A beloved event has finally returned: The Kehillah of Chester County and the Bux-Mont Kehillah have come together for “Kallah: A Night of Jewish Learning” on Feb. 24, beginning at 6:45 p.m. The evening will celebrate Israel — in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Israel70 programming.
The night will feature a keynote address by Consul General of Israel Dani Dayan, followed by Havdalah and more than a dozen options for subsequent lectures and discussions.
The last kallah took place more than 10 years ago, back when the Jewish Federation had regional offices.
“It was very popular,” recalled Shelley Rappaport, director of the Kehillah of Chester County, of the social event. But about five years ago, a Jewish Federation neighborhood initiative grant allowed further programming.
The communities — Bux-Mont, Chester and Delaware counties, as well as the communities of Old York Road, Northeast Philly, Center City and the Main Line — each receive $25,000 a year for programming.
Shortly thereafter, many continued to ask Rappaport, “OK, so when are you going to bring back the kallah?” But the grant wasn’t enough, she said, for the kallah in addition to other programming.
Sherrie Rosenberg Klein, coordinator of Bux-Mont Kehillah, started her position last year, when her team began to envision the future of the organization.
“People wanted good programming,” Klein said, “and what we kept coming up with in these envisioning sessions, one thing they all remembered and loved was this kallah.” After discovering both communities missed the event, Klein and Rappaport partnered up. “Between the two of us, we can put it together. We’ll have the financial resources, and more, and we’ll get our volunteers together. We can do this.”
The Ursinus College venue is centrally located between the two counties and is sponsored by Joseph Levine & Sons, Barbara Rosenau, Ursinus College and Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.
The leaders will each speak on topics “near and dear to them” in relation to Israel, Klein said, to celebrate Israel70 — but without getting too deep into political content.
Discussions vary from occupied land and peace, Zionism during World War I, women in Israel, and spirituality and pluralism, to Israeli poetry, immigration, and water, to name some, led by clergy and Jewish leaders.
“We really wanted to celebrate the diversity in all aspects of Israeli life — in music and the arts and science,” Rappaport said.
“The culture, the people, the melting pot of Israel and all that it gives to us,” added Klein.
Guests will then move to the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus for an Israeli reception with food, wine and music.
“As a Jewish educator and someone who has been to Israel about 25 times, Israel, whatever its faults, is still our home,” Klein said. “It’s still where our prayers are directed. … It’s the center of who we are Jewishly.”
Even Havdalah is infused with Israeli elements: Students from Beth Chaim Reform Congregation in Malvern will make spice bags made of specific ingredients from the markets in Israel.
“We hope when people use them in the future,” Rappaport said, “this will rekindle their love for Israel.”
Rappaport added there’s a component of responsibility to being engaged, involved and informed in regard to Israel. She hopes the kallah drives those elements home to people who may not be able to visit Israel or have never been, and ignite positive feelings of appreciation for the Jewish state.
“We’re fulfilling a need in the community,” Klein continued. Although spread out geographically, “we are one community. We’re bringing our community together.”
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