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30 Beneath the Helmet Thursday, Nov. 20
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Biden: U.S. “will not sign a bad deal” with Iran Washington (JTA)—With the Nov. 24 deadline for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program looming, Vice President Joe Biden vowed that the United States “will not sign a bad deal.” “Let me say to you clearly in Bidenesque way: We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon—period,” he said in an address Monday, Nov. 10 to the annual conference of the Jewish Federations of North America. “I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line were I not certain when I say we mean it.” The only sort of deal the United States would accept is one that puts “significant and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program,” Biden said at the General Assembly, which this year was held near Washington. The vice president also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “really great friend.” Finding Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in the audience of some 2,500 in the conference ballroom, Biden said, “Ron, you’d better damn well report to Bibi that we’re still buddies. You got it, right?” Biden’s appearance at the G.A. came two weeks after an anonymous Obama administration official was quoted by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic magazine characterizing Netanyahu as “a chickenshit.”
Netanyahu: Iran is U.S. enemy, not partner
Biden said he and Netanyahu have been friends for more than 30 years. “We really are good friends,” he said. “I once signed a photo to Bibi: ‘I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.’ ” Like close friends, Biden said Israel and the United States sometimes disagree with each other. “We love one another and we drive one another crazy—I’m serious. That’s what friends do. We are straight with one another,” he said. Biden also used his G.A. speech to tout the Obama administration’s record on aid to Israel, including $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system and $17 billion in foreign military financing for Israeli security over the six years of Obama’s presidency. “There has never been a doubt in our minds of our obligation to match the steel spine of the Israeli people with an ironclad commitment of our administration to Israel’s security,” he said. Biden expressed concern over the current outbreak of violence in and around Jerusalem, saying both Palestinians and Israelis need to try to calm the situation. “All sides need to avoid incitement and demonstrate restraint,” Biden said. “There is a better path, and we’re not going to stop working until both sides are able to find that path.”
About the cover: Photograph of the Sandler Family Campus by Steve Budman
Up Front. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Torah Thought. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 SodaStream’s move. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 New chief for ADL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Election wrap-up. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Tension in Jerusalem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Jerusalem Supreme Court passport case. . . . . . 11 Anti-Semitism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Tidewater women celebrate milestones. . . . . . . 14 Book Festival’s busy beginning . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Beneath the Helmet premiere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 HAT Golf Tournament. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 JDC book highlights 100 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
JFS Food Closet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Security supply drive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beth El’s Steak and Scotch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beth Chaverim’s children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Temple Israel’s Scholar-in-Residence . . . . . . . . First Israel Today speaker in Tidewater. . . . . . IDF Soldier in Tidewater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What’s Happening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calendar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mazel Tov. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chanukah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside: 10th Anniversary of the Sandler Family Campus
WASHINGTON (JTA)—The United States should treat Iran as an enemy and not as a partner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jewish leaders. “Iran is not part of the solution, it’s a huge part of the problem,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, Nov. 11 referring to reports that the United States may be coordinating with Iran in their shared battle to crush the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria. “The Islamic state of Iran is not a partner of America, it is an enemy of America and it should be treated as an enemy.” Netanyahu, speaking via video link to the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, said such treatment should extend to nuclear talks now underway between the major powers and Iran “by keeping tough sanctions on the regime, by making clear that the international community is determined to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from breaking out or sneaking out to get the bomb.” He said a deal that would allow Iran a limited uranium enrichment capacity would be a “disaster of historic proportions.” U.S. officials have said that such a deal is the likely outcome should the sides come to an agreement. The deadline to reach a deal is Nov. 24. “The worst thing that could happen now is for the international community to agree to a deal that would leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power and removes its sanctions,” he said.
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briefs Sister of senior Hamas official reportedly being treated in Israeli hospital The sister of senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk reportedly is being treated in an Israeli hospital. Halamia Shcata, 60, who has cancer, is in critical condition in an unnamed Israeli hospital, The Jerusalem Post reported. Marzouk has criticized the Israeli government’s decision to close the two crossings from Israel into Gaza hours after a rocket was fired from the coastal strip into southern Israel. Exceptions are being made for humanitarian cases. The hospitalization of a relative of a Hamas official, which is not being officially confirmed by the Israeli military’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, comes two weeks after the news that the daughter of Gazan Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was treated last month at a Tel Aviv hospital. Haniyeh’s mother-in-law and yearold granddaughter both were cared for in Israeli hospitals this year. (JTA) Study analyzing ethnicity of Russia’s wealthiest ripped for singling out Jews A member of Russia’s Human Rights Council slammed a news website that said that nearly a quarter of Russia’s top billionaires are Jews. Nikolai Svanidze of the council, a Kremlin-affiliated body with no executive powers, made the condemnation last month against Lenta.ru, which analyzed according to faith and ethnicity the Forbes list for 2014 of people the magazine identified as Russia’s wealthiest. The Lenta.ru study claimed that 48 of the 200 richest Russians were Jews who own a total capital of $122.3 billion. Ukrainians also owned an outsized share of Russia’s private capital, the publication claimed. “It’s a Nazi and racist approach,” Svandize was quoted by the Slon.ru news site. But Yuri Kanner, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, defended the decision to publish the study. “If you cannot compare the proportion of representatives of various nationalities in the general ethnic composition of the
country, it is impossible to understand who is really successful and who is not,” he told the currsorinfo.co.il news website. Kanner said, however, that he doubted the authenticity of the research. “The proportion of Jews in the population of the Russian Federation is calculated incorrectly,” he said. “Besides, to compare the Jewish population, which is mainly concentrated in the major cities and has a university degree, with a total mass of Russian citizens, it is not accurate.” Among the people listed in the Lenta study as Jewish were Mikhail Fridman ($17.6 billion); Viktor Vekselberg ($17.2 billion) and Leonid Michelson. They did not identify themselves to Lenta as Jewish, the news website said. (JTA)
Ronald Lauder warns Swiss museum not to take Gurlitt collection World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder warned a Swiss museum to turn down the collection of masterpieces bequeathed to it from the Cornelius Gurlitt collection. Lauder in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine said the Kunstmuseum Bern would “trigger an avalanche of lawsuits” from potential claimants should it take the 20th century masterpieces. The claimants are the heirs of the collectors from whom some of the works may have been stolen by the Nazis. He also criticized the slow pace of provenance research in German museums in general. The museum’s board will make a decision by the end of November, a museum spokesman said. Before Gurlitt’s death, some heirs had successfully sued to reclaim paintings. But it is not yet known how many works were confiscated or bought at depressed prices from their owners by the Nazis, for whom Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was a collector in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The collection came to light a year ago, when Focus magazine reported on the discovery made during the course of an investigation of Cornelius Gurlitt for tax evasion. Soon afterward, Germany established a commission to research the provenance of the works, including paintings by Max Beckman, Marc Chagall, Pablo
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Picasso, Henri Matisse and other 20th century masters. Speaking for Germany in the same interview, Cultural Minister Monika Grutters agreed that progress was slow. But she confirmed that the German government was holding talks with the museum director in Bern and expressed confidence that a “good and reasonable solution” would be found for the collection. The Swiss museum denied rumors in October that it already had accepted the collection. (JTA)
Abbas calls would-be Palestinian assassin a ‘martyr’ Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the alleged shooter of a Temple Mount activist a “martyr.” Muataz Hijazi “will go to heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy places,” Abbas wrote in a condolence letter sent to Hijazi’s family. Hijazi is alleged to have shot activist Yehuda Glick three times outside the Begin Center in Jerusalem after Glick addressed a conference on Jewish rights on the Temple Mount. Hijazi and an alleged accomplice both worked at the center’s restaurant. Hijazi was killed in a shootout with Israel Police. Glick remains in serious condition and on a respirator at Shaarey Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he underwent a third surgery. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the letter. “When we are trying to calm the situation, Abu Mazen sends condolences over the death of one who tried to perpetrate a reprehensible murder,” Netanyahu said in a statement, using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “The time has come for the international community to condemn him for such actions.” Israelis Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a Facebook post that Abbas’ letter shows he is “a partner for terror, a partner to terrorists, a partner of murderers.” The letter, he wrote, amounts to “open support for terror and encouragement of further murders.” (JTA)
U.S. Supreme Court justices talk Jewish at G.A. opening U.S. Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Elana Kagan talked about their Jewish identities at the opening plenary of the 2014 General Assembly conference of the Jewish Federations of North America. Speaking before a crowd of more than 2,000 at the conference center just outside Washington, Breyer said the most remarkable thing about there being three Jews among the nine Supreme Court justices is how unremarkable it is in America today. Kagan, the other justice on the panel discussion moderated by NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, said that her Jewish identity was the one thing that didn’t come up during her confirmation process. “The one thing nobody ever said, the one thing I never heard was, ‘We don’t need a third Jewish justice,’ or ‘There’s a problem with that,’ ” she said. “So that’s a wonderful thing. My grandmother would have said ‘Only in America.’” Kagan also talked about her bat mitzvah, crediting Rabbi Shlomo Riskin—then of the Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (and now rabbi in Efrat, West Bank), with enabling the ceremony even though that sort of thing was not done in Orthodox synagogues back when Kagan was a kid. The bat mitzvah wasn’t exactly identical to her brother’s, Kagan said—it was called a bat Torah, took place on Friday night rather than Saturday and had her chanting the haftarah portion rather than the Torah portion—but it was meaningful and groundbreaking nonetheless. “We reached a kind of deal: It wasn’t a full bar mitzvah, but it was something,” she said. “Rabbi Riskin was very gracious, and I think it was good for the synagogue.” Breyer said that when he thinks about what it means to be Jewish in the court, he thinks about the Jewish tradition of tzedakah. “It’s not quite charity,” he said, “and it’s not quite rule of law either, but it’s part of trying to create a better world.” Breyer said the great divisions of the world today are between those who believe in the rule of law and those who don’t. “And that is a battle, and we’re on the right side of that,” he said. (JTA)
Is Thanksgiving a Jewish holiday? Proclamation, our American Jewish “take” on Thanksgiving focuses on the Colonial and early Federal part of our history. We often read Washington’s and Lincoln’s proclamations in our worship services for that week. We celebrate what America has represented for Jews, then and now. The Thanksgiving that American Jews celebrate is one that highlights the blessing of religious freedom, both for minorities and for society in general. America is good for the Jews, and Jews have been good for America. Perhaps other Americans have a different focus for this national holiday. But our interpretation, if not the only one, is still an inspiration. Happy Thanksgiving! And, may I say, “Gut Yontiff!” —Rabbi Michael Panitz, Temple Israel
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e all know the official story of Thanksgiving: the months of hunger prior to the first harvest, the helpful Native Americans, the Pilgrims grateful to have escaped starvation, the beginning of an American tradition. In recent years, we have heard, with increasing frequency and emphasis, the claim that Thanksgiving is “Jewish,” in the sense that it is modeled on the Biblical Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles). I thought that this was the case, too. After all, we know that the Puritans considered themselves to be “The New Israel.” In this analogy, just as the Israelites of old had crossed over from oppression, through the Wilderness, and into the Promised Land, so too, the Puritans themselves, strict Calvinists, had been oppressed in Anglican England, had crossed the watery wilderness of the Atlantic and were being guided by Divine Providence to set up a model religious commonwealth in New England. Religion was a major part of their mindset and the society they created. Why wouldn’t they model their harvest-season Thanksgiving on the seasonal festival of the Hebrew Scriptures? But when I researched the history more closely, I came to the conclusion that the Puritans were not thinking primarily of the Biblical Sukkot, if indeed they were thinking of it at all. The reason is that the Biblical Sukkot is an annual festival, every year on the 15th day of the seventh (i.e. autumnal) month. But the Thanksgiving of the Colonial Era was not an annually recurring festival. It was proclaimed occasionally, but not steadily, for more than two centuries. Only Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, ordered that it be celebrated annually.
In the religious imagination of the Puritans, there were two types of religious holy days: recurring festivals, such as the Sabbath, and occasional ones. The former were a matter of religious tradition, but the latter could be proclaimed by political and social leaders. In hard times, they would proclaim a “day of fasting and humiliation” to be observed by all, in the hopes of winning Heaven’s pardon from whatever communal sin had ostensibly triggered the troubles besetting their society. For example, President John Adams proclaimed a day of fasting to be observed on March 23, 1798. Conversely, in especially good times, the authorities would proclaim a day of thanksgiving to express their proper gratitude to Heaven for having received blessings from the Almighty. If we look at the 1701 rules governing the behavior of students at Yale College, then a staunchly Protestant institution, we can see this distinction between regular holy days and occasional ones: Rule #4 “Every Student of the College Shall diligently attend upon the Duties of Religious Worship, both Public and Private of the Sabbath Day…and on Days of public fasting and Thanksgiving appointed by Authority…upon penalty of four pence for absence without sufficient reason on either Part of the Sabbath or any Day of Public Fasting or Thanksgiving and…one Penny for coming Tardy…” Our American Thanksgiving, therefore, is not in its inception a borrowing from the Bible, and certainly not from the Judaism that we practice. Nonetheless, we can take heart: From a Jewish perspective, Thanksgiving does represent some very fine aspects of America. Our people have taken a prominent role in celebrating religious freedom and inter-faith amity as a jewel in the crown of American life. We correctly identify George Washington as an early spokesman of the vision that America is a land that gives “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” allowing adherents of all religions to leave peacefully together. And so, since President Washington did issue a Thanksgiving
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Everything you need to know about SodaStream’s move by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV ( JTA)—SodaStream, the Israeli at-home seltzer machine company, announced last month that it would be closing its West Bank factory and moving the facility’s operations to southern Israel next year. Here’s what you need to know about SodaStream, the controversy that has bubbled up in its midst and what the actress Scarlett Johansson has to do with it. What is SodaStream? SodaStream is an Israeli company that makes and sells seltzer machines for home use. Since it was founded in 1991, the company has sold more than 10 million machines in 39 countries. The foot-anda-half-tall machines turn still water into seltzer in 30 seconds. The company also markets dozens of mix-in flavors, such as cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime and fruit punch.
Why is SodaStream controversial? Until this month, SodaStream’s main factory was located in Mishor Adumim, an industrial park in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Because the settlement is likely to be included in Israel in any future peace deal with the Palestinians, many Israelis don’t view it as all that controversial. But groups that oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank have called for boycotts of SodaStream due to the factory’s location. The debate over SodaStream gained attention earlier this year when the actress Scarlett Johansson became the face of the company, appearing in a SodaStream ad during the Super Bowl. Johansson ended up resigning as a spokeswoman for Oxfam International, an anti-poverty group that opposes the West Bank factory, after it criticized the actress’ involvement with the company.
