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Giving Ten Percent of Yourself

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On Sunday, January 19th, four young professionals from 30 YEARS AFTER, an Iranian-American Jewish civic action organization, sat around a large board room table in Beverly Hills and interviewed over 30 fellow young Iranian Jews from that had applied for a new leadership training program. To an outsider, it looked innocuous enough–meetings in a boardroom, a water cooler, papers spread out over a table. However, to those of us that were involved more intimately in the deeply rewarding process that has become this program, we understood that in our own small way, we were making history.

30 YEARS AFTER was founded by and is run by young Iranian American Jews, students and professionals alike, in 2007. Our name signifies a moment in time when everything changed for our community back in Iran–a Revolution, a devastating war with Iraq, an entire shift in the trajectory of our very lives as the children of Jews that were themselves born in Iran and had planned to live the rest of their lives in that country, never having had a moment of doubt as to whether their children or grandchildren (us) would be raised anywhere else other than Iran, as they and their ancestors had been for 2,700 years.

Over 30 years later, here we sat, in the Board room of a legal office of a colleague that had himself escaped Iran as a child, interviewing what we increasingly came to observe as the cream of the crop of young Iranian Jewry in Los Angeles. They had given their time on a Sunday to apply for The Maher Fellowship: the first-of-its-kind young leadership training program run BY young Iranian-American Jews the Iranian-American Jewish community.

We asked the applicants everything from their professional background and education to their civic and Jewish life activity and experience. Each candidate blew us away. There was the 22-year old that just graduated from Stanford (he was the commencement speaker) and had formerly interned at the State Department, having managed contacts with Syrian opposition rebels for use in intelligence gathering; the 22-year old that was the Founding Executive Director for the non-profit Swipes for the Homeless, which collects and donates unused student meal vouchers to the homeless community – recently recognized by President Obama as the most influential college organization in America. Her greatest passion is encourage fellow Iranian Jews to get their hands dirty and give back to those less privileged; there was even the 28-year old CEO of two start-up companies who holds the record as the youngest-ever elected Board member of Nessah Israel Cultural and Educational Center’s Board of Directors. There is not nearly enough space here to describe how each candidate that walked thru the doors of that boardroom elevated both our pride and our hopes for the next generation of Iranian-American Jews.

At the center of it all were two inspiring young men– the Fellowship’s founder and coordinator, Jason Youdeem, and its primary supporter, Oron Maher, after whom the program is named. Both serve tirelessly on 30 YEARS AFTER’s Executive Committee. When asked why he had decided to support this program with such generosity, Oron’s response blew us away. “I felt that the time had come to give 10% of myself to something, he said casually during a recent session of the program. Not merely 10% of his income, but 10% of himself. There is a vast difference between the two.

Perhaps if readers take away any single message from this article, it will be the unbearably simple yet intense wisdom of how to give. To say that our community has been blessed with access to education and financial success in America would be an understatement. To write checks and attend glamorous gala fundraisers might seem as innocuous as conducting day-long meetings in a board room in Beverly Hills. To give the Jewish tithing of 10% by committing to give 10% of yourself means that you allow the cause which you are helping to help you back by reminding YOU what values and actions the world needs from you.

Over the course of the next five months, our 18 Maher Fellows will be trained in everything from public speaking to mapping the Los Angeles Jewish community, from philanthropy to how to truly be an effective Jewish leader. They will all embark upon Washington, D.C. as Los Angeles delegates to the AIPAC Policy Conference, where they, along with both Jason and Oron, will represent beyond themselves to their community back home in LA, especially their parents that most likely never imagined that their sons or daughters would be convening in America’s capitol to lobby American leaders to support Israel.

A seed was planted several Sundays ago in a boardroom in Beverly Hills. We look forward to updating you as it blooms and thrives and culminates by giving these remarkable fellows back to their community. If each commits to giving 10% of himself/herself in terms of time, action, and values, our community would always be reminded that As the leader, so the generation; as the generation, so the leader (Talmud Yerushalmi) Arachim 17a.

30 YEARS AFTER is also grateful to the support of the Jewish Values Partnership (JVP) and the guidance of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the PresenTense Fellowship. To learn more about the Maher Fellowship, please visit our website.

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Tabby Refael is a Los Angeles-based writer. She previously served as Executive Director of 30 YEARS AFTER.

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IsraAID is launching the Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN) in Los Angeles and Bay Area

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 World-renowned Israeli Humanitarian and disaster relief organization expands presence in U.S. by offering Americans training andopportunities for Disaster relief deployment

Los Angeles, CA – On January 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, disaster relief NGO IsraAID will launch its new aid initiative, The IsraAID Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN), an elite program that trains doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental health professionals in disaster response and deploys them around the world to helpsave lives.

IHPN members become part of a network of likeminded professionals at the top of theirfields, joining a robust roster of professionals in Israel, and have a chanceto share Israel’s humanitarian ethos with communities in need. Current IsraAID missions span disasters such as the wildfires in California, refugee crises in Greece, Kenya, Bangladesh, violence in Uganda, and cyclones in Vanuatu.

“IsraAID draws on Israeli social innovation and expertise to benefit people in need around the world. We are now leveraging our organization’s unique capabilities to train professionals in the U.S. interested in developing life-saving skills and joining humanitarian relief missions globally, hand in hand with professionals from Israel” said Seth H. Davis, Executive Director of IsraAID U.S. “IHPN will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if local disaster were too strike.”

