Southeastern Virginia | Vol. 54 No. 07 | 25 Kislev 5776 | December 7, 2015
16 Israel Today’s speaker talks business
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Contents Letter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Torah Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Why no Facebook filters in solidarity with Israeli victims? . . . . . 6 Election 2016 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Reform Jews and engagement . . . . . . . . . . 8 Pew Study. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Jewish groups on Syrian refugees . . . . . . 12 TJF’s new programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Israel Today talks business . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Birthright and the Margolin family. . . . . 18 Special Business Section. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Issue Date December 21 January 11 January 25 February 8 February 22
Harry Graber Scott Kaplan Executive Vice-President President and CEO United Jewish Federation Tidewater Jewish of Tidewater Foundation
About the cover: Art by Hebrew Academy of Tidewater kindergarten student Sophie Haywood.
Hanukkah 5776 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ohef Sholom Temple at URJ’s Biennial . . Jewish Book Festival reaches all ages . . . New teachers at HAT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What’s Happening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calendar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who Knew? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The new Fiddler on the Roof. . . . . . . . . . .
Quotable 27 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 38
Topic Deadline Education December 4 Super Sunday December 24 Mazel Tov January 8 Cooking January 22 Retirement February 5
“Just a few decades ago, refugees from the terror and violence in Hitler’s Europe sought refuge in the United States and were turned away due to suspicions about their nationality.”
INSIDE— Business —page 12
Friday, December 11/Kislev 29 Light candles at 4:30 pm Friday, December 18/Tevet 6 Light candles at 4:32 pm Friday, December 25/Tevet 13 Light candles at 4:36 pm Friday, January 1/Tevet20 Light candles at 4:40 pm Friday, January 8/Tevet 27 Light candles at 4:46 pm Friday, January 15/Shevet 5 Light candles at 4:53 pm
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Briefs Tel Aviv terrorist’s mother is ‘proud’ that son stabbed Jews to death The mother of a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed two Israelis to death called her son a “source of pride for Hebron and Palestine.” Raid Halil bin Mahmoud, 36, who also moderately injured a third man during a prayer service in a Tel Aviv building, attributed his actions to the “pain” he felt for the situation of the Palestinians. He was overpowered by civilians and then arrested by Shin Bet officials. Mahmoud’s mother made her comments Thursday, Nov. 19 on Hamas television, the Times of Israel reported. Mahmoud, a father of five from the West Bank town of Dura, near Hebron, was given a permit to find work in Israel just four days prior to the attack after a background check that found he did not have a concerning criminal record. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a strong response following Mahmoud’s attack and the subsequent shooting attack hours later near the West Bank town of Alon Shvut that killed three, including 18-year-old American Ezra Schwartz of Sharon, Mass. “There is no immunity for terrorists,” Netanyahu said. “We will hold them to account, we will exact a price from their families, we will destroy their homes, and we will cancel their citizenship.” He said that Israel is a victim of the same “radical Islam” that carried out the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. “Whoever condemned the attacks in Paris need to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror,” he said. “Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind.” (JTA) Abbas rejected Olmert’s peace offer because he wasn’t given map Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he rejected a 2008 peace offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert because he was not allowed to keep the map depicting the proposed Israeli-Palestinian borders. According to The Associated Press, both Abbas and Olmert revealed new information about negotiations that year in separate interviews with Israel’s Channel 10 TV broadcast on Tuesday, Nov. 17. In the interview, Olmert described a
meeting on Sept. 16, 2008, in which he presented an offer seeking to address all major Palestinian concerns. “I told him, ‘Remember my words, it will be 50 years before there will be another Israeli prime minister that will offer you what I am offering you now. Don’t miss this opportunity,’” Olmert said in the interview. Olmert said he had proposed that Israel withdraw from all but 6.3 percent of the West Bank and offered to compensate the Palestinians with Israeli land equivalent to 5.8 percent of the West Bank, along with a link to the Gaza Strip. He also said he offered to withdraw from Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem and place the Old City—home to the Western Wall and Temple Mount—under international control. Abbas said Olmert pressured him to agree without giving him a copy of the proposed map to scrutinize. “He showed me a map. He didn’t give me a map,” Abbas said. “He told me, ‘This is the map’ and took it away. I respected his point of view, but how can I sign on something that I didn’t receive?” Olmert confirmed that he pressed Abbas to agree on the spot. Abbas said he also felt Olmert had not offered enough compensation for Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian leader said negotiations continued after that exchange but eventually broke down due to Olmert’s legal problems. Abbas said the talks with Olmert were the most serious since the Oslo Accords of 1993. “I feel if we had continued four to five months, we could have concluded the issues,” Abbas said. In his interview, Olmert said his politics had shifted while he was mayor of Jerusalem and decided it was not feasible for Israel to continue controlling the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods. (JTA)
Family of Paris attacker: ‘We are not anti-Semitic’ The family of one of the Paris attackers said they are not anti-Semitic. The mother and brother of Omar Ismaïl Mostefaï, one of the terrorists who shot up the Bataclan theater, called his actions “inexcusable” and “monstrous” through tears on the widely watched French television channel Canal Plus.
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Mostefaï’s brother, whose face and name were not shown for security reasons, also said that on the night of the attacks, he and his wife attended a show by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French comic who has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews. “We were at a Dieudonne show, but we are not anti-Semites,” Mostefaï’s brother said. Mostefaï’s family had not heard from him in two to three years, he estimated. Mostefaï, the son of an Algerian father and Portuguese mother, converted to Islam. “He became a monster,” Mostefaï’s brother said. “He’s not my brother.” (JTA)
Sean Penn, in Tel Aviv, praises Israeli aid group working in Haiti Academy Award winner and activist Sean Penn, in Israel for the first time, credited the Israeli international relief organization IsraAID for the success of his humanitarian efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Penn was the keynote speaker Monday, Nov. 30 at an IsraAID conference in Tel Aviv. “The indirect impact of IsraAID is that everything that JP/HRO [Penn’s Haiti relief effort] has accomplished would not have existed without the inspiration and support that they provided,” he said at the conference, according to Israel21C. IsraAID founding director Shachar Zahavi told Israel21c that the group met Penn in Haiti in 2010, shortly after the Caribbean country was devastated by a major earthquake that killed more than 230,000. Penn’s group and IsraAID, which is still working in Haiti, teamed up for several years to establish a school and offer other services in a Port-au-Prince refugee camp. Penn, who also met with former Israeli President Shimon Peres and leaders of several Israeli start-ups working on international humanitarian aid, was expected to tour the Jewish state for two days after the conference. Peres reportedly told Penn, “I saw the ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Milk,’ but the real Oscars go to you for what you have done in Haiti.” Penn’s father is Jewish, but the Hollywood star does not identify as Jewish. In 2014, Penn was one of several honorees at a gala event of This World: The Values Network, a nonprofit created by rabbi and author Shmuley Boteach. At the Manhattan
event, Penn was lauded for helping to free Jacob Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jewish businessman, from a Bolivian prison in 2013. Also at the event, Penn revealed some of his political views on Israel, referring to the West Bank as “undeclared territories” and noting that some Palestinians are unjustly imprisoned there. (JTA)
Jewish billionaire first Brazilian to join Gates and Buffet’s Giving Pledge Brazilian Jewish billionaire Elie Horn has committed to giving away 60 percent of his fortune to charity. Horn, a real estate magnate, and his wife, Susy, are the first Brazilians to join the Giving Pledge, an effort started in 2010 by philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage more of the world’s affluent to give away at least half of their wealth to charitable causes. The donation was announced Tuesday, Dec. 1 in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. Horn, founder of the home builder Cyrela, is an Orthodox Jew and a low-profile businessman whose name has been on the list of Forbes billionaires since 2006. His fortune is estimated at $1.3 billion. In his letter signing on to the Giving Pledge, Horn said he was inspired by the example of his father, who donated his entire fortune to tzedakah. He said secular and religious education will be the priorities of his giving. “As human beings, we will carry nothing with us to the other world—the only things we shall take are the good deeds that we accomplish in this world,” Horn told the audience at the recent Brazilian Philanthropists Forum edition in Sao Paulo. “Doing what’s good is a great investment. That’s so obvious, I don’t understand how people can’t get it.” Born in Aleppo, Syria, Horn arrived in Brazil when he was 11. He reportedly works 16 hours a day but respects Shabbat—Cyrela does not close any deals from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. Horn founded Cyrela Brazil Realty in 1978 and built it into the largest publicly traded developer of high-end residential buildings in Brazil, with activities across South America. (JTA)
The Joseph Saga
he great and most colorful Joseph saga extends over four Torah portions and 13 chapters! How opportune it is as we celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah and the reading of Joseph’s awesome adventures, that the Jewish experience has often been to find ourselves like Joseph in the darkness of the pit without losing faith in the light of redemption yet to emerge. Just like Joseph, the dreamer and interpreter of incredible dreams (he should have kept some of them to himself!), the Jewish people have believed that noble as well as disturbing dreams have the potential and power to transform reality. In the way of Joseph who was not accepted by his own immature and treacherous kin, begrudging him his unique spirit and grandiose ideas of a dreamy youngster whose father’s favoritism put him at risk, we have felt isolated throughout much of history. We have been rejected for insisting on living our own authentic lives as a minority, yet willing to stand up to the majority if necessary. Our faithfulness to the dictates of our faith and conscience has been interpreted as a negative reflection of aloofness rather than one of a proud choice. Joseph, through his mind’s genius and heart’s compassion, was able to save both his adopted empire of Egypt and his family from small Canaan. In the process he taught us that borders and feelings need not be obstacles to a constructive response to the urgent demands of life and death issues. Joseph managed to transcend his personal insecurities and apprehensions in order to accomplish the larger and lasting goals of putting his substantial talents to the beneficial use of society, rather than dwelling on past hurts and injustices that could have crippled him and others. Thus he wisely chose the high road allowing him to become a great Egyptian while earning
his status as a great Hebrew brother and leader, whose early self-centered dreams turned into a blessed reality for all concerned through maturity of character wrought by trials and tribulations. The ultimate challenge, though, of this mighty ruler, second only to Pharaoh, as is often the human case, was to conquer and control his own raging passions, which he had already proven with tempting and aggressive Mrs. Potiphar. He was able to repeat it with his brothers at the pinnacle of his brilliant career with so much at stake for them all. What a moving moment of victory when Joseph can no longer hold back his tears and eagerly reveals his true identity to his overwhelmed brothers, not quite realizing that they would never recover from the shock of the encounter and/or from the guilt that would continue to burden them. Perhaps Joseph’s favorable decision to reach out to them was ultimately prompted by Judah’s display of sincere love for brother Benjamin as well as for father Jacob’s well-being. Earlier, Joseph learned of his brothers’ remorse and fear when being challenged by him, acknowledging their past wrongdoing. Upon reconnecting to his family he was enabled to rejoin his roots and was thus ennobled and made whole. Joseph could have abandoned his Hebrew background, protecting his painfully acquired identity and status, but he knew that his remarkable life’s success had to carry a humbling message of healing and gratitude. Joseph appeals to us in his touching humaneness which is not lost when he becomes powerful and his survivor’s skills of ascending from the pit to the palace inspire us, realizing that it reflects the historic Jewish challenge to survive and even thrive in a harsh reality. He is the prototype model of the modern Jew, enlightening us about living in two worlds. He was able to perceive God’s guiding hand in his tumultuous life, steeled and sensitized by adversity turned into advantage. Joseph and the Maccabees of all ages have taught us that to be a Jew is to somehow make a difference, reducing darkness and rejoicing in the light’s promise. —Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman, Congregation Beth Chaverim.
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Why no Facebook filter in solidarity with Israeli victims? by Jordana Horn
SHORT HILLS, N.J. (JTA)—“Show your support for the people of Paris by temporarily updating your profile picture with this new template we created,” read the Facebook-sponsored text promoted not 24
hours after last month’s terror attacks in Paris. The social media giant invited users to overlay their profile picture with the blue, white and red colors of the French flag. Within hours, my Facebook feed became awash in those colors, as well-meaning
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friends painted their virtual faces in solidarity with #TeamFrance. But what did that solidarity really prove, or mean? Certainly it’s an uncomfortable truth of our virtual existence that the colors of our profile picture—whether they are all the shades of the rainbow in solidarity with the legalization of gay marriage or the French tricolor—matter very little to anyone, possibly even including ourselves. As Lulu Nunn wrote in The Independent, “Paint-by-numbers solidarity when it’s foisted on you by one of the most powerful companies in the world is simply not the way to help a traumatised nation in shock after murder. But more than that, there is a certain question that rises with the Facebook flag filter: Why did Facebook present the flag filter as an option on behalf of the French, yet it does not do so on behalf of the citizens of other countries plagued by Islamic terror— including, not so hypothetically, Israel? I’m an identifying Jew who counts among my friends Jewish clergy, members of the media, educators and writers. I have many people in my feed who convey their solidarity with the people of Israel on a near-daily basis. And yet it is incredibly rare that I see a non-Jewish person in my feed posting anything along the lines of “My God—that’s horrible” in the wake of the most recent stabbing, shooting or car-ramming terror attack in Israel, even when it’s particularly unconscionable. (Consider: worshipers being hacked to death with axes in a Jerusalem synagogue, or Israelis being stabbed to death during a prayer service in Tel Aviv.) Why is that? Is it because people fear that expressing the arguably uncontroversial viewpoint of “People shouldn’t be hacked to death with axes while they’re at prayer” is to take a highly partisan step into the incomprehensibly deep, thick swamp of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or is it because Jews are murdered so frequently
in Israel that it just isn’t as shocking as Parisians being murdered in a music hall? And yet, here was my feed over the weekend filtered through the French flag. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was a nice gesture, even if it was only a gesture; it was that I found myself discomfited by its implications. It got me wondering why some acts of terror are deemed “worse” than others? Is it the body count? Is it the picturesque setting in which they are conducted? Whose blood, as the sages would ask, is redder? These comparisons, surely, are incredibly odious—and yet, with the institutionalized approval of the flag filter, it seemed that someone had deemed this attack sadder, or worse, than others, whether in Israel or Beirut or Nigeria. It is not. “It’s a dismaying and damaging truth that Westerners care about and empathise with images of white-skinned women grieving in Topshop bobble hats far more than brown-skinned women grieving in niqabs and, when you lend your voice to Eurocentric campaigns such as Facebooks flag filter, you exacerbate this,” Nunn wrote in her piece. “When we buy into such easy corporate public mourning, we uphold white supremacy. We’re essentially saying that white, Western lives matter more than others.” Regardless, painting our faces in whatever colors is never an acceptable stand-in for discourse and debate—though it seems to naturally follow for a generation that believes that an emoji is enough to convey an emotion. Reducing ideas and ideology to the lowest common denominator, history shows us, doesn’t end well. We have all the tools available to us to conduct a powerful, international conversation—it’s not enough just to use it to paint on walls. —Jordana Horn is a contributing editor to Kveller. She is a journalist, lawyer, mother of six and a former New York correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.