What is SodaStream’s position on its West Bank factory? SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum has touted the Mishor Adumim factory, which has been in its current location since 1997, as a successful example of Arab-Jewish coexistence in the West Bank. Some 500 Palestinians work at the factory alongside Israeli Jews, and Birnbaum says he pays them well and treats them as equals with their Jewish co-workers, though pro-Palestinian groups allege that the Palestinian employees are treated poorly. The factory includes a mosque for Muslim employees. Closing the factory, Birnbaum says, could mean putting hundreds of Palestinians out of work. Birnbaum is a proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has noted that Mishor Adumim is defined as an area under Israeli control by the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, and argues that Israeli industry there is thus not a violation of international law. The company drew more criticism this summer after it fired 60 of its Muslim employees, claiming they refused to work. The employees countered that SodaStream did not provide them with sufficient meals following the Ramadan fast and therefore were unable to safely operate machinery. So what caused the move? SodaStream’s third-quarter revenue dropped 13 percent, and sales in the Americas dropped 41 percent—numbers the company says are unrelated to the boycotts. Moving to Lehavim, a town in southern Israel, near Beersheba, will yield savings of 2 percent, according to a brief SodaStream statement about the move. The Israeli government gave SodaStream a $20 million grant for the new facility, part of a larger government effort to incentivize business growth in the country’s South. The company claims the motive for the move is “purely commercial,” though Birnbaum told the Forward this year that the Mishor Adumim factory is a “pain in the ass.” Birnbaum said in the statement that
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he’s working with the Israeli government to obtain work permits that would enable his Palestinian employees to work at the relocated plant. However, the new facility is 60 miles away from the Mishor Adumim workplace. “While we are enthusiastic about our new Lehavim facility and the exciting promise it brings to our company, we are committed to doing everything in our power to enable continuity of employment to our family of employees,” Birnbaum says.
10 million SodaStream machines have been sold in 39 countries
What are protest groups saying about the move? They have praised the decision—but they’re still boycotting SodaStream. Activists say that the Mishor Adumim factory’s closure is evidence that the BDS movement, which aims to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, is working. “Today’s news is just the latest sign that these global BDS campaigns are having an impact on changing the behavior of companies that profit from Israeli occupation and apartheid,” says Ramah Kudaimi, membership and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which represents 400 organizations. But Kudaimi’s group, as well as the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, say they will continue to boycott SodaStream because they claim its new factory abets dispossession of Bedouin land in Israel, even though the factory will be in an existing industrial park.
White House aide Jonathan Greenblatt to succeed Abe Foxman as ADL chief by Uriel Heilman
NEW YORK (JTA)—he Anti-Defamation League’s new national director will be social entrepreneur Jonathan Greenblatt—a special assistant to President Obama who earlier in his career co-founded the bottled water brand Ethos. Greenblatt, 43, will succeed Abraham Foxman, who announced in February that he would be stepping down effective July 2015. Foxman, 74, has been the ADL’s national director since 1987. The ADL said the unanimous selection of Greenblatt by the 16-member succession committee was the culmination of a two-year nationwide search led by the Atlanta-based executive search firm BoardWalk Consulting. The firm reviewed hundreds of prospective candidates from the fields of business, law, academic and nonprofit management, according to an ADL news release. Greenblatt, a grandson of a Holocaust survivor who escaped Nazi Germany but lost nearly all his family in the war, interned for the ADL while in college at Tufts University and later participated in an ADL professional leadership program. His wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, an Iranian-American Jewish immigrant, worked as an associate director at ADL’s Los Angeles office for about eight years. Until last December, she was acting director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. She went on to co-found the new nonprofit Alliance for Rights of All Minorities, which promotes women’s and minority rights in Iran, and serves as its director. “Marjan herself escaped from her native Iran after the Islamic Revolution when this ancient country that once championed tolerance instead forged a political ideology in the toxin of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said Thursday, Nov. 6 in a speech delivered after the announcement, according to a transcript of remarks provided by the ADL. “Like my grandfather decades earlier, my wife had to flee the land of her birth and came to this country with the help of HIAS as a political refugee because of her Jewish identity. And so our lives and those of our children are shaped by this pernicious force, this longest hatred.”
At the White House, Greenblatt serves as director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council, where his portfolio includes national service, civic engagement, impact investing and social enterprise. A veteran of the Clinton administration, Greenblatt has been a serial social entrepreneur. Ethos, the bottled water company he and a business school classmate launched in 2003, donated a portion of its profits to finance water programs in developing countries. After Starbucks bought the company, Greenblatt continued to promote clean-water funding in the developing world as the coffee company’s vice president of global consumer products. He went on to serve on the board of the nonprofit Water.org, which was co-founded by the actor Matt Damon. Greenblatt also started an open-source platform for volunteers called All for Good, served as CEO of the media company GOOD Worldwide and founded the Impact Economy Initiative at The Aspen Institute. He has a master’s degree in business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. In the Jewish world, Greenblatt has served on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and he was one of the judges in the 2011 “Next Big Jewish Idea” contest of the Los Angeles Jewish federation. “I have enjoyed a varied career that has spanned business, nonprofit and public service, but the common thread linking these experiences has been a commitment to tikkun olam, to repair the world, whether by building businesses, creating products, driving policy or forging partnerships,” Greenblatt said in his speech. As ADL succession committee members winnowed down their top candidate choices from 25 to 15 to eight and then to three, Barry Curtiss-Lusher, the chairman of the committee and ADL’s national chairman, says he realized that, while “a number of people could be great leaders of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt was the best choice.” Curtiss-Lusher also says that while Greenblatt has not been a Jewish communal professional, he is a committed Jew who
maintains a kosher household and is an active member of his Conservative shul. Foxman will formally hand over the reins to Greenblatt on July 20. Foxman has been a singular leader for the organization. A child survivor of the Holocaust, he started at the ADL in 1965. Under his leadership, ADL expanded its reach with 30 regional offices across the United States and an office in Israel. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, the ADL reported nearly $54 million in revenue. But Foxman’s role transcends that of leader of an organization that monitors anti-Semitic activity, offers discrimination-sensitivity training and runs anti-bigotry programs, including for law enforcement. He has become the leading global arbiter for what constitutes anti-Semitism, the go-to person for apologies and exculpation when public figures make anti-Semitic gaffes or
missteps, and a favorite hated figure of anti-Semites worldwide. He also has been a staunch advocate for Israel. “I’m confident that ADL will continue to thrive and grow under Jonathan’s leadership,” Foxman said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to ensure a successful and smooth transition.” Greenblatt said he is deeply honored to have been chosen for the post. “The threats that face our community today—including the expanding specter of global anti-Semitism, the continued legitimization of anti-Zionism, and the spreading infection of cyber-hate, are serious and sinister,” Greenblatt said in his speech. “Fighting this scourge and advocating for the rights of all is not just an intellectual pursuit—it’s personal for me, a deeply held value, one that has been seared into my soul.”
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Lee Zeldin becomes Congress’ sole Jewish Republican by Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—In addition to the big news of Republicans winning control of the United States Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 4, there were wins for fresh faces with close Jewish and pro-Israel ties. In Long Island, Lee Zeldin, a state senator, was set to become the sole Jewish Republican in Congress, ending a short drought that commenced with the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in June. Republicans picked up seven Senate seats, one more than the six they need to win control of the upper chamber. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader who handily beat back a challenge from Alison Lundergan Grimes, spoke in his victory speech as if he was ready to lead the Senate.
“Friends, this experiment in big government has lasted long enough,” he said, alluding to Republican claims that President Obama overreached with his signature health care reform. “It is time to go in a new direction. It is time to turn this country around.” Two other Jewish House candidates came up short, while the two Jewish senators up for reelection both kept their seats. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) lost to Robert Dold in Illinois’ 10th District after serving just one term in Congress. And in Colorado, Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff failed in his bid to unseat incumbent Republican Mike Coffman. In Minnesota, Sen. Al Franken defeated Republican Mike McFadden to win a
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millions of dollars for campaigns second term. And in Hawaii, Brian around the country,” its stateSchatz defeated Republican Cam ment said. The RJC political Cavasso to hold the seat he was Obama action committee “made sigappointed to when Daniel is going to have nificant contributions to Inouye died in 2012. critical races. And our In New York’s 3rd District, real tsuris because grassroots events energized Zeldin defeated Democratic our members to participate State Sen. Tim Bishop. Zeldin he won’t have Harry in get-out-the-vote efforts.” had campaigned in part Moline also faults by saying he would revive Reid to block and Democrats and his own orgathe Jewish GOP presence in nization for ignoring Jewish Congress after Cantor’s defeat. tackle for him voters in key states, includDave Brat, the Tea Party ing Georgia and Virginia. In candidate who defeated Cantor, Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also won the general election. faced an unexpectedly strong challenge Jack Moline, who directs the National Jewish Democratic Council, says from Ed Gillespie. In Georgia, Michelle the Democratic defeats in the sixth year of Nunn, the daughter of the long-serving Barack Obama’s presidency demonstrated Democratic senator Sam Nunn, was defeated by Republican David Perdue. a frustration with gridlock. There are more Jewish voters in Georgia “Results produce results,” Moline says. “For whatever reason, and I would attri- than in Michigan,” Moline says. “There was bute it to the obstinacy of Republicans in a tremendous effort to turn out Latinos and Congress, the president hasn’t been able to African Americans, but very little effort for accomplish what he wants to accomplish.” Jewish voters.” There were some wins for candidates Matthew Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, agrees that with unusual Jewish community ties. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), named by the the election was a referendum on Obama’s state’s governor to the seat in 2013 after inability to get results. “The Republicans have made signifi- Jim DeMint retired, was elected outright, cant gains and the American people have remaining the only African-American clearly spoken and clearly want a different Republican in the Senate. He is close to Nick Muzin, an Orthodox Jew who formerly direction for the country.” he says. Brooks predicts early action on Iran in served as his chief of staff and now advises the next congressional session. The current Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a likely candidate majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has for the GOP presidential nod in 2016. In New Jersey, Sen. Cory Booker been able to head off GOP bids to intensify sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which (D-N.J.), who was elected in a special the Obama administration opposes while vote last year after Sen. Frank Lautenberg negotiations are underway to reach a long- (D-N.J.) died, won his first six-year term term deal over the country’s nuclear program. outright. Booker, an African-American “Obama is going to have real tsuris who headed a Jewish studies group when because he won’t have Harry Reid to block he studied at Oxford University, remains and tackle for him,” Brooks says, using the close to the New Jersey Jewish community. In Pennsylvania, Democrats scored a Yiddish word for “troubles.” The RJC congratulated the national rare win with Tom Wolf picking up the party and noted its own role in bringing governor’s mansion. Wolf is close to the small Jewish community in his native York about the gains. “Our members contributed and raised and is a major contributor to its JCC.
At G.A., Jewish federations see future in more collaboration by Uriel Heilman
OXON HILL, Md. (JTA)—There was the vice president of the United States, two Supreme Court justices and an Academy Award-winning actress with a compelling Jewish story. There were Jewish professionals, lay leaders, clergy and recent college graduates. The West Point cadets’ Jewish choir performed. The Israeli prime minister appeared via satellite from Jerusalem. Part pep rally, part training and part family reunion, last week’s annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America drew some 3,000 people to a conference center outside Washington to cheer federations’ philanthropic work, listen to presentations ranging from European anti-Semitism to crowdfunding, and to schmooze. As usual, much of the talk at the General Assembly was how to bolster North America’s 153 Jewish federations. “We can go beyond exchanging ideas to actually exchanging services,” Jewish Federations CEO Jerry Silverman said in a speech at the closing plenary. “JFNA expanded the resources of our consulting and community development department, but what if we also leverage and share the resident expertise in this room and across our federations?” Though federation annual campaigns are up by about 7 percent compared with this time last year, the number of federation donors has declined by about one-third since 2000, according to the sociologist Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Meanwhile, last year’s Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews found that 43 percent of non-Orthodox Jews ages 30-49 donate to Jewish causes—in contrast to their counterparts ages 50–69, some 60 percent of whom give Jewishly. At the conference, the answer to these trends was twofold. One, organizers showcased dozens of federation programs that are piloting new models for programming and outreach. Billed by organizers as “fedovations”—a mashup of the words “federation” and “innovation”—they included case studies in reaching younger donors, providing services to the elderly,
planning profitable events, and finding ways to engage and excite unaffiliated community members. Jewish Federations plans to share these success stories in a federation-wide online database to be deployed in the coming weeks. The second answer was for federation leaders—and some of the plenary speakers from outside federation, including the actress Marlee Matlin—to drive home the message of the importance of collective action in the Jewish world. Vice President Joe Biden affirmed the Obama administration’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security and talked about his experience taking each of his kids to the site of the Dachau concentration camp when they were 15 to teach them about the “incredible resilience and indomitable nature of the human spirit.” In another plenary, NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg got U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to discuss the Jewish values that drive his work (tzedakah) and Justice Elena Kagan, who grew up Jewish on the Upper West Side, to reveal that she has become a duck hunter since joining the nation’s highest court. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, gave a rousing plenary address about the importance of Jews’ commitment to each other despite their differences. “I don’t need you to agree with each other; I need you to care about one another,” he said. A late-night session featuring Goldberg and the editors of two Israeli papers, Aluf Benn of Haaretz and Steve Linde of The Jerusalem Post, was packed. Goldberg related that his conversations with Netanyahu and officials in his government left him with the impression that the Israelis plan to wait until the next U.S. president takes office before trying to rebuild ties with the White House. Deborah Covington, vice president for planning and allocations at the Chicago Jewish federation, Jewish United Fund, said she came to the G.A. to network with peers and hear about federation work outside of what she regularly encounters. On that count, she said, the G.A. was a success.
