The IJC had a great start in its new home in the Beth Hillel building with its first Shabbat services on Jan 5th and 6th. Although it was still the holiday period, the IJC had a large turnout for a special service honoring the departure of a member family (Gilly Weinstein and John Weissberg) for New York. They have contributed so much to the IJC since they joined in 2009. Gilly has been a very active Board member since 2012 and John has re-engineered the IJC web systems. The service was a bittersweet occasion.
A friend just returned from Cape Town, South Africa which is in the middle of a fierce drought. People are forced to buy water and what is available is not sufficient to meet people’s needs. The winter in North America is one of the coldest in a long time. In Australia and elsewhere coral is dying at unprecedented rates largely due to rising ocean temperatures. Yam Kineret - the Sea of Galilee in Israel - is so low that it is in danger of becoming salty. All around us the climate is changing in ways that impact everyone.
People do strange things when they turn a decade. I moved to Belgium when I was thirty, met my life-partner when I was forty, became Belgian when I was fifty, and when I turned sixty last year I applied to Abraham Geiger College in Berlin to train to become a rabbi!
Some said: ‘You must be out of your mind! Shouldn’t you be coasting toward retirement?’ – and maybe they were right – but others said: ‘This is logical for you! It’s the next step. You’ll be a great rabbi.’
Peter Oliver writes -- “A little known fact is that some 9,000 Jews (who prefer to be known as Beta Israel, as the term “Falasha” is derogatory) still live in Ethiopia. The majority live in Gondar, a former royal capital in the northern Amhara region, while some are based in Addis Ababa.
In the 1980s and 1990s, most were air-lifted to Israel, where their community numbers some 135,000 today. Those who remain in Ethiopia (the “Falasha mura”) are descended from Jews who converted to Christianity under duress, but they have now reverted to Judaism.