Southeastern Virginia | Vol. 53 No. 14 | 3 Nissan 5775 | March 23, 2015
Israeli Election Recap
7 Tom Hofheimer Revisited
16 Tidewater Together March 26â€“ 29 Rabbi Sharon Brous
20 Standing Room Only at documentary premiere
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36 AIPAC Conference draws record number
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upfront Christians United for Israel presses uncommitted Dems on Iran bill WASHINGTON (JTA)—Christians United for Israel published full-page newspaper ads in the home states of four Democratic senators urging them to back a bill that would mandate congressional approval of any Iran nuclear deal. The ads appeared Monday, March 16 in the Billings Gazette in Montana, the New York Post, The Star-Ledger in New Jersey and the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia. They are targeting Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mark Warner of Virginia. CUFI, whose leader, Pastor John Hagee, has been sharply critical of the Obama administration, also canvassed followers in the states to call and email the senators. President Barack Obama has said he will veto the bill, arguing that its passage could scuttle nuclear negotiations now underway between Iran and the major powers. “Every senator should know that our two million members are speaking for the overwhelming majority of Americans,” Hagee said in a statement. “We will all be paying close attention to the actions these senators take in the coming weeks.”
Arafat was not poisoned, French prosecutor says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat did not die of poisoning, a French prosecutor said. The prosecutor told the French news agency AFP that French experts found that Arafat was not poisoned, despite rumors to the contrary. Arafat’s widow, Suha, had filed legal
action in July 2012 asking French authorities in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre to look into claims that her husband was poisoned. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat’s belongings. French prosecutors in August 2012 opened a murder inquiry into Arafat’s death. After the opening of the inquiry, Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah was opened to allow teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to collect samples. Suha Arafat based her lawsuit on a 108-page report released to her by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, which maintains that the theory that Arafat was poisoned is most consistent with their results. Russian experts have maintained that Arafat was not poisoned. The French experts “maintain that the polonium 210 and lead 210 found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples are of an environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis told AFP. Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. He fell violently ill in October 2004 and died two weeks later, at 75, in a Paris military hospital. The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some had contended that Arafat died of AIDS. Many Palestinians continue to believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an obstacle to peace. Israel has denied any involvement. (JTA)
contents Up Front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Torah Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 French aliyah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Tom Hofheimer Revisited. . . . . . . . . . . 7 News Analysis—Israel’s elections . . . . 8 CCAR’s new gay president. . . . . . . . . 12 Victory for Netanyahu . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Barbara Mikulski departing. . . . . . . . 15 Tidewater Together. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Across Oceans and Generations. . . . . 20 Passover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 AIPAC’s Policy Conference. . . . . . . . . 36
Buenos Aires recognized for ecosystem program following Israeli model
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA)—Buenos Aires was named the winner of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress’ Cities Challenge 2015 for expanding its entrepreneurial ecosystem following an Israeli model. Mariano Mayer, the city’s secretary of entrepreneurship, accepted the prize on Tuesday, March 17 in Milan, Italy. More than 50 cities around the world applied and were considered for the recognition. Buenos Aires implemented the plan supporting incubators and start-ups inspired by the Israeli Start-Up Nation model. One member of the jury selecting the incubators was Shlomi Schwartzblat, CEO of the Jerusalem-based Van Leer Technology Center. The program offers financial support, networking events and assistance in entrepreneurship to local entrepreneurs and start-ups. Universities and research and development centers also are part of the ecosystem. Mayer and Enrique Avogadro, secretary of creative industries for Buenos Aires, flew to Tel Aviv two years ago to learn about the Israeli innovation. “After this first contact with the Israeli entrepreneurial model, I then traveled again alone to start to work with innovators, academics and officials to study the possibility of founding a program inspired by the Israeli successful model,” Mayer told JTA. Local entrepreneurs visited Israel to learn how to market themselves globally, and they described their experiences on the city government’s website.
quotable Yad’s Purimpalooza. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Book Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hebrew Ladies Charity Society . . . . . It’s a Wrap. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What’s Happening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calendar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Appreciation: Meyera Oberndorf. . . .
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COVER: Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the “Likud” party Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at the Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv on March 18, 2015, after the exit polls in the Israeli general elections were announced, with PM Netanyahu claiming victory. Photo by Miriam Alster/ FLASH90
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briefs Israel imports Gaza produce for first time in nearly eight years Israel imported fruits and vegetables from the Gaza Strip for the first time in nearly eight years. In an apparent easing of the long-term economic blockade, the first truckloads of tomatoes and eggplants crossed the border on Thursday, March 12. Before the Hamas takeover of Gaza eight years ago, Gaza farmers exported produce to Israel on a daily basis. Until this month, the only produce that crossed from Gaza to Israel was two truckloads of palm tree shoots used on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and known as lulavs. Before June 2007, more than 85 percent of all goods shipped from Gaza were sold in Israel and the West Bank, including produce, furniture and textile products, according to the human rights group Gisha. The decision to bring in produce from Gaza reportedly stems in part from a deficit of homegrown produce due to the shmitta, or biblical fallow year. “Top Israeli security officials have said that Gaza’s reconstruction and economic recovery are an Israeli interest and may help bring calm and stability to the region,” Gisha’s executive director, Eitan Diamond, said. “We hope that the resumption of sales to Israel becomes permanent and is expanded to additional sectors in Gaza, giving its residents a horizon for economic development.” (JTA) Report praises Israel’s effort to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza Israel’s military went far beyond its legal obligation last summer during its Gaza operation to prevent civilian casualties, according to a report by a panel of former senior U.S. military officials and legal experts. The Gaza Conflict Task Force report, which was released Wednesday, March 11, was commissioned by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, or JINSA. The task force called the conflict “Hybrid Warfare: where non-state actors equipped with advanced weapons operate in densely populated urban areas, disregarding the safety of civilians and capitalizing on its enemy’s efforts to comply with the law.” The report praised the Israel Defense
Forces for its effort to limit civilian casualties, such as alerting residents in a targeted area through phone calls, leaflets and low impact explosives, but also emphasized that the United States and Israel should study the conflict in order to find a balance between mitigating civilian casualties and achieving mission objectives. Michael Makovsky, JINSA’s chief executive officer, said the task force compiled the report after making a fact-finding mission to Israel, where they met with Israeli, United Nations and Palestinians officials, as well as analyzing primary and secondary research. JINSA, a Washington-based nonprofit group, advocates for a strong U.S. military relationship with Israel. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Israel of committing war crimes and violations of the laws of war during its Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza. (JTA)
Steve Tisch gives $10 million to Tel Aviv U. for film and TV school Steve Tisch, a film producer and New York Giants co-owner, has donated $10 million to Tel Aviv University to create a film and television school. Tisch’s gift, which was first reported by Variety, allows the university to expand its film and television department to a film school, which will be called the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television. Tisch, the scion of a philanthropic family, told Variety that he was inspired to make the gift after serving as the honorary chair in 2014 for the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival. Previous film and television graduates of the program at Tel Aviv University include Oscar nominee Ari Folman, Homeland creator Gideon Raff and Hagai Levy, who co-created In Treatment and The Affair. Tisch himself is an Oscar winner as a producer of Forrest Gump, and he has also produced other hits such as Risky Business and American History X. The Giants have won two Super Bowl rings while Tisch has served as the football team’s co-owner and chairman. The Tisch family, which co-founded and still runs the Loews Corp. conglomerate, has been known for its generosity to Jewish and secular causes. New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is
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named for Tisch’s father and uncle, Preston Robert Tisch and Laurence Tisch, respectively, who endowed the school in the 1980s, and his first cousin, James Tisch, is currently the CEO of Loews. (JTA)
Jim Joseph Foundation awards $24 million in grants The Jim Joseph Foundation is making major grants for teen education and programs for the outdoors as part of a planned $24 million in allocations. The grants were announced earlier this month after the San Francisco-based organization’s winter meeting. Many of the programs to be funded involve education and Jewish identity-building programs. Some of the biggest recipients include up to some $7.5 million set up to support programs focusing on Jewish outdoor, food and environmental education. The grantees include Hazon and Wilderness Torah. A similar amount of money was set aside for teen initiatives, with up to approximately $3.2 million in matching funds allocated to support Jewish spring break experiences through the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and up to some $4.2 million in matching funds going to the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles to support Jewish teen education programs. (JTA) UCLA student government passes resolution condemning anti-Semitism The undergraduate student government of UCLA unanimously passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, March 10, the Undergraduate Students Association Council voted 12–0 for the measure after more than 100 students spoke in support of it, The Daily Bruin student newspaper reported. The resolution calls on the student government to fight anti-Semitism and condemns recent incidents of anti-Semitism on University of California campuses, including the questioning last month of Rachel Beyda, a Jewish member of the UCLA student government, by fellow members about whether she can be impartial because of her religious ties. It also noted swastikas painted on the door of a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis.
The resolution also calls for diversity training for student government members and an end to the demonization of Israel, but leaves room for “appropriate and acceptable criticism of Israel.” Members of the campus Hillel and Council President Avinoam Baral drafted the resolution, according to the Daily Bruin. The Jewish Voice for Peace organization in a statement issued after the vote said it was “deeply concerned” that the resolution “further enshrines long-standing political efforts to silence legitimate criticism of the state of Israel by codifying its inclusion in the definition of anti-Semitism.” Also, the student government voted to make the video of the Feb. 10 hearing that included the questioning of Beyda available on YouTube. (JTA)
Man rips down swastika display in Sacramento A non-Jewish man tore down a swastika display from a home in Sacramento. “I felt compelled to do what I did,” Robert Dixon was quoted as saying by the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday, March 10 after ripping down the display the previous night in the suburban River Park neighborhood. The display featured American and Israeli flags adorned with swastikas. Dixon left a Palestinian flag flying, the Bee reported. State lawmakers had been working to have the display removed through legal channels since it was erected several weeks ago. Dixon told the newspaper that he and the homeowner exchanged a few words as Dixon tore down the display. “I called him a coward and he called me a violent extremist something,” Dixon said. On March 10, the homeowner posted a new sign written in blue letters reading, “Terrorism? Violent Intolerant Extremism fanatical heretical authoritarian racist.” Dixon said he also protested at the University of California, Davis, in January after the student senate adopted a resolution calling for the University of California to divest from companies doing business with Israel. On Monday, March 9, hundreds gathered in Sacramento on the steps of the California state capitol for a rally against anti-Semitism and recent anti-Semitic incidents. (JTA)
WISHING YOU A
The stories that shape us
n the Haber household there were five questions at the seder. The fifth was the result of my grandfather’s insistence on running his matzah under cold water. Why did Zaidie run his matzah under the tap? He said he liked it better that way. It was easier on his teeth, and—it emerges—that is what his mother did. As an adult looking back, I realize that there is very little I know about the woman who was my great-grandmother. One thing I do know is that she rinsed her matzah before she ate it. More importantly, I know that she ate matzah, that she had a seder, and that she was a link in a chain 100 generations long. She came to American shores determined to remember our exodus from Egypt. She made sure to relay that experience and the accompanying feelings of gratitude to her children and grandchildren. Today, the great-greatgreat-grandchildren of that woman who washed her matzah continue to celebrate their freedom from slavery each Passover. In this column, the historicity of our holidays has been questioned, using the lens of contemporary academia to cast doubts on our traditional version of events. I take a different approach. Academics are experts in their fields and have much to teach us, but they should be looking to us, who celebrate these events yearly, if they really want to get an accurate picture of what happened in ancient times. Last year, Jewish Tidewater was up
in arms when the public school boards elected to schedule school on Saturdays. Those students, parents and community leaders who went to bat for the Sabbath were the Maccabees of Tidewater. They were continuing in the tradition of their ancestors and inspired—I believe—by the collective memory of a Chanukah story and Maccabean pride that no historian can take away from us. Last month, Jews around Tidewater celebrated Purim, yet another inspiring story that is deeply rooted in our communal psyche. Whether we agreed with his politics or not, we were proud to see the Prime Minister of Israel stand before Congress on behalf of the Jews and draw his inspiration from Queen Esther and her brave stand before Achashveirosh. From generation to generation we share the stories, the memories and the acts of heroism that are most meaningful to us. We remember the terrible tragedies, but we also remember how G-d has made the most unlikely, impossible and unbelievable stories happen for us. He does it because he loves us. These aren’t just folk tales, legends or myths. They are our story. They form the very basis of what we believe, who we are, and the legacy that we are proud to pass on to our children. This Passover, I encourage you to make the Passover story your own. Tell the traditional tale, but make it personal by adding your own story of salvation. Tell your family about the time G-d got you out of a tight space and made things better. Show your children how the stories of our personal miracles are interwoven with the story of our miraculous survival as a people. These are the stories that we can never forget and will always believe. Wishing you a joyous and meaningful Passover. —Rabbi Sender Haber, B’nai Israel
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Aliyah debate exposes French Jewry’s internal fault lines by Cnaan Liphshiz
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PARIS (JTA)—A burst of applause greeted Holocaust survivor Marek Halter and his close friend, Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, as they entered the Synagogue de la Victoire together in January. Halter, author and friend of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, is known for his outreach to moderate Muslims, and his appearance with Chalghoumi at the packed synagogue was seen as a hopeful sign after the murder of four Jews two days earlier at a kosher supermarket. As the rising tide of anti-Semitic violence in France has led to record levels of immigration to Israel, Halter has emerged as a leading voice urging French Jews not to flee. In January, he published a 63-page manifesto, titled Reconcile Amongst Yourselves, that urged French Muslims and Jews to work together to make France a more tolerant place for minorities. French Jews should “stay and fight for their place in society instead of packing their bags and leaving in the face of adversity,” Halter says. Halter is among the most prominent French Jews to urge his coreligionists to stick it out in France, but his campaign is exposing tensions between integration-minded progressives—many of them Ashkenazi, like himself—and a more insular Sephardic majority that favors aliyah. Sephardic Jews are believed to constitute a disproportionate number of French immigrants to Israel—80–90 percent, according to Sergio DellaPergola, a sociologist at Hebrew University. Overall, Sephardim represent about two-thirds of French Jewry. The overrepresentation of Sephardim, according to DellaPergola, owes to “traumas that many North African Sephardim who settled in France after the 1950s brought with them, from living in Muslim societies where many enjoyed a peaceful coexistence, but where many others were beaten and discriminated against.” Violent anti-Semitism “brings back very unpleasant memories for Sephardic Jews, who already have a higher propensity to make aliyah also out of religious sentiment as they come from more traditionalist
societies,” DellaPergola says. Last year, 7,231 French Jews moved to Israel, a record-setting figure nearly three times the number who came in 2012 and which made France the world’s largest source of new Israeli immigrants. After the supermarket killings, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel was preparing for massive immigration and urged European Jews to consider the Jewish state their home. Some officials at the Jewish Agency, the semi-official body that coordinates global aliyah, expect as many as 15,000 Jews to arrive from France this year. Following the attack at the Hyper Cacher market, Halter’s call for French Jews to stick to their proverbial guns was joined by other members of the French Jewish elite, including the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, who during the same meeting at Synagogue de la Victoire said, “Aliyah should never be the result of fear, only of an internal calling.” But Siona, a group representing Sephardic French Jews, responded forcefully to a reproachful Halter Op-Ed published in Le Monde last year urging Jews not to abandon their country to jihadists and the far-right National Front party. Hundreds of thousands of North African Jews immigrated to France in the 1950s, along with millions of Muslims. Replenishing the ranks of a community that lost a third of its members in the Holocaust, the newcomers inherited the community’s leadership from a declining population of Eastern European Jews. Current aliyah trends may return the leadership mantle to more secular and more assimilated Jews, DellaPergola says. Serge Perez, who was born in Algeria and left after the start of the country’s civil war in the 1950s. Perez now lives in Paris, in a poor and heavily Muslim part of the city that provided some 40 percent of Jewish immigration from the Paris region. “Some give French Muslims and society the benefit of the doubt,” Perez says. “But I have no doubt: French society gave up its Jews once and will again. And the Muslims, if they’re a majority where I live, I will live elsewhere.”
Tom Hofheimer fund
Tom Hofheimer Revisited Tom Hofheimer and the Medical Mission
by Hal Sacks
We begin with this brief introduction to honor the memory of Tom Hofheimer, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of his passing and the 30th anniversary of the Tom Hofheimer Foundation and its various versions since its creation, initially, as the Tom Hofheimer Memorial Fund.
t all really started in 1982, at a Thanksgiving dinner in the home of plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Horton, of Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). Dr. Haggai Tsur, head of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel, Dr. Horton’s guest, invited Horton and Dr. Boyd H. Winslow, a urologist at EVMS to visit Israel. He repeated his invitation a year later and finally, in 1984, their visit to Israel, underwritten by “Friends of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater,” became a reality. While in Israel, Horton and Winslow lectured and demonstrated new micro-surgical techniques for uro-genital reconstruction to repair male sexual organs damaged by accident, burns, congenital malformations and war wounds (the latter of particular concern due to injuries caused by “pop-up clusters” during the recent war in Lebanon). Drs. Horton and Winslow began to dream of a “cooperative exchange between EVMS and Israel through which Norfolk physicians and Israeli physicians would exchange places with one another for a specific length of time.” Horton and Winslow’s techniques made quite an impression in Israel. Israel’s treatment of patients, including Arab patients from countries still technically at war with Israel, made quite an impression on Horton. Thus it was not surprising when early in 1985 the internationally regarded plastic surgeon proposed that the Jewish community of Tidewater expose Israeli plastic surgeons to the latest techniques in plastic and reconstructive surgery through a series of six month residencies at EVMS. Initially it appeared that the concept of an ongoing medical exchange program between physicians in Israel and Norfolk, Va., funded by private sources, had two chances of success; slim and none. Major metro Jewish
communities had struggled with such programs; how would our small community, working with no guidelines manage to fund and manage such a program? A small group of community leaders began to develop an interest in the concept, but it took a commitment from a strong leader to get the program off the ground. That was Tommy Hofheimer! Tommy, then president-elect of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, was engaged in his own personal struggle against a deadly cancer. When I visited him after his return from treatment in New York, and shared a piece of Marcia’s fabulous cake, he told me that he planned to go back to work (Tommy was an executive at Haynes Furniture) and to work as long as he was able. However depleted his energy may have been, he was fascinated by the idea of an American/Israeli medical exchange and began the process of putting together an organization. Those of us who had worked with Tommy when he chaired the United Tom Hofheimer. Jewish Fund Campaign or when he organized a fabulous four-bus-load study mission to Strelitz, organized the Tom Hofheimer Medical Mission in Israel, appreciated his style of leader- his memory. Donations poured in from Tommy’s peers in ship, persuasive rather than demanding. the furniture industry, from leadership and from dozens We followed him because it was fun work- of ordinary Tidewater folks, Jewish and otherwise and the ing with him, and within a few months, the Tom Hofheimer Memorial Fund underwrote the residenprogram was off the ground and in the early stages cies of 15 Israeli plastic surgeons from June of 1985 until 1999. For 14 years, Israeli physicians, some with and some of implementation. without their families, were provided transportation to Tommy said “Let’s get to work…we’ve got a lot to do.” American health-care professionals prepared to go to and from Norfolk, housing, an automobile and a stipend. Israel to put out feelers for the first exchange. Tommy By the time the project ended, the Tom Hofheimer Medical didn’t get to see that part. About to leave for Israel myself, Mission had simply trained all the Israeli surgeons workand knowing Tommy might not be with us by the time I ing in uro-genital reconstruction, and practically every returned, I went to see him. I was shaken, but he boosted plastic surgery department in Israeli hospitals was chaired me up. “We want the same things, Hal. Keep on doing by one of our EVMS fellows. Future articles in Jewish News will revisit subsequent projwhat you’re doing.” On March 17, 1985, at age 50, the cancer he dealt with so resolutely, took his life. ects of the Tom Hofheimer Medical Mission, and its successor the The exchange program had become the symbol of Tom Hofheimer Fund. Tommy’s struggle and his hopes for Israel’s future. Marcia Hofheimer, Tommy’s wife, and his sister, Joyce
become the symbol of
Tommy’s struggle and his hopes for Israel’s future.
