Monday, June 29, 2015

New album, KOCHI, celebrates Indian Jewish history - proceeds to GPM

The award-winning San Diego Jewish Men’s Choir, has released their latest album, 'KOCHI' - a
 musical celebration of the history of the Jews in India.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this album will go to Gabriel Project Mumbai's nutrition, literacy support, and health care programs to thousands of children living in the slums of Mumbai, India. 

KOCHI album cover
KOCHI, now available on Amazon pre-sale HEREis a fresh blend of timeless Jewish melodies infused with the sounds and flavors of traditional Indian instruments. The album celebrates Indian Jewish history; India has welcomed the Jewish people who were escaping persecution and  Jewish immigrants were encouraged to build synagogues and worship peacefully. Kochi, or Cochin and we know it, is a small fishing village which once had over 5,000 Jewish residents.   One of its two synagogues still functions today, the other is presently under reconstruction. 

KOCHI   The album features performances by notable artists; Butto, Dominic D’Cruz, Daniel Flam, Ricky Kej, Varsha Kej, Emilia Lopez-Yañez, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, Karthik K., Keerthy Narayan, Vanil Veigas, and Keith Wolzinger, and Renah Wolzinger.

Album selections range from traditional Ladino songs, Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father), and Adio Querida (Goodbye My Love), to the boisterous Hebrew wedding song, Od Yishama (It Will Yet Be Heard), and Eretz Zavat Chalav (Land of Milk and Honey). The beloved Yiddish song Sha Shtil (Hush, Quiet), is a stark contrast to the haunting plea for peace, Shir La Shalom (Song of Peace). 

Graphic Artist Suzanne Parlett has created the beautiful album cover and insert.  The insert features a forward by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, acclaimed author of Pepper, Silk & Ivory-Amazing Stories About Jews and the Far East, and beautiful photos and illustrations of traditional instruments and Jewish relics from India. Translations are included as well.

A new year of initiatives and a fabulous matching grant from the Good People Fund!

This week marks the start of the academic year in India and for Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) it
means the start of our many development initiatives caring for the children in the slums of Mumbai.

What makes the start of the new year even more exciting is that the wonderful people at the Good People Fund have generously offered a $20,000 matching grant for the GPM 2015 Nutrition program for 1000 children living in the slums of Mumbai! So please, if you want to make ‘double’ the impact on vulnerable children in acute poverty, give generously to GPM’s nutrition program through the Good People Fund’s matching grant @ 

One of the 60 classes of children receiving nutritious meals every day as part of the GPM Nutrition program

Welcome Gabriel Project Mumbai–Entwine Summer fellows 2015

The newest cohort of Gabriel Project Mumbai-JDC Entwine international volunteers arrived in Mumbai and are already enthusiastically working in the slums. The group, the 13th cohort of GPM international volunteers, includes young adults from all different backgrounds – four Americans, one Canadian, one Australian and a volunteer from the UK.  After a week of orientation, in which they received targeted teacher-training, took classes in conversational Hindi and Indian culture, briefed by the Israel deputy consul in Mumbai, visited Dharavi (the largest slum in India) and toured Mumbai, the group of seven young Jewish adults were invigorated and ready to start their work. They have begun volunteering with classes of children ages 5-14 studying in the REAP classes in the slums of Mumbai.

We welcome: Alex, Maia, Hayeem, Molly, Ellie, Yael and Rena to the GPM team and wish them 2 months of meaningful teaching experiences with the children in the slums.

Alex was born in New York, lived in London until she was 9 years old and moved to Vancouver B.C. Alex spent her high school years at King David High School, participating in a variety of school sports, which demonstrated leadership and teamwork. Alex was a camp counselor at Camp Solomon Schechter where she created programs for children and cared for their everyday needs. Alex is currently attending The University of Western Ontario, where she is studying in the faculty of Health Sciences. Alex hopes to follow up her degree in health science with a nursing degree. Alex is involved in the OHM Fashion Show club, which hosts a fashion show in order to raise money for cancer research. Alex enjoys sports, cooking, exercising, and socializing. In all activities, she is involved in; Alex exhibits kindness, dedication, and teamwork.

