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Joy! Joy! This year we are doubly joyful to have two months of Adar, the most joyful of months.

In this issue, we bring you ideas and resources for Purim, we address the California drought and its Israeli counterpart - water management, alert you to new opportunities for Envisioning Israel Education and share a list of local events. 


Jewish LearningWorks' Israel Education Initiative is proud to provide you with creative resource materials and innovative ideas to enhance Israel Education in your programs all year round.  


Please forward this mail to your colleagues and staff.  

We wish you a happy and joyful Purim!

"When Adar enters, we increase joyfulness."
                                       Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 29a


An artist stands amid effigies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during preparations for the
ADLOYADA of Purim in Holon. Photo by AFP


We are doubly joyful this year since we are celebrating two months of Adar, Adar Alef (First Adar) and Adar Bet (Second Adar). Why is this?


The year in the Jewish calendar consists of twelve lunar months, but the festivals follow the solar year, since several of them (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot) must take place in certain seasons, and the seasons are determined by the earth annual revolution around the sun. The lunar calendar is regularly adjusted to keep it in conformity with the solar year. This is done by periodically adding a second month of Adar. Since the discrepancy between the solar and lunar years amounts to 207 days every 19 years, the extra Adar is added seven times in a 19-year lunar cycle. During these leap years, most observances normally held in Adar are moved to Adar Bet, including Purim.


Masquerading and Mask Making

One of the most joyful of the holiday's customs is Masquerading and Mask Making.

"Masquerading on Purim originated about the end of the fifteenth century among the Jews of Italy, who observed and imitated the carnival practice of the Lenten season, which occurs about the time of Purim. From there it spread to all countries where Jews lived. The first known reference to the wearing of masks on Purim is found in 1508. In masquerading, people did not always wear mask. The mask was probably a much later invention, as people became more sophisticated and felt ashamed of their burlesque dress and childish tricks their "characters" were supposed to perform. Thus, to avoid recognition by their neighbors and friends and to achieve greater freedom of joyful expression, they covered their faces with masks." (from The Purim Anthology by Philip Goodman,1973)

At Jewish LearningWorks, we recently hosted Israeli artist, Hanoch Piven, who gave a phenomenal workshop for Jewish educators. 


Piven depicts the Iranian (Persian) politician known for his anti-Israel propaganda and Holocaust denial, as a modern-day Haman. The connection to Purim is achieved by using Hamantachens, a dagger, a gragger and a whip.   


Purim is a perfect opportunity to incorporate his teaching and technique to create portraits and masks for the holiday.


We hope these images, Piven's website, his TedX Jerusalem talk, and this app for face making will inspire fun Purim activities.



  Two works of art created by small groups during Hanoch Piven's workshop for Educators


Educational Resources for Purim


The connection between Purim and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the most holy and austere day of the year, hardly seems likely. Yet, the Sages state that the name "Kippurim," the Torah name for the Day of Atonement, may be read kePurim - "like Purim." Despite the radically different atmosphere of the two days, they are intimately related.

Most festivals call for a balance between spiritual pursuits and festive celebration. Two holidays do not conform to this rule - Yom Kippur and Purim. Yom Kippur lacks the conventional festive meals and physical pleasures associated with holidays, while on Purim we enjoy eating and drinking in a manner well beyond the other festivals. In fact, Yom Kippur and Purim are two halves of a whole - the former focusing on the spiritual and the latter on the physical.


Purim Unmasked from NLE Morasha Syllabus, is an in-depth resource about the connection between Purim and Yom Kippur and much more.