Painting our faces in whatever colors is never an acceptable stand-in for discourse and debate.
Bernie Sanders promises ‘evenhanded approach’ to Israel, says Netanyahu ‘overreacted’ in Gaza
emocratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders accused Israel of “overreacting” during its 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza and lauded the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a controversial figure in the Jewish community. In a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone magazine published Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Vermont senator also said he believes in God but is “not into organized religion.” Sanders, who is Jewish, also spoke fondly in the cover story of attending pig roasts. Asked about Israel, Sanders said he would “support the security of Israel, help Israel fight terrorist attacks against that country and maintain its independence.” However, he added, as president he would “maintain an evenhanded approach to the area.” “I believe in a two-state solution, where Israel has security and the Palestinians have a state of their own,” he continued. “The United States has got to work with the Palestinian people in improving their standard of living, which is now a disaster, and has been made much worse since the war in Gaza.” Asked why he is “not a great fan” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sanders said that during its 2014 Gaza war, Israel “overreacted and caused more civilian damage than necessary.” “They have very sophisticated weapons systems. They make the case, and I respect that, that they do try to make sure that civilians are not damaged. But the end result was that a lot of civilians were killed and a lot of housing was destroyed. There
was terrible, terrible damage done.” Asked about his heroes, Sanders first listed the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then added, “A guy who has not gotten the credit that he deserves is Jesse Jackson.” “What he did in the concept of the Rainbow Coalition, we take for granted now,” he continued. “The political concept that we can bring blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asian-Americans together is a very important development in American political history. It certainly laid the groundwork for Obama.” Jackson, who ran for president in 1984, alienated many Jews, notably New York Mayor Ed Koch, when he refused to repudiate the anti-Semitic comments by black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan and in an interview referred to New York City as “Hymietown.” He later apologized for the “Hymietown” remark, which he had thought was off the record. Jackson’s pro-Palestinian views, particularly numerous photos of him embracing PLO leader Yasser Arafat, also led to Jewish tensions. In recent years, however, Jackson has mended fences with the Jewish community, offering in 2011 to meet with Cuban leaders to negotiate the release of Alan Gross, a Jewish contractor imprisoned in Cuba. Gross was released last December. The Rolling Stone interview also touched on Sanders’ Brooklyn Jewish upbringing, and he noted, as he has in previous interviews, that the loss of relatives in the Holocaust influenced his early interest in politics. (JTA)
Clinton leading Sanders by nearly 20%, poll finds WASHINGTON (JTA)—Hillary Rodham Clinton is maintaining a substantial lead over Bernie Sanders among Democrats likely to vote in primaries, a poll found. The New York Times/CBS News poll released Nov. 12 showed Clinton, leading Sanders, 52 percent to 33 percent. The candidates have essentially not budged since a CBS News poll in early
October showed Clinton leading Sanders 56 percent to 32 percent, within the latest poll’s margin of error, 6 points. Trailing both was former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley with 5 percent. The phone poll canvassed 418 Democratic primary voters across the country from Nov. 6 to 10.
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For Reform Jews, some good news on engagement by Steven M. Cohen
(JTA)—While the 2013 Pew survey uncovered some disturbing evidence of lower levels of Jewish engagement among young people, the same survey contains several pieces of good news for Reform Jews— 5,000 of whom gathered last month in Orlando, Fla., for the movement’s biennial conference organized by the Union for Reform Judaism. Since 1990, Reform synagogue members not only grew in number, but they held steady on several measures of Jewish engagement, even as their rate of intermarriage soared and the number with predominantly Jewish friends declined. The positive indicators point to the movement having the human assets it will need as it confronts a variety of challenges ahead. These inferences, which must be regarded with caution, derive from
comparisons I drew between the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) and the Pew survey. While both studies are highly regarded by survey professionals, such comparisons are tricky, in part owing to the vastly different survey methodologies. (As Pew surveyed individuals in 2013 and NJPS surveyed households in 1990, I converted the 1990 respondents to stand for individual adult Jews rather than the entire household.) That said, it appears that the numbers of Reform synagogue members rose from about 623,000 in 1990 to approximately 756,000 in 2013, commensurate with the expanding number of adult Jews overall, which grew from 4.3 million to 5.3 million during the same time period. In addition, with intermarriage four times higher in 2013 than in 1990 (31 percent of married Jews vs. less than 8 percent in 1990 among Reform temple members), far more non-Jews
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were affiliated with Reform temples in 2013 than their rather paltry numbers in 1990 when intermarriage was far more rare. Along with the increase in intermarriage came a decrease in the number of Reform temple members with mostly Jewish close friends. Standing at 36 percent in 2013, the comparable number had been 49 percent in 1990. Obviously, Jewish spouses and Jewish friends go hand in hand, both empirically and metaphorically. Despite the increased intermarriage and diminished Jewish social networks (aka Jewish friends and family), the 1990 to 2013 period saw hardly any change in the proportions who celebrate Jewish holidays, to take one telling domain of Jewish engagement. For Reform temple members, seder attendance reached 94 percent in 2013, just above the 91 percent reported in 1990. It looks like Yom Kippur fasting also grew, to 75%, from the 70 percent 23 years earlier. Attending High Holiday services (at least at some point) reached 95 percent among temple members, jumping markedly from 81 percent in 1990. In another domain, the proportion that said they gave something to Jewish charities also ticked upward to 85 percent from 80 percent. To be sure, not all indicators of Jewish engagement moved upward. The survey comparisons show slight declines in some other indicators. Comparing 2013 with 1990, we find drops in monthly service attendance (34 percent in 2013 vs. 40 percent in 1990), in usually lighting Shabbat candles (21 percent “now” vs. 27 percent then), in belonging to a Jewish organization (46 percent vs. 49 percent in 1990), and in feeling that being Jewish is very important (a slight decline to 60 percent from 63 percent in 1990). But given the surveys’ differences in sampling, in how respondents understood the questions, in the way they were interviewed and in whom they represent, we can’t take the small differences in either direction too seriously. The overall conclusion: Not only did Reform temples affiliate more adult Jews in 2013, but the Jews who joined them were as active in Jewish life—if not more so—as their counterparts in 1990.
Now, any discussion of Reform temple members immediately provokes curiosity about Reform-identified non-members. From 1990 to 2013, how did they change? For the most part they experienced the same sorts of changes as were recorded among Reform temple members. They grew in number (though not as much), rising from 912,000 to 1,154,000. Their intermarriage rates jumped significantly, almost doubling from 34 percent to 66 percent (of those who were married at the time of each survey). And the numbers of those with mostly Jewish friends declined—from 30 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 2013. Notwithstanding the weakening of Jewish social networks, among adult Jews who identify as Reform yet belong to no congregation, the 2013 vs. 1990 comparisons show generally small changes in both directions on those measures of Jewish identity that were found in both studies. The increased numbers of Reform congregants and their steady levels of Jewish engagement should certainly hearten both clergy and lay leaders of Reform congregations and the continental movement. At the same time, serious challenges are not only on the horizon, but have arrived. Among them are the sharply declining numbers of younger adult congregants, illustrated by the rise of average age from 46 in 1990 to 52 in 2013, as well as the very small number of Reform-identified congregants 35–44 (73,000) as compared with the far larger number just 20 years older (224,000). Another issue is the very high rate of intermarriage—roughly 80 percent among married Reform-raised Jews during 2000–13. Yet the over-time patterns do suggest that collectively, the Reform population can contend with high and rising rates of intermarriage, with two provisos: That intermarried couples affiliate with congregations, and that they undertake several other acts of Jewish engagement and commitment. —Steven M. Cohen is research professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s flagship seminary.
Jews eat pork and Torah study more popular
Pew survey: 57% of U.S. Jews eat pork and Torah study more popular by Uriel Heilman
NEW YORK (JTA)—Do you experience feelings of peace and well-being at least once a week? Did God write the Torah? Do you eat bacon? If these questions seem a little personal, don’t fret. They’re all part of a new Pew Research Center survey on American religion released last month that shows moderate declines in religious beliefs and behavior among Americans generally, but growth among Jews in some key religious categories. Some 847 of the 35,000 Americans in the Pew telephone survey between June and September 2014 identified themselves as Jews by religion -- far fewer than the 3,475 Jews interviewed for Pew’s landmark 2013 survey of U.S. Jewry. (Unlike the new
survey, the ‘13 study also counted as Jews those of “no religion” who identified themselves as Jewish by ethnicity, parentage or feeling). But there’s still plenty of interesting data on Jewish beliefs, practice and voting patterns in the new survey. Here are some of the study’s more interesting findings: Growing prayer and Torah study Compared with the last time Pew surveyed Americans about religion, in 2007, the percentage of Jews who said religion is very important to them grew from 31 percent to 35 percent. Similarly, the percentage who said they attend religious services weekly or more often grew from 16 percent to 19 percent; the proportion of Jews who said they read “scripture” at least weekly grew from 14 percent to 17 percent, and the
percentage of those who said they participate in prayer groups or religious study groups at least weekly grew from 11 percent to 16 percent. However, it’s important to note that most of those increases are within the survey’s margin of error for Jewish respondents, which is 4.2 percentage points. On the question of the proportion of Jews who attend religious services weekly or more, for example, there is inconsistency between this survey’s finding of 19 percent and Pew’s 2013 finding of 14 percent. Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research, says the numbers are within the two surveys’ combined margins of error, but that the questions were also asked slightly differently, so direct comparisons are tricky.
over 130 years
Did God write the Bible? Eleven percent of Jews believe the Torah is the literal word of God. That’s about the same proportion as Orthodox Jews within the U.S. Jewish population overall. An additional 26 percent of Jews believe the Torah is the non-literal word of God and 55 percent believe the Torah was written by men. Compared to other religious groups in America, Jews have the lowest proportion of adherents who believe God wrote the Bible (except for Buddhists, who don’t believe in the Bible). Jews also read the Bible less than other religious Americans. Among Jews, 17 percent of respondents said they read the Bible outside of services at least weekly, compared to 35 percent for all Americans, 52 percent of Protestants and 25 percent of Catholics. Meanwhile, belief in God fell slightly among Jews, from 72 percent in 2007 to 64 percent in 2014 (37 percent said they were absolutely certain God exists, and 27 percent said they were fairly certain). Right or wrong? Jews use common sense Where do Jews turn for guidance on questions of right and wrong? Fifty percent use “common sense,” 17 percent turn to religion, 17 percent to philosophy and 14 percent to science. Twenty-one percent of Jews believe in absolute standards of right and wrong, and 76 percent say it depends on the situation. Forty percent of Jews say they believe in heaven, up from 38 percent in 2007, and 22 percent say they believe in hell, the same as in 2007. By contrast, 72 percent
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Jews aren’t that concerned with the meaning of life Jews think about the meaning and purpose of life less than American Christians or Muslims—45 percent of Jews compared to 64 percent of Muslims, 61 percent of Protestants, 52 percent of Catholics and 59 percent of Buddhists. The survey found that 70 percent of Jews feel a strong sense of gratitude at least once a week.
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of all Americans believe in heaven and 58 percent believe in hell. Seventy-nine percent of Jews believe other religions can also lead to eternal life—higher proportion than among Christians (66 percent) or Muslims (65 percent). Jewish women pray more than Jewish men Most Jewish survey respondents—53 percent—said they belong to a local house of worship (the survey did not break down results by religious denomination). Though 19 percent of Jews surveyed said they attend services at least once a week, 29 percent said they pray at least once a day (up from 26 percent in 2007), 24 percent said they pray weekly or monthly, and 45 percent said they seldom or never pray. While there is a significant divide between the sexes among Americans generally when it comes to daily prayer—64 percent of American women vs. 46 percent of American men pray daily—among Jews the gender difference is slight: 31 percent of Jewish women compared to 27 percent of Jewish men pray daily.
Most American Jews eat pork When it comes to observing religious dietary restrictions, Jews are less fastidious than Muslims or Hindus. While 90 percent of Muslims surveyed said they abjure pork and 67 percent of Hindus said they avoid beef, only 40 percent of Jews abstain from eating pork. Fifty-seven percent of Jews surveyed affirmed they eat pork. (One percent of Jewish respondents said they were vegetarian; the survey did not ask Christian respondents about vegetarianism) Jews are not at peace with themselves While 59 percent of all Americans said they experience deep feelings of spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week (68 percent of Protestants, 57 percent of Catholics and 64 percent of Muslims), the figure for Jews was only 39 percent. But that was still more than agnostics and atheists, who experience those feelings weekly at rates of 37 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Are religious organizations a force for good? Eighty-eight percent of Jews said their houses of worship and other religious
organizations bring people together and strengthen community bonds, but only 63 percent said those institutions protect and strengthen morality in society. By contrast, 83 percent of Christians and Muslims said their institutions protect and strengthen morality in society. At the same time, 54 percent of Jews surveyed said religious institutions are too concerned with money and power (compared to 52 percent of all Americans), 59 percent said they focus too much on rules (51 percent among all Americans) and 59 percent said they’re too involved with politics (48 percent among all Americans). Jewish Republicans gain, but so do Jewish liberals Although the increase in Republican Jews is within the survey’s margin of error for Jews, the percentage of Jews who identified as Republican or leaning Republican grew by 2 points between 2007 and 2014, from 24 percent to 26 percent. Concomitantly, the proportion of Jews who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic fell from 66 percent in 2007 to 64 percent in 2014. However, while the percentage of Jews who
identify as politically conservative stayed constant during that time, the percentage of Jews who identify as liberal grew from 38 percent to 43 percent—mostly defectors from the “moderate” camp. Among Americans generally, the change between 2007 and 2014 was a 3-point growth for Republicans and a 3-point drop among Democrats. Nine percent of Jews surveyed in 2014 identified as independents, compared to 17 percent among Americans generally. Jews are more accepting of gays than other Americans Acceptance of “homosexuality in society” grew among all Americans between 2007 and 2014, from 50 percent to 62 percent, and among Jews from 79 percent to 81 percent. The religious groups least tolerant of homosexuality in society are Mormons (only 36 percent favor societal acceptance), Jehovah’s Witnesses (16 percent) and Protestant evangelicals (36 percent). Buddhists were the most accepting at 88 percent. Seventy-seven percent of Jews said they support same-sex marriage, compared to 53 percent of all Americans.
