Come together and laugh with us! The Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana cordially invites you to a 2020 Annual Campaign Event featuring comedian Benji Lovitt, live from Israel via Zoom. Join us virtually on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 4:00pm CT. Visit federationonline.org/campaign2020 to RSVP.
Since making aliyah in 2006, comedian Benji Lovitt has performed for audiences around the world including Birthright Israel, Jewish Federations, synagogues, Hillels, and more. His perspectives have been featured on Israeli television and radio and in outlets such as USA Today, Time Magazine, BBC Radio, The Atlantic, and the Times of Israel. Benji has worked as a cross-cultural trainer with groups including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, his humorous observations on the war led to his being called in Israel “the only reason to go on Facebook.”
The Illiana News recently caught up with Benji over WhatsApp to ask a few questions.
IN: I understand you are a native Texan. What was your Jewish upbringing like?
BL: As far as I could tell, I was an average Jewish kid. New Yorker parents, public school and Hebrew school in the evenings, summer camp beginning in 5th grade....that’s really what led me here. Camp turned into to my summer Israel trip, then to my gap year in Israel, and the rest is history. We went to a Conservative synagogue, celebrated the holidays, and of course, had a family with “eccentric” characters.
IN: What was the moment you knew you were going to make aliyah?
BL: There wasn’t a single moment that I recall. It was a process of realizing I wasn’t happy living where I was, wanted to move, was interested in spending at least a year in Israel, and then understanding that going through the official aliyah process made the most logical sense. Like all major life changes—marriage, parenthood, etc.—it’s hard to really know what you’re getting into beforehand!
IN: Some of our readers may remember you performing for us here in Munster once before, several years back. What's changed for you since then?
BL: Wow—so much. It’s been almost 10 years, I think. I got my own place, a car, and a puppy (the latter two in recent months). I was just starting to do standup full-time back then, so I’ve come a long way. Not only figuring out the business side of things, but becoming so much more comfortable in my own creative skin. My material back then was probably in the voice of a new, kvetching immigrant, whereas now I really get this place a lot more and can make native Israelis laugh with my insights. I enjoy making fun of myself and Americans as much as, if not more than, Israelis.
IN: Tell us more about the new puppy!
BL: He’s giving me lots of material! Every new experience is ripe for jokes, and as an immigrant, even more so. I’m definitely learning lots of new Hebrew words (how surprising I never learned “neutered” in my previous 14 years.)
IN: What's your must-see recommendation in Tel Aviv? (ignoring Covid for the moment)
BL: So much. The beach is obvious. The food scene is blowing up. As far as tourist attractions, I’d say the Nahalat Binyamin artist market. I still go there to get great stuff.
IN: What do you love about performing for Federation audiences?
BL: They’re usually people who are affiliated Jewishly, have been to Israel, and get the jokes!
We cannot do all that we do for the community without you. Your gift to the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana's 2020 Annual Campaign will help make the coming year the one we all want—filled with renewed health and healing.
or call (219) 301-0960 to pledge your gift. Thank you for your support!
Mr. Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), addressed our major donors yesterday in a private Zoom conversation by invitation only.
Prior to his appointment at JFNA, Mr. Fingerhut served as the President and CEO of Hillel International from 2013-19. At Hillel, he led the organization’s Drive to Excellence, which doubled the number of students engaged by Hillel each year to over 130,000.
Mr. Fingerhut has also had a varied and distinguished career in public service and higher education. He served as Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents from early 2007 to 2011, leading Ohio’s system of public universities and colleges; as Ohio state senator from 1997 to 2006; and represented Ohio’s 19th congressional district in the U.S. Congress from 1993 to 1994.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but my early life was shaped by Federation. I went to preschool at the JCC. I vividly remember carrying signs in the walkathons standing up for Israel during the 1967 and 1973 wars,” Fingerhut recounts. “Never did I imagine that nearly a half century later, I would have the opportunity to lead a Movement that has impacted my life and so many others. It has a rich history, and I believe it can have an even more impactful future.”
JFNA represents 147 Jewish Federations and over 300 Network communities, raising and distributing more than $2 billion annually and through planned giving and endowment programs. In support of social welfare, social services and educational needs, JFNA protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide, and leads in the fields of caregiving, aging, philanthropy, disability, foreign policy, homeland security and health care.
Federation is kicking off a 12-week email-based walking program called Get WalkIN’, offered through Purdue Extension Lake County. Get WalkIN’ aims to promote increased physical activity through walking while also providing reliable information about the health benefits of walking.
This program is unique in that it is entirely email-based. Our program will begin Monday, August 3, 2020, and enrolled participants will receive 16 email messages over a 12-week time period (twice weekly for the first 4 weeks, then weekly for the next 8 weeks). These messages focus on self-efficacy, social support, and goal setting, as well as resource guides and strategies to help you start or maintain a walking routine of your choice.
For more information on the program, please contact Linda Curley, HHS Extension Educator, at email@example.com or call the Federation office at (219) 301-0960.
For Berlin-based American writer-producer Anna Winger, creating the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox offered a unique opportunity to tell a Jewish story in Germany. The show, which premiered March 26 on Netflix, follows a young woman who leaves her husband and her ultra-Orthodox Satmar community in Williamsburg, NY, for a new life in Berlin.
This past Sunday morning, Ms. Winger joined the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana (live from Berlin via Zoom) for an exclusive conversation moderated by Carol Culberg. Over 70 participants tuned in for this exciting program!
The recording is now available to watch on Federation's YouTube channel:
Ms. Winger was raised by anthropologists in Massachusetts and in Mexico, and educated at Columbia University. She co-created and co-wrote the four-episode Netflix series along with documentarian Alexa Karolinski, and also served as executive producer. She is also the founder of Studio Airlift, a production company based in Berlin. She lives in Berlin with her family.
