Friday, January 9, 2009

Mission Press Release

For Immediate Release

Press Contact (in U.S): Jane Calem Rosen
(212) 870-2216; jrosen@masorti.org
(in Israel): Shmuel Dovrat
052-668-6508; pr@masorti.org


Masorti Mission to Israel Set

Group from US Representing Conservative Rabbinate and Laity Make Quick Trip to Support Communities under Siege in Southern Israel

New York, NY, January 9, 2009 – With continuing Hamas-launched rockets reigning down on the southern Israeli cities of Beersheva, Omer, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, a group of Conservative rabbis and lay leaders from the United States will depart for Israel on Sunday on an emergency mini-mission to offer support to Masorti-movement communities and other residents in the war-torn region.

“We pulled this together very quickly because we believe it is so important to stand together with our brothers and sisters in Israel,” said David H. Lissy, CEO and executive director of the New York-based Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel who organized the mission. “When Jewish lives are threatened anywhere, it is a threat to the security of Jews everywhere.”

During their brief stay, the group will make stops in Beersheva, Omer, Ashkelon, Sde Nitzan and Sderot, all areas within the danger zone. One of the first stops planned is a shiva call on the family of Alex Mashvitzki, the 21-year-old IDF soldier killed in Gaza and buried last week in the military section of Beersheva cemetery. Alex grew up in a Masorti kehilla, Eshel Avraham, in Beersheva, where his parents remain active members.

Mission participants then expect to meet with the mayors of several cities, get a briefing from army officers, visit wounded soldiers in Beersheva’s Soroka Hospital and spend time with the spiritual and lay leadership of Masorti kehillot (congregations) in Ashkelon, Omer and Beersheva. These kehillot themselves have reached out to provide programs and support services to residents in their communities, in partnership with Masorti kehillot elsewhere in Israel. For example, in recent days, Masorti-sponsored respite excursions have brought busloads of parents and children to Haifa, Zichron Yaakov, Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv. Kehillot in Jerusalem will host additional groups, including pensioners from Beersheva, this week, and arrangements are being made for children from a school in Beersheva, enrolled in Masorti’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs to leave the area for a day.

Mission participants are also looking forward to having the opportunity to distribute fleece hats, snacks, hugs and a prayer composed by Rabbis Simcha Roth and Michael Graetz to regular soldiers and reservists, a continuation of the “From Masorti with Love” initiative the movement began as ground troops massed on the Gaza border.

Reporters/Editors: For interview opportunities, in the United States, please call Jane Calem Rosen, director of communications at the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, at (212) 870-2216 or email jrosen@masorti.org. To reach the Masorti movement in Israel, please call Shmuel Dovrat, director of public relations, at 052-668-6508 (from the US 011-972-52-668-6508) or email pr@masorti.org.

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Masorti Movement: Promoting Religious Pluralism and Building Community through Inclusive, Traditional, Egalitarian Judaism

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