This summer we are continuing Kulanu’s summer internship program. Meet our two interns for Summer 2016!
Thanks and best wishes to Evan Davidoff, who has moved on from Kulanu to a full-time position at Jewish Veg. We now have a job opening for a new Programming and Development Coordinator! Based out of our New York office, this 3-4 day per week position requires skills in organizational and resource development, marketing, volunteer and office management, and program coordination. This is a vital position within Kulanu’s infrastructure and offers an exciting career development opportunity for an experienced and qualified candidate. Please share this job opening with people who might do great work for Kulanu!
Married to a researcher on soil management, Elysha has high hopes for her new-born community, as she contemplates establishing a Hebrew school for children and inaugurating chevruta (partnered) study of Jewish texts.
The 2016 Kulanu-Madagascar Speaking Tour will run from October 26 through December 5 in the United States and possibly Canada. Click here to inquire about booking an event.Please share this announcement with your networks, including your local organizational leader or event programmer! If you are outside of the U.S. or Canada, please pass this announcement along to your American and Canadian friends and colleagues. Thank you so much!
Today we leave and head home back to our lives. There are more tearful goodbyes and more wonderful gifts and off we go the the airport. For most of us the destination is New York for a few others it is Boston,Philadelphia and far off Seattle. We have 22 hours ahead of us. The route takes us from Antananarivo to Johannesburg and then home.
On the plane I think all of us are trying to put it in prospective. We helped found a new Jewish community and started them on their journey through history. Where will that journey take them.? Who can tell? Will one of the children we converted become a great scholar or spiritual leader who will bring needed light to the Jewish people? Will more and more people in Madagascar become Jewish so that it becomes one of the world’s important Jewish communities? Will Judaism grow in Africa so that these now small and struggling communities come to make up majority of the Jewish people? Will Madagascar become our place of refuge from some persecution yet to be?
Well the work goes on and Rabbi Delouya and his sister are talking about spending a month there over the Summer and all of us are at least thinking of coming back.
http://www.rabbisussman.com/ -Rabbi Gerald Sussman
The next stop was not one of delight but one we where we felt lost. It was the Rova, the historic palace complex of the pre-colonial royalty. This site is dominated be the Queen’s palace, a huge stone structure that can be seen throughout the city. It was built in the mid-nineteenth century and compares quite well with European royal palaces. It was the prime repository of Malagasy tradition and culture. On a windy night in 1995 the palace was set on fire. The wind carried the fire so that all of the structures were destroyed. No one knows who set the fire and for what reason other that than that it has something to do with politics. It has been partially destroyed but the sense of loss remains strong.
Tuesday, May 17th was the day of the long awaited symposium. One of the purposes of the symposium was to provide a platform for an idea which is commonplace in Madagascar, but virtually unknown anywhere elsewhere (i.e. the Israelite ancestry of the Malagasy people). The panelists were a distinguished group which included Pastor Tolatra Ratery, Prince Nidriana Rabiolina, Heri Manantsoa Rariojosen, Professor Tudor Parfit, Henri Randrianasolonjana, Professor Harmon the head of the Ellie School and MM Vololoniaina Razobe.
The first speakers were especially impressive in both their demeanor and in what they had to say. They looked distinguished wearing the sashes which are a sign of Malagasy nobility. Heri wore traditional Malagasy clothing. They cited their own careful research which showed amazing similarities between Malagasy and Jewish cultures. They pointed to language, legend and practices.
They pointed out similarities between traditional Malagasy life and Judaism. For example traditional Malagasy culture places the great emphases on circumcision. The seventh day was a traditional holy day. According to the Malagasy lunar calendar the new year came out in what in our secular calendar would be March-April corresponding to the month of Nisan. According to the Torah Nisan is the first month of the year which reflects the idea that the world was created in Nisan. They told of the numerous linguistic similarities, for example Maariv the Hebrew word for the evening prayer means evening in Malagasy. There were also similarities of what may be called taboos. Parts of traditional Malagasy society prohibited pork and crustaceans as well. A Malagasy ceremony corresponding to the biblical Bikkurim the offering of the first fruits was discussed as well. There are numerous traditions connecting Madagascar to the biblical Ophir from which King Solomon fetched material needed to build the holy temple. There are many stories of Israelites or even Jews in Madagascar. Indeed it was surprising how many people told me about villages of Jews or other encounters with Jews that seem to be unknown to anyone but the Malagasies.
Dr. Tudor Parfit distinguished Professor at Florida International University delivered the keynote address. He encouraged the other in their research and spoke of the importance of their quest neither denying or confirming the theory of the Israelite origins of the Malagasy people.
The other speakers addressed social issues of Malagasy society such as the need for unity and the importance of practical steps to bring about progress as well as the role of women in Malagasy society. Distinguished scholars connected by Skype also gave their greetings. There was also a musical presentation of beautiful Psalms sung by a a recent convert and his wife.
It was a full day and a beautiful event. Though the theory of the Israelite origin of the people of Madagascar is not not generally accepted in academic circles the material presented gave all of us food for thought and raised questions which will require considerable examination.
Today was a perfect day. It was the day of the long awaited trip to the Mikvah, completing the conversions that had been the object of such arduous rabbinic labor. The community leaders had after much toil found the perfect spot. So we got up early and made our way to the local bus station. It was a chaos of commerce and clamor as trucks the local mini-buses taxis and pedestrians clogged the narrow streets. We were happy to see a small fleet of these vans waiting for us along my with our Malagasy friends.