Monday, March 28, 2011

Iowa City Jewish and interfaith Third Annual Mitzvah Day, April 3

From:  Rabbi Jeff Portman [] 

 Press Release   March 28, 2011


From: Jeff Portman, Rabbi

Agudas Achim Congregation

602 E. Washington Street

Iowa City, IA  52240


What: Third Annual Mitzvah Day

When: Sunday, April 3

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Locations: Agudas Achim Synagogue and Iowa City area

Contacts: Rabbi Jeff Portman 319-337-3813 or Sue Weinberg 319-679-3120


What is Mitzvah Day? In Hebrew, the word “mitzvah” represents ancient laws requiring Jews to perform acts of human kindness, among other commandments. On Sunday, April 3, hundreds of people from Agudas Achim, Shulman Hillel,  Kingdom Apostolic Community Worship Center and The University of Iowa will come together to perform acts of kindness throughout the local community, across the country, and around the world in this annual service event.


This day of generosity and enrichment is an annual event led by the Tikun Olam Committee of Agudas Achim Congregation, Iowa City’s only synagogue, officially organized in 1916.   


Mitzvah Day brings together families, friends, and neighbors in the Jewish spirit of “Tikun Olam” which means “repair the world”—a commitment Jews make to community service and social action. Some of the activities taking place on Sunday include food packaging for Outreach International, a group that is sending food to Africa, a blood drive, military service correspondence, fleece blanket tying, nursing home visitation, and more. As part of the project, several collections are being taken of food, household goods, pet food and supplies, bicycles, and money, for the Crisis Center, the Iowa City Animal Shelter, the Iowa City Bike Library, and Mazon—an international Jewish organization dedicated to stamping out hunger around the world.


For the second year in a row, the Iowa City Jewish community will be joined by Kingdom Apostolic Community Worship Community Center, a local church currently without a building that has been using donated space in the synagogue for Sunday services. Pastor Vincent Allen and other church leaders decided to cancel services that day to join in the Mitzvah Day activities.








Sunday, March 27, 2011

JCRC Action Alert: Help Iowa divest public funds from Iran!

A Coalitional Action Alert from the Jewish Community Relations Commission of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines     Contact:

 Dear Fellow Iowans,

 A very important piece of legislation is before us in the Iowa Legislature and a coalition of Iowans, including Veterans groups, needs your help.  Our objective is for Iowa to become the 24th state to divest specified public funds from assisting Iran's oil industry.  To do this, we ask you to contact your local State Senator --immediately -- and respectfully request that he or she votes in favor of House File 484.

   House File 484 protects our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by instructing the public pension boards to divest our direct holdings (not co-mingled funds like mutual funds) from foreign companies that do business with Iran’s petroleum industry.  Iran’s petroleum industry is owned by the Iranian government which has direct links to the arms being used to fight and kill our troops overseas.  (Talking points on this important issue are appended to this e-mail.)

  Please email your  State Senator Today  to support House File 484  

Instructions:   To find your Senator and their email please follow this link:  (Alternately, you can find the name of your State Senator on this map: Http://  ) 

A Sample Letter in Support of House File 484.  Remember to include your address, so you can be identified as a constitutent -- and have your letter read.

Dear Senator_______;

I am a constituent of yours and would like to voice my support for House File 484.  This bill divests direct holdings from the public pensions companies that do business with Iran’s petroleum industry.  I support the 23 other states that have supported our troops overseas by taking this action. I do not want any of Iowa taxpayers’ money going to a regime that is supplying weapons and explosive devices to American opposition in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The cost of taking this action is very minimal and regardless I do not want to see us investing in a country that is putting our troops in harm’s way.  It is my understanding that “terror-free” investing is not any less profitable. 

The bill passed the House overwhelmingly 88-3.  The bill is currently in a subcommittee whose members include Senators Kibbie, Horn and Behn and to avoid the session procedural deadlines it must pass out of Senate State Government by April 1st

I hope you agree with me and vote or encourage your colleagues to vote for House File 484.




