Israeli Shabbat Dinner

Shabbat Dinner, Voice4Israel

Raleigh Shabbat Dinner

A few months ago we relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Raleigh. As we landed with only a few friends, we decided to take it on ourselves to be a part of the local Jewish and Israeli community. Back in the Bay Area, we participated in a few rotating Shabbat Dinners that were sponsored by OneTable, an organization that helps to facilitate these meals. We decided to host our own unique Shabbat dinner, and as Israelis, it was a no-brainer that we should have an Israeli theme.

Shabbat Successs

For our first dinner, we had about 15 people, many of whom never knew each other before coming. We had a great meal (serving Shakshuka with Labane and Mujaddra) and played an amazingly fun and funny game that I have been running for years- Telephonary (if that makes you curious then you should definitely come!). It was so successful, that we decided to host these Shabbat dinners on a monthly basis. Yesterday we had our second Israeli Shabbat Dinner and 30 people showed up!! Again, we had a blast with tons of food, yummy desserts, great conversation and new friendships that were initiated (some people who are doing their Ph.D. in one of the universities in the Triangle and never knew about each other).


Shabbat Dinner, Voice4Israel

Open Invitation 

So here is an open invitation, as we are planning to do it again next month, look out for that invite on Facebook or Meetup before all the available seats are filled up. The dinner is free and all are welcome.

Email here for more information:

Editor’s note: This dinner is a private event and not an official Voice4Israel event.

On the way to this event listen to some Israeli songs of the summer from Camp Shelanu. 

Explaining Anti-Semitism and Discrimination to the Durham City Council: An Open Letter

Israel, Mark Anthony Middleton, Voice4Israel
Amy Rosenthal with Josh Ravitch

Explaining Anti-Semitism and Discrimination to the Durham City Council

Voice4Israel board member Amy Rosenthal sent this letter to Durham City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton to share her concerns about the discriminatory nature of the Council’s decision to single out Israel.

Hello Mr Middleton,

I have reviewed again your statement from the April 16th hearing regarding police exchanges with Israel. You said “I’m troubled….that the mere mention of a nation is somehow anti-Semitic. I’ve seen that tactic before.” We who support Israel have not said you cannot criticize Israel, I have no idea where you got that notion, but you seem quite pleased to be calling us out on it anyway. All the Israel supporters I know criticize Israel, and America, and Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and Lebanon, and England, and France, etc, etc. It becomes discriminatory and anti-Semitic when you only criticize Israel, and blame that country while ignoring egregious behavior on the part of others.

"It becomes discriminatory and anti-Semitic when you only criticize Israel, and blame that country while ignoring egregious behavior on the part of others."

You said “the council did not single out Israel.” If this were true, why is that the only country mentioned? Simply because you chose the lines you wanted to select from Chief Davis’ statement, while leaving out the positive experiences she had working with Israel, does not excuse your selective wording. To say “we were just quoting Chief Davis” is a slick way of trying to get out of what you did, but we are not fooled.

You properly asked the question “what does military style mean?”, then never went on to define it. Even so, you and everyone else used the words as though they understood exactly what it means. What kind of research did you do on the matter? How do you know that Israeli police are “militarized”? Based on what data, criteria and research? Did you compare this to other countries who train with American police?

Finally, I found your last words offensive and anti-Semitic. Other groups “would love to have the time we’re spending on this…but when you got more money and you’re better organized….I guess you get our attention”. You should know that the pro-Israel community spent zero dollars on our defense. We had no money, but what we did have, and continue to have, is outrage. That is why we were there. We feel deeply wounded. That is why we will do everything possible to educate people about the wrongs that were done to the Jewish community, wrongs that you played a role in.

Thank you for your time,

Amy Rosenthal

Amy Rosental, Israel

Bio: Amy Rosenthal lived in Jerusalem from 1964-1965. Although I was young, Israel had a powerful effect on me, and I have loved the land ever since. My experience there is an important part of who I am. I am dedicated to seeing Israel thrive in the future.

I Love Israel with Carin Savel

Carin Savel, Voice4Israel
Carin Savel, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary

This is the seventh post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Thank you Carin Savel!