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For Jewish groups, Syrian refugees are a reminder—not a threat were not likening the magnitudes of the two catastrophes, but could not help noting WASHINGTON (JTA)—American Jewish the reluctance in the 1930s, as now, to organizations don’t see the Syrian refugees accept refugees and the accusations that the refugees posed a danger. as a threat; they see them as a reminder. “It’s obviously a sensitive comparison, With rare unanimity on an issue that has stirred partisan passion, a cross-sec- but it’s the right point to make,” says tion of the community has defended the Nathan Diament, executive director of the Obama administration’s refugee policy in Orthodox Union Advocacy Center. The consensus among the three terms recalling the plight of Jews fleeing Nazi Europe who were refused entry into major streams of U.S. Jewry—Reform, Conservative and Orthodox—is derived the United States. “The Jewish community has an import- from a shared understanding of Jewish ant perspective on this debate,” the scripture, says Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who Orthodox Union said in its statement. directs the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center. “Just a few decades ago, “Our role is to be the refugees from the terror pure rabbinic voice that and violence in Hitler’s lifts people up beyond Europe sought refuge in their narrow partisan the United States and views,” he says of rabbis. were turned away due Jewish organizations Rabbi Steve Gutow, to suspicions about their joined 70 other groups a Reconstructionist who nationality.” in pleading with Congress is the outgoing president Echoed the to allow in Syrian refugees of the Jewish Council for Conservative movement’s Public Affairs, says symRabbinical Assembly: pathy for the refugee was “We can sadly remember written into the Jewish all too well the Jews who were turned away when they sought refuge cultural genetic code. “We’ve been facing the need to have in the United States on the eve of, and refuge since we left Egypt,” he says. “To during, World War II.” Eleven Jewish organizations joined think about not speaking out flies in the another 70 groups in pleading with face of who we are.” There is not 100 percent agreement: Congress to keep open the Obama administration’s program, which would allow The president of the Zionist Organization in 10,000 refugees over the next year of America, Morton Klein, for one, spoke from among the 200,000 to 300,000 in against allowing in the refugees at his Europe. Neither the Orthodox Union nor group’s annual dinner in New York this week. the Rabbinical Assembly signed the letter. Still, the overwhelming consensus lines Among the signatories were mainstream bodies like the the Reform movement, the up the Jewish organizational world against Anti-Defamation League, the American the Republican Party. A GOP-backed bill that would pause Jewish Committee and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as HIAS, the refugee program passed overwhelmthe lead Jewish body dealing with immi- ingly in the U.S. House of Representatives gration issues, and the Jewish Council last month and virtually every Republican for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for governor has said they do not want to allow in the refugees. At the same time, almost all Jewish public policy groups. However, the parallels to the Nazi era of the Republican presidential candidates want it paused, if not reversed. raised hackles among some conservatives. There appears to be popular opposi“The refugees from Syria are not fleeing a genocide, it’s a civil war,” says Matt tion to the resettlement as well. An ABC/ Brooks, who directs the Republican Jewish Washington Post poll showed 54 percent of Americans oppose accepting refugees, Coalition. Officials from the organizations that while 43 percent support it. The margin of support allowing in the refugees say they error was 3.5 percentage points. by Ron Kampeas
Being on the losing side of a political current screening program as “robust.” Jen Smyers, the director of advocacy debate is nothing new for organizational for Church World Service, one American Jewry, says the ADL’s CEO, of several groups involved in Jonathan Greenblatt, noting that refugee advocacy and resetthe ADL in 1958 solicited a book “Being tlement, says she expected from a “young senator from more Republican backMassachusetts”—John F. on the losing ing for the refugees once Kennedy—to counter rising grassroots activists anti-immigrant sentiment. contacted their repreThe future president wrote side of a political sentatives during the and published A Nation of Thanksgiving break. Immigrants. D a v e e d “’We were once strang- debate is nothing new Gartenstein-Ross, a ers’ is core to our identity,” senior fellow at the Greenblatt says. for organizational Foundation for Defense There are signs that of Democracies, says support for the refugees American that the key to winning may not always be a partiover conservatives and san one. Republicans was to take The U.S. Holocaust Jewry.” their concerns seriously, Memorial Museum, which has which he said the Obama a rigorously bipartisan board, has administration had failed to do. weighed in backing the program. And Gartenstein-Ross said President Barack Michael Chertoff, President George W. Bush’s secretary of Homeland Security, Obama was wrong-footed, for instance, in who is Jewish and otherwise has been deriding GOP presidential candidates as sharply critical of the Obama administra- “scared of widows and orphans.” “Part of being president is you don’t tion, joined his Democratic successor, Janet Napolitano, in urging Obama to safeguard debate against the lowest common denomthe resettlement program, describing the inator on the other side,” he says.
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Billionaire Haim Saban walks back call for greater scrutiny of Muslim refugees WASHINGTON (JTA)—Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire who is a major backer of Hillary Rodham Clinton, said he did not mean to suggest that Muslims entering the United States from Syria should be subject to greater scrutiny. “I misspoke,” Saban, an entertainment mogul, told TheWrap, an entertainment news website in an interview on Nov. 19. “I believe that all refugees coming from Syria—a war-torn country that ISIS calls home—regardless of religion require additional scrutiny before entering the United States,” he said. “At this moment in time, with hundreds killed in Paris and thousands more around the world, freedom as we know it is under existential threat.” In an earlier interview with TheWrap, Saban had said he was ready to sacrifice some liberties for security. “The reality is that certain things that are unacceptable in times of peace—such as profiling, listening in on anyone and
everybody who looks suspicious, or interviewing Muslims in a more intense way than interviewing Christian refugees—is all acceptable [during war],” he said. “Why? Because we value life more than our civil liberties and it’s temporary until the problem goes away.” He added: “I’m not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of a torture room to get them to admit that they are or they’re not terrorists. But I am saying we should have more scrutiny.” Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, backs President Barack Obama’s plan to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees from that country’s civil war over the next year. Virtually every GOP candidate has called for the refugee plan to be paused if not scrapped, and several, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have said that if the United States is to take in refugees, they should be Christians.
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Though confined to N.Y., Jonathan Pollard can explore the Internet for the first time by Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—His every move tracked by GPS, his computers monitored 24/7, his outings subject to a curfew, Jonathan Pollard will nonetheless for the first time be able to enjoy a 21st-century indulgence so many others take for granted: surfing the Internet. A filing by the convicted spy for Israel’s lawyers reveal that they won a single concession from the U.S. government in months of wrangling over his parole conditions: Pollard, may access the internet without prior permission. The filing in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 20, just hours after Pollard’s release from a federal prison in North Carolina 30 years into his life sentence, was for habeas corpus. Pollard’s lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, argued that the restrictions attached to Pollard amounted to illegal detention and were “statutorily and constitutionally impermissible.” The revelations in the contentious filing—along with statements by the White House, supportive Jews and Jewish groups, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—bury for now any hope Pollard’s release would end three decades of pronounced disagreement between the United States and Israel over what Pollard represents and whether his punishment was just. Pollard wants to make aliyah, or immigrate to Israel. Every signal the U.S. government has sent suggests that is not
going to happen in the near term. The Justice Department has said it will stand by the conditions of Pollard’s parole. The White House has said, again emphatically on Friday, Nov. 20 that it will not intervene. The U.S. Parole Commission, after announcing Pollard’s pending release in July, issued parole conditions that would require Pollard to submit to GPS monitoring, obtain commission approval to access the Internet and agree to monitored computer use, with unannounced inspections of his equipment at any time, according to the filing by Pollard’s lawyers, The commission also said Pollard’s probation officer could subject him to curfew and “exclusion zones,” which would be in addition to the statutory requirement that Pollard request permission to travel outside the area of New York City, where he will reside. Pollard’s lawyers appealed the conditions to the commission’s appeals board, which removed only the need for the commission’s approval to access the Internet. The GPS requirement was “reasonably related to the need to deter you from further criminal conduct,” the appeals board said, although, according to the filing by Lauer and Semmelman, the board did not explain how Pollard, 30 years in prison, would be able to spy now that he’s out. The lawyers included statements from Robert “Bud” McFarlane, the national security adviser at the time of Pollard’s 1985 arrest, and former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., who was on the Senate Intelligence Committee at the
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14 | Jewish News | December 7, 2015 | jewishnewsva.org
That’s unlikely. President Barack time, that whatever classified information Obama does not have any plans to alter Pollard still knew is now useless. The computer monitoring, the appeals the terms of Pollard’s parole now that he board ruled, was warranted for home and has been released, Ben Rhodes, the deputy business computers because “the bound- national security adviser, said when asked aries between personal and business by reporters about whether Netanyahu computer use are blurred.” That require- had asked Obama to release Pollard from ment, Pollard’s lawyers argue, will make parole. “This is something it almost impossible for that Prime Minister the Stanford University Netanyahu has regularly graduate to find work. raised,” Rhodes said. The Probation Office “The fact of the matter charged with monitoring years before is, we have deferred to Pollard’s release “exacParole Commission the Department of Justice erbated the conditions,” is obliged to and the process of justhe filing said, apparreconsider terms tice with respect to the ently requiring Pollard to of Pollard’s parole Jonathan Pollard issue.” wear a tracking device. The Justice Department “GPS monitoring does indicated it will abide by not require a monitor the conditions of Pollard’s attached to the body,” the lawyers said and claimed that because of parole. “The Department of Justice has Pollard’s diabetes, “any restraint place on always maintained that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious his ankle or leg” would be dangerous. A handful of Jewish organizations wel- crimes he committed,” a spokesman said. The disagreement over whether Pollard comed the release of Pollard, an American Jew and a former Navy intelligence analyst had committed “serious crimes” or was who pleaded guilty in 1987 to sharing a well-meaning ideologue fretting over classified information with Israel. A recur- Israel’s vulnerability has been the crux ring theme was that the sentence was of one of the longest-standing tensions between the United States and Israel. disproportionate. Netanyahu’s statement on Pollard’s “While we still believe his sentence was disproportionate, we hope that after release included nary a reference to any having paid his debt to society, he should crimes. “As someone who raised Jonathan’s now be able to rebuild his life together with case for years with successive American his wife,” the Conference of Presidents presidents, I had long hoped this day of Major American Jewish Organizations would come,” he said. “After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan has been said in a statement. “As the Conservative Movement has reunited with his family.” The Parole Commission may end iterated many times in the past, including in Rabbinical Assembly resolutions Pollard’s parole at any time but is not in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2011, Jonathan obliged to reconsider its terms for two Pollard was handed a remarkably unfair years. After five years, Pollard must be sentence,” the Rabbinical Assembly’s released from his parole terms unless the president, Rabbi William Gershon, says, commission has a compelling reason to adding that Pollard had suffered “decades keep him on probation. Pollard appeared relaxed and pleased of injustice.” Also welcoming Pollard’s release was the National Council of Young to be out of prison. Following his preIsrael, which took the lead among groups dawn release from the federal prison in Butner, N. C., he traveled to New York in advocating for Pollard’s release. Two groups, Agudath Israel of America City, where he checked in with his parole and the Zionist Organization of America, officer. The World Jewish Congress posted called on the Obama administration to a photo of Pollard smiling serenely, seated in front of his wife, Esther. grant Pollard’s wish to move to Israel.
Exciting year-end programs at Tidewater Jewish Foundation by Amy Weinstein
nding the 2015 calendar year on a very high note, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation recently rolled out several exciting initiatives. These include two matching incentives to help energize philanthropy, including a Legacy Match Life Insurance Program, a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) Match Program, and a new online donor portal. Through the Legacy Match Life Insurance Program, TJF will share the cost of a new policy and help individuals and families Create a Jewish Legacy. For policies with a face value of at least $250,000 that benefit a Jewish affiliate agency, TJF will share up to 50% of the cost of the premium up to $60,000, if paid in 10 years or less. The DAF Match will give new donors an extra $2,500 to give away. A DAF operates
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jewishnewsva.org | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 15
Israel Today Series kicks off with discussion of the strong U.S.-Israel commercial relationship by Gaby Grune
he kick off for the Community Relations Council’s 5th Annual Israel Today Series was a whirlwind spectacular, with Josh Kram not wasting one minute of his day in Tidewater. Kram landed in Norfolk and hit the ground running. First he was brought to the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Leadership Lunch. A panel moderated by Danny Rubin, included Josh Kram, director of Turkey and Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the Middle East Commercial Center, and director of the Chamber’s U.S.-Israel Business initiative; Ralph Robbins, executive director for the Virginia Israel Advisory Board out of the Office of the Governor of Virginia; and Lea Bogatch-Genossar, vice president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. for Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Trades. New member of the Virginia House of Delegates Jason Miyares left the luncheon optimistic for what the future holds. “The panel just confirms that Israel today is a dynamic and thriving economy with
Danny Rubin and Josh Kram.
Priscilla Monti, Suzanne Stewart, and Luwanna Dunbar.
some of the leading global entrepreneurs. It’s great to know that Virginia is one of the leaders in fostering economic partnerships with Israeli companies in a variety of technology, bio medical and research fields. I look forward to future opportunities to learn through the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the CRC’s new partnership,” he said. Following the lunch, Kram met with more than 100 Cape Henry Collegiate students. Joining him on the stage were Bogatch-Genossar and Robbins. The students left the session enlightened on the benefits of a strong U.S.-Israel commercial relationship, and inspired by the current innovative Israeli companies and technologies contributing to the global economy. In the evening, Danny Rubin and Josh Kram were back on the stage at the Sandler Family Campus to reveal a more in-depth look into the recent developments between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their Israeli counterparts and others in the region. Kram covered many topics including the discovery of natural gas in Israel and how the state has greatly explored the possibilities and ways to make the most of the find. It was refreshing to hear Israeli commercial development being discussed within terms of social awareness. Kram touched on how Israel’s profitable innovations and commercial developments are something that should really make its way into the
16 | Jewish News | December 7, 2015 | jewishnewsva.org
Rabbi Alexander Haber, Jeff Werby, Drew Little, and Scott Kaplan.
Elyse Cardon, Ashley Zittrain, Katharyn Robertson, Annie Sander, Emily Labows, and Lisa Baehre.
