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January 6, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 6, 2012 Green From page 1A "These guys have just done a revolution in our household," Elkins said in a telephone inter- view as he enumerated some of their own lifestyle changes. "My wife and I each drive a Prius. We eat only organic food. We buy locally. We carry our own bags into supermarkets; we'll never touch a plastic bag." In addition to being practically impervi- ous to decomposition, Elkins said, plastic bags' oil-based construction also enriches Saudi Arabia, 'hich I'm not interested in doing." Topics in "Simple Actions" include ways to save energy, reduce waste and recycle; en- vironmentally sound dietary considerations;and how to"Bea Green Jew," among other issues. Every chapter has an action pro- gram/journal by which readers can keep track of what they are doing to follow Elkins's sugges- tions. He has also included "a gazillion websites and names of organizations" to further readers' education. "Green" is becoming com- monplace, Elkins said. "You see it everywhere. What does it mean? 'Green' simply is a codeword to make sure that this planet is here for our children and grandchildren. The real word is 'sustainabilityY In that regard, Elkins said, he believes Jews have always been "early adapters," even before the phrase became popular. "Judaism, by nature, has had a tendency toward preserving the planet. If people would have taken in its fullness seriously, they would have come to the environmental movement long before the last 30 years. "There's one law in the Book of Deuteronomythat everybody quotes" Elkins said. "It's called bal tash'hit, meaning 'do not destroy.' Post-biblical commen- tators...have interpreted that to mean: do not destroy anything worthwhile on this planet. "God gave us a phenomenal world; we want it to be here," said Elkins, who is rabbi emeri- tus at The Jewish Center in Princeton, N.J. "We don't want to say thatwe're the generation that ruined it through global warming and contamination of the air, the water, the soil, the food." He recalled the talmudic story of an old man planting a tree. When a neighbor pointed out that the planter would be long dead by the time the tree matured, the old man replied, "When I came into this world there were many trees my ancestors planted for me. I'm planting for my descendents." "We have a responsibility to make sure there's a planet here 50, 100 years from now," Elkins said. He remains optimistic. "I can't open a magazine today without some organiza- tion-government, industry, education advertisingabout Berlin PAGE 19A sustainability, new depart- ments, new programs. People just need more information. They're hungry for how to do it more," Eikins said. "It's being done now, just not rapidly and widespread enough as it needs to be to really make sure that the [harmful] processes going on now don't accelerate. "But it just takes reminding and reeducating and enforcing old ideas from Judaism and other faiths and traditions about nature--and we'll make some progress." Ron Kaplan is features editor at the New Jersey Jewish News. From page 2A of Prussia was chosen. After months of planning, someone asked whether it was correct to celebrate Prussia, known for its military prowess, right next to the area where National Socialism's admin- istrative buildings had stood. The field--perhaps several football fields in length--was where the Gestapo, the SS and the SD (the Security Service) once stood. A group of everyday citizens began clearing the space. The excavations along the eastern edge revealed what was left of the basement of the Gestapo and some of the torture cells. Permanent signage ex- plained what had been exposed. Then a public debate ensued. What should be done next? Should there be a visitors' bu- reau? A permanent museum? Opinions varied. Making some- thing of this evil area might glorify the Nazis. But if visitors came, shouldn't there be some- thing to inform them of the history--however horrid--that transpired on this soil? Only recently, the decision was made to build a permanent structure, a severe modernist rectangle. Inside the building-- the work of Berlin architect UrsulaWilmsand the landscape architect HeinzW. Hallmann-- I followed the historical flow of the exhibit, amazed at new rev- elations, butwas stopped cold by aseriesofpanels called"'InPlain Sight'--The Deportation of the Jews and theAuctioning of their Household Effects: Photographs from L6rrach, 1940." Herewere intense close-ups of Jews being herded together, encircled by curious bystanders who watch, smile, even laugh and point. I tried to make my way out of the building quickly, but the crowd had grown. When I finally got to the walkway, I began wondering what was going through the minds of the German visitors. They just kept arriving, five and 10 at a time. What were they feeling or thinking? Why did they come here? According to the museum, more than 600,000 people pass through its doors every year. Only after I stepped into the shadow cast by the Gropius Bau did I turn back. The Topography of Terror looks like a scar upon the earth, a wound that may never be absorbed. I continued north, with the Brandenburg Gate, high above the tree line, as my guide. A few blocks later, I came up short at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was