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Jewish groups praise fiscal cliff deal, remain concerned about future cuts WASHINGTON (JTA)—While not totally satisfied with the results, many Jewish groups have come out in support of Congress’ last-minute efforts to reach a fiscal cliff deal. Linda Slucker, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, says her organization welcomed the part of the deal that protects Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while extending unemployment benefits and raising taxes on those making more than $400,000. However, she says, “We remain concerned about what is to come.” “Those favoring further austerity before the economy fully recovers are busy trying to skew the public debate ahead and promise to use the need to raise the debt ceiling to extract more spending cuts,” Slucker said. She adds that the country needs “policies that promote jobs and growth, not a reduced standard of living.” Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, says that he was “pleased and relieved” that a deal had been struck. But he says the center was “deeply concerned that decisions in the coming months could threaten the most vulnerable in our communities.” Saperstein also says, “We urge our government to honor its historic commitment to caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, especially in the face of economic turmoil.” Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, echoes the call to keep America’s safety net and praised politicians for “coming together to avoid dangerous across-the-board economic disruptions.”
Up Front. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Torah Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Jews and John Kerry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Arts & Culture: Hava Nagila. . . . . . . . . . . .7 Community partners Israel Today . . . . . . . . Innovative Israel: Cardboard bike. . . . . . . . 8 Scott Katz, JCC Center director . . . . . . . . . 9 Brith Sholom at Beth Sholom. . . . . . . . . . . 9 JCC Seniors Club officers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Temple Israel’s Chanukah loca-vore. . . . . 10 Toras Chaim Box Tops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 BINA performs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Temple Israel fundraises. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
However, he says, “We remain concerned about the future of important programs that support the most vulnerable and provide pathways to prosperity for millions of Americans including Head Start, workplace training programs, important research and development, and food for low-income mothers and children.” The Jewish Federations of North America also welcomed the compromise and urged Congress and the Obama administration to protect the charitable tax deduction “to ensure that any spending decisions don’t devastate the nation’s safety net.” “The deal struck by Congress and the Administration rightfully does not hinder charitable contributions and, for now, defers cuts to the programs that make up our vital social safety net,” Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA’s board of trustees, says. “However, we know the fiscal debate isn’t over and, as this fight continues, Federations will continue to work with coalition partners to ensure utmost protections for those at risk.” B’nai B’rith International President Allan Jacobs expresses “significant concerns as we look ahead to another sequester—debt
limit—deadline.” “What will be on the negotiating table next time? Probably the same menu as this time,” Mark Olshan, B’nai B’rith’s associate executive vice president, says. “Nondiscretionary domestic spending programs that help the elderly, sure, but we’re also going to hear calls for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid again. We certainly hope Social Security would be left out because it is self funded and doesn’t contribute to the deficit but we have reason to be concerned about that as well.” Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice called Congress’ actions “an imperfect deal, yet nonetheless one worth supporting.” The deal “clearly establishes the principle that deficit reduction cannot and should not be achieved purely by cutting spending,” Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle says. “As Jews and as Americans, we believe in the responsibility of the individual to the community and of the community to the individual.”
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Beth Chaverim houses homeless . . . . . . . Super Sunday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Giving: Special Section. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Local help for Sandy devastation . . . . . . . Birthright Israel gets local support. . . . . . The science of fundraising . . . . . . . . . . . . Israeli giving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What’s Happening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who Knew?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Professional Directory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Face to Face: Janet W. Mercandante. . . . .
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briefs Designate Hezbollah as terrorist group, U.S. House resolution urges EU The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the European Union and its member states to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization and impose sanctions on the group. The bipartisan resolution, which passed Wednesday, Jan. 2, would prevent Hezbollah from using EU territories for fundraising, recruitment, training and propaganda. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 85 representatives. “Once called the ‘A Team of terrorists’ by a senior State Department official, Hezbollah has a well-documented and undeniable record of terrorist activity that demands recognition by the international community,” Kelly said on the House floor. “For decades, Hezbollah has committed murderous acts on Americans and our allies in both Europe and the Middle East.” The United States has designated the Lebanon-based Hezbollah as a terrorist organization since the late 1990s. (JTA) Al-Jazeera enters U.S. market with purchase of Al Gore’s Current TV The Al-Jazeera news network purchased the U.S. cable outlet founded by former Vice President Al Gore and intends to start a U.S.-based news channel. Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, announced its purchase of the news channel Current TV on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The sale price was not disclosed, but it is estimated to be up to $500 million. Time Warner Cable, which reaches about 12 million homes in the United States, said later in the day that it was terminating its contract to carry Current TV. Current also is distributed by Comcast Corp. and DirecTV, with 22.4 million and 19.8 million subscribers, respectively, according to Reuters. Gore, the channel’s chairman, and cofounder Joel Hyatt, the chief executive officer, will remain on the advisory board, Reuters reported. The new Al-Jazeera channel will begin airing this year and is expected to double its staff in New York to 300. The channel is planned to be separate from Al Jazeera English, which airs around the world, and will present domestic and international news geared toward an American audience. (JTA)
Former Jewish neighbor of Hitler writes memoir A former Jewish neighbor of Adolf Hitler in Munich has co-authored a book describing his childhood brushes with the dictator. Edgar Feuchtwanger, 88, wrote My Neighbor Hitler: memories of a Jewish child with the French journalist Bertil Scali. The 320-page book is in French bookstores from Michel Lafon Publishing in Neuillysur-Seine. The book’s jumping-off point is that Feuchtwanger and his family lived across the street from Prinzregentenplatz 16, Hitler’s main residence from 1929 to 1933. Feuchtwanger, who lives now in Aveyron, France, describes his childhood under Nazi rule in which officially sanctioned anti-Semitism made life increasingly difficult. His family fled to England in 1939 after Feuchtwanger’s father, Ludwig, was released from the Dachau concentration camp. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, more than 10,000 Jewish men were interned there for several weeks or months following the Kristallnacht pogrom of Nov. 9-10, 1938. Feuchtwanger’s uncle, the playwright Lion Feuchtwanger, had fled the country earlier. Before his family left Germany, young Edgar Feuchtwanger had many opportunities to pass the Munich home of Hitler. He recently told the BBC that as an eight-yearold on a walk with his governess, he saw Hitler come out onto the street from the Prinzregentenplatz apartment. According to the La Depeche online magazine, Scali interviewed Feuchtwanger for an article in 1995. They stayed in contact over the years, and Scali eventually convinced Feuchtwanger to write the book. Scali said his own father’s family survived the war hidden by righteous gentiles in Graulhet, in southern France. Hitler’s former apartment is now a police station, and the Feuchtwangers’ former apartment houses a law firm today, the report noted. (JTA) Auschwitz memorial attracts record 1.43 million visitors in 2012 The Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp memorial and museum attracted a record number of visitors in 2012. There were 1.43 million visitors to the grounds of the former Nazi camp last year—the most in the museum’s 65-year history, the museum said on its website. More than 1 million people have visited the memorial and museum annually for each of the last six years.
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“Auschwitz in the last decade became a clearly fundamental memorial of the whole Europe,” said Dr. Piotr Cywinski, the museum’s director. “It reflects the actual meaning of the history of the Shoah and the drama of concentration camps in the history of contemporary Europe and understanding its appearance today. The growing educational dimension of this place indirectly shows us also the challenges that our societies face today.” Poland had the most visitors with 446,000, followed by Great Britain (149,000 visitors), the United States (97,000), Italy (84,000), Germany (74,000) and Israel (68,000). Some 300 museum educators guide tours in 20 languages. (JTA)
Sweden to honor Wallenberg with annual memorial day Sweden will honor World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg with an annual memorial day. The announcement comes at the end of a year of events marking the 100th anniversary of Wallenberg’s birth. Wallenberg, a neutral Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents— known as “Wallenberg passports”—to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. Other neutral diplomats collaborated in the effort. The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery after he disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary toward the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1957, but other evidence indicated that he was killed in Lubyanka prison or that he may have lived years longer. (JTA) Watchdog: 25 percent of Dutch online hate speech complaints concern anti-Semitism More than 25 percent of complaints to an online hate speech watchdog in the Netherlands last year concerned anti-Semitism. This figure appeared in a report last month by Meldpunt Discriminatie Internet, which monitors racism and racial incitement on the Internet in the Netherlands. MDI said 26 percent of the 943 complaints it registered in 2012 were about anti-Semitic content, and that these were the largest block of complaints. Of the total complaints, 421 could form the basis for an indictment under Netherlands law, according to MDI. Jews constitute 0.25 percent of the population of the Netherlands.
MDI, a division of the anti-racism nonprofit Magenta, noted in its report that hate speech increasingly took the form of incitement to violence. MDI itself submitted 18 police complaints over various hate speech cases. Ten of those complaints concerned material that appeared on Twitter. In January 2012, the hashtag “the Jews are going to die” (“#JodenGaanEraan”) was for a period the most popular on Dutch Twitter. The source of the hashtag was a soccer match between rival clubs Rotterdam and Ajax from Amsterdam. Fans of Ajax, associated with a historically Jewish district, have over the years embraced Jewish and Israeli symbols. Fans of rival teams taunt them with anti-Semitic slurs. The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a watchdog on anti-Semitism, has said in a statement it is working with MDI to help authorities better combat online incitement. (JTA)
Jewish schools, institutions join security conference call A conference call on school safety organized by the security arm of two national Jewish umbrellas drew more than 800 participants. The call was organized by the Secure Community Network, which is affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Paul Goldenberg, SCN’s director, said the call—initiated in the aftermath of the massacre last month at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.—featured speakers including top officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and drew participants from Jewish schools, synagogues, summer camps and Jewish community centers, among others. The participants were urged to run simulation exercises, noting that a number of them were available from SCN. Following the presentation, a number of participants posed questions about the wisdom and efficacy of posting armed guards at schools. Goldenberg said such specifics were best left up to individual institutions, but noted that it was critical for institutions to strike a balance between security and openness. “Educational institutions must be safe havens for children,” he said, “but if a school is not welcoming, children will respond negatively.” (JTA)
torah thought Controlling time—Parshat Bo and Tu B’Shevat
ou are probably familiar with the fact that the Torah contains 613 mitzvot for the Jewish people, but do you know where the first one is? According to the great Torah commentator, Rashi, it’s actually in this week’s parsha. He quotes a midrash by Rabbi Isacc, which says “The Torah, which is the law book of Israel, should have commenced with the verse (Exodus 12:1) ‘This month shall be unto you the first of the months,’ which is the first commandment given to Israel.” So, at least according to Rashi, there is not a single commandment in the Torah until this week’s Torah portion, Bo. What was so special about this verse that it merited being commandment number one? Keep a special calendar unlike the ones other peoples’ use and the first month of that calendar will be the month of the exodus, Nisan. In other words, step one of living as a Jew is thinking about time as a Jew. The Jewish calendar is not only different from the secular Julian calendar because the months have different names. Its beauty comes from the fact that it is a lunar calendar. On any given day you could look up at the sky and have no idea what day it is or what time of the months. But on any given night you can look up at the sky and have a pretty good idea of those things. If it is a full moon, it’s the 15th of the month; if there is no moon, it is the end of one month and the beginning of another, and so on through all the phases. The lunar calendar gives our sense of time a natural connection to creation. As a matter of fact, Judaism is in many ways obsessed with time. We count days of the week and call every seventh one holy; we count years and treat every seventh and 50th one as holy. We have more sacred times, holidays, than just about any religion I have ever come across. So what is gained by this obsession with time? Through it we can take control of our time. Celebrating Shabbat, the holidays and the Sabbatical and Jubilee years reminds us
that there is a sacred connection between time and the One who created time, just as there is a sacred connection between the world and the One who created it. In all of these cases, we recognize the holy nature of time by refraining from filling it with the busyness of our lives. We recognize the preciousness of every moment by saying, “I am going to stop doing all the mundane things I usually do to fill time and appreciate it just by experiencing its passage. The plight of modern living is that we constantly feel pushed around by time. There is never enough. We can’t even imagine stopping for an hour no less for a whole day. But it is when we can do that, when we can stop to recognize and even celebrate the passage of time, that’s when we take control of time rather than being controlled by time. This time of year we are not only reminded of the special relationship between Jews and time by the reading Parshat Bo. We are also reminded by the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, which starts this year on Friday, Jan. 25. Let’s face it—you have to have a pretty special relationship with time to celebrate the New Year of the Trees in the most desolate moment in the middle of winter. But as part of the Jewish people, our sense of time is not bound only to where we are; it is connected to a deeper nature of things and to where we want to be. Because the almond trees are starting to bloom in Israel around this time, it is springtime for Jews everywhere. Tu B’Shvat is a spiritual springtime. By taking control of time and celebrating springtime when it is still cold, Judaism recognizes that there will always be “cold” moments in our lives and in the lives of our people, but our connection to our Creator and to Creation can carry us through those moments. It’s a pretty potent message—yes there will be bad times, there will be winters, but we will always have the power to sense the spring, to sense the holiness in the world and in our lives. So, as we move into the heart of winter and celebrate Tu B’Shvat we should ask ourselves, how will we use our time? How will we make this winter into a personal spring? In the answers to those questions, may we all find the ability to sense our connection to God and God’s creation through the gift of our special calendar and recognition of the holiness of time. —Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, Congregation Beth El.
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Jews and pro-Israel community warm to prospect of a Secretary of State John Kerry by Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—On a wintry day at a small Iowa shul in November of 2003, John Kerry got all verklempt. The man whose opponents had taken to depicting as aloof and patrician, whose campaign for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination had been all but written off by that point, leapt onto the dais at Tifereth Israel synagogue in Des Moines. Kerry delivered an emotional account of his then-recent discovery that his grandfather was Jewish and recalled how, on a visit to Israel standing atop Masada, he had cried out, “Am Yisrael Chai!” The bond Kerry has forged with the Jewish community because of his roots and because of his interest in the Middle East has helped smooth over rough patches when he has criticized Israel. “We’ve had disagreements in the past, but on the whole he’s a staunch advocate and defender of the U.S.-Israel relationship and Israeli security,” the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, says.