Palestinian territories. Once commercial footing is established, a more peaceful coexistence could emerge. During the Q&A segment, Kram was asked about his thoughts on the BDS movement. Kram managed to highlight the many ways that Israeli innovation and productivity is overpowering this movement fueled by isolationism. Kram’s insider knowledge on the U.S.Israel commercial relationship provided a positive, insightful, and engaging opportunity for the Tidewater community. CBN’s Joel Palser said, “Josh Kram is a breath of fresh air…. He provides a valuable perspective from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And, beyond commanding the
Tanya Conley and Dorothy Hughes.
Janet Weinstein Mercadante, Page Atkinson, Jason Miyares, Morgan Bost, Drew Little, and Greg Zittrain. Bobby Copeland, Adi Abramov, Andrew Nusbaum (standing), Royi Abramov, Betty Ann Levin, Jay Klebanoff, and Heather Alexander.
Barbara Dudley, Cantor Wendi Portman Fried, and Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg.
facts and figures on a pro-Israel commercial relationship, Josh clearly explained the key sectors where we should engage…. His warmth, wit, and invitation to join him in this “can do” business relationship with Israel simply overwhelmed the “doom/gloom” of the BDS rhetoric that gets so much media attention. Kudos to Danny Rubin for the straightforward moderation—he drew out the salient points we came to get—and, let Kram showcase the strategic Middle East vantage point of his expertise.” The next Israel Today events will feature Olga Meshoe on March 2 and Matti Friedman on May 11. Both will take place on the Sandler Family Campus. More information on the Israel Today series, including a full list of community partners, can be found at www. JewishVa.org/CRCIsraelToday or by emailing email@example.com.
Rabbi Alexander Haber, Lea Bogatch-Genossar, Harry Graber, Del. Josh Kram, Priscilla Monti, Sylvia Haines, Ralph Robbins, and Danny Rubin.
Larry Lombardi, Jack Peltz, Arthur Rosenfeld, and Joel Palser.
Barbara Parks, Ron Kaufman, and Alene Kaufman.
Jordan Watkins, Toi Wilson, Laura Goodbolt, and Twyla Powell.
Scott Levin, Shikma Rubin, and Amy Levy.
jewishnewsva.org | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 17
Birthright and the Margolin family W
hen Virginia Beach native, Zalmy Margolin touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv just before New Year’s, 2015, Birthright Israel officially became a family affair. Zalmy, together with his wife Bracha, were the last in his family to arrive as leaders on the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies’ Birthright Israel division. Zalmy is the youngest child of Chabad of Tidewater co-directors, Rabbi Aron and Rychel Margolin. By the time Zalmy committed to being a Birthright Israel: Mayanot leader, he had plenty of people to seek advice from; all six of his older siblings (two of them with their spouses) and his mom and dad had all experienced the 10-day journey. “Ever since the concept of leading Birthright trips was introduced to our family, we knew we’d be doing it for a while,” says Rabbi Margolin who will be leading his 13th trip this month. “The ability to share such a unique Jewish experience in such a special Jewish place is addictive,” he adds. For Rychel Margolin, who herself led a trip together with her husband, Birthright Israel is a great way for her family to do what they do best: combine their love for Israel and sharing Judaism with Jewish people. “I truly believe that everyone in my family has the ability to change the lives of many people, even when they don’t realize it themselves,” she says. “Through
Rabbi Margolin at the port of Caesarea in 2013.
Birthright, they are definitely able to make a difference in an incredible way.” In January of 2010, Rabbi Levi Margolin, fresh off a stint as assistant rabbi at the Chabad at Texas A&M University, lead the family’s first Birthright Israel trip. Ten days later, he was back in Brooklyn eagerly introducing the Mayanot Israel team to his siblings and parents. “Guys, this is a must,” he remembers telling them at the time, “I really can’t describe it. Go! Just go.” Eight trips as leader and two and half years later, Levi Margolin tossed his belongings into three suitcases and boarded a plane for Israel. This time, he would be staying long-term, assuming the position of social media coordinator at Mayanot Israel, the organization that brought him to Israel his very first time, nearly 10 years earlier, long before he even dreamed of leading a trip of 40 first-timers. Today, as director of marketing and staff coordinator for Mayanot, Levi Margolin continues to involve his family in the program as often as possible. When he heard about the “Birthright Israel Fellows” educational seminar, the first person he called was his dad. “I’m going to this Birthright thing in Chicago,” he told his father over the phone, “If you’re going to continue leading Birthright, I really think you should join me.” “I remember thinking to myself ‘four days in Chicago is a long time’ and I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the program,” says the senior Margolin, “But at the same time, it would be four days with like-minded people, all with a love for Israel and Judaism and a deep passion for sharing it with others.” A few months later, in September, Rabbi Aron Margolin, his son Levi, and about 100 others found themselves in a suburb just west of Chicago, Ill. about to be fully immersed for four days in workshops, activities and seminars focused on Experiential Israel Education. Birthright Israel,
18 | Jewish News | December 7, 2015 | jewishnewsva.org
founded in 1999, is one of the largest endeavors ever built upon the foundations of experiential education, a concept that has been catching steam since it was first introduced in the 1930s. Birthright Israel aims to bring young Jewish people from across the Diaspora to Israel and give them the tools to discover something new about their Jewish identity and their place within the Levi Margolin (second from left) as a trip leader in 2012, before joining Birthright Israel: Mayanot full time. greater Jewish World. Birthright Israel also aims to be a fully immersive adventure of the Jewish people’s homeland as opposed to a tour of a foreign country. Israeli youth join the participants along the way, a diverse lineup of speakers and presenters meet each group and several times throughout the journey, groups gather to discuss, process and reflect on their experiences up to that point. In partnership with Rabbi Margolin at the Kotel with a Birthright participant. the iCenter for Israel Education, Birthright Israel presented the newest class of Birthright Israel Fellows with “the best hands on methods needed to lead an Israel trip, make a difference in the life of your peers and to relate stories and emotions that people will remember.” After four days, it’s safe to say that everyone learned something new. “They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” Rabbi Aron Margolin said at the culmination of the conference, joking about both his age and experience in the Birthright Israel world, “But today, I can tell you that’s not true.” Levi Margolin can be reached at levi@ Rabbi Margolin discusses Kaballah with a group mayanotisrael.com. in the Northern Israel city of Tzfat.
Karen Jaffe’s StarChase
Supplement to Jewish News December 7, 2015 Jewishnewsva.org | Business | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 19
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Business Dear Readers, “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business,” Michael Corleone says to his brother Sonny in The Godfather. A renowned line from the famous film, it is exactly the opposite of what the articles in this section on business emphasize. For those featured, their businesses are very personal. Consider, for example, our cover story on Karen Jaffe’s remarkable life-saving product, StarChase. Based in Virginia Beach, this company’s technology is literally changing police pursuits across the nation. And Jaffe, rightly so, feels good about its impact. A co-chair of UJFT’s Business & Legal Society, Faith Jacobson’s article on the Society’s programs and efforts highlights its personal nature, which goes along with B&L’s mission: “…to connect Jewish professionals to build a foundation for the future, foster a heightened sense of community, and strengthen the mission of the UJFT.” Business and legal professionals who are not already members might want to join after reading her piece. Several area Jewish business professionals were recently honored for their volunteerism, their fundraising efforts and their success at providing good places for their employees to work. Mazel Tov to them and to those who work with these award-winning leaders! Check our community recognition piece on page 25. Did you know that Kind Snacks, maker of Kind bars, is owned by a Jewish man who grew up in Mexico City? Daniel Lubetzky is all about goodwill and kindness, and so his company donates $10,000 each month to a social cause. Now, that’s personal. Whatever your business philosophy, whatever your taste in movies, we hope you enjoy this section.
Terri Denison Editor
Business Karen Jaffe’s StarChase slows pursuits, increases apprehensions Jaffe has also served on the boards of Trevor Fischbach, president of StarChase, LLC. and Karen Jaffe. the Tidewater Jewish Foundation, and the ust the words alone—high-speed chase Simon Family Jewish Community Center —conjure up thoughts of a dangerous where her family underwrites the annual kind—mounted in the front grill of a property damage and no deaths. StarChase police officer’s patrol car. A compressed air helps both the police agency and the public Jewish Book Festival. situation. In 2007, she created the Jaffe launcher deploys a GPS-embedded projec- save time and money; court costs, traffic Photographs of the aftermath of Jewish Family Services in tile at the suspect’s vehicle. It adheres to the disruption and delays, vehicle repairs and those pursuits are on display in Budapest, Hungary, modeled in back of the moving vehicle and transmits repairs to public and private property are the Virginia Beach-based busireduced, often totally eliminated, when StarChase, part after Tidewater Jewish its location. ness StarChase, LLC. The Dispatch monitors the vehicle through StarChase is utilized.” Family Service. The first of photos, which are difficult in effect, Reduced expenses for medical costs for its kind in Eastern Europe, a real-time mapping program thereby to look at, speak for themthose injured in a pursuit, and “for ongoing the agency offers a variety removing the traditional pursuit. selves when it comes to rewrites the “Once tagged, the officer falls back benefits to police who have been injured of programs and support the innocent lives lost. services for Hungarian turning off his lights and sirens,” explains and cannot return to work are other ways,” StarChase, a system entire event by she says an agency benefits. Jewish children and Jaffe. that tags and tracks Currently in more than a dozen states “Then the suspect’s vehicle slows within vehicles for the law transforming it from families. “If they’ll continue, it 10 miles of the speed limit,” says Fischbach. throughout the U.S. and British Columbia, enforcement sector, “The suspect thinks no one is following StarChase has been lauded with positive is here to make a a potentially risky— is up to us to make that feedback and received national media covhim,” says Jaffe. happen,” says Jaffe. difference. and often deadly But, that’s not the case. StarChase erage from USA Today, Today Show, ABC Back in Tidewater, And the company Jaffe, Trevor Fischbach, enables the officer to apprehend the sus- News, and NBC News, among others. already has. scenario—to a “Every single tag that happens has a president of StarChase, pect without the chase. Karen Jaffe is the CEO story attached to it and they’re good stories,” StarChase, in effect, rewrites the entire and all 15 employees of the of StarChase. manageable company, are also affecting event by transforming it from a potentially says Fischbach. “This is a game changer for Born and raised in one. positive change with the use of risky—and often deadly scenario—to a law enforcement and communities.” Norfolk, Jaffe is a 1971 gradAs for Jaffe, she is overjoyed by StarChase manageable one. 21st century technology. uate of Booker T. Washington A safe outcome, according to Jaffe, and its ability to change outcomes. “The primary mission is to keep High School who earned her bach“The StarChase system changes the, elor’s degree in business administration communities safer,” says Jaffe noting DUIs, “means no accidents, no injuries, no all too typical, outcome of stolen cars, contraband-refrom Ithaca College in N.Y. one of the most dangerous Jaffe’s caring touch reaches far and wide lated, and border-related tasks faced by our police,” chases are the most common in countless ways. says Jaffe. “Creating a device StarChase, which is putting an end high-risk traffic situations. that can save lives and also “Every third day an innoto pursuits and saving lives, is one of the improve the ability of police many life-changing endeavors in which cent person is killed as a result to safely apprehend suspects of a high-speed pursuit and Jaffe pours her heart and soul. had and continues to have The 2015–16 campaign chair for the every six weeks an officer is great appeal to me. United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, killed or injured as the result “It feels good,” says Jaffe. Jaffe—and the Jaffe name—is no stranger of a high-speed pursuit,” says “How could it not?” to making a difference. Her parents, Fischbach. “It is a national To learn more about Bernard and Lee Jaffe*, taught their chil- issue and we’re proud to be a StarChase, LLC., visit www. dren early on how important it is for people part of the solution.” starchase.com. That solution is the to take care of one another, especially system—the the Jewish people. In addition to hold- StarChase *of blessed memory ing numerous positions for UJFT, Karen one and only product of its StarChase’s launch system is installed in the vehicle’s grill. by Sandra J. Pennecke
Jewishnewsva.org | Business | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 21
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have had the privilege to serve on the Business & Legal (B&L) steering committee since February of 2012. Over the last several years, I have met and worked with professionals from different fields, many of whom have become personal friends. I have witnessed a steady growth within the membership of our Society and a focus on the primary mission of the B&L Society, which is to connect Jewish professionals to build a foundation for the future, foster a heightened sense of community, and strengthen the mission of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. For me, this “networking” group has been both personally and professionally rewarding. While it is common for people to scoff at just another networking group, what makes the UJFT B&L Society unique is our mission: to develop a sense of community. We do this while knowing that our annual contributions to UJFT are not only enriching the lives within our own community, but are also providing relief and support to people throughout the world. Incredibly exciting to see the diversity grow in our Society, it is especially gratifying to observe younger professionals joining to build their own careers and businesses, as well as to have the opportunity to meet and gain the wisdom of more seasoned professionals. One of our younger and enthusiastic members, David Calliott, an investment associate at Davenport & Company told me, “I joined B&L to try and network and grow my business, while also learning from other Jewish professionals who have been successful. There are a lot of smart and successful people in the Jewish community and those are the types of people I like to surround myself with.” The increase in membership is certainly, due in part, to the B&L Society’s fantastic and unique events. In addition
to fun social events, the B&L Society addresses significant and relevant topics that are pertinent to our Tidewater Jewish community, the entire Tidewater area, and the worldwide community. Some past events include: • Harbor Park dinner and baseball event where Ken Young, president of the Norfolk Tides and Norfolk Admirals and Jeff Cogen, Norfolk native and CEO of the Nashville Predators & Bridgestone Arena, led a discussion about the proposed new arena and professional basketball team in Virginia Beach. • Luncheon and private tour of Norfolk’s NorVA by owner, Rick Mersel, and discussion during which Andrew Mendolson, the Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning top music mastering engineer, spoke about his journey from growing up in the Norfolk Jewish community to building a successful Nashville company, The Georgetown Masters studio, and working with such artists as Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, and the Rolling Stones. • The B&L Society periodically hosts events in conjunction with the Maimonides Society, such as the “Kickoff the Summer Wine Social” held at the home of Gary and Jessica Kell. This was an opportunity to mingle in an intimate setting while enjoying a professional sommelier’s selections of fine wines including Kosher and Mevushal wines and pairings with heavy hors d’oeurvres. • A lunch discussion and private tour of the Israeli company, ZIM USA’s North American Headquarters in Norfolk by Lea Bogatch-Genossar, vice president of the North American and Caribbean branch of ZIM Integrated Shipping Services. In 2013, Bogatch-Genossar was named
Business “Person of the Year by the New York/ New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association” (a very uncommon recognition afforded a woman in that industry). • A luncheon to discuss the global implications of a nuclear Iran with Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C. based nonpartisan policy institute foundation. An expert on Iran and sanctions, Dubowitz offered an insiders’ look at the talks, the outcome, and the global implications. • Ira Forman, State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat AntiSemitism, spoke about the Rising Tide of Global Anti-Semitism: A Resurgence of Evil. Forman provided his expert knowledge and insight into today’s increasing anti-Semitism around the world. • “Israel and Virginia: Where Food and Health Intersect,” was another social and educational event held with the Maimonides Society where a demonstration of how Israel and Virginia are leading the health and sustainable food movement through a new and innovative company, Clearfarma, a Life Science Incubator with bases in Israel and Richmond. Mike Spinelli, former Ben
John Cooper and Jody Wagner at the Directory launch.
