply with the Nazis when almost everyone else did? Their strong Muslim beliefs.

Here is one man’s explanation:

“Why did my father save a stranger at the risk of his life and the entire village?” asked Enver Alia Sheqer, son of Righteous Among the Nations Ali Sheqer Pashkaj, who is featured in the exhibition. “My father was a devout Muslim. He believed that to save one life is to enter paradise.”

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Gaza Giving: Surfing for Peace with Dr. Dorian Paskowitz

August 22, 2007

This is post is one of The New Jew’s all-time highest rated posts. Keep reading to find out why.


Surfboard

Let me tell you something I bet you don’t know about Gaza: it is rumored to have some of the best beaches in the world.

While I wish we lived in a world where the only rivalry between the Palestinians and the Jews was who caught the biggest wave or had the best surfboard, that is far from the reality.

But let’s imagine.

What would the world be like if peace was based on making real improvements in the lives of regular people? Dorian and David Paskowitz provide a glimpse.

Founders of Surfers for Peace and both world class surfers in their own right, the father and son team read an article in the LA Times entitled “Gaza Surfers Find Freedom in the Sea” about how Palestinian surfers were facing shortages.

The solution? The Paskowitzes masterminded a plan to get 12 surfboards to Gaza through the famously secure Erez Crossing. They put together a team of supporters that included surfing legend Kelly Slater, pro-peace organization OneVoice, and Tel Aviv surfing activist Arthur Rashkovan, who convinced Israeli surfing companies to donate the boards. They then managed to garner the approval of the Israeli military to secure safe passage.

What motivated the Paskowitzes beyond their love of the wave? It is easy to believe that their own history played a role. Dr. Dorian Paskowitz learned to surf during the Depression, convincing his parents to move from Texas to California to be closer to the waves.

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