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Shabbat Shalom from the Jewish Donor Blog

Jewish Donor Blog’s Yoav Kaufman Interviews Vayner Media’s Gary Vaynerchuk

Yom Haatzmaut 2013 – Beersheva Israel

My Personal Holocaust Story – Holocaust Memorial Day 2013

Tonight begins Holocaust Memorial day here in Israel.

My Oma and Opa (my grandparents) were hidden during the Holocaust in Holland.

My biological Dad was separated from his parents and was adopted by by a Dutch family. Amazingly he passed as Dutch and not Jewish although I’ve heard stories of close very calls with brushes with the Nazis almost finding out that my Dad was Jewish.

The family that adopted my Dad during the war was just recognized as an official righteous gentile family a few years back by Yad Vashem, something I am very proud of.

When my Dad and his parents were re-united after the war, my Dad who was a young boy at the time didn’t even believe that my Oma and Opa (his parents) were his real parents. He had forgotten about them.

The three of them survived but I’m sure that the emotional scars never really went away.

My biological Dad died a couple months before I was born in 1973 before I ever got to see or meet him. I think he had a lot of weight on his shoulders after all he had been through at such a young age.

Let’s remember never to forget. We don’t need to forgive, but let’s never forget!!

-Yoav Kaufman

Upgrading Beersheva

From: “The Transformation of Beersheva”


Link to full article:

“Hard hit during the recent conflict with Gaza, Beersheva is nonetheless developing into one of Israel’s newest tourist destinations.”

Future Water City
It may sound counter-intuitive, but Mayor Ruvik Danilovich has a master plan to brand this desert capital as Israel’s “Water City” by installing public fountains and a manmade beach. (Hey, it’s already got the sand, so why not add surf?)

Israel’s largest, and “greenest,” shopping mall is now under construction in Beersheva. The 115,000-square-meter facility will have pools for collecting rainwater and lighting generated by solar panels on the roof. An enclosed Farmers Market and new central bus station/shopping center are also planned.

As part of its Blueprint Negev project, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) is completing the final stages of the 900-acre Beersheva River Walk, to include hiking and biking trails, a botanical garden, sports arena and amphitheater, promenades and eateries, and a boating lake filled with purified wastewater from the river.

Meanwhile, the new Round Be’er Sheva Trail made headlines for winning third prize in the European Ramblers Association’s 2012 ECO-Award competition.

This ring trail, Israel’s only hiking and biking path built on an urban-environmental model, brings walkers and cyclists past residential neighborhoods, business areas and tourist spots such as the Negev Brigade Monument, the Negev Zoo, the Beersheva River and the Beit Eshel historical site, as well as Tel Beer Sheva National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where people can explore archeological finds going back to the fourth millennium BCE.Beersheva Negev Brigade Monument. Photo courtesy of Israel Tourism Ministry

Negev Direct Open As Usual

As Israel defends itself against years of rocket attacks on the South, Negev Direct Marketing will be open our usual business hours of 9am-5pm Eastern Standard Time Sun. – Thurs.

Israel Under Fire

Lots of rockets raining down on the South of Israel today.  As usual Negev Direct Marketing, Inc. is open for business and refusing to let a few missiles get us down.

Federations and Jewish Agency to Provide Financial Assistance to Bulgaria Terror Victims


The Fund for the Victims of Terror, operated by The Jewish Agency for Israel and made possible by contributions from Jewish Federations across North America, will provide financial assistance to Israelis wounded in the attack in Bulgaria and to the families of those killed.

The Fund, established in 2002, provides financial assistance to victims of terror in Israel. Since its establishment, the fund — which is sustained by contributions from Jewish Federations, philanthropic foundations and donors around the world — has enabled The Jewish Agency to provide thousands of terror victims and their families with assistance at a scope of more than NIS 100 million.

Donations can be mailed to:
The Jewish Federations of North America
Wall Street Station
PO Box 157
New York, NY 10268
Attn: Victims of Terror Fund

Online donations can be made here:

Don’t Want to Make Aliyah? Excuses, Excuses.

On the lighter side today.