& Jerry’s and Sabra Dipping Company executive and Ralph Robbins, executive director, Virginia Israel Advisory Board, Office of the Governor, displayed the company’s innovation through a hands-on presentation with an array of delicious samples. • A fter several years of discussions and planning, we launched the Business & Legal Society Directory (jewishva.org/ businessandlegaldirectory). This valuable tool allows one to easily find Jewishowned businesses and attorneys within Tidewater. A Directory Launch Party was held at Gordon Biersch. • “Ride the Tide” was a fun and relevant event in which a group rode the Tide (some of whom, like me, for the first time) from the Newtown Road Station to the office of S.L. Nusbaum in Norfolk. We heard from Dave Hansen, Deputy City Manager for the City of Virginia
Andrew Mendleson and Kirk Levy at the NorVA.
Beach, over a kosher lunch, regarding the plans for the Tide’s expansion to the oceanfront and beyond. As the B&L Society moves forward, we will continue to bring the best opportunities to meet, greet, and have a great time, as well as to stay aware of our global temper. We are here to connect Jewish professionals in business and law in an effort to
build a foundation for the future. We will continue to foster and promote business relationships between our members and the community. Events for 2016 include a Passover Wine Tasting at the oceanfront in February. For more information about the Business & Legal Society, contact Alex Pomerantz at 757‑965-6136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jewishnewsva.org | Business | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 23
Business How a Holocaust legacy helped launch the Kind bar brand KIND Thing, a part-memoir, part-handbook for incorporating social responsibility into NEW YORK (JTA)—In many respects, business ventures. The book, which made the Manhattan headquarters of Kind The New York Times’ business best-sellers Snacks—the purveyors of the omnipres- list, chronicles Lubetzky’s story starting ent fruit and nut bars found everywhere from his childhood in Mexico City to a from health-food stores to office-supply stint in Israel, where he toiled to get Arabs emporiums—are pretty much what you’d and Israelis to work together, to a studio expect: Scads of casually dressed millenni- apartment in New York, where he struggled als mill about sleek, brightly colored rooms for years to get his company off the ground. Lubetzky credits his father’s Holocaust adorned with inspirational quotes from the likes of Desmond Tutu and Groucho Marx. stories for inspiring his drive to be socially But step into the office of founder and responsible and promote kindness. For instance, as a child in the Dachau CEO Daniel Lubetzky and there’s a different vibe. The furniture is older, and a Time concentration camp, Lubetzky’s father was magazine cover on one wall featuring the given a rotten potato by a Nazi guard who face of Anwar Sadat stands out. Lubetzky would’ve been punished if he had been says that his desk and the artwork on seen helping a Jew. Lubetzky’s father credits the walls belonged to his late father, a the potato—and the guard’s actions—with Holocaust survivor who had a deep effect helping him survive. Drawing on the anecdote, Kind Snacks on his life and business philosophy. Make no mistake, however—Lubetzky, donates $10,000 each month to a social 47, is far from somber; he speaks with con- cause that is nominated and voted on by fident charisma with a trace of a Mexican customers online. Employees also carry accent. In just over a decade, he has built “kindawesome” cards that they give to Kind into one of the most ubiquitous strangers in public for spontaneous acts healthy snack brands in the United States. of kindness. Each card comes with a code In 2014, the company sold more than 458 through which the recipient can claim a million bars and granola pouches, nearly few free Kind bars and more “kindawesome” cards to pay it forward to others. doubling the sales of the previous year. Lubetzky hints in non-specific terms But Lubetzky isn’t motivated by profit alone. In March, he published Do the that he plans on scaling up this so-called “Kind movement” to match the company’s overall growth. While he may be a snack-bar guru today, that’s not what Lubetzky set out to be. He grew up in the “very insular and very tight-knit” community of Mexico City, which is home to about 75 percent of the country’s approximately 50,000 Jews. Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and founder of KIND Snacks and author of Do the KIND Thing (third from right), and members of the KIND team hand out flowers to Lubetzky was passersby in an effort to spread kindness around New York City. 12 when he realized photo: Poon Watchara-Amphaiwan. by Gabe Friedman
24 | Jewish News | December 7, 2015 | Business | jewishnewsva.org
Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and founder of KIND Snacks and author of Do the KIND Thing. photo: Poon Watchara-Amphaiwan.
how Jew-centric his upbringing was. He was playing with a friend. “I said something like ‘If you don’t stop doing that, I’m going to kick your tuchas.’ And he said, ‘What is tuchas?’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Lubetzky recalls. “I thought tuchas was a word in Spanish.” Thus a desire to build bridges between communities was born. As an undergrad at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Lubetzky wrote a thesis on how economic cooperation could bring nation-states— such as Israel and its surrounding Arab neighbors—closer together. “If you had asked me when I was in law school or in college or as a kid, ‘Is Daniel going to be running a food company?’ I would tell you you’re cuckoo,” Lubetzky says. “What I was going to be doing was representing Israel at the United Nations.” But after law school at Stanford, Lubetzky received a $10,000 fellowship given out by the Bay Area’s Jewish federation to pursue economic research in Israel and attempt to foster joint Arab-Israeli ventures. One day in a grocery store, he came across a jar of sundried tomato spread that he devoured in one sitting. When he went back to buy more, he was told that there was none left because the company was going out of business. Recognizing an opportunity, Lubetzky tracked down the spread’s manufacturer, Yoel Benesh, who was using expensive jars and other imported materials from Europe. Lubetzky convinced him to work with local Palestinian farmers and an Arab glass manufacturer in Egypt. Lubetzky and Benesh built up the
company and turned it into PeaceWorks, which still sells tapenades and sauces today. Its trademark: “Cooperation Never Tasted So Good!” As Lubetzky describes in amusing detail in his book, his efforts to expand PeaceWorks did not go as he expected. At one point in the 1990s, he wound up having to store thousands of unsold boxes of Dead Sea mineral ointments in his small Manhattan studio apartment. “What kept me going was my sense of mission: I was in this to build a footing for peace,” Lubetzky wrote. “I had to help my Israeli, Arab, and Turkish partners. Failure was not an option.” Years later Lubetzky came up with the idea for the minimalist fruit and nut Kind bars—one of the first products to eschew the “paste” formula of other snack bars— while craving a filling snack that could sustain him through his training for the New York Marathon in 2002. He said his early obstacles with PeaceWorks helped him learn that the quality of a product is more important than the social mission of a business. Kind does not outwardly promote its charity work as publicly as it pushes its products’ taste and health value; the company touts its clear packaging as proof that customers can see the wholesome ingredients inside. Authenticity is the main thing that should drive a business and its mission, Lubetzky says. “If [companies] can find something that they can really authentically do to make this a better world, why not?” he says. “But you have to really have a huge asterisk there—it has to be authentic.”
Business Community recognition Association of Fundraising Professionals honors Stephanie Adler Calliott
tephanie Adler Calliott and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters’ development department received the Outstanding Non-Profit in Fundraising award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon on Nov. 17. “Taking care of kids is what drives Stephanie Adler Calliott us and our donors and caregivers are so important to our success,” says Calliott, CHKD senior vice president. Prior to joining Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in 2009, Calliott spent more than 27 years in the financial services industry, focusing on Wealth Management issues including investment service, financial planning, and trust and estate services. Calliott currently serves on the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater board and Women’s Cabinet. She and her husband Don London have three sons. “I could not think of an organization in the greater Tidewater community more deserving or a professional leader more gifted and dedicated in the field of philanthropy. Stephanie has exhibited many talents and deep Jewish values regarding the betterment of the human condition in her Federation and other philanthropic activities. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have worked side by side with Stephanie throughout the years,” says Harry Graber, UJFT executive vice-president.
Gene Ross honored with the 2015 Corporate VOLUNTEER Leadership Award
OLUNTEER Hampton Roads, in partnership with Inside Business and the Hampton Roads Corporate VOLUNTEER Council, pays tribute each year to businesses and individuals who are dedicated to volunteer service. This year’s Corporate VOLUNTEER Leadership Award recipient is Gene Ross, Gene Ross president of LoanCare LLC. Ross was selected for his “exceptional dedication and vision in leading LoanCare’s outstanding corporate social responsibility program,” according to a news release. “I am not surprised that Gene has been honored with the 2015 Corporate Volunteer Award,” says Harry Graber, executive vice president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. “His activities in the Jewish community, including among many, serving as past president of the Simon Family JCC and as a member of the Simcha Campaign steering committee, always
indicated to me that Gene was committed to the finest teachings and traditions of our people. He lives his Jewish values and is a role model for all in our community,” says Graber. In addition to his roles in the Jewish community, Ross serves on the Board of Governors of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation, and as a past board member for YMCA Camp Silver Beach. He also participates as a guest lecturer at Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. honored by Virginia Business magazine: Best Places to Work 2016
or the fifth consecutive year, Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. (WEC) was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in Virginia. The annual list of “Best Jeff Chernitzer, Alvin Wall and Marty Einhorn Places to Work” was created by Virginia Business magazine and Best Companies Group. This survey and award program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Virginia, benefiting the state’s economy, its work force and businesses. Among their many volunteer efforts, the three founding partners, Marty Einhorn, Alvin Wall and Jeff Chernitzer are active members of the Jewish community. Einhorn currently serves as president of the Simon Family JCC and is on the audit and finance committees for the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. In addition, he has coached youth basketball at the Simon Family JCC for 14 years. Wall is a past president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and its treasurer. He chairs the Sandler Family Campus governing committee. He is vice chair of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and chairman of its grants committee. Chernitzer is a past board member of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Beth Sholom Home. He also served as a B’nai Brith Youth Organization advisor. “I am not surprised that Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer continues to be honored by Virginia Business magazine as a Best Place to Work. I have known the three men for many years and have seen how their interactions with others are permeated by a concern for dignity, respect and compassion. Therefore, it makes sense that these qualities also characterize their leadership in the workplace. I know I speak for the Tidewater Jewish community when I say congratulations and Kol Hakovod,” remarks Harry Graber, UJFT executive vice-president.
Panama and Israel sign free trade agreement
anama signed a free trade agreement with Israel, its first with a Middle Eastern nation. The agreement was signed last month in Panama City to seal a set of negotiated deals including access to markets, customs, services and investments, intellectual property, trade obstacles, institutional issues and conflict resolution. “This is our very first agreement with a Middle Eastern partner and hence it represents important opportunities to Panamanian exporters and businessmen. It has a vast coverage of goods, services and investment,” said Meliton Arrocha, Panama’s minister of trade and industries. A special chapter of the agreement also intends to boost the capabilities and competitiveness of the Central American nation’s small- and medium-sized companies in innovation and technology transfer fields, he added. “The agreement is expected to serve as another springboard for Israeli service providers—especially in software, communication, information security, engineering and R&D—thus expanding the potential of this and related markets,” Israel’s Ministry of Economy spokesman said in May. The negotiations are part of efforts by Israel to expand its exports to new markets and strengthen relations with Latin American countries. Israeli exports to Panama in 2014 stood at $25 million and imports from Panama at $3 million, according to the Israel’s Ministry of Economy.
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It’s Chanukah. You’re cooking latkes. Lighting the menorah. Giving many gifts. Good things you do for your family every year. While you’re at it—why not do something good for your extended Jewish “family?” Give a gift to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign! You’ll help the heat stay on for a family in Norfolk, provide critical aid to 70,000 elderly struggling to survive in war-torn Ukraine, give Israeli children much-needed trauma counseling, and so much more. This Chanukah, you can change Jewish lives for the better everywhere. Please give generously to the UJFT Annual Campaign.
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Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ‘lower guilt’ latkes by Gabrielle Birkner
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz—South Florida congresswoman, chair of the Democratic National Committee, mother of three school-age children—is also, apparently, something of maven in the kitchen. Wasserman Schultz (aka @cleancookingcongresswoman) maintains an Instagram account devoted to her culinary adventures, and last December tweeted about, what else, latkes. “Was flipping through old recipes and came across this—only 3 days to Hanukkah and more of these!” she tweeted, along with a photo of golden brown potato pancakes. Getting latkes just right can present something of a challenge: forget to squeeze the water out of the potatoes and you’re likely to get a patty that’s heavier than it is crispy; fail to flip at precisely the right time, and the product may be more burnt than golden. So we decided to ask Wasserman Schultz for her formula for the perfect latke.
Explaining her decision to include grated sweet potato and parsnip, in addition to traditional baking potatoes, she told JTA via email: My New Year’s resolution last year was to eat healthier without giving up my favorite “Jewish soul foods!” So, throughout the year, I set out to adapt our favorite traditional Jewish recipes to a “clean cooking,” healthier version. During Passover I made pizza with a matzo farfel crust and I didn’t want to give up latkes at Hanukkah, so I found this root vegetable recipe, which I adapted a bit for my family’s tastes. But because latkes are a favorite in the Wasserman Schultz household, she’ll be serving up traditional ones in addition to the “lower guilt” option. “Less guilt in a Jewish household, who knew it was possible!” the congresswoman told us. It is possible—and here’s the recipe, which Wasserman Schultz adapted from MyRecipes.com.
