Rank and File

Getting involved: Kol Oleh, the movement founded this spring to get Tel Aviv residents – and in particular immigrants – more involved in Israel's electoral system, took its next step Monday with a sold-out event in the city. MK Dov Lipman opened before the crowd of 120 with a speech about how "being part of a movement made a difference on the ground" and how "if you have enough people to say you want things changed" politicians will listen, making a difference on policy, said Guy Seemann, Kol Oleh's founder. Kol Oleh's Ben Sack, a native of Austin, Texas, followed up with the implementation strategy, including candidate forums and a voter pledge drive. The evening ended with performances by three comedians, Odelia Yakir, Alex Koifman, and Benji Lovitt. "I have been in this country seven years and I definitely want to make the country a better place and I thought this would be a way to have fun while doing something good for a cause," Lovitt, who hails from Texas, told Haaretz. Seemann added that there were 20-25 native Israelis, noting the whole point is to "pop the bubble" and get residents "to move into the Israeli system."

‘Thank you Filipinos: A little appreciation can go a long way, as Jerusalem resident and ex-Londoner David Herman learned this summer. The Philippine Ambassador in Israel, Generoso Calonge, personally presented Herman with a citation for a song he had composed called "Thank You Filipinos" last month. "A couple of months ago I decided to write a song in tribute to the Filipino caregivers in Israel who do so much for our elderly and handicapped," according to Herman, who moved to Israel in 1966. He said the names mentioned in the song were those of caregivers for senior citizen friends of his, including one named Nick, who died three years ago from cancer and left his paraplegic employer of nine years, Efi Rimon, heartbroken. The song lyrics were published in the popular local Filipino magazine Manila Tel-Aviv. "Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by the Philippine Embassy's cultural attaché, Ms. Tess Reyes, and invited to perform the song for the first time at the Philippine Fair in Haifa on July 25," where he received the citation, recalled Herman.

Making Torah relevant: Shir Hadash, a community center and congregation in Jerusalem, aims to make Torah learning both meaningful and practical at its High Holy Days “Yom Iyun" this Sunday, a study day on the 10 days spanning Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. "A number of speakers are public individuals and not just rabbis, coming to say how Torah informed their political and national lives, so it shows how Torah can provide guidance and make it relevant," Ian Pear, a Phoenix native who co-founded Shir Hadash with his New Yorker wife Rachel, soon after moving to Israel in 1999, told Haaretz Wednesday. Pear added he also recruited some leading Israeli speakers like Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and liberal Orthodox Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who normally don't give speeches in English, to do so at the study day so an English-speaking public can understand them. Other speakers include David Aaron, an American-born rabbi who founded the spiritually-oriented Isralight organization, and Ronen Neuwirth, who formerly served as the rabbi of Bnei Akiva in North America. For more info, visit www.shirhadash.com.
Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.