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

Hearing my cousin Leeyah yelling my name at the airport when I arrived for the first time. We look alike, talk alike and think alike. We got into her car and drove to a tiny place for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other in years, but it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. We couldn’t stop hugging and crying.

Best food you had in Israel?

Well, that’s easy– halvah. In the shuk in Jerusalem, I bought 4.5 kilos of it thinking we could eat it all before I left. We wound up giving away what we couldn’t eat– and I regretted that later!

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It’s just beautiful and walking through the exhibits is peaceful. Art speaks volumes to me, and is always an indication of the soul of the city.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red sea.

The Dead Sea. Who doesn’t like floating while getting a free facial?

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

That’s a difficult choice, but I’ll say Tel Aviv. It’s an amazing city, full of life, music, lights and laughter. And great restaurants and people watching. Tel Aviv feels like the future and it always asks you back.

Carin Savel is the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary. She grew up in New York City and has worked in the non-profit sector and government arenas for over 30 years. Carin has served on the national board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, is a member of the JCPA Israeli-Palestinian-American Leadership Relations committee, facilitates the JCRC Kosher Pork series, and is currently a member of the JCPA Delegates Assembly. She lives in Raleigh with her new Boxer, Avi.

Israeli Songs of the Summer at Camp Shelanu

Shelly Rocca, Israel. Voice4Israel

Shelly Roccah – Dance Counselor at Camp Shelanu

Shelly Roccah is the dance instructor at Camp Shelanu. Ms. Roccah is 21 years old,  was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, and has been dancing since she was 3 years old. Ms. Roccah has practiced modern dancing and Balinese dancing, but her favorite style is Hiphop. Shelly shares, “I’m really happy that I got to teach dance at Camp Shelanu in Durham, NC.”

Happy Campers

Roccah has inspired many children and their parents this summer to explore Israeli dance and music. One happy parent tells Voice4Israel,

"My children jump into the car every day at pick-up talking about Ms. Shelly and begging to listen to their new favorite Israeli song. Once I find the song on YouTube, my children proceed to dance every step Ms. Shelly has taught them from their car seats. Because of Ms. Shelly, my children are exploring more Israeli songs they find on their own. The song of our summer has been "Tudo Bom" and several remixes of it we have found all thanks to Ms. Shelly."

Israeli Songs of the Summer of Camp Shelanu

Ms. Roccah was asked to share with Voice4Israel readers five of her favorite Israeli songs that she has been using with the campers at Camp Shelanu. 

Shelly: ”Zahav”- by Static and Ben El – preformed by Israel’s most famous duo. The name of the song means gold.

Editor’s note: The Times of Israel reports that Pop duo Static & Ben El sign with major US record label.

Shelly: “Todu Nom” is another hit by Static and Ben El. This song became specially famous in Brazil, since the name of it is in Brazilian. Tudo Bom means- everything is all right.

Editor’s note: My children love this song and the Mor David Remix of it we found. 

Shelly: “Tel Aviv” by Omer Adam- preformed by Israel’s most famous singer, who won the “best singer of 2018 “ award.

Editor’s note: If you see a car on 15-501 rocking up and down with happy children in the back seat, this song is likely to be playing.

Shelly: “Golden Boy”- by Nadav Gedj – this song represented Israel in the 2015 Eurovision contest.

Editor’s note: At a recent sleepover of Camp Shelanu campers, this song was on repeat with the children working together to get their choreographed dance moves just right. 

Shelly: “Tazizo” by Eden Ben Zaken. Eden Ben Zaken was a contestant in Israel’s X Factor.

Editor’s note: This song is listed last, but is certainly not least. This song has been on repeat all summer long in the car.  

Camp Shelua is located in Durham, NC and welcomes everyone with joy. Camp Shelanu is inclusive of all faiths and backgrounds and is proud of their diverse community. For more more information about Camp Shelanu, click here

Recently, Voice4Israel featured a different style of Israeli music  – read our post on the Heavy Metal Peacemakers. 

