Jamie was so turned off from Judaism that she named her first son Christian. The daughter of a Jewish father from Syria and a Jewish mother from Russia, Jamie had converted to Christianity and married a native American. She and Daniel lived in Carson City, Nevada. Her one son, Christian, did have a Hebrew name too, Yisrael.
But Jamie couldn’t escape her Jewish history for long. Daniel began to do his own research and came to the decision that Judaism was the truth.¬†He hosts a Friday night meal in his home for all the neighbors, mostly non-Jews. Daniel leads a brief prayer session after the food, music and dancing.
Not long ago, Daniel contacted Oorah to help bring his wife and son, the real Jews in the family, back to the fold. His teenaged son, Christian/Yisrael, learns with a TorahMate and we just sent him his first pair of tefillin!
This past Shabbos, TheZone was full once again with hundreds of smiling, happy faces. The campus looked a bit different with snow in place of sunshine, but the energy and excitement that characterizes every TheZone event was the same.
It was undoubtedly the most heartbreaking story to emerge in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: the deaths of Breandon and Connor Moore, ages 2 and 4, after being swept out of their mother’s arms during the storm.
NYPD Lt. Kevin Gallagher, who took care of the bereaved parents in the days after the children’s disappearance, donated the flooded SUV that the family was driving in when it stalled and they were forced to escape to Kars4Kids, an Oorah-affiliated charity.
As soon as Kars4Kids heard the tragic story behind the donation, they resolved to memorialize the two innocent children in some way. Because the Moores were from Staten Island, a coat giveaway for needy children in that borough seemed fitting.
Kars4Kids will be auctioning off the Ford Explorer in order to raise money for the giveaway. They expect to distribute 1,000 coats at the Breandon and Connor Moore Koats4Kids giveaway event in January.
Read more about the Kars4Kids story in the NY Daily News.
Yes, we know Chanukah was already nearly a month ago, but the thank you messages and emails are still pouring in. Here’s one that a TorahMates coordinator just received:
I hope you are well and enjoying winter and the snow. I apologize for not sending this letter sooner.
I would like to thank Oorah for the very kind care package that was sent for Chanukah. As always, it is lovely to receive this surprise package, then to open it up and find all the goodies inside. We used so many of the items, especially the guide book.
The energy was palpable in Brooklyn College Tuesday night, the fourth night of Chanukah, at Oorah’s annual Chanukah concert, free for the Oorah family. Over 2,500 people- all affiliated with Oorah- filled the concert hall.
Big name entertainers like Lipa and Shloime Dachs gave popular performances (Lipa sang his new Chanukah release “Believe in a Miracle.”) Up-and-coming singer Yoni Z, who has performed in TheZone, was also on the program, as was Yitzi Bald’s New York Boys Choir.
But the real stars of the night were the children of Little Star Preschool, who put their all into their enthusiastic performance. Dressed in Chanukah-themed costumes, they sang “I Have a Little Dreidel” among other holiday classics.
TheZone shone on stage as well with an interactive trivia game show that drew participation from the crowd. Mrs. Shimrit Adar, beloved program director of the Girls Division, addressed the audience in her usual energetic and dynamic style. Boys Division campers Shalom Kaddosh and Mickey Aflalo wowed with a display of considerable parkour talent as Lipa did gangnam Oorah style!
Of course, Rabbi Chaim Mintz was a highlight of the night with his keynote address on the topic of Kiddush Hashem. He led the audience in a moving recitation of Shema Yisrael.
The concert was so much more than just a great show though. It was a grand Oorah family reunion. TorahMates met in person, Zoniacs rekindled old memories and everyone came away from the event uplifted and inspired.
The emails and calls have started pouring in as families across the country receive their Chanukah packages from Oorah. Somehow, coming home to a beautiful box filled with all kinds of goodies for Chanukah seems to make everyone’s day so much happier.
The package really came just in time for one family in Queens:
“We received the package for Hanukkah from Oorah and I was so happy!! It couldn’t come at a better time for us. We lost our car in the storm [it was flooded and a tree fell on it during Hurricane Sandy] which is very hard. I was so concerned that I would not be able to buy a menorah and all the rest of the stuff for the holiday on time…”
The ninth grade class of Ilan High School in Deal went on a very special trip yesterday…. to Oorah! The girls came full of energy and super excited to help us package our Chanukah “party-in-a-box” packages. With Chanukah music setting a festive mood, the girls got into two assembly lines and got to work. The 2,000 packages that we’re sending out have all the essentials to throw a Chanukah party, including lots of nosh!