Kerry rallied to win the 2004 nomination but lost the presidency, felled in part by images of him windsurfing and tales of high-society living with his heiress wife, Teresa Heinz. He won big among Jews, however—75 percent of their vote, in large part because of a connection based on shared liberalism. Staff close to Kerry’s campaign at the time said the discovery by the Boston Globe of his Jewish antecedents—and the knowledge that relatives had perished in the Holocaust—deeply affected him. His brother, Cameron Kerry, converted to Judaism before marrying a Jewish woman, Kathy Weinman. Cameron is active in the Jewish communities in Boston and Washington, where he is general counsel at the Commerce Department. Jay Footlik, who ran the Kerry campaign’s Jewish outreach, recalls that Kerry would take time out to be briefed on every new wrinkle in matters affecting Israel. “He took a deep interest in the U.S.Israel relationship,” Footlik says. “The community ought to be thrilled.” These connections are helping Kerry win
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Jewish support for his nomination to replace Syria, and each has issued sharp criticism Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. of Israel—Hagel in 2006 during the Second In welcoming the nomination, Israeli Lebanon War and Kerry in 2010, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sug- what he saw as the gratuitous excesses of gests an emotional bond with Kerry. Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. “John Kerry and I have What differentiates Kerry from been friends for many years,” Hagel, pro-Israel officials say, is “Over Netanyahu says. “I very much his willingness to engage even appreciated the fact that six when he disagrees, and his these many months ago, after my father familiarity with the issues. years, John passed away, he came to “Will we always agree? visit me during the week of No,” Foxman says. “But we’re has earned mourning.” going to have in place someAs chairman of the who is knowledgeable, the respect and one Senate’s Foreign Relations and that always works well Committee, Kerry often has for us.” confidence of acted as an advance man Daniel Mariaschin, for Obama’s foreign policy, leaders around who directs B’nai B’rith touting ideas the administraInternational, says he hoped tion might not be ready to that as secretary of state, Kerry the world.” fully embrace. In March 2009, would show awareness of the he called for a settlement freeze uncertainties roiling the region, months before it became the cenparticularly in Egypt, where the terpiece of tensions between the Obama Islamist Muslim Brotherhood has assertand Netanyahu governments. ed control, and in Syria, which is mired in “Over these many years, John has civil war. earned the respect and confidence of leadEven before Obama’s announcement, ers around the world,” Obama said at a Kerry had the backing of Senate colleagues, White House appearance alongside Kerry. Republicans as well as Democrats. He has “He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job a longstanding friendship with Sen. John training.” McCain (R-Ariz); both men are Vietnam In a statement, the ADL says, “Kerry has veterans and in the 1980s paved the way consistently been an effective advocate for to reconciliation between the United States Israel’s security in a dangerous region and and Vietnam. demonstrated his commitment to fighting The pick earned quick plaudits from against anti-Semitism and bigotry all over a leading pro-Israel stalwart in the U.S. the world.” The statement says that Kerry’s House of Representatives, Rep. Nita Lowey first visit to Israel was in an ADL congres- (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the sional mission in May 1986. Appropriations Committee. Kerry’s nomination also earns kudos “As chairman of the Senate Foreign from J Street, the liberal Jewish group that Relations Committee, he has worked to advocates for more U.S. involvement in marshal support for tough sanctions against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and encour- Iran and defend our ally Israel, and played ages U.S. pressure on Israel to stop West a critical role as an envoy to Pakistan and Bank settlement expansion. Afghanistan,” Lowey says. “Kerry would be well positioned to play Kerry has a solid voting record on a leading role should President Obama issues favored by the American Israel Public move to revive peace efforts aimed at Affairs Committee, but rarely has taken the achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli- lead on legislation AIPAC favors. Palestinian conflict,” J Street says in a Kerry was a leader in the 1980s on statement. “Kerry understands that peace Soviet Jewry issues in Congress, and he has is not only essential for Israel’s survival, but maintained close ties with the successors to also a fundamental U.S. interest.” the Soviet Jewry advocacy movement, says Such agreement in the Jewish com- Mark Levin, who directs NCSJ: Advocates munity on Kerry’s nomination stands in on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the contrast to another Obama nomination: Baltic States and Eurasia. former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) for “For the last 20 years he’s been intidefense secretary. mately involved in every issue impacting Little of substance distinguishes Kerry the U.S.-Russia relationship,” Levin says. and Hagel, insiders say. Each has advocated “He’s had an open door on Russia when it outreach to pariah nations like Iran and comes to xenophobia and anti-Semitism.”
ARTS & CULTURE
Hava Nagila film chronicles song’s journey from shtetl to cliche by Chavie Lieber
NEW YORK (JTA)—You’re at a wedding or bar mitzvah, mingling at the bar or catching up with a distant relative, when you hear it—the opening notes of a familiar tune that as if by some invisible force carries you and other guests to the dance floor for the rousing dance circle ritual. Does Hava Nagila work this kind of magic because it was handed down at Sinai and thus encoded in the Jewish DNA? Or is it a tale from the European shtetl, albeit one with a timeless message and an irrepressible melody? These questions are what Roberta Grossman addresses in her new film, Hava Nagila (The Movie), which will screen at the upcoming Virginia Festival of Jewish Film on Saturday, Jan. 19 before hitting theaters nationwide in March. The film, three years in the making, explores the phenomenon behind the iconic folk song and seeks to explain why the melody has been so beloved over the years. “When I first started doing research for the film, people thought I was crazy and I was worried I wouldn’t find anything substantial enough,” Grossman says. “But what I really found was that this song is a porthole into 200 years of Judaism’s culture and spirituality.” Grossman’s inspiration for the film came from memories of dancing to the song at family affairs. A product of what she calls a “religiously assimilated but culturally affiliated” background, Grossman says twirling with family members while Hava Nagila blared in the background was a tribal moment with spiritual resonance. Part of a generation raised on the 1971 film adaption of Fiddler on the Roof, she knew the song cold but understood little about its origins. Turns out, it doesn’t go back nearly as far as Sinai. The song originated as a Chasidic niggun, or wordless melody, credited to the Ruzhiner rebbe, Israel Friedman, who lived in the Ukrainian town of Sadagora in the 18th century. A Jewish shtetl in the Pale of Settlement, Sadagora often was subjected to pogroms, and Chasidic leaders encouraged music as a way to combat the tragedies of everyday life. When a wave of European immigrants moved to Israel in the early 1900s, they took their niggun with them, where it later became representative of Zionist culture.
In 1915, the prominent musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn adapted the song with Hebrew lyrics. Three years later he unveiled his new variation at a Jerusalem concert. Hava Nagila, literally “let us rejoice,” went on to hit its peak popularity in the 1950s and ’60s, and became a favorite pop tune for American Jews. “It’s unclear if Idelsohn really knew the extent of how far his song would go, but after that concert celebrating the British victory in Palestine, the streets of Jerusalem erupted and the song took off,” says Mark Kilgman, a professor of Jewish musicology at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion who is featured in the film. “Israel was a vacuum at that point, with immigrants from all over who had very little in common. They were dealing with their identity, and the need for music, and this song unified them,” he says. Decades later, the same is true. The song is widely covered—Bob Dylan, Ben Folds and Regina Spektor have performed it. Last summer it was the soundtrack for U.S. Olympian Ally Raisman’s gold medalwinning performance in the floor exercise at the London Games. And though The Wall Street Journal noted recently that some see it as cliche and avoid having it played it at their affairs—Grossman refers to these folks as “Hava haters”—it may be the most popular Jewish song on the planet. In the film, which includes a hora dancing tutorial, Grossman journeys to Sadagora as well as other obscure places where the song hit. The film notes how popular Hava Nagila became with non-Jewish music lovers, and features interviews with musicians such as Lena Horne, the Cuban-American salsa performer Celia Cruz and the pop singer Connie Francis. Grossman skillfully portrays Hava Nagila as a symbol of American Jewish identity and postulates that future generations will continue to see the song as iconic—with or without the eye rolls. Through the film, she seeks to give the song some depth beyond the overplayed ditty at bar mitzvahs. “I believe that Hava has actually accrued a great deal of meaning and depth on its long journey from Ukraine to YouTube,” Grossman says. “Hava’s journey is our journey. By understanding where Hava has come from, we understand where we have come from and more.”
Community partners contribute to successful speaker series by Laine M. Rutherford
rom beneath a superimposed Israeli flag, startling blue eyes stare forward with bold intensity. Without blatantly saying it in words, the poster for the 20122013 Israel Today speaker series, displayed in Tidewater Jewish agencies, synagogues and the Simon Family JCC, relays the message that the guests and topics featured this season will impart information that, perhaps, all would be wise to heed. Presented by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater in partnership with an array of community organizations, synagogues, individuals and businesses, Israel Today offers a closer look at and into Israeli society. This is the second year for the diverse forum. In 2011–2012, featured topics focused on Israel’s image, threats to her existence, and innovations that improve lives in that country and around the world. The speakers brought in to discuss the topics were experts in those subjects: Neil Lazarus, Mitchell Bard and Will Recant. More than 1,000 people attended the series last year. The accolades Robin Mancoll, CRC director, heard from the community convinced her that the partnership—with all of the area’s temples, and UJFT affiliate agencies—was a success, and should be repeated. “Everyone agreed to be a part of this again,” Mancoll says. “Being a partner with the CRC in this forum demonstrates that the synagogues and agencies believe in the work that we’re doing, and are committed to helping educate their congregants and constituents about Israel. This is one of the ways they can ‘show up,’ and say ‘We support Israel, too.’” The current series offers the community a closer look at the issues of morality, diplomacy and leadership. Hundreds turned out to hear Israel Today’s first speaker, Utah law professor and former IDF commander Amos Guiora, speak in November. Israeli advocacy guru Neil Lazarus returns by popular demand to speak on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 pm (5:30 pm for high school and college students over a free dinner— RSVP necessary to JJohnson@ujft.org), and award-winning journalist and expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, David Makovsky, will appear on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 pm. All events take place at the Sandler Family Campus and are free and open to the community. The 2012–2013 Israel Today Forum partners whose support helps ensure the
program’s success include: B’nai Israel Congregation Beth Sholom Village Chabad of Tidewater Congregation Beth Chaverim Congregation Beth El Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Jewish Family Service Kehillat Bet Hamidrash Norfolk-Virginia Beach Chapter of Hadassah Norfolk-Virginia Beach Chapter of ORT America ODU-Hillel Ohef Sholom Temple Simon Family Foundation Simon Family JCC Temple Emanuel Temple Israel Tidewater Jewish Foundation UJFT Business and Legal Society UJFT Holocaust Commission UJFT Maimonides Society UJFT Men’s Campaign UJFT Women’s Cabinet UJFT YAD Patricia and Avraham Ashkenazi Ann and Bobby Copeland Family Lois and Barry Einhorn Nataly and Seth Fleishman Lori and Michael Glasser Bootsie and Morton Goldmeier Sheila and Bob Josephberg Kathy and Jerry Kantor Arnold Leon Rose and Kurt Rosenbach Art Sandler Steve Sandler Miriam Seeherman Linda and Ron Spindel IAT International Rubin Communications Group Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. WealthQuest Financial Services, LLC. To RSVP for Neil Lazarus, and to find out about other CRC events and issues relevant to the Tidewater Jewish community and beyond, visit www.jewishva.org/crc.
jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 7
Cardboard? Not just for recycling by Nataly Fleishman
The first article on Israeli innovation appeared in the Nov. 26, 2012 issue of Jewish News. It featured a host of Israeli inventions that are familiar to many people around the world. In this article and subsequent ones, the Israel Advocacy Committee will introduce one or two new innovations that are just hitting the market or gaining a following.
ne of the latest headlinegrabbing inventions to come out of Israel has sparked the imagination and business sense of several members of the Israel Advocacy Committee. If someone told you that you could ride a bicycle from cardboard, you would probably laugh and consider it a silly joke. The first question would be, how would you
make one? Second, could it bare a person’s weight? Third, would rain ruin it? And what about fire…and so on and so forth. In spite of these and other endless hurdles, a cardboard bicycle is becoming a reality thanks to Israeli innovation. In the past few years, recycling has become extremely important around the world, as well as clean transportation and clean energy, and this is especially true in Israel. Turning discarded recyclable materials into affordable transportation is what Izhar Gafni, an Israeli inventor, is out to do. In his eyes, it is not just possible, but something that will change the world. Gafni, working out of his garage for the past four years, succeeded in making a bike
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Chloe Hanslip, violin Photo: Benjamin Ealovega
Photo courtesy of Israel21c
that is almost entirely composed of cardboard. It is strong, durable, fireproof, and waterproof. And because it is made of cardboard, it is inexpensive. The tires are one of the only parts not made of cardboard. Instead, they are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires. And because they are solid, they cannot be punctured. This bike is a complete “green” transportation device. Another advantage to this bike is the price: it will cost around $20 or $30. With government grants and incentives, it might even come free in third world countries and disadvantaged communities. The goal of Gafni and his business partner, Nimrod Elmish, for the next year is to make three models of the cardboard bike and a cardboard wheelchair. The fact that such a bike and wheelchair will be available for poor countries for free (or close to it) will have such a positive impact on so many people in this world. And, the automated production lines for these products are being designed to be supplemented primarily by pensioners and the disabled, which will contribute to society in another way. Bikes and wheelchairs are just the beginning. The possibilities of making other similar products that can impact the world are seemingly endless. The Israel Advocacy Committee will follow the success of these products once they are available in the market and will keep this community posted on their developments and results. The Israel Advocacy Committee invites anyone to contact Robin Mancoll, director of the Community Relations Council or the committee chairs, Nataly Fleishman and Steve Leon, with questions about Israel, related concerns, or innovations that deserve future articles. In addition, check out the “Everything Israel” section on the CRC Website at www.jewishva.org/crc.
