OU ANNOUNCES THE FIRST WINNER OF ITS FREE TRIP TO ISRAEL CONTEST, MICHELLE GORDON, FOR HER YOM YERUSHALAYIM ESSAY; SECOND CONTEST RUNS UNTIL JULY 2
"Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!"
This was Michelle Gordon's reaction last Wednesday when the Ohev Sholom congregant in Chevy Chase, MD found out that she was the winner of the Orthodox Union's Yom Yerushalyim Writing Contest for her "Jerusalem: A Love Story" submission.
As a result of her winning entry, Mrs. Gordon will receive a free round-trip to Israel, courtesy of Israir; a free week's stay at the luxurious Renaissance Jerusalem, courtesy of the hotel where the OU has held its last two national conventions; as well as a tour of historical sites, courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh, the organization which assists Jews in making aliyah.
"I've decided to use the prize airline ticket this fall when my husband and I plan to ride in the Alyn Charity Bike Ride. That way, the prize will help me to perform a mitzvah," she told the OU.
The bike ride raises money for the Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem, which is one of world's leaders in active and intensive rehabilitation of children with a wide variety of physical disabilities. It is the only facility of its kind in Israel.
The essay contest has made possible by the Orthodox Union and its three partners, as part of the OU's new initiative to strengthen its ties with Jewish-related businesses and other organizations for their mutual benefit -- a way to bring their "brand" names before wider audiences.
The next in a series of free trips to Israel contests will be the Shabbat Shalom Sweepstakes, a random drawing to be held July 2 that can be entered by registering at the OU's Shabbat Shalom newsletter at ou.org/quizzes_contests.
According to Barry Mase, OU Media Sales Director, who arranges the partnerships, "It was a tough call. We received many well-written entries from all over the world."
Submissions came from Jews and non-Jews from North America, Israel, India, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Chile, Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Philippines, and even one entry from Gaza!
"We are delighted to present Mrs. Gordon with a trip to Israel. Her essay was not only written well, it also captured the essence of Jerusalem and the land of Israel," Mr. Mase said.
An excerpt from "Jerusalem: A Love Story" reads:
Now, I push a stroller down Jaffa road while my sabra granddaughter eats a granny smith apple and enchants passers-by with her denim eyes. My son-in-law is impressed that I can walk from one end of Jerusalem to the other without a map, so thorough is my knowledge of this city.
I have seen people flee from you during the tragic years of the second Intifada, and people flee to you during the second Lebanon war. I always stayed by your side, Jerusalem. I would not let our enemies keep me away.
I would not stay away from your intoxicating smells, the spicy pine and oregano scent that permeates the air; a smell that someone once explained, "comes from HaKodesh Baruch Hu." I would not stay away from the aroma of Kiryat Moshe's Angel bakery mingling with blooming jasmine, a fragrance that makes me faint with delight.
Jerusalem, you are always with me, even here in the galut (diaspora). I dream of the time when I can always be with you, Jerusalem, my love.
The full-version of the story is featured on the OU's Shabbat Shalom,
ou.org/shabbat_shalom; its audio version, recorded by Mrs. Gordon, will be available on www.ouradio.org on May 30, 2007. To listen to the phone call to Mrs. Gordon, log on-to program.ouradio.org/audio/shsh_contest_audio.mp3.
For information on how organizations can partner with the OU or on future contests, contact Mr. Mase, at 212-613-8176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.