also the result of a protracted debate among the public and politicians. The issue of a national Holocaust memorial arose after President Ronald Reagan's 1985 visit to the Bitburg cemetery where he planned to pay tribute to the dead. Even before he went to Germany, though, it was disclosed that SS members were buried there. Chancellor Helmut Kohl, caught in the wake of the furi- ous controversy stirred by the stop, suggested there should be a central memorial where dignitaries could pay their respects to victims. The debate went on for more than a decade and involved two international competitions dur- ing which world-famous archi- tects submitted designs. One of the judges--the only Jew--was James E.Young, professoratthe University of Massachusetts- Amherst and the author of a book on Holocaust memorials, "The Texture of Memory." Ten years ago, Young wrote that Germany faced"an almost impossible problem. There is no country anywhere that has made its crimes the centerofits national identity. Every nation creates a national identity from the memory of its triumphs. How would a nation of perpe- trators remember its victims?" No one seeing American architect Peter Eisenman's me- morial would question its power. Construction began in May2003 and was completed two years later. The area--close to 70,000 square feet--is covered by more than 2,700 concrete slabs or stelae, differing only in height, thus making for a seemingly undulatingseries of gravestones. Walking between the slabs is dizzying, and I feared losing myself in this field of the dead. But I also walked along the perimeter and watched the people. Although some acted like tourists, taking photos, and a few children ran up and down the lanes as if it were a playground, the majority of people had the same serious expressions as at the Topogra- phy of Terror. I walked on, feeling over- whelmed. Needing something to lighten my spirits, I turned right at the Brandenburg Gate and headed along Unter den Linden. Berlinwas particularlybeau- tifulatthat moment thetrees ablazewith fall color setagainst buildings majestic in size. I understood once againwhy the Jews had loved this city. At the edge of Humboldt University, a series of tables appeared, stocked with books. The titles were in German, but they were cheap and I had English translations of many. I purchased a few, just to mark my visit. I feitphysicallylighter mov- ing among the other browsers, enjoying the anonymity. The first set of tables ended at the entrance to the univer- sity, then picked up again at the other end of the archway opening. I took my time, an- ticipating a whole other set of books to peruse. Then I looked down and saw them--a dozen or so golden- colored squares with names on them. They are known as "Stum- bling Blocks" (in German: Stolpersteine), part of an ongo - ing art installation by German artist Gunter Demnig. He has researched places in Berlin, throughout Germany, in all of Europe where Jews were deported. At these spots--in front of houses, businesses, schools--he affixes 4-inch- square brass plates to the sidewalk. They contain the name of victims, the date when they were deported and, if their fate is known, what transpired. I bent down and with my camera took shot after shot. In time, a crowd gathered. When asked, I explained what I was doing. Some people kept walk- ing as if embarrassed; others stopped to talk. One woman told me with tears in her eyes how important this and the other memorials are. "This is part ofwhat itmeans to be a citizen of a unified Ger- many," she said, 'hat it means to be part of a democracy. We must acknowledge these crimes and face them, over and over. "Over and over," she re- peated, almost to herself. I am not so naive as to think that the Germans have been cleansed of their hatreds--no more than any other people-- but they are, as Ilan Weiss said, good students who appear to keep studying their texts. This article was made pos- sible by a grant fim the Irving Felgoise Memorial Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The fund was established by the family of the late Irving Felgoise, a print in honor ofhis longtime association with the newspaper field and Federation. The Memorial Fund is administered by the Federa- tion Endowments Corporation. Leiter's visit was also supported by the German Tourist Bureau. Leiter is a staff writer for the (Philadeohia)JewishExponent, from which this article was reprinted by permission. Fine From page 4A any other religious group or denomination. The reasons for this phenomenon are not religious, per se, but speak more to education being a particularly strong predictor of voter turnout (the higher the education, the higher the turnout). Jews having higher education levels compared with members of other reli- gious denominations (includ- ing those with no religious affiliation) contribute to Jews demonstrating the highest voter turnout among all reli- gious groups. Turnout among primary voters tends to be less than half (in some states, far less than half--even single dig- its) that of general election turnout. Turnout tends to decline as the calendar moves forward--in essence, as can- didates drop out over the course of the January to June primary and caucus season, fewer people vote. There may be only one viable candidate left by the time voters in some states get their