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Israeli Elections 2015
After divisive campaign, Israelis deliver clear victory for Netanyahu by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—After weeks in which polls consistently showed Zionist Union holding a slight lead over the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader effected a dramatic
comeback to win a decisive victory in Israeli elections. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Netanyahu’s Likud had won 30 seats—a quarter of the Knesset and six more than the Zionist Union’s 24. “Our country’s everyday reality doesn’t
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give us the luxury for delay,” Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday, March 18. “The citizens of Israel expect that we will act quickly and responsibly to establish a leadership that will work for them in areas of defense, the economy and society just as we promised in this campaign—and just like we will now set ourselves towards doing.” The Likud victory on Tuesday, March 17 came after initial exit polls from three Israeli television stations showed the top two parties in a virtual tie. That result would have itself represented a vast improvement for Likud, which had been polling in the 20-23 range as recently as the previous Friday. But official returns that came in hours later showed Likud emerging as the clear victor. Netanyahu now has a relatively easy path to forming a coalition of his so-called “natural partners” on the right and the religious parties, along with the center-right Kulanu party. Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc will account for 57 seats in the next Knesset, while the center-left will have 49. The Arab-Israeli Joint List won 14 seats to become the third-largest party. On Tuesday night, Netanyahu spoke with the heads of his likely partners, and results point toward a 67-member coalition of Likud, the pro-settler Jewish Home, haredi Orthodox parties, the hardline Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu. The results provide a conclusive finish to a fierce and largely negative campaign in which both Netanyahu and Herzog campaigned with variations on the slogan “It’s Us or Them.” The Joint List, a combined slate of several smaller Arab factions, was one of the election’s biggest winners. Driven by elevated turnout among Arab-Israelis, the Joint List’s 14 seats are a gain of three from its current Knesset representation. Ayman Odeh, the party’s charismatic leader, has committed himself to working on improving the lives of Arab-Israelis but has vowed not to join a governing coalition. Throughout the campaign, voters said
their top issue was Israel’s high cost of living. They reiterated that demand on Tuesday, giving Kulanu a strong showing with 10 seats. Party founder Moshe Kachlon, a former Likud minister, had focused almost exclusively on socioeconomic issues during the campaign. The other party with a strong economic focus, the centrist Yesh Atid, fell from 19 to 11 seats. Kulanu may well emerge as the election’s kingmaker. Netanyahu needs its support to form the next government, giving it a powerful bargaining chip when negotiating for positions in ministries and Knesset committees. Herzog conceded defeat in a telephone call to Netanyahu on Wednesday. “We’ll be a fighting, socially-minded party that will serve as an alternative in all areas,” Herzog wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning. “And we will fight together with our partners for the values we believe in.” As Election Day drew near, leaders on both sides urged voters to close ranks around their respective flagship party. Voters moved away from smaller parties, enabling Likud and Zionist Union to increase their Knesset representation. Likud succeeded in closing a polling deficit of several points in the campaign’s final days. The religious Zionist Jewish Home party, which grew from three to 12 seats in the 2013 vote, fell back to eight in the election. On the left, the staunchly leftist Meretz fell from six seats to four, and its chairwoman, Zehava Gal-On, announced her resignation on Wednesday morning. The right-wing Yachad party, founded by former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, did not pass the electoral threshold and will not enter the next Knesset. Among the biggest losers was Yisrael Beiteinu, which is led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The party, which had 13 seats in the previous Knesset, was hit with a corruption scandal early in the campaign and wound up with six seats.
Israeli Elections 2015
5 notable takeways from the Israeli election by Uriel Heilman
(JTA)—In the United States, the magic number on Election Day is 270, the number of Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. In Israel, it’s 61, the number of seats needed to capture a majority in the 120-seat Knesset—and with it, the premiership. With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party at 30 seats, far ahead of Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union (24 seats), the question now is who will join Netanyahu in the coalition? There are a few things to consider as the next Israeli government takes shape.
2. The left wing failed to gain ground. Herzog has emerged to become the face of the left, but the left wing isn’t really in a better position than before. The left’s share of Knesset seats remains relatively unchanged—28 compared to 29 in the current Knesset—but the party labels have changed. Now Zionist Union has 24 seats and Meretz four, whereas before the left wing’s 29 seats were distributed among Labor, Hatnuah, Kadima and Meretz. If you throw the Joint Arab List (14) in with the left-wingers (Netanyahu does), that brings the left to 42 seats in the new Knesset, up from 40 last time around.
The enduring strength of the centrist parties also 1. Netanyahu is in a demonstrates the 3. The kingmakers stronger position than before. The prime seriousness with which will be the centrists. The Knesset’s two cenminister acquired several advantages in the Israeli voters consider trist parties together won 21 seats on Election election. First, he can extend his premiership the socioeconomic Day—11 for Yesh Atid and 10 for Kulanu. for another four years, issues. Barring the unlikely event possibly to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister: David Ben-Gurion served for a total of 13 years; Netanyahu has nine. Second, by soundly defeating Herzog and significantly improving Likud’s position in the Knesset from 18 to 30, Netanyahu can claim a fresh mandate. Third, the prime minister can build a more stable coalition than last time. With just the Orthodox and right-wing parties—Jewish Home (8), Shas (7), Yisrael Beiteinu (6) and United Torah Judaism (6)—Netanyahu gets to 57 seats. Kulanu, the center-right party led by ex-Likudnik Moshe Kachlon and the winner of 10 seats, easily could complete the coalition. Netanyahu no longer needs Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, with whom friction ultimately prompted the prime minister to dissolve his government and call for new elections. Yesh Atid slipped to 11 seats from 19.
of a unity government, one or both of them will be a musthave to reach the magic number of 61. Given Netanyahu’s problems with Yesh Atid and the composition of Kulanu’s list, Kulanu is the clear favorite. The party boasts a number of veterans of right-wing parties, including Kachlon (ex-Likud), Michael Oren (served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington under Netanyahu) and Tali Floskob (mayor of Arad and a former Yisrael Beiteinu member). Two deputies to Jerusalem’s right-wing mayor, Nir Barkat, also are on the Kulanu list. The enduring strength of the centrist parties—even though much of it came at Yesh Atid’s expense—also demonstrates the seriousness with which Israeli voters consider the socioeconomic issues that Kulanu and Yesh Atid made the centerpiece of their
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Israeli Elections 2015 continued from page 9
campaigns. Israeli elections are no longer just about security, particularly at a time when few Israelis see a viable way to overcome the morass with the Palestinians and the threats posed by upheaval in the Arab world. 4. The Arabs are a force to be reckoned with. The forced combination of the Knesset’s Arab parties into the Joint Arab List—prompted by a new rule raising the minimum threshold for entry into the Knesset to 3.5 percent of votes cast—has strengthened their hand. Even though Arab-Israeli turnout was lower than Jewish-Israeli turnout, it was still higher than usual. Now the Arabs control three additional Knesset seats and have a more unified voice. Registered Representative/Securities oﬀered through Signator Investors, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC. The Spindel Agency is independent of Signator Investors, Inc. 154-20150303-221366
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5. Netanyahu showed his true colors. The prime minister did two things in the final hours of Israel’s election campaign that make it difficult to see how he will repair Israel’s image overseas and its frayed relationship with the United States. One was his open acknowledgment in an interview published Monday, March 16 that he opposes Palestinian statehood. “I think anyone who is going to establish
a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Israeli website NRG. “This is the reality that has been created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores it has his head in the sand.” When asked point blank “If you are a prime minister, there will be no Palestinian state?” Netanyahu responded, “Indeed.” The second was Netanyahu’s brazen warning on Election Day that Likud supporters ought to rush to the polls because Arab-Israelis were turning out in large numbers. “Right-wing rule is in danger. The Arab voters are coming in huge numbers to the polls. The left-wing organizations are bringing them in buses,” Netanyahu said in a message posted Tuesday, March 17 on social media urging followers to vote for Likud. “With your help, and with God’s help, we will establish a patriotic government that will safeguard the State of Israel.” Both remarks provide ample fodder for critics of Netanyahu, and of Israel: that he (and by extension Israel) is disingenuous about pursuing a peace deal with the Palestinians, and that he (and by extension Israel) is racist.
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JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Likud and haredi Orthodox parties dominated in Jerusalem, while the Zionist Union took the most votes in Tel Aviv in Israel’s national elections. Nationally, the right-wing Likud Party garnered 23.3 percent of the vote and the center-left Zionist Union coalition garnered 18.7 percent of the vote, followed by the United Arab List with nearly 11 percent of the vote, according to Israel’s Central Elections Committee. In Jerusalem, Likud finished with 24 percent of the vote and United Torah Judaism won 21 percent. The Sephardic Orthodox Shas party was next with 11 percent, followed by the Zionist Union at 10 percent and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party at 8 percent. The Yachad party, led by
former Shas lawmaker Eli Yishai, garnered 7 percent of the vote in the city but failed to meet the minimum number of votes nationally required to enter the Knesset. The Joint Arab List picked up 1.2 percent of the vote in Jerusalem. In Tel Aviv, the Zionist Union won 34 percent of the vote and Likud had 18 percent. Next were the left-wing Meretz with 13 percent and the centrist Yesh Atid with 11 percent. Both Jewish Home and the Joint Arab List had 3 percent of the city’s vote. In Sderot, the southern Israeli city that has borne the brunt of rocket attacks from Gaza, 42 percent of ballots went to Likud, 11 percent to Jewish Home, 8 percent to Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party and 7.5 percent to the Zionist Union.
Israeli Elections 2015
Will Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric cause further estrangement with Washington? by Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON ( JTA)—The Obama administration’s first response to news that Benjamin Netanyahu had been reelected as prime minister of Israel appeared to be avoidance. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday, March 18 that the president would wait until Netanyahu had been formally charged with forming a government before congratulating him, although several European leaders and U.S. Republicans had already done so. David Simas, the White House director of political strategy, managed to avoid even mentioning Netanyahu’s name when asked about the election by CNN on Wednesday. Late Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry had made a “brief” call of congratulations to Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s relationship with the White House already was tense before Israelis handed him a third consecutive term as prime minister on Tuesday, March 17. But three actions ahead of the election further soured ties. First, there was Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to Congress, arranged with Republicans without the knowledge of the White House. Then the day before the Israeli vote, in an interview with the Israeli website NRG, Netanyahu rejected a central plank of American policy in the region when he declared that there would be no Palestinian state established under his watch as prime minister, reversing a position he has held since 2009. And on Election Day itself, he urged his supporters to go the polls by warning that “Arab voters are coming out in droves.” “The United States and this administration is deeply concerned about rhetoric that seeks to marginalize ArabIsraeli citizens,” Earnest told reporters. “It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of
what binds the United States and Israel together.” David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, suggested on Twitter that Netanyahu’s election eve tactics may have won him the race, but at a price. “Tightness of exits in Israel suggests Bibi’s shameful 11th hour demagoguery may have swayed enough votes to save him,” Axelrod wrote, referring to exit polls that showed Netanyahu faring much better than late polling had forecast. “But at what cost?” Netanyahu’s rejection of two states would seem to preclude not merely the restarting of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks but any sort of rapprochement with Washington. However, some in the pro-Israel community were quick to point out that Netanyahu’s pronouncement on a Palestinian state is not necessarily permanent and that election rhetoric does not always translate into policy. “If every candidate in every country were held to the statements they made, they’d all be in big trouble,” said David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, who nevertheless acknowledged that his organization was “concerned” about Netanyahu’s statement. Natan Sachs, an Israel expert at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, said it may be too late to dismiss the rift as politics as usual. “Bilateral relationships are damaged beyond repair,” Sachs said. “They have to work together, but there’s no trust among the leaders and there won’t be in the last two years of the Obama administration.” Ilan Goldenberg, a former senior adviser to Kerry on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said Netanyahu’s actions would make it harder than ever for U.S. officials to sustain the intimacy of the alliance, particularly when it comes to defending Israel in international forums. “What Netanyahu said publicly—‘No two-state solution on my watch’—which is something this administration believes
in strongly,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “You have video of Netanyahu sitting there diagramming how settlements are to keep Palestinians from
having two states.” Goldenberg was referring to the NRG interview, conducted during Netanyahu’s visit to the Jerusalem neighborhood of continued on page 12
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Israeli Elections 2015 continued from page 11
Har Homa on the eve of Election Day, during which he said he had authorized construction of the neighborhood in 1997 to prevent contiguity between Bethlehem and Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. Netanyahu could soon have yet another opportunity to clash with the Obama administration: the March 24 deadline for an interim outline deal with Iran on its nuclear program. “We’ll see more confrontation in Washington, including Netanyahu trying to galvanize support if a deal is reached,” Sachs said. U.S. officials have emphasized repeatedly that the fundamentals of the U.S.-Israel alliance, including close intelligence sharing and security cooperation, remained sound, and they reiterated that position this week. On Tuesday, Earnest
said before voting had concluded that Obama was confident of his ability to work with whomever Israelis chose as their leader. But Sachs said there could be longer-term damage because of how Netanyahu is now perceived as leaning more toward Republicans. The perception was bolstered by the fact that several Democrats in Congress known for their closeness to Israel either had not weighed in by midday Wednesday or had seemingly gone out of their way to avoid any mention of Netanyahu. “Now that the Israeli elections are over, I hope that Israel and the United States can resume the close, mutually supportive relationship we have had since President Harry Truman made sure that the U.S. was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), who has been a leader on pro-Israel issues. (JTA)
Abbas: Will talk to any Israeli gov’t that backs Palestinian state JERUSALEM (JTA)—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will talk to any Israeli government that accepts a two-state solution as the basis for negotiations. “It doesn’t matter to us who the next prime minister of Israel is, what we expect from this government is to recognize the two-state solution,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday, March 18, the French news agency AFP reported, in the aftermath of Israel’s national elections the day before. Without a commitment to a Palestinian state, any future peace negotiations have “no chance,” he also said. Less than a day before Israelis went to the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch. Chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the election results. “At a time when we are gravely concerned about a culture of hate which brings with it unprecedented levels of incitement against the 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the results of the Israeli elections show the success of a campaign platform
based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people,” he said in a statement released Wednesday by the Palestine Liberation Organization. The phrase “Palestinian citizens of Israel” refers to Arab-Israelis, who are full citizens and live throughout the country. Erekat blamed the result on the international community, which he said has not “held Israel to account for its systematic violations of international law.” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Wednesday said that the EU “is committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on the relaunch of the peace process.” Mogherini congratulated Netanyahu for garnering the most seats in the new Knesset. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters in Tehran that the results of the elections were not important, since “for us there is no difference between the Zionist regime’s political parties. They are all aggressors in nature,” Reuters reported, citing the semi-official Mehr News Agency.
Israeli Elections 2015
Call for unity on right, hardline rhetoric propels Netanyahu to decisive comeback by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—This city’s Rabin Square was full of young men wearing large knit kippahs and women in long skirts and long sleeves cheering as right-wing politicians declared their opposition to Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. On Sunday, March 15, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ascended the stage to address the crowd, he needed their votes. On Tuesday, March 17, he got them. “[A]s long as I am prime minister, and as long as Likud is in government, the nationalist camp is in government,” he said in his speech at the rally. “And as long as the nationalist camp is in government, we won’t divide Jerusalem, there won’t be concessions and there won’t be retreats.” The final polls ahead of the election showed the Likud with as few as 20 seats, lagging well behind the center-left Zionist Union. But when the votes were tallied, the picture had changed dramatically: Likud won 30 seats—a quarter of the Knesset— six more than Zionist Union’s 24. It was the Likud’s best showing since the 2003 election. “I’m proud of the nation of Israel, that at the moment of truth knew to separate between the essential and the trivial, and stand for the essential,” Netanyahu told a crowd of cheering supporters chanting his name on Tuesday night. “To stand for the things important for all of us: real security, responsible economics and social welfare, which we’re dedicated to.” Now Netanyahu has what he said he wanted when he called in December for new elections: a relatively easy path to forming a coalition with his so-called “natural partners.” The Knesset’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties holds close to a majority of seats and will be able to govern along with the new center-right Kulanu party, which indicated during the campaign that it would join either a left- or right-wing coalition. Netanyahu made his comeback through
a mix of panic and resolve. Beginning Friday, March 13, the famously media-shy prime minister stated his case in several interviews to Israeli television and print journalists. In the interview, Netanyahu called on right-wing voters to unite around him and vote Likud instead of the religious Zionist, pro-settler Jewish Home, the hardline Yisrael Beiteinu or Kulanu. “People don’t have a privilege of splitting their vote, to vote for Jewish Home, because Likud’s seats are falling,” he told the Israeli news website Walla. In parallel, Netanyahu moved his positions nearer to his more staunchly right-wing rivals, reassuring his base that a vote for him meant a vote for what he called “the nationalist camp.” The days leading up to the campaign saw him oppose a Palestinian state—reversing his 2009 declaration of support and returning to the position he held beforehand. He also promised senior positions in government to Kulanu chair Moshe Kachlon, an ex-Likudnik, and Jewish Home chair Naftali Bennett. “He turned to two camps that are close to him, but that had gone to Jewish Home or Kachlon,” says Bar-Ilan University political science professor Shmuel Sandler, referring to religious Zionist and center-right voters. “He said he would make Kachlon finance minister and give Jewish Home a part in the coalition. That caused those voters to come to him.” On Election Day, Netanyahu also played on his base’s wariness of the left wing and Arab opposition. In a controversial video released that morning, Netanyahu warned of increased Arab-Israeli turnout and asked right-wing voters to come to the polls in response. “Right-wing rule is in danger,” the prime minister said in the video. “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the ballot box. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.… We have only you. Come to the ballot box, bring your friends, your continued on page 14
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relatives, vote [Likud]. We’ll close the gap between us and Labor.” The results show that his constituents heeded his calls. Likud won 10 more seats than last time, while the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish Home parties, and the haredi Orthodox parties all lost seats. In Jerusalem, Likud alone won 10 more seats Tuesday than its alliance with Yisrael Beiteinu did in 2013. Likud also increased its vote totals
in the large settlement of Maale Adumim and in southern cities like Beersheba and Ashkelon. On the left, similar calls by Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog to close ranks around his party also partially worked. His Labor Party had 15 seats in the outgoing Knesset. Now he will lead 24 center-left lawmakers. But the soft-spoken politician ran a largely negative campaign that Sandler said backfired, inspiring Netanyahu’s supporters to consolidate
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around him. “What happened here was a personal attack on [the prime minister], which speaks to Netanyahu’s supporters,” Sandler says. “They feel attacked, and when there’s a virulent personal attack on him, it brings his supporters out.” Diplomatically, Netanyahu’s rightward shift may make his life more difficult. The Obama administration said it would work with whomever leads the next Israeli government. But Netanyahu’s revived
opposition to Palestinian statehood will clash with Obama’s staunch support of the two-state solution and do little to heal the leaders’ acrimonious relationship. Netanyahu may now have an easier time managing a coalition with parties to his right. But his warning about ArabIsraeli voters enraged his opposition and could harm Arab-Jewish relations, which deteriorated during last summer’s war in Gaza.
