Rachel Balaban and her students /Photos | Irina MissiuroRachel Balaban and her students /Photos | Irina MissiuroBrown University’s Ashamu Dance Studio is still empty as DAPpers, the dance class for the aging population with a special emphasis on movement challenges, doesn’t start for another 45 minutes. The nearby chair is broken, but Rachel Balaban, the regional coordinator of “Dance for Parkinson’s Disease” and the instructor of the upcoming class, doesn’t mind sitting on the floor. In fact, she appreciates an opportunity to stretch as she feels sore from the class she took the day before. It’s important to Balaban to be a student as well as a teacher. Discussing teaching and the class itself, she smoothly moves from one topic to the next, deftly anticipating the looming questions with the grace of a gazelle.

Jeff Padwa, right, president of Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island, (JSA) accepts the first best practices in the workplace award from Rev. Marie Carpenter, far right, chair of the Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island and the Director of Eldercare Ministries, R.I. Baptist Churches. The award was given at a ceremony at the State  House on Nov. 3.

JSA has been in existence for over 103 years. The mission is to provide a full continuum of care for seniors in greater Rhode Island. Programs are Jewish Eldercare of Rhode Island, Shalom Housing, Tamarisk Assisted Living, To Life Center Adult Day Services and The Louis and Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry.

Gilor Meshulam in the Golan Heights.Gilor Meshulam in the Golan Heights.Hidden in the Golan, an amazing, mythical monument stands. Our own Stonehenge – amid the Valley of Refa’im – Gilgal Refa’im (or Rjum el-Hiri – Arabic for “The Cat’s Monument”).

How to get there?

We will make our way on Route 808 to Moshav Yonathan. Park your car at the very end of the moshav (Follow the instructions for Gilgal Refai’m) – and then walk through the valley until you reach a fountain. If you look around, you won’t be able to miss the pile of stones, which is about 0.5 miles from your position. (In the right season you can pick some apples on your way to Gilgal Refai’m from the moshav’s apple orchard.)

Who were the Refa’im and what do they have to do with this monument?

The Refa’im are mentioned in the Torah more than a few times, described as powerful race of giants. The Refa’im are considered to be one of our greatest enemies. One of the most noticeable Refa’im was Og, the king of Bashan, the evil Amorite king – whom we waged war against, and prevailed. Some people believe that this megalithic monument, once reaching the height of 16 feet, served as a sanctuary to the Refa’im, and probably to Og himself (who was 11 feet 10 inches tall – 8 cubits).

Joshua MalinaJoshua MalinaWe’ve all heard the term “nice Jewish boy.” Joshua Malina officially puts a face to that phrase. It is without a doubt the first thing that now comes to mind when we hear the name Joshua Malina.

On Dec. 7, he will be the featured speaker at “A Scandalous Campaign Finale,” a celebration of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island’s 2015 Annual Campaign. Malina is best known for portraying Will Bailey on “The West Wing,” Jeremy Goodwin on “Sports Night” and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rosen on “Scandal,” though he should add “nice Jewish boy” to his portfolio.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Alliance interview with Malina himself:

The G.A. app.The G.A. app.Building community and attracting the next generation of leaders. Local representatives who attended the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly Nov. 9-11 agree on the main takeaway for Rhode Island.

“The messaging was crisp and clear,” says Jeffrey Savit, president and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. “If our communities do not bond together as a collective and work together as one, and indeed listen to the myriad of voices and opinions across our Jewish landscape, then each of us will lose our power to stay relevant and engage our millennials and next generation of leaders.”

Savit called the conference the best he’d ever attended. “I was thrilled I was able to share this year’s experience with Rabbis Mack, Dolinger, Babchuck and Franklin, let alone Minna Ellison, Erin Moseley and Terry Smily, president of the Jewish Federation of Cape Cod.”