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Jerusalem tensions, simmering since the summer, start to boil over by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—Tensions in Jerusalem have run high since last summer, but have recently crossed over into lethal violence. In recent weeks, there have been three attacks (at press time), in which motorists have plowed into crowds of people— killing, among others, a three-month-old baby and and injuring dozens; two of the attacks took place Wednesday, Nov. 5, one at a Jerusalem light rail station and another at a military installation in the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. Meanwhile violence has erupted at the Temple Mount, a sacred site for Jews and Muslims. And, Israeli activist Yehuda Glick, who advocates for Israel to lift the ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, was shot at close range and seriously wounded outside a Jerusalem conference center. Adding to the uneasy atmosphere was Israel’s approval of more than 1,000 new homes to be constructed in east Jerusalem—
angering the city’s Arab residents and drawing condemnation from the United States and the international community. Experts say the attacks are the result of a slow burn of anger that began with the July murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old burned alive by Jewish extremists, and that is rooted in Arab dissatisfaction with the expanding Israeli presence in the city and the perceived neglect of the city’s Arab residents. Following Abu Khdeir’s murder, which the perpetrators said was retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens, unrest has gripped the eastern part of the city. Rioters took to the streets in Jerusalem in the days after the murder and sporadically throughout Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza; there were numerous rock-throwing incidents and repeated damage to the Jerusalem light rail station in the eastern neighborhood of Shuafat. Israeli Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says that the perpetrator of the
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Nov. 5 attack on pedestrians at a light rail station lived in Jerusalem and was connected to Hamas, but acted on his own. Rosenfeld says police will heighten patrols and conduct a strategic assessment of security threats in the city. “What we’re seeing now are lone-wolf attacks that are a result of ongoing incitement,” says Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Institute for CounterTerrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. “The incitement began with Hamas and spread to other forces. These forces understand these messages as a call to action.” One of the conflict’s most volatile flashpoints is the Temple Mount, which Muslims refer to as the Noble Sanctuary. The day after the attack on Glick, Israel closed the Temple Mount to all worshipers. It was reopened the following day, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to maintain the status quo, which prohibits Jewish prayer at the site. Right-wing Knesset members have
recently visited the site, which some see as a provocation. Jordan has recalled its ambassador from Israel due to clashes at the Temple Mount. And after Israel temporarily closed the site, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a “day of rage.” “The Muslims fear and are mad that extremists want to take over the Temple Mount,” says Hebrew University Middle Eastern and Islamic studies professor Moshe Maoz. “The anger they have gets expressed not just on the Temple Mount but in all places, even in the Galilee and certainly in Jerusalem. They have the feeling that Israel is taking over.” Israeli leaders have responded to the violence with harsh words. President Reuven Rivlin, who has focused on promoting coexistence, took a tougher line, saying, “We will not cease to build across Jerusalem, to impose law and order, by virtue of our sovereignty.” In a speech Nov. 5, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called that morning’s terror attack “the direct result of the incitement by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners,” using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “We are in the midst of a prolonged campaign for Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “I have no doubt we will win it. We are utilizing all the forces needed to restore quiet and security to all parts of the city, but it may certainly be a prolonged fight and we must join together all the powers in our country for the fight.” But terror attacks such as the recent ones may be difficult to prevent, says Ganor. Unlike organized attacks such as suicide bombings, they don’t necessarily involve a planning process that intelligence agencies can intercept. And while the recent violence may spiral into future clashes, Maoz says a deeper cause of the unrest is Arab dissatisfaction with Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and its policies there, which they see as neglectful of the city’s Arab residents. According to a recent report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Arab Jerusalemites receive fewer health, education and welfare services proportionally than do the city’s Jewish residents. “This represents deep complaints that you can’t stop,” Maoz says. “The socioeconomic situation there is very bad. If it’s a united Israeli Jerusalem, why don’t they invest there? That’s also a reason for frustration.”
In Jerusalem passport case, justices consider congressional role in foreign policy by Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA)—A lawyer for a boy born in Jerusalem whose parents want Israel listed as the birthplace on his U.S. passport tried mightily this month to make a Supreme Court hearing mainly about their wish, but the justices kept upping the ante. That might mean bad news not just for 12-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky and his folks. It could also present a problem for the prospects of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should the court defer to the Obama administration’s argument that a 2002 law allowing the Israel listing infringes on the president’s prerogative to set foreign policy. Alyza Lewin, the lawyer who represented Zivotofsky in oral arguments at the court Monday, Nov. 3, acknowledges that the tenor of questioning indicated support among the justices for the idea that the case hinges on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. But in gamely parrying some tough questions in her first appearance before the nation’s highest court, Lewin sought to downplay the significance of recognizing Zivotofsky’s birthplace as Israel, saying it was an issue of personal choice and not an attempt to interfere with the president’s right to recognize foreign governments. “We gave the court alternative arguments, that what you put on a passport does not amount to recognition,” Lewin says. This was the second time that the Supreme Court has heard arguments on the constitutionality of the 2002 law, which allows U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to have Israel listed as their birthplace on their passports. The measure was enacted by President George W. Bush, but both he and Obama have declined to enforce it. The Zivotofskys filed suit after the State Department refused their request to list Menachem’s birthplace as Israel. In 2009, an appeals court ruled that the passport question was a political issue beyond the scope of the judiciary to decide. Three years later, the Supreme Court overruled that finding and ordered
the lower court to rehear the case. Last year, the appeals court ruled that the executive branch prevailed on matters of foreign policy, prompting Zivotofsky to appeal again. The justices seemed skeptical of Lewin’s claim that the Zivotofskys’ bid did not challenge the presidential recognition prerogative. “What is the effect of this statute other than something that goes to recognition?” Justice Elena Kagan asked. “This statute is a statute that was created to give individuals the right to self-identify as they choose that they were born in Israel,” Lewin replied. Kagan said that if that were true, “this is a very selective vanity plate law,” noting that Americans born in Northern Ireland could not identify as being born in Ireland. “And for that matter, Kagan said, “if you are an American born in Jerusalem today, you can’t get the right to say Palestine.” Anthony Kennedy, often a swing justice on the nine-member court who more often than not sides with the conservative wing, also seemed skeptical of Lewin’s claim. “Do you want us to say in our opinion that this is not a political declaration?” he asked. Lewin answered in the affirmative. “Well then,” Kennedy said. “I’m not sure why that Congress passed it then.” Like Bush before him, Obama maintains that changing the wording on passports would damage the American role as a peace broker in the Middle East by favoring an Israeli claim to Jerusalem. Since Israel declared independence in 1948, the United States has maintained that no country has sovereignty over Jerusalem and that the city’s status must be determined by negotiations. A win for the Obama administration would inhibit Congress’ ability to affect foreign policy, says Marc Stern, the general counsel for the American Jewish Committee, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Zivotofsky. Such an outcome could have an immediate impact by, for example, limiting congressional ability to restrict the dimensions of a nuclear deal with Iran, Stern says.
“It won’t be just a decision on presidential power around the world, it will also be understood as undercutting Israeli claims to Jerusalem,” Stern says. “In the real world it will have impact and we’ll have to figure out what to say at that point. What does that mean for what the administration says about a final settlement, and is west Jerusalem up for grabs?” Lewin says she was not concerned that a decision, even one that goes against her client, would have such broad ramifications. The current court has been known for narrowly casting its decisions and avoiding far-reaching constitutional conclusions. “I don’t see this court writing an opinion giving the executive branch such broad power in foreign policy that it cuts out Congress from that role,” says Lewin, the daughter of seasoned Supreme Court lawyer Nat Lewin. Lewin acknowledges, however, that the
ruling could have far-reaching import for Jews and their attachment to Jerusalem. “Getting this practice changed is very important psychologically, regardless of separation of powers,” she says. “And this case has raised awareness. Before this, many people were unaware that the formal position of the United States is not recognizing Israel’s capital as Jerusalem.” Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Zivotofsky, says that while Lewin was casting her case as the choice of an individual, it had broader meaning. “There are many American Jews and other Americans who think it’s absurd that the United States and other world governments do not extend to Israel the courtesy they extend to other countries by recognizing where its government sits as its capital and has not located its embassy there,” he says.
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Global surges of anti-Semitism
European officials come to Newark to learn Jewish security ‘best practices’ by Ron Kampeas
NEWARK, N.J. (JTA)—European Jewish institutions increasingly find themselves potential terror targets. But attempts to ramp up security at synagogues, day schools, museums and community centers from Paris to Copenhagen have been stymied both by a lingering distrust of the police among some communities and by law enforcement’s reluctance to single out any ethnic minority for special treatment. Those challenges, among others, brought top European security officials to Rutgers University’s Newark Campus on Oct. 31, where they met with their American counterparts and learned about a new initiative—backed jointly by Rutgers and Jewish Federations of North America—to help European Jewish communities work with police to prevent attacks. About 40 people attended—representatives of Jewish umbrella groups in the United States and Europe as well as police officials from both continents. Sessions addressed the current threat in Europe and how to share “best practices” from U.S. law enforcement with European police. “The problem of extremist violence directed at communities of faith transcends traditional boundaries; too often, however, the solutions to the problem have remained parochial,” John Farmer, a law professor who cofounded Rutgers University’s Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, told conference participants. The Faith-Based Communities Security Program has a $1-million funding commitment from Paul Miller, a New Jersey philanthropist and a former executive vice president of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant. In the coming months, the program plans to bring top U.S. government and Jewish communal officials to Europe to consult with their counterparts there. The initial meetings will be exploratory; the
goal of the conference was to outline what advice U.S. officials could offer and how it should be presented. The initiative comes after an intensification of violence targeting Jews in Europe, including attacks on synagogues in France during Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip; street attacks on Jews in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain; and fatal attacks at Jewish institutions in Brussels this year and Toulouse, France the year before. Paul Goldenberg, who heads Secure Communities Network, an arm of the JFNA and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says European nations neglect their Jewish communities at their own peril. “I keep calling it a canary in a mine,” he says. “We are not different, we are the same as you. If we disappear, democracy dies.” Yet European countries face some unique challenges in protecting Jewish institutions. At the gathering, an official of the Jewish Community Protective Service in France said that French law enforcement resists engaging with groups representing minorities in part because of traditions dating to post-French Revolutionary turmoil, when civilian militias were seen as a threat, and also because of a post-Nazi occupation distaste for cultivating civilian informants. Meanwhile, in former Eastern bloc countries, programs that have proved successful in the United States—for example, the Department of Homeland Security’s “See something, say something” campaign, which encourages reporting of suspicious packages and behavior—would not be easy to replicate, participants said. Policing in the communist era “was an intelligence function of the state,” said an official familiar with European policing practices, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his interactions with European police forces. “That doesn’t change overnight—in some countries, some of the officials of the old
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regimes are still in policing. It will take a generation to change.” Also inhibiting law enforcement in several countries is the perception that Jews are capable of protecting themselves. Police in Denmark tend to view that country’s Jewish community “first and foremost as Jewish people who live in Denmark,” says Jonathan Fischer, the community’s vice chairman. “That makes it easy for them to push away the reality and say that this has something to do with the Jews, although the perspective should be that this has something to do with a Danish minority.” Rabbi Andrew Baker, the international affairs director for the American Jewish Committee, says it can be difficult to get authorities to share information with police departments in neighboring countries. He notes that Danish authorities had records on about a hundred individuals who had joined extremist Islamists in their wars and then returned, but have been reluctant to share that information with other nations’ agencies. That does not make sense given the EU’s open borders, he says. “We’ve seen how you can get in a car and drive from Brussels to Paris,” he says, referring to the suspected assailant in a deadly attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels this year who was later caught in France. “You can also drive from Copenhagen to Paris.” Another challenge: addressing threats that come from within the Muslim community while avoiding discriminating against Muslims. In the process of enhancing security, it’s important not to impose American solutions, says Gabi Jiraskova, the secu-
rity manager for the European Jewish Congress. “Our role is to make the community understand it is necessary to be prepared, while respecting the different hierarchies in each community,” she says. That applies to police forces, says John Cohen, a Rutgers professor who is helping to head the faith communities initiative and who until earlier this year headed intelligence analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. “The police in Paris and Copenhagen do not need American professionals coming in and telling them how they police,” he says. “What is invaluable is when you bring police officials from around the world together and talk about different problems and present different strategies.” Among the strategies Cohen and others outlined was establishing trusting relations with Muslim communities in order to identify potential attackers, having police forge relationships with community members, educating young people to reject violent ideologies and establishing liaisons between targeted communities and law enforcement. One strategy is to prepare communities for crises they might have to face together, says Michael Masters, the director for emergency management in Cook County, Ill., who will join the Rutgers initiative on its European tour. He calls it the “tornado and blizzard” approach. “We make sure houses of worship and kids are safe” ahead of natural threats, he says. That builds up trust and preparedness for possible attacks targeting a minority, Masters says. “If you’re better prepared for all hazards, you’re better prepared for a specific event.”
comes after an
violence targeting Jews in
Global surges of anti-Semitism Nicki Minaj tweets she’s ‘very sorry’for Nazi-esque video
apper and songwriter Nicki Minaj apologized on Twitter for a new music video that contains Nazi imagery. “I didn’t come up w/the concept, but I’m very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone,” Minaj tweeted to her 18.3 million followers. “I’d never condone Nazism in my art.” In the video for Only, which has received 2 million views on YouTube, a Minaj animation marches through scores of soldiers and large red banners with an insignia said to resemble a swastika. It sparked outrage upon its release. The Anti-Defamation League, which wrote in a news release Monday, Nov. 10 that it was “deeply disturbed” by the video, said it accepted Minaj’s apology. “We are pleased that Nicki Minaj has taken full responsibility for the video and recognized that it was indeed offensive,” said Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director. “Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step.” In the earlier release, the ADL said the video “evokes Third Reich propaganda and constitutes a new low for pop culture’s exploitation of Nazi symbolism.” (JTA)
Illinois prosecutors: Suspect in synagogue vandalism wanted to ‘shoot Jews’
rosecutors in an Illinois county have asked a judge to revoke the bail of a man charged with vandalizing a synagogue because he said he planned to “shoot Jews.” John White, 40, of Westmont, Ill., was charged last month with a hate crime for allegedly vandalizing Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard, a Chicago suburb. White’s attorney asked Judge George Bakalis of the 18th Circuit Court of Illinois to reduce his bail from $5 million, while prosecutors asked that he be held without bail, the Chicago Tribune reported. Prosecutors said in a bail petition filed during White’s arraignment that his mother told police that before he left the house the day of the synagogue attack, he told her he was going to “shoot Jews.” “The defendant has clearly expressed his intention to kill or cause harm to those of the Jewish faith,” Joe Lint, an assistant state attorney, wrote in the petition. “If he is admitted to bail he poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of any Jewish person.” A new hearing on reducing White’s bail is scheduled for Nov. 18. White was arrested Oct. 21 and accused of smashing the synagogue’s windows and writing anti-Semitic graffiti on its walls, as well as driving recklessly on its property. During a search of White’s house following his arrest, police found thousands of rounds of ammunition, a shotgun, a rifle and four handguns. He has been charged on four counts, including possession of a firearm. (JTA)
Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia jump by a third SYDNEY, Australia (JTA)—Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia soared by more than a third in the past year. The annual Report on Anti-Semitic Incidents in Australia, presented Sunday, Nov. 9 at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s yearly general meeting, logged 312 incidents between October 2013 and September 2014, about a 35 percent increase from 231 incidents the previous year. Much of the increase was triggered by Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza this summer and encouraged by the hostile media it generated, according to the report.