Thinking about making Aliyah, but not ready yet?  Chances are you’ve made one of the “Top 50 excuses people give not to make aliyah to Israel”


Direct link to original post:

1. Israel is too hot.
2. Israel is too cold.
3. The taxes are too high.
4. I won’t be able to make a living.
5. I don’t want to serve in the army.
6. I don’t want my children to serve in the army.
7. The Israelis are rude.
8. I hate getting elbowed.
9. You can’t find a real bagel.
10. The cream cheese stinks.
11. The pastrami is lousy.
12. They don’t have real rye bread.
13.  I can’t leave my parents.
14. No baseball.
15. I’m afraid to drive there.
16. I’m afraid of the Arabs.
17. I’m afraid of my mother.
18. I can’t learn Hebrew at my age.
19. The Israelis make fun of American accents.
20. The State of Israel is traf.
21. There’s preetzut all over the place.
22. They kicked Jews out of their homes in Gush Katif.
23. They hate the Orthodox.
24. There’s only one golf course.
25. It’s too far away from the Caribbean.
26. You can serve Hashem anywhere.
27. My girlfriend doesn’t want to leave her parents.
28. It isn’t written in the Torah.
29. The Gedolim say we don’t have to go.
30. I’m waiting for Moshiach.
31. I don’t want to leave my psychiatrist.
32. I don’t want to leave my neurologist.
33. I don’t want to leave my hair dresser.
34. The toilet paper is too thin.
35. The bathrooms are too small.
36. There’s no central heating.
37. There’s no wall-to-wall carpeting.
38. I’ll miss Xmas shopping.
39. I can’t stomach humus.
40. Falafel makes me fart.
41. They won’t accept my wife’s conversion.
42. I don’t know anybody there.
43. No one knows me.
44. I won’t be able to find a job as a Rabbi.
45. I still have to pay off college depts.
46. You can’t get the NY Sunday Times.
47. The move will be too traumatic for my dog.
48. Iran is building a nuclear bomb.
49. I’m proud to be an American Jew.
50. Hashem wants us to stay in exile – otherwise He wouldn’t have put us here.

Hatikva – On the ukulele!!

Via YouTube User: gadaya

Shavua Tov!

Our brothers Our home – An IDF, Israel Defense Forces, tribute. Yom Hazikaron L’Chayalim 2012

On April 26th, 2012 Israel will celebrate 64 years of Independence.

With Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day coming up back to back, watch this inspirational video that highlights the IDF, Israel’s protectors.

The Philanthropist’s Question


When Rav Kook visited the United States in 1924, scores of people came to see and meet him. The purpose of his trip, however, was to raise funds for Torah institutions in Eretz Yisrael and Europe.

The Philanthropist’s Question

At one gathering in Rav Kook’s honor, a well-known philanthropist agreed to give a very sizable donation to the cause, but only if the chief rabbi could explain to him a Jewish custom that he found puzzling.

“At the conclusion of both the Seder night and Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world declare their heartfelt wish — ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ I understand why Jews in the Diaspora say this,” said the man. “But why do Jews who live in Holy City say it? Are they not already there?”

The Jerusalemites’ Prayer

The Rav listened attentively to the question and answered genially. “The matter is quite simple, my friend,” he explained. “First of all, in Jerusalem we add one word to our prayer. We say, ‘Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!’ And we still have a long way to go before that request is fulfilled in its entirety.”

“But there is more,” continued the Rav with a smile on his face.

“When we beseech God, ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ we mean that we hope to be there in the fullest sense — in body, soul, and thought. We pray that our situation will be different than it is today, when people dwell in Jerusalem, but are preoccupied with planning trips to America to raise funds.”

Judging from the size of the man’s donation, it was clear that he was especially pleased with the second answer….

(Adapted from “An Angel Among Men” by R. Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, pp. 253-254)

My TribeFest 2012 Interview with Rabbi Charlie Schwartz!

This post is an interview with Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, the Director of Digital Engagement and Learning for The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), about young Jewish leaders current approaches and attitudes towards Israel.

Rabbi Charlie Schwartz will be speaking at the TribeFest sessions: “Me Myself and Israel, A Town Hall Meeting.” and “The Case of Max: Dilemmas & New Frontiers in American Jewish Engangement with Israel in the Twenty-First Century.”