Nachum Segal promoting Jewish unity with Hanukkah show in Paris American Jewish DJ Nachum Segal will host a special Hanukkah broadcast and concert live from Paris. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the fourth night of Hanukkah, the host of “JM in the AM” will begin a live broadcast at 2 pm Eastern time. It will be followed by “Let There Be Light: The Concert of Jewish Unity,” a musical performance at the Synagogue de la Victoire, or Grand Synagogue of Paris. Headliners will include Yehoram Gaon, OHAD and Uziah Tzadok. The show is intended “to celebrate the lives of those living in France, and to honor the Jewish communities.” Along with the Hanukkah connection, Dec. 9 was chosen because it is 11 months
since the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, marking the end of the victims’ families saying the Mourner’s Kaddish. In the wake of the Paris attacks of Nov. 13, the broadcast will be part of a solidarity trip by Segal and his crew to “commend the courage of Parisians, and to support those who stand proud and defiant.” “The Nachum Segal Network is dedicated to actively promoting the message of Jewish unity in France and throughout Europe,” says Segal. “JM in the AM” is the network’s flagship show. On Dec. 9, Segal will be joined by Jewish leaders from Israel, Europe and the United States. (JTA)
Debbie’s (aka @CleanCookingCongresswoman’s) Healthy Root Vegetable Latke Recipe 2 cups grated peeled sweet potato 2 cups grated peeled baking potato 1 cup grated peeled parsnip 3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 ⁄ 3 cup) ½ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided 2 large eggs 1 cup grated onion 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon chopped dill (optional) 3 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil ¼ teaspoon kosher salt ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon ground red pepper Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 325°. 2. Place first 3 ingredients on paper towels; squeeze until barely moist. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, eggs, and onion in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add potato mixture; beat with a mixer at low speed until combined. 3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl. Heap 3 tablespoons potato mixture into pan to form a patty; flatten slightly. Repeat procedure 5 times to form 6 patties. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place latkes on a baking sheet; keep warm in oven. Repeat procedure twice with remaining oil and potato mixture to yield 18 latkes total. Sprinkle latkes with ¼ teaspoon salt. Garnish with dill, if desired.
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The five best new Hanukkah books for children by Penny Schwartz
( JTA)—Sharing blessings, friendship and welcoming guests are among the themes that illuminate a new crop of Hanukkah books for children. The eight-day Festival of Lights begins this year with the first candle lighting on Sunday evening, Dec. 6. Some acclaimed children’s writers and illustrators serve up a sparkling array of lively and inspiring stories that will take readers from the streets of New York City to a moshav in Israel and even into the kitchen to cook up some Hanukkah fun. Hanukkah is Coming! Tracy Newman, illustrated by Vivian Garofoli Kar-Ben ($5); ages 1–4 A delightful, rhyming story that follows a family as it celebrates Hanukkah: lighting the menorah, frying up potato latkes, trading bowwrapped gifts and spinning a dreidel. The colorfully illustrated board book is a perfect read-aloud for young kids, each page ending with the easy-to-repeat refrain, “Hanukkah is coming.” This is the second entry in a series that launched with Shabbat is Coming! by Tracy Newman; two new titles for Passover and Rosh Hashanah are due out next year. Oskar and the Eight Blessings Richard Simon and Tanya Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel Roaring Book Press ($17.99); ages 4–8 Oskar and the Eight Blessings transports readers back in time to the sights and sounds of New York City’s streets in 1938. The fictional tale takes place on the seventh night of Hanukkah, which on this year is also Christmas Eve. Oskar, a young Jewish refugee arrives on his own by ship, sent on the journey from Germany by his parents following the frightening events of Kristallnacht. Oskar has only the photograph and address of his Aunt Esther, who lives uptown. As he makes his way up the length of the island, Oskar is mesmerized by
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the city’s wintry glow. He crosses paths with strangers who share blessings—a piece of bread, a Superman comic book, a whistle from Count Basie and a kind encounter with Eleanor Roosevelt. The book’s simple prose is brilliantly matched with Mark Siegel’s captivating illustrations, which bathe the realistic cityscape with a dreamlike haze. An author’s note reveals that the tale is based on family stories that Richard Simon’s grandfather told him as a child. The historical references here are based on actual events from 1938 New York. Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles David Adler, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler Apples and Honey Press ($17.95); ages 4–7 “A bit of a feminist tale” is how author David Adler—best known for his popular Cam Jansen series—describes this book, which features Sara, an inquisitive, fun-loving girl with a heart of gold. Looking out the window of her city apartment, she notices a man juggling and eating a bruised apple set aside by the owner of Sol’s Market. As she comes to understand that the man is hungry, Sara prepares small bits of food to leave for him at Sol’s. Sara later spots the man at her synagogue, and the rabbi introduces her family to Mr. Berger, a former circus performer. Sara’s family invites him to a Hanukkah dinner, leading to a budding friendship. Sara also represents the multitudes of nontraditional families within the Jewish community; she lives with her mom and grandmother, with no father. “It was an intentional choice,” says Adler. Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match Karen Rostoker-Gruber and Rabbi Ron Isaacs, illustrated by CB Decker Apples and Honey Press ($17.95); ages 4–8 Farmer Kobi has a house full of barnyard friends, but they wish he had a human friend, too. This lighthearted, hilarious story opens on the second night of
Hanukkah at a moshav, an Israeli collective farm. Farmer Kobi has invited his new friend Polly for a Hanukkah feast, but Polly is surprised when she’s greeted by a slew of animals who sing Hanukkah songs and play dreidel while Farmer Kobi checks on dinner. This isn’t Polly’s idea of fun. After she leaves, an unexpected visitor knocks on the door looking for help with a flat tire. The new guest, Ruthie, feels right at home—turns out she has her own family of farmyard friends waiting in her truck. The offbeat, lively story is filled with playful language: “You look flap-ulous,” a goose honks. There are fun nods to Israeli and Jewish traditions, all explained in a glossary at the end. CB Decker’s cartoon-like illustrations bring the story to life with plenty of merry mayhem. The laughs come courtesy of co-authors Karen Rostoker-Gruber—a writer, humorist and ventriloquist—and Rabbi Ron Isaacs, the guitar-strumming rabbi emeritus of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and a best-selling author of more than 100 books. Sammy Spider’s First Taste of Hanukkah, a Cookbook Sylvia A. Rouss and Genene Levy Turndorf, illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn Kar-Ben ($17.99 hardcover; $7.99 paperback; $6.99 eBook); ages 5–9 Welcome back, Sammy Spider. In this 15th book of the wildly popular series, the friendly arthropod joins Josh and the Shapiro family in the kitchen just in time for Hanukkah. In introduction, Sammy Spider takes a page from the most famous and beloved of all spiders, E.B. White’s Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web. “I’m going to show Josh which recipes are Meat, Dairy, or Parve by spinning M, D or P in our web!” Sammy tells his mom. The colorfully illustrated book includes 18 easyto-follow recipes for Hanukkah meals and treats including “Maccabee Munch”—a sweet, Chex-mix type treat— applesauce and “Chocolate Fun-due.” A fourth chapter features Hanukkah craft projects.
On Hanukkah, just let the lights go out by Edmon J. Rodman
LOS ANGELES (JTA)—There’s a popular Hanukkah song recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, Light One Candle. Its chorus insists we “don’t let the light go out”—but I’ve been thinking that maybe we should. Not that I want to leave all those Maccabee children stumbling in the dark on cold December nights, or leave them without an image of light and hope to plug into. But, sometimes, letting the light go out kindles an altogether different kind of luminance in which to examine the moments of our lives that we hold dear. So my urging that we watch the light go out is a literal one—while we love to bask in the glow of our menorahs, what is really illuminating is watching the candles go out. Watching them burn out, one by one, makes me think about how remarkable it is to kindle light. In a time when LED menorah decorations are plentiful and one can use an app to light the “candles” on their smartphone, please give me candles blue, yellow, red and white. The fire of my imagination lights up as their wicks burn down. One Hanukkah—after our family menorah was lit, the blessings chanted, the songs sung, the gifts opened—everyone trudged upstairs to watch TV. I stayed downstairs alone and watched the menorah burn low. Though the communal and commercial push on Hanukkah is toward shopping-mall candle lightings, house parties and group crafts for kids, I wanted to see if the holiday could also be quiet and contemplative. I’m not talking “silent night” here— that’s that other holiday—but a real chance to take in the play of shadow and light and contemplate what Hanukkah means. The Jewish life cycle, from bris or baby naming to funeral and shiva, leaves little time for singular reflection. Judaism calls for a group, a minyan, to experience much of what it offers. Even on Yom Kippur, we
do not confess our sins alone, but together as community. So I admit that sitting alone and watching the candles burn down seemed a little downbeat and weird at first. But the traditional prayer “Hanerot Halalu” (“These Lights”)—which reminds us, as we look upon the candles, to thank and praise God “for the wondrous miracle of our deliverance”—helped me view this solo experience in a different, “light.” While watching the flames, I finally connected with the words of the prayer, realizing that after eight nights of parties and presents (as well as latkes, sufganiyot and black cherry soda), I felt miraculously delivered, like I was a Maccabee who emerged victorious from the combat zones of holiday shopping. Casting a shadow on my reverie, however, was the “Hanukkah Meditation” in my Sim Shalom prayer book. It suggested that “in the last glimmer of spiraling flame,” I should be able to see the spark of “Maccabees, martyrs, men and women of valor.” Try as I might, staring at the candles burning down, all I could make out were colorful driblets of wax. I wondered: Was there some other message? Flames reach out at us from most every part of Judaism. Looking into our menorahs, they can draw us into a light of memory, like a yahrzeit candle lit at the anniversary of a loved one’s death. Flames also light us up with celebration, such as illuminating the candles of Shabbat or setting bonfires on Lag b’Omer. In the window of my dining room, another candle connection was burning up right before me. The shamash, the candle used to light all the others on the menorah, was burning out first, making me ask: Who had been my shamash? Taking bows in the candlelight were a basketball coach, a college lecturer, the rabbi where I grew up, a kid from Scouts and, to a well-earned round of applause, my parents. In turn,
they had showed me how to move my feet, write, parse Torah commentary, cook and strive toward menschhood. In the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation, the earliest foundation text of Kabbalah, there is a passage about a “flame in a burning coal.” Aryeh Kaplan, an Orthodox rabbi who was known for his knowledge of physics and Kabbalah, wrote that it can be used as a meditation. In his book, Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice, various parts of the flame correspond to the Sephirot, or attributes through which Ein Sof—“the infinite”—is revealed. In Kaplan’s meditation, the wick represents the physical world; the blue flame
closest to the wick is “the counterpart of Malchut,”or Kingdom, which is our perceptions of God’s actions and attributes. Surrounding this is the bright yellow flame, which corresponds to the Sephirot of Kindness, Strength, Beauty, Victory, Splendor and Foundation. The hottest part, the white flame, is the Sephira of Binah, or understanding, with the “light radiating from the candle,” corresponding to Chochmah, or wisdom. “The only way in which the flame can rise is for all of these parts to come together,” Kaplan wrote. And rise they did, growing brighter first, and then sputtering out, one by one, but leaving me with a glow.
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it’s a wrap 2015 URJ Biennial makes, celebrates history 130 learning sessions on temple governance, comThe Union of Reform Judaism held its munity engagement, and Biennial November 4–8 in Orlando, Fla., study of Jewish history and and I had the honor of attending as a philosophy. Conference sessions and member of Ohef Sholom Temple’s board of directors. The URJ Biennial experience can worship were interwoven with performances and song be summed up as follows: • Three weeks’ worth of programming, sessions by well-known education, and celebration shoehorned contemporary Jewish musicians including Josh Nelson, into four very long days. • A massive Jewish summer camp, Dan Nichols, Billy Jonas, North American Federation of Temple Peri Smilow, Julie Silver, Youth (NFTY), and college reunion (espe- a capella group Six13, Ohef Sholom Temple members at URJ’s Biennial. cially if you are a graduate of Hebrew Union Shira Kline, and numerous American Conference of College-Jewish Institute of Learning). • A festival of Jewish music that rivals Cantors members including Ohef Sholom’s No topic was too difficult or controversial, from incitement and acts of terrorism in own Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin. Woodstock. A rousing, inspiring, and often per- Israel to mass shootings and acts of racial • The Olympiad of Jewish geography sonally reflective speech by Vice President injustice in our own communities. and genealogy. By virtue of its large delegation of 17 • An extremely personal and private Joe Biden on Saturday night capped off retreat to ponder what your Judaism means Biennial in memorable fashion. Vice members, Ohef Sholom enjoyed “platinum” to you (while being constantly surrounded President Biden spoke for the better part status at the Biennial, which allowed our of an hour, reflecting on his decades group to have preferred seating for the by 5,000 fellow Jews). of support from the Jewish com- plenary sessions and specially targeted Highlights of Biennial A munity on social justice issues networking opportunities, while spending included an overwhelming vote and his tireless work in fos- more than 500 collective hours learnby the assembled body on rousing, tering the United States’ ing, praying, and enjoying each other’s Thursday, Nov. 5, in favor inspiring, and enduring partnership with fellowship. of a policy of nondiscrimiBiennial was a highly personal expeIsrael. Biden spoke cannation against transgender often personally didly and optimistically rience for me, evoking fond memories of individuals in all facets about the current state summers at URJ Jacobs Camp in Utica, of the Reform Jewish reflective speech by of Israel-U.S. relations Miss., and my active career in NFTY’s movement, the first such action by a significant Vice President Joe Biden and America’s continued southern region, including joyful reunions support of Israel as its with many close friends from that time. American religious orgaon Saturday night chief ally in the region, I learned a great deal about how we can nization. Plenary panels his timely remarks coming make our synagogue stronger and become on fostering inclusivity in capped off Biennial just days before Prime more of a part of our community in facing temples, promoting racial in memorable Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the challenges that are part of our tradition justice in communities, and Washington. The conference of Tikkun Olam. advocating for peace and fashion. Most of all, I took great pride in the was also not without its tearequal rights in Israel featured ful moments, especially during Reform movement’s commitment to audanotable speakers such as actor a commemoration of the life and cious hospitality and inclusiveness in all Michael Douglas, New York Times writer Jodi Kantor, author Ari Shavit (My accomplishments of Yitzhak Rabin on the aspects of our communal life. For me, the most inspiring words came not from an Promised Land), national NAACP President 20th anniversary of his assassination. The URJ’s three main platforms— esteemed rabbi or scholar, but from Ben Cornell Brooks, and Beit Knesset member Audacious Hospitality, Strengthening Spratt, president of Atlanta’s largest Reform Stav Shaffir. Daily and Shabbat worship and Torah Congregations, and Tikkun Olam—were congregation, in addressing how our constudy incorporated traditional texts as fully integrated into all aspects of the gregations and community should address well as readings and music spanning our Biennial. Attendees were encouraged to whether we can truly be houses of prayer tradition from Moses and Maimonides engage the challenges facing the Jewish for all people and work for a more just and to Mitch Albom and Matisyahu; and community both from within and without, righteous world: “Start with yes, and work attendees chose from among more than in our own communities and in the world. your way backwards.” by Andy Fox
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itâ€™s a wrap Jewish Book Festival reaches all ages and interests
his yearâ€™s Lee and Bernard Jaffe* Family Jewish Book Festival drew a record number of community members into the Simon Family JCC for the author events. Starting with Seth M. Siegel as the opening night and keynote speaker, each author event inspired audiences with topics ranging from the global water crisis to a tale of a missing lost love. Thanks to the festival sponsors: Barnes & Noble, Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, Beth Sholom Village, and the Jewish Book Council. Thanks also to Festival partners, the Holocaust Commission of the UJFT, the Community Relations Council of the UJFT, The Children and Family Department of the JCC, PJ Library, Strelitz Early Childhood Education Center, Jewish Family Service, BBYO and the Board of Rabbis & Cantors of Hampton Roads. The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Keynote speaker Seth M. Siegel at a pre-event reception.