Of great concern was that the number of physical assaults tripled, according to the report’s author, Julie Nathan. Among the most serious incidents was an attack on a group of five Orthodox Jews in Bondi as they were walking home from Shabbat dinner. In Melbourne, a 28-year-old man wearing a T-shirt with Hebrew on it was assaulted and called a “Jewish dog” in Arabic. In Perth, a visiting rabbi was confronted by a gang who threatened him and surrounded his car. And in Sydney, young school students were threatened on a bus by a gang of drunken youths. The report also cited unmoderated comments on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s website following the screening of “Stone Cold Justice,” a documentary that claims some Palestinian children were being physically abused by Israeli soldiers, forced into false confessions and targeted in order to gather intelligence on Palestinian activists. The comments were not removed for weeks until numerous complaints were made by the council, the report said. It also cited an anti-Semitic cartoon published by the Sydney Morning Herald that provoked outrage from Jewish leaders and a threatened lawsuit before Fairfax Media printed an apology. “When major media outlets, including the national broadcaster, are prepared to publish or host unsubstantiated claims and irrational bias that is combined with outright demonizing of Jews, a signal is sent that anti-Semitism is acceptable and even respectable,” Nathan wrote. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has produced the annual report since 1989. In 2009, it logged a record 962 anti-Semitic incidents.
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Tidewater women celebrate new milestone givers and 100 years of rescue, relief, and renewal by Amy Zelenka
early 100 Tidewater women gathered at the 2015 UJFT Women’s Lion–Tikva–Chai Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 23 to honor the community’s newest major donor women and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of UJFT’s overseas partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Jodi Klebanoff, Women’s Cabinet chair, warmly welcomed the women to this year’s luncheon. Following an inspiring D’Var Torah from Rabbi Roz Mandleberg, luncheon co-chairs Barbara Dudley and Mona Flax announced the following new milestone women givers: New Emerald Lion Of Judah: Martha Mednick Glasser New Sapphire Lion: Renee Strelitz New Ruby Lions: Randy Caplan, Renee Caplan, Charlene Cohen, Rebecca Dreyfus, Beth Jaffe New Lions Of Judah: Marsha Chenman, Claudia Dreyfus, Maggie Erickson, Amy Lefcoe, Laure Saunders New Tikva Society Donors: Alicia
London Friedman, Judith Rosenblatt, Doris Waranch, Alice Werner. New Chai Society Donors: Gloria Bookbinder, Beth Campion, Harriet Dickman, Kristy Foleck, Jan Ganderson, Sharon Goldner, Jessica Kell, Pam Levinson, Rabbi Roz Mandelberg, Helen Wolfe The guest speaker for this year’s luncheon was Merri Ukraincik, a writer and lecturer, and a former JDC executive. Working closely with JDC archivist Linda Levi, Ukraincik’s latest project is a beautiful hardcover book, I Live. Send Help. The book chronicles JDC’s first 100 years of service and tells the intertwined history of the agency and the Jewish people. Ukraincik addressed the audience as vintage photos appeared on a screen. She spoke of the early days of JDC and discussed her personal JDC journey, which began in 1992 when she accepted one of JDC’s prestigious Ralph I Goldman Fellowships. As a Goldman Fellow, Ukraincik spent a year in service in the Jewish communities of Zagreb, Croatia (which was then hosting recent exiles from nearby Bosnia, who had been displaced by the siege of Sarajevo).
Megan Zuckerman with her mom Leslie Siegel, Charlene Cohen and Jeri Jo Halprin.
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Seated: Emily Caplan Nied, Rachel Abrams and Carin Simon. Standing: Wendy Konikoff, Renee Caplan, Robin Mancoll and Betty Ann Levin.
Martha Mednick-Glasser with Amy Lefcoe.
Guest Speaker Merri Ukraincik with Annie Sandler.
Here, she said, she learned “to value the mundane and appreciate even the smallest act of kindness, since most days brought news of loss or transition.” On leaving Croatia, Ukraincik moved to the newly liberated Jewish community of Budapest, Hungary, where she witnessed the rebirth of Jewish life after the fall of Communism.
Ukraincik’s presentation, along with her personal narrative, brought home the importance of JDC’s place within modern Jewish history and left all in the room feeling proud and satisfied to have played a part in its success. Likewise, it strengthened their resolve to continue supporting JDC until such time that no one in the
Marcia Hofheimer with her daughter Stacie Moss.
Renee Strelitz and Shari Friedman with their mom Marilyn Buxbaum.
Carin Simon (center) with her mom Joan Joffe (L) and grandmother Hilde Deutsch (r).
Janet Mercadante and Robin Copeland.
Valerie White with her mother-in-law Harriet White.
Marsha Chenman, Mimi Karesh, Ina Levy and Judy Nachman.
Laura Miller displays the new JDC publication I Live. Send Help.
Dolores Bartel, Beth Jaffe and Marian Ticatch.
Jewish world lives in fear or in need. The luncheon closed with thanks from Klebanoff to all who participated and to all who helped make the luncheon possible, including corporate sponsors Janet W. Mercadante, Wells Fargo Advisors and the WestHoffman Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. Copies of I Live. Send Help. are available for pur-
chase on the JDC website at www.jdc.org (scroll down on the right side of the home page to order a copy). For more information about becoming a milestone giver in the UJFT Womenâ€™s Campaign, contact Womenâ€™s Campaign director Amy Zelenka at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-965-6139.
Standing: Janet Mercadante, Faith Jacobson, Annie Sandler, Sandy Katz and Martha Mednick Glasser. Seated: Deborah Casey, Beth Campion and Roseann Simon.
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AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Supplement to Jewish News, November 17, 2014 jewishnewsva.org | 10th Anniversary | November 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 17
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Dear Readers, The journey to the moment in the summer of 2004 when the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus began operations was the culmination of many years of diligent pursuit by a host of people who had vision and a commitment to the future of Tidewater’s Jewish community. Volunteers and professional staff united to plan, raise and contribute funds, and then divide the tasks and monitor every detail— from construction to marketing—to achieve the dream of bringing the Jewish community together. A decade later, the Campus continues to evolve and build on its successes. And that is what we cover in this issue. After all, 10 years ago, we published an issue of Renewal that attempted to tell the story of the Campus’ origins and all who made it happen. (I say ‘attempted’ because, fortunately, so many people were involved on so many levels, that sadly, we couldn’t include all of the stories.) But, back to today. Gardens and monuments have been added, art collected and displayed and procedures to enhance economy and be environmentally considerate enacted. These are the stories we tell with this issue. In future issues of Jewish News, we plan to highlight those on the Campus: United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, The Simon Family JCC, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Jewish Family Service and Tidewater Jewish Foundation. These organizations will each have an opportunity to tell their “Campus Story” in their own way. The first decade has been eventful. Here’s to the start of the next!
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email email@example.com www.jewishVA.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Beth Weiner Gross, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader Miles Leon, President Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President The appearance of advertising in the Jewish News does not constitute a kashrut, political, product or service endorsement. The articles and letters appearing herein are not necessarily the opinion of this newspaper. © 2014 Jewish News. All rights reserved. Subscription: $18 year For subscription or change of address, call 757-965-6128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover: Cardo of the Sandler Family Campus QR code generated on http://qrcode.littleidiot.be
Upcoming Special Features Date Issue Dec 8
Jan 12, 2015
Terri Denison Editor
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Deadline Nov 21
AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Vic Pickett’s The Minyan (photograph by Steve Budman)
The art of call and response
by Sherri Wisoff
s the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus celebrates its 10th anniversary, it is interesting to note that this coming January will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In art school one is often told that to create new perspectives, you need a
vantage point and a horizon line. These art principles are also useful in appreciating how far the community has come and offers a chance to reflect on some of the artistic voices, both past and present, housed within and around the Campus. Walk directly out the front door of the building toward the “goose pond” and stand on the top point of the Star of David paved bricks and then turn toward the
facility, armored in desert, rough hewn, Jerusalem stones. From this vantage point you will view the vibrant 10-year-young community ark—not floating, but grounded firmly on the horizon line seen through the shining steel arches of Victor Pickett’s, Holocaust Memorial. The modern sculpture’s reflective arm-like forms seem to reach up to the heavens only to finally succumb to its own embrace. It does offer a
powerful perspective. The 10 slightly bowed sculptural forms of Pickett’s, The Minyan, solemnly daven nearby, perhaps spirits of ancient rebbes, offering a silent bracha for the community center and its inhabitants. Every tribal people have a creation story, a vantage point, a beginning. Lorraine Fink’s, The Seven Days of Creation offers a continued on page 20
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AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
continued from page 19
chance to muse about the mysteries of the universe in her 27 paintings, inspired by her study of philosophies and myths of many cultures. Her inclusion of quotations from many literary and religious writings, offers the opportunity to revisit one’s place in a more encompassing human tribe. Fink’s collection is displayed in the Cardo. Religious artifacts call out from various vantage points within the building, offering paths to the sacred as in the ancient calligraphy of the Torah housed in a wooden ark on the Fleder Multipurpose Room stage or in contemporary objects of ritual such as Betsy Karotkin’s ceramic Blue Menorah tucked in the second floor hallway of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s offices. Objects of intellectual contemplation and games delight visitors in the lamp glass worked chess set created by Italian master glass artist, Gianni Toso, an orthodox Jew currently living in Baltimore. The set, donated to the community in memory of Sylvia Rose Jason, of blessed memory, depicts a humorous battle between Catholic and Jewish clergy. It sits in a protective case in the Kramer Board Room. Mezuzahs of various artistic expression tilt in doorways throughout the building. Songs of life celebration are felt in the joyful faces of children candidly depicted in Elizabeth Leeor’s 26 photographs that line the halls leading to the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. Reitha Fival Sedel’s oil pastel, Rejoicing the Fruits Thereof, reminds us daily of our abundance as we head to the Cardo Café. From this vantage point, The 12 Tribes of Israel, a small, carefully embroidered tapestry draped on the side wall of the Cardo by an unknown artist speaks to a time of Biblical innocence and begs to be protected. Reoccurring themes of biblical exodus that fuel the collective consciousness of Jewish experience throughout the millennia can be discerned in Israeli artist, Sharga Weil’s, Gates of Sinai, a serigraph triptych—Pillar of Fire, The Burning Bush and The Pillar of Clous. Displaced, uprooted
from his own native land, Czechoslovakia, imprisoned for much of WWII, Weil produced his first graphic works during this tragic period of world history. Several examples of his work hang in the Campus. The trio near the front desk is indicative of his richly layered graphics. Here, the story of exodus from Egypt is depicted; the tribe of Israel represented by a one, lone bearded figure, hunched over, griping a cane, wanders in jagged and shifting fields of color and form, offering an artistic metaphor of Weil’s immigrant experience struggling to cope with the constantly shifting political climate of Eastern Europe. Color field gates appear again and again as if symbolizing the path to freedom and hope. Weil, himself, sailed on an illegal immigrant ship eventually celebrating his own arrival to the Promised Land, Israel, in 1947, where he spent the rest of his life as a member of Kibbutz Haogen, creating graphic work that continues to illustrate the haunting themes of displacement and renewal. Upstairs in the entrance of UJFT, one can now find his lithographs, Phoenix Legend, his prayer for the Jewish people, to rise up like a phoenix from its own ashes and fly toward a new horizon. Three large canvases, copies of Marc Chagall’s are displayed in the building. Two of these compositions are found on Chagall’s tapestries that currently hang in the Knesset Parliament building in Israel. They call out in celebration for the creation and journey to Zion. Firmly rooted in memories of his Hasidic community outside Belarus, Chagall’s whimsical iconography depicts King David floating with his lyre, above a swirling, dancing community. In the canvas on the second floor, the artist’s beloved bride Bella is rendered in his own embrace, returning her symbolically to the homeland, in spite of his grief with her passing in 1944. Above a cacophony of figures some wearing clothes typical of the shtele life that he so adored, and some dressed as pilgrims armed for the state of Israel protecting a blood stained tree of life; Chagall, in 1965, created this
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Chess set by Gianni Tosco (photography by Laine Mednick Rutherford).
mystical somewhat visionary depiction of Jerusalem. The city is seen floating within a shimmering oval, slightly out of focus, as if a dream, still waiting to be realized, foreshadowing the arrival of the Six Day War. Next to Chagall’s canvases, loud prayers for the resilience to transform suffering and tragedy can be heard in artistic symphony. Born in 1933 in Vilna, Poland, Samuel Bak’s works ache with the themes of lost childhood and broken connections. His family was marched into the Vilna Ghetto, later to a labor camp from which he was eventually smuggled and given refuge in a monastery. Surviving the war and finally immigrating to Israel, he spent his life creating powerful visual landscapes that haunt and remind of unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. This painful call to remember is joined by Edna G. Lazaron, a Norfolk native, in her touching mixed media work, Prague, created in 1997, after a tour of Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Constructed as a collage of acrylics and photos taken while visiting Jewish cemeteries and synagogues
in Prague, Lazaron reminds us of the creative power of art and image. David Katz’s bold photography of the Holocaust Memorial Garden can also be found on the second floor. Nearby, contemporary works from community artists continue to offer much needed respite from the despairing reminders of World War II. Arlene Berman Kesser refreshingly offers hopeful optimism and poetic beauty in her abstract color field watercolor. Telsa Leon’s Community, addresses her love and commitment to the Jewish peoplehood. The multi-colors and vibrant shapes on her canvas reflect the many different people and organizations that worked together to bring the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus to fruition. Rebecca Danker’s oil painting, Lag B’Omer II, is a colorful and painterly interpretation of the 33rd day after Passover, offering a comforting reminder that Jewish traditions of honoring the dead can coexist within the larger context of world community. The open strip of wall space on the second floor, the Leon Family Art Gallery,
over the last 10 years has continued to showcase many notable artists that offer unique vantage points to survey our history and celebrate our artistic gifts. The One Foot in America show in 2010, offered an unparalleled visual record of Jewish emigrant experience as recorded by Belgium artist Eugeen Van Mieghan, along with the companion exhibit of the historic role of the Red Star Line, the shipping company that aided the great migrations of Jewish refugees from Central and Eastern Europe to the U.S. between 1880 and 1920. Paul Schutzer, lauded Life magazine photographer, tragically killed during the first day of the 6 Day War, artfully from 1956 to 1967, captured compelling images of Israel during her early days of statehood. He left a legacy of powerful historical images witnessing the building of the Berlin Wall, the earthquake in Iran, the Algerian War and Kennedy from his campaign to his funeral, Cuba, Castro, Lebanon and Vietnam. A sampling of these images were exhibited in the Leon Family Gallery.
Art, at its best, does offer moments to appreciate that elusive literacy of the heart, the magic of metaphor and understanding that can occur when one is open to converse with the fragile and delicate landscape of our humanity. Much has been written and argued about art and the human experience of it. The tomes of philosophical discussion about the nature of art rival the volumes of rabbinical discourse written throughout the centuries. However, from this vantage point, the 10th anniversary of our cherished Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus, to view its collection of art as prayers might offer a fresh perspective. Can you hear the call and response that has been heard by generations? In taking the time to engage and respond to their call, our voices will continue to join the collective consciousness of our rich Jewish heritage celebrating our history as a people and reminding us of our commitment to our future shining on the horizon line.