What are young American Jewish leaders thinking about Israel today in 2012?  That’s a question that’s been on my mind recently.

Since I made aliyah from Seattle, WA. back in 2004, there has been just a tremendous number of pivotal world events that have changed the political and social landscape of Israel and the U.S..

Here are just a few of the major world events I can remember that have occurred recently:

The real possibility of a nuclear Iran, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the Israeli settlements being brought to the table as an issue in the peace process, Obama getting elected in 2008, the 2012 U.S. elections, Bibi being elected the PM of Israel, rocket attacks on the South of Israel, the Mumbai terror attacks, Gilad Shalit being captured and released, the Israeli/French family murdered in France just a few days ago, and the list goes on!

Since the world has seemingly been turned on it’s head over and over the past few years I was thrilled when TribeFest introduced me the amazing Rabbi Charlie Schwartz!

Rabbi Schwartz seems to me to be unbelievably experienced for the amount of time he has had to develop his career.  This is from Rabbi Schwartz’s bio on the TribeFest speakers page:

“Rabbi Charlie Schwartz serves as the Director of Digital Engagement and Learning for The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) .  In addition to his position at JTS, Charlie is the Rabbinic Advisor for Harvard Hillel’s Student Conservative Minyan, founding director of Not-A-Box Media Lab and a field facilitator for Encounter,  an educa­tional orga­ni­za­tion training Jewish lead­er­ship to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to heal internal Jewish rifts formed in its wake.”

“Charlie received rabbinic ordination and a masters degree in education at JTS, where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow.  Named to the New York Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 as a leader helping to reshape the Jewish community, Charlie is a nationally recognized educator focusing on technology and Israel.  Charlie has worked with a number of Israel-focused non-profits including Encounter, The Chayei Sarah Project and Makom.  Prior to JTS, Charlie served with distinction as a squad commander in the airborne battalion of the Nahal infantry brigade in the Israeli Defense Forces.  A native of Portland, Oregon, Charlie lives in Cambridge with his wife Dr. Andrea Wershof Schwartz, their daughter Maayan, and their sousaphone.”

Rabbi Schwartz was just the person I needed to fill me in on what young American Jewish leaders attitudes and  approaches to Israel are like these days.

The following are the questions I had for Rabbi Schwatrz and the answers he was kind enough to share with me:

Q – Do you see that there is a prevailing opinion of Israel lately from young Jewish Americans, considering current events such as Iran, the election year in the US, global terrorism, etc.?
A – I don’t think there is one prevailing opinion about Israel among American Jews, although I think one can outline a few trends.  First there is a core group that is engaged, knowledgeable and passionate about Israel, while the majority of this group has what might be called a mainstream, classical American Zionist approach to Israel, embodied most clearly in the aipac platform, their is a growing number that expresses their Zionism through both support for Israel and a nuanced and heartfelt critique of Israeli policy.
Larger then this first group is an even increasing numer of young Jews who feel connected to Israel, but are turned off by the toxicity that often (either in reality of perception) has come to typify conversation around the issue.
Q – Are the cultural differences, the physical distance and the social and political issues between Israel and many young Jews in the U.S. too big of a gap to bridge?
– I think the short answer is no, that the distance between Jewish Israelis and young North American Jews to not too large to bridge.  Anyone who has been on a Birthright trip and has seen the interaction between these two groups can attest to this.  What is necessary is changing the paradigm of these interaction.  Often times the subtle subtext for interaction between these two groups is Israelis showing North American Jews what it means to be “authentically Jewish.”  This is paradigm is a direct decedent of the shlilat hagolah concept embraced by the early Zionist thinkers.  What needs to take its place is an understanding that conversation and learning between these two groups happens two ways.  It’s not just about Jewish Israelis showing North American Jews what it means to be Jewish, it’s also about North American Jewish teaching Jewish Israelis about what it means to be Jewish in a multi-cultural, pluralistic society where Jews are the minority.
Q – I have noticed a trend recently that some Jewish  American’s who consider themselves to be pro-Israel take issue with Israel on many levels such as the settlements, the peace process, foreign policy, Israel state law, defense decisions, etc..  Some have even gone so far as to call Israel an “apartheid state”.  Do you see this type of criticism of Israel from afar a healthy form of supporting Israel?  Do you see that sort of support as working for building a good image of Israel in the United States?
A – In general I think criticism and substantive discussion about meaningful issues is both healthy and important, argument and the ability to hold multiple opinions at the same time after all is our heritage from the rabbis.  What’s more is, it is difficult/impossible to ask someone to feel connected to a place, to support it, financially, personally and spiritually, and then ask them not to have an opinion on what goes on there.  That being said, when these criticism stop being substantive and begin to enter into the realm of hateful rhetoric (as is the case with the label “apartheid”), I think they cease being healthy or positive.
I personally just want to thank Rabbi Schwartz and the TribeFest staff for granting me this interview.  Rabbi Schwartz, I think this is the start of a meaningful dialog and one that needs to be continued.
Rabbi Schwartz will be live tweeting at TribeFest via his personal feed @chschwartz as well as the JTS feed @JTSVoice

