What “All of Us” Accomplished in 2011
This year Kulanu marks its Chai anniversary, our 18th year of outreach on behalf of isolated and emerging Jewish communities worldwide. Chaimeans life and we at Kulanu celebrate with great joy our work sustaining and nurturing Jewish life around the globe. As we look back on 2011, we can take pride in the depth and diversity of our work. Here are just some of this year’s highlights:
Online Learning Program…
- Kulanu began to teach and mentor Jewish learners around the world through Skype, email, and other web communication. Our volunteers tutor students living in El Salvador, China, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe who study Hebrew, Jewish rituals, traditions, culture, and history.
In Uganda (Abayudaya)…
- Kulanu continued to support the community’s primary and secondary schools, which successfully educate more than 700 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students. (Yearly cost: $74 per student)
- Kulanu continued essential school nutrition programs, which increase students’ attendance and performance at school. (Yearly cost: $39 per student for breakfast and lunch)
- Special projects: an elementary school library/literacy program; construction of two new classrooms and staff house, a food storage building, and a grain mill in Namutumba village.
- Kulanu founder Jack Zeller and Lemba coordinator Sandy Leeder journeyed to Zimbabwe to visit the Lemba community. They contributed funds for the construction of the Great Zimbabwe Synagogue in Mapakomhere, the first synagogue in many generations.
- Jack Zeller initiated distance-learning classes in Harare and Mazvingo, organized an on-site class taught by Dr. Rabson Wuriga in Mapakomhere, and provided a laptop computer to support his teaching.
- Carolivia Herron, the author of Always an Olivia, is working with Kulanu to publish an e-book by Rabson Wuriga about the history of the Lemba people.
- Kulanu paid for the restoration of a Torah that will be given to the Lemba community when the synagogue is ready.
In El Salvador (Armenia)…
- Kulanu funded two trips to Armenia by Rabbi Aaron Rehberg of Israel, who founded a Sunday school for children, taught adult classes that increased adult Hebrew literacy by over 500%, and initiated an online learning program. Rabbi Rehberg brought a donated Sefer Torah and delivered over 100 books, mezzuzot, and tefillin that he had collected.
In Kenya, our newest community…
- Thanks to a visit by Ari Witkin, our new regional coordinator for Kenya, Kulanu is establishing a groundbreaking relationship with a small, isolated Jewish community in Kasuku. Ari arranged for several cartons of Jewish books to be delivered to Kasukuby visitors from Minneapolis.
With the Anousim (Crypto-Jewish descendants)…
- Rabbi Stephen Leon led a historic trip to Israel for this year’s Anousim Conference. Participants visited the Wall on Tisha B’av to remember the victims of the Inquisition.
In China (Kaifeng)…
- We supported the Beth HaTikvah School in Kaifeng, including the delivery of a student Torah and copies of Pirkei Avot in Mandarin. We hired Jewish descendant Wong Jiaxin, a recent returnee from Israel, to teach Torah reading at the school.
- Through the school’s Online Learning Program, Kulanu volunteers were able to celebrate Purim over an online internet connection with this Jewish community.
In Peru (Huánuco)…
- Kulanu volunteer Daneel Schaechter spent five weeks this summer in Huánuco. Among his accomplishments were tutoring a Bar Mitzvah boy (the community’s first Bar Mitzvah in 100 years!) and helping Rabbi Peter Tarlow with the conversion of three adults in the community. See Daneel’s full report with lovely photos at www.kulanu.org/newsletters/
In India (B’nai Ephraim)…
- Kulanu worked with the Israeli activist organization Adam l’Adam to install solar paneling and an internet connection for the synagogue and helped them assess the needs and possibilities for sustainable agricultural and economic development in the community.
- We co-sponsored a Jewish studies teaching program with Michael Freund’s organization Shavei Yisrael.
On the home front…
- Cameroon’s Serge Etele is the new photo editor and layout designer of the Kulanu newsletter, as well as the webmaster of our website, www.kulanu.org
- As we expanded our reach around the globe, we invited the help of more key volunteers: Denise Yeh-Bresler is our new regional coordinator for China, Lucy Steinitz is the new co-coordinator for Ethiopia, and Ari Witkin for the emerging community in Kenya.
- Summer intern Jocelyn Spencer redesigned the Kulanu Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project program, adding new ideas and resources for projects; we already have several great student and class projects making an impact!
- The Kulanu-Abayudaya Speaking Tour brought Aaron Kintu Moses of Uganda to congregations, schools, and Jewish centers in 15 cities across the U.S. to raise support for the Abayudaya Elementary and Semei Kakungulu High schools.
- Shi Lei, a descendent of Jews living in Kaifeng, China, returned to the U.S. for a one-month Kulanu-Kaifeng Speaking Tour in February.
Today, I’m asking you to donate generously to Kulanu, an organization that relies primarily on volunteers to support Jewish communities around the world. Your commitment to Kulanu and confidence in the work of “all of us” are essential to the success of our projects. Please help us maintain our programs by giving as generously as you can. See below for how to send your gift to Kulanu.
My deepest thanks for your contribution.