Monday, July 1, 2013

Letter From Rabbi Dov & Shevy Oliver

Thank G-d last week I returned from leading my eleventh Birthright group and it was a very special trip indeed.

Apart from the incredible daily emotions of being on Birthright, apart from those participants who:

- laid Tefillin for the first time
- lit candles for the first time
- celebrated Shabbos for the first time
- belatedly celebrated their "Bar or Bat Mitzvahs" and finally chose a Jewish name
- extended their trip to volunteer or study Torah
- fell in love with Israel and saw their Jewish pride and identity come alive

...apart from all of them was Eric, who, twenty years later than intended, joined with the millions of his ancestors, friends and family going back as far as Avraham Avinu in a very special chain. Early one morning, with a panoramic view overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Eric had his Bris and received the name Yehudah.

Beyond the "belated" bris described above, I was blessed during this trip to dance at the wedding and even sign the Kesubah of one of our RCC Hillel alumni.

Weeks before, I had the joy of officiating at the wedding of one of our star students, and just today, one of our alumni couples had a baby boy, so next week it'll be another bris, this one right on time!

Some of our most gratifying moments are not around a simcha. Unfortunately, before the trip, the mother of one of our alumni passed away. While it was sad to eulogize her at the funeral, it was a huge relief that after hours of discussion, we succeeded in talking the family out of cremating their loved one.

As you likely know, we had decided months ago to move back to Australia, but our plans were waylaid due to immigration issues. Those have been resolved - in fact I recently became an American citizen - so there is no longer any obstacle to leaving. However, we have decided to stay, and we are very glad about that decision. As you can see from the paragraphs above, there is simply too much work to do and too many students and alumni to work with.

We appreciate your support in whatever format it comes in, whether it is through yearly or monthly donations, "Scroll" dedications, or calendar ads. Having been here six years, I can proudly say that Hillel is in great shape. We just finished a great semester, have many summer plans such as Shabbatons and social engagements and are planning a  great fall semester.

But financially the squeeze is on as it has never been in my six years here.

In order for us to continue our impactful work, please consider a meaningful participation in this year's calendar (see attached file for details), and may you and your family be blessed with a safe and enjoyable summer.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Dov and Shevy

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