Hanukkah songs and Jewish Peoplehood


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chanuka dreidel

We know that the ‘shin’ and the ‘peh’ are different on the dreidel, but beyond that?

What are the significant differences between the Hanukkah songs we sing in North America, and in Israel?

A text/song study for your free use.

A different Yom HaZikaron Ceremony


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Yom HaZikaron is often a complicated ceremony to program outside of Israel. Local Israelis in the community will often feel the need to share their unique feelings on the one hand, and yet find themselves questioning the possibility that non-Israelis might fully understand them on the other hand. Non-Israelis will often feel the need to share in the ceremony and identify fully, whilst at the same time feeling emotionally detached or even alienated. It is a very sensitive day!

We share with you a ceremony that we created for JW3 in London, with the help of the animation films made by Bet Avi Chai. We looked to build a ceremony that placed its emphasis on the pain and loss of the civilian survivors, and less on the war-time experience of the fighters. In this way we believe there is more potential for a shared emotional common ground.


You will need to download this powerpoint to your computer for the videos to play.

This is the text.

Israel Education in United Kingdom – Makom Report


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In 2013 Makom was commissioned by Pears Foundation to research and write a report into Israel Education taking place in the UK Jewish community.

You are invited to read the entire report here, and join the facebook page discussing the report here.


Below are the five recommendations we offered in the executive summary of the report: 

1.      Rethinking the Israel-engaged Jew

There is a lack of understanding as to what we are aiming toward. Why does Israel matter to Jewish life? What are our ultimate goals? Israel Education in the UK is an interwoven eco-system, that can be best influenced when driven by a rigorous ongoing sophisticated process of goals articulation.

Establish a think-tank process for leaders to develop their dynamic and evolving definition of the ideal “graduates” of Israel Education. This will act as the North Star for all ensuing enterprises, aiming not for a lowest common denominator but for the highest common factor in Israel educational endeavours. 

2.     Realising Israel Tour

The place of Israel Tour in the eco-system of Israel Education should be recalibrated to acknowledge changes in Israel and in Jewish life for 16 years olds in the UK. 

Rather than relating to Israel Tour as the primary hook on which to hang our Israel Education hopes, we recommend the development of a range of interventions, of which the Israel Tour would be a fundamental component. Israel Tour should then act as the anchoring experience for a broad range of Israel education interventions, including a flagship Israel education festival for pre-University students. 

3.     Reimagining Long-term Immersive Programmes in Israel

The dramatic fall in the numbers of Israel Gap Year participants is extremely serious, bringing with it long-term damage to the future leadership of the community. 

We recommend convening an incubator process involving all stakeholders, to seriously and fundamentally alter the nature and structure of Long-term Programmes in Israel. This incubator would include a Summit, where participants would thrash out a radical approach to long-term programmes according to what we call the 4 c’s – Convictions, Connections, Content, and Conversation. 

4.     Embracing the vibrant complexity of Israel

Complexity tends to be approached with trepidation, through the lens of politics in the public Jewish discourse. We would instead recommend galloping towards complexity with the energy of the arts and public celebrations. 

  1. a.    Celebration Recommendation

The inauguration of an Israel Festival, that empowers people and groups in the community to celebrate NGOs in Israel that inspire them and give them hope for Israel’s future, while reinvigorating the language of Partnership. 

  1. b.   Arts Recommendation:

The community should work to maximize the multi-dimensional role that Israeli arts can play throughout the community’s interactions with Israel, presenting Israel’s complexities in inspiring ways. Educational opportunities abound, but are as yet to be taken up. To this end we recommend the creation of the position of an Israel Arts and Education Coordinator. 

5.     Enhancing professional capacity

To enable the adoption and creative implementation of the visions that are articulated as a consequence of Recommendation 1, there is a need for a portfolio for Israel Education Training and Development. Teachers and youth and community educators need the professional opportunities to expand their own knowledge, develop their own educational stances, and create and use programming that speaks to the sophisticated ideas and realities of contemporary Israel. This function would coordinate and expand training opportunities, and would also lead the drive for the creation of a GCSE in Israel Studies.


HaDag Nahash – translation powerpoints for you


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Are HaDag Nahash coming to perform for you?
Why not make sure that everyone enjoys their lyrics as well as their music?
All you need to do is set up a screen above the stage, a computer projector, and download these powerpoints…



Consolation Song


Grievance against Political Parties

Here I Come

It’ll all work out

It’s not enough




Sticker Song


Time to Wake Up


Then all you need is someone who is a fan of the band, whose Hebrew is as good as their English, and who has a spare finger to keep clicking…. You can find a few more tips here in our section on booking Israeli bands.

