On July 27, Jewish Community of Louisville Board Chair Karen Abrams opened her home to women who donated $500 or more to the 2014 Federation Campaign for an herb brunch as a thank you for their support.
The women were welcomed by harp music provided by Devon Oser and treated to a vegetarian brunch that spotlighted the use of herbs in cooking.
In her opening remarks, Abrams stressed the importance of women’s philanthropy and recalled some of the successful women’s events from the past year, including the Lion/Pomegranate event with Rachel Cohen Gerrol and the baking event with Paula Shoyer.
As an example of how important women’s philanthropy is, Abrams explained that the JCC Summer Camp has a new program, made possible, by the Federation Campaign and other community donors, including the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. The Yachad Inclusion Program enables with special emotional and cognitive needs to become fully integrated into the summer camp program. This summer, she said, it helped 21 children with autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, sensory processing disorders, cerebral palsy and other conditions to participate fully in camp programs and socialize with other children.
At the time of the event, Israel was under attack from Hamas. Cities through much of Israel were threatened by rocket fire and those close to Gaza were imperiled by Hamas tunnels that crossed under the border giving terrorists easy access to Israeli communities.
Keren Benabou, an Israeli who served six years in IDF intelligence and earned the rank of Captain, spoke briefly about how it feels to be in Louisville when her friends and family are under attack in Israel. She talked about how her children were safe at JCC Camp and having a great summer while her nieces and nephews spent their time in bunkers, their camp programs cancelled because there were not adequate bomb shelters to protect them at camp.
With 60 tunnels found so far, Benabou said, “It’s scary to think about someone going under our houses wanting to kill us.”
A few days before the brunch, a piece of a missile landed on her sister’s balcony while the two women were talking with each other. Benabou also said she had lost two friends to date in the conflict and an officer under whom she served was fighting for his life.
“Israel is defending the right of all Jews to exist,” she said and called on those present to join her in supporting the Stop the Sirens campaign.
The highlight of the program was a presentation by master gardener and gourmet chef Tomese Buthod, who provided an overview of some herbs and edible flowers she likes to grow. She included interesting facts like there are over 150 varieties of basil and many herbs freeze well in Ziplock bags.
She brought samples of some of them for people to see, smell and taste; explained how some of them are used and grown; and gave people the opportunity to ask questions.