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January 7, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 7, 2011
 

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Editorials By Jill Cousins Special to the Heritage Books burned by the Nazis, in a display at Yad Vashem. David Shankbone/Creative Commons Beginning on Jan. 12, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center will be hosting the exhibit "Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Book Burning" at the Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave. in Maitland. The exhibit was created by and provided to the Center by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Although America was slow to respond to many of Hitler's overt ac- tivities, the May 1933 public burning of works by Jewish and non-Jewish authors from around the world caught the attention--and anger--of the U.S. It was a visual affront to one of America's most treasured freedoms: the right to the free expression of ideas. The American media extensively covered the book burnings and the resultant protests. It was virtually unanimous in its condemnation of the acts, but considered them with varying degrees of gravity. Some newspapers called the German student actions "silly," "ineffective," or "infantile", but others more accurately described it as an insane assault "against intellectual values, and the rights of the human spirit." The book burnings have been, and continue to be, a symbol of tyranny and intolerance. This exhibit provides a breadth and depth of information on both the reason and the impact of Nazi's overt destruction of books. Admission to the Holocaust Center is free. It is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to I p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. More information is available at www.holocaustedu.org or by calling 407-628-0555. Information about the exhibit is also available from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum site, www.ushmm.org. For more related articles, please see page 13. By Liz Harris j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California By American standards, it was a fairly simple affair. The bar mitzvah boy-- flanked by a confident lay leader and mellifluous young singer--stood at the bimah, fluently reciting prayers and reading his Torah portion. A bouquet of fresh flowers at the base of the podium, along with blue and white ribbons in the center aisle, marked the special occasion. About 100 worshippers sat in the spacious sanctu- ary for an hourlong Shabbat service filled with singing, clapping and prayer. After- ward, everyone adjourned to a multipurpose room for a simple repast, saluting the honoree with a small glass of wine and a toast. It's not often Havana's largest synagogue hosts a bar mitzvah. In a country once home to as many as 15,000 Jews, Cuba's Jewish population is now down to an estimated 1,300. But with strong-willed Old Havana street scene leaders and financial assis- tance largely from Jews in North and South America, Havana's Jewish community is hanging on. Though the original Gran Sinagoga Bet Shalom was sold to the government years ago and now houses a theater, the new hub of Ha- vana's Jewish communal life is right around the corner: a refurbished sanctuary and E1 Patronato Jewish Com- munity Center. Located on a quiet, residen- tial street dotted with Cuba's stereotypical '50s-era U.S. cars and large homes that have long lost their grandeur, E1 Patronato also houses the local federation, a small li- brarywith full-time librarian (who doubles as the temple's lay leader), a conference room, pharmacy, multipur- pose room and youth center. In its heyday before the 1959 revolution, the neigh- borhood was populated by wealthy Jewish merchants, among others, and the syna- gogue was one of five in Havana. Now the Conservative Bet Shalom is one of three synagogues--along with the Sephardic Hebrew Center and the small Orthodox Adath Israel--in the city of 2.1 mil- lion people. Nestled in the hills on the outskirts of Havana are two Jewish cemeteries about a quarter of a mile apart. The Ashkenazi cemetery is home to what some say is the old- est Holocaust memorial in the Western Hemisphere; the oldest grave marks a Russian Jewish woman who died in 1901. The state pays the salaries of cemetery workers and guards, but Cuban Ameri- cans give money directly to employees to assure the aging grounds are kept up. E1 Patronato also relies on support from Miami expats and outside Jewish agen- cies, and welcomes visiting Jewish missions throughout the year. The synagogue and JCC are a vital presence for Havana Jews, and Adela Dworin, the president of the Jewish Cuban Community Council, hopes to keep it that way. Born in Havana to immigrant parents and raised speaking Yiddish (she still retains the inflec- tions), Dworin is often the first person to greet visitors to Havana's Jewish commu- nity. She easily reels off some high-profile guests: Steven Speilberg, Sean Penn and, of course, Fidel Castro. She's met with Castro a few times over the years and he has toured the synagogue; Cuba on page 23A One of the missions of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's Community Rela- tions Committee is to "build bridges to the non-Jewish community," and that's what the CRC will be doing at the annual Martin Luther King March in downtown Orlando. Join together with mem- bers of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and other religious communities in reaffirming Martin Luther King's vision of equal opportunity and equal justice for all. The march, an event for the whole family and people of all ages, will be held on Sunday, Jan. 16, starting at Orlando City Hall, 400 S. Orange Ave at 6 p.m. All participants will receive a T-shirt and a pen light, do- nated by the Orlando Utilities Commission, for a candlelight procession that will make its way through downtown Orlando to Shiloh Baptist Church at 604 W. Jackson St. The church will be the site of an interfaith celebration of the life and vision of this courageous civil rights leader. The program will feature guest speakers and musical performances. The Martin Luther King March is a partnership be- tween the City of Orlando and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. "It's about coming to- gether to honor the legacy ofone person who changed the direction of the United States in many ways," said Barbara Weinreich, who has chaired the CRC and has been involvedwith the march since 2003. "All minorities have benefited from the heroism of Martin Luther King, Jr and Photo of artwork by Cliff1066/Flickr Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr 1957, watercolor and pencil on board by Boris Chaliapin it's appropriate for the Jewish community to honor him." The event will begin at City Hall with speeches by local dignitaries. After that, the half-mile march will begin, generally led by a local Boy Scout drum corps, with motorcycle police officers in the front and back of the procession. The march will follow a historic path, cross- ing Division Street, which once divided historicallywhite East Orlando and historically black West Orlando. At Shiloh Baptist Church, Rabbi David Kay of Congrega- tion Ohev Shalom will speak on behalf of the Jewish com- munity, along with faith lead- ers from the wide spectrum of the population. "It's very, very important, particularly now, with the upsurge in anti-Semitism, that Jews be out in the com- munity showing our support and respect for those who share our goals," Weinreich said. "Bridge-building is one of the missions of the Commu- nity Relations Committee." For more information, c fl the Jewish Federation at 407- 645-5933 or gotowww.jfgo.org. Jon Kraut sleds down the snow mountain at last year's Winter Festival. By Candace Martin JCC volunteer Baby, it's cold outside! The Jewish Community Center will hold its Winter Fes- tival at the Jack and Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando campus on Sunday, Jan. 30 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Festival on page 21A