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CONGRATULATIONS to the Sandler Family Campus on its First Decade
AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Gardens honor Holocaust Survivors and liberators and Jewish War Veterans
irectly opposite the main entrance to the Sandler Family Campus are two special gardens, one dedicated in 2009, and the next in 2010, which pay homage to the community’s past, and in some aspects, to its’ present and future. The Helen G. Gifford Holocaust Memorial Garden and the Jewish War Veterans Monument were created to honor many and to establish permanent places on the Campus for reflection. Both required the efforts of a multitude of people and the professional expertise of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Tidewater Jewish Foundation.
Congratulations to the
Sandler Family Campus 10 YEARS AND GOING STRONG!
The Helen G. Gifford Holocaust Memorial Garden
n an exceptionally sunny and hot Sunday in May 2009, the dedication of The Helen G. Gifford Holocaust Memorial Garden took place. A host of speakers recalled Gifford’s philanthropy and her love of the arts and Jewish community. But mainly, they spoke of how proud they knew she’d be of the legacy she left with her children and grand-
children, and the permanent place for the community to come together to remember those who resisted and those who perished during the Holocaust. Gifford’s brother-in-law, Bernard Rivin, of blessed memory, said at the ceremony, “we owe it to Jews everywhere never to let the world forget…let us never forget the horrific magnitude of the Holocaust.”
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Wall displays names of Holocaust Survivors from the former Soviet Union who settled in Tidewater.
AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
In her remarks, Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple noted that although the Garden is based on some of the dark experiences those in the community suffered, the dedication is a celebration of all that is now flourishing. Abbey Horwitz, then president of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, said he believed that Gifford would be pleased with the lovely garden, dedicated to those who survived the Holocaust and then rebuilt their lives in Tidewater. He
noted that, “Memory is a dynamic act that both honors and inspires individuals, communities and a nation of people.” The Garden uses quotes of local survivors and liberators as originally recorded in the book To Life, as a chronological narrative of Holocaust events and experiences. Moving along the beautifully designed walkway built of Jerusalem Stone while reading the firsthand accounts, visitors are able to absorb the pain, courage, despair, hope and faith emanating from each letter, word and phrase.
Jewish War Veterans Monument
12-year dream became a reality when the Jewish War Veterans of Post 158 chose Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, 2010 to dedicate their long awaited Jewish War Veterans Monument on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus. Festivities began with more than 100 veterans and their families at a luncheon, during which veterans Philip Rovner and Hal Sacks presented an interesting program on Jewish Veterans of World War II provided by Jason Steinhauer of the Library of Congress Veterans’ History Project. After lunch the attendees, joined by other members of the community, assembled at the site, adjacent to the Holocaust Memorial Sculpture and the Helen Gifford Holocaust Memorial Garden. Emotions mounted as a smart looking color guard
from the Little Creek Amphibious Base Fort Story presented the colors and the band played the National Anthem and Hatikvah. Veterans rose in turn as the band played the service anthems of their particular branch of service. The memorial was created with significant donations, as well as by the sale of pavers inscribed with the names of Jewish veterans who served in the past, as well as those currently serving in the Armed Forces. Veterans from Russia, Canada and Israel are also honored. Pavers are still available for sale. The project was made possible by Tidewater Jewish Foundation, Sonny Werth, of blessed memory, and Hal Sacks, along with contributions of many donors.
Congratulations on 10 Years to the Sandler Family Campus
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AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Green initiatives help environment and bottom line at Sandler Family Campus
eing green can also save green. Glenn Saucier, Sandler Family Campus facility director, has managed to make changes on the Campus that do both. In fact, he maintains that environmentally friendly changes work best when they ultimately cost the building less. Consider the Campus trash, for example. When the Sandler Family Campus
opened 10 years ago, 100% of the building’s trash went to the dump. Today, 50% is recycled. Great for the environment, it’s also good news for the Campus budget, because the waste disposal fee went from approximately $31,000 per year to about $14,000. Remember being told to “Turn the lights out when you leave the room?” Well,
not everyone remembers. Tired of wasting all of that electricity, Saucier installed motion sensors in about 35 locations on the Campus that turn the lights on when someone enters a room or area and then off when the room is empty for a period of time. The power bill immediately was reduced, as was the building’s carbon footprint. Switching the lights in the Jaffe Gymnasium from metal halide to LED is projected to save $14,000 each year in energy bills. Plus, the new lights require no maintenance and light bulbs no longer have to be changed. That’s a win-win. Plans call for making similar lighting changes throughout the Campus, in the pool area and the parking lot, for instance. The Cardo has already seen its lights switched to a combination of LED and fluorescents. This summer, the Campus planted its first vegetable garden. Working with what
Saucier calls “absolutely terrible soil,” the yield wasn’t much for its first harvest. But, what grew—tomatoes, squash and herbs— were used by the Cardo Café. Talk about eating local! Composting, says Saucier will help. And where is the material coming from for the compost? Why the Campus of course! The Cardo Café’s waste along with leaves from the grounds’ trees are contributing today to next year’s, hopefully, more bountiful crop. Whenever equipment requires replacement, Saucier says he looks for ways to be more energy-efficient. For example, a new roof top unit uses natural weather conditions, when feasible to cool, rather than electricity. Oh! And remember those old metal halide lights from the gym? Instead of sending them to a landfill, local artist Lorraine Fink recycled them into sculptures that have already been exhibited in Norfolk Academy’s Perrel Art Gallery. Waste not, want not.
Discarded lights turn into art The Tribes. By Lorraine Fink 2014
s 90-year-old Lorraine Fink took down her art show at the Leon Family Gallery and loaded it into her car, she was drawn by “a silent vibrant cry from a small mountain of metal, transformers and ceramics at the edge of the loading dock. Strong and stout, and somewhat intelligent looking, these identical pieces stood paralyzed before the jaws of the garbage truck, which was soon to crush them into a mangled heap and toss them to a future as landfill pollutants. I could not ignore them,” she says. After loading her paintings, she also loaded the found objects and took them home, where they began their journey to their new and rightful destiny: The Tribes. A series of sculptures created from the retired Jaffe Gymnasium’s metal halide light fixtures, adorned and enhanced with discarded, no-longer-needed, no-longer-usable relics of today’s age of immediate obsolescence. At home in Fink’s artist’s studio, they began to attract others like them. From waste bins, offices, the sides of highways and backs of attics—architects’ rendered samples, construction workers’ offloaded wire, drywall bead, strapping and carpet edging, 50-year-old penicillin bottles, remote controls, used cds, letterpress, telephone coils, switches, plugs, computer circuit boards, MP3 players, earphones, photo slide magazines, nuts and bolts, washers and nails, air conditioning filters, lighting accessories, springs, foam core and plastic newspaper delivery bags—were all about to be one with the cast-off lights. The Tribes emerged with headpieces, facial features, decorative ornaments, weavings and whimsy. They acquired body paint, feathers and unique markings. Each became its own tribe with its own passions, history, and future to create. And now, delighted with other discards they have saved, and ensconced in the satisfaction of the souls they have become, The Tribes are ready to face the world. They stand alone. They stand as a group. They stand as a statement. Members of The Tribes, formerly metal halide lights from the Jaffe Gymnasium.
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AnniversAry Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus: 10 years and counting Ten years ago, in June 2004, the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus opened its doors to a flourish of activity.
ome to the Marilyn and Marvin Simon Jewish Community Center, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Tidewater Jewish Foundation and Jewish Family Service, Tidewater’s Jewish community was now situated in a central location. Today, the Campus’ Cardo is nearly always filled with children moving from activity to activity, adults eating at the café, people hustling to meetings, the gym or the pool, as well as to receptions and community-wide events. From infants to seniors, a constant bustle takes place everyday on the Campus. These photos offer but a glimpse of some of that action.
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Mazel Tov to the Sandler Family Campus from Jay, Susan and Steve
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Book Festival off to a page turning start
rom the life of famed Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson to a book about putting cell phones away and forming closer human interactions, the Lee and Bernard Jaffe* Family Jewish Book Festival’s first events spanned an array of interesting topics. Kicking off the festival on Sunday, Nov. 2, local author, Danielle Leibovici, taught children fun techniques about how to look at the world in a positive light in her book, Under the Tree. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin was the keynote speaker the following evening, returning to the Sandler Family campus to present his latest work, Rebbe, to a group of nearly 200. An evening of self-discovery took place on Wednesday, Nov. 5, when Ari Goldman presented his memoir Late Starters Orchestra. Goldman’s message was that as people age, it’s important not to forget to continue or rekindle one’s passions, such as returning to play the cello, as he did. The audience enjoyed a brief live performance by Alan Bartel on flute before discussion and a dessert reception. On Thursday, Nov. 6, Cantor Mitch Kowitz presented his ideas for putting pizzazz into soups, salads and more in his Kosher Cuisine for a New Generation. Lunch at this event was generously sponsored by Beth Sholom Village Caterers, with Jewish Family Service also partnering. * of blessed memory The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Local author Danielle Leibovici with her family.
Evan Levitt, JCC development director, Robert Rubin, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Rabbi Israel Zoberman, Patricia Ashkenazi and Alan and Dolores Bartel.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and Terri Denison.
Musicians Fred Kovner, Roger Gray and Alan Bartel with Ari Goldman.
Cantor Mitch Kowitz.
David Leon, Linda Peck and Barry Friedman.
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These are our kids and our protectors Film Premiere Beneath the Helmet: from High School to the Home Front Thursday, Nov. 20, 7 pm Regent University Theatre (¼ mile from I-64 at Indian River Road exit)
Watch the trailer and RSVP at JewishVa.org/crc Don’t bring money! But…bring your teens! by Kevin Lefcoe
he state-of-the-art theater is located in the center of Tidewater and the owner is a friend. They don’t want any rent. The producer is flying in from Israel…a friend sponsored his plane ride. Admittance to the event—no money required. But the cost has been great and the stakes cannot be higher.
ISRAEL IS UNDER SIEGE Some readers of this article who know my wife, Amy, and me may not be surprised what got to me the first time I viewed the film trailer for Beneath the Helmet. It was the cute pair of women’s pumps as they are lowered to the floor next to the 20-year-old IDF Drill Sergeant’s combat boots. The soldier’s name is Coral, and it may as well be any of my daughters’…or your daughters’/granddaughters’…names. Whenever any of us are in the room with a soldier of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), his/her presence is powerful. Personally, I make a point to shake their hand and thank them. When we see news events directed toward the IDF, we stop what we’re doing to watch and listen to the account. We continue to hope the report will be fair and the message describing the IDF, the most moral army in world, will be cast favorably. So often
the message is twisted and the resulting spin leads the uneducated, as well as the then already anti-Israel/anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic viewer reinforced in their belief that Israel has no right to exist. It is a body blow to us, the Jewish people, and our caring friends. We encourage each other to be vigilant and to combat the ignorant and hateful voices of contempt for the nation and people of Israel, who, even before and since its inception, seek only to live in peace and security. Our enemies desire none of this, but rather outwardly call for Israel’s destruction, nothing less. Our community has always engaged and supported our brothers and sisters in Israel. Most recently during the Gaza war in Operation Protective Edge, 600 attended our local rally to support Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. We stepped up to contribute more than $150,000 to the Stop the Sirens Campaign. We show our unity. This event to debut Beneath the Helmet is all set. It will touch us all in a way that brings to Virginia Beach the passion and commitment that the youth of Israel and the Jewish world readily bring to protect our home, the Land of Israel. Beneath the Helmet is now playing to premiere
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your heart and soul. These kids protect us all. RSVP Required by Nov. 19 to JewishVa.org/CRC or by calling 965-6107. ID’s will be checked at the door and seating is limited.
audiences across the world. Reviews are amazing, with standing ovations after each show. RSVP that you will attend this important and timely illustration of bravery, courage and love that will touch
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HAT Golf Tournamentâ€”Driving for the green by Deb Segaloff and Patti Seeman
he 26th Annual Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Golf Tournament, more affectionately known as the Bob Josephberg Classic, was a successful and fun event that took place on a beautiful day. Originally scheduled for Sept. 9, the tournament was delayed until Oct. 21 due to excessive rain. Special thanks go to many for their hard work and commitment to make everything work seamlessly. The school is grateful to all of the tournament sponsors for their big-hearted generosity, Bayville Golf Club for their kindness and assistance in coordinating the rain date, and to the Cardo CafĂŠ for their flexibility and outstanding food. HAT is also indebted to the 86 players and numerous volunteers who adjusted their schedules to participate in the postponed tournament. Rachel Abrams, volunteer coordinator, did an amazing job schedul-
Roy Beskin, David Brand, Scott Singor and Scott Pachter.
Kevin Lefcoe, John Strelitz, Evan Kalfus and Barry Davis.
J.P. Battaglia, Eric Miller, Jerry Miller and Bill Miller.
Anthony Bueno, Andreu Moore, Rabbi Jeff Arnowitz and Jason Hoffman.
Shelly Slone, Ilana Benson, Annie Sandler and Joan Joffe.
Bob Zuckerman, Bob Salter, Larry Siegel and Lee Summers.
Wes Smith, Brad Levitt, Evan Levitt and Gary Kell.
Angela Kerns, Brian Kint, Kevin Phelps and Adam Holcombe.
David King, Ashley Lemke, Shawn Lemke and Matt Kaminski.
Victor Pickett, Frank Cowling, Rad Davenport and Alan Nordlinger.
Eric Joffe, Mike Simon, Jody Balaban and Brian Mesh.
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ing volunteers for two separate dates. While there were many new players and sponsors this year, the date change made it impossible for a few of the tournament veterans to attend. Bob and Sheila Josephberg, Steve Sandler, Ron Kramer, Marvin Friedberg, Aaron Peck, Alvin Wall, Abbey Horwitz and Nathan Benson were certainly missed. The school is especially thankful for the continued support and advice of Angela Jenkins, who ran the tournament with Bob Josephberg for years, and to Josephberg himself, who continues to assist in the tournament fundraising. “Bob and Angela, you have made a
world of difference to countless HAT students and families. Thank you for your tremendous loyalty,” says David Cardon, tournament chair since 2011. Randi Gordon, president of the HAT board of trustees, says, “thank you to the entire community for supporting the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Konikoff Center of Learning and the Strelitz Early Childhood Center. This year the school celebrates its 60th anniversary. You are part of our collective history and continued future.” Hebrew Academy of Tidewater is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Eric Thompson, Matt and Karen Fine and Elena Baum.
