December 7, 2001
By Rick Hellman
Nearly 300 people attended a showing of the 1961 film "Exodus" Sunday afternoon at the AMC 30 theaters in Olathe, Kan.
The local presentation of the re-released dramatic film about the founding of Israel was co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City and The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Jariv Sultan, director of public affairs for The Jewish Agency, traveled to Kansas City from Jerusalem for the showing. He spoke before the film started. He said he had thrown away his prepared text and spoke instead from the heart just a few hours after suicide bomb attacks killed more than two dozens Israelis and injured 200 in Jerusalem and Haifa.
Sultan said he had learned about the Jerusalem bomb attack when his wife called and woke him in the early morning hours Sunday to inform him. "The bombs were about five minutes from our headquarters," said a grim-faced Sultan.
Nevertheless, he said, "The purpose of coming to Kansas City is to show that the mission of Exodus continues. That is the point of our 'I am One' campaign - Jews everywhere are part of the global Jewish family. You in Kansas City are part of my extended family. The Jewish Agency will go wherever there are Jews in need and help them. Today, our people are in Jerusalem and Haifa, helping the victims of these atrocities. And when you support the Federation, you are there with us."
The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, like federations around the country, donates a portion of its annual giving campaign receipts to Israel and overseas charities. The Jewish Agency is a quasi-governmental group, mainly responsible for immigration and the absorption of immigrants into Israel. But it also is charged with undertaking Zionist education around the world.
Kansas City is one of four American cities in which The Jewish Agency has undertaken a pilot marketing program to educate American Jews about its work. In addition to Sultan, the Jewish Agency sent Natalie Schneiderman, seminar coordinator for its immigration and absorption department, to speak before the film. Schneiderman talked about how the Jewish Agency helped in her transformation from assimilated Muscovite during the Soviet era to ardent Zionist and Israeli today.
Zev Meir Siegel also spoke before the film. Siegel, an American native, volunteered to join Israel's Haganah, or pre-state military force, and he accompanied the actual immigrant ship Exodus 1947 on its fateful voyage from France to Palestine and back to Europe after it was turned back by the British mandatory rulers of Palestine in 1947. Leon Uris's book "Exodus" and the film adapted from it were
©Kansas City Jewish Chronicle 2001