Carol Culberg is a board member and past president of the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana. She chairs Federation's Education committee. In 2019, Carol launched Federation's popular evening book club, which meets every 6 weeks; the most recent discussion selection (also via Zoom) was Deborah Feldman's 2012 memoir Unorthodox, which inspired the Netflix series.
Join us on the Federation lawn for a socially distanced summer movie night outdoors.
Community Outdoor Movie Night
Thursday, July 9, 2020 (rain date July 16)
Free admission! Generously sponsored by Richard & Barbara Waxman
Public health guidelines will be observed. We'll supply the individually wrapped snacks! Bring your own masks (or we'll provide extras) and blanket or lawn chairs.
Rain date: Thursday, July 16.
RSVP Now: federationonline.org/upcoming-events#HeadingHome
The Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana stands in solidarity with our neighbors in the African-American community and people of conscience everywhere in expressing our anger and sorrow at the senseless murder of a black man, George Floyd, by four Minneapolis police officers. This is just one more example of the racial bias and injustice that has permeated our country for generations
Our Jewish traditions and values compel us to stand up for the rights of all people without prejudice or bias. If we do not speak out, if we do not take action, we are part of the problem.
Now is the time for action!
Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC)
Chairs: Rosalie and Don Levinson
Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) promotes racial and religious understanding and endeavors to eliminate anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry through advocacy and educational programming.
We have always made our decisions based on what is best for our children and families, and this is no different. In this instance, we are unable to guarantee camper safety. The well-being of everyone is just too important to move forward with camp.
We are very excited to share that we have made the decision to offer a virtual JCY experience free to our community this summer. We are putting together many engaging and fun activities which will be offered via the "JCY Day Camp" Facebook page beginning June 15, 2020. While virtual camp activities will never replace the real JCY experience, we are thankful for the opportunity to connect with you and your children during this uncertain time.
It is our hope that social distancing requirements will be such that we will be able to plan one or more special get-togethers during the summer. We are also planning on hosting a few Zoom meetings to play games and see each other.
We hope you and your family members are safe and well, and that your camper(s) will be joining us this summer for JCY's “The Virtual” Summer of Peace, Love, and good old-fashioned JCY fun. We know it is not the same as being together, but here at JCY, we're determined to make the best of it. We love you. We miss you. We can’t wait to see you soon.
Peace, Love, and JCY!
THEN... To tie together our Shabbat-in-a-Box experience, the rabbis of each of our six Northwest Indiana congregations will share a short, inspirational message in a Friday afternoon pre-Shabbat Zoom gathering, May 22 at 5:15pm.
Thank you to all those who stood with us and gave what you could in this time of unprecedented need. Through your generosity, we raised over $10,420 on #GivingTuesdayNow.
These funds will allow the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana to continue providing crucial support to the most vulnerable in our community during this crisis:
THANK YOU TO: Anonymous (4) • Barbara Bard • Sharon Bartel • Renee Berkowitz • Ellamarie Boersma • Richard & Lynn Braman • Bill & Joann Braman • Sherry Conway • Carol Culberg • John & Judy Doherty • Sean Egan • Helene Elias • Barbara Fierer • Sam & Adriana Front • Becca Galante • David & Jennifer Garfin • Jay & Frances Gerson • Larry & Sharon Gill • Joel Gorelick • George & Dana Graves • Iris Greenbaum • Tiby Greenberger • David & Nancy Gross • Terry & Kim Harman • Jeffrey & Marilyn Hirsch • Mark & Judy Jacobi • Jean Jacobson • Debbie Kaplan • David & Kim Katona • David & Mardi Katz • Rick & Judy Katz • Doris Kennedy • Rabbi Mitchell & Penny Kornspan • Alan & Ro Lahn • Barry & Lynda Levin • Don & Rosalie Levinson • Jack & Andrea Lieser • Richard & Kimberly Marks • Carmen McKee • Elyse Miller • Carrie Morris • Bill & Leslie Nelson • Jeff & Erin Nowakowski • David & Aida Nozick • Michael & Monica Osipoff • Holly Ptacek & Daun DePaul-Ptacek • Jennifer Rodriguez • Dean and Wendy Roman • William Ronald • Bernard & Kay Rosen • Rachel Saller • Sonny & Bobbye Schatz • Mitchell & Laurie Serber • Service League Of Northwest Indiana • Andy & Lisa Sharmat • Sandi Sherman • Mark & Sandy Sperling • Jim & Elaine Spicer • Mona Stern • Lou & Randi Stricker • Joel & Adina Sutlin • Lonna Temkin • Eyal & Liraz Tenenbaume • Larry Tolchinsky • Warren & Anita Ugent • Alan & Debby Walker • Don & Nancy Webster • Miriam Webster • Ruth Weinberg • Barry Weiss • Julie Wodarski • Aaron & Erica Yakovetz • Jennifer Yalowitz
Your remarkable response has truly made today a #ThankYouWednesday. Together, we can continue to meet whatever challenges come our way. Together, we can overcome any crisis – even this one – no matter the physical distance.
It's never too late!
Missed us yesterday? Gifts made after May 5 can still be counted toward our #GivingTuesdayNow final totals. Just note "Giving Tuesday Now" in the donation memo. If you are able to give, please click below to donate online, or call the office anytime during business hours to make a credit card donation by phone.
And for those who are struggling: how can we help you? Whatever your circumstances, we are here for you. Please call the Federation office at (219) 301-0960 for any additional assistance we can offer you during this time.