Here to stay: Most ambassadors promise to keep in touch with the country where they have served when they step down from their post, but more often than not reality keeps them from coming back anytime soon. Not so when it comes to Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel. The Champaign, Illinois native never left after stepping down in January, and in March he will be joining the Institute for National Security Studies as a distinguished visiting fellow. Next Thursday, the former diplomat will be speaking at the Herzliya Lecture Series on “Diplomatic Ups and Downs” at the Seven Stars Residence in Herzliya Pituach at 10:30 A.M. “Apart from some finer nuances in his recent post and his varied experiences, I am sure he will be explaining how he has decided to remain in Israel,” Austen Science, the British-born chairman of the lecture series group, told Haaretz.
Healthy marriages: Together in Happiness, an advocacy group committed to strengthening marriage and family values in Israeli society, hosted a meeting with Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick at the Knesset on Wednesday to promote legislation for funding pre-marriage education. “Marriage Education is about providing couples with the tools to confront the obvious challenges that will come throughout life,” said Susan Barth, the group’s founder. “Divorce is a national crisis in Israel that can be significantly addressed through marriage education and it is therefore essential that we embrace this approach through increased awareness and funding,” added Barth, who hails from Texas. The keynote speaker was Prof. Howard Markman of the University of Denver, who has written extensively on the topic. “By enacting this legislation, Israel will be implementing a highly cost-effective way to decrease the divorce rate while increasing overall health of the society,” he said.
Olim go beyond: Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish National Fund announced the launch of a new joint initiative on Monday called Go Beyond, which provides extra assistance beyond what the immigrant support organization already offers to individuals and families planning to move to Israel. While some 15 percent of immigrants who have moved to Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh have settled in the north or south, their numbers have increased since the immigrant support organization launched its Go North and Go South programs. Through Go Beyond, new immigrants will be able to obtain enhanced benefits such as grants for pilot trips, personalized meetings with municipal contacts and professionals, vouchers for online Hebrew classes and assistance with college loans.“Today’s Olim are infusing a vibrancy and energy into these areas of the country – socially, demographically and economically,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
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