Lullabies and Blood-Libels: An Open Letter to the Durham City Council

Durham City Council, Israel

Voice4Israel Continues to Speak Out

Voice4Israel board member Mike Ross wrote this open letter to the Durham City Council on August 16 objecting to the Council’s demonization of Israel and the Mayor Pro Temore’s perpetuation of the myth that Israel indiscriminately targets civilians.  

Dear Mayor Schewel and Councilpersons Alston, Caballero, Freeman, Johnson, Middleton, and Reece,

I was prompted to e-mail in response to a retweet by Jillian Johnson in solidarity with UK Labor Leader Corbyn. In so doing, you seemed to want to perpetuate the distortion that Israel was indiscriminately killing civilians in Gaza.

Israel, Voice4Israel, V4I
Mayor Pro Tempore retweets Jeremy Corbyn

The vast majority of Gazans who have died were terrorist organization members, intent on mayhem, deviously hidden among civilian demonstrators. The tweet’s misrepresentation, is what the terrorists count on, and it helps ensure that they will continue their malign behavior, at the cost of more suffering, primarily of their own people. I wish you had not retweeted this, as it suggests an alignment with the goals of Hamas to destroy Israel. It encourages the belief in our community, that such desires were the true motivation for your insistence that the City Council Statement single out Israel.

The City Council’s statement to apparently ban all types of police training only in Israel, has left our community with dismay. This decision was made after your countenance of a two hour City Council Meeting segment, largely devoted to putting Israel on trial. Many spoke to convince you that Israel is delegitimate and guilty of irredeemable crimes. Their words were of a similar nature as the tweet’s message.

I care deeply about the welfare of Palestinians, and would be over joyed to see them live in the peace, prosperity and dignity, which all people deserve. Members of the City Council, please consider whether the demonization of Israel, (to which your actions, deliberately or not, have contributed), is really helpful in finding a pathway to such a peace.

Jacob Siegel a New York based writer who has written for The New York Times, and many other publications, wrote this taken from his recent article regarding another slander of Israel, Lullabies and Blood-libels:

"to justify the unusual reproach directed at Israel among the many states of the world, evidence of unusual guilt is required. The evidence…being, not the basis for judgment, but the means of justifying a pre-ordained conclusion. In this worldview,…Israel’s guilt exists independent of any particular actions it takes. Where no crimes are on hand they must be fabricated to serve what is taken on faith as a greater truth…Great crimes—even brutality against children and cold-blooded murders—rather than shocking the conscience, provide the comforts of reassurance in a live-action morality tale."

This quote I believe can be applied to the deliberate misrepresentation of the Gaza violence, inherent in the tweet. I imagine you would not agree that these quoted words also apply to the City Council Meeting proceedings of April 16th. But please consider it from our view, as many of us were left feeling that they unfortunately do indeed apply.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to correspond with you. Thank you for your attention and consideration of my impressions.


Michael Ross

Michael Ross has been an active supporter of Israel, having served as president of the Raleigh B’nai B’rith chapter, chairman of the Raleigh/Cary JCRC and president of Voice4Israel. He is an AIPAC National Council Member and Tikvah Society Member. He lives in wedded bliss with his lovely wife Elizabeth in Raleigh. They have two children Matthew and Emily. A neuroradiologist, he has practiced with Wake Radiology for 28 years.

Heavy Metal Peacemakers

Chen Balbus, V4I, Voice4Israel
Chen Balibus

Chen Balbus of Orphaned Land Speaks with Voice4Israel

Chen Balbus, guitar player of the Israeli band Orphaned Land, answers questions for Voice4Israel about being a successful and respected musician in Israel. 

Haaretz refers to Orphaned Land as “Israel’s most successful metal band [which] has fans throughout the Arab world. For 27 years it manages to combine guitars and distortion with traditional Middle Eastern music.”

Favorite place to visit in Israel and why?

Balbus: Ancient Jaffa. I’m into ancient locations with ruins that you could pretty much get a sense of the history. Jaffa is beautiful (and not too far away from anything).

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Balbus: Jerusalem is amazing but I’d personally go for Tel Aviv, which has a much more relaxed kind of vibe unlike Jerusalem where it’s full of tourists.

