News Briefs: Repair the World Names Director, Mayim Bialik Meets Rivlin, and More


Repair the World Names New Philadelphia Executive Director

Repair the World: Philadelphia announced the hiring of Rachel Berger as its new executive director.

Founded in 2009, Repair the World works to “make meaningful service a defining element of American Jewish life,” according to its website. The group organizes young Jews in tackling local needs and helping “communities and partners to do the same.”

A Philadelphia native, Berger earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Yeshiva University and a master’s degree in social work at Columbia University. From 2011-12, she was a Dorot Fellow and is a current Wexner Field Fellow.

“I am thrilled to return to my hometown of Philadelphia and to join an organization that taps into my passions of social justice and service alongside community building,” Berger said. “The fellows here are deeply committed to serving with our partners in West Philly, Center City and the Greater Philadelphia area.”

Two Area Schools Meet in Tournament Tier IV Hoops Championship

The Kohelet Yeshiva High School Kings basketball team outlasted their Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia counterparts 50-44 on March 19 to win the Tier IV championship at the Red Sarachek Tournament at Yeshiva University.

Judah Esses scored 23 points for the victors, while Nathan Greenberg added 14. Marc Volpin paced Mesivta with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Akiva Erlbaum scored 14.

Twenty teams from across the nation participated in the tournament, which groups teams into four tiers. Mesivta and Kohelet were seeded 15th and 16th, respectively; the teams split two prior matchups this season.

Former Refusenik Wins Israel Prize

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet refusenik and outgoing head of the Jewish Agency, will be honored with an Israel Prize, JTA reported.

Sharansky’s efforts to promote aliyah and the ingathering of exiles was cited in an announcement made by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

“The ingathering of the exiles continues — aliyah today is an aliyah of free choice: Israel is the best place for self-actualization as a Jew and for impacting the future of the Jewish people,” Sharanksy said in a statement. “We must do everything to ensure that Israel remains a home to every Jew in the world.”

Jewish Journalist in Colombia Refuses to Cross Herself, Asked to Resign

Colombia journalist Cathy Bekerman refused to cross herself on air and was ordered to resign her Channel 1 anchor post — which she also refused to do, JTA reported.

Bekerman, who is Jewish, was asked to resign by newscast director Yamid Amat. She refused, returning to the office two days later with a lawyer.

Amat later apologized.

“One of my instructions, to accentuate a piece of news that was not about religious beliefs, provoked a rejection from my colleague Cathy Bekerman. Because I feel that I affected her religious convictions without that being my purpose, I offer her a public apology,” he wrote on Channel 1’s website. “May the Jewish community and other religious organizations always receive a respectful treatment from me.”

Exponent Editor Interviewed on Jewish Philly Podcast

Jewish Exponent Editor-in-Chief Joshua Runyan is featured on the inaugural Jewish Philly podcast produced by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The podcast is available at

Runyan discusses his recent wearing of the mummers costume made famous by Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce during the Super Bowl parade.

Blossom/Amy Farrah Fowler Meets Israeli President Rivlin

Actress Mayim Bialik met Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on March 18 in advance of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, JTA reported.

“My family came to live in Israel when I was born, and they lived in a few places around the country, so I grew up with a strong Zionist identity,” Bialik, 41, told Rivlin, who said he heard about her through his grandchildren.

Bialik has gained fame over the years as the title character in the sitcom Blossom and as scientist Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory, as well as for obtaining a doctorate in neuroscience.

Raised Reform, she now practices Modern Orthodoxy and has been a strong supporter of Israel.


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