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L-R: Amy Karlinsky and her mentor Carol Rose

Jaffa Gate, Old City of Jerusalem.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Entrance to Jerusalem home.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Flowers for Shabbat, Jerusalem.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


Tess Doan

Amy Karlinsky: Adventures at the Fuchsberg... Her Summer in Jerusalem


By Tess Doan [age 15], January 5, 2011

Adventures at the Fuchsberg: Women At The Wall, Meeting Gilad Shalit’s Mother, Yad Vashem, Israel Museum, Ir Amim

[Editor’s note: The Winnipeg Jewish Review is pleased to introduce and welcome one of our fine new writers, Tess Doan, age 15, a student at University of Winnipeg who is in the process of converting to Judaism.  For more on Tess Doan’s personal story and choice to convert to Judaism, please click here.]

Amy Karlinsky, a writer and artist and curator, who currently teaches for the Winnipeg School Division,   presented interesting photo stories and a passionate narrative about her summer in Jerusalem to an attentive crowd at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on December 19, 2010.

Karlinsky painted a vivid portrait of her experiences as a summer student in the educational leadership program at the Fuchsberg, a centre for Conservative Judaism where Jews can study and broaden their knowledge and experience. Her talk was presented by the Shaarey Zedek sisterhood.

Karlinsky, who has a  B.A.  Hons.  in Visual Art, and M.A. in Art History, and a B. Ed in Art Education , has given public lectures and workshops for university students, college students and the general public in Inuit Art, Contemporary Art and Women in Art.  She has been the Director of  the Nunnata Sunaqutangit Museum in Igaluit.

Karlinsky said of the Fuchsberg, “It was a little bit like Camp Massad! We did a lot of group bonding, we went to the grocery store and we had to find things in Hebrew. Constantly being surprised by the architecture and the beautiful  yellow light. Menorahs everywhere even in balconies!.”

When Karlinsky arrived in Jerusalem, she was immediately immersed in the experience of shabbat in Israel. She showed pictures of all the challah and described how the apartment manager where she was staying made sure she knew it was Shabbat by yelling “Shabbis, shabbis, shabbis! Hurry up and get to the store...” 

The Fuchsberg was only a twenty four minute walk from where Karlinsky was staying. It offers educational enrichment opportunities, the Agron guest house, Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation, and  education about Masorti  and Conservative Judaism.  Karlinksy engulfed herself in courses such as Visualizing the Zohar.  (For more information visit , the official site of the Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism).

At the Fuchsberg  Karlinsky she met people from all over the world-- from New Jersey to France and Italy. People from Germany, Miami, and England all bonded through sharing spiritual experiences and learning. Karlinsky stated that there was “a broad spectrum” of practices and observances at The Fuchsberg, with male and female teachers, scholars, and addictions councillors, gay and lesbian faculty, people from medical schools and leaders in education.
Karlinsky explained her experience, reading from a letter that she never got a chance to send to her sister, as “Israel is the fulfilment of my heart of being in a prayer-filled environment, of being in a land that feels closer to HaShem.”

The words that Karlinsky used to describe her emotions really captured the spirit of her experiences and the awe that those experiences inspired. According to Amy, “Jewish-ness is really multidimensional. It allows me to be a contemporary Jew. It is a struggle here as well.” 

Karlinsky was at the Western Wall, and was able to witness the Women of The Wall because she was there for two Rosh Chodesh. The Fuchsberg supports the Women of The Wall, which is a conservative movement that supports equal rights for all genders.  Women have been praying together at the Kotel since 1988, and Karlinsky was fortunate to be able to be a part of this. The  mission statement of the Women of the Wall says  that, “Our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.

One of Amy’s most profound experience in Israel pertained to the Gilad Shalit Vigil. In 2006, Hamas captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. When Karlinsky was in Jerusalem, Gilad Shalit had been a prisoner for one thousand four hundred eighty three days.  On her way to school, she would walk through the Vigil. Karlinsky saw many posters and banners paving the streets, and she heard desperate pleas of Shalit’s mother. This was definitely a life-changing experience. Gilad’s mother asked Amy to make a mark on one of the banners that was prominently displayed  on the streets of Jerusalem, and she did so.

Hearing Karlinsky describe how the scents of Rosemary and Jasmine filled the streets of Jerusalem temporarily transported the audience from the minus 30 degree Winnipeg weather that raged outside the synagogue walls.  Karlinsky also spent a very substantial amount of time in the newly re-opened Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and told her avid listeners “I highly recommend it! Get yourself to the New Israel Museum...”
On her first working day in Jerusalem, Karlinsky went to the Yad Vashem . “I spent about six hours there and I could have stayed more.” She explained the wall of names and the whole exhibition as “...a very powerful Israel/Jerusalem experience.”

Karlinksy highly suggested that everyone look into Ir Amim; a NGO that focuses on the Israel- Palestine conflict in Jerusalem. Founded in 2004, their mission is to protect all of the residents, holy places, and cultural and historical heritages. Amy put an emphasis on this organization, and fully supports it. For more information on Ir Amim visit: .

Ir Amim regularly provides information to Knesset members and members of the Jerusalem Municipal Government about  Israel’s actions in East Jerusalem that they believe  impede equitability amongst  residents, or threaten the possibility for future final-status negotiations in Jerusalem, such as the building of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.   According to its website, “Ir Amim applies the term "settlement" in Jerusalem “mainly to Jewish construction in the middle of Palestinian areas when the construction is not a direct and open government initiative -- namely concentrations of Jewish settlement in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the Old City and the adjacent neighborhoods.”

It is quite evident from her presentation that Karlinsky fell in love with Jerusalem. Her enthusiasm inspired many of the audience to want to make a trip to Israel, whether it be a return visit or a first time visit to the Holy Land.

The impact of her story inspired others to consider going to Israel not just as a tourist, but as a student; not just to see and hear the sights and sounds of being in Israel, but to truly immerse onelself  in life  in Israel. Whether you are ten years old or ninety you can take back more than souvenirs from Israel. You can return with stories and a life style that you can pass on to others.

Amy’s “list”, as she put it, included the Fuchsberg, the museums of Jerusalem, and the Western Wall. It is only one trip away.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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