Sandy Sher and Deb Ebenstein.
Ellie Lipkin with Al and Joan Benas.
*of blessed memory
Nathan Jaffe introduces the Book Festival.
Henna tattoo from Nomi Eve event.
Art Sandler introduces keynote speaker and friend Seth M. Siegel.
Allan Goodman signs books.
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New teachers bring added enthusiasm to HAT this year
it’s a wrap Beth El’s New Member Shabbat by Kristy Foleck and Alicia Friedman
ongregation Beth El held its third annual celebration to honor new members and welcome prospective members. The event was held on Friday, Nov. 6. Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz and Cantor Wendi Fried led the Shabbat Service followed by dinner Kristy Foleck and prepared by the Beth El Sisterhood Ashley Zittrain. for more than 150 guests. With the help of Betsy Karotkin, vice-president, and Alicia Friedman, membership chair, Kristy Foleck and Ashley Zittrain planned and hosted the evening. Children’s activities were led by Sharon Wasserberg, Brenda Kozak, and Hannah and Maiya Foleck.
Beth El’s Progressive Shabbat Dinner by Jody Alperin
abbi Jeff Arnowitz, Rabbi Arthur Ruberg, Cantor Wendi, and 20 members of Adult Recess of Congregation Beth El gathered for a Progressive Shabbat Dinner in Ghent and West Ghent on Friday, Oct. 30. Following services at shul, the group walked to the home of Rick and Debi Yarow. After motzi, the congregants enjoyed Debi Yarow’s homemade Challah, assorted starters, and spirits. Then a short walk landed the group at Rabbi and Tami Arnowitzs’ home for two types of vegetarian lasagna. A much longer stroll followed, which gave everyone a chance to walk off some of the dinner and included an opportunity to see the adults and children in their costumes on Colley Avenue for the Ghent Halloween Masquerade. The final stop was Jody and Steve Alperins’ house for pumpkin whoopie pies, caramel apple cupcakes, and after-dinner drinks. Jody Laibstain, who attended with her husband David, says, “What a great way to celebrate Shabbat…delicious food, wonderful company and even a walking tour of Ghent!”
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by Joel Rubin
or moms and dads who are into baseball and have a five-year-old child, here is another reason to enroll him or her at Hebrew Academy of Tidewater: There will be an opportunity to talk about the national pastime, baseball, with kindergarten teacher Terri Kraly, whose father-in-law, Steve, had a “cup of coffee” with the New York Yankees in 1953, pitching in five games, but more famously, rooming with Mickey Mantle. “He has a lot of great pictures and memories,” says Kraly, “and he’s passed them on to us.” What Kraly really wants to talk about, however, is her pupils, who are having a Terri Kraly, Michelle Barnes and Marnie Waldman. ball learning letters, sounds, math, creobservances. ative writing and “confidence” each day. “We are really into sharing Kraly is one of four new, but veteran and collaboration in my class,” teachers who have joined HAT in the says Kraly, who has instituted last two years. K-5 art instructor Michele “marble moments” where a Barnes is another. child earns a marble for doing “The children here at HAT are adorsomething fabulous. When able, the faculty is outstanding and the there are enough marbles in a facility is amazing,” says Barnes who is jar, the entire class votes on a highly complementary of the school’s fun group activity. “It’s a great light and airy new art room. Barnes, way to build teamwork,” which whose favorite personal art medium is is what you might expect to “encaustic” or painting with wax, is not hear from someone steeped Jewish, but says all of her friends were in sports, but also education. back in Queens where she was raised. “My mother was a teacher for “So I felt like I was Jewish, and now I will 32 years, my grandfather was have the pleasure to teach kids how to a principal, my grandmother make menorahs and dreidels out of clay Linda Shames. was a reading specialist and and other materials.” my sister is a school adminisMarnie Waldman is the new Judaic Studies instructor for first grade. She was down the hall trator in North Carolina.” Linda Shames is back at HAT after teaching first grade last year in the Strelitz pre-school and for the past seven years, she has taught in the Religious School program elsewhere for a quarter century. Now a general studies at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. An Illinois native, instructor in third grade, she says she’s loving it. “I’m bringing my love of poetry into the classroom, Waldman is introducing her class to the Hebrew language, having each child memorize a poem every month and Jewish holidays and the weekly parsha. “During the high holidays, I was amazed at how many bringing in ones to share with the rest of the class,” says children brought shofars to school,” says Waldman, who Shames. “It is helping with their public speaking and memowas in the assisted living field before enrolling in the rization skills and instilling a love for poetry. It’s wonderful, Career Switching program at ODU, which led her to the and I’m so happy to be here.” “We are so fortunate to have such amazing professionclassroom. “It’s great when you see a six-year-old’s eye’s light up when he learns the Hebrew name for something, als join our faculty this year,” says Heather Moore, interim Head of School. “They have brought a great deal of enthulike kelev (dog) or chatool (cat). They soak it up.” Waldman enjoys the “warm family environment” at siasm and experience and are making a wonderful school HAT. So does Kraly, who is counting on the kids to help an even better place for the children, in both our Judaic her become more Hebrew literate during weekly Shabbat and General Studies programs.”
what’s happening Film Festival partners with Naro for film before the Festival
Haunkkah Shabbat with Tidewater Chavurah Friday, Dec. 11, 7 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 7 pm
he 23rd annual Simon Family JCC Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg, which takes place in January, is kicking off early with a pre-event film this month. A film festival extra, Rosenwald will screen at the Naro Expanded Cinema. It is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school, but rose to become the president of Sears. Influenced by the writings of Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African American communities during the Jim Crow South to build more than 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century. After the movie, a discussion will take place with Aviva Kempner, the film’s director, along with Casandra Newby Alexander, a professor from Norfolk State University. Joel Rubin, president of Rubin Communications Group, will moderate the discussion. “Researching my own family roots in 1979 inspired me to become a filmmaker,” says Kempner. “I am dedicated to making films that span the years prior to and during World War II, since they so scarred my family.” Kempner’s Polish-born, Jewish mother passed as a Catholic working at a labor camp in Germany. Her parents and sister perished in Auschwitz and only her brother survived the death camps. “Upon liberation by Americans, my mother met my Lithuanian-born father, a U.S. soldier, in Berlin. My father’s mother had been shot by the Nazis. They married, and upon birth I was anointed the first American-Jewish child born in Berlin. We came to America in 1950 and settled in Detroit. My father, who immigrated to America in the late 1920s, made me aware of our country’s hardships during the Depression and the social discrimination against Jews and other minorities,” says Kempner. Her previous films also have Jewish content. “In 1979, I felt an urge to make a film about Jewish resistance against the Nazis to answer the unfair question, “why didn’t
Jews resist?” I produced and conceived of Partisans of Vilna to show Jews had fought despite the moral dilemmas. It was released in theaters in 1986, and on DVD 20 years later. I formed a nonprofit foundation, naming it Ciesla after my maternal grandparents’ last name to keep the name alive,” says Kempner. She says she chose Hank Greenberg, her father’s baseball hero, as the subject of another film The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. “Every Yom Kippur our father would tell us how Greenberg went to synagogue instead of the stadium. I believed Greenberg was part of Kol Nidre service. I was sick of seeing only nebbish Jewish males on the screen.” The film took 13 years to make due to funding issues. The Ciesla Foundation issued a new DVD of the film in 2013 that includes over two and a half hours of extras. “I am also proud to have made a film on radio and television pioneer Gertrude Berg,” notes Kempner. Berg was the creator, principal writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. “Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. She was the most famous woman of her day, but almost forgotten when I made the movie about her. She paved the way for the Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and Friends,” Kempner says. “Although both Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg and Julius Rosenwald’s careers spanned the years when our country faced the enormous challenges of the Great Depression and World War II, they both displayed great courage in performing as positive Jews in spite of the negative atmosphere swirling around them. Most of all, they were heroes to all Americans,” says Kempner. For information on the film, call 625‑6276 or go to www.narocinema.com. The 23rd Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg begins Saturday, Jan. 16.
he Tidewater Chavurah will celebrate a Hanukkah Shabbat service led by Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill, at the home of Hal and Elaine Levenson in the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach. People are encouraged to bring their favorite Menorah and candles for group candle lighting, and for an act of kindness, some canned, boxed and other non-perishable foods that will be donated to the Jewish Family Service General Food Pantry. Symbolic foods such as potato latkes
and jelly doughnuts will be part of the festivities. Tidewater Chavurah is a “congregation without walls.” Chavurah means a “group of friends.” Worship is in the Reform/ Reconstructionist traditions. Everyone is invited. For event information and location address, email firstname.lastname@example.org or, email@example.com or call 468-2675 or 499-3660. Go to www.tidewaterchavurah.org for more information.
3rd Annual Latke-Palooza & Billy Jonas Band Concert Wednesday, Dec. 9, 5:30–8:30 pm, Simon Family JCC
ore than 100 people attended LatkePalooza last year, so the Simon Family JCC decided to take it up a notch and add a family-friendly concert. Celebrate Hanukkah with friends and enjoy games, crafts, and dinner at a latke bar. The Billy Jonas Band will take the stage at 6:30 pm to play funky folk music the whole family will enjoy.
Child Ticket (ages 2–10): $8 or $6 for JCC members Adult Ticket (ages 11 & up): $11 or $9 for JCC members Family Ticket (2 adults + children): $41 or $33 for JCC members To register and for more information, call 757-321-2338.
Simon Family JCC Hosts Toys for Tots Zumbathon Sunday, Dec. 13, 2–5 pm, Simon Family JCC
onate, dance and make a difference at the Third Annual Hampton Roads Toys for Tots Zumbathon. The Simon Family JCC is pairing up with 20 local Zumba instructors to host a Toys for Tots charity event. The event is open to the community—just bring a toy (valued at $7 or more) to donate and then dance for free.
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps will be present to collect toys and vendors will line the cardo, providing activities during dance breaks. Children must be seven or older to participate. To register and for more information, call 757-321-2338.
Simon Family JCC December 25 Pancake Breakfast and Movie Friday, Dec. 25, 9:30 am–12 pm, Simon Family JCC What are you doing December 25? This delicious breakfast has all the trimmings—juice, eggs and fresh pancakes with special toppings for each person to add. Come out to eat, create crafts, play games, watch a movie, and have fun with family and friends.
Child Ticket (ages 2–10): $8 or $6 for JCC members Adult Ticket (ages 11 & up): $11 or $9 for JCC members Family Ticket (2 adults + children): $41 or $33 for JCC members To register and for more information, call 757-321-2338.
*of blessed memory
jewishnewsva.org | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 33
Norfolk Admirals Jewish Heritage Night and Open Skate
Saturday, Dec. 19, 7:15 pm, Norfolk Scope
oin the community for a Norfolk Admirals hockey game on Jewish Heritage Night. After the game, the rink will open up for a free skate night. Tickets are typically $19, but a portion of these discounted $12 tickets supports The Simon Family Jewish Community Center and The United Jewish Federation
of Tidewater. To purchase tickets, visit NorfolkAdmirals.com/groups and enter code: JHN. Online ticket sales end December 17. Tickets will be available at will call. To register and for more information, call 757-321-2338.
December 9, Wednesday 3rd Annual Latke-Palooza & Billy Jonas Band Concert at Simon Family JCC. Celebrate Hanukkah with friends and enjoy games, crafts, and dinner at a latke bar. The Billy Jonas Band will take the stage at 6:30 pm. 5:30–8:30 pm. See page 33. 321-2338. December 13, Sunday Simon Family JCC Hosts Toys for Tots Zumbathon. 2–5 pm. See page 33. 321-2338. December 16, Wednesday Rosenwald screens at the Naro Expanded Theatre as an early addition to The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg. 7 pm. Director Aviva Kempner will attend and lead a discussion following the film. The Naro is located at 1507 Colley Ave in Norfolk. See page 33. Go to www.narocinema.com for additional information. JCC Seniors club meeting. Installation of officers. Michele Goldberg will perform the installation. Jason Capossere will give a short talk on fire safety and will also bring a fireman to speak. December 25, Friday Simon Family JCC Pancake Breakfast and Movie. Breakfast, movies, games, crafts. 9:30 am–12 pm. See page 33. 321-2338.
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DECEMBER 27, SUNDAY Brith Sholom’s pre-New Year’s Eve dinner, dance and show at Beth Sholom. Featuring the Von Johns Family Singers and Musicians. The menu includes braised short ribs, chicken marsala, potato latkes, baby glazed carrots, salad, rolls, pineapple upside down cake, sugar free peach pie, coffee, tea and soft drinks. The cost is $10 for members and $20 for guests. 5:30–9 pm. Reservations and payment must be received by Tuesday, Dec.22.
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January 7, Thursday In preparation for this year’s Date with the State, the Community Relations Council’s Legislative Action Committee will host a meeting at the Sandler Family Campus to discuss potential issues that the delegation will present to the General Assembly representatives during their annual advocacy day taking place on Feb. 2, at 12 pm. To RSVP meeting, or for more details, contact Gaby Grune, CRC program associate at 965-6107 or GGrune@ujft.org. January 16, Saturday Opening Night of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg. Enjoy the movie Dough at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts at 7 pm, followed by an elegant dessert reception. Visit www.Simonfamilyjcc.org cultural arts
Danny Kline President
January 16–24, Saturday–Sunday The 23rd Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg brings varied, eclectic films rarely seen to area movie theaters in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Visit www.simonfamilyjcc for more information. Film passes and tickets are available online now or by calling 321-2338.
