THA Passport2Peace teaches kids importance of giving

On Monday Sept. 18, Tucson Hebrew Academy held its annual “Passport2Peace” fundraising event, which educates students about local charitable organizations and allows them to donate funds to their favorite charities.

Students prepare care packages for hurricane victims and the Primavera Foundation, Casa Maria, Tu Nidito, and Kids of Steele at Diamond Children’s Medical Center at Tucson Hebrew Academy’s Passport2Peace event Sept. 18. (David J. Del Grande/AJP)

Informational booths are set up throughout THA’s courtyard. Professional or student liaisons explain how the charities help the community.

When the afternoon starts, students are given  tokens, pre-purchased by their families, which hold a monetary value. Kids from every grade level then visit the various kiosks, learn about the organizations, enjoy activities, and decide where they’ll show their financial support.

Tucson Hebrew Academy students learn about Sister Jose Women’s Center and participate in a budgeting activity showing the limitations of working a minimum wage job at the school’s Passport2Peace event Sept. 18.

Last year, more than $1,800 was donated by students to a dozen local non-profits including Tu Nidito, Youth on their Own, The Wounded Warriors Project, Ben’s Bells, The Trevor Project, Gabrielle’s Angels, the Hermitage Cat Shelter, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. More than a dozen organizations signed up this year, including the Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, The Trevor Project, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Sister Jose Women’s Center.

Students designed colorful greeting cards, which will accompany care packages, for kids at Tu Nidito and the Kids of Steele at the Diamond Children’s Medical Center. At least $10,000 has been donated to local non-profits since the event started 10 years ago.

One of the core values of the THA is teaching the importance of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam or healing the world, says Head of School Jon Ben-Asher. Through service learning activities, “Passport2Peace” and other strategies, students not only learn that they have a moral imperative to make this world a better place, but actively participate in doing so, he says.

Originally published on Sept. 22, 2017.


UA telehealth pioneer sees program thriving

When it comes to healthcare in rural areas, the overarching question is how to level the playing field between geographically isolated healthcare facilities and their urban counterparts, says Ronald S. Weinstein, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona.

That’s exactly why the Arizona Telemedicine Program was launched, he says.

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. When the telemedicine industry began, the majority of the companies were university-based, but the trend has since shifted into the private-sector, he says. 

“And I think that where you’re going to see acceleration, or we are seeing acceleration, are the large integrated healthcare systems, which have lots of rural sites and lots of technology,” says Weinstein. “They’re trying to level the quality throughout their entire systems.”

The Arizona Telemedicine Program, a branch of the UA’s Health Sciences Department, was co-founded in 1996 by Weinstein and Robert Burns, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. The program is designed to provide telemedicine services, distance learning, training in informatics (the science of processing data), and telemedicine technology assessment capabilities to communities throughout the state.

The array of specialties in telemedicine can be broken down into three major application categories, Weinstein explains: gap services, where, for instance, a rural hospital will have remote access to a specialist who may not work in-house; urgent services, which can save lives remotely when time is of the essence; and mandated services, such as entitlement health services that are required by law for prisons and jails.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here. Originally published on Sept. 22, 2017.

Tikkun olam: To repair the world — Arizona Jewish Post’s High Holiday section 2017

No matter where she’s lived, Gail Birin says being tapped into the Jewish community has always been an essential part of her life.

“I feel I’m just continuing my life’s work, the work I grew up with and the culture I grew up with,” says Birin. “The ones who are very involved are making a commitment to the community.”

“And if we didn’t do this, what would the future be for the younger generation,” she asks, rhetorically.   

Birin was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, which she describes as “a cultural center for Judaism.” She moved to the United States with her husband, Gerald, more than 31 years ago and they always had their eyes on Arizona, Birin explains. The couple relocated to Tucson about 14 years ago.

She’s a registered nurse by profession, who got her penchant for community service as a volunteer at her daughter’s elementary school in Bedford, New Hampshire.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here. Originally published on Sept. 8, 2017.

UA professor’s new classical album views human experience via a Jewish lens

Tucson composer Daniel Asia’s latest CD attempts to contextualize the human experience via a Jewish sacred text, plus the poems of a New York Jewish poet and an Israeli Jewish poet. “To Open in Praise” contains 12 tracks in three sections, written over a 25-year period.

Asia’s work gets richer with every listen, says Sid Lissner, a founding member of Avitecture, an audiovisual engineering company based in the Washington, D.C. area, who retired to Tucson almost three years ago. Lissner befriended Asia when he relocated and is honored to be a project benefactor. Not only is Asia a well respected modern American composer, there are very few people creating pieces via a Jewish lens, says Lissner.

Lissner describes Asia as a “thinker and an artist” of noteworthy stature.

“He’s a respected professor and he’s notable for writing Jewish music in a classical mode,” says Lissner. “There aren’t too many people doing this, and Dan does it so well — it’s art.”

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here. Originally published on Sept. 8, 2017.