Get to know Scott Katz, Simon Family JCC Center director
cott Katz officially started as center director of the Simon Family JCC on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Jewish Community Centers have been part of Katz’s life since his teenage days in Baltimore. “I became involved with the JCC through BBYO. I then began working at the JCC in college and never looked back,” he says. Katz was the assistant aquatics director, assistant camp Scott Katz director and teen services director in Baltimore. His first move was to Wilmington, Del. where he served as the recreational services director, then to Charleston, S. C. as the assistant executive director and most recently Richmond, where he was the chief operating officer. “I have worked my whole career to help build community through quality programs and services,” says Katz. In his new position at the Simon Family JCC, Katz says he is “excited to work with the lay leadership, staff and community partners of the Simon Family JCC to develop programs that are innovative and of the highest quality. These programs will help to showcase the Center to the entire community.”
Katz says the entire community—all aspects of it, is his passion. “Helping my community has always been an important part of my life. I have volunteered with Red Cross teaching CPR and First Aid classes. I was also a volunteer firefighter and paramedic and I once delivered a baby in the back of a medic unit.” Terri Sarfan, president of the Simon Family JCC, says, “I believe that all of us on the search committee saw somebody in Scott who was very experienced in and knowledgeable of the many facets of a successful Jewish Community Center. I believe that he has the skills and vision to develop innovative and accomplished programming that will prove pleasing and rewarding to our community.” Harry Graber, executive vice president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC says, “It is my hope and expectation that Scott will join David Abraham, Philip Rovner, Betty Ann Levin and Rabbi Wecker as an excellent executive Jewish communal leader in our community who is dedicated to making the Simon Family JCC the source of envy of my peers in other communities.”
Beth Sholom Village welcomes Brith Sholm to their new home
he Independent Order Brith Sholom (Hebrew: “Covenant of Peace”) is a Jewish fraternal organization. Principally active in the early 20th century, it was founded in 1905 and headquartered in Baltimore, Md. In Norfolk, Brith Sholom has evolved over the last 50 years. When the building was originally constructed to accommodate Brith Sholom’s approximately 400 members, very few Jewish fraternal organizations existed. Today, the landscape has changed with Jewish people having many social outlets. Brith Sholom currently has about 120 members, men and women, who pay annual dues of $45. In addition to offering social activities, it is a philanthropic organization. Brith Sholom annually raises $10,000 for both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. In fact, according to Joe Goldberg, vice
president and social chairman and his wife, Ruth, Brith Sholom plans to continue its legacy. The only difference is its new home. When Goldberg realized that their building was no longer needed, he sought other alternatives for hosting events and meetings. David Abraham, executive director of Beth Sholom Village, offered ample meeting and social space for their needs. It was a perfect match. Now, Brith Sholom holds their board meetings the first Sunday of the month at 10 am, followed by a general membership meeting at 11 am. After the meeting, a wonderful brunch catered and hosted by Beth Sholom Village takes place. Beth Sholom Village welcomes Brith Sholom with open arms! Beth Sholom Village is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
JCC Seniors Club installs new officers
he JCC Seniors Club held its annual officers installation luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Following a Chanukahthemed meal, members witnessed the installation of the new slate of officers: Bernice Greenberg, vice president, Anne Pylate, treasurer, Wayne Gordon, financial secretary, Edith Gordon, recording secretary and New officers: Pat Sheets, Bernice Greenberg, Pat Sheets, correspond- Anne Pylate, Edie Gordon, ing secretary. Marilyn and Wayne Gordon. Moranha, who was unable to attend, is president of the JCC Seniors Club. For more information about the Seniors Club and the variety of senior programming offered at the Simon Family JCC, contact Sherry Lieberman, senior adult program coordinator, at 757-321-2309.
Guest speaker, Miriam Brunn-Ruberg, JCC director of Jewish life and learning, Sherry Lieberman, JCC senior adult program coordinator.
Toras Chaim receives $1,000 grant through Box Tops for Education/Commissary program
hoppers at the Scott Annex Commissary at the Portsmouth Shipyard on Thursday, Dec. 13, were surprised to find a crowd celebrating in the produce section. The crowd was comprised of six Toras Chaim students, four Toras Chaim parents, a vendor for General Mills products, a representative of Box Tops for Education from Minnesota, the commis- Toras Chaim students, parents and PTA representatives accept a certificate for 10,000 sary managers and other Box Tops from representatives of Box Tops, General Mills and Box Tops for Education. commissary personnel. The story of why the group was gath- of time into filing the applications, which ered there began in July, when the school resulted in Toras Chaim receiving a certifireceived a letter from Box Tops detailing cate for 10,000 Box Tops, which translates a program in which schools and commis- into $1,000 for the school. saries team up to win Box Tops. Hillary Presentation participants included Kleinman and Ken Wilson approached Commander Adam and Eve Goldberg, stulocal commissaries to ask for their sup- dents Josh Berman, Mati Loiterman, Moshe port. The Scott Annex Commissary at the Rothman, Minna Haber, Ely Haber and Portsmouth Shipyard agreed to take on Esti Kleinman. Hillary Kleinman accepted this project. Doug Buntley, manager of the the certificate on behalf of Toras Chaim Norfolk Naval Shipyard commissary and and the students and parents thanked Carol Volterman, grocery manager, put a lot everyone involved. jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 9
Home is where the heart is by Jodie Rafalowitz
he phrase “home is where the heart is” can conjure up uniquely different images, but a few things usually remain constant—warmth, compassion, and love. All of those were present at Temple Israel on Sunday, Nov. 4 when Temple Israel and Second Presbyterian Church co-hosted a concert to benefit homeless families. More than $8,000 was raised and evenly distributed to two local charities, ForKids and The Dwelling Place. ForKids provides shelter to families in crisis and helps the families develop the tools and skills necessary to be able to plant their own roots. They offer educational opportunities for children and adults, hot meals, weekly tutoring, clinical counseling, health care advocacy, employment counseling, and budgeting, parenting, and safety classes. The Dwelling Place helps families stabilize and become self-sufficient. The ecumenical family shelter offers a supportive and structured environment. The entertainment for the evening was Grammy award winning bluegrass singer/ songwriter, Tim O’Brien. “Supporting the Dwelling Place and ForKids is a no brainer. We have all relied on others at times and it feels good to give something back. I’m honored really, and happy that music can help accomplish such things,” he says. This was not the first time O’Brien hasperformed at Temple Israel. Phil Walzer, president of Temple Israel says, “Temple Israel has hosted Tim O’Brien before for concerts to benefit The Dwelling Place. But this event was even more special—and showcased the value of coming together as a community. This time, we sponsored the concert with our longtime partners and friends at Second Presbyterian Church.” Members from both Temple Israel and Second Presbyterian Church volunteered their time, efforts, enthusiasm, and money
to make the fundraiser a success. Craig Wansink, pastor at Second Presbyterian says, “Two days before the election, during a time when there seemed to be so much divisiveness, there was something very special about two different faith communities coming together to work—in a concrete way—to support both ForKids and The Dwelling Place, and the ways they address homelessness.” Barry Einhorn of Temple Israel feels that “the opportunity to work for a cause which speaks to the principles of both of our faith communities made the effort worth while. The cooperation and fellowship is inspirational. Lois and I both look forward to other such opportunities.” Arlene Klinedinst Baragona, from Second Presbyterian reaffirms the overwhelming sense of community that permeated the halls that night. “To me, the event was a perfect example of how people of all ages, from two faith communities, and from two different non-profit agencies that sometimes “compete” for contributions, come together for a common cause: serving the homeless. It was a real joy to attend and watch our two congregations and people from both agencies work, laugh, and give together.” Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel says, “We named this benefit concert, ‘Home is where the heart is,’ to suggest three points of moral and spiritual importance. First, walls and a roof constitute a shelter, and that is a first-order necessity for those who do not have it; but it takes the addition of a heart to turn a shelter into a home. Second, the supporters of our charitable initiative, helping the homeless to acquire first shelters, and then homes of their own, are to be commended and thanked for their qualities of heart. And finally, when we follow the ethical dictates of our heart, we obey and honor the God who implants conscience and caring within us.”
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Local food, global flavors Temple Israel celebrated Chanukah with a loca-vore dinner on Sunday, Dec. 9.
lose to 30 guests gathered at the Oceans condominium in Virginia Beach to feast on dishes inspired by Jewish communities around the world. The meal was designed as a tour that began with familiar white potato latkes accentuated with dill and journeyed to India for sweet potato and Sheila Panitz, Marilyn Suskind-Pearline, Joyce Salzberg, cauliflower fritters with cumin Vivian Margulies and Yetta Strasser. and turmeric. The diners also savored a stop in Greece for a kale and American dinner plate features food that Israeli feta egg casserole and a visit to has traveled 1,500 miles. Eating local helps Italy for butternut squash risotto. Pumpkin reduce fuel consumption, but also supempanadas and apple tartlets in mini phyllo ports our local and regional community of shells, a twist on favorite American pies farmers. of autumn, ended the meal with a sweet “By raising our awareness of the season return home. and the fruits of the earth immediately This event represents the confluence of surrounding us, we are reminded of the two happy trends at Temple Israel—and connection our ancestors had with the the melding of efforts of two hard-work- land,” Dronzek says. “The choice of eating ing congregants. The dinner is part of a local gives us an additional way to transseries of programs, titled “One Step Closer,” form sharing a meal together into sharing funded by the United Jewish Federation of holiness with each other.” Tidewater, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation Kass describes “One Step Closer” as “a and the Simon Family Foundation. Melissa year-long outreach program designed to Kass organized the event. engage both the Temple Israel community The dinner also was the most recent and the greater unaffiliated Jewish comloca-vore meals, an initiative launched last munity. year by Cheryl Dronzek. Shabbat kidThe minyan of chefs and helpers who dushim have been inspired by what was created the delicious commitment to eatfeatured at local farmers’ markets and ing local were Marcia Brodie, Susan Eisner, have provided vegetarian or vegan alterna- Sara Eisner, Michael Gear, Cassandra Gear, tives highlighting locally grown produce, Melissa Kass, Mindy Katz and Nancy Tucker. eggs, and honey. Dronzek says “A typical
BINA High School performs A Legacy in Egypt by Debbie Wilson
he story of the Jewish nation’s enslavement in Egypt, A Legacy in Egypt, was performed by BINA High School on Dec. 5. Under the direction of Chayala Lefkovitz, the BINA girls spent days preparing for the show. The costumes, hand sewn by senior Yehudis Schwartz and her crew, were beautiful, and the props and scenery, which were prepared and painted by the girls, were eye-popping. The girls even created a professional musical soundtrack. Adina Mostofsky, the dance chair, choreographed the show’s numbers. The cast did an outstanding job of portraying the lives of the Jewish people
while they were slaves in Egypt. The story revolved around Kerma, played by Eliana Edery. A Jewish boy, Kerma was kidnapped as a baby and raised by Egyptians. Kerma grew up in the wealthy house of his Uncle Manetho played by Jenny Lefcoe and his Aunt Aphasi played by Eliana Berman. His aunt and uncle tried to school him in the ways of being an Egyptian. However, Kerma constantly had confusing thoughts about slavery and could not understand why it troubled him whenever he saw a Jewish slave being mistreated. As the plagues began to haunt the Egyptians and Kerma is spared the plagues’ agony, it is revealed to him that he is indeed a Jew. This sixth annual performance by the BINA girls was a rousing theatrical delight.
Winter sheltering program at Congregation Beth Chaverim by Debbie Kleeger, social action chair
Santa and Mrs. Claus pass out gifts of warm gloves, socks, sweaters, scarves, etc. on Christmas Eve.
or 13 consecutive years, Congregation Beth Chaverim has partnered with Volunteers of America to assist with feeding and housing area homeless adults. Each year, the congregation participates in the Winter Sheltering Program for the week that includes Christmas. From Wednesday, Dec. 19 through Wednesday, Dec. 26, up to 70 homeless adults were provided a warm place to sleep, a hot breakfast and supper, and a bag lunch as they left each morning. During the evening meal each night, congregants schmoozed with their guests and listened to plans that included finding
Head chef, Art Becker, and kitchen helpers: Jonathan Hart, Lynn Bornstein, Eleanor Lenox, Eddie Taylor, Rita Frank and Susan Ott.
Rita Gordon, Steve and Connie Knipp, Maria and Norm Schnobrich and Kyle Molin serve a pancake and egg breakfast.
housing and new jobs. One young man, who’s been there for the past three years, couldn’t wait to share that he’s starting school at Tidewater Community College. This year saw an increase in the number of women, including two who are pregnant. Several had become homeless as the result of an illness. As some new volunteers commented, any stereotypes they had were shattered. In actuality, the homeless could be friends, neighbors and co-workers who have suffered a variety of setbacks. During the day of Christmas eve, a few elves from Beth Chaverim dropped off presents. Later that night, after a supper consisting of hearty beef stew, a tossed salad and garlic bread followed by homemade cookies and pie, Santa and Mrs. Claus distributed the gifts. Warm sweaters, socks, gloves, scarves, hats and candy canes, provided by Volunteers of America, were greatly appreciated. As a special treat this year, helping to serve the meal were Pastor Veronica Coleman of New Jerusalem Ministries and Rabbi Israel Zoberman. New Jerusalem Ministries now meets at Congregation Beth Chaverim, and Emmanuel Way of the Cross. Since last year, both churches have embraced the Winter Sheltering Program and their volunteers are a tremendous asset. As the week ended, it was a bittersweet departure. The week always starts with a smile, when greeting familiar faces from previous years; but it’s sad at the same time. Standard greetings such as “Good to see you” sometimes slip out, but the reality is that they’re still homeless. The same goes as they leave the last morning. Hugs are exchanged, but expressions like “See you next year” imply another year of homelessness. All totaled, 167 volunteers gave more than 900 hours of their time for the week. On the last night, guests presented Beth Chaverim with a beautiful, handmade thank you card signed by everyone expressing their gratitude for the hospitality. Once the guests departed, Beth Chaverim was quickly returned to normal. The social hall was set for the upcoming Bat Mitzvah and leftovers were packed for Barrett House, a women’s shelter in Norfolk. The two refrigerator freezers loaned by Best Way Rent to Own were picked up and congregants returned to warm homes with well stocked pantries. The congregation will start planning for next year’s program, and fervently hopes for success in the quest for affordable housing and employment.
