Culture Vulture – Haim Hefer z”l


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Haim Hefer one of Israel’s unquestionable cultural icons, and Israel Prize laureate, died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 86.

His coffin will be in public view in The New Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv from 13:00 today, before it is buried this evening in the artists village of Ein Hod.

Born in the Polish town of Sosnowice in 1925, Hefer’s family moved to Myslowice that Hefer described as a very important town for the Jews as “Bilaik lived and wrote there for at least a year.”

Even if you think you don’t know his work, you might be wrong. If you know some of the “good old songs of Eretz Yisrael”, then you probably know some of Hefer’s work. His songs can be found throughout the sound track of the State of Israel. “The Red Rock”, “Yes, It’s Possible” and “In Those Days” are just a few of his iconic creations.

At the age of 11 he came on aliyah to Mandatory Palestine with the Machanot Ha’Olim youth movement, and by the age of 17 he was already a fighter in the Palmach.

When he first arrived, Hefer was speaking classical Hebrew, and used Hebrew expressions of a previous age as a result of the Hebrew classes he took before coming on aliyah. At first his classmates from Raanana would give him a hard time for his Ivrit, but very quickly he managed to integrate. In a Haaretz interview from a few years ago, talking about his early days in Palestine, he is reported as saying “I never denied my origins, but I knew Hebrew. That’s the whole deal.”

Here Harel Skat interviews him for Channel 2 (no English translation)

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Here is a Channel 1 clip in which Achinoam Nini sings just to Hefer. At the end he says “I have never heard such a beautiful rendition in my life”

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Another Channel 1 clip of a collection of his songs is here

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 Hefer made it clear that he doesn’t want Kaddish or El Maaleh Rachamim recited at his funeral, but rather “I’d prefer a little Sacha Argov.”

Israel’s Next Major Social Challenge – Haredi Internal “Aliyah”


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This article was commissioned by Makom for the second Global Jewish Forum, and is edited from in-depth consultation with experts in the field.


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The relationship between the State of Israel and its Haredi population is of concern to the entire Jewish world. From the economic and social instability of an exponentially growing community of non-productive citizens, to the unsavory headlines about extreme and violent behavior, it is clear that a policy of laissez-faire can no longer be tolerated.

Yet how might we characterise the problem facing us? Is this a fundamental issue threatening the Jewish and liberal identity of the State of Israel? Or is this an issue of failed public policy that needs to be re-thought? To Full Post

Chapter 1: Demography – Where are the Jews today and how did they get there?


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One of the most difficult series of questions in the Jewish world today concerns demography. How many Jews actually exist in the world today? What is happening to the Jewish population in different centers of the world? What are the relative shares of Israel and Diaspora in the overall Jewish population of the world? And as important as the numbers themselves are, the really crucial questions lie underneath the surface.

What is the meaning of the numbers? What is the nature of the changing balance of demographic power between the State of Israel and the Diaspora as a whole? What trends do they suggest? What are the implications of today’s numbers for tomorrow’s future? And perhaps the most difficult question of Jews for those who spend their lives counting Jews: Who, exactly do you count? In other words, for the purpose of demographic calculations, who is a Jew?

Click for the downloadable pdf of this chapter. To Full Post



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This activity explores the notion of “home” and employs artistic technique to make the topic personal and relevant to the students. The activity seeks to discuss the sacrifices and choices one makes when deciding where and why to set up a home, and what the ramifications of this prioritization are for you and those around you. To Full Post

Will the Real Zionist Please Stand Up?


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In this session, the students will debate the true meaning of what it means to be a Zionist today. Armed with a short text study, they will advocate for fictional stereotypes of various Zionists. To Full Post

Navigating the Uproar: Campaign to Bring Israelis Home

December 7, 2011 by

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The past two weeks have seen an eruption of responses to the recent ad campaign commissioned by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. The campaign, targeted at Israeli ex-pats living in the United States, sought to convince the Israelis to return “home”. Though the ads were in Hebrew and clearly intended for Israeli ears in the United States, it seems that the real audience was North American Jewry. Aside from the Jewish Federation’s statement last week (and Netanyahu’s subsequent cancellation of the campaign), countless blog posts and editorials have been popping up each day since this story came to light less than 2 weeks ago. One thing is certain: these videos have struck a nerve among North American Jews.  To Full Post

Camp Israel – Day Four – Israel 1989


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Israel absorbs nearly one million Jews from the Former Soviet Union:

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Early Ties I: Abraham in and out of the Land – 4



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Click here for printable pdf.

Shivat Tziyon – 17


The destruction of the First Temple and the exile of the elites to Babylonia were of course a huge shock to our system, theologically, socially, and politically.  It seems that the people’s expectation, encouraged by the prophets, was that this punishment would be a harsh but passing blow – that in the near future God would relent and accept our repentance and restore our sovereignty and our connection to Him through the Temple ritual (see, for example, Jeremiah 29).  And indeed, so it happened – with the Persian conquest of Babylonia, a new policy was instituted, and the emperor Cyrus allowed the restoration of autonomy in Judah and the rebuilding of the Temple (but not, significantly, the restoration of the monarchy!) just 50 years after the destruction.  Therefore it is remarkable that the response was not a mass return, but rather a trickle, with many of the exiles choosing to stay in their new home.  And thus was created the model of Diaspora Jewish life coexisting with a Jewish state.  Moreover, the process of rebuilding and reorganizing the community in Israel was difficult and frustrating, and didn’t look much like the promised redemption.  The period of Shivat Tziyon therefore offers suggestive parallels to our own modern situation of Israel-Diaspora coexistence.  This unit explores the somewhat sketchy historical knowledge we have of the period, focusing on the apparent dilemmas raised by the exiles’ ambivalent response to the possibility of restoration.

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March 3, 2011 by

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Imagine you live in a country where most things are new, and if they are not new they are very old.

Imagine you live in a country where you labour to build the institutions you need to live a life – your daughter’s high school, a center for child development, the local pizza store, a new system for emergency medicine, a software company.

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