With Barbara Mikulski departing, Senate losing pro-Israel stalwart by Dmitriy Shapiro
WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week)—The pending departure of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has the Jewish community wondering who will fill the vacuum left by the fiercely pro-Israel liberal leader. Mikulski’s announcement on Monday, March 2 that she would not seek re-election in 2016 triggered fond memories for Jewish leaders of the career of the longest-serving woman in Congress’ upper chamber, as well as anxieties about who would take her place. “During her many years in Congress, Senator Mikulski has been a stalwart supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” says Marshall Wittmann, the spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “particularly in her leadership role on the Appropriations Committee in ensuring vital security assistance for our democratic ally.” Mikulski, 78, represents what some in the pro-Israel community fear is a vanishing breed: a staunch liberal who earns kudos on the left for her advocacy on issues like women’s rights and combating poverty yet one who is also unstinting in support of Israel. “In an era when we’re beginning to see some seepage among some of those on the left in support of Israel, I think her strength stood out and was a galvanizing force,” says Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. As chairwoman from 2012 to 2015 of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Mikulski was the lead voice when her committee drew up its annual federal budget. She was a principal player in defense funding, which included significant levels of military aid to Israel and money for joint projects such as the Iron Dome missile defense system. That included last year’s unanimous passage of $225 million in emergency funding to supply Israel with additional Iron Dome munitions after its stockpile was depleted in last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip. “Jewish Democrats couldn’t design a better elected official,” Halber says. “She
not only stood up for the most progressive values in the Jewish community, but she was also a consummate professional and always willing to go across the aisle to work with Republicans to pass legislation.” Domestically, Mikulski was the key architect of Department of Homeland Security funding for nonprofits, an initiative that dispensed millions of dollars annually since its inception in the mid2000s, much of it to Jewish institutions seeking to upgrade their defenses. “She was a real champion for [the program] from its inception and helped us ensure that funds were appropriated for it each year, including this year, which was a very difficult year,” says Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, which lobbied for the funding together with the Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America. Despite the recent congressional fight on Homeland Security funding over unrelated immigration issues, $13 million went to the nonprofit grant for fiscal year 2015, in large part because of Mikulski. Mikulski, a Catholic whose grandparents immigrated from Poland, has said she feels a connection to Jews and Holocaust survivors in particular. On Jan. 27, she introduced a resolution to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz co-sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “As someone who is very proud of her Polish-American heritage, I visited Auschwitz,” Mikulski said from the Senate floor. “I wanted to see it when I had the chance to learn more about my own heritage. I wanted to see what happened there so that I would remember,” she said. “Touring the concentration camp was an experience for me that was searing. Even today I carry it not only in my mind’s eye, but I carry it in my heart. You know I’m a fairly strong, resilient person. I think we’ve even shared stories that I was a child abuse social worker. I have seen tough things, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that day. “I knew when I left Auschwitz, I knew and I understood why, first of all, we
should never have genocide in the world again,” Mikulski continued. “The second thing, and also so crucial to my views, is that there always needs to be a homeland for the Jewish people. It’s the reason we always need an Israel. Why it has to be there, survivable for the ages and for all who seek a home there and refuge there.” Jewish communities in Baltimore and in Washington’s Maryland suburbs still have a Senate address in Cardin, a scion of one of the leading Jewish political families in the region. Still, the departure of a senator with 25 years of experience will be felt. “This is not a knock on any of her potential successors but because of her seniority—last year she was the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and now she’s the ranking Democrat,” Diament says. “That is a lot of ground to make up no matter who succeeds her.”
The two declared candidates for Mikulski’s seat, Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, both of Maryland, have had uneven relationships with the pro-Israel community. Van Hollen surprised Jewish backers in 2006 when he wrote the Bush administration saying Israel’s bombing of Lebanon that summer harmed U.S. and Israeli interests. He later walked back the comments and, by 2008, when he was heading the Democrats’ congressional election committee, was strongly backing Israel in its 2008 campaign in Gaza. Edwards, whose House of Representatives runs have been endorsed by J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, has clashed with center and right-wing pro-Israel groups, particularly over her sharp criticisms of Israel’s settlement policies.
jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 15
One-on-One with Tidewater Together’s March 26–29 by Laine Mednick Rutherford
or four days, Jews in Tidewater— Rabbi Sharon Brous. and beyond—are invited to be part of the 2nd Annual Tidewater Together, a journey of Jewish insight, understanding and growth. Tidewater Together’s goal is to welcome all Jews, inclusive of race, class, gender and practice, to participate in a series of discussions designed to create dialogue, deepen connections to Judaism, and to nurture a vision for the future that will ultimately strengthen the Jewish community. Rare in American Jewish communities, the presentation is the result of a
partnership between area synagogues of all affiliations and the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. With major financial support from the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholarin-Residence Fund, Tidewater Together scheduled the respected and highly popular Los Angeles-based Rabbi Sharon Brous as the weekend’s facilitator. Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR, a spiritual Jewish community that interweaves inventive religious practice and active social justice. Defining Rabbi Brous is a challenge. She’s intensely committed to teaching and sharing Jewish values through Judaism’s oldest texts and rituals, but her style of doing so is decidedly non-traditional. Brous’ methods of mixing old and new are proving successful; IKAR’s practices resonate with many previously unengaged Jews, rabbinical
Sandler Family Campus Thursday, March 26, 6:30 pm What is my purpose? Cocktail Reception
students and Orthodox Jews, too. Local rabbis call Brous dynamic, brilliant and devoted. Major media outlets have held her up as one of America’s top rabbis—some have even listed her as the nation’s number one rabbi. The world got to see Brous when she was televised globally, bestowing a Hebrew blessing on President Obama and Vice-President Biden at their second inauguration. Over Tidewater Together’s long weekend, Brous will lead six different conversations, at six different locations—speaking about topics ranging from Shabbat and the Power of the Outsider to Finding Inspiration and Making Change. Recently, Brous took the time to share her philosophy and reveal her goals in a one-on-one interview for readers of the Jewish News:
Congregation Beth Chaverim Friday, March 27, 12 pm Visions of the Jewish future Lunch and learn
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JN: We’re looking forward to having you come and speak with us. You’re an in-demand speaker who could choose to go to much bigger places. Why did you agree to be part of the 2nd Annual Tidewater Together? RB: Rabbi Artson, a very dear friend, assured me that this is a weekend not to be missed. I’m curious and eager to learn what drives your community, what questions you are asking, what the challenges are and what the successes have been over the years. All ages, all classes, all affiliations, or non-affiliations, will be coming to learn from you and with you during Tidewater Together. How are you going to reach across all of these different groups to share your messages, to inspire us all? We built IKAR to be diverse and
Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Sharon Brous dynamic, attracting the very knowledgeable and committed at the same time as the most skeptical and disaffected. I strive to teach in a way that is meaningful to both populations—accessible to the people with the least amount of formal learning in the room and at the same time stimulating and challenging for the deeply engaged. How much knowledge does someone need to have who’s coming to hear you speak—of Hebrew, or Judaism or Jewish practices? No knowledge at all. Just curiosity and open mind and heart. I don’t ever assume that people in the room have any particular learning background. When I entered into the Jewish conversation in a more serious way I was in college, and I was always the person in the room who knew the least—or at least I felt I was—and I know how incredibly awkward and alienating that can be. So I always assume that there are people in
the room who are not familiar with Jewish texts and ideas. I have found that when you talk about ideas, without an assumption of previous knowledge but with an assumption that people are thoughtful, smart and curious, it’s not so difficult to bridge the gap between the populations. What do you hope the community gets out of the conversations you’ll lead? I have a very strong sense that Judaism— and really religion in general—over the past couple of decades has failed to capture the imagination of our people. I think this is a very big problem, and a profound concern. We don’t talk enough about big ideas in the Jewish community. We don’t talk about who we are, fundamentally. What it means to be a Jew and a human being in the world. I’m trying to help reconnect people to the essence of our tradition, to the core ideas that have driven Judaism
over the past several thousand years. What is your response to people who may be wary about coming, who may be resistant to hearing something that is unfamiliar? I hope that people will come with an open heart and an open mind, so that we can hear one another and engage together. That really seems to me to be the only way to learn and grow, as individuals and as a community. I hope that people will come and engage. I certainly don’t expect everybody to agree with me—that would be a first!—but I think we all grow from trying to articulate what our core values are, how they’re drawn from our traditions, where we find inspiration, and what we think is possible in the world. The question is, do we all share an interest in helping to bring about the revitalization of a tradition that we care very deeply about, that right
now we see in deep demographic freefall? There are so many people disassociating with Judaism altogether, can we find a way, together, to make this meaningful? What I’m ultimately trying to do is bring people back into a conversation with traditional sources, rituals and ideas, but in a way that they perhaps have not encountered before. This is not witchcraft and wizardry. It’s Talmud and Torah and Shabbes and eating mindfully. Thinking carefully about what we believe and how we live. I try to find ways to rearticulate very old, core, foundational Jewish practices and Jewish values in a language that even people who feel disconnected from Jewish life might actually resonate to. Why do you think Tidewater Together is important for our community? For too many years, institutions in the Jewish world have been working at cross continued on page 18
Ohef Sholom Temple Friday, March 27, 6:30 pm Shabbat and the power of the outsider Shabbat dinner, 6:30 pm, service and oneg, 7:30 pm
Congregation Beth El Saturday, March 28, 9:30 am The amen effect Service and kiddush lunch
jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 17
Mickey Kramer’s legacy of learning continues with Tidewater Together
A brief history of Tidewater Together continued from page 17
by Laine M. Rutherford
Everything about Tidewater Together would have pleased Mickey Kramer.* The learning, the diversity, the scholars, the extension of Jewish values and the community—especially the community—were some of the most important things in the world to him, says his son Ron Kramer. “My father would just love it—he worked his whole life for this community and the Federation—and to him, it didn’t matter whether you were Reform or Orthodox or Conservative, whether you liked the Tigers of the Yankees,” says Kramer. “What mattered was that we’re here for each other, and that we’re continuing to learn. He was a mensch and a great role model.” The Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-inResidence Fund provides major funding for Tidewater Together. Its financial contribution allows the weekend’s organizers—the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the rabbis and presidents of the Tidewater Jewish Leadership Council—to bring in a leading American Jewish teacher and schedule a free weekend open to all Jewish community members. The fund was established before Mickey Kramer’s death in 2003, by friends and family members who wanted to honor his devotion to Tidewater, Judaism and education, and to share that with others at the shul he loved— Congregation Beth El. For almost a decade, the fund was used to bring in scholars for a weekend of study with Beth El congregants. When Ron, his wife Cindy, and his sister Joyce were approached two years ago with the idea of extending the reach of the Mickey Kramer Scholar-in-Residence to all synagogues and Jews in Tidewater, they readily agreed. “My dad, in a nutshell, was all about finding common ground, working hard and making our community great—which is what Tidewater Together is doing, from the synagogues and rabbis and lay leaders and the Federation, to its scholars, to everyone who attends,” Kramer says. “It’s a great honor that his name is associated with this. We are humbled by it, happy to be a part of this great community effort, and excited to attend again this year.” *of blessed memory
purposes with one another. When I spoke with Alex [Pomerantz, UJFT senior development officer], one of the things that was most exciting for me about this opportunity is really being in an environment where people understand that it will be to all of our benefit if more people are learning, if more Jewish ideas are being conversed about and spoken about, if people feel a deeper connection to core Jewish practices and conversations. I love the idea that your community is able to overcome some of those obstacles and boundaries and work together, and I love that the Federation is working alongside the synagogues to try to find a way to bridge a gap between these various institutions so that we can share resources and work together to bring about a communal revitalization. Tidewater Together conversations are free and open to the community. There is a $10 fee for the community Shabbat dinner before the general discussion on Friday night. To RSVP, and for a complete list of this year’s unique topics, times, hosts and locations, visit www. TidewaterTogether.org, call 757‑965‑6136, or email apomerantz@ujft. org. See ad on page 47.
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In 2014, the Tidewater Jewish community embarked on an unknown: planning, supporting and attending a four-day event that took place at six different locations (including four synagogues), featuring a scholar-in-residence many didn’t know, L.A. Rabbi Brad Artson. Statistics from last year’s inaugural weekend include: • Total audiences of more than 1,000 • Comments that included words such as “fantastic,” “inspirational,” “awesome,” and “life-changing” • A sell-out for the community Shabbat dinner at Ohef Sholom (the goal was 75; 150 attended) • An overwhelmingly positive response from survey respondents and synagogue leadership to Rabbi Artson, and for the concept of a community weekend • Statements of support for making Tidewater Together an annual event • Rabbi Artson’s recommendation that others look to Tidewater Together and the community as a role model: “It is astonishing to me that this little, tiny Jewish community dreams as big as it does…Your creativity and your strength as a community inspires and strengthens others.” The idea for the weekend came from a goal in the 2010-2015 UJFT Strategic Plan; Tidewater Together was designed to strengthen community, form collaborative partnerships across religious and institutional boundaries, and inspire ongoing conversations. By all accounts, it more than accomplished that goal last year, and is on track, again, to exceed expectations.
Temple Emanuel Saturday, March 28, 8:30 pm I am yours, you are mine Discussion and dessert reception
Temple Israel with KBH Synagogue Sunday, March 23, 10 am Finding inspiration, making change Discussion and brunch
Polish cultural ministry to fund new core exhibit at Auschwitz museum WARSAW, Poland ( JTA)—The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage will provide funding for the creation of a new core exhibition of the AuschwitzBirkenau Museum. Minister Malgorzata Omilanowska and Piotr Cywinski, the museum’s director, signed a letter of intent this month in Warsaw. Project costs are estimated at about $33 million. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and a former prisoner of Auschwitz, called the government’s decision to fund the project
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“of great significance.” “It seems that in Poland there is disagreement as to what Auschwitz was, and how important is this symbol for humanity,” he said. The work is expected to take 11 years, according to the museum, and will be done in tandem with the preservation of some of the site’s original buildings. “For visitors it will be part of the same experience of authenticity as going through the site of the former camp,” Cywinski said. Work on the new main exhibition began in 2008, when the initial concept for the exhibition was adopted.
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jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 19
Across Oceans and Generations—A Jewish History of Tidewater Documentary premieres to standing room only crowd by Laine Mednick Rutherford
s somber music plays in the background, the prow of a boat cuts through dark waves in the dramatic opening scene of a new documentary about the Tidewater Jewish community. A narrator’s voice begins over an illustrated map of Europe: “They came across a vast ocean…Ahead, only distant stories and promises etched in paper. A future as uncertain as the vastness of the ocean on which they sailed. They came to this promised land, and in one generation created a transformative imprint
on their adopted home.” A crowd estimated at 300 came to the Sandler Family Campus on Sunday, March 8 to see an exclusive screening of Across Oceans and Generations—A Jewish History of Tidewater, Virginia. “This is a great achievement for Joan London Baer, the executive producer of this film, and for Eric Futterman, who wrote and directed and edited it,” said Miles Leon, president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, who welcomed the community. “It’s also a tremendous gift for all of us who will recognize and remember a lot of our friends and relatives who we
UJFT president Miles Leon welcomes the standing room only crowd of 300 to the premiere.
Alan, Brenda, John and Andy Stein.
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hear and see in this documentary, and for future generations who will benefit from knowing about the people who built this community.” Leon also emphasized Baer’s generosity in working with the UJFT to set up an Across the Generations Scholarship Fund. DVDs can be ordered through the Federation for a suggested $25 donation, with all proceeds going to financially assist students attending Jewish preschool, day school and JCC summer camp. The screening of the 40-minute film was its first. Among audience members were some who were interviewed to help tell the story of the community; more than 20 discussions with local residents were included. After the movie ended, almost two-thirds of the crowd remained for a question and answer session with Baer and Futterman. “I’m completely amazed by how many people came today, and who stayed afterward for the discussion, but, I think overall that they enjoyed it,” said Baer. “Of course we couldn’t include every event or family even though we would have liked to— that would have taken at least four times longer—which is why we called this ‘a’ story, rather than ‘the’ story. It was wonderful to hear how interested people are, and how they feel other communities could use this as a model for their own histories.” The idea for the film arose from Baer’s genealogical research into her family— seven generations of which have lived in Tidewater. She began working on Across the Oceans four years ago with her late husband Steven Baer. The Baers hired Futterman, an Emmy Award winning producer who owns EAF Custom Communication in Richmond (and who counts four generations of Tidewater Jewish residents in his family) to help create their vision. Work stopped for almost two years following Steven’s illness and death. Baer was committed to completing Across Oceans and Generations, though, and Futterman agreed to help when she reached out to him about a year ago. “This is truly a project of the heart,” Futterman said. “We both are very connected to this story—and with many,
Beryl and Leonette Adler.
Joan London Baer and Harry Graber.
Linda Samuels, Alan Bartel, Arlene Rephan, Sue Ellen Teach and Maida Gutterman.
Four generations of Joan London Baer’s family at the screening: Jamie, Robert, Alicia and Hallie Friedman with Bernice Kaplan.
many hours spent researching and filming and writing and editing, and with Joanie’s determination to finish it…and the help of some really special people—we’re excited to finally share it.” DVDs are available for a $25 donation per copy. All proceeds go to the UJFT Across the Generations Scholarship Fund. Order online at www.JewishVA.org/Across-Oceansand-Generations. For more information, call 757-965-6124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don London, Stephanie Calliott and Irwin Berent. Elaine Goldman, Barbara and Ken Rossen. Rabbi Sender and Chamie Haber.