"Orphaned Land are unique because they combine Middle Eastern music with metal, text from the Torah, Koran and the New Testament and in the mix of it they call for peace without touching any side of the political map. They have a huge amount of followers in the Arab world, including fans who who have tattooed the bands logo on their body - in countries where you go to jail for doing that."

-Israeli fan

Orphaned Land combines heavy metal with Middle Eastern music and text from the Torah, Koran and the New Testament. What made you decide to use this formula in your art?

Balbus: There are many around the world from any genre that would, lets say, choose a subject from their culture, vikings for example. We just pretty much took what is more related to our culture and history and combined it with our traditional music. It worked out well, I’d say 🙂

From all of your tours and shows, what was the most memorable moment for you as an Israeli and a Jew?

Balbus: Wacken festival 2016, although every show is very unique, but seeing all those country flags together in one place. That’s coexistence in the making right there. beautiful

Has the BDS movement ever tried to prevent you from performing? If yes, what have you done about it?

Balbus: Not that I know of, yet.

What are your thoughts about BDS trying to prevent artists from performing in Israel and Israeli artists performing across the globe?

Balbus: Pure waste of time, wasted on hate spread instead of spreading the good.

Why I love Israel?

Balbus: It’s my home. our home.

Editor’s Note: Readers may also enjoy our I Love Israel series. 

It is a privilege to be a Jew, my son

Daniel Greyber, Israel, Judaism

Rabbi Daniel Greyber wrote the following letter to his son, Alon, before he went off to college. Voice4Israel is honored to share it with our readers. 

"I wish that I could tell you that Jews are safe in a world without Israel, but I cannot."

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

A Letter to My Son

I wish that I could tell you that Jews are safe in a world without Israel, but I cannot. A few weeks ago, we watched Schindler’s List. Your ima and I have given you a Jewish identity without a lot of focusing on the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust). We have given you Shabbat and Jewish prayer and holidays and Hebrew and Torah study and mitzvoth as the foundation to your Jewish identity. While we never hid the Holocaust from you, we waited until you turned 16 to show you Schindler’s list. It is not until this summer, after many previous summers at Ramah, when you will travel to Poland that you will learn more deeply about the crimes that were committed against our people just 75 years ago. We did not hide these things from you, but waited to introduce them to you because there is a downside to sharing this history with you: the darkness of the Shoah can be so powerful that it overwhelms light and hope. I hope that as you learn about the Shoah, you never lose hope in God and hope in the capacity of the world to be redeemed. But I also hope that you learn that Israel must exist if the Jewish people are to be safe from genocide. I wish I could tell you that America will always be safe for Jews; I cannot. Germany was a progressive, enlightened society; people thought it could never happen. It did there. It can here.

Israel is important though, not only as a refuge. Your abba is a rabbi who loves the Jewish tradition of study and prayer but I accept the Zionist critique which the rabbinic Judaism the developed in the diaspora left us with enormous intellectual gifts but deprived us of wisdom that only comes with the responsibilities of self-governance. Rabbi David Hartman wrote: “Israel expands the possible range of halakhic involvement in human affairs beyond the circumscribed frameworks of the home and synagogue. Jews in Israel are given the opportunity to bring economic, social, and political issues into the center of their religious consciousness.” Only because of Israel do we now have modern music, and television, and film and literature in Hebrew. Only because of Israel are the Jewish people able to send help after an earthquake in Haitii or to advise California on how to solve its water crisis. A sovereign Jewish state is the great religious and moral challenge the Jewish people have embarked upon in thousands of years. In 1762, more than a century before Theodor Herzl launched political Zionism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing in Emile, said, “I shall never believe I have heard the arguments of the Jews until they have a free state, schools and universities, where they can speak and dispute without risk. Only then will we know what they have to say.” He was right. If Israel disappears, much more will be lost than just a refuge. It is a blow from which I do not know the Jewish people can recover again.

"Judaism’s most audacious idea may be that, in God’s eyes, we are not small. We matter."

