He wants to be president. She wants Jerusalem to become the adoption capital of the world. They are taking Israel by storm. Yosef “Captain Sunshine” Abramowitz is a longtime human rights activist, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and a global social entrepreneur who was the first to commercially harvest solar energy in Israel.
Susan Silverman is a rabbi. She is the sister of Laura, an actress and writer, Jodyne (Speyer), a writer, and Sarah, an actress, writer and comedian.
In 1997 she and her husband wrote the bestselling Jewish Family & Life: Traditions Holidays and Values for Todays Parents and Children, which launched a Jewish multimedia enterprise, JewishFamily.com. They have five children by both birth and adoption and live in Jerusalem. Their oldest, Aliza, 23, served in Intelligence in the IDF, and is a musician and actress. Hallel, 21, just finished her IDF service as an army spokesperson and is active on issues of liberal Judaism and fair trade. She will start university in the fall. Adar, a junior in high school, is busy taking his graduation exams and is involved in Model UN. Zamir, 8th grade, is a serious runner and Ashira, 7th grade, attends an arts high school majoring in theater. She is also a fair trade chocolate activist.
Susan’s upbringing was secular-Jewish. Her parents’ “religion” was liberal politics. Something Susan still believes is worthy devotion! Her father, a social worker by training, and heart, but a retailer by career, made it a point to hire teenagers from the foster system so he could guide and mentor them. He also left the foyer of his retail store in downtown Manchester heated and open so the local homeless would have a warm place to sleep. Her mother, the founding director of a small theater company, was politically active starting in the McGovern campaign when she was George McGovern’s photographer on the road. At times her family included two foster daughters, making her aware of the existence of children without families of her own.
Susan’s route to becoming a rabbi was a strange one. Growing up as one of few Jews and few Democrats in her NH schools, Susan thought that being Jewish meant two things: you were politically liberal and had Hanukkah instead of Christmas. She met her now husband, Yosef, in the anti-Apartheid movement at BU and was taken by the language he had at his disposal to describe the movement. Where Susan knew that “racism and oppression were bad”, Yosef spoke in terms of eternal values like tzelem elohim – that everyone is made in God’s image. She was hooked on him – and Judaism.
Today Susan’s rabbinic work includes activism on behalf of asylum seekers in Israel, advocating for liberal Judaism and promoting adoption. She is a founder of KAMOCHA: A Jewish Response to Refugees, on the Board of Directors of Women of the Wall, on the International Council of The New Israel Fund and the Founding Director of Second Nurture: Every Child Deserves a Family – And a Community.
Susan is currently on a multi-media book tour in the U.S. with her memoir, Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World (Da Capo Press)
She would love to hear from anyone interested in participating in the Second Nurture program.