Maia is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles. She hopes to use her passion for writing and education to effect global change. Originally from San Diego, Maia grew up in an Argentinean and Jewish home. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Global Studies with a minor in English. Maia hopes to pursue a career related to education and global conflict alleviation and development. She wrote her undergraduate thesis about how diaspora tourism has transformed the relationship of Jewish and Armenian diasporas with their homelands. She is continuing her research on immigration and the global hybridization of culture. Maia also worked as an opinion columnist for UCLA's Daily Bruin and a journalism intern for the International Rescue Committee's Los Angeles.

Rena lives in New York City and is currently a teacher at Manhattan Day School. She has a BA in Jewish Education from Stern College and two Master’s Degrees; one in Jewish Education from Azrieli with and a second one in Early Childhood and Special Education from Touro College. As an active member of the Washington Heights community, she is a member of the Mount Sinai Young Leadership committee. She has a history of volunteering in nursing homes and fundraising for Israel, but her true passion is working with children. Rena enjoys baking, hanging out with her friends, and kickboxing. Rena traveled on JDC’s Entwine Insider trip to India in January 2015.

Hayeem was born and raised in Brooklyn, and is a senior at the City University of New York –
Brooklyn College studying Biology and Chemistry. He hopes to attend medical school next year. Hayeem’s Jewish roots extend back to Syria and Poland. In summer of 2012, Hayeem embarked on a medical mission to Jerusalem, where he served as a volunteer first responder with Magen David Adom, Israel’s primary emergency medical response organization. He has been involved in fundraising efforts for the American Friends of Magen David Adom and consulting with Artists 4 Israel, a group that uses art therapy to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in war-affected children. Hayeem has worked closely with the Sephardic Bikur Holim in Brooklyn, an organization that serves needy, Sephardic immigrant Jewish families. Hayeem is involved in Israel advocacy and is currently a fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Ellen was born in Australia and currently lives in New York City. She attends Barnard College of Columbia University, as a pre-medical student intending to study Molecular Neuroscience. Outside of school, Ellen is working towards her New York State Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification. This certification means being CPR certified, as well as trained in a vast array of emergency medical techniques. She plans on serving as an EMT on her school campus in the upcoming fall 2015. Ellen is great with children, having closely worked with them in as a care-giver as well as in an educational capacity. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys volunteering in her community at a local hospital and soup-kitchens.

Molly is a sophomore at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts studying International Development and Social Change with a concentration in Gender Studies. At school, Molly is President of J Street and is a NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts intern on campus, leading the club as the Membership Coordinator. She also works in the Worcester community with refugees from Somalia, teaching them English as a second language and citizenship classes. Some of Molly’s unique skills are theatre performance and being a certified cake decorator. 

Yael is from a small but active and Zionistic Jewish community in Liverpool, North West UK. In high school, she was a founding member of Nishnoshim, a group dedicated in providing informal Jewish education to the school. Some of the Nishnoshim activities included teacher education sessions, Chanukah/Purim plays and charity drives. In her final year of high school, Yael was chosen to be Deputy Head girl, a role that involved representing the school. Yael has participated in many youth movements, including BBYO, Bnei Akiva, FZY. At the age of 13, Yael participated in a 3 month residential trip to Israel on Kibbutz Lavi, where she learnt about Israeli culture and volunteered. After high school, Yael began her higher education at Leeds University studying Neuroscience.Yael was a committee member of the Jewish Society, volunteered for the Leeds marrow charity as well as for the British Science Association. Yael did a year in Industry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she was an undergraduate researcher. On return to Leeds University for her final year, Yael became course rep as well and is continuing to volunteer for other organizations