Monday, March 21, 2011

Wed., March 23: Barry Rubin Conference Call

Conference Call with Dr. Barry Rubin
of the GLORIA Center.
Brought to you by Rabbi David Kaufman as an installment of
Rabbi Kaufman's - The Whole Megillah Podcast
Wednesday, March 23 at
10:00 am Central / 11:00 am Eastern
To Listen Live to the Call with Dr. Barry Rubin
There is no charge to listen in on the call, but the call is not toll-free.
Dial  712-432-1001
Enter Access Code  499558534
Please submit questions for Dr. Rubin to Rabbi Kaufman  
 at You may do so during the live conference call  
 as well as prior to it.
Previous Episodes of Rabbi Kaufman's - The Whole Megillah  
 may be found at including a recent interview  
 with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Brief Biography of Dr. Barry Rubin
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA)  
 Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. 
  See the GLORIA/MERIA site at
An expert on politics of the Middle East, Barry Rubin maintains a blog at and is a frequent contributor to the Jerusalem Post  
 among other publications. He has published numerous books including most recently 
  Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis.
David Jay Kaufman
Temple B'nai Jeshurun
Des Moines, Iowa
President and Co-Founder

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Purim programming in Des Moines

Purim programming in Des Moines.  Consult your synagogue/Temple for additional information.  

  Community  Purim-Palooza Community Carnival  at Beth El Jacob Synagogue 

Sponsored by Beth El Jacob, Tifereth’s YAD group,  

 JFCS, The Jewish Federation and Temple B’nai Jeshurun

 Sunday, March 20th  11am — 3pm at  Beth El Jacob Synagogue   Featuring kosher lunch, costume contest, and carnival games and attractions! $10 *optional* price per

family includes lunch and bounce house entry for each child.

RSVPs VERY appreciated for food planning purposes! Email: or call 515-

274-1551 ext 1 

 [All Tifereth YAD kids who volunteer will also receive FREE lunch.Contact Alla for more information ]


From Beth El Jacob Synagogue:

  •   Sunday, March 20th  11am — 3pm at  Beth El Jacob Synagogue : Purim-Palooza Carnival . (See above)
  •  Sunday, March 20 5: 30pm at Colby Park.   Lubavitch's Judaic Resource Center and Beth El Jacob will be enjoying the Purim Seudah together at Colby Park in Windsor Heights. There is a charge for this event. Please contact the JRC for details and/or to RSVP at (515) 277-1770 
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
From Tifereth Israel Synagogue

  Purim Megillah Reading and Costume Parade

Saturday, March 19th at 7pm  -  Tifereth Israel SanctuaryJoin us for a dramatic reading of Megillat Esther by Cantor Linda Shivers.

Come in costume and join the parade following the reading! We’ll Sing Purim songs and enjoy some

hamantaschen.We also encourage you to bring canned food for donation to DMARC.


From Temple B'nai Jeshurun  








 6:00 PM Read The Scroll In Sanctuary


6:30 PM Children Eat In Social Hall


7:00-7:30 PM Adults Go To Bergman Mansion

(Children Stay With Childcare at Temple)


7:30-9:00 PM Food & Music At Bergman Mansion

(2000 Grand Avenue)


FREE Babysitting!

FREE Food!



Wear Costumes (If Desired)

Music Provided (Sam Miller)

Food & Drink Provided

FREE (Contributions Gladly Welcomed)





From Judaic Resource Center 

Davening schedule at the Judaic Resource Center:

Please remember to RSVP for Purim In China Sunday, March 20th at 5:30pm. 515-277-1770



Mincha/Kabbalat Shabbat: 7:00 PM

Shacharit: 9:30 AM

Mincha: 7:00 PM

Maariv: 8:05 PM

Megilla Reading: 8:30 PM


Shacharis: 9:00 AM

Parshas Zachor will be read again right before Megillah reading

1st Megilla reading (during Shachris): 9:30 AM

2nd Megilla Reading:

12:30 PM at Valley West Apartments 1800 36th St. West Des Moines

3rd Megilla Reading:

5:30 PM (followed by a grand Purim in China Celebration) Colby Park Community Center 6900 School Street Windsor Heights

Information distributed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines     Contact:
Join the Jewish Federation's page on FaceBook! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

JCPA statement on Itamar murders

From the Jewish Council For Public Affairs, online at


Heartbreaking Itamar Murders Shine Light on Incitement
JCPA Mourns Tragic Deaths, Calls for PA Action and Calm From Israelis

This weekend’s horrific murder of a sleeping family in the West Bank community of Itamar was a heartbreaking terrorist attack not only on Jewish Israelis, but on the peace process itself, said the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

“This vicious act was aimed at intimidating Israeli Jewish families and derailing the already fragile peace process,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “My heart pours out for the Fogel family, their loved ones, and their community. All of us who remain committed to a vision of two states living in peace and security cannot help but feel an incredible sadness at this attack and the cold hearted machinations of the murderers and their supporters. We look to the Palestinian Authority to work closely with Israeli authorities to bring the killers to justice.”

