Monday, December 19, 2011

Eight Lights for Chanukkah

Chanukkah is a time of blessing. At the coldest, darkest time of the year, this is a holiday that reminds us to gather around the warmth of the light. This year, we want to celebrate not only the eight literal lights that we kindle in the Chanukkah Menorah, but also eight Israeli organizations that are bringing light into the world.

1) Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel
Hand in Hand is a network of integrated, bilingual schools combining peace education and top academic standards. Their mission is to increase peace, coexistence and equality between the Jews and Arabs in Israel. With three campuses--in Jerusalem, the Galilee and Wadi Ara--Hand in Hand builds partnerships to provide as many Israeli children as possible the option of an integrated, top-quality public education.

2) Kibbutz Lotan Solar Field
Awarded the 2006 Award for Ecovillage Excellence by the Global Ecovillage Network, Kibbutz Lotan is home to Israel’s first solar field. The solar field reduces Israel’s use of fossil fuels, and will further the mitzah of creating a clean free atmosphere for all of us. Additionally, Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology is rooted in “Tikkun Olam”--the Jewish concept for repairing and transforming the world. The Center offers tours, workshops, and ecofriendly design and training programs. Lotan serves as a living classroom for sustainable systems.

3) The Jerusalem Secular Yeshiva
The Jerusalem Secular Yeshiva seeks to connect young Israelis who wish to maintain a culturally Jewish way of life to a heightened sense of social-justice and community solidarity. Unlike the religious yeshivot that many of their orthodox counterparts attend, students at the Secular Yeshiva spend their days in a pluralistic environment, studying contemporary Zionist thinkers, Jewish philosophy, the holiday and life cycles, and other traditional Jewish texts. The program combines study of Jewish texts and culture with social action and volunteer work in underserved neighborhoods.

4) Save a Child’s Heart
Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project, whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease and to create centers of competence in these countries. SACH is dedicated to the idea that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of the child's nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. SACH is motivated by the age-old Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam--repairing the world. By mending the hearts of children, regardless of their origin, SACH is contributing to a better and more peaceful future for all of our children.

5) Kiryat Ono College
Committed to inclusive education, Kiryat Ono College prepares ultra orthodox men and women for the workforce. A large percentage of ultra-orthodox men in Israel dedicate their lives to studying the Torah and are supported by substantial government funding. This has lowered the community's capacity for self-sufficiency. There is a growing realization in the ultra-orthodox community that it must enter the business arena and lower its dependency on subsidies. The ultra-orthodox campus at Kiryat Ono College allows ultra orthodox men and women to study in an institution of higher learning without compromising their religious values.

6) Ma’ale Film School
Ma’ale is the only film school in the world devoted to exploring the intersection of Judaism and modern life. The school unabashedly holds a mirror up to the most pressing issues in the religious Zionist community, including homosexuality, marriage and gender equality, and settlement in the Territories. Ma'aleh films are screened regularly at film festivals world-wide and consistently win top awards.

7) Nava Tehila
Nava Tehila is an emerging prayer and study community in Jerusalem, welcoming people of diverse backgrounds who wish to experience various expressions of spiritual life with a Jewish flavor. The community offers classes and workshops in Jewish spirituality, meditation, Kabbalah and Chasidut. Prayer is egalitarian and inclusive, open to people of all religious and spiritual traditions. Nava Tehila is affiliated with the Jewish renewal spiritual movement.

8) Encounter
Encounter is an educational organization dedicated to providing global Diaspora Jewish leaders from across the religious and political spectrum with exposure to Palestinian life. Through trips to Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Encounter participants meet Palestinian civilians and leaders to engage in thoughtful conversation about the complexities of Israel and the conflict.


Hope your Chanukkah is filled with love and light,
Daniel and Leah

Have additions to this list? Feel free to comment and post them below!

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