Andy Kline CEO
January 31, Sunday The Hampton Years presented by Virginia Stage Company, followed by discussion led by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Sponsored by UJFT’s Community Relations Council in partnership with Congregation Beth El’s Hazak, UJFT’s Holocaust Commission and VCIC. The Hampton Years by Jacqueline E. Lawton, is a true story of the Jewish WWII refugee and Hampton University students whose passion, determination, and talents introduced African American art to the nation. For more information on the play, or to reserve tickets for the 2 pm show and discussion, contact Gaby Grune, CRC program associate at 965-6107 or GGrune@ ujft.org.
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February 2, Tuesday The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater travels to Richmond for the annual Jewish Advocacy Day. 7 am–4 pm; leaving from the Sandler Family Campus. $36 includes kosher lunch and helps defray the cost of transportation. For more information about how to join this year’s Date with the State delegation, or to RSVP (REQUIRED) by Jan. 28, visit www.JewishVa.org/CRCDateWiththeState. An Insiders’ Briefing, providing all attendees with detailed talking points on the issues and lobbying tips, takes place on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 pm at the Sandler Family Campus. To RSVP or for more details, contact Gaby Grune, CRC program associate at 965-6107 or GGrune@ujft.org. *of blessed memory Send submissions for calendar to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to note “calendar” in the subject. Include date, event name, sponsor, address, time, cost and phone.
Jon Stewart signs 4-year deal with HBO
on Stewart has signed a four-year contract to produce content for HBO. Stewart’s first project for the premium cable network will involve timely shortform digital content, HBO announced. The deal also stipulates that HBO gets a first-look option at any other future content Stewart produces in the next four years. The Jewish comedian, who stepped down in August after 16 years of hosting The Daily Show, will work with a cloud graphics company on a web platform that could allow him to comment in real time on events throughout the day on HBO Now, the network’s streaming service. Many specifics of the deal are not clear, but Stewart hinted that he might not be returning to a nightly hosting format in the
near future. “Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me,” Stewart said in HBO’s news release. “I’m pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again.” At HBO, Stewart will join John Oliver, a former Daily Show correspondent who has hosted the weekly comedy program Last Week Tonight, which has been on the network since April 2014. “[Stewart] graced our network nearly 20 years ago, so we’re thrilled to welcome back his immense talents in this next chapter of his career,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said in the news release. Stewart’s latest project had been starting a sanctuary for abused farm animals with his wife in New Jersey. (JTA)
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obituaries Barry Reid Mandell NORFOLK—Barry Reid Mandell, 75, passed away on November 22, 2015. He was born in Long Beach, Calif. in 1940 to the late LCDR Charles and Ida Hurwitz Mandell. He was the beloved husband of Gayle Norvell Mandell and step-father of Christopher Lionel Brown. Barry spent his early years living in Greenbelt, Md., while his father was attached to the Chief of Naval Operations staff. Occasionally, he would accompany his Dad to the office and would pass a room full of small car-size black boxes, bobbing and turning on a swivel. He was told they were flight simulators used to train pilots. Barry was transfixed by the sight, and the seed of a dream was planted. Across the road from his home in Greenbelt was Schrom Airport. Barry would sneak across the road, walk down the rows of bright yellow airplanes and would reach out and touch one of the planes and look inside. The dream ignited,
he would become a pilot. Meanwhile, the Mandell family moved from Greenbelt to Norfolk, Va., where Barry attended Granby High School and was a member of the wrestling team under Coach Billy Martin. In the spring of 1962, Barry enrolled in the Flight Engineers course at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With the realization that flight engineers took many years to advance to flight officers, Barry changed direction and graduated with his commercial pilots license in September of 1964, later flying with MATS contractors, ZANTOP and QUICKTRANS. At the start of the Viet Nam War, he was recruited by Air America and flew several missions. In 1989, while interviewing with United, Barry was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and left flying. In 1982, Barry met and married Gayle and enjoyed a brief career as a restaurateur, later joining Gayle in the art gallery business. The two owned and operated a gallery in Virginia Beach, but later decided on a
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American yeshiva student killed in West Bank identified as Mass. 18-year-old
Joseph Silverstein, renowned violinist and conductor
zra Schwartz, the American yeshiva student killed in a West Bank shooting, was remembered as “a fun person to hang out with, very charismatic.” Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Mass., was one of three people killed Thursday, Nov. 19 near the settlement of Alon Shvut. He reportedly was studying for a year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh. A recent graduate of the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., he had been a counselor at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish summer camp in Northwood, N.H. At least one attacker, reported to be a Palestinian, shot into a minivan full of people as well as another car near a traffic junction, then rammed his car into several other cars and bystanders, according to reports. One
BOSTON ( JTA)—Joseph Silverstein, a renowned violinist, skilled concertmaster and sought-after conductor, has died. Silverstein died Nov. 22 in Boston of complications from a heart attack. He was 83. Well known for his decades-long career with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he served as concertmaster for 22 years and as its assistant conductor from 1971 to 1984, Silverstein also left his mark in the field of Jewish music, with two notable recordings for the Milken Jewish Music Archive. According to the archive, a nonprofit that documents and preserves Jewish music, Silverstein was hailed by his colleagues as a “complete musician” and among the most versatile American violinists of his
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shooter reportedly exited his car and was shot and injured by security forces. Schwartz, the second of five children, is the son of Ari and Ruth Schwartz. Geoffrey Cahr, a friend who knew Schwartz from camp, made the remark about him being fun and charismatic. “He was a great listener and super down-to-earth,” Cahr also told JTA. One of Schwartz’s favorite pastimes was skiing, according to a family friend from Sharon. Several friends of Schwartz who also were spending their post-high school gap year in Israel decided to fly back from Tel Aviv to Boston for the funeral. Students at Maimonides were informed of Schwartz’s killing at a school assembly. (JTA)
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change of scene and moved to Virginia’s Northern Neck where they also operated a successful gallery. After retiring in 2008, Barry and Gayle moved back to Norfolk. Barry enjoyed the fellowship of members of the morning Minyan service at Temple Israel where he made many friends. He is survived by his wife Gayle, stepson Christopher Lionel Brown of Newport News, and nieces and nephews David Weinraub, Leah Weinraub Duberstein, Dana Weinraub Barnhill, Adam Weinraub, Shaun Goeckner and Russell Goeckner, A graveside burial took place at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Donations may be made to Temple Israel in Norfolk.
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obituaries generation. Among his many recordings of Bach, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn, he was awarded the prestigious Naumburg Prize for his recording of the Bach Sonata in G Minor and Bartok Solo Violin Sonata. When the Milken Archive was looking for a conductor on short notice for its recording of Joseph Achron’s little-known Violin Concerto No. 1, it called on Silverstein, by then also an acclaimed conductor and music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, according to Neil Levin, the Milken’s artistic director. Written by Achron, a Russian-Jewish emigre to the U.S. in 1925, and dedicated to his friend and mentor Jascha Haifetz, the piece is the first-known concerto based on Jewish biblical cantillation. Silverstein’s masterful leading of that recording, featuring the award-winning soloist Elmar Oliveira, brought the concerto back from obscurity. It is now regularly performed by soloists, often as an encore, said Levin, professor of music at the Jewish Theological Seminary. At the same time, Silverstein conducted a second recording for Milken, of Stefan Wolpe’s “The Man from Midian,” originally composed as a ballet score based on the life of Moses. Silverstein’s recording brought back to life a “significant piece of theatrical music work” by an important, if lesser known, 20th-century German-Jewish composer, according to Paul Schwendener, the Milken’s repertoire consultant. Wolpe, who fled Nazi Germany, lived for a time in prestate Palestine and eventually settled in the United States. Levin recalled Silverstein telling him after the recording sessions, held in Berlin, that it was an honor to contribute something to his Jewish heritage, he told JTA. Born in Detroit, Silverstein was the son of two Jewish musicians. His father, Bernard, was a public school music teacher and was the young Silverstein’s first violin teacher. A revered teacher himself, Silverstein held numerous appointments including with the Tanglewood Music Center, the England Conservatory of Music, Yale University and the Curtis Institute of Music, among others. Many of his former students fill the violin chairs at orchestras throughout the country, with many at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Daniel Stepner, first violinist of the Lydian String Quarter and a music professor at Brandeis University, knew Silverstein and was an admirer. He took a few lessons from Silverstein and played with him in concerts several times. “He was sort of a model for me as I was growing up as a violinist,” Stepner told JTA in an email. “He was a wonderful teacher and a superb violinist.” (JTA)
Nahum Sirotsky, veteran Brazilian journalist and diplomat RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — Nahum Sirotsky, one of Brazil’s most veteran journalists and a former diplomat in the United States and Israel, has died. Sirotsky died Saturday, Nov. 28 in Tel Aviv. He was 89. Sirotsky, who was Jewish, started his career in the early 1940s and spent his last 20 years working as an international correspondent in Israel. He also served as a Brazilian diplomat in Washington and
Tel Aviv. As Brazil’s first correspondent to the United Nations, Sirotsky covered the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Later in 1967, he covered the Six-Day War as a stringer in Israel. Sirotsky worked as editor and international correspondent for some of Brazil’s most influential newspapers, including O Globo, O Estado de S. Paulo, Jornal do Brasil and Zero Hora. He founded Senhor magazine, where he gathered his staff made up of Brazilian literature masters including Jorge Amado, Carlos Drumond de Andrade and Clarice Linspector.
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A PPROVED B Y L OCAL C HEVRA K ADISHA jewishnewsva.org | December 7, 2015 | Jewish News | 37
Fiddler on the Roof— and behind the scenes by Lonnie Firestone
NEW YORK (JTA)—Ever since Zero Mostel imagined himself as a rich man in the original 1964 Broadway production, Fiddler on the Roof has been a cultural landmark on Broadway and in the Jewish sphere. It’s one of those musicals that always seems to be in rotation. Over the years, many a Tevye—from Mostel to Theodore Bikel to Chaim Topol to Alfred Molina— has inspired audiences to reflect on their own traditions, both those sustained and those lost. Now in previews and set to open on Dec. 20, the newest revival and sixth Broadway production of Fiddler features a cast of Broadway veterans like Danny Burstein (Cabaret, South Pacific) as Tevye and Jessica Hecht (A View from the Bridge,
TV’s Breaking Bad) as Golde, as well as So You Think You Can Dance winner Melanie Moore as Chava. After thousands of stage productions and an indelible movie adaptation, early ticket sales suggest that the public’s interest in the musical have hardly waned. What makes this revival of Fiddler worth seeing? There’s a talented cast, for starters, as well as some new spins on the old tale. From cast Shabbat dinners to surprising sources of inspiration, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at some surprising facts about the current production of Fiddler on the Roof. At 91, lyricist Sheldon Harnick still attends rehearsals. More than 50 years after he wrote such poignant lyrics as “playing with matches, a girl can get burned,” lyricist Sheldon
Harnick is still a presence in the rehearsal room, offering the cast feedback and guidance. At 91, he’s the only remaining member of the original creative team, which included composer Jerry Bock, book writer Joseph Stein and director-choreographer Jerome Robbins. But Harnick’s still a force: In a video of the sitzprobe—the first rehearsal featuring the cast and full orchestra together—Harnick astounded Burstein by saying this orchestra sounded better than he ever remembered. Harnick’s remarkably agile, too. When posing for a cast photo at the show’s media event, he instinctively kneeled on the floor next to 20-something cast members. Naturally they insisted he stand, front and center. They celebrate Shabbat together. Early in the rehearsal process, on Oct. 23, the cast and creative team of Fiddler had a Shabbat dinner at Mendy’s Restaurant, the classic delicatessen in Midtown Manhattan. It may have been the first Shabbat dinner experience for several of them, but after a few “l’chaims”—and conversations that ranged from personal histories to religion, according to a media representative—they were extended family. Current events inform the production. At early rehearsals with the cast, director Bartlett Sher spoke of Syrian refugees and how they serve as an essential access point for both the actors and the audience. The significance of Fiddler today, he said, is in relating to people who leave their homes searching for security. “Currently in Europe, we’re seeing the largest refugee crisis since World War II,” he said at a media event. “Tevye allows us to be in that situation as he figures out how to cope.” Fiddler runs in the family. Michael Bernardi—who plays Mordcha, the innkeeper, and is also the understudy
38 | Jewish News | December 7, 2015 | jewishnewsva.org
for Tevye—makes his Broadway debut in this production. He’s the son of Herschel Bernardi, who replaced Mostel as Tevye in the original Broadway production and later reprised the role in 1981. But the family connection extends another generation: Bernardi’s grandfather performed the stories of Sholem Aleichem in the Yiddish theater. (Fiddler is a compilation of several of the writer’s stories, though it takes some liberties with them.) Look out for some new choreography… Most Fiddler revivals hew closely to the original choreography—but for this production, the Robbins estate permitted more freedom. This has enabled Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter—his England-based troupe, Hofesh Shechter Company, is known for modernist, gritty movement set to percussive electronic music—to weave in some contemporary movement. Trained in traditional Israeli and Russian folk dance, Shechter aimed not to redo but to expand Robbins’ iconic dances. The result is a balance of tradition and progress that connects to the musical’s central idea. …and some new music, too Sher has become a coveted director for reviving classics. He’s breathed new life into the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein (The King and I) and Clifford Odets (Awake and Sing!). In each of these productions, Sher researches like a professor: He begins by studying early versions of the script— including songs that were cut and dialogue that was rewritten—in order to build a musical from the ground up. The result is a production that looks and sounds like the original—yet also feels vital and relevant for a contemporary audience, with some surprises, too: Look out for new music featured in some of Fiddler’s dance scenes.
C A R E E R O P P O RT U N I T Y H O LO C AU S T CO M M I S S I O N P RO G R A M C O O R D I N ATO R The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater seeks candidates for the position of Holocaust Commission Program Coordinator. This part-time position (approximately 20 hours/week) is responsible for the administrative and program support of Holocaust Commission activities. A minimum of 1-2 years of administrative experience is required. Associate's Degree in business, Public Administration, Jewish Communal Service, or other related and appropriate field, preferred. Candidate must be proficient in using MS Office Suite; have an understanding of social media and its usage; excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both oral and written. Must be available for flexible working hours.
Contact Taffy Hunter, Human Resources director, at 757-965-6117, firstname.lastname@example.org or submit resume to: United Jewish Federation of Tidewater Attention: Human Resources 5000 Corporate Woods Drive Virginia Beach, 23462
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