J.T. McDonald, Bill West, Alex Rainey and Patrick Cecchini.
Thank you to all the wonderful supporters and volunteers who had a hand in this year’s tournament. You are role models in our community and make a difference everyday. SPONSORS ($5000)
Copeland–Klebanoff Family Fairlead Integrated Tavia, Randi & Steven Gordon The Josephberg Family Will, June, Alex, Austin, Cindy & Ron Kramer Celia K. Krichman Charitable Trust Dr. Albert & Wendy Konikoff Dr. David & Sofia Konikoff Dr. Stephen & Ronnie Jane Konikoff L.M. Sandler & Sons The Leon Family in honor of Bob Josephberg Alan & Susan Nordlinger Deb & Peter Segaloff John & Renee Strelitz and Family
Babbi & Brad Bangel Bay Disposal Armond & Rose Caplan Foundation Elyse & David Cardon Copy Fax Digital Office Solutions Faggert & Frieden, P.C. Foleck Center for Cosmetic Implant & General Dentistry Givens Group Hercules Fence Beth & Nathan Jaffe Jormandy, LLC The Klebanoff Family (Property Management Group) Larrymore Foundation LoanCare Lombart Instruments Mid-Atlantic Dermatology Monarch Properties Palms Associates Partners in Construction Payday Payroll Services Rosenblum Plastic Surgery Ellyn & Bob Nathan Segal & Lynnhaven Pawn Larry Siegel & Williams Mullen Robin, Burle, Arielle, Rachael & Sam Stromberg Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai Wecker
HOSTS ($3000) Claire & Marvin Friedberg Brenda & Abbey Horwitz S.L.Nusbaum Realty Co. Towne Bank Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer
UNDERWRITERS ($2000) Nathan Drory/Charles Barker Lexus Heritage Bank & Trust Monster Tool Company Brad Moses/Towne Insurance
EAGLES ($1000) Patricia & Avraham Ashkenazi Ilana & Nathan Benson Beth Sholom Village Beth & Ron Dozoretz Karen & Matt Fine Seth & Nataly Fleishman Denise, Jason, Summer & Logan Hoffman Jewish Family Service KPMG The Lefcoe Family National Disaster Solutions Jennifer & Jim Nocito Randy Shapiro Mr. & Mrs. Jerroll R. Silverberg
HOLE ($300) The Abrams Family Rabbi Arnowitz on behalf of Congregation Beth El Barnes, Thompson & Singor Beach Eye Care, Mark A. Lipton, OD Beach Groundworks Inc Susan & Jon Becker Belgard Hardscapes Jeff & Amy Brooke Stephanie Calliott & Don London CB Richard Ellis Frankie Edmondson, Portsmouth Commissioner of the Revenue Gilbert Eye Care Thank you Bob Josephberg! from Norman & Farideh Goldin Greenwich Kitchen Center
Laura & Fred Gross H.D. Oliver Funeral Home Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront The Jason Family Eric Joffe Construction Corp— Mike Simon/Eric Joffe Eileen, Stuart, Andrew, Steven & Laura Kahn Betsy & Ed Karotkin KMG Prestige, Inc No Frill Bar & Grill Rashkind Family Remedy Staffing Services Ellen & Scott Rosenblum Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Terri & Lonny Sarfan The Seeman Family Drs. Shivar, Peluso & Andersen, P.C. Orthodontics for Children & Adults Dr. Bill & Rosanne Simon Siska Aurand Landscape Architects S.L. Nusbaum Insurance Company The Spindel Agency, Insurance & Employee Benefits The Steingold Family TFA Benefits–A TowneBank Company UBS Financial Services, Inc. (3 holes) The Weinstein Family Yorktown Materials Ashley & Greg Zittrain
VOLUNTEERS Marc Abrams Rachel Abrams Jennifer Adut Leslie Auerbach Babbi Bangel Ilana Benson Bonnie Brand Ellie Brooke David Cardon Elyse Cardon Leora Drory Randi Gordon Joan Joffe Jodi Klebanoff Cindy Kramer Ashley Lemke Lisa Leon
Judy Matthias Laura Miller Emily Nied Marcia Samuels Patti Seeman Maggie Sibony Carin Simon Burle Stromberg Monique Werby Ashley Zittrain Greg Zittrain Megan Zuckerman
RAFFLE DONATIONS 11th Street Taphouse Bar & Grill 19th Street and Atlantic Hotel Aldo’s Ristorante Bagel Baker Bite Restaurant Brilliance New York Cardo Café Carolina Cupcakery ChesBay Distributing LLC Color Me Mine Commodore Theatre Donna Bloom at JCC Either Ore Jewelers Fleet Feet Sports Freemason Abbey Restaurant Garden Gazebo Gary Allen Hair & Skin Care Groomingdale’s Hampton Inn, Virginia Beach Hi-Ho Silver Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront IHOP Il Giardino Island Breeze Jake’s Place Janet Molofsky Jody G. Jungle Golf Long Jewelers MacArthur Center Mizuno Nauticus No Frill Bar & Grill Norfolk Bicycle Works
NYFO O’s Donuts PF Changs Richmond Camera Roger Brown’s Restaurant/The Cove Rowena’s Running Etc Ruth’s Chris Steak House Savor the Olives Simply Selmas Steinhilber’s Texture The Globe The Gourmet Gang The Kitchen Koop The Lemon Cabana The Norfolk Admirals The Quality Shops The Route 58 Deli The Royal Chocolate The Sandler Center The Skinny Dip The Spa and Laser Center Tini’s Todd Rosenlieb Dance Top Gun Miniature Golf Trader Joe’s Virginia Aquarium Virginia Beach Resort Hotel Virginia Zoo Wine from Norman Miller YNOT Pizza Yorgo’s Bageldashery
SPECIAL THANKS Bob Josephberg Angela Jenkins Bayville Golf Club Cardo Cafe Cars & Hole in One Insurance provided by Nathan Drory/ Charles Barker Lexus Hole in One Insurance provided by Brad Moses/Towne Insurance Signs By Tomorrow Signs, Plaques & More
jewishnewsva.org | November 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 33
New book highlights 100 years of UJFT Israel and Overseas Partner, JDC
n honor of its centennial year, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has published I Live. Send Help. This pictorial volume details the intertwined history of JDC and the Jewish people by highlighting the major events,
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both tragic and redemptive, that have defined Jewish life and JDC’s global endeavors over the last century. The publication weaves together hundreds of photographs, documents and artifacts from the organization’s extensive archives, painting a vivid picture of JDC’s life-saving work among Jewish communities in the far corners of the world. Written by Merri Ukraincik and edited by Linda Levi, it includes original source materials—many never before available— and a prologue by award-winning novelist David Bezmozgis, whose family was assisted by JDC. Deborah Lipstadt, author and Dorot professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University calls the book, a tour de force. “This book tells an epic story, one of life and death, birth and rebirth, destruction and construction. Anyone interested in Jewish history of the last 100 years will be captivated by it.” This 160-page, full-color, hardcover volume is available for $29.95, plus $5 (per copy) for shipping and handling, and can be purchased by visiting www.JDC.org, or by calling 212-687-6200. To hear Merri Ukraincik discuss some of her favorite photos from the book, and fascinating background about them, visit JewishVA.org. JDC is a recipient of funds generously donated to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign. Make a gift to the 2015 Campaign today, by visiting JewishVA.org.
Remember Last Winter? The shelves of this JFS Food Closet may look fairly full, but within one day, they will be empty.
What if your cupboards were bare?
magine walking into your kitchen pantry and seeing bare cupboards. What would you do? Having to choose between paying a bill and feeding your family is difficult, but for many, this is a reality. Fortunately, Jewish Family Service helps with its Food Closets. Over the last several years, visits to the JFS Food Closets have increased by an alarming 200%. Each month, JFS helps provide food for more than 550 individuals whose limited income prohibits them from keeping their families fed. JFS has been able to do this because of the community’s outstanding support. In September during Hunger Action Month, JFS distributed more than 1,500 paper bags to area synagogues, asking for non-perishable foods. JFS asked, and the community responded…in a BIG, BIG way! How big? Two rooms full, that’s how big!
JFS received more than 700 bags of food to distribute to its Food Closet clients. “We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our community,” says Jody Laibstain, JFS volunteer coordinator. “It brought me to tears to see how this community responded to our call for help.” While 700 bags of food may sound like a lot, the sad reality is that the food JFS received will all be distributed soon. JFS accepts yearround donations of non-perishable food items for its Food Closets. For more information, call Jody Laibstain at 757-321-2222 or Maryann Kettyle at 459‑4640. JFS thanks the congregants of area synagogues for their response to its Annual High Holiday Food Drive. Jewish Family Service is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
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The Sandler it’s a wrap Family Campus Congregation Beth El hosts annual Steak and Scotch in the Sukkah Security A Department supply drive capacity crowd filled Congregation Beth El’s sukkah on Tuesday, Oct. 14 as close to 90 men gathered under starlight for the third annual Steak and Scotch in the Sukkah. This event has become a tradition at Beth El, with 2014 attracting the largest crowd to date. Participants dined on kosher rib eye steaks expertly cooked and grilled by the fabulous chefs, Ron Gladstone, Mike Efland, Brad Klavan, David Donahue and
Mario Cuffee. According to first time participant Brad Lerner, “I had a blast. The steak was great (who knew?) and I had fun with my friends eating outdoors on a breezy, relaxing evening.” The treat of the evening was tasting four blends of Scotch and a history of Scotch provided by Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz. After a brief history of each bottle, attendees had the chance to taste each Scotch and decide which bottle was the best.
PACT-ivity at Congregation Beth El
ow, through the holidays, in cooperation with Jewish Family Service, the Security department of the Sandler Family Campus is collecting various basic items for the less fortunate. A donation bin is located near the main entrance’s security booth. Essential supplies requested • Laundry detergent / dryer sheets • Dishwasher detergent / dish soap • Cleaning supplies (pine sol, sponges, latex gloves, etc.) • Basic first aid (cough drops, band aids, gauze pads, etc.) • Basic hygiene items (deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, q-tips, etc.) • Freezer bags / food storage • Trash bags • Paper towels / napkins / cups / toilet paper • Non perishable food items
36 | Jewish News | November 17, 2014 | jewishnewsva.org
by Sharon Wasserberg
uring the weekend between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, some folks can feel a little “shuled” out from celebrating and anticipating all the fall chaggim. At Congregation Beth El, however, this tide is turning with the first PACT-ivity (Parents-and-Children-Together activity). Sunday Sept. 28, parents partnered with their children to learn, create and experience something very special. After the Sh’ma and an explanation of the morning’s plan in the main sanctuary, participants headed into Myers Hall where the creativity began. Students in kindergarten through fifth grades created a family mizrach to be used in their Sukkah and/or home. A mizrach is a
wall hanging that is placed on the east wall in a home to mark which direction to pray. Sixth and seventh graders created a tallit under which the students would stand for the group Aliyah on Simchat Torah morning. Parents of the older students learned how to tie tzitzit for the tallit and then taught the sixth and seventh graders this skill. Four new tzitzit experts then tied tzitzit on the giant tallit for Simchat Torah. The morning concluded with a very moving concert. Beth El’s own Lei Lei Berz, a cellist, played the traditional Kol Nidre in its entirety for the group. While this piece is somewhat lengthy, there was not even a cough from anyone in the audience regardless of their grade level.
Beth Chaverim’s greatest resource in 5775: the children by Linda Sinowitz L.M.S.W., principal, CBC Religious School
or the ‘House of Friends’ or Congregation Beth Chaverim, its greatest Jewish resource is the congregation’s children. The New Year began with the school’s tradition of apples for all students, staff and family members. Then came children’s services for the holidays, which took place in the renovated Junior Sanctuary that includes the children’s ‘own’ Tree of Life painting created with fingerprints of every Religious School student. Children’s services included crafts and snacks and joining with the adults to hear the Shofar.
On the back of the property, the children ‘threw away their sins’ and learned about Tashlich by casting off their sins with pieces of bread. The excitement continued after the concluding services with a delicious meal at the Sisterhood ‘Break the Fast.’ After the Brotherhood built the Sukkah, the entire Religious School decorated it with vines, fruit, a ‘Twelve Tribe Chain’ and handmade drawings. Another treat after school included a Brotherhood Cook-out. Desserts in the Sukkah and a ‘Pizza in the Sukkah Party’ were all part of a new beginning for 5775 at the ‘House of Friends.’
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Bonnie and Diana Elozory at Temple Israel
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he weekend after Sukkot, Temple Israel’s Scholar-in-Residence program featured Bonnie and Diana Elozory. During Saturday services and Sunday Religious School, the Elozorys shared their life-altering experience of 2013. Judaism and family were always fundamental focuses in the Elozory home. After suffering through some very difficult times, Bonnie Elozory of Tampa, Fla. decided to take a hike. No, she didn’t run away from her problems, she set out to refocus on those qualities by hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) with her family. In May of last year, Elozory set out with her two youngest daughters, Ruth (17) and Diana (12), to through hike the AT. “Through hike” means to hike every one of the 2,186 miles stretching from Georgia to Maine. Her husband, son, eldest daughter and nephews all joined them as schedules allowed. They also served as a base of operations, mailing dehydrated kosher meat and other supplies to towns along the trail where the hikers would be stopping. Elozory and the girls kept kosher on the hike as they do at home by using the meat, along with lots of calorie-laden prepared foods. In addition to their extended family’s support of the hike, their synagogue and Hebrew day school were also supportive. When Diana fell and broke her arm, UVa hospital sent her back to Tampa for extended treatment. The family feared they would not be able to finish their hike because of Diana’s schooling. But, Diana received dispensation from Hillel of Tampa to miss the fall semester in order to finish the hike and her teachers voluntarily helped her catch up upon her return. They praised the endeavor as a unique life-lesson and encouraged Diana to “finish what she started.” The entire school followed their progress. The synagogue’s clergy were also encouraging and made MP3 files of Diana’s haftarah and the Friday and Saturday
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Diana and Ruth Elozory.
prayers so that Diana could train for her June 2014 bat mitzvah using her iPod. In the evenings, the family would take out paper copies of the same and practice together. Older sister, Ruth, had the same haftarah, so expectations were high. Some of their favorite memories included celebrating Shabbat and the fall holidays on the trail. They carried matzah and birthday candles for Shabbat. On Rosh Hashanah, they ate honey on apples they chilled in a river. Yom Kippur was a quiet, spiritual day as they were unable to hike while fasting. Of course, Sukkot was a cinch! Being in nature made them feel closer to God because they were interacting so closely with his creations, discovering newfound kinship with Jewish ancestors who lived more like life on the trail than today’s modern, indoor society. What did they get from the experience? They were made more cognizant of the great worth that fellow human beings hold. The supportive community on the trail helped them heal some of the hurts of the past and trust others again. They were reminded that humans are the caretakers of all of the natural wonder of this world and everyone needs to be more aware of their impact on what has been loaned. And, they learned that when it is necessary to climb a mountain, a good way to start is a breakfast sandwich of peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, Nutella, honey roasted peanuts and M&Ms.