The first event, entitled “What You Need to Know About Humanitarian Aid,” will feature speaker Tim Burke, MA, MPH, who lead IsraAID’s work in South Sudan for five years, where he oversaw programs in public health and post-conflict development. Subsequent speakers include atmospheric physicist Colin Price and refugee crises expert Dr. Nir Boms.

With deployment in 49 countries, and currently active in 19 countries, IsraAID is an expert in training professionals to deploy. In the U.S. alone in the last year, IsraAID has provided humanitarian relief in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, California, and Puerto Rico.

“IsraAID will make Los Angeles more secure by leveraging their unique expertise in disaster response to train professionals in our community,” said [Paul Koretz]. “I look forward to working with IsraAID to help them rollout their IHPN program in California”

Professionals interested in attending should RSVP here  and/or learn more and join the network here.

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About IHPN: The IsraAID HumanitarianProfessionals Network (IHPN) is an exclusive network of professionals at thevanguard of global aid relief activities. Members of IHPN receive expert briefings, emergency-preparedness training, access to enrichment with field leaders,and priority access to deploy on IsraAID missions.

About IsraAID: IsraAID is anon-governmental organization that provides lifesaving emergency relief andlong-term, sustainable solutions for populations affected by natural disasters, epidemics and post-conflict situations. Our teams leverage Israeli innovation,work in full collaboration with local partners, and educate the public and professionals on disaster prevention and relief. IsraAID (US) Global Humanitarian Assistance, Inc. is an independent 501c(3)organization.

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Nothing Matters More Than This

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We live in a world where FOCUS is even MORE important than your INTELLIGENCE.

From our never-ending Facebook feed, to our freshly-updated YouTube subscription page, to our email inbox, we live in an abundant world of information.

However, is it really necessary to consume all of this general information?

Will it ever be useful? Will it ever make any difference in your life?

No. Most likely not.

Learning a little about a lot of different things doesn’t really amount to much.

Instead, you should FOCUS.

Focus on learning and applying ONE skill as intensely and deeply as possible.

Focus is where mastery kicks in.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t the best basketball player that ever played because he was the best all-around person.

Kobe Bryant was world-class because he was absolutely great at ONE thing and one thing only: playing basketball.

So instead of consuming as much general information as you possibly can… instead FOCUS.

FOCUS on one topic. FOCUS on one task. FOCUS on one goal.

Because today, more than ever, focus is way more important than your intelligence.

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New Initiative Launched to Restore Memories and a Legacy

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On Tuesday January 30th, Thirty Years After (30 YA) hosted the Legacy Launch, one of their largest, most innovative and interactive projects to date, at the Ahyra Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills.

Sam Yebri, President of Thirty Years After, explains the Legacy Project, “The Project is a grassroots initiative that will help preserve and honor the Iranian  Jewish experience through video for future generations,  and provide an opportunity for every family to capture their parents’  and grandparents’ most compelling memories and anecdotes before it is  too late.”

Doors opened to guest at 7:00 pm where they were greeted with smiles from 30 YA volunteers and staff members. The lobby was packed with guests who were treated to wonderful Iranian street food not often seen or eaten in the United States. The delicious cuisine included Labu (beets baked in their own juice, and typically served steaming hot in a street cart during the dead of winter), Baghali (beans topped with spices, typically served the same way as Labu), Dizi (a meat mash/stew– usually made with lamb, but made with beef and chickpeas at our event), Shohleh Zard (saffron rice pudding), Chos-e-fil (otherwise known as popcorn) and Mahi-Cheh Polo (herbed rice with beef shanks).

The large number of attendees was a testament to the genuine and unprecedented support for the new generation of leaders of the Los Angeles Iranian-American Jewish community.  The printed program for the event listed over 25 generous families and businesses that supported the Legacy Launch and congratulated 30 YA on celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

This event was magical because of the broad range of emotions experienced just by being shoulder to shoulder with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins born in Tehran. Sadness is one emotion that could have been felt while standing in the room, because of all of the untold stories that were not recorded, told or heard. How many stories have we “missed out” on because family members have passed away, younger generations have gone off to college, or simply because we took time for granted? At the Legacy Launch, time stood still for a few hours for the sake of a community recording the past, but very aware of time, embracing beloved memories on video, but also progressively moving toward the future.

Yebri explained, “Our history informs our present and powers our future. This is especially true when our families and community have such a rich legacy of inspiring memories and experiences in Iran and during our exodus to America.  30 Years After  is thrilled to launch ‘The Legacy Project’ as part of the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration.”

Bobby Zolekhian, former President of Nessah Young Professionals expressed, “It was one of the most inspirational events I have been to. I am recruiting people to share their stories. This is something extraordinary!”

Featured guest speakers during the screening included Mrs. Susan Azizzadeh, President of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, Dr. Saba Soomekh, Assistant Director of Interreligious and Intercommunity Affairs at AJC, Megan Nemandoust, Margalit Rosenthal, Liora Simozar and 30 YA President, Sam Yebri.

The dynamic presentation of the screening and its intimate interviews clearly validated that the second and third generations of Iranian Jews growing up in the United States are confidently embracing their unspoken responsibility to record the stories of generations before them for a purpose with a greater cause– maintaining their identity, culture, and traditions.

Learn more about preserving your legacy with 30 YA at https://legacy.30yearsafter.org/

 

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