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“Through repeated inhumanity, our humanity must remain…”

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Four days ago, beautiful innocent 13 year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was viciously murdered in her sleep by a 19 year old Palestinian terrorist in Kiryat Arba, Israel.

Three days ago, father of ten Rabbi Michael Mark was shot in cold blood by a Palestinian terrorist while in his car with wife and children, overturning their car and leaving his wife and two of his children seriously injured.

Two days ago, my Birthright group had one of the most powerful and disturbing conversations about anti-semitism I’ve ever heard. Almost every single person in the room – Israeli, American, Canadian, or otherwise – could identify with at least one example  of antisemitism in their own lives. Tears were shed, arguments erupted, and yet we respectfully facilitated the conversation as a family.

A few days ago, we heard the devastating news that Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and inspirational Nobel Laureate, died at the age of 87 leaving behind a legacy of fighting global injustice, and moving past the unthinkable darkness he himself experienced in Auschwitz. Within hours, commentator and author Reza Aslan took to the web to call our unburied hero a liar.

Yesterday, our group visited the Israeli Holocaust Museum ‘Yad Vashem’, meaning ‘a hand and a name’. To truly understand the horrors of the holocaust is impossible. We’re simply not equipped to process such grotesque inhumanity. And while Jews were arguably the worst off in the sphere of Nazi violence, countless Poles, Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, and others were too victims of this horrific tragedy.

As we left the museum, one of our soldiers noticed a Holocaust survivor she was familiar with. Bert Badihi, as strong a soul as any and pictured below, agreed to speak with our group for a few moments. She recounted how her family sent her away to live with a Christian family as a child, not having informed Bert that she would from that moment on for all intents and purposes identify as Christian for her own safety. Now living in Israel, proudly Jewish, and an employee at Yad Vashem, Bert is still in touch with the family that saved her more than 70 years later. She added that the most difficult trauma in her life, considering having survived the Holocaust, was losing her grandson to a rocket attack from terrorists. She drove home that it was her life’s duty to share her story whenever possible…

We ended our day with a visit to Mount Hertzel, Israel’s national cemetery where countless soldiers, victims of terror, and the foremost politicians and leaders of Israel are buried. Tears are never enough to memorialize the fallen, but they’re all we have hearing the stories of those lost, and thinking about the families and country that remember them every day. Forever grateful to the soldiers that protect Israel and in turn every Jew alive from persecution with no refuge.

We’re all processing so much today. Recognizing that pure hatred was at the root of Nazi ideology, subjugating my extended family to inhumane conditions before exterminating them. That there are people on this earth who either negate the mere existence of the holocaust, or infinitely worse, levy the monstrous label of “nazis” to Jews/Israelis themselves when debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I can’t think of a more blatantly ignorant, offensive, and dishonorable accusation…

With all that has happened here in just 4 days, not to mention the insanity ensuing in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad and elsewhere, I can only encourage us to truly look at one another as equals. Our humanity supersedes any divisions that race, faith, sexual orientation, or other characteristics may engender. I don’t have a clue how things will evolve, or devolve, given the state of the world, but if there is one thing we all have the power to do, it is to look into the eyes of the other, any good-willed innocent other, and consider that more of a mirror image than you’ve ever allowed yourself to imagine.  We must see one another as members of the larger human family, and care for one another as such- there’s simply no greater task on our hands at this very moment in time.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.” (Elie Wiesel, 1986)

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Arya Marvazy is an organizational consultant who works with businesses to improve workplace effectiveness and productivity by reorganizing organizational systems. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Psychology from UC San Diego and a Masters in Organizational Behavior from NYU. Currently working towards a certification in life coaching, Arya is most passionate about travel and LGBTQ advocacy.

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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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november, 2019

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