Marcie Brodie, Eric and Isabel Futterman, and Gemma Brodie.
Marcus Friedman, Mickey and Stuart Held, Ronnie Lynn Friedman.
jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 21
Marking the passage from slavery to freedom by Dasee Berkowitz
JERUSALEM (JTA)—Transitions are never easy. And while we all might experience one or two major transitions in our lifetime (marriage, divorce, becoming a parent or moving cities), the transition for the ancient Israelites, from slavery in Egypt to freedom, was one of epic proportions. After suffering under the oppressive yoke of bondage, the promise of redemption was palpable. With God’s guiding hand and Moses in place to lead the way, the Israelites had their matzah in hand and were ready to go. Their transition to a new life–from being slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt to servants of God—was set in motion. While the biblical narrative that recounts the Exodus from Egypt has power in the linear nature of its telling, the way that the rabbis ritualized that transition in the Passover Haggadah is anything but linear. They transformed the raw material of the Exodus story into an associative, sometimes disjointed pedagogical tool. And in this disjointed medium of the Haggadah is the message. Transitions are not a straightforward endeavor. They are a process that can be meandering, confusing and rife with double meanings and complexities. What are the ways that our experience of Passover can shed light onto how we experience transitions in our own lives? Embrace complexity. Eat matzah. The most ubiquitous symbol of Passover, matzah, is in itself a conundrum. It is the bread of affliction, which reminds us of the hard bread the Israelites ate in servitude in Egypt. But it is also the food that the Israelites baked on the eve of their departure. It’s the same substance (just flour and water), but the meaning of the bread changes based on how we relate to it. When we were passive recipients of the bread it represented our affliction and reminded us of our identity as slaves, but when created with our own hands it represents the moment of our freedom. It might have been simpler to have two different kinds of bread—a flat bread to represent slavery and a fluffier one to represent freedom. But instead, on seder night
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we are obligated to eat matzah and imbibe the two identities at the same time. Our past serves as a moral compass and guides us not to oppress the stranger because we remembered what oppression felt like. When we go through a transition in our lives, we recognize that we don’t negate the past to embrace a new future. Our past experiences ground and guide us as we take steps toward a new identity. Ask the right questions. The Rabbis put questions and questionings at the center of the Haggadah’s telling. The nature of asking questions on Passover is in itself an act of freedom. The most powerless—the children—traditionally ask the Four Questions. Then four children ask questions based on their own characters: the questions that everyone is thinking but nobody dare articulate. Only free people can ask, wonder and challenge. Being able to ask good questions connects us to the bigger picture and opens doors to life’s possibilities. But the Haggadah teaches us to ask questions, even when it might feel frightening to do so. Our questions might range from the wise and rebellious to the simple, and sometimes we might find ourselves unable to ask. The questions that start with “why did I do this?” may lead to broader ones like “I wonder what awaits me on the other side?” Keep asking. Offer praise and thanks. In the middle of the Haggadah, soon after Dayenu and right before we wash our hands to eat the matzah, there is a shortened Hallel (songs of praise). It is smack in the middle of the Haggadah. This short Hallel stuck in the middle of the Haggadah reminds us how important it is to recognize milestones along the journey. When our tendency is to see how much farther we need to go, the Haggadah reminds us to recognize how far we have come, and to give thanks. As we approach each of these transitions, let us move from the narrow places, our personal Egypts, to a place of openness and expansiveness of the desert. This Passover season beckons you.
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24 | Jewish News | March 23, 2015 | Passover | jewishnewsva.org
Passover begins this year on Friday evening, April 3. Nineteen years ago, the first seder also took place on April 3. Why do I remember? My daughter, who will be 19 on April 4, was letting me know in her own gentle way that she was ready to make her very first appearance. We did get through that seder, but the following evening, instead of a second seder, we were all at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Nineteen years later and after nearly a full academic year of advanced Hebrew, she’ll probably be leading our seder when we pick up our Haggadahs at sunset this April 3. Our challenge now, of course, is to make a palatable Pesadich birthday cake! As with all holidays, we each have our own thoughts, memories of and perhaps challenges related to Passover. For Streit’s Matzo, for example, the challenge is closing its 90-year-old Lower East Side factory. It’ll be a sad day for the neighborhood this Spring. Rabbi Michael Panitz created his own challenge by offering to track down information on community seders in Tidewater. Ultimately, his advice is to go to websites and make some calls. His friend, Elie Bar Adon, turned his information into Guess Who’s Coming to Seder? on page 33. Another rabbi, Rabbi Sharon Forman (yes, Norfolk’s own), was challenged by her Little League-loving son to find a baseball-themed Haggadah, which she couldn’t. So, not to disappoint, she created one. I’m already a big fan. Check out the review on page 40. We also feature a married rabbi couple that met the challenge of creating a totally vegetarian menu for Passover. If not for the seder, the dishes look inviting for anytime of year. A writer for Kveller took on the challenge of finding 10 ways to include women in the seder. The article, with some interesting tips, is on page 26. And, please remember, if anyone has a suggestion for that birthday cake, let me know. It’s an ongoing challenge! May the matzah eating begin!
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Passover At Streit’s 90-year-old Lower East Side factory, ‘the men’ turn out their last matzah batch by Gabe Friedman
NEW YORK (JTA)—Seated in his Lower East Side office, in front of a large portrait of company patriarch Aron Streit, Alan Adler avoids becoming too nostalgic. “It’s like I tell my family members: none of you own a car from 1935, why do you think a matzah factory from 1935 is what we should be using today?” says Adler, one of Streit’s Matzos’ 11 co-owners. This is the line of thought behind the imminent closing of the Streit’s matzah factory, a longtime Jewish fixture in a city neighborhood that once was home to one of the highest concentration of Jews in the country. Streit’s, the last family-owned matzah company in the United States, announced in December that it would be permanently closing its 90-year-old factory after this Passover season because of longstanding mechanical problems and subsequent economic concerns. Sometime in April, the company will shift its matzah production either to its other factory across the river in northern New Jersey, where several other products such as macaroons and wafers are made, or to another non-Manhattan location. The greatly gentrified Lower East Side has seen its real estate values skyrocket in recent decades. Although Streit’s has not yet identified a buyer for its landmark building on Rivington Street, the property was estimated to be worth $25 million in 2008, when the company first considered shuttering the factory. “We should’ve been out of here five or 10 years ago,” says Adler, 63, who oversees the company’s day-to-day operations along with two cousins. “But we feel committed to the men [who work here] and we feel committed to the neighborhood, so we tried to keep this place afloat as long as we could. We probably could’ve stayed here
even longer if I could’ve found somebody to work on the ovens.” The ovens, identified only by “Springfield, Mass” on their side, date back to the 1930s. They are 75 feet long and are continuously fed a thin sheet of dough that emerges from the convection heat in perfect crisp form. Streit’s does not disclose its official production numbers, but Adler says the factory churns out millions of pounds of matzah each year. However, Adler also estimates that the ovens are now about 25 percent slower than they used to be and he cannot find a mechanic willing to fix them. The slower pace decreases matzah output and affects the product’s flavor. But the ovens aren’t the only outdated element of the factory. Except for a few electrical parts added to the machinery over the years, nearly all of the other equipment is more than 70 years old. As a result, employees’ tasks have barely changed in over half a century—from mixing the flour in small batches (in under 18 minutes to satisfy kosher requirements) to separating the matzah sheets into pieces that then travel up to higher floors on a conveyor belt. “Nothing changes at Streit’s,” says Rabbi Mayer Kirshner, who oversees the factory’s kosher certification. However, plenty has changed in the matzah business since Adler’s childhood in the 1950s and ’60s, when he liked to spend time picking fresh matzah out of the ovens. Back in the “heyday,” as Adler calls it, of the 1930s through the 1960s, there were four matzah factories in the New York metropolitan area: Horowitz-Margareten and Goodman’s in Queens, Manischewitz in New Jersey and Streit’s in Manhattan. Horowitz-Margareten and Goodman’s were sold to Manischewitz, which was bought by the private equity firm Kohlberg and Company in 1990. (Today it is owned
by Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former investment firm.) The Streit’s factory also used to boast a vibrant storefront with lines that spilled outside and around the corner. Today there is still a retail counter, but often it is left unmanned. “Families have moved on, the Lower East Side has changed, so now we’ve sort of transitioned from a local bakery where people would stop by and pick up their matzah hot out of the oven in 1925 to now where 99.9 percent of our sales are wholesale to distributors who resell,” Adler says. While his cousins helped at the retail counter, Adler, who joined the company 18 years ago after a law career, says he was always more comfortable working behind the scenes. In the factory’s freight elevator he has clearly ridden in innumerable times, he cracks a rare joke. “You couldn’t build an elevator like this today,” he says. “It’s passed every safety law from 1925 and not one since.” Adler says the 30 factory employees were shocked by the news in December but are taking it “surprisingly well.” The company has told them that there are many jobs available at the New Jersey facility, but only three employees have taken the company up on the offer. Many of “the men,” as Adler calls the employees, live in Queens and take public transportation to work, meaning that a potential commute to New Jersey would be difficult. Streit’s is working with the New York Department of Labor to help them find new jobs. Anthony Zapata, who has worked at Streit’s for 33 years, and who Adler says does everything from packing matzah to putting out fires (“literally, not figuratively”), says
that he is very depressed about the factory’s closing. He says the increased transportation costs of traveling to New Jersey would be too much for him. “I’m going to miss this place, and I’m going to miss everyone in it,” Zapata says. “I’ve never had a modern job to know what’s old, and what’s different between modern and old.” Zapata, 53, says that all the employees are friends and have barbecues together around the city in the warmer months. “We’ll remain tight,” he says. Adler does not betray many emotions on the matter, but he offers a bittersweet anecdote on the neighborhood’s evolution. Shortly before the company first thought of selling the property in 2008, a man living in one of the condos adjacent to the factory complained to Adler about the noise and flour dust coming out of the building. Adler responded to his requests by blocking in and sealing several factory walls, and when he saw the man months later, he told him what he thought would be “good news” about the factory’s potential closing. “He said, ‘Oh, God, I don’t want condos—there won’t be enough parking on this street!’” Adler recalls. “All of a sudden he liked my noise and my flour dust. “I don’t know what they’ll do with this building now,” he adds, “but people don’t like change.”
jewishnewsva.org | Passover | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 25
Passover 10 ways to add some girl power to your seder by Avital Norman Nathman
(Kveller via JTA)—Whether you weave in one, a few, or all 10 of these tips, consider honoring the matriarchal roots of Judaism this Passover with a little girl power fun at your seder this year.
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1. Add an orange and coffee bean to your seder plate The orange represents both inclusion and solidarity with women and the LGBT community. The new tradition was started by Professor Susannah Heschel, who was inspired by women at Oberlin College in 1984 who made space on their seder plate to represent all who were not explicitly present in the Passover story. The coffee bean represents and honors both the bitterness and strength of juggling your work life and family life – something we’re pretty sure you can relate to. 2. Miriam’s Cup In addition to the traditional cup of Elijah, include Miriam’s Cup and begin your seder by filling it up together. It serves as the symbol of Miriam’s Well—the source of water for the Israelites in the desert. Pass the cup around the table and let each guest add a bit of water from his or her own cup, establishing that the seder is an inclusive and participatory one. Remind your guests that while we may enjoy drinking our four cups of wine, water is just as important. Like Miriam’s Well, water sustains and nourishes us (and prevents hangovers).
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26 | Jewish News | March 23, 2015 | Passover | jewishnewsva.org
3. Lighting candles Candle lighting has traditionally fallen to women in Jewish practice. Honor this by recognizing that the lighting of candles helps usher light into the darkness and allows us to begin our holidays peacefully. This poem, written by Hannah Senesch, is an excellent way to help usher in that feeling: Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame. Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart with the strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake. Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame. 4. The four mothers Speaking of those four cups of wine, you can note during your seder that some scholars connect the four cups of wine with the four mothers: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. After all, the only thing better than one Jewish mother is four. 5. Honor the women in your life The four cups of wine are also excellent opportunities to honor the women in your own life, both past and present. With each glass of wine, take a moment to dedicate it to a woman who has impacted your life in some way. (Pro tip: If your own mom is in attendance, you might want to go ahead and include her.) 6. The four daughters While we’re familiar with the story of the four sons from the traditional Haggadah, why not also give a nod to the four biblical daughters, a wonderful addition from “A Night To Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices,” by Mishael and Noam Zion. The reading shares wisdom from Miriam, Tamar, Ruth and The Beautiful Captive. 7. Four alternative questions After reciting the Ma Nishtanah, the traditional Four Questions, take the time to ask four alternative questions, ones that feel relevant to you and your family and ignite discussion. Here’s one example to get you started: What still enslaves us as Jewish women today, and how do we seek freedom from our own Pharaohs (or Sheryl Sandbergs, if you will)? 8. Add to the story! There are many women who play crucial roles in the Exodus story, yet they’re usually left out of the retelling. Take some time to sing their praises: Shifra and Puah: These two midwives
Passover were respected members of their community. Despite risk of punishment, they defied the Pharaoh’s orders and continued to help deliver baby boys for Jewish women in Egypt. Yocheved: Having gone into labor early, Yocheved kept her secret from the Egyptians, saving Moses’ life. She then made the ultimate mother’s sacrifice by sending him down the river—her only hope in saving him from otherwise certain death. Now there’s a birth story to remember. Batya: Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the reeds of the Nile and decided to raise him as her own, knowingly going against her father’s decree to kill all male Jewish babies. Without her defiance and bravery, our Passover story might have looked very different. Miriam: One of the most well-known women in the Bible, Miriam was the brave young woman who ensured Moses was safe during his journey down the Nile River. She also was the one to bring Yocheved to Batya to be used as a nursemaid, ensuring that mother and son were never far apart. We don’t hear much about Miriam again until the exodus from Egypt, but when we do, it is her strength and song that stick with us, which brings us to…
Judaica Gifts & Jewelry —Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in The Guardian UK, CNN.com, Ms. Magazine,The Frisky and more. You can catch her musing online about motherhood and feminism on Twitter and at her blog, The Mamafesto, which was named a Top 25 Political Blog by Circle of Moms. (This piece was originally published on Kveller, a 70 Faces Media property.)
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9. Miriam’s Song One of Debbie Friedman’s most joyful songs, Miriam’s Song is rooted in the Exodus verse describing how Miriam led the Israelite women in song and dance after they crossed the Red Sea. “…Miriam the Prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went after her with timbrels, dancing. And Miriam called to them: Sing to God…” 10. Wise women Many songs, poems and stories written by women are a perfect match for Passover; include them in your seder along the way. Some of my favorites: • Marge Piercy’s poem Season of the Egg • R abbi Rachel Berenblat (aka “The Velveteen Rabbi”) has a poem about what happens after the seder. • R abbi Jill Hammer’s Orah Hi, a feminist version of the traditional end of seder song Adir Hu.
As we gather around the Seder table to share the Passover story, we celebrate our personal and communal journeys. Let this year be even more meaningful by creating your Jewish Legacy for future generations to enjoy.
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Passover First-ever Canadian Haggadah has a distinctly north-of-the-border vibe by Ron Csillag
TORONTO (JTA)—In this rendition of the Passover story, the Children of Israel do not play ice hockey or drink kosher l’Pesach maple syrup. But the first-ever Canadian Haggadah does have a distinctly Canuck vibe. For one thing the Canadian Haggadah Canadienne is in three languages—English, French and Hebrew. And instead of the standard illustrations of the Israelites building the pyramids or Moses parting the Red Sea, it features archival photographs that trace the history of Canada’s Jewish community, the world’s fourth largest. The volume offers “a Canadian perspective on our timeless story of freedom—our Jewish history as seen through Canadian eyes,” states its introduction. Compiled by Rabbi Adam Scheier of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal and Richard Marceau, general counsel and political adviser at the Ottawabased Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the hefty (168-page) Haggadah aims “to deepen the Canadian Jewish identity by presenting something that’s uniquely Canadian,” Scheir says. “It’s never been done.” A unique Canadian gestalt has been brought into sharper focus for Scheier since he’s an American who came north 11 years ago. Marceau, a French Quebecer who converted to Judaism in 2004, claims a similar cultural awareness, because he was raised “on the border” between English-speaking and Francophone Canada.
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“When you have people around the table who speak different languages, even though they understand the other, they are not comfortable enough.” The two talked and concluded, “Maybe we’re the ones who should be on that bridge, making sure that Canadian Jews can celebrate together,” Marceau said. Interspersed with commentary from 20 rabbis across Canada, spanning all denominations, are some 100 archival pictures of Jewish life from every region of the country: William Goldbloom stands proudly before his fur-and-hide store in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in 1921; Grizzled Jewish prospector Marco Zimmerman stakes his claim in the Yukon Territory circa 1920; a doe-eyed immigrant boy arrives from Lisbon just days before Passover 1944; visiting Israeli dignitaries are all smiles in a meeting with Canadian leaders; Canadian Jews demonstrate on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s. The Haggadah cover shows a gaggle of children munching on matzah at the 1948 opening of a matzah factory in Montreal. And, of course, there’s an obligatory hockey moment among the book’s photos: Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper hoists a Team Israel jersey on his visit there last year. “There so much flavor and so much that should start a conversation about what it means to live as a Jew in Canada and how deep our roots are,” Scheier says. The Haggadahs are on sale for $20 each at Judaica stores in Toronto and Montreal and at Amazon.ca.