Haaretz: Israel Prepares for Purim 

The iCenter: ADLOYADA - Purim Parade in Israel 

The iCenter: Purim - Expression Through Costume  

The Lookstein Center: Purim Resources  

Judaism 101 - Purim   

Collection of Graggers from Heichal Shlomo 

Galim  - Purim stories, songs, activities (in Hebrew)  

Special Needs resources for Purim  


Shalom Sesame: Purim Story
Shalom Sesame: Purim Story



Purim Songs with Uzi Hitman and Heni Nahmias
Purim Songs with Hitman and Nahmias

Purim through a Different Lens

When Adar Enters, Video Art 
Yael Bartana, 2003

In her work, Bartana raises questions concerning the place of rituals and ceremonies common to Israeli society. In this instance she observes a group in Israeli society that carries out religious practices within a closed community. She examines how feelings of self-hatred are converted into hatred of the Other, and she asks whether it is possible to see this work outside its religious-cultural context. Bartana has chosen to film Purim because it is the only holiday during which, in contrast to all other days of the year, religious Jews permit themselves to cast off the bonds of 'prohibited and permitted' behavior.


Envisioning Israel Education  
Riding the Elephant in the Room
Rachel Eryn Kalish, JCRC
and Ilan Vitemberg, Jewish LearningWorks

"Parents in the schools tell us that we are brainwashing their children by talking about our connection to Israel."  


"My teachers don't talk to each-other because of differing opinions about Israel"  


"I'm teaching a 6th grade class but don't know what is Kosher to say regarding Israel..."  


In the past few years teachers and educational directors working in the Bay Area have approached the Israel Education Initiative with accounts such as these and have sought our support to address these issues and move the school forward as a community.


For this reason, this year IEI has launched the "Envisioning Israel Education in Synagogue Schools" project. Which involves the following process:

  • Assembling key stakeholders (including educational directors, rabbis, parents and lay leaders from the synagogue) to participate in an open conversation about Israel in general and Israel education in particular  
  • Clarifying the school's mission statements as related to Israel education and articulating Enduring Understandings  
  • Mapping subjects currently taught at each grade and complementing or altering programs as needed

This year we are piloting the process in two synagogue schools, Congregation Beth El in Berkeley (in collaboration with JCRC) and, in a more limited way, in Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, drawing from lessons learned during the BASIS, Israel Education in Day Schools project. 


If you are interested in learning more, or think that your school could benefit from any aspect of this process, please contact Ilan Vitemberg at


Israel's Independence Day Poster 2012
Water - The Source of Life
Mayim, Mayim - Water, Water
The Source of Life

Californians and Israelis have a lot in common: familiar landscapes, mild weather, beach sunsets, Teva sandals, and this year... a severe drought.


"After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Governor Jerry Brown has called for Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent voluntarily, and mandatory rationing could be ordered soon so that homes, businesses and farms don't run dry over the summer. Wildfire danger is unusually high." (SF Chronicle)


On the other side of the globe...


"Water is considered as a national resource of utmost importance. Water is vital to ensure the population's well-being and quality of life and to preserve the rural-agricultural sector. Israel has suffered from a chronic water shortage for years. In recent years however, the situation has developed into a crisis so severe that it is feared that by the next summer it may be difficult to adequately supply municipal and household water requirements... Israel relies for about half of its water supply on unconventional water resources, including reclaimed water and desalination."

(Israel Foreign Ministry)  


We invite you to explore the connection between these two statements through articles and other resources depicting the water crisis here and there, including some solutions!    



JNF Water Projects

Israel's Chronic Water Problem  

From JNF curriculum "My Oh Mayim: Water in Jewish Thought" 


In the News:


New York Times: "One country in the region (Middle East) might have a solution to these water woes: Israel. It shares the same problems of climate and desertification as its neighbors, but it has mastered the management of water resources, such that it can endure periodic droughts while supporting a growing population. Its water management can not only be a model but can even reduce regional tensions." Read More  


"Israel is creating a water surplus using desalination" Read More

"Israel Shows California No Need to Fret About Water Desalination" 
Read More

"Israel now has water to spare thanks to technologies ranging from water purification and desalination to improved water infrastructure." Read More

"California's Farmers Need Water. Is Desalination the Answer?" Read More



Water and environment in Israel
Water and environment in Israel
The Israel Water Authority
Israel Water Authority - Sea of Galilee
Israel Water Authority - Sea of Galilee
Israel Water Authority - Solutions