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Of course, this begs the question, why should the Jewish people matter to you? You are a scientist, my son. I believe God blessed you with a great mind, even if, in your mind, you are not sure you believe in God. You, better than I, sense how big the universe is – that we launched a spacecraft to Jupiter in 1989 and, after traveling at a speed equivalent to flying from Los Angeles to New York in 82 seconds and using “planetary gravity assists,” Galileo finally arrived — six years later! Our solar system is one of 100 billion star systems in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is one of about 30 galaxies in what astronomers call our “local group.” We are small. Judaism’s most audacious idea may be that, in God’s eyes, we are not small. We matter. “The greatest sin of man,” wrote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “is to forget that he is a prince — that he has royal power.” I cannot prove to you your life’s worth, my son; I can only bequeath to you the knowledge that you matter a great deal, that within you is an entire world of potential and goodness. I cannot prove to you that the Jewish people matter; I can only bequeath to you my faith that the people of Israel matter a great deal, that we have brought knowledge and love and faith and light into the world. It is a privilege to be a Jew, my son. We are no better, no worse, than other peoples. We are a small, fragile fragment in a sea of human life. Our task is eternal – to bring God’s light into the world. We matter. You matter. And because these things are true, Israel matters as a place to keep us safe, as a society within which the Torah can be most fully brought to life, as a culture through which our people can most fully know ourselves and the world. She is not perfect. Nothing is. But she is ours, and she matters more than we can know.

Love, Abba.

Daniel Greyber is rabbi at Beth El Synagogue, a Conservative and Orthodox synagogue in Durham, NC that welcomes many intermarried and gay and lesbian families and is home to a politically involved population with widely divergent opinions on everything. Greyber is the author of Faith Unravels: A Rabbi’s Struggle with Grief and God, was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications from Northwestern University. Most importantly, he is married to Jennifer, and is the proud father of their three sons, Alon, Benjamin, and Ranon.

Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Series

Thursday, September 27 at 6:00pm at the Levin JCC (Mandatory Introductory Session)

Taught by Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Through the study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meaning of peace in the Jewish tradition, participants are invited to explore the ideas and values that animate different attitudes toward the conflict and how these values shape their own political understanding. This introductory session at the Levin JCC will be followed by 12 course sessions, beginning October 11 at 6:30pm.

Israel Under Fire: From Green to Black, Turning Israel to Ash

Israel under fire, Israel, arson, Voice4Israel, V4I
Israel under fire

Amy Rosenthal shares her memories and pictures of a beautiful Israel landscape with our readers. 

"With 678 fires so far, crops burning and animals burned alive, where is the outrage?"

Amy Rosenthal

Israel Burns from Hamas Attacks

As Israel burns from Hamas attacks, day after day for more than 100 days, why is the world silent? With more than 678 fires so far, crops burning and animals burned alive, where is the outrage?


Josh and I visited Israel near the Gaza border and the town of Sderot when we were on our StandWithUs mission trip, right before the fires started in April. We met families who were working hard to grow precious crops. We saw beautiful greenery in the countryside. We visited greenhouses where delicious tomatoes were grown with great care. The members of the moshav we visited near Sderot took a lot of pride in their hard work, and for good reason. It’s hard hard living to make such land produce for the people as they do. I have included a photo from the roadside, one from a home in Sderot and another of the amazing greenhouse.

Now, these fields are black and dust. All the labor for nothing. It’s time for the world to stand up and say NO to Hamas!

Amy Rosenthal is a Voice4Israel board member and part of our outstanding Farmer Market’s team

Video courtesy of the Israeli Defense Forces 

An American Volunteering In Israel During the Attack

Israel, Gaza, Israel under attack
Photo Credit: Israeli Defense Forces

Mark Werner, an American volunteer on an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) base from Raleigh, North Carolina, reports his experience near Gaza. Writing in The Times of Israel, Werner states:

“Most Americans have never had the experience of being wakened in the middle of the night by a Tzeva Adom (‘Code Red’) siren, rushing to the closest bomb shelter, and hiding in the shelter while listening for the explosion of a Palestinian missile. I recently had this experience and am writing to share it with non-Israelis…At 10:30, the Tzeva Adom sirens jolted us awake. Danielle ran down our corridor, banging on our doors: ‘Code Red Alert! Missile attack! Get to the bomb shelter fast!’”

The IDF Responds By Striking 12 Terror Targets