Two more things:
  1. Please keep our logos on the slides – we’re not asking for any payment, just acknowledgment.
  2. Find out more about HaDag Nahash from their official site, here.

A reflection upon innovation and tradition


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Text #1:

Most Jewish holidays are holidays of memory. The individual, the family and the community are called to remember and to re-enact ritually significant historical events that took place in our past.

The Jew is called upon to ask himself and to educate her children to ask: Where did I come from, what is my biography made up of? At Passover, Sukkot, and at Shavuot we ask: Where and when were we born? In Egypt as a slave, and I emerged free. I was at Mount Sinai. I wandered the desert towards the Promised Land, I settled and worked the land.

 But on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur there is no history, no memory, no past, no story or drama. So neither time nor birth nor identity dictate their content. Not what happened in the past, but what might happen in the future… These two festivals ask: Where is your life headed? How have you chosen to live? Do you have a dream to fulfill? Do you have a picture of society? What is your vision for Israeli society? Your community? Your home and family? If you wish to create an alternative reality, more just, it depends on you alone. On your aspirations for change. On your desire for redeeming yourself and your society. It depends on your vows to yourself now, in the present, yet facing the future. In this sense Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are human and optimistic festivals that address the human being and an image of her future.

Arieh ben Gurion, Rosh Hashana


 Guiding Questions:
  • What is the difference between the three Foot Festivals and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur according to Ben Gurion?
  • Do you agree with Ben Gurion’s approach to these High Holidays?
  • How does this text speak to the following text?

 Text #2:

Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man 1955


Guiding Questions:
  • According to Heschel Why is “indifference to the sublime wonder of living considered the“root of sin”?
  • How does the Jewish tradition of “Rosh Hashanah” enable us to not to take things for granted?
  • In your view, is the existence of Israel a wonder? Why? Why not?

Visual Text #3:

Maurycy Gottlieb was a Polish-Jewish realist painter of the Romantic period. He was born in Drohobych to a wealthy, Yiddish-Polish-speaking orthodox Jewish family living in Galicia, then part of the Austrian sector of the Partitioned Poland, now Western Ukraine. Considered one of the most talented students of Jan Matejko he died at the age of 23.

“Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” or “Jews Pray”, is the last painting by Maurycy Gottlieb of 1878, depicting Ashkenazi Jews praying in the synagogue on Yom Kippur. The artist has painted himself three times: as a young child standing on the left, as a young boy to the right of the seated rabbi, and as an adult in the center looking outwards.

יום הכיפורים

Guiding Questions:

Take a look at this picture for a few moments and think about the New Year we are heading towards, and what it may bring us:

  • Next year, what would you like to approach with the naivety of a child?
  • What do you hope to approach with the many doubts of an adolescent?
  • When might you need the wisdom of an adult?


Is it worth it? Program for adults and teens


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Before even beginning to talk about Israel, it’s worth checking some basic assumptions.

Here is an easy one.

If someone put a gun to your head and told you to hand over your iPhone or they’d shoot, we’re guessing you would rush to say goodbye to instagram.

We reckon you might not even put up a fight to save your car, if the fight meant risking your life.

How about your house?

Is there anything, or anyone, for whom you would risk your life?

Or in Tom Petty’s words:

Well I know what’s right,
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down

Is there anything you “won’t back down” from?

It’s a question worth asking before condemning warfare out of hand:

Is there anything worth fighting for? To Full Post

Israel Sites – Tzippori


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The Talmud asks, “Why is she (the city) called Tzippori? Because she sits on top of the mountain, like a bird (tsippor)” (Talmud Megillah 6a).

Tzippori – Sepphoris in Greek – is located in the heart of the Lower Galilee about 6.5 KM. northwest of Nazareth, on a hill 285 meters above sea level. Excavations uncovered a rich legacy from the Judean, Roman and Byzantine periods; about 40 mosaics were found from very different character, some in a remarkable stage of preservation. To Full Post

Israel Sites – Tsfat – Safed


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Wandering through the lanes and alleyways of Tsfat today, you may be struck by the simple beauty of the place. It is this beauty which inspires the many artists who have settled here during the last decades and have turned Tsfat into a center of Israeli art. In every corner and on all sides you can see the galleries of the Tsfat artists. It is not hard to understand what draws them here. Beyond its beauty, the city holds a long and fascinating history, encompassing a wide variety of human activity. To Full Post