Passover In eastern Ukraine, a unique matzah factory puts food on Jewish tables by Cnaan Liphshiz
DNEPROPETROVSK, Ukraine ( JTA)— With one eye on a digital countdown timer, Binyamin Vestrikov jumps up and down while slamming a heavy rolling pin into a piece of dough. Aware of his comical appearance to the journalist watching, he exaggerates his movements to draw laughs from a dozen colleagues at the kneading station of Tiferet Hamatzot—a factory believed to be Europe’s only permanently open bakery for handmade matzah, or shmurah matzah. But Vestrikov’s urgency is not just for entertainment. Rather it is designed to meet the production standards that have allowed this unique bakery in eastern Ukraine to provide the Jewish world with a specialty product at affordable prices. The factory here also offers job security to about 50 Jews living in a war-ravaged region with a weakened economy and high unemployment. Each time Vestrikov and his coworkers receive a new chunk of dough, the timers over their work stations give them only minutes to turn it into a 2-pound package of fully baked matzah—a constraint meant to satisfy even the strictest religious requirements for the unleavened crackers that Jews consume on Passover to commemorate their ancestors’ hurried flight out of Egypt. “The faster the process, the more certain we are that no extra water came into contact with the dough and that it did not have any chance of leavening,” says Rabbi Shmuel Liberman, one of two kashrut supervisors who ensure that the factory’s monthly production of approximately eight tons complies with kosher standards for shmurah matzah. The time limitation means the entire production line has only 18 minutes to transform flour and water into fully baked and packaged matzah. Still, the workers are not complaining. They are happy to have a steady,
dollar-adjusted income in a country whose currency is now worth a third of its February 2014 value—the result of a civil war between government troops and pro-Russian separatists that has paralyzed Ukraine’s industrial heart and flooded the job market with hundreds of thousands of refugees from the battle zones. “It’s hard work, sure, but I am very happy to be doing it,” Vestrikov says. “I don’t need to worry about how to feed my family. There is very little hiring going on, and every job has dozens of takers because all the refugees from the east are here.” Rolling up a sleeve over a throbbing bicep, he adds, “Besides, this way I don’t need to go to the gym.” Despite working under pressure in a hectic and overheated environment—the ovens at Tiferet Hamatzot remain heated for days, preventing the building from ever cooling off even at the height of the harsh Ukrainian winter—the factory’s workers form a tight community whose social currency is made up of jokes and lively banter, mostly on cigarette breaks. Workers like Vestrikov say they receive good wages, but production costs and taxes in Ukraine are so low that the factory can still afford to charge customers significantly less than its competitors in the West, says Stella Umanskaya, a member of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community and the factory’s administrational manager. A 2-pound box of Tiferet Hamatzot costs approximately $10 locally and $15 abroad compared to more than double that price for shmurah matzah produced in bakeries in Western Europe, such as the Neymann matzah bakery in France, or those operating in Israel and the United States. Shmurah matzah, Hebrew for “guarded matzah,” is more expensive than regular matzah because it requires manual labor by people whose task is to guard that it does not become leavened bread—a concept derived from a verse in the book of Exodus that states “You shall guard the
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Have a Good and Healthy Passover matzot.” Some consider it a mitzvah to consume shmurah matzah because it upholds that commandment of devoting special attention or effort to guarding the matzah. For this reason, traditional Jewish law requires that the handling of matzah and its ingredients be done by Jews only. But the factory also employs more than a dozen non-Jews who perform other tasks, including distribution. To Rabbi Meir Stambler, the owner of Tiferet Hamatzot, this means the bakery “not only puts matzah shmurah on Jewish tables, but also helps build bridges and do
mitzvot with non-Jews.” Stambler, an Israeli Chabad rabbi who lives in Dnepropetrovsk and opened the factory 12 years ago, says his father used to bake shmurah matzah in secrecy in Tashkent, when the Uzbek capital was still part of the Soviet Union and subject to its anti-religious policies. “Back then, matzah used to be smuggled from Israel into the Soviet Union before its collapse in 1990,” he says. “It’s just unbelievable that now, some years later, we bake matzah in Ukraine and send it all over the whole world.”
jewishnewsva.org | Passover | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 29
Passover For Passover, a clergy couple’s vegetarian seder menu by Marshall Weiss
(The Dayton Jewish Observer/JTA)—Vegetarian food brought Cantor Jenna Greenberg and Rabbi Josh Ginsberg together. The two met as students at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, when a classmate organized a singles dinner at a kosher vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown. Greenberg had become a vegetarian in her teens, Ginsberg in his 20s. Now married, the two settled in Dayton, Ohio, two years ago. Ginsberg is the rabbi at Beth Abraham Synagogue, Dayton’s only Conservative congregation, while Greenberg leads the music program at Hillel Academy, the city’s Jewish day school, and teaches high school Judaic classes at the Miami Valley School, a nondenominational private prep school. Ginsberg says he neither encourages his congregants to become vegetarians nor discourages them from eating meat. “People know I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t engage in proselytizing vegetarianism,” he says. “Jewish tradition allows that one can eat meat. I really applaud the trend of some who are trying to create ethical, eco-kashrut and small-scale slaughtering where animals are fed a better diet and treated better.” A few times a year, Greenberg and Ginsberg have prepared vegetarian entrees alongside meat dishes for Shabbat dinners at the synagogue. They’ve received rave reviews from congregants, many of whom hadn’t tried tofu as a meat substitute before. At home, they turn out creative vegetarian meals for their boys—ages seven, five, and eight months. Greenberg says their recipes come from experimentation, some guidance from cookbooks and online recipes, along with suggestions from friends and family. Here, they offer a kosher-for-Passover seder menu that suits their fast-paced, vegetarian lifestyle—and keeps their children happy. All recipes yield approximately 8-10 servings:
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Roman Soup with Passover Dumplings (developed by the couple’s friend Susan K. Finston, author of Dining in the Garden of Eden) This is a tasty spring alternative to the traditional matzah ball soup. Ingredients 3–4 Tbs of extra-virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil 1 small onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, small dice 1 celery stalk, chopped 6 cups chopped mixed greens: Swiss chard, spinach, kale, butter lettuce, Savoy cabbage or other seasonally available greens 6 cups vegetable broth or water salt and pepper to taste parmesan cheese
Instructions • Sauté chopped onion in oil until translucent over medium-low heat • Add carrot and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally • Stir in 6 cups of mixed chopped greens (described above) • When vegetables are wilted, add soup stock • Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes Add salt and pepper to taste • Add 1–2 tablespoons Passover dumplings per serving • Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese
Passover Passover soup dumplings Ingredients 2 cups mashed potatoes 2 eggs, lightly beaten ¼ cup Passover cake meal Optional: 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or basil Reserve: 1–2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions • Mix all ingredients, adding additional cake meal to form a dough that is pliable and not too sticky • Bring water to a boil in a 2–3 quart pot • Form small balls out of the dough and carefully slide them into the water to bring them to a boil • Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings from the pot as they rise to the top and transfer to a container, adding 1–2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil
This preface to the main course tastes best when the tomatoes are ripe and sweet, and the basil is very fresh. Instructions Ingredients • On a large platter 2 pounds vine-ripened arrange tomato and tomatoes mozzarella slices and (about 4 large), sliced basil leaves, alternating ¼ inch thick and overlapping them. 1 pound fresh mozzaSprinkle salad with rella, oregano and arugula, sliced ¼ inch thick and drizzle with oil. ¼ cup packed fresh basil Season salad with salt 3 to 4 tablespoons and pepper. extra-virgin olive oil fine sea salt to taste freshly ground black pepper to taste
Potato Spinach Gnocchi
This delicious dish, also from Susan K. Finston, is a creative pasta alternative for Pesach. Ingredients 2 pounds potatoes 1½ cups potato starch 1 egg, lightly beaten 2 teaspoons salt 1 pound cooked, finely chopped spinach (frozen or fresh) ½ teaspoon nutmeg Optional: 1 Cup ricotta cheese for richer gnocchi Reserve: ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions • Peel, boil and mash potatoes • Add remaining ingredients to create the gnocchi dough, adding additional potato starch in case the dough is too sticky • Fill a 4–6 quart pot with cold water and bring water to a boil • While the water is heating, form small patties out of the gnocchi and then carefully slide them one at a time into the boiling water • When the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot, they are ready—use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and place them in an oiled baking dish • Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 10–15 minutes to melt the cheese. continued on page 32 jewishnewsva.org | Passover | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 31
Passover continued from page 31
Tomato Sauce for Gnocchi Ingredients 2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil ½ cup chopped onion 1–2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped ¼ cup of parsley, chopped 1 bay leaf 26-oz jar of crushed or stewed tomatoes 1 small can tomato paste
Instructions • Heat oil in saute pan, add onion and garlic and cook on low heat until translucent • Add parsley, bay leaf, tomatoes and tomato paste • Bring to a low boil and then turn heat down and simmer for 20–30 minutes.
Eggplant Parmesan This is a favorite dish year-round, even with matzah meal as the breading! Ingredients 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise into ½-inch-thick pieces salt, for sweating eggplants 4 eggs, beaten with a fork 3 cups matzah meal 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 26-oz jar pasta sauce (any variety) 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
SEDER 2015 NISSAN 5775 IS FRIDAY, APRIL 3 NIGHT OF
Instructions • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sweat eggplant slices, sprinkling salt, allowing time for the moisture to come out; rinse and wipe the eggplant slices. Coat eggplant slices with beaten egg, then bread with matza meal. Sauté coated eggplant slices in oil until lightly brown on both sides. • In a 9x11 ovenproof dish, layer pasta sauce, then eggplant and top with cheeses. Repeat, finishing with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and turns golden in spots, about 30 minutes.
Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf
A hearty side dish for mushroom lovers that can be served either warm or cold.
Ingredients 1 cup red, black, or mixed quinoa 2 cups water vegetable soup broth OR salt to taste medley of 3 varieties of fresh mushrooms: portabella, cremini, white mushrooms olive oil for cooking splash of balsamic vinegar 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
TO ACCESS THE MENU AND ORDERING INFORMATION.
The last day to order your Passover Seder meals from the Village Caterers is Monday, March 30. First available pickup date: Thursday, April 2 after 12 pm. Last available pickup date: Friday, April 3 before 12 pm.
Happy Passover! 32 | Jewish News | March 23, 2015 | Passover | jewishnewsva.org
Instructions • R inse quinoa. Sauté quinoa in nonstick pan for 5 minutes, tossing regularly to avoid burning. Combine quinoa with water and broth in a medium saucepan. • Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside. • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned, add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until the mushrooms are well cooked. • Toss the sautéed mushrooms in with the quinoa and serve.
This simple tossing of freshly diced ripe melons is inspired by the couple’s cantaloupe and honeydew-loving sons! 1 honeydew and 1 cantaloupe: Dice the melons and toss together!
Passover Lora Brody’s Bête Noir
This recipe is inspired by the taste buds and by the baking artistry of the couple’s mothers, Linda Greenberg and Tina Strauss-Hoder. Ingredients ¹/3 cups superfine sugar ½ cup water 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 10 chunks 6 large eggs, room temperature Instructions • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, line with parchment, lightly greased. Have a larger roasting pan available for a Bain Marie. • In a medium saucepan, place one cup of sugar and the 4 ounces of water in it. Heat to boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from its heat source, melt the chocolate in the hot syrup, stirring to melt. Add the chunks of butter, stirring each chunk in before
adding another. • Beat eggs together, with an electric beater until foamy and thickened. Stir eggs into cooled chocolate mixture, stirring until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place a roasting pan on the middle oven rack, placing the cake in the middle of the roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan to a depth of one inch along the outside of the cake pan. Avoid splashing water on the cake batter. Gently push pan into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cake pan and cool cake. When ready to serve, run a butter knife along the edge of the cake. Unmold the cake onto serving plate. • Chill. Can be made one day ahead.
Guess who’s coming to Seder?
by Elie Bar Adon
he traditional seder opens with the declaration, “let all who are hungry, come and eat; let all who need hospitality, come and share Passover.” The Jewish congregations in Tidewater, each in their own way, are fulfilling that pledge.
The local congregations of South Hampton Roads reflect a healthy diversity. Some
are small and informal, some larger and more structured. Ideologically, they span the range of Orthodox and Hassidic, through Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. As home to an array of military installations, the region hosts its own Jewish chapel, and a rabbi is currently one of the area active duty chaplains. Moreover, many of the synagogues are home to military families. The congregations’ seder options reflect this diversity. Some are catered, some are home-cooked. Some are directed at specific groups, such as military personnel and people new in their Jewish observance; others are aimed at the broader spectrum. Kosher policy follows the standards of each denomination, and there is a growing trend to providing vegetarian-friendly seder menus. But transcending their diversity, the Jewish congregations share an underlying unity: each is reaching out to people looking for a seder. If you are looking for a seder, you have options. For a complete list of area synagogues with contact information, go to www.JewishNewsVa.org and click on the Guide to Jewish Living in Tidewater.
Teri and I wish you and your family a Happy Passover! We stand with Israel, now and always.
& Mrs. Scott Rigell
jewishnewsva.org | Passover | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 33
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34 | Jewish News | March 23, 2015 | Passover | jewishnewsva.org
Passover children’s books:
choo-choos, baa-baas and back to Sinai by Penny Schwartz
BOSTON (JTA)—When Deborah Bodin Cohen immersed herself in rabbinical school in the early 1990s, she expected to spend a year in Israel as part of her studies with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. What she didn’t know was that a decade later, the experience of living in Jerusalem would spark her inspiration for a children’s book that has become a popular award-winning series. Engineer Ari and the Passover Rush, Bodin Cohen’s fourth book in Kar-Ben’s Engineer Ari series, is among a trio of new children’s books for the eight-day holiday marking the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Shahar Kober provides the illustrations. Other new books for the holiday include And Then Another Sheep Turned Up, by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Amy Adele, and a rare middle-reader Passover chapter book, Scarlett and Sam: Escape from Egypt, by the popular writer Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic. Engineer Ari and the Passover Rush Deborah Bodin Cohen, illustrated by Shahar Kober Kar-Ben ($17.95 hardcover, $7.95 paperback, $6.99 eBook); ages 5-9 Engineer Ari is a friendly train engineer, an imagined character based on Jerusalem’s early railway system that transported people and goods between Jaffa and Jerusalem dating back to the end of the 19th century in prestate Palestine. Like the previous books in the series—for Rosh Hashahah, Sukkot and Hanukkah—this charming tale is set at the eve of the holiday. In the Passover Rush, Engineer Ari is in a hurry to make his last run before the start of the seder. The sense of urgency to keep track of time for the train schedule is a perfect pairing for the story of Passover, when the Israelites fled Egypt. His ride to Jerusalem has neighbors offering him foods for his seder plate, including a bowl of charoset made with almonds and dates, a traditional Sephardi custom. Ari promises that on his return route, he’ll deliver newly baked matzah in exchange. As he arrives back in Jaffa in the nick of time, he and his neighbors swap the Jerusalem matzah for the seder plate foods. The cartoon-like illustrations by the
Israeli artist Kober will delight young readers, with animated characters dressed in colorful native garb, and bustling scenes of city life and rolling hillsides and farms. And Then Another Sheep Turned Up Laura Gehl, illustrated by Amy Adele Kar-Ben ($17.95 hardcover; $7.95 paperback; $6.99 eBook); ages 3-8 As a friendly family of sheep prepares for Passover, one guest after another arrives, from grandma with the macaroons and wine to uncles and friends who arrive unexpectedly. As the seder progresses from the Four Questions to hiding the afikomen and dipping the parsley, each page brings another unexpected visitor. Gehl’s delightful rhymes will tickle young ones. Even non-readers will join the repeating refrain, “And then another sheep turned up.” Kids will be entertained with page after page of Adele’s colorful, lively illustrations of adorable sheep having fun at Passover. Scarlett and Sam: Escape from Egypt Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic Kar-Ben ($15.95 hardcover, $5.95 paperback, $6.99 eBook); ages 6-9 When twins Scarlett and Sam bicker about who is going to recite the Four Questions at the seder, their magical Grandma Mina cuts the squabbling short: “Tonight, at the Seder, we don’t just tell the story of Passover. We become part of it.” So sets the stage for Kimmel’s timetravel Passover adventure that transports the duo to the Egyptian desert, back to the time of Moses and Aaron as they prepare to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The Ten Plagues, Pharaoh’s palace, and the suffering and indignity endured by Israelite slaves come alive for the siblings, who manage to make a podcast of their experience. Older readers familiar with Kimmel’s hugely popular illustrated books (Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and The Chanukkah Guest) will again enjoy his deft humor and flair for storytelling in the illustrated chapter book that will appeal to school-age kids. It’s a terrific pairing with Kimmel’s earlier Wonders and Miracles, a lavishly illustrated seder companion that explains and demystifies the customs and traditions.
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AIPAC: Record number of pro-Israel community convenes at critical moment
housands of pro-Israel activists gathered in Washington, D.C. March 1-3, 2015 for the largest-ever American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference to reaffirm the broad bipartisan consensus in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. With violence spreading throughout the Middle East and Iran continuing its march toward a nuclear weapons capability, a record crowd of 16,000 delegates attended to learn from top experts, to see the extraordinary impact of the pro-Israel community’s work and to engage elected representatives on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Attendees know that when it comes to the issues that matter most to the security of America and Israel, the meaningful work of citizen activists building relationships with leaders in Washington helps to keep these policy imperatives in focus. One of AIPAC’s most important priorities is to broaden the base of pro-Israel advocacy and ensure that the U.S.-Israel relationship is embraced by people of all walks of life. Throughout Policy Conference, delegates had the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the commitment of AIPAC’s most diverse leaders and how
the pro-Israel movement is represented by the diverse fabric of American society. This year’s Policy Conference brought leaders of the African-American and Hispanic communities, labor unions, evangelical Christians, veterans and other progressive constituencies. Each group is an integral part of the pro-Israel movement. Though each comes from a different walk of life, these leaders are unified in their powerful commitment to the U.S.Israel alliance. In addition to filling the halls of the Washington Convention Center during Policy Conference, these leaders carry out the work of strengthening the pro-Israel movement in their communities year-round. Thanks to their involvement, pro-Israel activists are found in every congressional district, and on both sides of the aisle. When support for Israel is challenged on campuses across America, AIPAC responds by engaging a greater number of students in their campus initiatives. AIPAC began working with campus activists in 1980 when no more than 200 students from 30 campuses attended Policy Conference. This year, more than 2,500 students representing 460 campuses in all 50 states stood united at Policy Conference. More
Andie Eichelbaum, Betty Ann Levin, Scott Levin, David Nygaard, JasonMiyares, Matt Sharpe and Skyler Grunberg visit Congressman Scott Rigell to discuss issues important to the pro-Israel community.
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than 250 student government presidents representing every state in the Union, the national leadership of both College Democrats and College Republicans, as well as the presidents of the five largest Jewish youth organizations in the country were in Washington to learn, get to know one another and continue to strengthen their resolve to making a difference in the pro-Israel arena. Together, the pro-Israel community has a vital role to play in ensuring that Israel remains a top congressional priority in the months and years ahead. Returning to Tidewater with a clear message, local attendees know that the work of strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance requires renewed commitment in the months and years ahead. The group is energized and prepared to do that work. For more details on what took place at this year’s Policy Conference, including video highlights, or to register for next year’s conference which will take place March 20-22, 2016, visit www.policyconference.org or contact Robin Mancoll, CRC director at RMancoll@ujft.org or 757-965-6120. • • •
ore than 60 people from Tidewater attended the AIPAC Policy Conference. These are reflections on the conference from a few members of the delegation. Many of our speakers emphasized the importance of keeping pressure on Iran and making sure congress has an opportunity to review any possible “deal.” There seemed to be unanimity on the importance of Iran dismantling its nuclear infrastructure. The message I got from Prof. Stephen Berk (Union College) is the importance of saying and saying again that everyone is at risk when Jews are being threatened. It’s the classic canary in the mine warning. We must make the world see that Iran is a threat to the world, not just Israel. Other speakers emphasized that our relationship with Israel is strong and will weather this “falling out” just as it has many times in the past. Brett Stephens, journalist for the Wall Street Journal, reminded us that conducting negotiations with Iran is dealing with a regime that has continually lied and stonewalled...It was a policy conference laced with both optimism and pessimism. Our job is to not let the pessimism paralyze us from acting in the best interests of America, Israel and mankind. —Betsy Karotkin
Jon Crockford, Skyler Grunberg, Joel Palser, Jayden Baum, Melissa Eichelbaum, Representative Scott Rigell, Andie Eichelbaum, David Nygaard, Betty Ann Levin, Jason Miyares, Robin Mancoll, Matt Sharpe and Scott Levin.
