Former Emanuel exec heads to Israel

On Dec. 29, Nanci Wilharber, former executive director at Temple Emanuel of Tempe, and her husband, Michael, plan to board a plane to make aliyah. There wasn't one particular factor in the decision, she said. "We just have been there so many times, we felt that's where we wanted to be." During these many visits, they "gained a new appreciation of the challenges that Reform Judaism faces there and so we'd like to be advocates for Reform Judaism in Israel."

One way they will do this is by blogging about their aliyah experience on the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) Web site (they don't have the url yet, but the site is, informing "people of the aliyah process, what it means to make aliyah and how Israel needs Reform Jews there." The couple have purchased an apartment in Modi'in, which is located halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and will attend Kehillat Yozma, a Reform congregation established by Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon, Israel's first female rabbi. They have already spent many Shabbats and holidays with the congregation, Wilharber said.

Wilharber worked at Emanuel for more than six years, and before that at Hillel at ASU. Her husband has worked at Honeywell for 23 years; they moved to Arizona 13 years ago from South Carolina.

As part of the aliyah process, the Wilharbers will, beginning in February, spend five months attending Ulpan, an intensive Hebrew-immersion program, five hours a day, five days a week. "That will keep us pretty well occupied for the first few months that we're there," she said.

"We would love to thank the Jewish community of Phoenix for embracing us when we came here 13 years ago and for allowing us to grow and to make this move with the support of Temple Emanuel and our friends and the entire Jewish community of Phoenix," she said.

They encourage people to keep in touch at

AJHS relocates downtown to Jewish heritage center

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society has completed Phase II construction on the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center and recently relocated its offices to the new site. The phone number and e-mail address remain the same. The new address is 122 E. Culver St., Phoenix 85004. The facility is not yet open to the public; patrons interested in visiting the offices should call 602-241-7870.

AJHS is still raising funds for the museum portion of the project, and the goal is to have this completed by the end of 2010, according to Larry Bell, AJHS executive director. Planning is under way for a spring 2010 public open house to showcase the facility.

Israel program fair

The Israel Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and the Bureau of Jewish Education will have an Israel Program Fair 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-634-4900, ext. 1109.

- Leisah Woldoff

For more community events, visit the Valley View blog and other staff blogs at

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