Israel Sites – The Dead Sea


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The Dead Sea


The Dead Sea is a large inland lake 76 KM long, up to 18 KM wide and it is 400 meters deep at the deepest point. The name “Dead Sea” for the Hebrew “Yam Hamelach” (Salt Sea) was attributed by Christian Monks, astonished by the apparent absence of any form of life in the sea water. Recent scientific research however, discovered 11 types of bacteria in the water; but in wells sometimes only one meter from the Dead Sea shore – for example in Ein Zuqim (Ein Faskha) in the north Dead Sea area, live unique, indigenous small fish. This species evolved from big carp common in Lake Tiberias; these small fish  have adapted to survival in these hard conditions. To Full Post

Israel Sites – Tel Aviv Independence Hall


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Tel Aviv – Independence Hall











Here in this hall, the members of the National Council, representatives of the Jewish settlements and the Zionist movement, gathered on Friday, 5th of Iyar 5708, 14th of May 1948 in the afternoon, to sign the Scroll of Independence. Behind the table, David Ben Gurion, the Chairman of the Zionist Movement, proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish State, Israel.

Independence Hall is located in the Rothschild Blvd. 16 in Tel Aviv, formerly the house of Zinna and Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv’s founding father and first mayor, who bequeathed his home to the city as an Art Exhibition.

With the declaration of the Jewish State, 52 years after publication of Theodor Herzl’s”Der Judenstat” (The Jewish State), the Jewish dream of about two thousand years became a reality. However, the people in Israel still had to fight for their independence, defending themselves against Arab irregulars and the regular armies of the Arab league that launched attacks on the young state from all sides within the next few days.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence was not a foregone conclusion.

Two days before the declaration, the situation for the National Council was very complex: the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Road was blockaded by Arab bands, and two members of the National Council were unable to arrive in Tel Aviv for the historical decision. Golda Meirson (Meir) reported the results of a secret night time meeting on 11th of May 1948 with Abdullah; King of Jordan, the King had decided to withdraw from former agreements for political arrangements to recognize the Jewish state, joining the Arabic league preparations to invade Palestine directly after termination of the British Mandate. Somber strategic estimates were provided by Israel Galili, the head of the Haganah; Yigal Sukenik (Yadin), head of the Haganah’s Operations Department, depicted the dangerous situation, such as weapon shortage and the very critical circumstances in Gush Ezion, which finally fell into the hands of Arab bands between 12-14 of May 1948. Moshe Shertok (Sharett), the future Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave a detailed report about American State Department policy, on the one hand, pressuring the Zionist Organization to postpone a declaration of independence, in order to prevent an Arab invasion, and on the pro Arab position of Great Britain. On the other hand, he reported the warm sympathy he found from Andre Gromyko,the Russian representative at the United Nation, who took a contrary position and opposed American policy, after the Russian frustration in negotiations for oil concessions in Moslem states, to such an extent, that USA officials were afraid that the Jewish state would be become a bridgehead for Russian influence in the Middle East.

After serious appraisal of the dangers in days of lengthy meetings before the Declaration, on the 12th of May the Jewish National Council finally decided to take advantage from the maybe unique opportunity provided by the termination of the English Mandate to establish the State of Israel. From now on, the State of Israel could set its own foreign policy and import weapons to defend its independence as a sovereign state. No borders of the state were mentioned in the declaration. When queried on this point, Ben Gurion asked, “When the United States declared independence, did it define its borders?”.

In the US, President Truman did not agree with the policy proposed by the State Department officials and his Secretary of State Marshall, who did not support independence. He sent his adviser, Clark Clifford secretly to Eliyahu Eilat, the Jewish Agency representative in the USA, to prepare a request for recognition of the Jewish State when declared, and Clifford even gave him the text requested by President Truman. A interesting fact is, that when Eliyahu Eilat presented the request for approval, he did not yet know name of the future Jewish State. On the 15th of May USA recognized Israel, Guatemala followed, and on the 17th of May Russia gave its official recognition.

Today, Dizengoff House serves as a Biblical Museum with rare editions, printings and illustration, where another section of the building serves as Museum of Zionism. Independence Hall, where the State of Israel was declared, is preserved as it was on that day.


Text and picture by: Pinhas Baraq z”l.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

References: Jehoshua Ben Aryeh, The History of Eretz Israel, the War of Independence, Jerusalem 1983, (Hebrew).                                                                                   

Ben Zion Dinur (chief editor), History of The Haganah, Tel Aviv 1972 (Hebrew).                                                                                                                                                            

Zev Vilnay, The Guide to Israel, Jerusalem 1978.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Dave Winter, Fotoprint Israel Handbook, Bath 1999.

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