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January 2, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 2, 2009 Wise From page 1A service and professional ac- complishments is continues to grow. She is known as a true role model to all women in the community. The Orlando community and national com- munity has benefited from her lifelong involvement, wisdom and commitment. Choices 2009 is a fundrais- ing dinner for women only. Proceeds from the evening go I toward the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's Annual Community Campaign. In ad- dition to a $40 couvert, there is a suggested minimum do- nation of $250 (less than $5 per week), which can be paid through December 2009. This year, due to a generous gift from the Alan Ginsburg Family Foundation, newcom- ers or first timers to Choices are invited to attend at no charge. The Women's Divi- sion is hoping to educate new women on the Federation's PAGE 19A mission of caring for those in need, rescuing those in harm's way, and renewing and strengthening Jewish life here in Orlando, in Israel and around the world. "Once a woman understands how the money given through the annual community campaign changes lives," say organiz- ers, "she cannot help but be a part of Women's Division and philanthropy." For more information, con- tact JoAnne Kane at 407- 645- 5933 or HMREC From page 1A Bronka and Chaim Miasnik. They escaped to Lida in So- viet-occupied Belarus after Warsaw fell to the Germans in September 1939. Lida fell in 1941 and its Jews were herded into a ghetto. In the great slaughter of March 8, 1942, a Nazi Einsatsgruppe shot most of the Lida Jews. Miriam's family was at first selected to die but at the last moment the Germans decided to spare them because they needed her father's surgical skills to operate on wounded German soldiers. That sum- mer Miriam was sent to live with a Christian woman because it was rumored that the Germans would kill all the Jewish children in the ghetto. She returned to the ghetto when the rumor proved false. In December 1942, Russian partisans rescued the family from the ghetto and brought them to the Lipiczanska for- est. In early 1943, a partisan hospital was established in a remote part of the forest staffed by Jewish doctors and nurses, with Miriam's father as chief of staff. Her hair was shaved and she wore boy's clothing to protect her from rape. On her eighth birthday, Miriam was given her own pistol as a pres- ent. The familywas liberated in the summer of 1944. In early 1945 they escaped Belarus and went to central Poland. Travel- ing as refugees, they traversed most of central Europe to flee the invading Soviets. Soldiers in the Jewish Brigade brought them to Italy, where they lived for two years as Displaced Persons. The family came to America in February of 1947 and settled in Brooklyn. Brysk received her B. S. from New York University in 1955. When she married Henry Brysk, they moved to AnnArborwhere their children were born. She obtained her M. S. in Bacteriology from the University of Michigan. They later returned to New York and she obtained her Ph.D. in Bio- logical Science from Columbia University in 1967. After further postdoctoral training, she went on to become a professor of Dermatology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas medical branch in Galveston. She retired in 2000 and moved back to Ann Arbor to live near her daughters and five grandchildren. Art has helped Miriam Brysk come to terms with the privations she experienced in an upbringing "filled with hopelessness and darkness". The Holocaust Center's pro- grams and events are made possible through grants and sponsorships by the Jewish Fed- eration of Greater Orlando and Darden Restaurants Founda- tion. Programs are also funded in part by the United Arts of Central Florida. Inc, State of Florida, Department of State - Division of CulturalAffairs, and the Center's generous Corporate and individual supporters. Hours at the Center are Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday - Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 407-628-0555. Obama From page 2A Strautmanis, chief of staff to assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison Valerie Jarrett; Tom Perez, co-chair of the transition teams on health care and justice; Tonya Robinson of the justice and civil rights transition team; and Eric Lynn, a senior adviser to the inaugural committee who worked on Jewish outreach during the campaign. Warren From page 2A many similar positions. She pointed out that the church Web site states that someone "unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle" cannot become a member of Warren's church, although they are al- lowed to attend services there. (Warren has a similar rule against unmarried hetero- sexual couples living together joining the church.) "Pastor Warren may have a media-friendly" image, she said, but "he still believes the same package of political positions." Hunter compared taking away the marriage rights that Sharkansky had been granted to gay and lesbian couples in California