Kulanu-Madagascar 2016 Speaking Tour Announcement

image: Kulanu's 2016 speaker.

Elysha Netsarh of Madagascar, Kulanu's 2016 speaker.

online inquiry form

online calendar

Kulanu is excited to announce our 2016 Kulanu-Madagascar speaking tour. Yes, Madagascar! We met our speaker, Elysha Netsarh, during our journey to that far-away island country off the east coast of Africa. We were immediately struck by Elysha's outgoing personality, her intellect, and her command of English, as she interpreted for us from her native Malagasy language and French.

Elysha, a researcher and teacher who earned a PhD in plant chemistry at the University of Paris, was raised in Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital city. At a young age, she became interested in probing her country's history, as well as the history of her own family, who, in response to colonial pressures, practiced Christianity along with the majority of the country's residents. When her grandfather revealed the family's Jewish origins, she began to study Judaism in earnest. Her formal conversion in May is the culmination of her search for identity, the fulfillment of a "permanent spiritual thirst."

As a leader of the Jewish community of 150 people deeply committed to Jewish practice, Elysha is in the process of preparing a Hebrew-Malagasy prayer book and compiling a Hebrew-Malagasy Chumash. She leads a women's chevruta (partnered) study group on Jewish texts. The distinctive headscarf she wears elicits questions from students and colleagues at the University of Antananarivo, allowing her to share her Jewish beliefs.

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.

Please join us in welcoming Elysha on her first trip to North America. Her multi-media presentation will include videos of the celebration of the conversions of members of the Madagascar Jewish community and the joyous Jewish weddings that followed. Through fabulous pictures and music that will accompany her presentation, audiences will learn about the fascinating little-known country of Madagascar, populated by a warm vibrant people challenged by poverty, and home to an emerging Jewish community that will continue to grow and thrive with our recognition.

We are requesting your help in identifying possible venues for this year's Kulanu-Madagascar speaking tour which will run October 26 to December 5, 2016. Schedules fill up fast, so please act soon to reserve your spot this fall.

The educational program will be age-appropriate for all and can include a slideshow or video presentation and African Jewish music.

What is required of host locations?

Please know that you are welcome to seek co-sponsors to share your event. Synagogues of all denominations, Jewish community centers, Protestant churches, and secular and Catholic universities have all joined together to co-sponsor Kulanu speakers. Kulanu speakers have been welcomed at Brown, Cal State, Howard, Washburn, Wellesley, Northeastern, and Yale Universities. Within universities, many departments have co-sponsored, including history, religion, music, Jewish studies, African studies, campus ministries, international development, and diversity offices.

Here is what we ask of event hosts:

  • An honorarium of $1,450 per event, which includes travel expenses.
  • A primary contact to be responsible for the event and for Elysha while she is in your city.
  • Accommodations, meals, and local transportation for the speaker (home hospitality is great!.

Event set-up requirements and other guidelines are detailed in the online Event Planning Kit.

If you would like to host the speaker, what should you do next?

  • Complete our online inquiry form to let us know of your interest and how to reach you. If you are able, please list three possible dates between Wed., Oct. 26 to Mon, Dec. 5, 2016 that might work for you.
  • Please consult our online calendar to see which dates have already been assigned to other groups, and which dates have tentative requests.
  • Check out Kulanu's online Event Planning Kit (to be posted in early June) to get an idea of what is involved in hosting a successful speaking tour event.