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 Press release March 2016, The Leo Baeck Education Center, Haifa
March 2016, Adar I  5776
Leo Baeck Community Center Director Yoav Yagol Meets with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin
On Wednesday, February 17, Leo Baeck Community Center Director Yoav Yagol had the great honor of meeting with President of Israel Reuven Rivlin at the President’s House in Jerusalem.

President Rivlin invited the leadership of the Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC), directors of community centers in all sectors of Israeli society, and representatives of Oranim Academic College of Education, to a one-day workshop at the President’s House. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate discussion and promotion of President Rivlin’s vision of enhancing multicultural partnerships between all sectors of Israeli society, religious, secular, Arab and Haredi, through the social, economic and human resources of the IACC.

The IACC chose leaders from seven of Israel’s 180 Israeli community centers to participate in this event. The Leo Baeck Education Center’s Community Center was introduced as an outstanding model of multicultural community service and its Director Yoav Yagol was one of two community center leaders selected to give a presentation to the President.

Yoav introduced the Leo Baeck Clore Shared Existence Center, one of seven Leo Baeck satellite community centers, and the Ein Ha-Yam Trail project. This project is a unique community tourism initiative in the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Ein Ha-Yam / Wadi El-J’mal in Haifa, operated by volunteer residents with support from the Clore Center and in collaboration with the University of Haifa and the Haifa Municipality.
According to Yoav: “The Leo Baeck Education Center and its Community Center are commited to values of pluralism, community service, leadership, humanism, and equality. The Ein Ha-Yam project in particular is devoted to promotion of the dialog between various sectors in the community and to improvement of the overall quality of life of neighborhood residents – socially, culturally, and financially.”
The Leo Baeck Community Center serves as the hub of the outreach programming of the Leo Baeck Education Center, one of Haifa's preeminent educational and community service institutions.
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin (3rd at left), Leo Baeck Community Center Director Yoav Yagol (4th at right), and community center leaders from throughout Israel gather at the President’s House in Jerusalem on February 17, 2016

Ohel Avraham Synagogue hosts CCAR rabbis at Kabbalat Shabbat
On Friday, February 26, 2016, 16 rabbis (four women and twelve men) from the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) participated in an especially festive Kabbalat Shabbat service at Leo Baeck Education Center’s Ohel Avraham Synagogue. Among the guests were Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Arnie Gluck of Temple Beth-El of Hillsborough, New Jersey (rabbi of the Ohel Avraham Synagogue from 1986 to 1991), Rabbi Deborah Hirsch of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City (Leo Baeck’s sister congregation), and Rabbi Bruce Lustig of Washington Hebrew Congregation. Over 150 Haifa community members, including rabbis, Leo Baeck staff, faculty, students, community volunteers, and congregants attended the service. The service was followed by a spiritual and experiential evening of good food, liturgy and prayer with our honored guests.
Rabbi Gabby Dagan and Rabbi Na’ama Dafni-Kellen led the musical service that filled the synagogue with the joyous singing and prayer of all the participants. Rabbi Na’ama inspired everyone with her sermon based on Parashat Ki-Tisa about “Machatzit ha-Shekel” (the Half Shekel), interpreted as meaning that one should always see himself as part of a bigger picture and in need of joining with others. In this spirit, she said, Israel and the Diaspora are two halves that complement each other.  
The service concluded with mention of several honors and developments at the Leo Baeck Education Center: the staff of the Clore Shared Existence Center for receiving the Rotary International Tolerance Award for the Ein-Ha-Yam Trail project; Yoav Yagol, Community Center Director, for participation and presentation of Leo Baeck’s Community Center at a workshop on multicultural collaboration at the Israeli President’s House; Eran Dubovi, YEDA CEO, for the planned expansion of the Leo Baeck YEDA school network to two additional schools in Israel’s low socio-economic communities, one Jewish and one Arab; and to Leo Baeck’s Young Ambassadors who participate in student exchange programs worldwide.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs remarked that this visit to Israel was filled with hope regarding the Reform Movement and its actions in Israel, but that he came with little hope about Jewish-Arab relations. Then he arrived at the Shabbat service in Ohel Avraham, sat next to an Arab-Israeli and heard about a shared path built together, and was refilled with hope that we can join together and walk that joint path and live a joint life.

For more information about projects and activities of the Leo Baeck Education Center and how you can support us, please contact us at: tel. +972-4-8300571, email: dia@leobaeck.org.il
Visit our website: leobaeckhaifa.org


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