Local Events

Aluf Benn & Jeffrey Goldberg: Foreign Affairs

Thursday, February 20, 7:00 pm
Jewish Community Center, SF
Haaretz's editor-in-chief Aluf Benn and Middle East expert Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic will discuss the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, the U.S. role in the renewed Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations, U.S. aid to Israel, the implications of a nuclear Iran, the civil war in Syria and more.
More Info
Additional Events:
2/22: Aluf Benn at Oshman Family JCC (in Hebrew)  


Three New Israeli Films at SFJewish Film Festival 

Sunday, February 23
San Francisco (Check times at individual theaters.)
Three Israeli films showcased in San Francisco this year, Bethlehem, Cupcakes, and S#X ACTS.

More Info


Omer Avital Quintet at Yoshi's 

Sunday, February 23, 7:00 pm
Yoshi's, San Francisco 

Israeli composer, virtuosic bassist and oud player, Omer Avital, is a force in world music.  Hailed as "a pioneer in combining jazz with myriad world music elements," by the LA Times, The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Avital and his group are producing some of the most original music being heard in New York."  Don't miss his Quintet at Yoshi's Jazz

More Info 


Aeolus Quartet with Assaff Weisman

Monday, February 24, 7:30 pm
Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco  

Join the Israel Center and Congregation Emanu-El for their Music at Meyer concert series. Praised for their "high-octane" performance, the Aeolus Quartet is among the finest young string quartets performing today.  

More Info


Documentaries: Inside Envelopes & Let's Dance

Thursday, February 27, 7:00pm 

Magnes Museum, Berkeley   

Inside Envelopes highlights two dancer sisters and two musician brothers who come together to create a performance piece. Glimpse into their creative process, replete with fiery arguments and moments of wordless beauty in this documentary.

More Info


Exhibit: Moments of Presence with My Beloved by YoHana Bat Adam

March 4-May 29  

Reception: Sunday, March 9, 6:30-8:30 PM

Palo Alto JCC 

YoHana Bat Adam's art touches the realm of the mysterious phenomenon we call God. YoHana uses her art as a platform to make viewers more aware of human spirituality and potential.

More Info 


Asaf Avidan - Solo Acoustic 

March 7, doors at 8:00pm, show at 9:00pm
Bimbo's 365, San Francisco

While Asaf Avidan has drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, he possesses a voice that is utterly singular. As London's The Independent recently put it, "If you haven't heard Avidan's music, prepare to be astounded." 

More Info 


East Bay Jewish Film Festival  

March 7-23

East Bay (check times at individual theaters)   

For Info  


Wrestling Jerusalem, A Play

March 12 - April 6, 2014

Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco

Set in America, Israel and Palestine, Wrestling Jerusalem follows one man's journey to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Solo performance by Aaron Davidman 

More Info  


A Recital with Roman Rabinovich  

Saturday, March 15, 1:00 pm
Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco
Don't miss this phenomenal Russian Israeli pianist "whose mature, self-assured playing belies his chronological age" (SF Classical Voice), followed by the Haifa Orchestra Ensemble. Roman Rabinovich  was the top prize winner at the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and took 1st prize at the 2007 Animato Competition.

More Info


Oded Bality, Photojournalist

March 19-March 27

La Boutique, San Francisco

More Info

Artist Website 


To Build and Be Build: Kibbutz History

Ongoing until July 2014

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco


More local Israeli events on Federation Community Calendar  

More local Israel related events on Consulate site   

Save these dates! 
More Great Events Coming in March 
3/6-10: "Di Megileh, a Yiddish Musical" at JCC East Bay  
3/8: The Wonders 
3/8: Cupcakes 
3/9: Hunting Elephants 
3/10: American Jerusalem 
3/22: Bethlehem 
3/17: Pianist, Gilead Mishory 
3/20: Dudu Tassa at Yoshi's San Francisco 
3/21: "Two Room Apartment" dance at ODC 
3/27: Dov Elbaum in Conversation with Rabbi Menachem Creditor


Contact Jewish LearningWorks' 
Israel Education Initiative Team:
Ilan Vitemberg, Director
Vavi Toran, Arts & Culture Specialist