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jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 11
Super Sunday on January 27
promises exponential return on investments by Laine M. Rutherford
When Jewish communities initiated the one-day Super Sunday phone-a-thon 30 or so years ago, they essentially were mirroring other successful fundraising events of the time, such as the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. Volunteers called from a bank of rotary
dial phones, community members picked up their handset receivers and monetary pledges were made. Twenty years ago that model still worked. These days? People still answer their telephones, but they also text, email, interact on social media and some are cellphone-exclusive, with no landline in sight. “If we want to make the Federation inclusive of everyone, and make Super Sunday relevant and fun for investors of all ages, then we need to make it fresh and new. And we need to be able to use different mediums to reach people—whether that’s through texting, through Facebook, video, email and even through newer data styles such as
infographics, that are all over sites like Pinterest,” says Amy Weinstein, director of the Young Adult Division of the UJFT. At the helm of the Super Sunday Steering Committee this year are young adults who embrace these new technologies themselves. Over the course of several months, as they designed the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2013 Super Sunday, the committee explored what it might mean to incorporate some of these new portals for giving into the traditional phone-a-thon model. “We had two great ideas that we came up with during our meetings,” says Aaron Goldmeier, Super Sunday Steering Committee chair. “One was the idea that giving to the Federation is an investment and the other was how someone’s gift creates a ripple effect, or makes a wave of change that can extend in ways they never even thought of. So we combined both ideas into one and from that we’ve created a video and a photo campaign, we’re giving people ways they can text in a pledge or post one on Facebook, and we’re showing
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Those hurt by the current economic climate recieve financial assistance, vocational training and supportive community.
Victims of Hurricane Sandy received cash disbursements, food, shelter, clean-up kits and other basic necessities.
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12 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
• Answer your phone when you receive a call. • Preempt a call from the UJFT by these methods: • Text the word INVEST to 51818. In a few simple steps, you’re done. • Make a pledge on the Super Sunday Facebook Event page, found on the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Facebook page: www.facebook. com/UJFTidewater. • Email your pledge to email@example.com, include Super Sunday in the subject line and your pledge amount and contact information in the body of the email.
how investing in the Federation can be relevant and easy.” The theme of giving to the Federation as an investment touched Goldmeier personally. Last summer, the 34-year-old president of Hampton Roads Management Associates, Inc., was invited to attend the Sandler UJFT Men’s Mission to Israel, at no cost. “I realized that if I was being asked to go on that trip, someone must have thought that I was worth the investment,” says Goldmeier. “So if someone was willing to invest in me, then I’d like to return it. If I can help someone here, or someone in
Ways to help make this Super Sunday a success
VIRGINIA Local congregations receive grants for programs that would not otherwise exist.
Ways to make a pledge on Super Sunday
• Volunteer to call the community on Sunday, Jan. 27. Two shifts are available, 9–11 am and 11 am–1 pm. Training for the early shift begins at 8:45 am and for the later shift at 10:45 am. Breakfast and snacks are supplied; babysitting is available. • Answer your phone when called! Some of the calls are from students and teens who are recipients of UJFT funding and your investment and are calling to thank you for your support. • Like UJFT on Facebook and send in your “I Invest because…” photo. Check out the everexpanding photo gallery of community members and find out why others invest in the UJFT.
Aaron Goldmeier, Super Sunday Chair.
Israel, or someone in Africa with the money and time that I have available to invest, then I’m going to do it.” In the spirit of the “I Invest because…” theme, the committee took photos of themselves and others in the community, declaring in a few words why they invest. Statements range from Andrew Nusbaum’s “I invest for a better future,” to the Hampton Roads Board of Rabbis and Cantors, “We invest because we believe.” As part of this year’s Super Sunday social media element, the committee is asking community members to post their own photos to the UJFT Facebook page with a statement written on a whiteboard, or in chalk, or through the use of a photo app, about why they invest. The effort pro-
motes partnership, ownership and a shared experience, Goldmeier says. “We’re hoping that by using a different kind of theme when speaking about the Federation, that we’ll be doing more than just asking people to give,” says Weinstein. “We’ll be giving them a bit of education about why this is such a worthwhile investment.” The goals for this year’s Super Sunday campaign are to have volunteer callers representing every synagogue and agency that receives funding from the UJFT, and to receive more pledges than were made last year. “The work we do ‘as one’ is the strongest work we can do,” Weinstein says. “With volunteers reaching out to all corners of our community, and community members learning about the incredible return on their Federation investment, and then making pledges that top $100,000, we will consider this year’s Super Sunday a phenomenal success.” To watch the video created especially for Super Sunday, for more information about the day’s events or to sign up for a volunteer shift, visit www.JewishVA.org/supersunday, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 757-965-6100.
DO YOU BELIEVE JEWISH INSTITUTIONS NEED TO CONTINUE TO EXIST IN TIDEWATER?
INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY We are often the first ones on the ground providing aid and support to those affected by humanitarian crises like Hurricane Sandy and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN HELPING PEOPLE – REGARDLESS OF RELIGION – WHO HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMED BY NATURAL DISASTERS?
INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY We help sustain the Jewish services you or your family or your neighbors receive through: Jewish Family Service, the JCC, Beth Sholom Village, Hebrew Academy and Early Childhood Center, BINA, and all of our area synagogues.
DO YOU BELIEVE THE JEWISH IDENTITY OF TEENS AND TWENTY-SOMETHINGS IS WORTH PROTECTING?
DO YOU WANT TO END HUNGER, CARE FOR THE SICK AND HOMEBOUND AND EASE THE SUFFERING OF PEOPLE IN PAIN? INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY
We feed, clothe, shelter, counsel and rescue thousands of people here at home, in Israel, and around the world. This year, with unemployment levels at historic highs, more people are turning to us than ever before.
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INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY In Eastern Europe and Israel, we bring services to the elderly right in their homes and neighborhoods so they can stay connected to community while getting the help they need.
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David Tessler, Andrew Nusbaum, and Sam Zelenka.
We provide quality education for Israeli children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. We give food assistance for Israeli families below the poverty line. We train and educate new immigrants for employment. We ensure disadvantaged Israelis, including many Holocaust survivors, receive needed medical and dental services.
INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY In European countries, where Jewish life has been so beleaguered, we meet basic human needs, and are nurturing an exciting resurgence of Jewish identity, rebuilding institutions and preparing the next generation of leaders.
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INVEST IN UJFT ON SUPER SUNDAY We strengthen Jewish identity and inspire a love of Israel and the Jewish people for teenagers all over the world through synagogue youth groups, Birthright Israel trips, Hillels, BBYO and summer camps.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT ALL ISRAELI PEOPLE – RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR, HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS, NEW IMMIGRANTS (OLIM) AND THOSE BORN IN ISRAEL (SABRAS) – DESERVE ACCESS TO BASIC HUMAN SERVICES?
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(Top row) Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, Rabbi Israel Zoberman, Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin, Rabbi Michael Panitz, Rabbi Sender Haber, Rabbi Mordechai Wecker. (Second row) Cantor Elihu Flax and Cantor Gordon Piltch. jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 13
Giving: Making a financial difference
id you make any resolutions for 2013? Surveys show that almost half of us make them every year, and our resolution chart-toppers consistently are to lose weight and get fit. While health undeniably is very important, so too are three other things most of us include on our annual Top 10 New Year Resolution lists: a desire to enjoy life to the fullest, learn something new and help others. In this issue of Jewish News, we look at the ways our giving
can accomplish these three goals in 2013 and for years to come. We learn about the lasting, positive impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel’s free, 10-day, life-changing trip to Israel for college-aged Jewish youth (supported in part through gifts made to the UJFT Annual campaign). We delve into the relatively new science of giving, and how Jewish organizations are applying this science for everything from reaching donors to scheduling programs. Helping others is a traditional Jewish value, and when Tidewater learned about the damage caused to our sister Jewish communi-
Tu B’Shevat... New Year for the Trees
When Jews need help, Tidewater responds by Laine M. Rutherford
M Tu B’Shevat is the new year of the trees. In the past, it was the day for calculating the age of trees and their new fruit for tithing. Since tithing with fruit is no longer customary, this is a good time to reflect on the tree of life that reminds us of perpetual giving. Planning for the future by creating an endowment is a way we can incorporate this holiday into our lives.
To learn more about making a legacy gift to support the Tidewater community, contact Philip S. Rovner with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation at (757) 965-6111, email@example.com. 14 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
ties in the Northeast by Hurricane Sandy, prompt action was taken to provide financial, spiritual and physical assistance. And look at our cover story to see how all three resolutions are being put into practice at this year’s UJFT Super Sunday phonea-thon, Jan. 27. Young adult leaders are having a blast planning the event, “I Invest Because” campaign. As for resolution number one, here’s our advice: put down the donut, hop on the treadmill, and read the rest of this issue of the Jewish News.
what makes the small population of Jews in the area seem so much larger, according to leaders in the community. “When there’s a crisis, we think about what we can do,” says Harry Graber, executive vice-president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. “And whether we’re close enough to hear our people’s cries for help or not, we can still help, and act as a community, coalescing our resources to help in the best ways we can.” At a UJFT board meeting held soon after the storm struck, members voted to allocate $5,000 immediately to the New York Jewish Federation, and to allow that organization to use the funds as needed. “Tidewater responds in times of crisis, both individually and as a Federation,” says Alvin Wall, UJFT president. “As members of the Jewish community,
ore than two months have passed since Hurricane Sandy brought heavy rain, high winds and flooding to the east coast of the United States. For Tidewater residents, the storm marked another near-miss in the yearly threatening roster of storms, and the memory of its impact lessens daily. In parts of the northeast, however, Sandy’s devastation and destruction can’t be forgotten: thousands of homes are destroyed, residents live in temporary housing, countless businesses have closed and communities are forever changed. The majority of the American Jewish population lives in states to the north of Tidewater: about 44 percent, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures, and many Jews here count relatives and friends among those residents. As reports began to pour in to the northeastern Jewish Federations in the hours preceding the storm and the days following, the number of Jewish citizens, schools, businesses, houses of worship and organizations affected grew exponentially, and the Tidewater Jewish community readied itself to help. The Judaic value system of assisting others in times of need, of comforting the sick and feeding the hungry, of being a part of something larger than just one’s self, is considered an integral part of An office at the JCC in Coney Island.
we have a responsibility to help our fellow Jews whenever and wherever they are. We honor this commitment and have demonstrated it in the past—in places like Ethiopia, and now—in New York and New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy relief, and In Israel, by donating to the terror relief effort during the current crisis there—and I have no doubts that we’ll do it in the future too. It is who we are.” In addition to the funds released by the Federation’s board, additional donations A destroyed home in the Seagate community on Coney Island. from Tidewater were made by individuals who gave online, through the monitor and allocate funds as necessary Hurricane Sandy Relief mailbox posted on and is investigating medium and long-term the front page of JewishVa.org (the UJFT recovery needs for storm-damaged comwebsite), by the William and Norma Tiefel munities. Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation, “The outpouring of support for victims and by individuals who collected goods and of Hurricane Sandy speaks volumes about made special trips up north to help however who we are as a people, and what we stand they could. for as a community,” says Cheryl Fishbein, Overseeing the Jewish community’s fun- chair of JFNA’s Emergency Committee. draising efforts and subsequent allocations “Now that we’ve addressed the most immeis the Jewish Federations of North America, diate situations, we need to turn towards of which the UJFT is a member. The JFNA recovery and rebuilding. There will still is the largest single Jewish philanthropy in be significant needs after Hurricane Sandy existence, representing and serving North disappears from the daily headlines.” American Jewry’s primary fund-raising and Gifts made to the UJFT Annual Campaign service-providing agencies, a network of help local and national goals of improving 155 Jewish federations and more than 300 Jewish life and communities here, for neighbors smaller independent communities. in the U.S., in Israel and around the world. To Since it opened the national Hurricane find out more, to volunteer, and to make a gift, Sandy Relief mailbox, more than $6.7 mil- visit www.jewishva.org. Photos courtesy of JFNA’s Senior Writer Jessica lion donations have been received. The JFNA Emergency Committee continues to Palley. Taken in December, 2012 on Coney Island.
Jewish groups split on FEMA funding for Sandy-damaged synagogues
ewish organizations are split on whether federal emergency funds should be used to salvage houses of worship. The Orthodox Union and the American Jewish Committee backed an amendment introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) just before the 112th Congress retired that would have designated superstorm Sandy relief money to houses of worship, The New York Times reported. The amendment never made it to the floor and Lieberman is now retired, but other lawmakers may take up similar legislation in the 113th Congress now in session. Also backing the legislation is Agudath Israel of America. UJA-Federation of New York has counseled constituent synagogues to apply for Federal Emergency
Management Agency money. FEMA rules do not necessarily count out such assistance. The Anti-Defamation League, however, is opposing such assistance. “It is not discriminatory to prohibit federal funds for rebuilding houses of worship, because the Constitution protects religious freedom by preventing the government from funding or endorsing any religion,” Michael Lieberman, ADL’s Washington counsel, said in an email. “A taxpayer should not have to fund a religion or a religious institution with which s/he disagrees.” The Reform movement is still considering its specific response to the post-Sandy crisis, but in the past has opposed the use of such funds as potentially violating churchstate separations. (JTA)
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Bill’s will said a lot about him. What does your will say about you? Norfolk businessman Bill Goldback valued good health and good music.
