Natan Sharansky and Michael Douglas discuss their “Jewish Journeys”  at an event on Jan. 28 at Brown University. /David DelpoioNatan Sharansky and Michael Douglas discuss their “Jewish Journeys” at an event on Jan. 28 at Brown University. /David DelpoioPROVIDENCE – Natan Sharansky and Michael Douglas brought stories of their Jewish journeys to Brown University the evening of Jan. 28. Speaking before a packed auditorium at the Salomon Center for Teaching, the renowned Russian activist, who now heads the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the award-winning American actor shared common experiences from widely divergent backgrounds.

The program, designed to bring a pro-Israel voice to several college campuses, attracted a crowd of Brown students and community members. Outside were about 20 protesters, who, at times, shouted “Free Palestine” so loudly that they made the conversation inside difficult to hear.

The Eides family, left to right, Alex, Mira, Susan and Michael. /Eides FamilyThe Eides family, left to right, Alex, Mira, Susan and Michael. /Eides FamilyThe Eides family has a special feeling for the Providence Jewish community. After all, this is the community that welcomed Mira and Alex and their children with open arms in the early 1970s, when they came here from the former Soviet Union, among the earliest families to move to Rhode Island during that period of emigration.

Now, the family is giving back with a gift to the Jewish Alliance’s Dwares JCC. And in honor of their gift, the J-Space after-school program will now be called the Eides Family J-Space. With the gift, the family wants to ensure that the community’s teens have a place to go and activities to participate in, as did the young members of the Eides family while they were growing up in Providence.

It was a pleasure to read Barry Prizant’s new book, “Uniquely Human,” published by Simon and Schuster (2015). 

In his book, Prizant, of Cranston, reflects on the knowledge he has gained from his many years as a clinical scholar, consultant, researcher and program consultant in the world of autism.

I know Prizant professionally and am proud to say he is a friend of mine. It came as no surprise to discover that his book is full of compassion and practical advice. 

I have always been impressed by Prizant’s family-centered, gentle approach with autistic people: he promotes collaboration with families as well as with professionals. His method is to share his knowledge by giving examples from his work to illustrate various aspects of life and work in the autistic world.

Donna “Dee Dee” Williams, of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Homelessness, spoke to an estimated 75 people on Jan. 26 at the Dwares Jewish Community Center about caring for people who are homeless while treating them with dignity and respect.

The program attendees included first responders, who welcome and greet people, as well as representatives from social services agencies.

The event was sponsored by the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Attendees at the program at the  Dwares Jewish Community Center /Marty Cooper

Volunteers from the Limmud Keshet conference in 2014. /JDCVolunteers from the Limmud Keshet conference in 2014. /JDCLast of three in a series

Most of us are familiar with the model of Jewish Community Centers in the United States. There’s usually a fitness center, after-school programs, a preschool, Jewish programming for people of all ages, and ways for members to connect and invest in their Jewish community. We have one in our own community – the Jewish Alliance’s Dwares JCC, in Providence.

What most people don’t know is that there are Jewish Community Centers overseas as well, including one in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.