Friday, May 12, 2017 / 16 Iyar 5777

May 12, 2017
4, 23, 833

Those are not the winning lottery numbers for this week's powerball--they represent the impact #JBlendMiami has had on our Jewish community:
4 schools, 23 teachers and 833 students have all benefitted from CAJE's leadership in creating and implementing professional development experiences to ensure greater learning outcomes in our Jewish day schools.
Who doesn't love a celebration? On Tuesday, May 9th, our 4 #JBlendMiami schools gathered, along with our partners from the Digital J Learning Network of the Jewish Education Project of New York, to celebrate their accomplishments as a result of their participation in this initiative.
Throughout the year, teams of teachers and administrators from The Gordon School, Hebrew Academy (RASG), Lehrman Community Day School and Scheck Hillel Community School have been learning, collaborating and implementing leading edge strategies for personalized learning in their schools.
The testimonials shared that day reflected the deep relationships that developed among the teachers and administrators from the different schools, highlighted the impact that personalized and individualized learning is having on the students in their classrooms, and the transformation #JBlendMiami is having on our Jewish day schools.

We are grateful to the Avi Chai Foundation, the Greater Miami Jewish Foundation and several local donors for allowing CAJE to turn our dreams for schools into reality!


One week ago, 138 Miami teens returned from a transformational Journey to Poland and Israel on the Leo Martin March of the Living program. The experience on the March shaped many of the participant's worldviews, perceptions and connection to their Judaism. Roey Zaken, a 2017 teen Marcher, shares how the journey has changed and shaped his Jewish identity and what he hopes for his Jewish peers:

The March of the Living trip to Poland has completely changed my Jewish identity. This trip should be mandatory for every single Jew in the world. I feel our people don't realize how lucky they are to be a part of this family or religion.

Throughout our history, we have constantly been harassed, persecuted, and unaccepted. There could be many reasons for the hatred and the troubles wished upon us. For one, we are the chosen people; G!d gave us the Torah; G!d protects us; however, he also tests us.

Every day I face challenges as a Jew. Not all my friends are Jewish or if Jewish, even observant. I am tested daily. Keep kosher or don't. Put on tefillin or delay it. Make an extra effort to learn the Amidah or keep saying the Shemah. These are ways Poland has helped me realize some of the opportunities I could undertake to become a better Jew.
But, where Poland really hit me was right in the center of my heart. Any human being on this planet has no right to get in the way of the life of one who is innocent. One who hasn't even been given the opportunity to lose innocence. Children, family men, pregnant women. People with so much potential in their lives. No one will ever be able to see the heights of greatness any of those who suffered in the holocaust could have achieved. Time is precious, and it is taken for granted. 6 million were robbed of their bucket lists, their sentimental moments, their passions and hobbies, their smiles, their happiness. 

I want all of you listening to hear me and absorb my words. Every single one of you have amazing potential; you could change the world. Find something that you love, that makes you 'you,' that makes you happy, and invest in it, see what heights you could reach. Sacrifice your comfort and take on new challenges.

Do not feel sorry for yourselves. Do not feel sorry for our family who suffered. Instead, make them proud. Be the center of their heavenly gossip. Do you think that our trip Survivors Anita, Sally, Sam, and Julius want to see you crying? They want to see you happy, motivated, being the friend, the family member, the entrepreneur, the upstander that they didn't have a chance to experience. Achieve the greatness that they could not have.

Show the world who the Jews are and why we are still here today.
G!d  bless and Am Yisrael Chai!

The main transformation we see is that after the March, our teens "own their own Judaism." That means that they finally grasp that they are now decision-making adults, not just the children of their parents or the students of their teachers.

Just as Roey explains, participants have a role to play within the Jewish people, which is why the underlying message of the March is: As a 21st century teenager, I am an essential participant in the story of the Jewish people.

If you would like to assist us in helping to provide scholarships or subvent the cost of this very impactful program for our teens in need, please contact Debbie Brodie Weiss to help: #305-576-4030 X 122.

Words of Wisdom
by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

When I was a child, I attended Camp Pembroke in Pembroke, Massachusetts, an all-girls Zionist and Jewish summer camp. It was certainly one of the most impactful experiences of my young life.

