As I look back on 2008, these highlights stand out:
- We initiated and/or continued our partnership with Jewish communities in more than thirteen countries on five continents.
- Kulanu shared the prestigious Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University with the Mirembe Kawomera “Delicious Peace” Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative and Thanksgiving Coffee Company for the interfaith coffee project initiated by the Abayudaya community with the help of Kulanu.
- Kulanu organized a lecture tour and supported Dr. Navras Aafreedi, a Pashtun, in his project to bring Jewish Studies as an academic discipline to India.
- In only three weeks, Kulanu supporters matched a $5,000 emergency grant for the Kulanu-Abayudaya Child Hunger Project from the Estelle Friedman Gervis Family Foundation. Gervis and other Kulanu donors funded two new dormitories and a primary school kitchen. The first graduating class in the Abayudaya primary school did well in their national exams.
- A Kulanu working group has continued to support the Lemba in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and has explored rabbinic training options for a promising young Lemba man from Zimbabwe.
- Remy Ilona, Kulanu’s liaison in Nigeria, has continued to research, write, distribute books, and host email groups about the Igbos. Kulanu has advised him about application to graduate school in the U.S. so he can prepare to teach Jewish Studies in Nigerian universities.
- Kulanu made possible a four-month visit from Alex Armah, teacher and spiritual leader of the Sefwi Wiawso community in Ghana, to study with the Abayudaya in Uganda.
- Kulanu has improved our web site and inaugurated Kulanu Updates sent via email. Past issues of Kulanu Update can be read on Kulanu’s new blog, created by volunteer Matthew Feldman, at cyan.olm.net/~kulanu/blog.
- Kulanu began work with the small Jewish community in Suriname. Kulanu provided a summer volunteer teacher, financial assistance, and help with renewal of the Jewish community and expanded Jewish tourism. Board member Jacob Steinberg became our coordinator for Suriname.
- Kulanu’s Sandy Leeder and Jack Zeller worked with Young Judea’s post-high school “Olami track” to organize visits to Jewish communities in Africa, India and Portugal.
- Kulanu leaders assisted Tebeka, an organization that provides legal assistance to Ethiopian Jews in Israel, to form an American Friends of Tebeka, and sponsored the visit of M. K. Shloma Molla to the initial fundraising event of AFT in Washington, DC.
- Kulanu’s youth participation program continued to grow, and included development of a brochure for bar/bat mitzvah candidates. Kulanu mitzvah projects were successfully accomplished by eight bnei mitzvah candidates, three summer camps and nine schools.
- We expanded the Kulanu board, adding Barbara Vinick of Boston, Andria Spindel of Toronto, Sonia Rosen of Washington, DC, Jacob Steinberg of Toronto, and Rabbi Stephen Leon of El Paso. All have participated enthusiastically in Kulanu’s efforts.
- Our annual Abayudaya speaking tour has been a great success. By the end of the tour on December 1, this year’s speaker, community chairperson Israel Siriri, will have spoken before more than 2,300 people across the U.S. and Canada at more than 25 venues including congregations, schools, Hillel programs and other groups.Â Â Â Â Â