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By Rosalind Marmel, California Correspondent, February 7, 2014

A few days ago I was contacted by a Russian Jewish immigrant, Irina, who along with her husband, parents and family were sponsored and immigrated into  the United States by a Havura from Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino, California in 1991.  Irina told me that The Jewish Agency of Israel has been of tremendous help to her family, son and other families who she knows well.  The first Havura in North America was formed in 1961 in Whittier, California.


Former Winnipegger and Massadnik, Cantor Herschel Fox officiated at the Jewish marriage of immigrants, Irina and Edward Dmitriyev in 1991, along with my former philosophy  professor, Rabbi Emeritus of Valley Beth Shalom, the revered author and spiritual leader Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis.  Rabbi Schulweis is the innovator of many things that are now common throughout the world.  In 1986, he established The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) to fulfill the traditional Jewish commitment to "hakarat hatov", the searching out and recognition of goodness.  The JFR is committed to assisting those Righteous Gentiles who are in need, who frequently hesitate to reach out for help.  They acted without expectations of reward, then and now.  Rabbi Schulweis realized that it is our duty to support them. Rabbi Schulweis and Cantor Herschel Fox  sealed the Jewish marriage of Irina Dmitriyev who is a highly qualified Mechanical Design Engineer and her husband and scholar, Edward in 1991. In the former Soviet Union they were unable to be married in the Jewish tradition.   Cantor Herschel Fox remains the revered cantor at Valley Beth Shalom.  The members of the Havura who dedicated themselves to making a new life in California for Irina's family are:


Cy and Charlotte Maxwell, Jane and Lester Volchok, Jackie and David Rubin, Harriett Rosenberg, Al Alexander, Gloria and Al Esses and Kurt and Darling Hershinger.


Irina contacted me asking that I do anything I can to make others aware of the online 72 hour jam session beginning Sunday, February 16th thru Tuesday, February 18th, which will be a platform open to the world so that the Government of Israel and representatives of world Jewry can get the brains of all working so that they are not shaping our future without us. 


"It's your future, own it."


Please read the details and plan to join the brain-storming session.


The Government of Israel (GOI) and representatives of World Jewry have launched a major initiative aimed at addressing what they see as the major challenges facing the international Jewish community today. The big idea is that tapping into the collective Jewish mind (and not just wallet) will create new ways of thinking and doing, so that programs truly matter, and resources are spent with wisdom. Efforts are focused on strengthening Jewish identity, and deepening engagement of a new generation with the Jewish people and with Israel.

In other words – they are busy figuring out your Jewish future. Without you.

That’s about to change, we hope.


From Sunday, February 16th until Tuesday, February 18th, the content platform currently collecting opinions and suggestions from Jewish professionals and thought leaders will be open to the broader Jewish public for a 72-hour Online “Jam Session”, where ideas are the music, and talkbacks are the beat.

If you ever wanted to tell your rabbi / teacher / grandmother / federation exec / synagogue president / Hillel director /Member of Knesset / Gap year program coordinator exactly where you stand, where they had you at Hello, or where they lost you along the way, this is your chance.

If you have a big idea or a small complaint, a brief suggestion or a long thought, we invite you to join us here.

It’s your future. Own it.

For more information, please contact [email protected]

or see



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