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January 2, 2009

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 2, 2009 HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 Major liberal groups avoid rapping Obama on Warren pick By Eric Fingerhut WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Unifying the country requires reaching out to those with whom you disagree. That's what a couple of top Jewish leaders are saying about Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his swearing-in this month. Others in the community, however, say the president- elect's choice is a disappoint- ing kickoff to his administra- tion. Critics of the religious right have lauded Warren, the pas- tor at the Southern California Saddleback Church, for focus- ing on issues such as poverty, AIDS and the environment. But he is also strongly opposed to abortion and gay marriage, and in a recent interview com- pared same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia. Warren opposed Proposi- tion 8 in California, which overturned a court decision legalizing gay marriage in his home state and implemented a ban on such unions in its constitution. "I don't think there should be a litmus test that that they have to agree on every issue," said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, of Obama and Warren. "People have a right to be upset" by some of Warren's views, but "that doesn't disqualify him from being the president's choice." s Dedicated To Serving Our Jewish Community Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 407-599-1180 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Louis B. Wilson, LFD, Manager James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Assoc. Exec. Director Michael Meyer, Family Pre-need Counselor rickwarrennews com Pastor Rick Warren questions then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, during a presidential forum at his church Aug. 16, 2008. "The president-elect has said he will reach out and broaden the tent," said Fox- man, but "broadening the tent comes with a price." The Union for Reform Judaism, which disagrees with Warren on abortion rights and gay marriage, but hosted him as a speaker at its biennial convention in 2007, declined to comment for this article. Other organizations with liberal domestic views also chose to stay out of the controversy, including the National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Coun- cil for Public Affairs. Marc Stern, the acting co-executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said he had "mixed feelings" about the choice. "It's keeping with the presi- dent-elect's determination in reaching people with which he disagrees, which is positive," said Stern, who added that Warren's incest and pedophilia analogies were troubling. "I appreciate the big-tent mentality, but I'm disgusted that the president-elect thinks that it's acceptable to compare gay people to pedo- philes," said Dan Furmansky, a Silver Spring, Md., political consultant who spent five years as the executive direc- tor of Equality Maryland, the statewide LGBT civil rights organization, before leaving the group last week. Furmansky said the pe- dophilia comparison, which portrays gays and lesbians as "violent, predatory indi- viduals," is akin to the "blood libel" that Jews "put the blood of Christian children in matzah." "That's the man Obama chose," Furmansky said. "It's hurtful and painful. Furmansky said his hope is that "the legislative process compensates for this idi- ocy," and that the president- elect can help pass a federal non-discrimination law and expand hate crimes protec- tions to LGBT citizens. He also wants to see an end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "It's a new face on the old politics," said Jane Hunter of Jews on First, a organization that moblilizes the Jew- ish community against the Christian right, of Obama's selection of Warren. Noting that Warren had brought Obama to his church even though many of his congregants disagreed with the Democrat, Hunter said it appeared that the president- elect was returning a favor. "That leaves the rest of us dismayed," she said, because the "larger issues are getting brushed aside." Warren hosted a highly publicized presidential forum at his church in August in- volving Obama and his GOP opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Hunter said that while Warren has been involved in combating such problems as poverty and HIV/AIDS, and may not be as extreme in his beliefs as evangelical preach- ers such as Rod Parsley and James Dobson, he still shares Warren on page 19A Obama team opens a wide door to Jewish groups By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- President-elect Barack Obama's transition team in its first official encounter with the Jewish community sug- gested a substantial change in how his administration will deal with Jewish groups: Joining the stalwart cen- trist organizations were an array of dovish pro-lsrael groups that included the Israel Policy Forum, J Street, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. Of those groups, only the Israel Policy Forum made the occasional appearance at meetings with Bush admin- istration officials. That was because the group was careful to cast a nonpartisan tint to its pro-negotiations posture, effusively praising the White House's peace-brokering ef- forts, however infrequent they were until a year or so ago. Other more liberal groups at the table, including the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, also were in- vited occasionally--with the The Bush administration's infamous tetchiness at criti- cism seemed to be a thing of the past. ZOA has slammed Obama's transition team for including strident Israel critic Samantha Power in a post that barely registers above chief cook and bottle washer, but has failed to praise it for installing true-blue pro-Israel types such as Jim Steinberg in more senior posts. That was fine with the dov- ish types--or at least with Diane Balser, who directs Brit Tzedek, which in recent years has lobbied for increased aid to the Palestinians even as ZOA has lobbied against it. "The Obama team said they were open and understood ev- eryone had a seat," Balser told JTA. "To acknowledge there is more than one view on Israel, that we're not monolithic--I consider that a step forward for us." Balser was so enchanted by the new order that she sought out the ZOA's Mort Klein af- terward, and they had a civil, even pleasant conversation, she said, and discovered some: emphasis on "occasionally." thing in common (aside, of Whatwasremarkableabout c0Urse, from a love for Israel, the Dec. 18 meeting was that the Obama team also reached out to the opposite side of the political spectrum, includ- ing the Zionist Organization of America. Dan Shapiro, the transition official who handled foreign policy at the meeting, made it clear he wanted to hear all voices. however differently slanted): Each, it turns out, has a sibling who thinks their politics are, well, nuts. Klein confirmed the con- versation. "I tell my brother he's ad- opted, and he reminds me we look alike," he said. Klein said he thought Balser "was delightful and pleasant, although her group's views are not delightful and pleasant." Klein wasn't so sure about the breadth of the transition team's outreach, noting that Americans for a Safe Israel, which is similarly hard line, was not present--although he was not sure they were not invited. Klein said he took the op- portunity during the meet- ing with the Obama team to contradict some of the dovish groups' positions, pointing out shortcomings in the Arab League's peace plan (it is unclear, for instance, on the status of Palestinian refugees and leaves open the possibility of a mass return.) He also said he corrected misimpressions of support for a two-state solution, noting that at least two parties in the Israeli Knesset are op- posed and that support among American Jews has dropped in recent years to below 50 percent. Among the domestic and international issues discussed were economic recovery legislation, church-state mat- ters, judicial appointments, energy independence, Iran, the Midlde East peace process and U. S. participation in the Durban II conference. Obama transition team representatives at the meet- ing included Shapiro; Michael Obama on page 19A