to putting Japanese Ameri- cans in labor camps during World War II. Stern, though, questioned whether Warren's support of Proposition 8 should be a rea- son to reject his or any other religious leader's appearance at the inauguration. It's one thing for Warren to com- pare gay marriage to incest, he said, and another to say anyone who does not accept the case for same-sex mar- riage should not be allowed to speak at a Democratic, public event. Such a position, Stern said, would eliminate many who take a "traditional, religious view" of the issue--that includes Catholic priests, African-American Baptists and Orthodox Jews. Obama himself said during the campaign that he believed marriage is between a man and a woman, although he opposed Proposition 8. "We're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common," Obama told re- porters two weeks ago. He also noted that the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist and religious leader, would be offering the benedic- tion at the inauguration. The Warren pick won't mean much to faith-oriented voters, though, if Obama doesn't show openness to their issues. The choice is "consistent with the unprecedented and impressive outreach effort to the religious community," said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union's director of public policy. But "once he's in a position to govern," he said, "actual policies" on issues such as the faith- based initiative will be what matters. Warren's controversial comments haven't been lim- ited to gays and lesbians. According to an article on The New Republic Web site posted originally in August, Warren said "yes" at an Aspen panel discussion when asked by a Jewish woman whether she would "burn in hell" and received "audible gasps." Co-panelist Alan Wolfe, the author of the article and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, said he was "impressed" that Warren stayed true to his convictions despite know- ing the audience reaction he would receive. Stern said the "notion that there's only salvation for those who believe in Jesus is an old one in Christian the- ology and certainly makes Jews nervous." But "without gainsaying the damage done by that point of view," Stern said such a belief"isn't' a clear and present danger" to Jews in the United States. "It's an observable fact: In the United States, that's just not true," he said. In addition, Foxman noted that the Rev. Billy Graham, who delivered the invocation at eight inaugurations, has since been heard on the Nixon White House tapes expressing anti- Semitic views about Jew- ish control of the media. From page 4A of favored candidates. They also hire buses to transport their people to the polls, and check off who come to the primary. Individuals say that they are loyal to X, and X has told them how to vote. One can expect that large or small favors depend on appropriate behavior. The actual voting is secret. Where do the contractors get the money and the inspi- ration for their lists? There are lots of stories. How im- portant are the contractors? Money spent is not a sure-fire investment. This year the in- cumbents won high places on the lists of the major parties. Some of the names on the contractors' lists are promi- nent incumbents who again ranked high. Who knows how much their reputation carried them, or whether they benefited from the help of contractors? Some of the less well-known candidates on a contractor's list did well enough to win an assured a place in the Knesset. Most of these will be back-benchers and remain unknown to the public. Below the level of the major parties are the ultra-Orthodox parties, a new party that com- bines Modern Orthodoxy and nationalism (Jewish Home), a more explicitly right-wing nationalist party (Israel Our Home), a number of Arab parties, and special interest parties for retirees, environ- mentalists, and the legaliza- tion of marijuana. If history repeats itself, individuals will create parties for taxi drivers, men disad- vantaged in divorce cases, the advance of one or another Jewish ethnic minority. There is a party that curses all oth- ers and seeks to change the political system, and there is talk about a party that will abandon politics for some- thing close to anarchism. No more than 10 parties are likely to gain the minimum number of votes required to enter the Knesset. Ultra-Orthodox parties rely on councils of elder rabbis to select their list of candidates. Other parties claim do it by committee, some of them dominated by the party leader. The new party calling itself Jewish Home has already split due to disagreements over the ranking of its list. There are two parties competing for the environmental vote, each claiming to be more green than the other. Violence is seldom an issue in Israeli elections, but there was a commotion outside a Kadima party center. Druze politicians and their sup- porters insisted that the vote count did not rank them as high on the list as they should have been. Meretz is a left-of- center party supporting social progress and peace with the Palestinians. It