“We have joined with U.S. and Israeli officials in praising Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for making progress toward preventing terrorism and instituting effective security arrangements in areas under PA control. This makes the terrorist attack in Itamar that much more shocking,” said JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles.

“The path to peace and reconciliation,” he continued, “requires serious effort from the PA in ending incitement, especially among school children, the most vulnerable to hateful propaganda and the most important to reach with positive lessons.” At the annual JCPA Plenum March 7th, 2011, the JCPA and its member agencies approved a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that called, in part, for the PA to promote security and denounce all acts of terrorism and violence.

“We understand the strong passions aroused by this brutal murder, but revenge violence directed indiscriminately against Palestinians is unacceptable. We regret that some attacks reportedly have occurred,” Giles asserted.

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Summary: Palestinian terrorist attack 3/10 and reactions

As you may know, there was a Palestinian terrorist attack in a West Bank settlement Friday night in which five members of a Jewish family --including a baby among three children --were brutally murdered in their sleep.  The following is a summary covering aspects not found in one source. -- Mark Finkelstein

President Shimon Peres condemned Friday's attack, saying  :"This is one of the hardest and ugliest events that we've seen," Peres said. "The murder of parents and their young children, including a three-year-old and a month-old baby in their beds on Shabbat is a testimony of a loss of human dignity.    "No religion or faith exists in the world which allows for such atrocious acts… " 

 [ The victims are Udi Fogel (36), his wife Ruth (35) and three of their children: Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months old).    These are the victims referred to, without being named, in the AP article  and headlined "5 settlers" by the AP, Washington Post and New York Times.   
Three other children were not involved.
The family had relocated to the settlement near Nablus after having been removed by the IDF from residency in Gaza, during Israel's unilateral evacuation for peace from Gaza in 2005.  -- MF] 
  The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement sent to reporters.  [Responsibility for the terrorist incident is in dispute -- JTA] 

They said the attack was an "heroic operation" that was "part of the natural response to the massacres of the fascist [Israeli] occupation against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said the leaflet.

"Violence will only bring more violence – we must hurry to find a comprehensive, just solution to the conflict," said Abbas.

Abbas called Netanyahu earlier Saturday to condemn the settlement attack, following several long months of almost no communication between the two.

Netanyahu told Abbas that his condemnations are not enough. "The incitement must stop and the Palestinian people must be educated toward peace," said Netanyahu.   [ Editorial: I believe that,given the broader context of the conflict, this is a major, important point that must be advocated by anyone seeking a win-win resolution of the conflict.  See for example: -PA TV glorified terrorist who killed 3 in 2002 terror attack in the town of Itamar    - MF]

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also commented on the attack on Saturday, saying that  "Violence does not justify violence, we condemn it completely, whoever does it and whoever the victims are."

Source  for the above : 

 Source for below:,7340,L-4041106,00.html

Gaza residents from the southern city of Rafah hit the streets Saturday to celebrate the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Itamar where five family members were murdered in their sleep, including three children.

Residents handed out candy and sweets, one resident saying the joy "is a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank." 

 Source for below:

"The Palestinian people don't like actions of this kind," Samih Hamoudah, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, told The Media Line. "People are aware of the fact that actions like this harm the Palestinians and therefore many believe that Jews did this in order to tarnish the Palestinian cause."

But on Sunday, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah condemned the attack not only on practical grounds, but on moral ones as well.

"The Palestinian judgment of such an action is one of unequivocal condemnation and with the harshest words," columnist Adli Sadek wrote. "Not because this is a crime that harms us politically and publicly … but because such a heinous murder is unacceptable to human nature."  

Hamas, the Islamic group controlling the Gaza Strip and ideologically committed to destroying Israel, pulled back from its initially enthusiastic support of the Itamar killings.

However, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza was circumspect about the Itamar attack, condoning the attack without claiming responsibility for it.

"We in Hamas completely support the resistance against settlers who murder and use crime and terror against the Palestinian people under the auspices of the Israeli occupation soldiers. Hamas official Sami Abu-Zuhri said on Saturday morning.

But, by Saturday night, Hamas’ tone had altered, as its spokesman explicitly distanced the organization and its leadership in Gaza from the attack.

"We are closely following the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people and the attempts to implicate the Gaza Strip in the killing that took place in the settlement of Itamar, attempting to justify aggressive acts against the Strip," Hamas government spokesman Taher A-Nunu said. "At the same time, Hamas has denied its connection to the Itamar operation and does not rule out the possibility of a criminal act." 

