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End Your Week on a High Note with Friday Chai Notes!

Tune in weekly for fast facts, culture, cuisine, and connections between the Great State of Oklahoma and the State of Israel. Oklahoma in your heart -- Israel in your soul!

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November 20, 2020:

Chicken Soup,

the Jewish Penicillin

What better way to practice gratitude and show love to others than by making a comforting traditional meal to share?


Chicken Soup, known as the Jewish Penicillin, is the perfect recipe for fall. Try OKIE Executive Director Edie Roodman’s famous Chicken Soup recipe with matzo balls for a Jewish flair.


For inspiration on how to cook the perfect matzo balls, check out this quick video from Joan Nathan, author of numerous cookbooks, each of which focuses on an aspect of Jewish life and culture. 

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November 13, 2020:

Veteran's Day

The month of November is traditionally focused on gratitude -- for nature's beauty as the leaves change colors, Thanksgiving meals spent with family and friends, and Veterans’ Day, where we honor those who embody the ideals on which our country was founded. 

Join Hillel at The University of Oklahoma, the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, and the OKlahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) as we honor the incredible veterans and military members in our community by sharing their experiences and reflections on service. Though these are just the first installation of videos, our hope is that as we continue to collect stories and see the connection between those who have served, we will be able to share their legacy "l’dor v’dor" (from generation to generation). 


Please join our three organizations as we pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed greatly to make the world a better place, embodying the Jewish tenent of "tikkun olam" (repair of the world.)


"L'dor V'dor" will be an ongoing project. If you or someone you know would like to share their story with us, please contact Suzie at

November 6, 2020:


Did you know?

November is recognized as National Gratitude Month. Gratitude is more than simply saying “thank you.” Gratitude's amazing powers have the ability to shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives.


How does Judaism define gratitude? The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat hatov, which means “recognizing the good.” Practicing gratitude means recognizing the good that is already yours. Gratitude is an important Jewish value. The Torah states that the first words we say each morning, Modeh/Modah ani, mean “I thank you.” Throughout the day there are so many prayers we say to give thanks for the human body, the physical world, and so much more.


Even the name for the Jewish people is rooted in gratitude. The matriarch Leah named her fourth child Yehudah, which means “I am grateful.” Yehudah is the source of the name of the Jewish people: Yehudim. (source Moishe House)


Practice exercising your own gratitude with these 120 gratitude journal prompts.

October 30, 2020:

Focus: tikkun of the world


Ten Israeli firefighters flew to California on August 30th. Over the course of 15 days doing exhausting, dangerous work, they became a battalion of brothers with their California colleagues.

Chief Scott Lindgren of the Amador-El Dorado Unit of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) was speaking at a recent online presentation of the America Israel Friendship League (OKIE has an ongoing partnership with AIFL) about the extraordinary cooperative firefighting experience. In solidarity and friendship, Israeli firefighters became boots on the ground.


In 2010 and 2016 the Americans sent help to Israel when the fires were raging so Israel was more than willing to give back.


Israeli First Officer Braun said their California colleagues were surprised that the Israelis came to help fight a fire across the ocean, especially during a pandemic and at a time when Israel’s fire season is also beginning. “There’s a bond between firefighters — it doesn’t matter what country but especially between the US and Israel that have such a strong connection,” he said.

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CalFire firefighters giving gifts to the Israelis who came to help them, September 2020. Photo courtesy of Israeli Consulate in San Francisco

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10 Israeli firefighters (in white) with colleagues from CalFire, September 2020. Photo courtesy of Israeli Consulate in San Francisco

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October 23, 2020:

National First Responders Day

In 2017, Congress designated October 28th as National First Responders Day to recognize the heroic men and women who give their lives to help keep our communities safe. The resolution honors the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and all those who are first on the scene in stressful situations. 


Israel has long been regarded as a leader in the first response. ZAKA is Israel’s primary rescue and recovery volunteer organization, with thousands of volunteers on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, accident, or disaster. 

ZAKA today offers professional and highly-skilled volunteer services in the areas of emergency response, search and rescue, accident prevention, and assistance in international disasters. Zaka International Rescue Unit with hundreds of volunteers in Israel and around the world, who are ready, equipped, and able to respond in the fastest time to a mass casualty incident or terror attack, wherever it occurs.

Join Hillel at The University of Oklahoma and OKIE in thanking First Responders for their sacrifice and determination with these ideas on how to observe National First Responders Day.


October 16, 2020:

Ester Rada in Homemade Jam, a program by the iCenter

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Join Hedai Offaim and Ester Rada as they explore the ideas of authenticity and roots while sharing in something they both love: Israeli cuisine. Together they cook a Yogurt and Tahini Date Cake and sing "Ata Peleh" ("אַתָּה פֶּלֶא", "You Are A Wonder").

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As we mentioned last week, Sukkot began on October 2nd and runs until Friday, October 9th at sundown. Learn the basics of the Jewish holiday called Sukkot, including festival huts, lulavs, etrogs, foods, prayers, and the spiritual meaning of all the unique rituals.


This LEGO® stop motion animation is a great intro to the holiday for Jews and non-Jews alike - plus it’s FUN to watch!

Did you know that October is breast cancer awareness month?

Observed in countries across the world every October, this month helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease. Israeli experts are on the cutting-edge of technology in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.


NOTE: Sukkot begins today, October 2nd until October 10th and is the harvest festival that pre-COVID, friends would invite friends and family to dine in their sukkah under the stars. For Christians this holiday is called Feast of the Tabernacle, often including pilgrimage to Israel.