Before he died in 2007, Bill arranged for a bequest to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to provide grants for arts and medicine in Hampton Roads. Goldback grants have helped expand Eastern Virginia Medical School and support 33 area music and arts groups. Thanks to Bill’s generosity he will forever bring music and health to his home region. Connect your passions to the future by ordering a free bequest guide. Learn how easy it is to leave a gift for charity. Call 757-622-7951 or visit leaveabequest.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 15
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Giving: Making a financial difference
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leaves lasting, positive impressions on young travelers
by Laine M. Rutherford
hree weeks ago, 20 Jewish college students and young adults from Tidewater left for an opportunity that they may never have again; one that simply was too good to turn down. They were treated to a 10-day, (almost) all-expenses paid, laidback, virtually pressure-free trip to Israel. When they returned, if a recent study is accurate, many of the youthful travelers will have a more positive and lasting sense of their Jewish identity, their relationship to Israel, and their connection to the Jewish people. The students’ trip, in part, receives funding from the Simon Family Passport to Israel Fund and gifts made to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign. The study appears to validate what the founders of Taglit-Birthright Israel had imagined when they sent their first students abroad 13 years ago—that a free trip to Israel, even a short one, could foster Jewish identity among a young generation that seemed to be complacent both about the importance of Jewish community and support for Israel. The 2012 Brandeis University report examined the impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel on its alumni six to 11 years after their free trip to Israel. Key findings show that participants feel more connected to Israel compared to their peers who didn’t go on the trip, that they feel better
In 1985 Roy joined Beskin and Associates, Inc., where he plays a key role on the executive team as a Vice President. Roy began his insurance career after working for the Xerox Corporation, first as an Account Executive, then later being selected as a National Sales Trainer at Xerox World Training Headquarters in Reston, VA. A native of Norfolk, Roy received his degree from Virginia Tech in 1973. In addition to his success in business, Roy was honored by election to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
300 Southport Circle • Virginia Beach, VA 23452 • (757) 497-1041 • www.beskin.com 16 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
A camel ride in the desert
equipped to talk about the current situation in Israel, and that they are 45 percent more likely to marry someone Jewish than nonparticipants. Surveys can be skewed. Definitive proof of the program’s success comes from the number of past Birthright participants (330,000 since 2000), the number of 2012 participants (42,000) and the number of people who are waitlisted each year (50,000). From 2000 through the summer of 2012, more than 450 young Tidewater residents traveled to Israel as part of a Birthright trip. Chaperones also come from the area. Norfolk Rabbi Gershon Litt frequently accompanies students, and traveled with the group of 20 that recently took advantage of a December Birthright. Past participants have also returned to Israel, again free of charge, as group leaders. Israel’s economy, tour companies, airlines and young Israelis of the same age as the travelers have also seen positive impacts from Birthright trips. Since its inception, Birthright has contributed $735 million in revenue to the Israeli economy and more than 60,000 Israelis have joined Birthright trips as part of the Mifgash (encounter) aspect of the program. A few basic Taglit-Birthright facts (a bevy of information is available at www. birthrightisrael.com): The Taglit-Birthright Israel gift covers round trip airfare from designated cities,
bers of the LGBT or Recovery communities, adrenalin seekers who like to rappel and spelunk, Orthodox Jews, law students and photographers. Places and activities included in most trips: Visits to Jerusalem, Masada, and Tel Aviv, an overnight stay in a Bedouin tent in the Birthright trips usually include Bonding with Israeli peers who travel with the group desert, a camel ride, accommodations, transportation, at least a muddy photo-op on the shores of the two meals per day, and admission to sites. Dead Sea, and a huge, concert-like, multiThe program is open to all Jewish young media pro-Israel celebration event. adults, ages 18-26, post high school, who Visit www.jewishva.org to learn more have neither traveled to Israel before on a about the UJFT and to watch a video about peer educational trip or study program, nor Birthright. A gift to the UJFT 2013 Annual have lived in Israel past the age of 12. Campaign helps fund Taglit-Birthright Israel Eligible individuals are those recognized trips and makes a real difference to real people as Jewish by the Jewish community or by one in Tidewater, in the U.S., in Israel and around of the recognized denominations of Judaism. the world. Photos: Matt Efland, , 2011 The organization’s goal is to have 51,000 participants travel to Israel in 2013. At this rate, within a decade, one in every two Jewish young adults worldwide would participate in a TaglitBirthright Israel trip. More than 16 different approved tour companies take groups on the Birthright trips. Options for travelers are diverse and include trips designed for avid cyclists, mem- A visit to Jerusalem and the Western Wall
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Birthright celebrates bar mitzvah year with Jerusalem party JERUSALEM (JTA)—Some 3,000 young Jews from around the world celebrated Birthright Israel’s bar mitzvah year with a party in Jerusalem. “You come from different countries; you speak different languages; you have different cultures. But you all have one thing in common: Israel is your birthright; Israel is your common homeland,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the participants Monday, Jan. 7. “Anybody who comes here sees the true Israel. Israel is the place where Jewish history comes alive. Here you tread in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel and Leah. You
stand exactly where King David stood not very far from here. And you also can see how we turned the hopes and dreams of thousands of years into a reality. “You see this marvelous high-tech city of Tel Aviv; you see this flowering city of Jerusalem,” he said. “You have come home. And I want you to tell the world about what you see here. Because Israel is not merely about the Jewish past, it’s about the Jewish future.” Birthright co-founders Michael and Judy Steinhardt attended the event. Birthright has brought more than 330,000 young Jews aged 18 to 26 from around the world to Israel.
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jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 17
Giving: Making a financial difference
Using data, Jewish groups try to turn the art of fundraising into a science by Ben Harris
NEW YORK (JTA)—For many Jewish nonprofits, fundraising often can seem like an art—a process of educated guesswork based largely on intuition, word of mouth and experience. So when David Gad-Harf, the chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, saw a way to introduce more science into the process, he went for it. With the help of the Washington consulting firm Measuring Success, the federation last year combined information from its own database with survey results and data purchased elsewhere to rank 1,900 donors in order of the likelihood that they would become major donors (more than $10,000) down the road. The rankings were based on a list of 12 attributes that the data showed reliably predict which small donors will become major ones in the future. Those who made a major gift to an organization in Israel or a major university, or already devoted a significant portion of
their charitable donations to federation, were far more likely to become major supporters, Measuring Success determined. Meanwhile, the attributes that federations often believe make people big givers—a big life change, Jewish involvement in childhood, becoming an honoree at a gala event—didn’t turn out to reliably predict future giving, the data showed. “We now have a much clearer sense of who are the people we should be engaging,” Gad-Harf says. “This information is useful, but it’s only useful up to a certain point. You still need to reach out to them, open doors, cultivate them, engage them in the organization. But at least we have a road map.” With nonprofits across the Jewish world struggling to maintain fundraising levels in a still shaky economic climate, organizations are looking to the promise of rigorous, data-driven analysis to increase efficiency and get a clearer picture of how to improve their operations. “I think it’s finally clicking for a lot of lay leadership in many communities, many of whom have experience in evidence-based
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disciplines like finance or science,” says cards for lunch. UJA-Federation of New Sacha Litman, the founder of Measuring York, which claims to be the first federation Success. “The idea is to analyze through to hire a full-time data analyst, says it has data, identify trends and then leverage that “huge amounts of data” at its disposal and to make effective decisions.” has made a strategic choice to exploit that Many of the methods being employed information to maximize donations. fall broadly under the rubric of what “We see the use of metrics and data some have begun to call “big data”— as critically important to build“Data the vast trove of information ing a 21st century philanthropic generated by everything from can help organization,” says Mark Medin, sensors in industrial equipUJA-Federation’s senior vice mitigate the ment to millions of clicks on a president for financial resources phenomenon webpage. Powerful computing development. where one very algorithms can sift through the The federation declined to material, teasing out patterns loud stakeholder provide specific information to railroads and generating insights that JTA on what sort of information otherwise would be impossible through a it was using and how, but other to identify. organizations were proud to show priority.” Internet companies such as their shift from a more intuitionGoogle and Facebook and major based approach to one that relies on retailers like Target and Walmart have more rigorous analysis and hypothesis been doing this for years. They comb testing. through reams of data generated by cusAt the Scheck Hillel Community School tomers to glean powerful, and often in North Miami Beach, Fla., an analysis lucrative, insights into their habits and of standardized testing data revealed that preferences. Similar approaches have since Latino students were outperforming native been adopted across a range of fields, from English speakers across the board, including national security to health care to political in English—the very opposite of what admincampaigns. istrators had assumed. The insight led the Among the programs Litman has helped Jewish school to conclude that more resourcto create in the Jewish world is a soon-to- es were needed in remediation programs for be-released mobile app called Grapevine native speakers, not more ESL classes. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grapevineNot every use of a data analysis requires jewish-connector/id582438953?mt=8 that cutting-edge tools, and many of the insights provides recommendations for Jewish gleaned merely confirm what organizations events based on a user’s location and inter- already know anecdotally to be true. But ests. Over time, the app learns the user’s the ability to demonstrate that knowledge individual preferences and habits to make numerically still has its uses. more intelligent recommendations—much At B’nai Jeshurun, a New York City synin the way that Netflix recommends movies agogue that routinely draws hundreds to based on past choices and user feedback. its Friday-night services, a 2011 memberEven more valuable for sponsor- ship survey showed that many participants ing groups, the app can collect precious, felt unwelcome in such a large crowd and continually updated information about not truly part of a community. This was individual users: where they live, how old hardly a surprise. But the fact that there they are, who their friends are, what sorts were numbers to back up the assumption of things tickle their fancy. helped the staff marshal resources to start “All that data that we’re going to be a welcoming initiative. gathering is going to give us a much better “It wasn’t until we had the hard numsense of what’s working in Jewish engage- bers that we were able to be proactive about ment and what kinds of things appeal to making changes,” says Belinda Lasky, the what kinds of people,” says Hindy Poupko, synagogue’s executive director. executive director of the Council of Young One of the data’s most powerful effects Jewish Presidents, which has sponsored the may be more political than analytic. Grapevine project in New York. “In a community with so much access to It’s precisely this sort of activity that has leaders, I do think there can be a tendency generated broad concern about privacy in an for loud voices to have influence,” Baker age when so much personal data is already says. “Data can help mitigate the phenomtracked and recorded, from web surfing enon where one very loud stakeholder habits to where consumers swipe their credit railroads through a priority.”
Giving: Making a financial difference
As Israel’s economy grows, more Israelis are giving to charity by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—At Hadassah’s centennial celebration in October, 2,000 guests heard about two major philanthropic projects being undertaken by the women’s Zionist group: a new tower and a new cardiovascular wellness center at its Jerusalem hospitals. The tower, which was dedicated at the centennial, cost $363 million. And a $10 million gift from American philanthropist Irene Pollin came with the announcement of the cardiovascular center. Most of Hadassah’s members and donors are American, and every year most of its $100 million budget goes to Israel—as it has for a century, well before Israel was a state. For virtually all of Israel’s history, the philanthropic highway between the United States and the Jewish state ran in one direction. Now, with the growth of Israel’s economy and an expanding class of affluent citizens, Israeli initiatives have begun to encourage giving by Israelis for Israelis. Still, experts say, building a culture of philanthropy remains an uphill battle in Israel. “Israeli philanthropy is not very well developed, even though there’s [been] a lot of Israeli wealth in the past 10 to 20 years,” says Debra London, project manager for Sheatufim, which helps donors and nonprofits more effective. “It’s about recruiting them to the idea that they have to give.” Since well before the founding of the state, American Jewish philanthropy has been instrumental in establishing and sustaining Jewish settlement in Israel. This funding model persisted even as the state established itself and grew into a thriving industrial and information-age economy. American donors still fund many projects and organizations in Israel, while many Israeli outfits have established fundraising arms in the United States. On the whole, Israelis are less philanthropic than Americans. In a recent paper, Hebrew University professor Hillel Schmid found that in 2009 Israeli philanthropy constituted 0.74 percent of Israel’s GDP, compared to 2.1 percent in the United States. In total that year, Israelis donated $3-billion. Part of the reason, Schmid says, is the high income tax that Israelis have paid traditionally to support a robust social safety net. Many Israelis also feel that their years spent in compulsory military service provided a significant contribution to the state. “We all go to the army, we pay a high income tax, so we think we give a lot,” Schmid, the director of the Center for
the Study of Philanthropy in Israel, says. “There are a few good philanthropists, but there’s no movement of philanthropy.” That’s changing. Schmid notes that in 2009, Israeli nonprofits received a majority of their donations from Israelis, not from abroad—a departure from previous years. New philanthropic models are emerging, too. An organization called Takdim in the coastal town of Ramat HaSharom hopes to duplicate the successful North American Jewish federation model, where one central institution in each community manages collective Jewish giving. More than twothirds of the funds raised by Takdim will go to projects in the central Israeli city, while 30 percent will fund projects across the country. “We need to have a change in outlook and show people that if they want to help the community, they need to help in both senses, to volunteer and to help financially,” says Revital Itach, Takdim’s project manager. Founded a year-and-a-half ago, Takdim has 120 donors and is embarking on its first major fundraising drive. Itach hopes to raise $256,000, much of which will go to building a new park that will be accessible to disabled children. Another initiative, called Committed to Give and run by Sheatufim, aims to expand the top echelon of Israeli donors, defined as those who give more than $64,000 annually. London estimates that 10,000 Israelis can give that amount. A rise in Israeli philanthropy does not necessarily mean a drop in U.S. Jewish giving, says Becky Caspi, director general of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel office. Caspi recognizes an emotional drive in American Jews to help Israel and does not anticipate a significant decline in donations to Israel. Federations have been involved in helping launch Takdim and Committed to Give, and Caspi sees a growing number of Israelis “who can assist in carrying the burden to care for the most vulnerable in Israeli society.” “There are so many people who see Israel hurting and want to help,” she says. “When Israeli philanthropists are exposed to that strength and resilience, it’s a source of inspiration.” In 2011, JFNA allocated $237 million to overseas funding, the bulk of which goes to Israel. It was a decrease from previous years: In 2010, $249 million went overseas from JFNA, while the figure was $258 million in 2009.
While Israel’s philanthropic culture is still growing, the country does have an established volunteer culture. Yoram Sagi Zaks, chairman of Israel’s national volunteering council, estimates that 46 percent of Israeli youth volunteer in some capacity, and that 800,000 Israelis volunteer in total. Many draw on their military experience to volunteer with security institutions, like the police force.