Every bunk and age cohort was named for a city in Israel. Every Shabbat we would dress in blue and white, and every morning we would start the day by singing the National Anthem and Hatikvah. Young Israeli women were recruited to be our counselors alongside their American counterparts. At least once a week, we held song sessions in Hebrew, learned Israeli dances and were told stories about Israeli heros and founders.

The summer before I turned 15, our unit (Yerushalayim) went on a trip to Israel for 4 weeks. We toured the country from Rosh HaNikra in the North to Eilat in the South and saw what felt like everything in between, including a visit to Hebron on the West Bank (aka Judea), where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. When I saw the Kotel for the first time, I was moved to tears and wrote a note in my journal "Now I know what it truly means to be a Jew."

Yet, in addition to the wonderful and positive... were things that weren't so wonderful and positive. The Israeli counselors at our camp were just... so different. Oy, they didn't shave their armpits or legs. Oy, they were kind of aggressive and abrasive. Oy, they didn't understand us. And the Israeli men we met in Israel-OY VA VOY! They tried to hit on us in public places. They tried to kiss us or touch us. They were so rude and aggressive.... (Only later did we find out that halter tops were not considered 'nice girl attire' in Israel, who knew?)

Why do I bring all of this up? Because our relationship with Israel is and always has been complicated...  unless, of course, we couldn't/didn't go there-like for the last 2000 years before 1948! In other words, as long as it was a dream, it could be... perfect, ideal, messianic. Because it didn't REALLY exist for us.

But now we have a real country with real people and real problems to contend with. It aspires in its own declaration of independence (much like ours) to be a light unto the nations, a bearer of the highest prophetic values, a source of strength and hope for the entire Jewish world. And it also wants to be safe in a very unsafe part of the world, free in a very unfree part of the world and inclusive in a very non-inclusive part of the world.

As the joke goes, if only Moshe/Moses didn't stutter, we might have gotten Ca...Ca...California instead of Ca...Ca...Canaan.

Safety vs. Values. Fear vs. Hope. A Home for Jews vs. a Multi-Ethnic Country. They don't have to be at odds, but they often are. And because they are all legitimate, Israel struggles to find the right balance.

But if you were born before 1948, then you don't remember what the world was like for Jews before there was a country that put us as a number one priority. You don't remember what it was to see Jews proudly fighting back against aggressors. You don't remember what it was to be at the mercy of anti-Semites world over with nowhere to turn and nowhere to run.

Our survivors remember. They endured suffering and torture for the lack of an Israel. Their loved ones were murdered for the lack of an Israel. As the saying goes, 'Not every victim was a Jew, but every Jew was a victim.' We in the US take what we have today for granted. But when you visit the camps and speak with survivors, you are reminded that your sense of safety is an illusion, mainly because of the presence of Israel in the world.

Can Israel be more righteous and just? Absolutely! But I have learned that Israelis themselves have many organizations and movements to effect those changes. No one is tougher on Israel than Israelis themselves. And with my money and advocacy, I can support those voices for change if I so choose.

But I refuse to hold Israel to standards that no other country, including the US, is asked to attain. I refuse to demonize a democracy to where Palestinian Arabs who are LGBTQ flee in order to save their lives. I refuse to undermine the legitimacy of a country that would have bombed the train tracks to Auschwitz, when my own country did not feel it was the best use of its resources (and btw looking at it based purely on American war priorities, that's hard to argue with).

Make sure to talk to your children and grandchildren and tell them about a time before Israel. Make sure they realize the miracle that is the revival of the Hebrew language and Hebrew/Jewish culture. Make sure they understand that there is nowhere else on earth other than Israel (outside of Aventura, perhaps), that Jews can feel themselves a majority culture, utterly normal, living according to a Jewish calendar and with Jewish culture as the normative culture. Make sure they realize that the advancements we see in this world technologically are almost all traceable to an Israeli or an Israeli company.

And of course, don't forget to visit Israel. Her 70th birthday is coming next year and we should all be there to celebrate that gift.

Yom Ha'atzma'ut Sameach
Wishing Israel a very happy, healthy and fulfilling year!!!
330 people have already registered. If you have questions, we invite you to attend one of several upcoming information sessions. To join one of the meetings or learn more about the Mission
click here or contact Abby Mandel at



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