AND THE WINNER IS ...: Nefesh B'Nefesh, the immigrant assistance organization, announced the winners of its Wedding Gift Challenge last week, with the $10,000 grand prize of the online popularity contest going to newlyweds Avi Coven and Melody Mostow. "The contest was perfect for us. I'm a political science major; campaigns are in my blood and there are few things I love more," said Mostow who graduated this spring from Indiana University. NbN's goal for the social-media based popularity contest was to get more young Jews to discuss moving to Israel. Coven and Mostow certainly did that, garnering 10,002 votes out of a total 43,000. There were 25 couples competing for the package of prizes earmarked for a married couple making aliyah. "I am from Pittsburgh and many of the couples competing were from New York or New Jersey so to involve my community [Bloomington] which normally doesn't get involved in aliyah was exciting for me," Mostow told Haaretz. After getting married Sunday, Avi and Melody, who said she dreamed of moving to Israel since going on a semester program in high school when she was 15, are spending their sheva brachot in Pittsburgh and Chicago, then going on a honeymoon before officially immigrating August 27.
WOODY SEZ: The arrival in Israel of the critically acclaimed West End hit "Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie" traces back to a chance meeting in Europe, according to Betsy Lewis Yizraeli, chairperson of Haifa English Theater. The cast “was performing at a festival in Europe and a couple of old ladies came up to say how wonderful it is, and one said 'you really should perform in Haifa,'" she told Haaretz this week. "And they said, 'Haifa?'" Lewis Yizraeli, a Washington, DC, native who has been with H.E.T. since 1981, said Andy Teirstein, one of the actors, encouraged the others to book Israel, including Haifa. The show tells the "tumultuous, tragic, touching and joyful tale" of one of American's greatest folk poets, including timeless hits such as "This Land is Your Land." "Woody Sez" has been running since its debut at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show will be at Jerusalem’s Khan Theater August 21-22, Tel Aviv's Tzavta August 26-27 and close at Haifa English Theatre August 29 and 31. For more info, call the Khan (02-671-8281), Tzavta (03-695-0156) or H.E.T.'s Hazel Packer (04-872-7940).
KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: American-born MK Dov Lipman visited Shutaf's summer program to talk advocacy and disability issues with co-founders Miriam Avraham and Beth Steinberg on Tuesday. Avraham, of Spring Valley, New York, and Brooklyn-native Steinberg - both parents of children with special needs - established Shutaf, which is dedicated to inclusion programs for such children and teens in Jerusalem. Lipman brought fellow Yesh Atid MKs Ronen Hoffman and Karine Elharrar. "Karine herself is wheelchair bound, and she told us she got into politics to 'improve accessibility in every kind of way,' which is exactly what we're about," Steinberg told Haaretz yesterday. "She gets it." The MKs extended an invitation to the kids to take a tour of the Knesset, while Elharrar invited Avraham and Steinberg to attend a Knesset plenary on the subject this fall. "For us to have any kind of visibility about disability inclusion and acceptance would be a good step for us," said Steinberg.
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