While Sagi Zaks appreciates rising philanthropy in Israel, he hopes that it doesn’t replace the culture of volunteerism. “There’s a trend that more people are giving money because they can, and that needs to rise in all sectors of society,” he says. But, Sagi Zaks adds, “It’s easier to give a monetary donation. A donation of yourself connects you to society.”
jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 19
what’s happening Mal Vincent: A 20-year rapport with the Film Festival Thursday, Jan. 24 by Leslie Shroyer
he VirginianPilot’s veteran film reviewer, Mal Vincent has been a part of the Simon Family JCC’s Virginia Festival of Jewish Film since its Mal Vincent inception in 1993. Vincent began reviewing movies such as Leon the Pig Farmer (which ran in 1993 and will show this year) when the Festival started at the Naro Theater. In the early years of the Festival, the Naro would exclusively show Jewish Film Festival movies during one week in December. “It used to be that I would hole up every Thanksgiving and watch all
the films to review for the Festival,” says Vincent. “Thanksgiving and Jewish films went hand in hand for me.” The Festival now takes place in January, but this isn’t the only change. The selection of available films has become more diverse and now deals with all kinds of subjects. “It used to be that the majority of the films were about the Holocaust and were somewhat downbeat,” notes Vincent. “More recently, the films have evolved into true adventures in world cinema.” Whether from Israel, France, Croatia or elsewhere, it has become an international as much as a Jewish film festival. “The films I get to see are gems that I wouldn’t normally get to review for the public, because they aren’t Hollywood main stream.” This year will be the fifth time Vincent has his own designated night, the Mal
Vincent “Pick” night, where he chooses an ‘oldie but goodie’ movie from Hollywood that has Jewish content. His past picks are Gentleman’s Agreement, The Pawnbroker, Ship of Fools and Crossfire. Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand, is Vincent’s choice this year. “My self-assignment is to present the popular Hollywood conception of Judaism for one night of the Festival.” The selection of this “Pick” coincides with Streisand’s first leading role in a movie in 15 years, The Guilt Trip. “Streisand produced Yentl, directed it, sang songs for all the characters, and she’s an unparalleled talent,” says Vincent. “I am one of the few reporters who has gotten to know Barbra, and I have funny and unusual stories to tell about her, which is why you must come to the show,” says Vincent. “But what an ego…do come out
to hear what I mean before Yentl screens on Jan. 24.” Vincent relishes his involvement with the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film. “It is an exciting happening in film every year,” he says, “a true adventure in world cinema.” Film Festival passes and tickets are available at the Simon Family JCC front desk, online at simonfamilyj.org or by calling 321-2338. The Festival opens with a free film at the JCC Sunday, Jan. 13, Opening Night and Gala is at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 19. The Festival continues at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center Jan. 20-27. Simon Family JCC is a constiuent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Local ties, memories, and lessons from Six Million and One movie at Film Festival Sunday, Jan. 27, 2 pm by Leslie Shroyer
“It is amazing how small coincidences can bring about a completely different set of events than we might have thought,” says Elena Baum, director of the Holocaust Commission of the Bill Jucksch United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. After reading the film review of Six Million and One in the New York Times, Baum sent a link to Bill Jucksch, whom she has gotten to know through her Holocaust work. Jucksch was a liberator of the Gunskirchen concentration camp. “Bill told me he not only knew about the film, but was actually interviewed in it.” Baum contacted the distributor of the film to inquire whether it could be shown in Tidewater. Baum also contacted the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film’s screening committee, and the group unanimously voted to make the film part of the 2013 lineup. The fact that local hero Jucksch is in the film, and will speak after it shows, will be a bonus for the audience. Six Million and One is an intense and surprisingly humorous portrait of documentary filmmaker David Fisher and his
siblings, as they retrace the footsteps of their late father—a Holocaust survivor who was once a prisoner in both Gusen and Gunskirchen, Austria. Fisher, an Israeli, travels to the U.S., where he meets American WWII veterans who participated in the liberation of his father and the Gunskirchen camp. This sparks a remarkable journey to Austria by Fisher and his three middle-aged siblings. They joke and quarrel, often disagreeing among themselves as to why they decided to delve into their father’s past. They remind the audience that history and memory require active discussion among the later generations, even if the memories are unpleasant. For Virginia Beach resident Jucksch, nothing about liberating the Gunskirchen camp should ever be forgotten, and, at 87-yearsold, he feels compelled to remind the younger generations about how horrible it was. Jucksch was only 19, and a Private First Class radio operator in the 71st Infantry of the U.S. Army in early 1945. After his introduction into the European theater, he traveled more than 800 miles starting in Paris, moving East. Germany had surrendered by late April, but he and his division were still in enemy territory in Austria when they came upon the Gunskirken camp, which was literally, “down a trail in the middle of nowhere.” All of a sudden, Jucksch and a fellow
20 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
soldier Pete Carnabucci (who will also attend the screening at the Roper Theater) came upon a small town of shacks, which were clearly hastily built. What took their breath away were the thousands of bodies lying everywhere. Two guards remained the only Germans there, as most of their compatriots had left knowing Americans were nearby. Jucksch remembers that the guards did not resist opening the gates. “One guard was almost instantly beaten to death by the crawling skeletons, and the other didn’t last much longer,” he recalls. “Pete and I could see the hate, the vengeance. They wanted their due. Many of them would crawl over to the soldiers and get a lick in.” Jusksch radioed his captain to come see these dead and half-dead people. He recalls that his captain was, “absolutely baffled by the enormity of the camp and the striped clothing everyone had on.” Jucksch, who, like most serving in the military during the war, had no idea concentration camps existed at all, remembers being appalled and confused. “At first, we reacted as soldiers just doing our jobs. I remember radioing something like, ‘We don’t really know what this is, but we need some medics up here.’ But then we saw the thousands of people who would never make it, and were overcome by a great feeling of hopelessness.” “The real story here is that your father
or mother survived to have you, that you have a family,” Jucksch told Fisher.” Now more than ever we must be willing to talk about it. There are so few of us left. If we don’t talk about it, it will just be some event in history books.” Even since Fisher interviewed him several years ago for the movie, Jucksch’s message has evolved. “People must be aware of how bad religious intolerance is. This stuff can go to a dismal depth, and it’s out there in the world right now. Survivors and liberators of the camps need to get down on paper or speak out about how horrific it all really was. There are so few of us left that it is becoming an absolutely urgent need. • • • Six Million and One has shown at Jewish Film festivals in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Denver, and will also show in the Palm Beach Film Festival in January. It has won awards at the Berlin Jewish Film Festival and the Krakow Film Festival. It will show at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center on the last day of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg. For tickets and information, visit simonfamilyj.org, call 321-2338 or the JCC front desk. *of blessed memory
what’s happening Calling all bakers and cookie makers: Third annual baking event for the troops Sunday, Feb. 10, 1 pm
peration Hamantashen, a joint venture of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Young Adult Division and the Simon Family JCC, Children and Family Department, will take place at the JCC for the third year in a row. Last year, more than 100 bakers and helpers of all ages convened in the JCC’s cafeteria to partake in the event. The “Operation,” will generate about 1,500 cookies, which will be distributed to Jewish soldiers serving at such bases as Camp LeJeune, Fort Bragg and others in time for the Purim holiday.
With stations for rolling and cutting, filling and folding, and egg brushing, every willing participant, from BBYO teens to Hillel students to young families and grandparents can roll up their sleeves and partake in the baking. Children and teens will also make greeting cards thanking soldiers for their hard work. The cards will accompany each package sent with the Hamantashen so that soldiers can taste and enjoy a little Purim away from home. For more information, contact Amy Weinstein at 965-6127.
Ohef Sholom Temple to host 4th Annual AIPAC Brunch Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 am
he Changing Face of Pro-Israel Activism in America is the theme of this year’s brunch and briefing at Ohef Sholom Temple. The congregation will again open its doors and invite the community to join them for this free event featuring guests brought to Tidewater by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. As in years past, the Ohef Sholom Temple Men’s Club, Sisterhood, Young Adult Community and Adult Education Committee will provide a delicious brunch in a welcoming environment for all to enjoy. Special guests will give personal insight into the role of the African American, Evangelical and next generation proIsrael activists. Ashley Bell, Pastor Isaac Mooneyham and local Staci Eichelbaum will participate in the program. Hall County Georgia’s County Commissioner, Ashley Bell was elected in 2008 at age 27 to become its youngest ever Commissioner and one of the youngest in the State of Georgia. Bell is a graduate of Gainesville High School and Valdosta State University, and attended law school at the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University. He is a partner at Bell & Washington, LLP, practicing law throughout the State of Georgia. He is a 21st Century Leadership Fellow at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Associate Pastor Isaac Mooneyham serves as the teaching pastor at the Tabernacle of Danville in central Virginia and holds degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Liberty
University. Through the giving ministry of his church, Mooneyham has participated in the monetary support of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Through its partnership with the IFCJ, Tabernacle’s church family has underwritten the cost of helping 460 impoverished Jews make aliyah, along with filling various needs of their resettlement. Over the past five years, Mooneyham has focused on building relationships as an AIPAC activist. He has traveled twice to Israel. A native of Virginia Beach, Staci Eichelbaum attended the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater through eighth grade and traveled to Israel with her eighth grade class in 2005. She became involved with AIPAC in the winter of 2011 after attending AIPAC’s Saban Leadership Seminar with top college student activists. Shortly afterward, she created the first pro-Israel advocacy group on the campus of James Madison University. In the summer of 2012, Eichelbaum interned with AIPAC in the Mid-Atlantic regional office in Baltimore. In December, she traveled with AIPAC on their Advanced Advocacy Mission to Israel. She will graduate from James Madison University this May. Josh Karsh, Southeast Regional Synagogue Initiative director for AIPAC, will also provide a briefing offering insight into the current situation in the Middle East and ways to get involved with the Pro-Israel movement themselves. To RSVP (which is required) by Feb. 6, visit www.aipac.org/OSTBrunch2013 or email or call Josh Karsh at JKarsh@aipac. org or 770-541-7610.