 Source for below:

Reports said PA forces had arrested a number of Hamas activists. [ This justifies the AP subheadline "Palestinian forces join the hunt for suspects in the deaths. "--MF]

The White House called it an act of terrorism. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people," a statement said. "There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jewish Genetic Testing Returns to Omaha in May - Free of Charge!


From: Greater Omaha Committee for Jewish Genetic Testing

Contact: Joanie Jacobson  812 North 66 Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68132



Jewish Genetic Testing Returns to Omaha in May - Free of Charge!

By Joanie Jacobson

FACT: Jewish genetic diseases are devastating, debilitating and fatal.

FACT: Children rarely live to become adults.

FACT: One out of five adults are carriers of at least one Jewish genetic disease.

FACT: If both parents carry the same gene, the child has a 1 out of 4 chance

of being born with a Jewish genetic disease, and a 2 out of 4 chance of being

a “carrier.”


FACT: Jewish genetic diseases can be prevented through Jewish genetic testing.

In 2004, Jean Duitch, whose grandson had been diagnosed with Canavan Disease,

decided to bring Jewish genetic testing to the forefront of the Omaha-area community.

With a handful of volunteers, she established the Greater Omaha Committee for Jewish

Genetic Testing. Boys' Town National Research Hospital signed on as the Committee's

medical partner and the Jewish Federation of Omaha served as community partner.

The goal was to provide information, testing, and genetic counseling to 100 individuals

in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Sioux City and Des Moines, 18 years of age or older,

free of charge.


An Informational Forum, featuring a panel of physicians, genetic

counselors and Mrs. Duitch, was held at the Jewish Community Center a month prior to

testing. The result: 107 individuals of Ashkenazi decent were successfully tested, and

25% were found to be carriers of at least one Jewish genetic disease -- slightly higher

than the national average of 1 out of 5.


An Informational Forum will be held on Monday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the

Jewish Community Center. Once again, physicians and genetic counselors from

UNMC will be on hand to present the case for testing and take questions from the

audience. Attendees will also be able to register for either of the May testing dates.

diseases themselves, the prognosis, the treatment, care, and prevention, you will

understand what's at stake, and testing will become a priority.”


“Round #2: Jewish Genetic Testing” is planned for Sunday, May 22 and

Wednesday, May 25, at the Jewish Community Center. This year, the University of

Nebraska Medical Center is the Committee's medical partner, and the Federation is,

again, the community partner. Med Center professionals will conduct the blood draw

and provide genetic counseling. Blood samples will be sent to the Jacobi Medical

Center Laboratory in New York to be tested. Those individuals identified as carriers will

be personally contacted by a genetic counselor from the Med Center, and counseling

will be offered free of charge.


“Round #2” will test for the following Jewish Genetic diseases: Tay-Sachs, Canavan

disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Niemann-Pick disease, Familial Dysautonomia, Gaucher

disease, Mucolipidosis IV, Bloom Syndrome, and Fanconi Anemia.


“The target audience is not only young Jewish singles and couples,” noted Duitch.

People of all ages, all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds need to be tested.

Jewish genetic diseases, including Tay Sachs and Cystic Fibrosis, have been

increasingly diagnosed in children with non-Jewish parents, making it just as important

for inter-faith couples to be tested.


“Parents and grandparents of 20- and 30-year olds were also tested in 2004. Those

who were found to be carriers could then inform their grown children and grandchildren

of the necessity for them to be tested.


“Knowledge is power,” Duitch concluded. “Identifying carriers allows individuals the

opportunity to make informed and rational decisions regarding the future of their family

-- to be proactive rather than having to be reactive. Testing can save families the

unnecessary heartache and despair when a child or grandchild is born with a Jewish

genetic disease. It can provide the comfort and assuredness every couple deserves

when starting their family.”


To register or for more information on “Round #2: Jewish Genetic Testing,” contact Jean

Duitch (402-393-1141 or or Joanie Jacobson (402-554-0500 or


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JCRC Statement: Investigate Fairfield assault as a possible hate crime

Statement from the Jewish Community Relations Commission of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
March 8, 2011
Investigate Fairfield  assault as a possible hate crime
The news, as reported in the Des Moines Register, that an Arab American resident in Fairfield has been beaten ostensibly because of his ethnic background cannot be tolerated. Pictures attest to the victim's face being bloodied and bruised.  The victim reports that his assailants kept calling him a racial slur.  This has the earmarks of a possible hate crime and should be investigated as such.   
Mark S. Finkelstein,  Director of Community Relations
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
910 Polk Boulevard
Des Moines, IA   50312
contact:  515 277-6321 x 214