Knesset member visits boro

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A Forest Hills Gardens woman opened her home Sunday night to a group discussion with a member of Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset.

Tzipi Hotovely, a young member of the conservative Likud party, was the evening’s keynote speaker, meeting with leaders of the Queens Jewish community to discuss problems facing Israel and raise funds for a philanthropic group whose goal is to address them.

The Israel Independence Fund collects donations, which it then distributes to groups that do work in Israel.

The money raised Sunday will be donated to The Organization for Preserving the Heritage of the Upper Galilee, dedicated to combatting rising historical illiteracy among Israeli soldiers.

For $3.50 per soldier, the organization takes them to the Upper Galilee for a day to learn the history and about the Jewish people.

“The crucial problem right now in Israel is an identity crisis. The Israel Independence Fund is touching the heart of the problem,” Hotovely told the two dozen attendees, who packed fund Vice President Judy Rosen’s well-appointed living room. “A lot of people in Israel are not even familiar with the basic Jewish texts.”

Also speaking at the event was Aharon Pulver, a resident of the Upper Galilee and executive director of the fund. He expounded in detail on the level of ignorance many Israelis, particularly secular ones, have about the centuries of struggles Jews went through in order to have their own state.

“The Israel Independence Fund is a new philanthropic endeavor to strengthen the Jewish and Zionist ethos of Israel,” Pulver said. “Today Jewish children growing up in Israel do not know the Jewish narrative.”

So far the Upper Galilee organization has re-educated 30,000 Israeli soldiers, according to Rosen.

This is one of the smaller gatherings Hotovely said she has traveled such a distance to speak before since her election, but she made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean because she thinks the work is vital to the preservation of Judaism and its history.

“In my opinion, Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely is part of a new Zionist revolution,” Pulver said. “The reason I’m happy to expose her to the American Jewish community is because it gives me hope.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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