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Coleen Dieker

“Music is the soul to language.” Thus did Abraham Joshua Heschel define music as the key element to Jewish prayer, which is called “tefillah” in Hebrew. It is in this spirit that The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah announces that Coleen Dieker has been appointed the congregation’s music director.

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When you are a Jewish girl from Kansas, there may be a few misconceptions when you say you want to become a hip hop artist. Kansas City personality Sara “Miss Conception” Glass is working to change those perceptions.

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Ethan Helfand

Ethan Helfand, a Leawood native and a 2004 graduate of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, recently took the reigns as EMTZA Region USY regional youth director. He said he’s really looking forward to this multi-faceted job with the Conservative movement’s youth group.

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Uzi Hangadi, 27, made Aliyah this past week from San Diego, California, following a promise he made to his father before the older man died of cancer. The son promised to continue what he started in the United States, and to devote his entire life to the struggle to improve Israel’s image in the world. With the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF USA, Hangadi fulfilled his promise and went to the IDF recruitment office yesterday.

L’HITRAOT — We seem to be saying that a lot lately … until we see each other again. This time we are sending our best wishes to Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner, who is leaving The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah after seven years to head up her own congregation, Temple Beth Tikvah, in Roswell, Georgia. Tomorrow night, June 12, B’nai Jehudah is honoring Rabbi Shuval-Weiner with a vegan Bisseleh Nosh, Shabbat services and a vegan Oneg Shabbat following the service. It’s an opportunity for the community to stop by, wish her well and share a memory with her.

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David Seldner (right) attended the Magic of Giving Kidney Gala last year with members of his family, including stepdaughter Katie Alfaro. They are holding the prize Alfaro won as part of 150 ‘balloon pops,’ a cosmetic bag and beauty ensemble.

Two years ago David Seldner was in need of a kidney transplant and searching for a donor. He took a myriad of medications and was on an extremely restricted diet in an effort to avoid beginning dialysis. Luckily he found a donor and his transplant took place at the University of Kansas Medical Center on Aug. 14, 2013.

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This colorfully illustrated French and Hebrew Haggadah was published in Vienna in 1930. It was restored by the National Archives and Records Administration Preservation Programs and will be on display as part of ‘Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,’ at the National Archives at Kansas City beginning June 18.

For the third time, the National Archives at Kansas City is partnering with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education to bring a unique and educational project to Kansas City. “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. government efforts to preserve these materials. It opens at the National Archives, located at 400 W. Pershing Road in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 18, and continues through Aug. 15. Viewing hours for the exhibition, which is free and open to the public, are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. MCHE will present a benefit event on Wednesday evening, June 10. 

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Jeff Wright, vice president of Cancer Services at University of Kansas Hospital, presents Annette Bloch the 2015 Philanthropist of the Year Award given by Nonprofit Connect. Photo by Sabrina Staires

BLOCH HONORED — On May 15 Nonprofit Connect honored Annette Bloch as its Philanthropist of the Year. Nonprofit Connect Executive Director Luann Feehan said Bloch and the other three Philanthropy Award winners have impacted the community through the giving of their time, talent and funds. The award was presented at the 31st Annual Philanthropy Awards Luncheon, Kansas City’s oldest and largest celebration of giving. The funds raised at the Awards Luncheon allow Nonprofit Connect to continue to offer education, resources and networking so that area nonprofit organizations can more effectively achieve their missions. Nonprofit Connect is a membership organization and is the first source for nonprofit professionals, volunteers, students, funders and businesses seeking opportunities to network, learn and grow. Nonprofit Connect links the nonprofit community to education, resources and networking so organizations can more effectively achieve their missions.

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Last week at the preview event for “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education honored Dr. Carla L. Klausner for her commitment to preserving Jewish heritage through education. Shown seated with Dr. Klausner (bottom row, from left) are her husband Tiberius and daughter Serena Klausner. Granddaughters Aviva and Anna Clauer are in the middle row. Standing in the back row are granddaughter Haidee Clauer, daughter Mirra Klausner and Mirra’s husband Todd Clauer.

EXHIBITION IS A MUST SEE — Today, Thursday, June 18, is the official opening of “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” the exhibition on display at the National Archives at Kansas City in partnership with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. I got a sneak peak at it last week and I have to say I’ll have to go back again later when I can take the time to study the artifacts more closely. The restoration of these artifacts after they were discovered in the ruins of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 is amazing. If you don’t have a chance to visit the exhibition, the restored artifacts were completely digitized and may be found at www.ija.archives.gov. But Kansas City is privileged to be one of four cities to get this traveling exhibition, so you should take advantage of this special opportunity and see what you can up close and in person. It’s much more fun than looking at a computer screen! And don’t forget the special speaker’s series that begins June 24. Learn more about the exhibit and speaker’s series at mchekc.org/exhibit.

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Rabbi Binyomin Davis

After eight years in Kansas City, one of the original rabbis of the rejuvenated KC Kollel is moving on. In late July Rabbi Binyomin Davis, his wife Gevura and their five children will move to Philadelphia where the Davises will work for Etz Chaim, a Jewish education and engagement organization Rabbi Davis described as very similar to the KC Kollel. Rabbi Davis will be serving as the managing director. Gevura Davis will also be taking a professional leadership role in the organization. She has been associated with the K.I. Fred Devinki Eitz Chaim Religious School for the past four years, serving the past two years as its director.

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Noah Geller

Music lovers and history lovers alike will be fascinated by musical works that were banned in Nazi Germany and other fascist regimes on June 16 when the Shir Ami Ensemble presents “Forbidden Music of the Holocaust: Presenting the Music of Composers Silenced by the Nazis.” The concerts begins at 7 p.m. and will take place at Congregation Beth Torah.

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Look who ran into each other at the Royals vs. Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon. Matt Rissien (far left), who now resides in the windy city, just by chance bumped into Morrie Bronstein, Brandon Cosner and Josh Graham. Graham and Rissien both attended HBHA, and the four know each other from the KC area.

RABBI AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS TITLE OF REFORM JEWISH EDUCATOR — Rabbi Rebecca Reice, associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Torah, has been granted the prestigious title of Reform Jewish educator by the Reform Jewish Educator Title Granting Commission. 

The much-coveted title of Reform Jewish educator is awarded only by the Reform Jewish Educator Title Granting Commission composed of representatives of the constituent bodies of Reform Judaism. These include the American Conference of Cantors, the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Commission on Jewish Education, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion and its School of Educations and the Union for Reform Judaism. 

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Rita Blitt

International artist Rita Blitt and the Jewish Community of Greater Kansas City, The J, have a deeply-rooted connection. 

It started as a child. Growing up Jewish in Kansas City, Blitt attended plays, meetings and children’s groups at The J. At one time, her mother, who devoted her time to Jewish humanitarian causes, even worked there. 

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