You can be Jewish without going to Israel, or without going to AIPAC, but if you can find any way at all to be able to visit either or both, your experience of being Jewish will be richer, more meaningful, and more satisfying. Participating as part of a powerful AIPAC Policy Conference with 16,000 fellow Jews and non-Jewish supporters gives you a feeling of pride and purpose that is hard to explain, but hard to forget. —Arthur Rosenfeld It was eye opening in so many ways. I will definitely return next year and future years. I gained a much greater appreciation for the difficulties Israel faces daily, but also the many contributions Israel makes to our culture in America. —David Nygaard It was so invigorating to be surrounded by such a diverse group coming together in support of Israel. It was the emotional and intellectual highlight of my year. We have already reserved our spot to come back again next year. If you don’t know what AIPAC is all about, come next year and join us. —Joanna and Craig Schranz This was my fourth consecutive AIPAC Policy Conference. Serving as a Christian outreach delegate allowed me to learn, to support Israel, to engage my senators and congressman and to enjoy the company of old and new friends. —Matt Sharpe The minute I walked into the Convention Center I could feel the energy of the 16,000 attendees literally filling every square inch of the room. From the President of the Czech Republic to the various Police, Fire and Rescue departments who spoke about the benefits obtained from Israel’s technology, it served to remind me that we do not stand alone in our love and support of Israel. Throw in an emotionally charged speech from Prime Minister Nentanyahu and one can see why I’ve already signed up for next year’s Policy Conference! —Susan P. Becker This was my first AIPAC Policy Conference. Despite downloading the AIPAC app, signing up for breakout sessions of interest, and asking multiple questions before I left for the conference, I still was not prepared for the experience of being with 16,000+ pro-Israeli supporters. My AIPAC experience was informative, exciting, overwhelming, exhausting and left my head spinning by the time I got back home. Even a week later, I am still processing what I
learned and heard at AIPAC Policy Conference 2015. —Barbara Dudley This was my first time at Policy Conference. I always figured there was no need since I’m already a proponent of Israel and supporter of AIPAC. Well, I’m sorry it took me so long to go because I thoroughly enjoyed the entire conference, from the Shabbaton to the closing event. The five breakout sessions were the most engaging part for me, but there was nothing I did the entire time that was anything less than excellent. Can’t wait to go back! —Seth Fleishman This is my third AIPAC Policy Conference. Packed with actionable information, insights from global experts and inspiring, AIPAC Policy Conference over the past three years has given me tools for influencing others in the Christian community, and refuting popularized errors. Every year the endearing values of pro-Israel work is demonstrated in new ways. The movement for Israel is accelerating, and the Christian community is grateful to be included in this process. This year I brought my brother, he was able to lobby his Senator and Congressmen from Wisconsin. We are honored to join with our local Jewish communities in supporting Israel. It shows Congress that pro-Israel steps are what we all want now as Americans. We all pray—and we should —but, I think that there are also times when we must be willing to follow our prayers with the right steps. Thank you AIPAC for calling Christians to come learn how to support Israel today! —Joel Palser
Andie Eichelbaum, Melissa Eichelbaum, Staci Eichelbaum, Betty AnnLevin, Scott Levin, Robin Mancoll and Skyler Grunberg watch Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to the Joint Members of Congress in Representative Scott Rigell’s DC office.
Rabbi Aaron Margolin, Martin Reddy and Joel Palser.
In 35 years attending AIPAC Conference, this was largest and best executed. Current events were fairly presented and all participants were well prepared for their lobbying responsibilities. —Sam Werbel Policy Conference provided me with vital up-to-date information on what is happening in the world and the dangerous issues facing Israel. During a time when the world’s only democracy in the Middle East is facing so many threats, it it is an incredibly moving moment of solidarity that so many people from all political parties, creeds and backgrounds can come as one and say: We Stand With Israel. —Jason Miyares
Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, Betty Ann and Scott Levin and Joel Palser.
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YAD’s Purimpalooza party is a wild success T
by Amy Weinstein
he Young Adult Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater threw the craziest Purim party in town on the evening of Saturday, March 7. Nearly 200 revelers joined in the circus-themed fun and dressed up to walk the red carpet at the Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community. Beth Gerstein and Ashley Zittrain, Purimpalooza co-chairs, successfully transformed the Campus into a swanky party venue, and ensured that attendees felt like they were getting a full circus experience. “We decided that this had to be a costume party—it’s Purim! We wanted everyone to really get into the spirit of the festival,” Zittrain says, referring to YAD’s first-ever costume party. Gerstein agrees, “The theme allowed Top row: Justin Velasco, Adam Lefkowitz, Matthew Walt, Joe Nizhnikov and Danny Rubin; Bottom row: Molly Nizhnikov, Kirby Lefkowitz, Cassie Richards. us to create a really unique experience, Purimpalooza, YAD’s largest annual event, was sponsored by including stilt walkers and circus performers. It was unlike anyTidewater Home Funding. To get involved in planning the next thing we’ve ever done before.” Partygoers enjoyed one-of-a-kind savory hamantashen, delec- signature YAD event, contact Amy Weinstein, YAD director, at table desserts and a signature cotton candy cocktail. They danced firstname.lastname@example.org. the night away to the beats of a live band, Vinyl Headlights and interacted with circus performers, including an LED hula hoop dancer, from Magical Solutions, Inc. and Cirque Mime Troupe.
Sam and Stephanie Steerman.
Jessica and Joe Ruthenberg.
Purimpalooza co-chairs, Beth Gerstein and Ashley Zittrain, and Amy Weinstein, YAD director.
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Risa and Evan Levitt.
Jen Sabatino and Nancy Helman.
Joslyn and Ari Stein, Aaron and Rachel Shames and Sam Molofsky.
Todd and Marnie Waldman with stilt performers. Yaniv and Jasmine Amitay.
Leah and Jason Rosenberg, Samantha Golden, Andrew Soberman.
Orit and Guy Seiderman.
Scott and Erica Kaplan, Marissa and Benjay Kempner.
Josh Mallenbaum, Kamilla Abramov, Adam Shall and Jillian Partington.
Deena and David Gilbert, Marc Abrams.
Eliot and Amy Weinstein. jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 39
Almost ‘Norfolk native’ creates Haggadah for baseball fans of all ages The Baseball Haggadah: A Festival of Freedom and Springtime in 15 Innings by Rabbi Sharon Forman Illustrated by Lisa J. Teitelbaum 54 pages 2015/5775 by Terri Denison
Reform rabbi and a mom of “dedicated little leaguers,” Rabbi Sharon Forman has created a Haggadah that covers all of the bases: it is readable, respectful and fun. Last Passover, Forman’s 10-year-old son asked her to find a Haggadah with a baseball theme. “We searched all over, and to our surprise, with all of the chocolate, environmental and even animated versions of the Haggadah available, no one had
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published a creative, sports themed guide to the Passover seder. “I promised my son that I would write one myself. After all, baseball and Passover both involve stories of wandering, of confronting challenges as we venture out from safety, and of finally coming home. On Passover, we celebrate God’s ‘mighty hand and outstretched arm.’ Baseball also celebrates the ability of a good arm to take a team home.” Rabbi Sharon Forman. Along with another mom in Edgemont, N. Y., artist, Lisa Teitelbaum, and a foreword written by the Passover Seder Jon Daniels, general manager of the Texas easier and more fun Rangers, and his brother Ryan, a soon- to follow.” Cleverly divided into Innings and to-be-ordained Reform rabbi, Forman produced a Haggadah with “faithfulness to Teams (The Israelites with Moses as captain and The Taskmasters headed up by the contours of a traditional seder.” With The Baseball Haggadah, Forman Pharaoh), The Baseball Haggadah has an has hit a homerun. Sorry about the puns! Announcer instead of a Leader, Batters Even the Wall Street Journal agrees, with instead of Participants and Coach’s Tips Ralph Gardner Jr. writing on Monday, instead of Commentaries. The illustrations are terrific and sophisMarch 16, “Sharon Forman just made ticated. Moses and Pharaoh are depicted on baseball cards, the seder plate resembles a baseball and the four children (not sons, but children) wear baseball uniforms. Songs are included after the 15th Inning (the conclusion). There’s a baseball version of Echad Mi Yodeah?, among others. One of the many aspects that I appreciate about this Haggaddah, is that while fun with plenty of baseball references, it’s true to the service. It’s all there and easy to follow with Hebrew, transliteration and English. The blessings are the blessings. The story is the story. “It is my hope that baseball lovers of all ages will find this Haggadah to be a meaningful way to connect to the tradition and values expressed in a modern Passover seder, such as love of freedom, kindness to strangers, and concern for the hungry and Rabbi Sharon Forman with her family at a weaker members of our community,” says Mets game in 2012: Benjamin, Joshua, Forman. husband Steven Marx and Abigal.
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The daughter of Vivian Fish Forman and Rabbi Lawrence A. Forman, Sharon Forman is practically a Norfolk native. She and her siblings, Dr. Julie FormanKay, Rabbi Joseph Forman and Cantor Alisa Forman, all grew up at Ohef Sholom Temple and attended and graduated from Norfolk Public Schools. In the “About the Author” section Forman mentions the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds. Who knows, maybe the next printing will include the Tides. This song takes place at the Seventh Inning Stretch and is sure to be a winner on its own. I’m sure you’ll guess the tune. Take Me out to the Seder: Take me out to the seder Take me out to the crowds Feed me some soup with a matzah ball Pesach’s in spring and is not in the fall For we’ll root, root, root for the Israelites As they cross right through the Red Sea, For it’s one, two, three, four cups of wine We rejoice that we are free. The Baseball Haggadah is available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as well as booksamillion.com and alibris.com.
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Simon Family JCC staff dressed up for Purim on Thursday, March 5, adding a little fun and brightness to an otherwise dreary day.
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Hebrew Ladies Charity Society continues its mission with JFS partnership F
or the past 113 years, through several generations of change, the Relief Committee of Hebrew Ladies Charity Society (HLCS) has honored its mission of meeting the needs of local Jewish families requiring urgent financial assistance. The organization has provided food to Jewish families in need for the High Holidays; Chanukah money for parents to provide gifts for their children; and money for food for Passover Seders. HLCS has also provided money for families in crisis for rent, utility bills, doctor bills, medicine and other financial needs.
In recent years, through a partnership with Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, Inc., HLCS has provided funds for home nursing care, medicines, home hospice care and services for senior adults. As always, all HLCS funds were given anonymously with only the JFS social worker knowing the name of the recipient. Though its mission of giving financial aid to Tidewater Jewish individuals in need remains the same as when it was founded in 1902, HLCS will now continue its mission through the JFS Food and Financial Assistance program. HLCS will exclusively support this
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program through an increased commitment from its endowment fund within the Jewish Family Service Foundation, as well as throughout annual giving by the HLCS membership. Frances Birshtein, president of HLCS, says, “The Food and Financial Assistance program is a longstanding program of JFS and serves Jewish members of our community who find themselves and their families in need. HLCS has been a long-time supporter of this program.” “JFS is most appreciative of the increased commitment of the organization, which joins the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Pincus Paul Fund of the
JFS Foundation as major supporters, along with so many other organizations and individuals in our community who support this important program,” says Betty Ann Levin, JFS executive director. A representative from HLCS now serves on the JFS board of directors and will work with HLCS for appropriate dedication of the archives, including photographs and historical records. Through this partnership with JFS, HLCS continues its mission, in perpetuity, of meeting the needs of local Jewish families. Jewish Family Service is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Hunger is year-round
illions of Americans who live on the brink of hunger are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet as the winter’s record snowfalls hit many parts of the country. Nearly 70 percent of the households served by Feeding America report that their most common spending tradeoff was between paying for utilities or food, according to the organization’s recent report, Hunger in America 2014. One-third of households surveyed reported making this choice every month. Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, which operates two Food Closets, has seen demand for food almost double over the past year. This past fall—from the High Holidays to Thanksgiving to Chanukah— JFS received an overwhelming amount of food donations from local congregations, area businesses and other community groups and individuals. “Our shelves overflowed with jars of peanut butter, boxes of pasta, cans of tuna and vegetables and much more,” says Jody Laibstain, JFS volunteer coordinator. “We are so grateful to all who took the time to conduct food drives and to those who donated.” But unfortunately, hunger is year-round and JFS’ shelves are starting to look bare. “We urge everyone to remember JFS as they clean out their cupboards in
JFS offices overflowed with food donations from local temples in the fall of 2014.
preparation for Passover. We will gladly accept donations so we can continue to feed the many people who come to us every day,” says Laibstain. She suggests that donated items include cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna, soup, cleaning supplies and toiletries. To donate, or for more information on organizing a food drive, contact Jody Laibstain at 757-321-2222 or MaryAnn Kettyle at 459-4640. Jewish Family Service is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
it’s a wrap Temple Emanuel goes Hollywood by Arlene Kessel
he DVD of Rise of an Empress, Temple Emanuel’s Purim movie production, is rumored to be in contention for serious grand scale development. Rabbi Marc Kraus tapped his expertise in computer visual effects to transport the drama of Esther from the scroll to a humorous and highly entertaining 30-minute movie set authentically in Persia and with what appeared to be a cast of hundreds. The cast included Gary Tabakin (Ahasuerus), Karen Shepherd (Esther), Hank Marx (Haman) and many Temple Emanuel Religious School students. More than 50 additional congregants assisted in this production. Kraus spent countless hours filming
and editing and transforming a classroom into a green screen film set. Imbued with high energy and enthusiasm, creativity, and limitless imagination, Kraus says, “The idea came to me when I realized that, if we wanted to involve kids and their families in the holiday, a traditional reading of the book of Esther was not going to satisfy their needs. “As a rabbi, I see my role mainly as being a translator of ancient traditions—I needed to find a medium through which to sell the story and the holiday in a compelling way—and a movie seemed the ideal way to do that.” It took at least five film sessions, having to juggle schedules and availability. In some cases, Kraus spliced together scenes from separate sets of footage shot weeks apart. “At other times, I had to multiply
our crowd of extras to fill the room in ways that were not immediately obvious to the naked eye,” he says. One of the greatest difficulties of the project was trying to be faithful to the historical context of the story—ancient Persia. In order to do so “I had to use exterior photographs of the ancient Iranian Citadels of Bam and Rayen, often removing tourists from photographs using Photoshop. Similarly, the streets of Haman’s childhood had to be spliced together from multiple photographs. The final result is a mixture of anachronisms such as Facebook and telephones, with authentic-looking vistas of ancient Persia. Humor plus history seemed to go down well.” says Kraus. Carol Downing found a template for the story that mixed modern political correctness with ancient burlesque. The story also includes some surprises for the audience and maintains a level of suspense, “making it
Kevin and Gary Tabakin.
much more engaging than a literal rendering of the story would have been,” notes Kraus. The event was followed by a Hollywood Costume Contest and a buffet ice cream sundae bar with homemade hamantaschen.
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it’s a wrap Beth Chaverim celebrates the power of Purim by Linda Sinowitz L.M.S.W.
or Purim, Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Chaverim were highlighted by an eighth grade Purim spiel that portrayed Vashti as one of history’s first women’s rights advocates. Along with a powerful Esther, Jewish pride was obvious, with adults making even more noise during the service than the kids. On Saturday, the Sisterhood held their annual Purim Extravaganza with costumes, brisket and a spread complete with hamantashen and Vashti’s vodka station. The professional photo set-up by Art Becker was busy from Saturday night for
the adult party through Sunday’s Religious School Purim Carnival. More than a dozen booths, games and a blow-up obstacle course made a great day for children as well as adults. Pie-inthe-face, donut-on-a-string, shave the balloon, face painting, sand art and Hit Haman, were a few of the activities run by students, teachers, parents, grandparents and volunteers. Sisterhood’s cotton candy made on the spot was clearly one of the favorite items of the day. The Religious School Class Raffle Baskets proved to be a
wonderful fundraiser, but the smiles on the children’s faces were the best of all. This powerful Purim weekend at Beth Chaverim proved to be memorable for all generations.
Ben Gordon Family Bingo Night at Congregation Beth El cold cash, Katie was asked if she knew what she had. “It’s a lot of money!” said the curly or most folks at Congregation Beth El’s redhead, a third-grader at Hebrew Academy Ben Gordon Family Bingo Night, the of Tidewater. As for her plans for the money? $500 final blackout game is a big deal. To “I wanted to buy a TV, but Mommy won’t this year’s winner on Feb. 21, it may have let me, so I’m probably going to save it,” she been slightly beyond comprehension. Katie Auerbach, eight-year-old twin says. That, says Dad, is more like Katie. “Her sister to Rebecca, and the daughter of Leslie and Andrew Auerbach, shouted “bingo!” like nature is to be rather frugal,” he says. “She a pro as she added the final dab of marker came back from Disney World with $100 of on B15 to her card. Then she stood, smiling spending money.” Does she plan to share with sis? broadly as she awaited confirmation. “I gave her $10, but it wasn’t part of the When she got her little fingers on the $500,” explains Katie, keeping tabs like her accountant mother. The twins are also the granddaughters of Beth El congregants Jeanne and Julian Marcus, plus local resident Nancy Auerbach and Herbert Auerbach. Despite less than ideal road conditions, some 250 people made it into Myers Hall for the fun and food. Thanks to 42 sponsors and 53 merchants who donated all of the prizes, the club will use the proceeds to benefit Sunday school education and Jewish camp scholarships. The game was put on for the 16th consecutive year by the Mark Kozak, left, co-chair of Beth El’s annual Ben Gordon Family Bingo Night, and Gary Kell, right, the event’s emcee, present the $500 final Men’s Club, which renamed the by Mark Kozak
blackout game prize to Katie Auerbach. (photo by Craig Schranz) 44 | Jewish News | March 23, 2015 | jewishnewsva.org
Shaina Moore and Brenda Gordon.
event in 2013 as a tribute to Ben Gordon, who worked hard for the club and particularly as a bingo ambassador in Ghent for many years. Katie wasn’t the night’s only big cash winner. No one was more shocked than a near-breathless Sharon Wasserberg, the synagogue’s own director of congregational learning, when her raffle ticket was announced for the 50/50 pot. During a dozen games and multiple raffles, players took home more than 100 prizes ranging from hotel stays and restaurant coupons, to Judaica, entertainment tickets and five wide-screen TVs supplied by Wayne Mitnick’s Affordable Mobile TV Repair.
it’s a wrap Check Mate: HAT Chess Club teaches strategy and sportsmanship
Ballroom dancing at Beth El
by Janet Jenkins
by Jody Alperin
ant to be a better problem solver? Play chess. That’s what Hebrew Academy of Tidewater students do who participate in the Chess Club, under the guidance and expertise of local master chess player, Rabbi Michael Panitz. Rabbi Panitz, who volunteers his skills at HAT, has been teaching students of all ages to play chess for more than four decades. He holds an experts’ rating from the U.S. Chess Federation, as well as a Chess Tournament director’s certification. “Much research has been done about the benefits of playing chess,” says Panitz. “The game helps establish logical and systematic patterns of thinking, especially in the area of problem solving, spatial orientation and sequencing. It teaches patience, as the rigorous demand to select one’s next move helps cultivate the willingness to stay with a problem until solving it.” Chess is a universal game of the mind
M Skyel Nidam and Natalia Chapel learn the game of chess.
where children learn to think about the next move before they make it. They learn to strategize and understand the effects of what they are about to do. Opponents have a unique way of nonverbally sharing their intentions as they begin to plan ahead, teaching students the concept of friendly competition and good sportsmanship. Hebrew Academy of Tidewater is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
yers Hall at Beth El was the scene of an evening of ballroom dancing instruction and sweet treats on Saturday, Feb 14. The program was co-sponsored by all of the adult social groups at Beth El. Following Havdalah, two instructors taught the waltz and salsa to 18 couples ranging in age from young adults to seniors. Light refreshments included heart-shaped sugar cookies, chocolate dipped oreos, pretzels, wine and cheese. “Everyone had a great evening learning new dance steps, laughing at ourselves and eating and drinking special Valentine treats,” says Jody Laibstain.