CRC holds Israel Poster contest Tidewater’s first through 12th graders are invited to participate in an Israel Poster contest sponsored by the Community Relations Council of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Students and teachers can find a list of cool facts about Israel at www. jewishva.org/IsraelPosterContest. Each student should choose one fact from the list to serve as the theme of his or her poster. Posters are to be submitted on 11”x17" paper and be hand drawn (not computer generated) only using pencil, crayon, or marker. Names should not be visible on the front of the poster, but must be included along with age, grade, school, email address and phone number. Posters will be displayed in the Simon Family JCC Cardo from Feb. 13 (the second event in the Israel Today series, featuring the very popular Neil Lazarus—see calendar for details) through March 1. The community will vote in person for their favorite. Finalists will then be posted online and the community will be asked to vote for their favorite electronically during the month of March. The artists names will be hidden for both viewing and voting. The winning poster will be announced on April 16 at 7 pm at the third Israel Today event with David Makovsky. The winner will have his/her poster professionally framed and it will hang permanently on the Sandler Family Campus. In addition, attendees of the community Israel Festival on April 28 will receive a copy of the winning poster. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Jan. 28 at 5 pm. Middle School and High School students may create their posters at the BBYO event at the Simon Family JCC Sunday, Jan. 27, 1–3 pm. Submissions can be dropped off in person at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater office located on the second floor of the Sandler Family Campus. For more information on the contest or to RSVP for the Middle School and High School BBYO event on Jan. 27, contact Robin Mancoll at RMancoll@ujft.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 21 JN_Due12-28_Run1-14_Shrew_PP_MO.indd 1 11/16/12 2:11 PM
what’s happening Community members plan to keep their Annual Date with the State Tuesday, Jan. 22 by Laine M. Rutherford
eff Brooke offers advice to those who are unhappy with the current political system and their elected officials: “You have the power, and the responsibility, to do something about it.” As co-chair of the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s legislative action committee, Brooke is helping craft a plan for members of the Tidewater Jewish community to make Sam Leibovici, Jeff Cooper, Helene Silverman, Philip Rovner, Amy Weinstein, and Allison Cooper at 2012 Date with the State. Tidewater’s voice heard by General Assembly politicians in Richmond. While the advocates’ final discussion Brooke and Jeff Cooper, also a co-chair of points are still being honed, the general issues the CRC committee, will lead an organized that community members will highlight group into the offices of the area’s elected del- for this year’s General Assembly members egates and senators to act as advocates for the include items that affect Beth Sholom Home, greater Jewish community next week. Jewish Family Service of Tidewater and the The annual event is known as Date with Virginia Israel Advisory Board. the State, or Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day, “Going to Richmond is an opportunity and it’s not just Tidewater Jewish citizens for us to raise Jewish community issues, and who attend. Jewish community members to make politicians aware of the many numfrom throughout the state gather for lunch, ber of things that our Federation agencies share issues and concerns with one another do,” Cooper says. “We’re partly advocates and are usually visited by the Governor, and partly legislative educators—it’s always the Attorney General and other top state neat to see how pleasantly surprised our officials. This year, the Lieutenant Governer legislators are to learn about the work of will also speak to the group. our agencies and how many people they After lunch, groups separate and visit reach in the community, both Jewish and their local officials, speaking about two non-Jewish.” or three issues important to their respecBy participating in Date with the State, tive areas of the state, ensuring politicians Tidewater citizens are able to experience know the Jewish community is informed democracy in action, says Jeff Brooke. and concerned. “Gathering together to represent the Last year, 34 people traveled with the community, presenting oneself physically in CRC to Richmond. This year, at least that front a legislator, makes them listen to us, many will attend, including for the first time and their attention lets us know that they’re a delegation of members from the Young interested in what we have to say. A lot of Adult Division of the UJFT’s Hineni Group. times they aren’t aware of the issues we’re Cooper says the more people that travel discussing, and we’re bringing it to their on the group bus to Richmond the better, attention for the first time,” Brooke says. and the one-day gathering of Jews from “When we get back, we get to say that we all parts of Virginia imparts a message of were there, pounding on doors, and it made empowerment and solidarity. a difference.” “It brings an awareness to the people who Interested in attending the 2013 Date are acting as advocates from this area, and with the State? RSVP immediately to Robin the politicians, that the Jewish community is Mancoll, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757larger than you might think,” he says. “When 965-6120. For information about this the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and and other upcoming CRC events, and for the Attorney General make the point to come issues and sources relevant to the Tidewater speak at lunch, it lets us know that they take Jewish community and beyond, visit www. the Jewish community seriously.” jewishva.org/crc. 22 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
calendar J A NUA RY 16, WED NES D AY The JCC Seniors Club a t t h e S i m o n F a m il y J C C. B o a r d m e e t i n g 10 : 3 0 a m. C a t e r e d l u n c h a t 12 p m, f o ll o w e d b y g e n e r a l m e e t i n g. M a r s h a Wa lla c e w i t h t h e T i d e w a t e r F r i e n d s o f F o l k M u si c, w ill si n g t r a d i t i o n a l A m e r i c a n f o l k s o n g s a n d p la y d i f f e r e n t m u si c a l I n s t r u m e n t s. J anuary 19 – 27, Saturday t hr o u g h Sunday The 20th Anniversary year of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film , p r e s e n t e d b y A l m a* a n d H o w a r d L a d e r b e r g. O p e n i n g n ig h t a t t h e S a n dl e r C e n t e r i n V i r g i n ia B e a c h ; a ll o t h e r m o v i e s a t t h e R o p e r T h e a t e r i n d o w n t o w n N o r f o l k . S i m o n f a m il y j.o r g f o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n, i n c l u d i n g p a s s e s a n d t i c k e t s. S e e p a g e s 7 a n d 2 0. J anuary 22, T ue s day Community Relations Council’s annual Date With the State . J o i n J e w is h c o m m u n i t y m e m b e r s f r o m a c r o s s t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h a s t h e y c o n v e r g e o n Ri c h m o n d f o r t h is i m p o r t a n t , a n n u a l e v e n t . $ 3 6 h e lp s c o v e r t r a n s p o r t a t i o n a n d l u n c h, w h i c h a r e i n c l u d e d i n t h e d a y a n d w ill h o l d a s p o t. S p a c e is li m i t e d. F o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n o r t o a t t e n d, c o n t a c t R o b i n M a n c o ll, C R C d i r e c t o r, a t R M a n c o ll @ u j f t .o r g n o la t e r t h a n J a n. 18. J anuary 25, F riday Temple Israel will celebrate Shabbat Shirah i n g r a n d s t y l e w i t h S e c o n d P r e s b y t e r i a n C h u r c h a n d a s p e c ia l g u e s t . S y n a g o g u e m e m b e r s w ill j o i n S e c o n d P r e s b y t e r ia n’s c h o i r t o si n g s e v e r a l p r a y e r s a n d s o n g s. S ig n la n g u a g e i n t e r p r e t e r M i n d y B r o w n w ill r e t u r n t o Te m p l e Is r a e l t o b r i n g t h e w o r d s o f t h e p r a y e r s t o li f e. T h e s e r v i c e b e g i n s a t 7: 3 0 p m. J a Nua Ry 27, s uNday Super Sunday , C o m m u n i t y P h o n e - a - t h o n. T h e e n t i r e J e w is h c o m m u n i t y o f T i d e w a t e r c a n b e a p a r t o f e n s u r i n g t h a t J e w is h li v e s a r e e n r i c h e d a n d J e w is h c u l t u r e e n d u r e s t h r o u g h p a r t i c ip a t i o n i n S u p e r S u n d a y, T i d e w a t e r ’s a n n u a l p h o n e - a - t h o n. Vo l u n t e e r s a r e n e e d e d t o m a k e c a lls, a n d t h e c o m m u n i t y c a n s h o w i t c a r e s b y a n s w e r i n g t h e p h o n e a n d m a ki n g a p l e d g e w h e n c a ll e d. To v o l u n t e e r a n d f o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n, v isi t w w w.j e w is h v a.o r g, o r c a ll 75 7- 9 6 5 - 610 0. S e e p a g e 12. F EB RUA RY 3, S UND AY Brith Sholom’s meeting w ill t a k e pla c e a t t h e B e t h S h olo m H o m e. B o a r d m ee t ing b egins a t 10 a m. G en er al M ee t ing a t 11 a m f ollo w ed b y b r u n c h. Brith Sholom’s Super Bowl Party b egins a t 5 p m in B e t h S h olo m H o m e’s a u di t o r iu m. T h e f o o t b all ga m e s t a r t s a t 6 p m. F o o d is ser v ed b egin ning a t 5 p m. $ 5 p er p er so n. Tw o k inds o f c hili, k osh er h o t dogs, k osh er deli sa nd w ic h es, c hips, dip a nd r elish t r a y s. C all 4 61-115 0 f o r r eser v a t io ns.
F ebruary 13, W edne s day Israel Today series s p o n s o r e d b y C o m m u n i t y R e la t i o n s C o u n c il a n d c o m m u n i t y p a r t n e r s c o n t i n u e s w i t h N e il L a z a r u s f o c u si n g o n D ip l o m a c y f r o m Is r a e l To d a y. A n e x p e r t o n Is r a e l a d v o c a c y a n d e f f e c t i v e p u b li c s p e a k i n g, L a z a r u s h a s s e r v e d a s a c o n s u l t a n t f o r t h e Is r a e li M i n is t r y o f F o r e ig n A f f a i r s, J e w is h F e d e r a t i o n s, a n d T h e Wo r l d B a n k , a m o n g m a n y o t h e r s. H e is t h e a u t h o r o f The 5 Rules of Ef fec tive Is rael Advocacy . H e w ill s p e a k w i t h h ig h s c h o o l a n d c o ll e g e s t u d e n t s o v e r a f r e e d i n n e r a t 5 : 3 0 p m ( R S V P r e q u i r e d t o J J o h n s o n @ u j f t .o r g ) a n d a t 7 p m t o t h e c o m m u n i t y ( R S V P r e q u e s t e d J J o h n s o n @ u j f t .o r g ). B o t h e v e n t s t a k e p la c e o n t h e S a n dl e r F a m il y C a m p u s. F ebruary 18, M o nday Film and discussion a s p a r t o f t h e C o m m u n i t y R e la t i o n s C o u n c il ’s S t e p U p f o r Is r a e l s e r i e s. Wa t c h t h e f il m, Mode rn Is rael a n d e n j o y d is c u s si o n f o ll o w i n g w i t h R a b b i S e n d e r H a b e r. L e a r n a b o u t Is r a e l ’s d y n a m i c, i n n o v a t i v e a n d h u m a n i t a r ia n s o c i e t y. T h is c la s s s h o w s h o w Is r a e l h a s b e c o m e a n i n v a l u a b l e a s s e t a n d m a k e s t h e w o r l d a b e t t e r p la c e. 7p m. A t B ’n a i Is r a e l C o n g r e g a t i o n, 4 2 0 S p o t s w o o d Av e n u e, N o r f o l k . R S V P t o J J o h n s o n @ u j f t.o r g b y F e b. 14. Send submissions for calendar to news @ ujf t.org. Be sure to note “calendar” in the subject. Include date, event name, sponsor, address, time, cost and phone.
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who knew? Adam Greenberg signs minor league deal with Baltimore Orioles Jewish player Adam Greenberg will resume his professional baseball career after signing a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Greenberg, 31, signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles and will work to get a spot on their Class AAA farm team, The Norfolk Tides. Chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the ninth round of the 2002 draft, Greenberg was beaned in his only Major League atbat, as a pinch-hitter on July 9, 2005. He suffered a concussion. Greenberg was released by the Cubs
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The Tidewater Jewish Foundation seeks an organized, team-oriented individual to handle day-to-day administrative duties. Successful candidate must have highly developed written and verbal communication skills, advanced critical thinking, ability to multitask, with a superior attention to detail. Must be able to handle extremely confidential and sensitive information, work independently with minimal supervision. The Donor Relations Coordinator assists in enhancing, the effectiveness of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation (TJF) by providing optimal information and administrative support to the CEO, CFO, Donor Services Manager, and Controller. This position has a combination of administrative and fiscal responsibilities to support a fast paced, professional work environment. Duties may include, but are not limited to; assisting donors in resolving inquiries, maintaining meeting schedules preparation of financial reports and donor gift acknowledgements, writing professional memos and preparing correspondence, plan and schedule meetings, special events, conferences and travel. Professional appearance and attitude required. Qualifications: • Associate Degree; Bachelor’s Degree preferred. • Administrative experience • Proficient use of Windows and MS Office (Word Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher) • Ability to understand and work within structure of customized database • Ability to navigate and conduct research on the internet. • Working knowledge of Social Media usage • Knowledge of and appreciation for Jewish culture, heritage and traditions For the detail position summary, please visit us at www.jewishva.org. Forward resume with salary requirements to email@example.com or call Human Resources (757) 965‑6117. EOE. The Tidewater Jewish Foundation is firmly committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity for all qualified persons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, non-disqualifying disability, genetic information or military status.
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jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 23
book review A kind of Viennese “Downton Abbey” The Hare with the Amber Eyes Edmund de Waal Picador Books, 2010 354 pages, $16.00 (paper) ISBN 978-0-312-56937-2
his powerful family history was a best seller a little over a year ago; its appearance in paperback prompted a reread. Your reviewer, Hal Sacks believing this unique, if flawed work is so unusual as to warrant a second look (especially in a year that suffered a relative dearth of great new works), offers the following review. When Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of 264 Japanese miniature carvings (netsuke—pronounced net-s’kay) he began a journey to discover who had held them and how they had survived. De Waal, a noted ceramicist, found himself drawn deeper and deeper into the story of the netsuke and of five generations of his family, the fabulously wealthy and powerful Ephrussis. A remarkable book about a remarkable family, the Ephrussis lifted themselves from the poverty of a Ukrainian shtetl to great wealth and power as the largest grain merchants in Europe. Originally headquartered in Odessa, the family branched out into banking and oil with family dynasties in Paris and Vienna rivaling the great Rothschild clan itself. But who ever heard of them? Now, of course, one can Google the name and there are many references and even a video. However, their story was buried deep within the ranks of obscurity until de Waal peeled back the layers of time, using the travels of the collection of netsuke as a device connecting the past with the present. As the author lays out the family history with exhaustive and at times exhausting descriptions of the homes, furnishings, clothes, jewelry, and art collections of each generation, the reader may find it frequently necessary to refer to the genealogical chart provided in the front of the book. We quickly learn that the eldest son inherits the responsibility of running the business, regardless of ability or proclivity. So what
does the younger son do? He becomes a collector, a patron of the arts, a boulevardier. Thus, the story of the netsuke begins with great-great uncle, Charles, of the Paris branch, living in a palatial mansion, patron of such artists as Renoir and Degas and founder of a noted journal of the arts. At first the irony of Charles, the powerful and wealthy Jew befriended by artists like Degas, a notoriously outspoken antiSemite, escapes us. But in retrospect there is a foreshadowing of events as the waves of Jew-hating during the Dreyfus era seem to affect the family’s life only superficially. Turning to the Viennese branch of the Ephrussi family, the author presents his subjects in such a sympathetic fashion that one almost forgets to be critical of these effete and very peripheral Jews. Their enormous wealth—and perhaps denial of anti-Semitism—permits them to mingle with nobility. The reader is treated to a kind of Viennese Downton Abbey, with plentiful glimpses of the principals of noblesse oblige. Great-grandmother Emma has little to occupy her life other than managing her wardrobe, rotating among her lovers, and attending high society salons, opera, and theater. The author’s grandmother, Elizabeth, is the one woman of her generation to break out, achieve a real education and have a semblance of a career. We are introduced to the faithful retainers; Anna, Emma’s maid, manages to save the netsuke from being plundered by the Austrian brownshirts and the Nazis. In the end, the Ephrussis are helpless and ineffective, even when opportunities to save themselves were presented. The Shoah and the fires of World War II claim most of the family and just about all of their riches. And, most sadly, their story is revealed by a descendant who is the son of a Christian cleric. Proud if unobservant Jews that they were, their Judaism was lost along the way through conversion and intermarriage. Edmund de Waal has given us a fascinating text, full of the results of dedicated research, yet without a single footnote or reference. How much is faithful to the scant documents uncovered and how much is the result of skillful interpolation is not clear. Writing is not his profession, yet he has written with great sensitivity and skillful use of description. He has given us the story of the Ephrussi family. Now we know who they were. —Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for 30 years.
24 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
Nathan Larry Asher Norfolk—Nathan Larry Asher, 55, died unexpectedly on Jan. 1, 2013. He was the son of the late Ben and Zelda Asher. Survivors include a daughter, Jennifer Marie Spinks and husband Sean of Raleigh, N.C.; a son, Nathan Joshua Asher and wife Sara of Virginia Beach; a sister, Annette and husband Mark; a grandson Caleb; an uncle, Bill Abrams; two nephews, Jonathan and Joshua; and several cousins. A graveside service was held in Chevra T’helim Cemetery by Rabbi Michael Panitz. Sturtevant Funeral Home. Pearl Cohen Brenner Virginia Beach—Pearl Cohen Brenner passed away on Dec. 24, 2012. Born June 5, 1921 in Norfolk, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Cohen, she graduated from Maury High School and at age 19 married Freddie Brenner of Norfolk. The couple, who were together for 57 years until Freddie’s death in 1998, had three children, sons Joey and Michael, both of blessed memory, and daughter Jacie. Pearl is survived by Jacie, her husband Steve Newberg, granddaughter Stacie and her husband Mike Remington; daughterin-law Marilyn Brenner, granddaughter Jodi and grandson Howard, his wife Michelle and their daughter Lindsay; Pearl’s granddaughter Beth, daughter of Michael and Michele, also of blessed memory; as well as her sister Miriam Weisberg and brother Harry Cohen. Known to her customers as “Mizz Pearl,” she worked in sales and the credit department for 30 years for Home Furniture, Furniture World and Quality Furniture. Pearl then spent 12 years at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, first at the front desk answering phones and greeting the public and later on the sixth floor, where she comforted loved ones whose families were undergoing treatment in the neurological -trauma center. In 2002 the Sentara Health System named her its Employee of the Year. Pearl was always “fun to be around,” according to family and friends who remember her as a hard working, caring and devoted mother and wife who loved to tell jokes, particularly in Yiddish dialect. An eager babysitter, Pearl treated all her nephews and nieces as if they were her own children. She was the life of any party, a good dancer, mahjong player, water skier and a flashy dresser, who shared mini-skirts with her daughter in the 1960s. She and Freddie, who were founding members of Temple Israel, were also loyal Norfolk Tides fans, duckpin bowlers and beach goers.