During the holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, Jews around the world gather in synagogues to worship. In Israel, crowds of Jews congregate at the Western Wall -- sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall -- for somber prayer and often to insert a note with a wish for the New Year. Pilgrimage to the wall is NOT limited to Jews - prayers of all faiths become the collective call for hope and better days ahead.


This year, large crowds at the Wall are prohibited because of COVID-19, so the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has taken action and will be the messenger for YOUR prayers. There’s no better time than now for each of us to pray for the end of this global pandemic.

Take a moment to watch this short video and then link to a form where you can submit your personal note which will be inserted in the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The evening of Friday, September 18th marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year celebrated by Jews in the US, Israel, and around the globe.  It is the beginning of the High Holidays (or High Holy Days), a ten-day period that ends with Yom Kippur — the day of atonement — the holiest day of the Jewish year. Typical to Jewish holidays, Jews join family and friends for a festive meal often of brisket, tzimmes, round challah, and of course honey cake. The tradition of dipping apple slices in honey and sharing a pomegranate are ancient rituals believed to have healing properties and offer blessings for a sweet new year ahead. 


Anyone can be part of this festive holiday —

‘Tis the season to buy crisp Oklahoma-grown apples, which would be more than delicious in your own honey cake! Oklahoma apples can be found at Mikelson’s Orchard, High Fence Farm, or Livesay Orchards!

In the spirit of unity, Hillel at the University and the OKlahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) remember the victims and survivors of the September 11th terror attacks and honor the simplest acts of kindness that followed. 

The American TV icon Mr. Rogers, in his message to children after that unfathomable day, declared,

"No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be 'tikkun olam,' repairers of creation." The Hebrew words "tikkun olam" refer to actions taken to improve society, including caring for others, which was useful advice for a devastated nation. 


May we all be guided by “tikkun olam.”


Did you know that Israel is known as the start-up nation?


Tel Aviv has more startups per person than anywhere else in the world except Silicon Valley. Israeli startups raised a whopping $612 million in the month of August alone!

I bet you had no idea that some of the things we use daily are Israeli inventions!

  • The USB flash drive

  • Drip irrigation

  • Waze navigation system

  • The cherry tomato (Modifying a regular tomato into one that ripened slowly and stayed fresh in transportation, the Israelis created a tastier and sweeter fruit that is a favorite of many.

  • The face recognition software used on Apple iPhone X 

  • Firewall software

  • Rewalk Exoskeleton

  • NaNose technology

  • WaterGen

Oklahoma State University Chef Aaron Ware shares this connection to Israel, his love of Israeli food, and even his favorite recipe!

Chef Aaron has been able to visit Israel twice on culinary exchanges and has been responsible for all of the wine + fare dinners that the OKlahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) hosts.


Nothing says summer quite like watermelon - red, refreshing, cold, and tasty. In 2007, Oklahoma designated the watermelon as the official state vegetable! Oklahoma and Israel have a love of watermelon in common -- their similar long warm growing seasons are perfect for thriving crops. Though Oklahomans often eat their melons with no frills added, Israelis like to spice things up by pairing it with salted cheese and fresh herbs. Israel’s balmy Mediterranean summer accounts for Israelis eating a whopping 26 lbs of this sweet treat while Americans consume about 16 lbs of watermelon per year.


For culinary inspiration, why not try some of the recipes listed below

(click on image for downloadable version): 























And FYI, did we mention that Israel is exploring using watermelon waste as fuel?  

Try this syrup on grilled fruit (peaches or nectarines), over sorbet, gelato, or sponge cake. 

Not in the mood for mixing a cocktail? Use this syrup in Prosecco for a refreshing twist! Or add to iced tea, hot tea, or club soda and ditch the buzz altogether.   

Wednesday, August 19th begins the month of Elul, a time of repentance prior to the High Holidays focusing on introspection, healing, and repairing relationships. The shofar (a ram's-horn trumpet used in ancient times by Jews for religious ceremonies) is sounded daily during Elul, awakening us from complacency. Hearing the shofar’s blast is a reminder for us to look inward, reaching deep into our souls. The month of Elul is a perfect time to practice daily gratitude, mindfulness, and being present.


Read more about the benefits of practicing gratitude, the chocolate mediation, or try the miracle of the peppermint to help with anxiety/fatigue while boosting your concentration.


Experience the sounding of the shofar -- awaken your soul!

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Hillel at The University of Oklahoma has been operating on the OU campus since 1943, while OKIE has been operating since 1992… that’s over a CENTURY of serving Oklahoma!


Hillel enriches the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students, and those who support them, so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.

OKIE promotes goodwill and understanding, fosters people-to-people exchange, creates lucrative partnerships, and initiates mutually beneficial collaboration between the State of Oklahoma and the State of Israel.

BOTH Hillel and OKIE:

  • Are nonprofits that cast a wide net beyond the Jewish community to the greater Oklahoma community, uniting people from all walks of life

  • Facilitate trips to Israel with a focus on growing ambassadors for BOTH Israel and Oklahoma​​

  • Adhere to the guiding tenets of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) and mitzvot (doing good deeds) lifting up the local community in which we live, as well as creating goodwill projects that impact beyond local borders.

Hillel at The University of Oklahoma is proud to partner with the OKlahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) to bring you Friday Chai Notes. Be sure to follow OKIE on Facebook or visit their website to learn more.