held a primary, but fudged it by inserting into a high slot a media personal- ity who has editorialized in favor of the environment and welfare. Early in the campaign there was a gathering of prominent intellectuals who declared their intention of influenc- Gruber From page 5A "My pagan beliefs come from me not believing in a typical omnipotent god figure sit- ting on a throne but a more amorphous one as in 'Mother nature.'" Strom said he felt con- nected to Mother Nature, "as did the Baal Shem Toy who lived in the forests, studied the plants and was a known herbalist among the Jews and non-Jews." "I am not an atheist," he added, "because I know there is something greater than my- self--or there better be or we are all doomed--in fact there has to be, why else be born, put into this life?" Bruno Bitter, in his early 30s, coordinates a popular Jewish blog and online com- munity in Budapest. He described his religious views as "opiate of the few." Why that? "Marx wrote that 'Die Religion... ist das Opium des Volkes,'" he told me. "This is often referred to as 'religion is the opiate of the masses' in English. But the Jewish religion is for no 'masses,' as we are a small minority." In Philadelphia, mean- while, Michael Seifert, a retired technical writer, de- scribed himself as "Secular Humanist Jewish." "I call myself a secular hu- manist because I put my faith in civic, political, charitable, and educational institutions not affiliated with any reli- gions and follow the teach- ings of the Western humanist tradition, which emphasizes the rights of man and the dignity of the individual," Seifert told me. "Oh yes," he added. ,I was born Jewish, so I have certain traditions and beliefs that come from my Jewish upbring- ing and education, as well as a birthright and familial alli- ances with Jewish people." Two of Seifert's siblings are also Facebook friends of mine--one, a musician, calls himself a "spiritualist," and the other, a professor, is "indifferent." Members of my own ex- tended family described themselves as "Jewish of the Reform and secular sort," or "Jewish-ish," or simply wrote "yes" after the words "reli- gious views." Myself? I chose not to say anything. If anyone wants to know, they can ask: Ruth Ellen Gruber's books include "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travek A Guide to Eastern Europe," "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)" and "Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe." She blogs on Jewish heritage issues at http://jewish-heritage-travel. ing politics. They have held talks with Meretz about joining forces, but it is still not clear who will get what. Unlike Druze villagers, these people are not likely to hit one another if disappointed. The most the loserswill do is insult the winners with well-crafted sentences. Benyamin Netanyahu fiddled with the line-up of Likud candidates after the voting in order to lower the chances of an undesirable to reach the Knesset. Tzipi Livni committed the num- ber two place on Kadima's list to Shaul Mofaz, who she barely beat in an earlier election for party leadership. Presumably she wanted to neutralize his efforts to lead an opposition slate within the party. Nonetheless, he worked with vote contrac- tors in the bus cooperative and among Druze in order to create a bloc, but did not get any of his people into leading positions. It is fun to read and write about these stories, but the international media is wise in ignoring them. Vote contractors and prominent intellectuals are colorful, but not likely to affect anything significant. The lists of the major parties look pretty much like they did last time. Incumbency is important here as in other democra- cies. Current surveys show Kadima and Likud tied with 30 seats, and Labor a distant third at 12 seats. On the prominent issues of peace and economic policy, there are no great differences between the major parties. No party is close to a majority. Another coalition is a certainty. Af- ter the election the details will differ from those of the current Knesset and govern- ment, but the general picture is likely to be familiar. Ira Sharkansky is profes- sor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Scene Around From page 9A without getting converted. The local shop owners soon got fed up with Moshe undercutting their prices and decided to ask the priest for his assistance. The priest listened to their story and asked them to return the next day. When they returned, the priest told them of his solution. They were then asked to contribute 100 guilders to the roof-building fund of the church. Next Sunday, Moshe as usual was sitting in the front of the church near the pulpit to listen to the sermon. Suddenly in the middle of the sermon the priest looked straight at Moshe and said, "I want all Jews to leave this church. "Moshe wasn't sure he heard it correctly so he stayed seated. The priest repeated, "I want all Jews to leave this church. "Moshe stood up, went over to the cross, took Jesus off and said, "Let's go. We're not wanted here! " (Ha! I love this joke.)