turn. In scheduling an early primary, Republicans seeking the nomination are going to target their most likely sup- porters in Florida--those with the highest voter turn- out. While no one ever "wins" a primary or caucus (despite media coverage to the con- trary), candidates who do well in early contests tend to have more fundraising success which helps them finance later primaries and caucuses because they look like win- ners. Doing well early helps candidates stay in the race because they can build name recognition through advertis- ing and campaign events. The last man or woman standing when California holds its primary in early June will become the nominee at the Republicans' August 2012 convention. All candidates seeking the Republican nomination (as of December 2011) are members of Christian denominations whether Baptist (Paul), Catho- lic (Gingrich, Santorum), Evangelical Christian (Bach- mann, Perry) or Mormon (Huntsman, Romney). Yet we can reasonably expect that each candidate will highlight his or her credibility among Jews even more once the primary campaign heats up in Florida. Expending critical cam- paign resources targeting Jews in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina--the only three preceding Florida--is not as useful as the Jewish populations are so tiny in those states (.2-.8 percent in each state) and is large by comparison in Florida (3.3 percent) although the exten- sive national media coverage of these contests is not lost on the candidates who know that Florida's primary is coming soon after. While there is clear and reasonable disagreement as to what Jewish outreach looks like, it is no surprise that these candidates are high- lighting their connection with Israel and the Jewish people in both negative and positive ways. For example, Gingrich, Bachmann and Huntsman spoke at Ameri- can Israel Public Affairs Committee May 2011 policy conference. Bachmann spoke of her time spent living on Kibbutz Be'eri in 1974 while stating "I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foun- dation, the roots of my faith as a Christian." Further, Jon Huntsman spoke before the Republican Jewish Coalition in late December 2011 stating that "We stand with Israel. Today there is ambiguity. Under my administration those days will be gone." Republican candidates have also emphasized their creden- tials with Jewish voters in dis- tinguishing themselves from one another. For example, POLITICO reported on Dec. 29, 2011 that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum characterized Ron Paul's position on Israel as "scary". On a more humorous note, Michele Bachmann'sJuly 14, 2011 interview on the FOX Network show "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" in which she pronounced "chutz- pah" as "chootspah" has been characterized by critics as a failed attempt at Jewish voter outreach. This combination of fac- tors will make outreach to Republican Jewish voters a critical component of the 2012 nomination contest in Florida. No matter your po- litical or religious leanings, I strongly encourage that you attend campaign events and ask questions when you can. Watch the debates, and watch, listen and read both the news coverage and campaign advertising with a critical eye. What happens in Florida on Jan. 31 will have an important impact on how the rest of the nomination contest unfolds. Dr. Terri Susan Fine is a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. She can be reached by email at Ortho From page 5A drafted a "Statement of Prin- ciples on the Place of Jewswith a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community." After reaf- firming halakhic strictures on same-sex relations, the statement accepts homo- sexuals as full participants in synagogues and schools. It has been signed by hundreds of Orthodox rabbis, teachers, and community leaders. To be sure, this event has generated opposition; but the trend is toward greater acceptance. Increasing numbers of "open" homosexuals consider them- selves part of the Orthodox community. What precipitated this shift within an inherently conservative community? The effects of the sexual revolution of the 1960s may, a generation later, finally have begun to filter into the Orthodox world. But it was the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s that really brought issues of sexuality into the open. The anonymity of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and listservs gave individuals who had felt completely alone--victims of sexual abuse, people expe- riencing sexual dysfunction, homosexuals--an opportu- nity to express themselves, ask questions, and find kindred spirits. It was only a matter of time before their voices joined to persuade the broader community that the Torah of sex was being neglected. The broader society still finds the Orthodox commu- nity prudish and backward; the "Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy" is not exactly the Bava Kama Sutra or the graphically ex- plicit "Joy of Sex." Yet sexwas never a taboo subject in the Orthodox community, and it is now discussed frankly and openly. As Rabbi Kahana said in his master's bedroom, the immodesty of talking pub- licly about sex is justified by its educational value. "It is Torah--so study it we must." This article was first pub- lished by Jewish Ideas Daily, It is reprinted with permis- .ion.