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jewishnewsva.org | November 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 37
Multiple audiences learn advocacy tips from First Israel Today speaker article and photos by Laine Mednick Rutherford
by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and undreds of people in Tidewater corporate and community partners. More than 200 people heard her speak were recipients of the insights and opinions of former Knesset mem- in the evening at the community-wide ber and Israeli advocate, Dr. Einat Wilf, event held at the Sandler Family Campus. While Wilf’s hour-long discussion was the during her recent visit. Wilf came to the area on Thursday, Oct. purpose for her trip to Virginia Beach, it 30, the first presenter in the annual Israel was not her only speaking engagement. From almost the moment the sun rose Today Forum, a speaker series presented on that Thursday morning, until her plane left the next day, Wilf was busy. She addressed the UJFT Women’s, Young Adult and Men’s groups, students at a number of schools, friends of the CRC (including area clergy), and local and national media. “Usually when I’m Community members enjoyed a few minutes after the presentation with Einat Wilf. brought in to do a talk, there may be one or two events scheduled around it, but I don’t think I’ve ever had something on this scale,” Wilf told a group of young adult leaders who met with her for an informal discussion after the community event. “Definitely not since Einat Wilf presenting to the Women’s Cabinet of the UJFT my campaign for office,” and their guests on the topic of “Having it All and then Some: Wilf added, comparing Women’s Leadership, Family Life and Social Structures.”
Einat Wilf is interviewed by Christian Broadcasting Network News International News Director and Senior International Correspondent, Gary Lane.
38 | Jewish News | November 17, 2014 | jewishnewsva.org
Young Adult Division group after the Israel Today community event.
UJFT Corporate Partners, Chuck Berk of R.S. Andrews Heating, Cooling, & Electrical; Einat Wilf and Greg Zittrain of Jones Zittrain Wealth, Management Group of Merrill Lynch.
the day’s schedule to her successful run Einat Wilf presenting to the community as the first for a Knesset seat in 2010, a comment that woman to speak as a part of the CRC and community partners fourth annual Israel Today series. elicited laughter from the group. Wilf’s experience of a non-stop day is that Robin has us reaching out to so many now the norm for experts featured in the different groups and communities, and Israel Today Forum. Their appearances engage with them about Israel, is brilliant. help the CRC achieve a large part of its I’ve never experienced this, on any scale.” mission: to establish constructive dialogue, create educational opportunities and advocate for Israel. The CRC has found it can reach not only the Tidewater Jewish community, but many others as well, by sharing the thoughts, work and opinions of these vibrant and dynamic speakers when they’re here. CRC director Robin Mancoll books the diverse guests in as many places as she think they can handle. In Wilf’s case, there Dana Cohen, Mimi Karesh and Michael Cohen. were at least 12 different planned meetings. “It’s not just the amount of events that were scheduled; it’s the breadth of them that was so impressive,” Wilf said. “It’s colleges and high schools and international students and pastors and the media—really a very wide range. The fact Jody Wagner, Sandra Porter Leon, Marcus Friedman and Alan Wagner.
IDF Soldier surprises Tidewater with a visit to pick up Mitzvah Day bracelets and letters article and photos by Laine Mednick Rutherford
he first annual Tidewater Mitzvah Day VA took place almost two months ago on Sunday, Sept. 21, but the community’s good deeds accomplished that day continue to positively affect others. On Wednesday, Oct. 29, an Israel Defense Forces soldier visiting the United States made a special visit to the Sandler Family Campus to pick up paracord survival bracelets and handwritten letters that were created by young and old volunteers for Todah Rabah (Thank you), one of the Mitzvah Day projects. David (whose last name was not disclosed due to his military status), was greeted by community members, students of the United Hebrew School and staff of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Simon Family JCC and Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. “When we chose Operation Gratitude as one of our Mitzvah Day projects, we decided that we would send half
of the paracord bracelets to our U.S. military, and half to the IDF,” says Randi Gordon, project chair and a member of ATID, the UJFT leadership group that organized Mitzvah Day. “We are so honored to be able to give you these bracelets and these letters in person, and we want to thank you for all you’ve sacrificed, all you’ve done, and all that you’re doing, to protect Israel and the Jewish people.” David, 25, is called a Lone Soldier in Israel, which is defined as an IDF member whose parents live abroad. Originally from Baltimore, David made aliyah to Israel (became a citizen) and immediately joined the IDF, less than two years ago. He fought in Operation Protective Edge over the summer, had friends who died in the war, and was himself wounded and hospitalized during the fighting. Upon his release from the hospital, David returned to his unit and active duty. In late October, David received leave and a trip home to Baltimore to visit family, courtesy of the non-profit organization that helps Lone Soldiers and others, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Two days before he had to return to duty in Israel, David found out about the bracelets and letters in Tidewater from Ari Dallas, the FIDF director of development, Mid-Atlantic Region. Not only did he agree to take the gifts back to his battery in Israel, David said he would gladly come and pick them up personally, driving from Baltimore and back in a day with Dallas. “You have no idea how much this means to me,” David told the children and adults gathered in the campus cafeteria as he accepted the gifts from Gordon. “The paracord in these bracelets is like gold to us. It really can save our lives.” While the bracelets will be treasured, David says the most valuable items he’ll take back to his fellow soldiers will be the handwritten cards from the Tidewater Jewish community. These personal notes provide inspiration during times of doubt, and let the IDF service members know that they’re not alone, or
forgotten, or fighting in vain, he says. Following the presentation from Gordon, and his humble expression of gratitude, David spent time answering questions from the students. Just before leaving, he distributed gifts of his own to those gathered: dog tag-style necklaces from the FIDF. See a free movie about the real lives of young IDF soldiers on Thursday, Nov. 20. Details on page 30. To hear more of David’s story, visit JewishNewsVA.org.
IDF soldiers show off their new paracord bracelets. David writes from Israel, “My unit loves the bracelets. Thank you once again for all of your guys incredible support!”
jewishnewsva.org | November 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 39
what’s happening Teens of the 1970s plan Virginia Council BBYO Reunion April 18–19, 2015, Richmond
ll ‘teens’ of the 1970s who participated in Virginia Council B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), are invited to attend a reunion at the Weinstein JCC in Richmond. Teens of the 70s are BBYO members between the years of 1968 and 1984. Virginia Council in the 1970s included the following chapters: Cohen, Tikvah, Tip Levin, Ruach, Kruger, Simcha, Deborah, Chutzpah, Commonwealth, Dr. Israel Brown (DIB), Blackman, Old Dominion (OD), Korel, Monarch, Fine, Katan, Machar, and Hamovit. Visit the Facebook group: VA Council BBYO 70s Reunion for photographs,
friends and more detailed information. Official registration is scheduled to begin in January 2015. Direct link to the event on Facebook is:https://www.facebook. com/events/303468273111096/ The last reunion held in 2010 had more than 200 people who travelled from all over the country to attend. This one should be bigger and better, held at the same JCC that the Virginia Council Runoffs convention was held each year, back in the day. To assist in planning the reunion, contact one of the coordinators, Albert Negrin (email@example.com) or Sam Revenson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Synagogue members Get a free month at the J
he Simon Family JCC, which has been on the Sandler Family Campus for 10 years, is extending a free 30-day trial membership to area synagogue members so that non-members may try the many new and exciting fitness classes at the JCC. “The JCC is a community center for all,” says Scott Katz, JCC executive director. “We want to make sure that any interested synagogue member has the opportunity to give us a try. “We are very proud of the variety of cutting edge classes that we offer. From Les Mills’ BodyPump to Spinning, Piloxing to Zumba classes, we have wonderful classes, great instructors, and all the elements in place for those looking for
JCC Thanksgiving morning classes Thursday, Nov. 27, 9:30 –10:45 am
Bite size pieces of some favorite classes: Step, Zumba, Core and more. Facility hours, 9 am–5pm. 40 | Jewish News | November 17, 2014 | jewishnewsva.org
diverse workouts,” says Katz. The goal of the 30-day free membership is to attract new members who may not have tried JCC classes or even visited the fitness center at all. Sharon Giannelli, Wellness director says, “From Vinyasa yoga to Zumba for kids and our newest class, Turbo Kick, we know we are among the area’s premier fitness facilities.” The membership, which must be activated by Sunday, Nov. 30, is good for 30 days, is completely free of charge and comes with no obligation to join. For more information and to register, call 321-2338 or stop by the JCC this month.
what’s happening Israel Today—Mark Dubowitz on Terror from Tehran Wednesday, Dec. 3, 7:30 pm
he second expert in the 2014-15 Israel Today series, Mark Dubowitz will speak about a nuclear Iran at the Sandler Family Campus next month. The event Mark Dubowitz is hosted by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council and community partners. The executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Dubowitz will be in Tidewater just after the extension for negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are set to expire. He will offer an insiders’ look at the talks, the outcome and the global implications of a nuclear Iran. What’s so bad about a nuclear Iran? A nuclear Iran would be a major threat to American security interests, regional stability and world peace. Since 1979 the Iranian regime has demonstrated increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the U.S. and the West. Iran continues to defy the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations in their attempts to monitor its nuclear activities. A number of Arab states have warned that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons poses a threat to Middle East stability and could provoke a regional nuclear arms race. With a nuclear weapon, Iran would be able to project its power throughout the region, threaten key U.S. allies and American troops, and share the technology or the weapons with terrorist groups that target the United States.
How does Israel’s leadership feel about the threat of a nuclear Iran? “We are standing before the danger of an agreement [between the world powers and Iran] that will leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, with thousands of centrifuges through which Iran can manufacture the material for a nuclear bomb within a short period of time,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Oct. 19. “This is a threat to the entire world, first and foremost to
Israel, and it is much worse than the threat of Islamic State.” What makes people think Iran cares about Israel? These statements were published by Senior Analyst IDF Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs this year. • “According to the Supreme Leader’s statement marking Nowruz, if Israel acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be annihilated…. The armed forces are prepared with all their power to execute the orders of the Supreme Leader in minimum time.” Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, Deputy Chief of Staff • “The enemies are talking about the options [they have] on the table. They should know that the first option on our table is the annihilation of Israel.” Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani, lecturer at religious seminary in Qom • “The destruction of Israel is the idea of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime. We cannot claim that we have no intention of going to war with Israel!” Ahmad Alamolhoda, member of the Assembly of Experts About Mark Dubowitz Mark Dubowitz is the director of the Iran Energy Project which provides leading research and analysis in support of strong, broad-based energy sanctions—including gasoline, natural gas and oil sanctions —as part of a comprehensive strategy to end the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism and human rights abuses. It also focuses on the risks to foreign companies in doing business with the U.S. government-blacklisted Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a dominant force in the Iranian energy sector. Dubowitz also directs the FDD’s project on terrorist media focused on the use of satellite television and the Internet as operational weapons by terrorist organizations. For his policy-related work in the U.S. and Europe, Dubowitz was awarded a fellowship from the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, the private foundation owned by one of Europe’s largest media companies. A regular contributor to Forbes’ Energy
Source, Dubowitz writes frequently on Iran energy sanctions issues. He is the co-author of Iran’s Energy Partners: Companies Requiring Investigation Under U.S. Sanctions Law. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, New York Times, Slate, Politico, The Hill, National Review Online, Washington Times, New York Post, the New York Sun, the National Post, Financial Times –Germany, and Frankfurter Allgemeine. He has also appeared on CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio, Voice of America, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and on syndicated radio shows from coast to coast. He has testified before Congress on Iran sanctions issues and briefed the U.S. military, U.S., European and Canadian government officials, members of Congress and counterterrorism officials on a range of national security and terrorism-related concerns. Dubowitz previously worked in the venture capital industry focused on fundraising for early-stage technology companies. He also worked in software
management as director of International Business Development at Doubleclick (purchased by Google). He has lived in the Middle East, Europe and Africa and speaks three languages. Dubowitz earned a master’s degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and has JD and MBA degrees from the University of Toronto. He has studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ecole Supèrieure de Commerce de Paris and McGill University. Born in South Africa and immigrated to Canada when he was eight, Dubowitz holds a green card and is a self-professed die-hard Washington Capitals hockey fan—unless Canada is playing. RSVP to CRC@ujft.org or 965-6107 by Dec. 1. For more information on this event or the CRC and community partners’ 2014-2015 Israel Today series, visit www.JewishVa.org/CRCIsraelToday.
F RIDAY, D ECEMBER 12
CHANUKAH LATKES SOUFGANIYOT
Made Easy By The Cardo Café at the Sandler Family Campus S O LATKE 4 POTAT NUTS) (JELLY DO T O IY AN LT 4 SOUFG UCE, GE P P A LE SA ) e v d, pare (par-bake $10 ir y) available am also Sour cre
8 POTAT O LATKE 8 SOUFG S ANIYOT (JELLY DO NUTS) APPLE SA UCE, GE LT (par-bake d, parev e) $18 Sou r cream also ava ilable
Order by Friday, Dec. 12 Pick up Tuesday, Dec. 16 - Friday, Dec. 19
Order forms available at the Cardo Café
email email@example.com or call 757-965-6123
Stop by our Bake Sale on Wednesday, Nov. 26
jewishnewsva.org | November 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 41
calendar November 19, Wednesday The JCC Senior Club Meeting with guest speaker Attorney Scott N. Alperin. He will discuss elder law, estate planning and asset protection. He is up-to-date on the new laws and benefits that are available. Board meeting begins at 10:30 am, lunch at 12 noon, general meeting follows. For further information, call 338-2676. Lieutenant Governor Ralph S. Northam to speak at event sponsored by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Business & Legal Society, the Maimonides Society and the Community Relations Council. 7 pm. Free and open to the community. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-965-6124. November 20, Thursday The Community Relations Council offers an early premier of Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Homefront at the Regent University Theatre in Virginia Beach. Appearing at the premier will be special guest, Rabbi Raphael Shore, founder of Jerusalem U and The Clarion Project and executive producer of this film. Watch the trailer and RSVP (required by Nov. 19. IDs will be checked) for this FREE and open to the community event by visiting www.JewishVa.org/ CRCBeneaththeHelmet or contact SMaslin@ujft.org. See page 30. November 23 Sunday PJ Library Pajama Day Make PJ Library Pillow Pals and sleeping bags for the book The Bedtime Sh’ma. 10–11:30 am at Simon Family JCC. Call 321-2338 for more information. December 3, Wednesday The Community Relations Council and area synagogues, Jewish agencies, organizations and partners present the second event in the 2014–2015 Israel Today forum with Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as he speaks on the topic of Terror from Tehran: Iran as an International Threat, at 7:30 pm at the Sandler Family Campus. For more information or to RSVP by Dec. 1, visit www.JewishVa.org/CRCIsraelToday or contact SMaslin@ujft.org. See page 41. December 5, Friday Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Konikoff Center of Learning Open House for prospective parents of students entering kindergarten through grade five. 8:30 am–10 am. To preregister or schedule an individual tour, contact Carin Simon, admissions director: 757-424-4327 or email@example.com. For more information: www.hebrewacademy.net.