TribeFest sponsor:


TribeFest 2012

It’s almost time for TribeFest 2012!

March 25th-27th in Las Vegas, get ready for the Jewish Federation of North America and National Young Leadership’s premier event for socially conscious Jews in their 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s.  That age range even includes me, but not for long 🙂

TribeFest is a way to connect, it’s a call to action, it’s a place to learn and have fun.

Speakers at this year’s event include Mr. Jewish social media himself, William Daroff.  David A. Harris the President and CEO of NJDC.  Lenny Krayzelburg a four time Olympic gold medalist and Rabbi Charlie Schwartz who will speak on the dilemmas of American Jewish engagement with Israel.

Not coincidentally I will be posting an interview I’m currently working on with Rabbi Schwartz as a follow up to this post in the next few days.


TribeFest website:

TribeFest sponsor:


YouTube’s 2012 DoGooder Non-Profit Video of the Year Contest is on!

YouTube’s 2012 DoGooder contest allows you to vote one per day for your favorite non-profit videos of the past year!

Check out the voting page here: and cast your vote today.

Voting ends on March 28th and the winning videos will be featured on YouTube’s home page on April 4th.


Israel – Cleantech in the Making

World Giving Report 2011 Rankings

The World Giving Report 2011 ranks giving in 153 countries based on three main findings: donations, volunteering and helping strangers.
Notable rankings: USA ranks # 1 & Israel ranks # 38


BGU Blood Test for Early Cancer Detection

New Blood Test for Early Cancer Detection Developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Researchers 90 Percent Detection Rate in Clinical Tests for Multiple Types of Cancers

BEER-SHEVA, February 20, 2012 – A simple blood test is being developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel that may provide early detection of many types of cancer. Prof. Kapelushnik of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and his team developed a device that illuminates cancer cells with less than a teaspoon of blood. The test uses infrared light to detect miniscule changes in the blood of a person who has a cancerous growth somewhere, even before the disease has spread. Various molecules released into the bloodstream cause it to absorb infrared light slightly differently compared to that of healthy people. In the latest clinical trial with 200 patients and a control group, the test identified specific cancers in 90 percent of the patients and found other types of cancer, as well. The researchers are focused on detection of common cancers, such as lung and ovarian cancer. Doctors believe that it is critical to increase cancer detection in early stages to prevent the need for long, difficult and costly treatments in more advanced stages.

“This is still research in the early stages of clinical trials,” clarifies Prof. Joseph Kapelushnik, who is also head of the Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at Soroka hospital. “But the purpose is to develop an efficient, cheap and simple method to detect as many types of cancers as possible. We want to be able to detect cancer while a patient is still feeling good, before it has a chance to metastasize, meaning fewer treatments, less suffering and many more lives saved.” More clinical trials will be conducted in the next 18 months.

Martin Luther King Jr: “Israel… is one of the great outpost of democra…

Israel’s Population Now 7.8 million

And growing.

With over 166,000 new births in 2011 plus a healthy level of immigration.

Read all of the details in Ha’aretz and have a Happy 2012.

David, Chana & Yoav

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