JWRP women changing the world by Amy Lefcoe
t was a night of reconnecting as women from past Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project Israel trips came together at the home of Marcy Mostofsky to make mishloach manot (gifts of food between friends) for the residents of Beth Sholom Home to be delivered on Purim. The evening also included lively discussion regarding the Torah mitzvos surrounding the laws of proper speech. One of the group’s goals this year is to learn about these laws and try to incorporate them into daily living. The purpose of The Jewish Women’s Renaissance project is to empower women to change the world. Developing a consciousness of how one speaks about people is a huge step toward this goal. For information on joining the group or future trips to Israel, contact Amy Lefcoe at email@example.com.
Brenda Kozak, Debi Yarow, Marcy Mostofsky, Julie Byers, Mara Bates.
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what’s happening It’s Run, Roll or Stroll Time!
Sunday, May 3
Wednesday, April 15, 6:45 pm, Congregation Beth El
he 11th Annual Run, Roll or Stroll, which will take place at 24th Street Park in Virginia Beach will include an 8K run, a 5K run, 5K walk and a 1 mile run/ walk, plus fun activities for all ages. Don London of The New 101.3 radio station will provide music and entertainment. “The Run, Roll or Stroll is something that we have all grown to look forward to over the last 11 years. It is a wonderful event for our entire community,” says Betty Ann Levin, JFS executive director. “People of all ages feel good coming out to the boardwalk to support JFS, which allows us to provide increased levels of services as the needs continue to increase.” The event is one part of JFS’ Spring into Healthy Living, the agency’s largest fundraiser. This year’s Spring Into Healthy Living programming has already included a very well received series on marriage, “To Have and to Hold,” and a partnership with the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater to present Dr. Ofer Merin of the Israeli Defense Forces. Joan Lunden, American journalist and television host, will appear on Sunday, April 26 at Norfolk Academy speaking on breast cancer, also as part of the Healthy Living programming. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Register online at http://tinyurl.com/joanlunden. The presenting sponsor of Spring Into Healthy Living is Towne Bank. Lead sponsors are the Lee and Bernard Jaffe* Family Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. The Copeland/Klebanoff Families are the Diamond sponsor. Many additional sponsorship
resented by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the annual Yom Hashoah commemoration honors survivors, liberators and righteous gentiles. The event also applauds winners of its annual Elie Wiesel student writing and visual arts competitions, and secondary school educators dedicated to teaching the Holocaust. This year’s visiting guest speaker is Henry Greenbaum, a Polish survivor who survived ghettos, slave labor camps and
concentration camps, including Auschwitz, before being liberated by the American troops on April 25, 1945. Greenbaum went to Poland to attend the 70th Anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz this past January. He also returned to his home town of Starachowice, Poland and Auschwitz last summer with his three sons. One son, Dr. Stanley Greenbaum, will be with his father at Yom Hashoah, and they will talk about Henry’s amazing story of survival, as well as share what it meant for them to have such an emotional family trip back into Henry’s past. Greenbaum has long been a regular volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he shares his story with school children, professional groups and students of all ages. He will speak to students from three school groups in the days after Yom Hashoah as well. For more information, visit http://jewishva. org/holocaust-yom-hashoah, call 965-6100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Relations Council’s 3rd Annual Israel Poster Contest opportunities are available. Contact Betty Ann Levin, executive director, or Sue Graves, fundraising coordinator, at 757-321-2222. Or visit www.jfsrunrollorstroll.org to register to run/ walk, be a Virtual Walker, or view the full listing of sponsorship opportunities. *Of blessed memory
Teen Wellness: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Lives Sunday, April 19, 1–3:30 pm, Sandler Family Campus
n engaging program for all teens and parents interested in living a healthy and balanced life, is planned for next month. Topics to be addressed include healthy
eating habits, stress management, body image and the media, self-esteem and more. Look for more information in the April 6, 2015 issue of Jewish News or call Samantha Golden at 757-965-6124.
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Have you voted yet? Vote at the Sandler Family Campus through March 31
top by the Simon Family JCC’s Cardo to cast a vote for your favorite Israel Advocacy poster. The entries by so many artists, combined with cool facts about Israel, offer a visually and intellectually stimulating display. The 10 finalists (those 10 posters with the most votes) will be shared online April 1–17. Then the online community, which stretches worldwide, will be encouraged to vote for their favorite. Online voting will allow these posters with facts about Israel to go viral –which means area kids can have an impact, advocating for Israel, beyond Tidewater. The winning poster will be announced on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, April 23 and will be professionally framed and hang permanently at the Sandler Family Campus.
Visit the Simon Family JCC through March 31 to vote for your favorite poster.
Attendees of the community Israel Festival on Sunday, May 17 will receive a copy of the winning poster. For more information, contact Robin Mancoll, director, Community Relations Council, at RMancoll@ujft.org.
Performing Arts at the J | presented by Leah Wohl* presents
what’s happening Cantor Mitch to bring music, recipes to Newport News Sunday, May 3, 2 pm, Temple Sinai
itchell Kowitz is not just another cookbook author. Kowitz, better known as “Cantor Mitch,” is the author of Kosher Cuisine for a New Generation. In the book, he not only provides kosher recipes that are light, simple and tasty, he pairs his dishes with an appropriate song. At Temple Sinai in Newport News, Cantor Mitch will bring his recipes, his songs and some other unusual skills, such as chopping vegetables blindfolded, to back up his belief that kosher cooking is easy and fun. As a young man, Cantor Mitch moved to New York to pursue a career on the stage. Like many other aspiring performers, he worked in restaurants between shows and decided, “I would rather make
food than serve it.” He started out as a vegetable cutter, moving up to broiler man, short order cook, prep chef and finally a sous chef. After several years in New York, his musical aspirations also took a new course, as he began studying for the cantorate, spending 25 years as a full-time cantor. Finally he brought both his careers together as “The Singing Chef.” In Kosher Cuisine for a New Generation, Cantor Mitch presents a more modern and less complicated take on kosher cooking, with recipes such as Tilapia Alfredo and Spiced Rice and Beef, along with recipes for salads, vegetables and desserts. But tradition is not ignored. A chapter is devoted to his Bubbie’s recipes for Matzoh Ball Soup and Potato Latkes. Most recipes also have a song pairing, providing an appropriate musical accompaniment to the dish. Tilapia Alfredo goes with O Solo Mio, preferably the Mario Lanza version, while I Get a Kick Out of You, by Frank Sinatra provides the perfect backdrop for the Spiced Beef and Rice. Cantor Mitch’s program is made possible through Temple Sinai’s membership in the Jewish Book Council and is also supported in part by a grant from the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula. Temple Sinai is located at 11620 Warwick Blvd. in Newport News. Call 596-8352 to RSVP by April 30.
3:00pm at the Simon Family JCC Doors open at 2:30pm
The Maccabeats have entertained and inspired audiences worldwide using nothing more than the unadulterated human voice, a clean-cut presentation, and a little Jewish humor. Come enjoy this unique group of a cappella singers who perform an eclectic array of Jewish, American, and Israeli songs. This is sure to be a fantastic performance for all ages!
ADULTS $20 | $15 JCC Members
CHILDREN $15 | $10 JCC Members
Pink Tea at Temple Emanuel Sunday, May 3, 2 pm
he 4th Annual Pink Tea to honor women cancer survivors and emphasize that, “Your Good Health is in Your Hands,” will take place at Temple Emanuel. This year’s topic, Cancer in the Family, will be presented by Dr. Louise Lubin. A psychologist who has been involved with cancer patients and their families, Lubin has been a speaker at many cancer support groups. In addition, several families in the community will offer some insight into their experiences.
The minimum contribution of $7.50 will be donated to the Beach Health Clinic in Virginia Beach. The clinic provides mammograms and examinations for women who do not have insurance. The tea is sponsored by local Pink Angels. Last year, the Tea raised $2,000 for the clinic. Make reservations by calling the temple 757-428-2591 or Renee Heyman 757-853-2145.
*of blessed memory
The Cardo Café will be open from 12–3pm for lunch. For tickets, call the Simon Family JCC at 321-2338 or visit www.SimonFamilyJCC.org. jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 47
what’s happening Gidi Grinstein rescheduled due to snow
Adult Education program at Ohef Sholom Temple: Rescues and Rescuers
Monday, April 20, 7:30 pm, Simon Family JCC
Sunday, March 29, 11 am
the 21st Century Tikkun Olam he Simon Family JCC’s project, a global engagement first Celebrate Israel event strategy for the State of Israel for 2015, Gidi Grinstein, origand the Jewish people spearinally scheduled for Feb. 23, headed by the Reut Institute. but postponed due to hazardous The JCC’s Celebrate Israel travel conditions caused by a Series is presented by Charles snowstorm, will take place next Barker Automotive. This promonth. gram is also a JCC Beyond the Grinstein is the founder and Lee & Bernard Jaffe* Family president of the Reut Institute, Gidi Grinstein. Book Festival event, and is preIsrael’s leading not-for-profit sented with support from The strategy and action group specializing in societal innovation including Community Relations Council of the UJFT. RSVP to Evan Levitt at 321-2337 to attend national security, economic development this free event. and technology. *of blessed memory Grinstein will speak about his book, Flexigidity, as well as his involvement in
11th Annual Grieving Children’s Art Show April 10—May 8 Leon Family Art Gallery at the Sandler Family Campus
magine being a child and learning that your mother was killed in a car accident. Who can you talk to about this sudden tragic loss and who will understand? Although family and friends of all ages are impacted when a loved one dies, sometimes there is uncertainity of how to reach out to children and teens. Jewish Family Service counseling staff, through the Dozoretz Center for Healing and Jessica Glasser Therapeutic Pavilion, specializes in helping individuals of all ages cope with loss and grieving. One component of this program is a free support group for children, teens and their families who have experienced the death of a loved one: Peace by Piece. This program is operated by Edmarc Hospice for Children in collaboration with JFS. JFS and Edmarc co-sponsor an annual art show—now in its 11th year—that displays the creative drawings and words of local grieving children and teens. This is an opportunity for children and teens to share their feelings with others and to see that they
are not alone. The art show is open to any school-aged youth in Tidewater who has experienced the death of a loved one. Over the past 10 years, more than 300 pictures have been submitted. After Gr iev ing Children’s Art Show artwork is displayed in the Leon Family Art Gallery at the Sandler Family Campus, they will be on display for one night only at Peace by Piece on May 28. After May 28, the art will return to either JFS or Edmarc for display throughout the rest of the year.
If you know any school-aged child or teen who has experienced the death of a loved one and would like to contribute artwork for the Grieving Children’s Art Show, contact Debbie Mayer at JFS. For more information about helping grieving children and teens or about the free Peace by Piece support program, contact JFS at 757-459-4640 or DMayer@jfshamptonroads.org.
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arty Mandelberg will speak on the topic, Rescues & Rescuers, at a program presented by Ohef Sholom Temple’s Adult Education committee. From 1933 through 1945, innumerable attempts to save European Jewry from the fate that Hitler and his henchmen were so determined to bring to fruition took place. Some efforts involved many; others, just a few. Some were highly organized and well planned; others were random and impulsive. Some worked well and were relatively successful; others, were not. What motivated the rescuers, many of whom were not Jewish, to risk their lives to save even one person? What were the circumstances that determined whether the attempt would ultimately be successful or end in tragedy? Mandelberg will
review several specific cases to attempt to answer these and other related questions. Mandelberg has been teaching about Holocaust and Anti-Semitism to middle- and high-school classes since 1991. In addition, he has led numerous adult education sessions on a variety of specific topics such as Why the Jews?, Resistance in Many Forms, and America and the Holocaust. Mandelberg is a member of the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and is a frequent presenter of survivor stories throughout the community as part of the What We Carry program. The program is free and open to the community. Ohef Sholom Temple is located at 530 Raleigh Avenue in Norfolk. For more information or to RSVP, call the Temple at 625-4295.
The Sonenshine Lecture Series Friday, March 27, 12:30 and 7 pm, Old Dominion University
rofessor Michael Brenner will speak twice for The Sonenshine Lecture Series as part of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominon University. Jewish Life in Contemporary Europe is the subject of his talk at 12:30 pm in the Burgess Room. At an Interfaith Shabbat dinner and lecture, he will speak on Herzl’s Idea of a Jewish State: Dream and Reality, using the Dreyfus Affair as a backdrop. Hillel will sponsor an Interfaith Shabbat service conducted by Rabbi Michael Panitz at 5:30 pm in the Cape Charles/Isle of Wight room. The dinner and lecture will take place in the Presidents Room in the Webb Student Center at 7 p.m. RSVP to Farideh Goldin.
Brenner is the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University and directs AU’s Michael Brenner Center for Israel Studies. He received his PhD at Columbia University and previously taught at Indiana and Brandeis Universities. Since 1997, he has been professor of Jewish History and Culture at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. Free parking will be available for all events. For more information, contact Farideh Goldin at email@example.com.
what’s happening Jewish Museum and Cultural Center to celebrate seven years
5th Annual Simon Family JCC Presidents’ Cup Golf Tournament
Sunday, April 19, 2 pm
Monday, June 1, Heron Ridge Golf Club Noon shotgun start
he Jewish Museum and Cultural Center will celebrate its seventh birthday during the intermission of the final presentation of the museum’s 2014–15 movie series. For seven years, the JMCC has offered a variety of cultural education programs, including a music series and a movie series. The film to be shown on April 19, Live and Become, is a story about Operation Solomon, the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to
Israel. When a Jewish boy dies just before the rescue, a non-Jewish Ethiopian mother substitutes her son for the dead boy. The film follows his life in Israel carrying out his mother’s parting words “Live and Become.” The suggested donation is $5. Cake, ice cream, popcorn and punch will be served. For information, call 391-9266 or visit jewishmuseumportsmouth.org.
Call 321-2337 for sponsorship opportunities and to register. Proceeds to benefit children’s programming at the Simon Family JCC.
Virginia Symphony plays for children at the JCC Sunday, April 26, 2:30 pm
he Simon Family JCC’s final Children’s Cultural Arts Series presents the Virginia Symphony’s “Musical Voyages.” This musical voyage celebrates sounds and rhythms of some of the countries of the Asia Pacific played by a string quintet. From India to Malaysia, Mongolia to Australia, the music brings to mind fireworks, wild tigers, beautiful grasslands and special dances. The special instruments of the Asia Pacific are celebrated through the music of Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. This experience takes the listener on a journey that opens the mind and spirit to the special qualities of this region’s music that is easily enjoyed by children of all ages. Ticket prices are Family (two adults and children): $27 or $22 for members; Adult $8 or $6 for members; Child (ages 10 and under) $6 or $4 for members. Call 757-321-2338 for tickets or register online at simonfamilyjcc.org.
Camp JCC Preschool Carnival Sunday, April 12, 10:30 am –12:30 pm, Simon Family JCC
On Passover, kids rarely stick to asking just the four questions. This year we’re asking an extra question, too. Will you help us make a difference in the lives of Jewish children, here at home and around the world?
By giving to Federation you feed hungry children. You connect children to Judaism—through after-school programs, Jewish summer camp and Birthright. You provide counseling to troubled teens. You help children with special needs. And more.
321-2342 for more information.
So this Passover, our fifth question is, “Will you help?” Please answer “yes” and give as generously as you can. Visit www.JewishVA.org and donate today.
njoy Camp JCC’s first annual preschool carnival. Camp JCC is the place to be this summer for preschool aged children. Have fun play-
ing games, making crafts, getting faces painted and so much more. Call
jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 49
what’s happening The Berlin Jewish Hospital Lecture and exhibit at Old Dominion University
African Children’s Choir Tuesday, March 31, 7:30 pm, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
Monday, April 13, 12:30 pm, Perry Library
r. Elke-Vera Kotowski and Dr. Julius Schoeps from Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies in Berlin will lead discussions on the history of the Jewish Hospital in Berlin, where 800 Jewish patients survived the Holocaust. “From Heqdesh to Hightech” Artifacts and pictures from the hospital will be displayed at Perry Library during the month
of April. Dr. Elke-Vera Kotowski will give a walking tour of the exhibit after the lecture. The exhibit and lecture are presented by the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University. Free parking will be available for all events. For more information, contact Farideh Goldin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical ethics during war and trauma Tuesday, April 14, 7:30 pm, Webb University Center
anel discussion: “Medical Ethics during War and Trauma” with Dr. Annette FinelyCroswhite, ODU Department of History; Captain Martin Snyder; Dr. Elke-Vera Kotowsk, Moses Maimonides Society, Berlin; Dr. Kimberly Adams-Tufts, College of Health Sciences. 6:30 pm reception; 7:30 pm discussion. Free parking will be available for all events. For more information, contact Farideh Goldin at email@example.com.
he 2nd Annual World Music Event Concert to benefit ACCESS the ARTS will feature the African Children’s Choir. Founded in 1948 by Ray Barnett, the choir has performed around the world. Annie Sandler and Ann Nusbaum are co-chairs of the event, which is presented by the Sandler Center Foundation Board. For information about seating vouchers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 757-385-0227, go to www. sandlercenter.org/benefit or visit the Sandler Center Box Office.
