CEO Letter 8.2.19

by Jenn Ross

Each fall, we partner with our neighbors from York to do important programming through the Community Relations Council Israel Speaker Series. The past three years focused on education about Israel, focusing on combating BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction) and other challenges facing Israel in today’s world. Dennis Ross, Jonathan Tobin & JJ Goldberg, and Ilan Troen all shared extensive historical and political knowledge with our communities.

This November, we are  taking a bit of a different approach. After a year of numerous unspeakable racial and ethnic violence and tragedies, we felt it was important to bring strength and hope to our community by inviting individuals to speak to us who had overcome them personally with the hope of better understanding the human aspects of war and terror.

In January 2009, an Israeli tank shelled the home of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish in the Gaza Strip and killed three of his daughters.  He founded Daughters For Life Foundation which raises money to educate women in the Middle East in memory of his daughters. According to the organization’s website, “Dr. Abuelaish never sought to seek revenge or sink into despair and hatred. Instead, he called for those in the Middle East to stop the bloodshed and facilitate discourse for mutual understanding. His strongest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

This speaker may seem controversial to some in our community, but I hope all will take the opportunity to hear him speak. Dr. Abuelaish has never challenged or denied Israel’s right to exist. His powerful desire for peace, even after tragedy, is honorable, and is expressed in his book I Shall Not Hate, which I read in its entirety before he was invited to speak by our joint committee. Our Israel Speaker Series has to date primarily focused on education from Jewish Israel insiders. We encounter a lot of Jewish education about Israel, but don’t often hear from other stakeholders in the region.

Our second speaker, Mindy Corporon is equally inspiring.  In April 2014, Mindy’s father and oldest son were murdered by a White-supremacist intent on killing Jews at the JCC of Greater Kansas City.  According to her bio: “Though Mindy and her family are of the Christian faith, people from other religions held support vigils and she was asked to speak at a Mosque by a family holding services for their young son killed in a separate act of religious violence.  Mindy took action. She started the Faith Always Wins Foundation and a community- wide event, SevenDays®: Make a Ripple, Change the World. She also formed high school programs for productive interfaith dialogue and now helps companies create healthy workplace environments so healing can occur after tragedy.”

In the aftermath of the Tree of Life shootings, I read Something Beautiful Happened by Mindy’s cousin, Yvette Manessis Corporon. Yvette’s primary focus was about a Greek Island that hid Jews on a Greek Island during WWII, but also incorporated her family’s tragedy which occurred during her research into that history. I had been aware of the shootings, but did not know about Mindy and the positive impact she has had on so many communities.

I encourage you to mark your calendars for 7pm on Sunday, November 24 at the JCC. The committee is currently seeking sponsorship support to help underwrite this programming. If you would like an opportunity to meet one or both of the speakers at a VIP reception in advance, please be in touch with me at or 717-236-9555 x3104.  I also welcome your feedback if you have any questions or concerns.