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Mazel Tov to Welcome to Kaplan family Tidewater Jewish Foundation is busy welcoming the Kaplan family to Tidewater. Scott Kaplan is the new president and CEO of the Foundation. Kaplan, his wife Erica, and their two children, Liora and Eden, moved to the community from western Massachusetts. In the next issue of Jewish News, Kaplan will share his vision for the future of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.
December 12–14, 2014 Chrysler Hall · Norfolk, VA
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Erika Eskenazi selected for prestigious fellowship by Leslie Shroyer
JCC Association’s Merrin Center for Teen Engagement has selected 15 professionals from JCCs and camps in North America to participate in the Merrin Teen Professional Fellows Program. Erika Eskenazi, the Simon Family JCC’s Children and Camp director, is one of the 15. Designed to give those working with teens the skills to better serve a critical sector of the Jewish community, the program enhances their profiles in their organizations, enriches and deepens their Jewish identities and builds a stronger professional network of teen service providers across North America. The fellowship features five seminars held over 14 months, with the first in New York City in January, 2015. This selective professional development program focuses on developing leadership and management skills, learning how to serve teens more effectively, planning career paths in the JCC Movement, and deepening one’s sense of Jewish knowledge. One of the seminars is held in Israel. Eskenazi moved to Richmond for a teaching job with a program for deaf children in 2008. There, she reconnected with the BBYO world she so enjoyed as a teen, and became an advisor. Deciding on a career in Jewish Communal Service, she then served as the director of Youth and Family Programs and the head of the religious
school for a small temple near Syracuse, N.Y. Eskenazi joined the Simon Family JCC in 2013 as the assistant director of JCC’s Children and Camp department and was recently promoted to director. “Erika has a proven track record for being a committed and dedicated JCC professional,” says Scott Katz, JCC executive director. “She oversees Summer Camp, our Kids Connection Before and After School Program, manages our babysitting staff and runs PJ Library. She is devoted, caring and very deserving of her recent promotion and her selection in the Merrin Fellowship program.” “The fellowship will help me grow as a professional as well as allow me to interact with other JCC professionals in similar jobs to collaborate on our shared goals and objectives,” says Eskenazi.
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obituaries Justin Abraham Bangel Virginia Beach—Justin Abraham Bangel, 34, died Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 in Virginia Beach. He was a native of Portsmouth and was a resident of Hampton Roads for all of his life. He is the son of Keith and Dale Levin Bangel and was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Robert Levin and Stanley Bangel. Justin graduated from Norfolk Collegiate and attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. He was a member of Congregation Beth El. Survivors include his loving parents of Virginia Beach, his maternal grandmother, Edna R. Levin of Virginia Beach and his paternal grandmother Frances D. Bangel of Portsmouth, his sister, Lindsay Anne Bangel of New York, N.Y. and aunts and uncles, Claire and Marvin Friedberg, Dr. Mark Levin and his wife Janet and Karen Bangel and many beloved cousins. Funeral services were private with Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz and Cantor Gordon Piltch officiating. Memorial donations to Chesapeake Bay Academy, 821 Baker Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be sent to the family at hdoliver.com. Stewart Legum Norfolk—Stewart Legum, 72, died on November 7, 2014. Stewart had been living in Palm Coast, Fla., near his beloved family, including his twin brother Louie, his sister Carol, his sister-in-law Teresa, and his cherished nephew Jackson. Stewart had been residing in the group home of Taj and Mozi Crown who became part of his family and who took wonderful care of him. Stewart was pre deceased by his parents Frank (Bootsie) and Mary Legum. Stewart worked many productive years with the Louis Legum and Haynes Furniture Companies. He was proud that he was able to work in spite of his mental and physical handicaps. Stewart spent much of his spare time futilely rooting for his Washington Redskins. Everyone who knew Stewart loved him very much. He overcame many difficulties to have a meaningful life and
always wanted his mother and father to be proud of him. He will be greatly missed. Funeral services were held at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Michael Pantiz officiating. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Martha Hatchett Owens Virginia Beach—Martha Hatchett Owens was born at Virginia Beach Hospital on January 4, 1930. A lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, she passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by her loving family on Thursday, November 6, 2014. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, friend and inspiration to all who knew her. A devote catholic and a member of Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Martha was the daughter of Lucy and Russell Hatchett, a former city manager of Virginia Beach. She was a graduate of Oceana High School and attended Longwood College. Her beauty, sweetness, generosity of spirit and charismatic personality resulted in her being selected as Miss Virginia Beach. These special qualities followed her throughout her life and will be missed by all who loved her. Martha’s memory will be carried on by her two daughters, Lucy Gardner and her husband Wes, Martha Mednick Glasser and her husband Richard, her grandson Shel John “The warmth of her heart” and her many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her beloved sister, Marsteller, her brothers, William Russell and Ambler Hatchett. The family would like to express their gratitude for the devoted care of Shirley Blandshaw of Jewish Family Service who referred to her as “her lady bird,” and to John Campbell and Steve Brock, who she felt were her sons she never had. A funeral service was held in H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg officiating. Memorial donations may be made to Jewish Family Service or Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 945, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. Online condolences may be made to the family at hdoliver.com. Gerald H. Stein Norfolk—Gerald “Jerry” H. Stein, beloved husband of Arlene, of blessed
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memory, and cherished father of Steve and Cindy Stein, Lisa and Mark Delevie, Craig Stein and Debra and Marc Levy, brother of Katherine Kapler and brother-in-law of Richard Shea, passed away peacefully in Boca Raton, Fla., on October 30, 2014. He was pre-deceased by his mother Rose Schwartz Stein, brother, Herbert Stein and sister-in-law Rhonda Stein. Mr. Stein was a co-founder of Grand Furniture and a leader in the local business community for over 60 years. He grew the business from a small storefront to a multi-store local chain employing over 300 employees servicing every Hampton Roads city. Jerry was a generous philanthropist and it was often said “that Jerry wasn’t livin’ unless he was givin.” He established the Stein Family Scholarship in memory of his dear wife Arlene, helping put numerous area students through four years of college. He quietly supported individuals and the local community wherever he saw a need he felt he could help meet. As grandfather, “Pop” was so proud of his grandchildren: Melanie and her husband Eric Grossman, Samantha and her husband Josh Cohn, Ariel Stein and his wife Jocelyn, Lauren Seltzer, Seth Levy and his wife Michelle, Shea Levy and his wife Alyssa, Matt Stein and Madison Stein, as well as Michael Schneider, David Schneider, Nicole Delevie and Matthew Delevie, and delighted by his three great-grand children, Sloane Grossman, Ziva Levy and Levi Stein. He will be missed by his numerous first cousins, friends and long-time buddy, Ernest Godfrey. He was a stand-out athlete at Maury High School, where he earned a scholarship to play football at the University of Maryland. But most of all he was a loving father, husband and grandfather, a true pater familias whose love of family and generous spirit are so beautifully reflected in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held at Temple Beth El with burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. Contributions may be made to the Stein Family Scholarship, (757) 9656105, firstname.lastname@example.org. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.hdoliver.com.
Malcolm Wasserman Virginia Beach—Malcolm Wasserman, 82, passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Virginia Beach on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Malcolm lived a long and extraordinary life, facing the adversity of his generation with a tenacity and grit that became his trademark style throughout his many years. Serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and eventually settling in Norfolk, he married Sheila Sackstein, and over the course of 50 sensational years traveled the world, had adventures and with ceaseless entrepreneurial spirit, left a business legacy throughout East Main Street and Little Creek Road. He is survived by his children, Laurie and Bryan Shroder, Marcie Friedman and David Friedman and Danny Wasserman, and his five grandchildren, Landon and his wife Sarah, Lee, Jordan, Chase and Travis, who, along with his companion, Bobbie Krampf, were with him at the time of his passing. A graveside funeral service was conducted in Forest Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg and Cantor Wally Schachat-Briskin officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Kidney Association. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be offered to the family through hdoliver.com.
Shmuel Azimov, Chabad leader in Paris Rabbi Shmuel Azimov, one of the leaders of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in France, has die.d. Azimov, a native of the former Soviet Union, died in France on Nov. 5 from an illness that required hospitalization. He was 69. His body was brought to Israel for burial on the same day. “Despite his eminence, this was a man who spoke to his juniors, to everyone, as equals,” said Rabbi Avraham Weill of Toulouse. “And though he never sought the limelight, he was the driving force behind the educational revolution of the Chabad movement in France. He wasn’t just a spiritual father to thousands of Jews but an actual second father to many of them.” Chabad-Lubavitch has 115 centers in 95 cities in France, which the movement’s official website, chabad.org, called “the
obituaries direct result of his work.” The centers are staffed by more than 450 emissaries. Azimov studied in the Central Chabad Yeshivah in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he became deeply connected to the Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe. In 1968, Schneerson sent Azimov and his late wife, Bassie, to Paris to serve as his emissaries there. The couple’s three children are Chabad emissaries in the French capital. (JTA)
N.Y. clinic that treated Joan Rivers made errors, federal probe finds The New York City clinic that treated comedian Joan Rivers made several errors,
including not noticing her deteriorating vital signs during surgery, according to a federal investigation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its report on Monday, Nov. 10. Rivers, 81, died on Sept. 4, a week after being rushed to Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital after her heart stopped during throat surgery at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic. Doctors at the hospital put her in an induced coma from which she never awoke. According to the report, Rivers’ vital signs were deteriorating for at least 15 minutes before cardiopulmonary resuscitation began, The New York Times reported.
The report also said that Dr. Lawrence Cohen, who served as medical director of the clinic, took pictures on his cellphone of an unconscious Rivers on the operating table with her ear, nose and throat doctor. Cohen has since left the clinic. Rivers was identified as Patient #1 in the report, according to the Times. The comedian and talk show host was at the clinic for a routine procedure to examine her throat. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, said in a statement issued by her attorneys that she was “outraged by the misconduct and mismanagement now shown to have occurred before, during and after the procedure.” (JTA)
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What makes Chanukah great in America by Dianne Ashton
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (JTA)— As Chanukah nears, let the grousing begin. Too much is made of a holiday that Judaism ranks as a minor festival—one whose rite takes no more than five minutes to complete each night—some American Jews will say. Some will complain about the season’s excessive commercialism or materialism. Yet most Jews will also participate in at least one of the many customs developed by American Jews to augment the holiday’s simple rite and express the enhanced place of Chanukah, which this year falls on Dec. 16, on the American Jewish liturgical calendar. In addition to exchanging gifts (or giv-
ing them to children), they will decorate their homes, eat fried foods, sing songs, listen to holiday music and attend one or more of the many holiday festivities held at Jewish community centers, synagogues, Jewish-themed museums and Jewish schools. At these and other venues, they will join in more elaborate versions of the domestic customs. They will light holiday candles or watch them be kindled, sing more songs than they do at home, snack on potato pancakes or jelly donuts, chat with their friends and neighbors, watch or participate in amateur theatricals on the holiday’s theme—generally have a good time. Beneath the lighthearted celebrating, however, more serious meanings are often conveyed through the holiday’s songs.
46 | Jewish News | November 17, 2014 | jewishnewsva.org
The word Chanukah means dedication, and the holiday has always highlighted occasions when Jews overcame challenges to their continued religious commitment. Chanukah commemorates the rededicating of the Jerusalem Temple in 165 BCE after a band of Jews led by the Maccabees retook it from the Syrians, who had conquered Judea. Generations of Jews retold that story at Chanukah and thanked God for helping their ancestors to prevail. American Jews found additional reasons to reaffirm their dedication at Chanukah and often voiced those reasons in original songs. Since 1842, American Jews have been singing Chanukah songs that expressed the complicated experience of being Jewish in the United States. That year, a new hymnal for Congregation Beth Elohim in Charleston, S.C., included a special hymn for Chanukah that reassured congregants that the God to whom they prayed forgave their sins and continued to stand by them. The hymn countered the energetic effort by local Christian evangelicals to convince them to worship Jesus. Yet because it reassured Jews living anywhere in a largely Protestant America, the song appeared in hymnals used by both the Reform and Conservative movements as late as 1959. In the 1890s, two American Reform rabbis, in New York City and Philadelphia, wrote a new English version of “Maoz Tsur,” a song that Jews have sung at Chanukah since the 13th century. Titled “Rock of Ages,” the new song kept the melody of its predecessor, which thanked God for saving Jews in the past, but in its shortened version substituted a homey image of domesticity bright with lights and joy and promised a future that would see “tyrants disappearing.” “Rock of Ages” offered Jews an emotional link to past traditions through its melody while reminding them of the tyranny currently besetting their coreligionists in Eastern Europe. As 2.3-million new Jewish immigrants from Eastern
Europe came to America over the next 30 years, the song grew popular. It became a fixture at American Chanukah celebrations following the rise of Nazism in 1933, when the hope for a world free of tyranny seemed even more desperate. Rewrites of older prayers or songs often appeared in the first half of the 20th century. One Chanukah rewrite published during World War II offered a new version of an older prayer that described God’s saving power. The rewrite, offered in Hebrew as “Mi Yimalel?” and in English as “Who Can Retell?” has a lively melody that fits its lyric, which aims to rouse Jews to act politically, militarily and philanthropically. Although a “hero or sage” always came to the aid of needy Jews in the past, it says, the current problems facing Jewry require more. Now “all Israel must arise” and “redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.” The crises facing Jews during those years influenced the ideas and emotions that they expressed in this Chanukah song. The experience of unity and strength that is felt in group singing may have assuaged Jews’ fears during those decades of disorientation and anguish. Chanukah provided an occasion for singing songs that voiced old and new hopes while building new communal alliances and bonds. And that, perhaps, helps explain the broad and continuing appeal of Chanukah for American Jews. Chanukah allows Jews to join in the national merrymaking occasioned by Christmas, but also to rededicate to Judaism. In homes, synagogues, museums, community centers and schools, it provides an occasion for gathering, singing, eating, lighting candles in the evenings of the shortest days of the year, exchanging gifts, voicing religious commitments and values, and enjoying being Jews. —Dianne Ashton is the author of Hanukkah in America: A History, which was published last year by NYU Press, and a professor of religion studies at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J.
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