By Karen Vance
Lothar Haas was born in Germany. His father was in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. He's lived in South America, but has lived in Amberley Village since 1953 and considers himself a patriotic American.
But that doesn't stop the 76-year-old retired machine worker, who belongs to the Golf Manor Synagogue, from feeling that his family is in Israel. And that's why he'll travel there this week with 34 other Cincinnatians from all Jewish denominations and a variety of synagogues on a solidarity mission with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
"I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family, and we were taught that when someone in the family is sick or in need, you go to visit," Haas said. "Since we feel Israel is our extended family, we feel it's our religious obligation to visit and help and let them know they're not alone."
Mark Kurtz, a 55-year-old steel company executive from Evendale, is co-organizing the trip with Haas and has traveled to Israel twice before.
"On our last trip, in July, we visited victims of terrorism in the hospital," he said. "It's hard to believe that the families we met who are looking after their loved ones would take the time to see us and thank us for being there. It's a humbling experience."
One of the most important parts of the trip is to just participate in regular activities, like eating in restaurants, shopping and eating dinner with Israeli families, said Elliot Karp, the director of financial resource development for the federation.
While in Netanya, they'll meet with officials to determine how to spend $500,000 raised by Cincinnatians for city projects.
The Cincinnati community, Jewish and non-Jewish, has raised $2 million in the last year for the Israel Emergency Campaign in addition to the annual $6.1 million campaign to assist Israel.
For more about this and future missions or to donate to the Israel Emergency Campaign, contact the federation at 985-1500 or by mail at 4380 Malsbary Road, Suite 200, Cincinnati, OH 45242.
Peace activist to speak
The Rev. John Dear, a Jesuit priest, peace activist and author, will speak on "Waging Peace: The Life of Active Nonviolence in a World of War" at 7 p.m. Thursday in the University of Dayton Kennedy Union ballroom, 300 College Park, Dayton. The talk is free and open to the public.
St. Pat's kickoff
St. Patrick's Day celebrations will begin a month early Sunday with the traditional Hibernian Memorial Mass at Holy Cross Immaculata Church. The service, at 3 p.m. at the church, Pavilion and Guido, Mount Adams, honors deceased members of the ancient orders of Hibernia, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization with several chapters in Cincinnati.
Following the Mass, which will include an honor guard and bagpipe players, the Hibernians will follow a Cincinnati custom by "stealing" the 6-foot statue of St. Patrick from the church and parading it through Mount Adams. The statue will then be used to lead Cincinnati's St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 16.
For information about being involved in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, visit www.cincinnatisaintpatrickparade.netfirms.com or contact the organization committee at 922-2230.
Send items about religious activities to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax to 513-755-4150.
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