Her loving and dedicated daughter Jacie is grateful for the incredible care provided by the staff at the Berger Goldrich Home at Beth Sholom Village, where her mother spent the last five years of her life. Funeral services and burial took place at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Donations can be made to either Beth Sholom Village or Temple Israel. Lynne Friedman Virginia Beach—Lynne Friedman (nee Weidenfeld). Beloved wife of the late Robert; devoted mother of Richard (Marsha) Friedman of Akron, Robyn (Errol) Liebowitz of Virginia Beach, and Randi Friedman of Ann Arbor, Mich.; cherished grandmother of Sam (Lindsey) Friedman, Joshua Friedman, Sarah (Dovi) Braun of Johannesburg, Zachary and Robert Liebowitz of Virginia Beach; dear sister of Gertrude and Mildred Weidenfeld and the following deceased: Loretta Hillebrand, Saul and Irwin Weidenfeld. Services were held at Berkowitz-KuminBookatz Memorial Chapel in Cleveland Heights. Interment was in Mt. Olive Cemetery. Contributions are suggested to the Robert & Lynne Friedman Scholarship Fund C/O Menorah Park. Annette Halprin Norfolk—Annette Halprin, 85, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 at Beth Sholom Home in Virginia Beach. She was retired from the King Koil/ Paramont Bedding Company. Born in Norfolk, she was the daughter of the late Ida Solomon Comess and Jack Comess, and was the widow of Burton Z. Halprin. Mrs. Halprin was a founding member of Temple Israel and was a member of its Sisterhood. She was an avid Mah Jongg maven, loyal Old Dominion University basketball fan of both the men and Lady Monarchs. One of her great joys was spending time with her family and a close circle of friends. Annette embraced life and never met a stranger. Left to cherish her memory is her daughter, Diane Harrell and husband, Frank of Virginia Beach; her son, William Halprin and wife, Jeri Jo of Norfolk; grandchildren, Byron Harrell and wife, Amie of Virginia Beach, Brian Halprin and Laura Yin of Baltimore, Md., and Peri Halprin of New York City; one great grandchild, Brayden Harrell; a sister, Esta Kreisman and husband, Ray of Virginia Beach; her sister-in-law, Mona Belkov and husband, Irvin of Virginia Beach; her brother-in-law, Jack Halprin of Florida;
obituaries and a number of nieces and nephews. A graveside service was conducted at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Michael Panitz officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Temple Israel or Beth Sholom Home. Norfolk Chapel of H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Arlene Helen Lowenthal Norfolk—Arlene Helen Lowenthal, 86, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 in a Virginia Beach healthcare center. She was a retired school teacher having taught in Pittsburgh, Pa. and for a short time in Norfolk. Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., she was the daughter of the late Esther and Saul Goldberg. Mrs. Lowenthal was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in elementary education, where she was also a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. She was a member of Olef Sholom Temple, Hadassah, and O.R.T. She is survived by her beloved husband, Bert Lowenthal; a son, Alan Lowenthal and his wife, Kristi of Detroit, Mich.; and four grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a son, Robert W. Lowenthal, and a sister, Betty Velgich. A funeral service took place at H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts. with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg and Cantor Wally SchachetBriskin officiating. Burial will take place in Pittsburgh, Pa. in West View Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or to the charity of the donor’s choice. Gerald Petock Norfolk—Gerald “Jerry” Petock, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend passed away after a long illness. The son of the late Herman and Dora Petock, Jerry was born on Sept. 17, 1931 in Portsmouth, Va. He graduated from Wilson High School and attended Richmond Polytechnical Institute. He spent a long career with Brenner Companies managing Tidewater Disposal and later formed JNT Corporation with his brother. He was also a longtime volunteer at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and served on the board of the Beth Sholom Home. Until his passing, he was surrounded by friends, family, and his caring and loving wife of 52 years. He is survived by his wife Judy Seldes Petock and by his adoring and devoted daughters and sons-in-law, Amy and David Nisenson of Richmond, Va. and Mindy and Art Bloom of Winston-Salem, N.C.
Jerry was the heart of a large extended family and what he loved most was being “Poppy” to his beloved grandson Daniel Nisenson and granddaughters Stacey Nisenson and Austin Bloom. He is also survived by his brother and sisterin-law Norman and Selma Petock and sister and brother-in-law Edward and Sara Rosenbaum. He was a treasured cousin, uncle, and great uncle and he loved to visit with members of the family. He grew up in Gomley Chesed Synagogue in Portsmouth and spent the last 25 years at Ohef Sholom Temple. Jerry knew no limits when it came to showing affection for his family and he generously shared stories and reminiscences with everyone. He had a keen sense of humor and everyone who knew him felt his warmth and kindness. He will be missed by his many friends and extended family. Funeral services were held in the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Burial followed at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to Jewish Women International, 2000 M Street, NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20036, (800) 343-2823, jwi.org, or Hadassah, 50 W. 58th Street, New York, NY 10019, (866) 2292395, Hadassah.org. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences at hdoliver.com. Frances Saperstein Virginia Beach—Frances Saperstein, 89, passed away Dec. 26, 2012. She is survived by her two daughters Judy Saperstein and Gayle Sorrell. She also is survived by three grandchildren Jason and Becky Silverstein, Geni and Chuck Wilson, Joel and Shannon Sorrell, and one loving great-grandchild Leia Silverstein. She will be dearly missed by family and friends. Condolences can be made at www.altmeyer.com. Sara Belle Behrman Schapiro Norfolk—Sara Belle Behrman Schapiro, 92, passed away Dec. 19, 2012. She was a native of Portsmouth and a resident of Norfolk. She was the daughter of the late Abraham Behrman and Ida Siegel Behrman. She was the sister of the late Bernard, Aaron, and Julian Behrman. She was an active volunteer for the John Knox Towers Residents Association. She retired from The MacArthur Memorial Foundation. She is survived by nieces Gloria B. Ornoff and Sharon B. Schloss and nephew Barry S. Behrman.
Polish writer Teresa Toranska Teresa Toranska, a Polish journalist and writer who wrote several books chronicling Polish-Jewish history, died in Warsaw. Toranska, a native of Volkovysk, now Belarus, died Jan. 3, the day after her 69th birthday. In 2011 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her most famous book is Them: Stalin’s Polish Puppets, which includes interviews with communist dignitaries. The book could not be published officially when she wrote it and instead circulated in the underground. Now it is taught at universities around the world. She authored several books on PolishJewish history, including We are, about Jews who emigrated after the Polish government’s anti-Semitic campaign in March 1968, and “Death is a minute too late,” about Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors. Toranska also wrote the screenplay for Gdansk Station, a film about Polish immigrants living in Israel. A well-known Polish journalist, Toranska received many awards for her work. (JTA)
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Approved by all area Rabbis and Chevrah Kadisha jewishnewsva.org | January 14, 2013 | Jewish News | 25
Face to face
Janet Weinstein Mercadante: The value of giving
by Karen Lombart
s an investment advisor and partner with the firm, The Alcaraz Mercadante West Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Janet Mercadante takes the responsibility of investing her clients’ money very seriously. For 22 years, she has helped people plan for their retirements by managing their personal wealth portfolios and consulting with businesses about their corporate retirement plans. Her mother, Grace W. Weinstein, a pioneer in the finance industry, was a freelance writer, a member of the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board, a columnist for the Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily, editor of Money Matters newsletter and the author of more than a dozen books. She balanced family, work and community involvement, inspiring her daughter to do the same. Beyond work, Mercadante’s life passions include her family, friends and the Jewish community. Her daughter, Samantha, is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis and will spend the spring semester as a State Department intern at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Her 16-year-old son, Jared, spent a month in Israel last summer and hopes to do the same again this year. When first new to Tidewater, Mercadante’s community involvement was defined by her gift to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s annual campaign. “I received the Super Sunday phone call, and gave my obligatory pledge. I thought that I was doing enough until I realized that my gift felt empty,” she admits. Wanting to feel connected, Mercadante began to volunteer. As her involvement increased, so did her understating of the Jewish community. “In time, the value of my gift became evident. I could clearly see the richness of the Jewish community’s infrastructure and the many compelling reasons to give,” she says. Growing up Jewish was easy in Teaneck, N. J. in a community of 40,000 people with six synagogues. “I was enveloped in a world where everyone felt like family,” Mercadante says. “As a young girl,” she continues, “I loved going to Friday night and Saturday morning services at Congregation Beth Sholom. I spent a lot of time socializing with my friends. Our lives were intertwined because we spent our days together in secular school and then Hebrew
school two days a week and Sunday school and services on the weekends.” “My parents were very practical and arranged my Bat Mitzvah in the spring so that we could have an outdoor party even though my birthday was in February,” Mercadante laughs. Her simcha turned out to be a milestone for the Conservative temple when she became the first female to have a Saturday morning ceremony. In 1987, Mercadante married her college boyfriend from University of Rochester, where they both studied. From Randolph, Mass., Rick Mercadante was brought up in an Italian, Catholic home, in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Willing to raise their children in a Jewish environment, he needed the reassurance that their experience would be more than just a trip to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Mercadante still remembers her husband’s one poignant question, “Why is it so important to you?” She knew the answer immediately. Mercadante wanted to give her children the same sense of extended family that she had experienced. She wanted them to know the strength of shared communal values and the joy of Jewish celebration. When the couple moved to Tidewater, she shopped for a synagogue until her husband suggested it was time to select a “home.” Mercadante felt most comfortable at Temple Emanuel because it was welcoming and intimate. To this day, she and her family are happy with her decision. When she was asked to become a board member in 2004, Mercadante took the position with her husband’s encouragement. Sitting on the synagogue board for five years, she became finance chair and a member of the executive committee. Mercadante also served as the United Hebrew School’s president. She admits, “It’s not easy for children to attend classes after they finish a full day of school. I learned, ironically, it is the parents’ responsibility to demonstrate the right attitude, because ultimately it shapes the behavior of their children. I hope the depth of my commitment was evident to my children when they saw me volunteering. I feel fortunate that they received their education in a school setting.” Shortly after her presidency in 2009, the UJFT women’s campaign arranged a leadership trip to Richmond’s Virginia Holocaust Museum. Honored to be asked to participate, Mercadante thought that it might be interesting to spend the day with other
26 | Jewish News | January 14, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
women passionate about Jewish community. She enjoyed the diverse group who talked intimately about their volunteerism. “We came with different familial backgrounds, from varying neighborhoods, and from multiple synagogue affiliations, and yet we could all feel the strength of our community. It was the commonality between us that was more powerful than the differences,” Mercadante emphasizes. For that reason alone, she knew she had spent her time well. The women told stories about their involvement with Janet Weinstein Mercadante on the balcony of Hotel Parque Central the Federation affiliated agen- in Havana, Cuba. cies. Everyone enjoyed the bus conversations, the laughter, the meals and the museum tour, which pro- Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) vided experiential learning, quite different was able to reassemble it from the rubble left from Washington, DC’s Holocaust Museum. by Communism and to this day, continues Just a year later, she was asked to be to look after it. In front of us stood a grateful a member of UJFT’s Women’s Campaign community that overtly clings to its heritage Cabinet. She had already learned that her by relying on the kindness and generosity past perception of the group’s exclusivity, of Jews outside of Havana,” she explains. proved to be a myth. “I quickly came to “The Jewish experience flourishes because realize that the Federation volunteers ask the JDC astutely provides bus transportafor money because they are dedicated to the tion from the outlying neighborhoods to the wellbeing of the Jewish community and it is synagogue. I came back to the States with a that commitment which bonds them. They mental image of the pride and happiness on work hard to inspire others and they give of the community members’ faces.” their time,” she says. Coincidently, several of her friends from “Through my own solicitations, I have the trip are also participants in UJFT’s found it extremely challenging to translate a Business and Legal Affinity Group, a newly firsthand experience into a conversation that formed association. Mercadante serves resonates with another donor,” Mercadante on its committee and often describes the admits. That is one of the reasons why she events, as “a backstage pass to many wonis excited about the new Jewish Women’s derful speakers and presentations catering Salon, a program of 614 eZine in Tidewater. to its members’ interests.” She loves the fact that the community is When she thinks of all the things that she willing to bring together a diverse group of has experienced, she points to the sign above women to participate in relevant and con- her kitchen door given to her by a friend sevtroversial conversations. The program offers eral years ago, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” participants a common experience such as With her brilliant smile she adds, “You watching a movie or reading an article and know everyone has his or her challenges, then a forum to engage in a meaningful dia- but it is important to find the courage logue. Skilled at listening, Mercadante was to walk through those moments, realize one of the seminar leaders for the showing where they fit into the big picture and then of the film, Miss Representation, and its sub- put them behind you.” With her genuine sequent dialogue. radiance, her unwavering positive attitude After a four-day UJFT women’s mission and her desire to live life to its fullest, to Cuba, Mercadante’s perception of the Mercadante turns each day into an asset Jewish world has taken on new meaning. and weaves her life purpose and the rich“When I witnessed Cuba’s Jewish vibrancy, ness of her relationships into the fabric of I was awed to find out that the American her life.
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Jewish News Jan. 14