Enter to win 4 vouchers by going to JewishNewsVA’s facebook page and like the African Children’s Choir’s image by Friday, March 27.
Virginia Council BBYO ‘Teens of the 70s’ Reunion Saturday, April 18, 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 19, 11:30 am Weinstein JCC, Richmond
ll teens during the 1970’s who participated in Virginia Council BBYO, are invited to attend the second Virginia Council BBYO ‘Teens of the 70s’ Reunion. ‘Teens of the 70s’ includes anyone who graduated high school between 1969 and 1984. The last reunion held in 2010 had more than 200 people from all over the country. This one should be bigger and better, held at the same JCC that the Virginia Council Runoffs convention was held each year,
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back in the day. Registration is now open: https://rjf. wufoo.com/forms/teens-of-the-1970as-virginia-council-bbyo-reunion/. Tickets are $70 per person and are non-refundable. Tickets include party on Saturday, brunch on Sunday, a reunion t-shirt, a reunion event program book, memorabilia viewing, and more. For more information, contact Albert Negrin email@example.com or Sam Revenson firstname.lastname@example.org.
calendar March 25, Wednesday Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ 2015 Humanitarian Awards dinner honoring Leah and Richard Waitzer at Norfolk Waterside Marriott. 5:45 pm. To attend and sit at the combined United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Tidewater Jewish Foundation and Simon Family JCC table, contact Samantha Golden at 965-6124 or at Sgolden@UJFT.org.
Camp JCC is a wonde rf ul place to wor k! SUMMER 2015
Camp JCC: June 22 - August 14 Post Camp: August 17 - September 4
NOW HIRING…..STAFF FOR THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS Specialists: Sports, Music Special Needs Counselors • Senior and Junior Counselors •
March 26–29, Thursday–Sunday Tidewater Together Scholar-In-Residence. Rabbi Sharon Brous to speak throughout Tidewater at various locations. See page 16 for details. March 29, Sunday The Maccabeats, a male a cappella group, will perform at the Simon Family JCC at 3 pm. Order tickets by calling 321-2338. Adults $20 or $15 for JCC members; children $15 or $10 for JCC members. APRIL 12, SUNDAY Brith Sholom meeting will feature Beth Ann Lawson, elder law and estate planning attorney. A question and answer session will take place following her presentation. Reservations and payment must be received no later than Tuesday, April 7. Call Gail at 757-461-1150. Camp JCC Preschool Carnival at the Simon Family JCC. Games, crafts, face painting and balloon animals. 10:30 am–12:30 pm. 321-2342. See page 49. April 15, Wednesday JCC Senior Club meeting will have Officer Allen Perry speak on Project Lifesaver, which is designed to provide security for families, while safeguarding the memory-impaired and those who are least able to care for themselves. Officer Perry has been with the Virginia Beach Project Lifesaver since it started in the Police Department in June 2005. Board meeting begins at 10:30 am, lunch at 12 noon, general meeting follows. Call 757497-0229. Yom Hashoah at Congregation Beth El. Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration. Candle lighting ceremony, guest speakers and recognition of Holocaust survivors, Righteous Gentiles, Liberators and all of their families. Announcement and presentation of student winners of the Annual Elie Wiesel Writing and Visual Arts Competitions and Excellence in Education award-winning teachers. 6:45 pm. Free and open to the community. Visit www. HolocaustCommission.org for more information. April 19, Sunday Temple Israel Gala to pay homage to Jewish jazz giants with local bandleader bringing story of survival to event. The synagogue’s annual fundraiser will feature hors d’oeuvres and a dinner prepared by TCC’s culinary expert Deanna Freridge, as well as music, dancing, singing and the stories behind the legends, told by WHRV FM’s Jae Sinnett, the area’s leading authority on jazz. Tickets are $60 each and are available by calling 757-489-4550. April 23, Thursday Charles Barker Automotive presents The JCC’s Second Celebrate Israel event National Geographic’s Jerusalem, a movie presentation at the giant screen theater at the Virginia Aquarium. Shows at 6 and 8 pm with a reception at 7 pm with light refreshments. Catered by The Village Caterers. Program support from the Community Relations Council of UJFT. Tickets available for purchase at the Simon Family JCC. $18 per person. May 17, Sunday The Simon Family JCC’s annual Israel Fest, presented by Charles Barker Automotive. Taste, explore and discover at the JCC’s biggest party of the year. Spaces for artists, craftsmen and non-food vendors are available. 11 am-5 pm. Interested in being a vendor? Call 321-2304.
Camp JCC offers a rich and unique day camp experience, allowing every child to explore their own interests and try new activities within a safe camp atmosphere. Engaging and supportive staff encourages campers to have fun, develop skills and form meaningful relationships. Staff members are hired for their ability to facilitate memorable experiences for our campers. Camp personnel have background checks and participate in an extensive orientation program. Applications available at: www.simonfamilyjcc.org For more information, contact: Erika Eskanazi, Children and Camp Director Taffy Hunter, Human Resource Director
(757) 321-2342 (757) 965-6117
Submit completed application to:
Simon Family JCC
Attention: Human Resources 5000 Corporate Woods Drive Virginia Beach, 23462
Don’t wait! Applications accepted TODAY!
Join Our Team! ADVERTISING ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
Position Available Sales experience a must • Media sales, a plus • Flexible hours • Great earning potential
If you are an ambitious, high-energy, self-starter with good people skills, this might be the job for you!
Contact Taffy Hunter, Human Resources director, at 757-965-6117, email@example.com or submit resume to
Send submissions for calendar to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to note “calendar” in the subject. Include date, event name, sponsor, address, time, cost and phone.
Attention: Human Resources 5000 Corporate Woods Drive Virginia Beach, 23462
jewishnewsva.org | March 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 51
obituaries Josef Fleischmann Norfolk—Josef Fleischmann died on March 10, 2015 at his home on Armfield Circle. He was born in October 1925 to Ida Wechsler and Samuel Fleischmann in Nuremberg, Germany (the city of the 19461947 War Crimes Trials.) He only escaped death in the WWII Holocaust because his immediate family immigrated to Norfolk, Va. in late November 1938. At age 12, Joseph had run away from home on a bicycle, planning to join his father, already in New York, by stowing away on a U.S. bound ship in Le Havre, France. But when both the “unreasonable” U.S. and French consuls declined to accommodate him with needed legal documents, he went home. During “Kristallnacht” a particularity fanatic stormtrooper neighbor slapped Josef’s mother. He was angry and frustrated over Josef’s father having escaped death in a concentration camp by making it to America. Fortunately, Josef was visiting his grandfather at the time, or this influential Nazi might have substituted Josef in place of his father (due to his being very big for a 13-year-old). Josef slept in his grandfather’s attic for the following week. Kristallnacht was a pogrom organized and orchestrated by the Nazi government. Meant to appear spontaneous, it resulted in almost 1,000 Jewish men being murdered (including Josef’s great uncle, Jakob Schloss) and thousands sent to concentration camps for many weeks thereafter. Synagogues were torched and forever closed. Until the current Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah) was proclaimed in 1953, Kristallnacht was observed as such. The largest synagogue in Nuremberg had been razed earlier in 1938 on the city council’s orders. The given reason (as though any was needed) was that the Oriental looking building clashed with the “historically Germanic” architecture of the area. Josef attended Norfolk Public School until June 1940, when he was encouraged to help with family living expenses. While working illegally—62 hours per week on Church Street—at age 15, Josef attended Matthew Fountain Maury High School three nights per week for English classes. Josef served in the U.S. armed forces
from April 1944 until June 1946, mostly with the U.S. 343rd infantry regiment (Blackhawks) in Europe, where he lost 50% of his hearing. He also served in combat in the Philippines, for which his division had taken amphibious training for assaulting Iwo Jima. He survived WWII due to several complex twists of good fortune and because God answered MOST of his prayers with an emphatic “NO.” Josef worked as an auditor for the U.S. Treasury Department from 1951 until 1984. Attending the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, mostly at night, he received his B.S. in Business Administration, Cum Laude, in June 1956 with 160 credits. Although for economic and familial responsibility reasons, Josef was an “8th grade school dropout,” the College matriculated him on the basis of a special test. Josef so loved academia that at the request of the head of the Business Department, after graduation, he taught accounting courses at night until his treasury job required too much travel in 1963. He received his C.P.A certificate (#888) in 1954. Josef founded the Evening College Club in 1955 and was elected its first president. Josef regularly delivered “Meals on Wheels” for Jewish Family Service of Tidewater for 16 years, until a near fatal accident in 2006. He was a member of B’nai Israel (and its predecessor congregations) since 1947 and Senior Clubs of the J.C.C since 1990. He lived a frugal life, and so he was able to leave a Charitable Remainder Trust to the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and Jewish Family Service. Josef was predeceased by his beloved parents and his only sibling, Rachel Fleischmann Schramm of Teaneck, N.J. and Boca Raton, Fla. He is survived by nieces Diana Holtzman (Kenneth) of White Plains, N.Y. and Janet Ida Gelman of Livingston, N.J.; grandnephews David Holtzman (Michelle), Jason Gelman, and Adam Gelman of N.Y.C. and grandniece Lauren Raditz (Brett) of Voorhees, N.J.; and three great grandnephews and nieces. Josef was buried in the Cedar Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Sender Haber officiating. Memorial contributions can be sent to a charity of choice or Jewish Family Service.
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Meyera Fran Ellenson Oberndorf Virginia Beach—Meyera Fran Ellenson Oberndorf passed away on Friday, March 13, in Charlotte, N.C. She was 74. Meyera was many things to many people: a devoted daughter, a dear friend, a loving wife, mother and grandmother. But for the countless people whose lives she touched, she will forever be remembered as Mayor Meyera. For 20 years, Meyera served as the Mayor of Virginia Beach. She was the first popularly elected Mayor, and popular she was, travelling every square mile of the city to make appearances at events large and small. Whether it was official dinners for international dignitaries or cookouts for local little leagues, Meyera was there, taking time to talk to the citizens she loved, flashing a smile bigger than her petite 5'0" frame. Meyera was born on February 10, 1941, in Newport News, the only child of Louis and Hilda Ellenson. Family was always very important to Meyera, as was her Orthodox Jewish faith. She adored her parents and was close to the many cousins who lived in her neighborhood. Ballet and public speaking were among her talents, foreshadowing a career in the public eye. In the early 1960s, Meyera studied at Stern College for Women in New York, where she met Roger Oberndorf, the love of her life, at a college mixer. After Roger enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, he and Meyera were married at the historic Chamberlain Hotel in Hampton on June 11, 1961. Meyera completed her education at the College of William & Mary and Old Dominion University. The Oberndorfs settled in the Kempsville section of Virginia Beach as Roger entered civilian life as an engineer at the Ford Motor Plant in Norfolk. Parenthood came next as the couple welcomed daughters Marcie and Heide. Meyera tried her hand at substitute teaching but found her real passion when she joined the Virginia Beach Public Library Board in the late 1960s. Thanks to her pioneering efforts, the city’s fledgling and underfunded library program became a priority and a point of local pride. Politics turned into a family affair for the Oberndorfs, with Meyera as the charismatic leader and Roger as her campaign
manager and strategist. Meyera was the first woman elected to Virginia Beach City Council in 1976. Twelve years later, she made history again as the first directly elected Mayor, a position she held for four consecutive terms. Meyera approached the job as the people’s representative, always standing up to the established male-dominated structure of city politics and putting citizens’ needs first. To the delight of the woman who loved to read to elementary school students, the Virginia Beach Central Library was named in her honor in 2009. Meyera was politically active on the national scene, with several leadership positions in the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. Meyera also served as a personal role model. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, she made her results public to raise awareness of cancer research. Newsweek named her one of the nation’s 25 Most Dynamic Mayors. Her next role as “Nana” to grandchildren Lila and Joey was especially dear to Meyera’s heart. She proudly included them in city events and in official visits to Europe and Asia. In recent years, personal challenges began to accumulate for Meyera. She lost Roger in 2012 when he died from complications from a brain injury. Her energy and spirit were dimmed by the slow, steady march of Alzheimer’s. Marcie and Heide made the difficult decision to move Meyera from her beloved Virginia Beach to live near Marcie’s family in Charlotte. Ever the crusader, Meyera was eager to make make her condition public, and to help spread the word about the importance of Alzheimer’s research. It was her final act of public service. Meyera is survived by daughter Marcie Oberndorf-Kelso, son-in-law Marty Kelso, granddaughter Lila Kelso and grandson Joey Kelso of Charlotte, NC; and daughter Heide Oberndorf of San Francisco, Calif. A service was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center with Rabbi David Ellenson officiating. Burial took place at the Jewish Cemetery in Hampton. Helen B. Ott Virginia Beach—Helen Baras Ott, 92, passed away March 10, 2015.
obituaries She was preceded in death by her parents, Herman and Susie Baras; and her husband, Warren Ott. Left to cherish her memory are her two daughters, Phyllis Dobrinsky and Elinor Harris and husband L.G. Harris; four grandchildren, Jamie Anderson, Jacob Anderson, Amanda Altice and Samantha Harris; great granddaughter, Emery Harris; nephew, Charles Glickman; and niece, Blanche Spilka. A graveside service was held in Workmen’s Circle Cemetery, in Chesapeake with Rabbi Israel Zoberman officiating. Memorial donations to National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 760 Lynnhaven Pkwy., Virginia Beach, VA 23452 or American Diabetes Association, 870 Greenbrier Cir., Ste 404, Chesapeake, VA 23320. Jeffrey Frank Skolnick Virginia Beach—Jeff Skolnick, 52, after a brave battle with Lymphoma, passed peacefully in his home surrounded by his
family and friends on March 7, 2015. Predeceased by his father, Richard (Dick) Skolnick, he is survived by his wife of 24 years, Beth (Bryant) Skolnick, son Hunter, daughter Taylor, mother Phyllis Rosenblum Skolnick, mother-in-law Nancy (Wallace) Bryant, father in-law Maxey Bryant all of Virginia Beach and by his siblings Donna (Skolnick) Semonich, Allen Skolnick and Curtis Skolnick. Jeff was born on January 27, 1963 in Minneapolis, Minn. A devoted husband, Jeff had a passion for life that he shared with Beth and warmed the hearts of everyone around them. An adoring father, he centered his life around his children imparting life-lessons and mentoring Hunter and Taylor with a seize-the-day attitude that will mold them into successful and loving adults. He spent his childhood in Virginia Beach and was a gifted student and athlete who graduated from Kempsville High School in 1981 before attending Virginia
Tech. Jeff earned an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and a graduate degree Construction Management and soon after marriage settled in Vienna, Va. for 18 years. Jeff was an accomplished software designer and project manager who worked with Bechtel, Jacobus, Arc-Second and most recently with Bentley Systems. Jeff and his family moved to Virginia Beach in July of 2007 settling in a warm home overlooking the first of hole of the Princess Anne Country Club, perfect for Jeff as he enjoyed golf and the camaraderie of the Club. He loved to spend summer days hanging out on the beach enjoying the surfing scene and winter days in the mountains whisking down powdered covered slopes on his snowboard. He traveled extensively and lived life to its fullest enriching the lives of family and countless friends; he was loved by all. Funeral services were held at Congregation Beth El, followed with interment at Forest Lawn Cemetery. H.D. Oliver.
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Meyera’s Jewishness was front and center at her well attended memorial service
by Joel Rubin
here have been funerals of significant Jewish business and philanthropic leaders over the years in Hampton Roads, but not of many prominent political figures who observed our faith. Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf was one of the few. The memorial service in her honor on Monday, March 16 following her death on the previous Friday at the age of 74, let the more than 500 in attendance know this was a courageous woman who was proud to be a Jew. The audience at the Virginia Beach Convention Center included family, friends, members of city councils and the state legislature, plus dozens of admirers who remembered Meyera as a populist champion of everyday people who morphed into a citywide leader as mayor for 20 years (1988-2008). Her schedule took her many places here and abroad, but she never strayed from her commitment to kashrut. “Chefs from all over town, out of love and respect for her, knew to call her secretary to see what she could and couldn’t eat,” recalled David Proser, chazzan at Kehilat Bet Hamidrash, Meyera’s synagogue in Kempsville. But if you did not notice what was on Meyera’s plate, you only had to listen to her mention, as she did often, about being the “petite Jewish woman” who took on the establishment. Mayor Will Sessoms noted the major infrastructure achievements that occurred during Meyera’s watch, including the Lake Gaston Pipeline, the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Town Center and even the central library that today bears her name. Others, like former Virginia Beach Social Services Director Terry Jenkins, focused on Meyera’s love of children and compassion for the underserved as well as her ability to face difficult challenges, both political and personal. Indeed she won five tough elections for Mayor and overcame breast cancer, but not dementia and later Alzheimer’s disease, which led first to her admission to Beth Sholom Village and then to a
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facility in Charlotte, where her daughter Marcie lives. Rabbi David Ellenson, Meyera’s first cousin and the former head of the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College, presided at the service, reciting Hebrew psalms and prayers and translating for the crowd the verse on the coffin cover, “righteousness walks before the person.” Just before an honor guard representing all the city’s public safety departments prepared to carry the casket to a waiting H.D. Oliver hearse, the former Mayor’s favorite musician stepped onto the podium. In 2005 at the age of 10, Annika Jenkins came to City Council with quarters and dimes she had earned and announced she was donating it toward the cost of constructing what is today the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. Smitten, Meyera had Annika play the violin at the subsequent groundbreaking and dedication of the building. Today Annika is studying at Julliard in New York and has performed around the world. When she heard Mrs. Oberndorf had died, she rushed home to Virginia Beach to perform the mayor’s favorite Bach selection, then also provided accompanying music as the family departed the ballroom. “Meyera was a wonderful public servant who made us all very proud of our own Jewishness,” says Harry Graber, UJFT executive director, who was in attendance. “The service was a very moving tribute to her public accomplishments, but also to her Jewish life,” which the Chevrah Kadisah at Temple Israel honored by preparing the body for internment. Following the Convention Center program, the Virginia Beach police department escorted the hearse onto Interstate 264 for the short trip to the Peninsula where Meyera was raised. In Hampton, officers from that city guided the motorcade into the Jewish Cemetery on Kecoughtan Road, where Meyera was laid to rest beside her husband Roger, who died in 2012, and her parents, Louis and Hilda Ellenson. Heidi Oberndorf along with her sister Marcie, her husband Marty and their children Lila and Joey plus other family members, including first cousin Jimmy Ellenson, now of Franklin, Va., recited the kaddish. It was a fitting end to a day and a life of a truly Jewish woman who according to David Proser “showed us all just how big a little person can be.”
Memorial Service at Virginia Beach Convention Center.
Meyera Oberndorf at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library. City of Virginia Beach photoraphs.
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Jewish News March 23