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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 7, 2011 By Gary Rosenblatt Delegitimization. Flotilla. Park51. Settlement freeze. Loyalty oath. The BDS (boycott, divest- ment, sanctions) movement. These words and phrases recall some of the challenges and controversies that cropped up for israel and the Jewish community in 2010, a year of increasing assaults on Jerusalem's legiti- macy on an international scale, and blame from Washington for the lack of progress in Mideast peace efforts. Here's a look at some of the key newsmakers of the past year, aside from the obvious players like President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin'Netanyahu--influential Jewish men and women whose names became more widely known in the last 12 months and whose actions could have a major impact in 2011, Until six months ago, Peter Beinart was best known in the Jewish community as a talented young writer and editor for The New Republicl where he worked from 1995 to 2006. He was named editor in 2001 at the age of 28. His article in The New York Review of Books last May on ';The Failure of the Jewish Estab- lishment" came as a shock because of its strong critique of major Jewish organizations. Beinart asserted that their refusal to challenge Israel's policies--chiefly on the occupation of the West Bank--was a major disappointment to young American Jews whose Western values of freedom and human rights clashed with the reality of Jerusalem's actions. The article became a touchstone of debate within the community, and Beinart grew increas- ingly strident in his subsequent writings and talks, asserting, as he did at the 92nd StreetYlast month, that"the government of Israel represents an active threat to democracy." While Jews on the right were upset with such talk, proponents of J Street and other groups that characterized themselves as pro-peace and pro- Israel see Beinart as a champion of their point of view, an articulate critic of Is~'aeli policies who is a serious, practicing Jew espousing a liberal Zionism they believe is disappearing. One of Beinart's chief targets is Avigdor Li- eberman, Israel's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, who is the founder and head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. It is Lieberman, more than his former ally and current political rival, Netanyahu, who appears to be driving the political agenda for the country rightward. The 52-year-old, Soviet-born politician is one of the most polarizing figures in Israeli society today. Despite being under investigation for cor- ruption for the last year and a half, Lieberman has been quite vocal in resisting U.S. calls for a settlement freeze, and he introduced legislation that would require Israeli citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to maintain the right to vote. He has long been accused of harboring racist attitudes toward Israeli Arabs. Dr. Norman Berdichevsky As a new instructor of Hebrew at the Uni- versity of Central Florida' s Judaic Studies De- partment, I am faced with the choice of finding the most attractive, effective and informative textbook combining language instruction and insight into modern Israeli society and culture. Language textbooks often try to present the cultural aspects of a tongue in its homeland as well as the formal training in the various learn- ing skills of speaking, listening comprehension, reading andwriting. Obviously, where English, French, Spanish or Portuguese are spoken in many different lands with quite distinct national literatures, dialects, social relations and a wide range of national idiomatic expres- sions, the textbooks often provide clarifying footnotes to varying usage. If the language is spoken only in a single nation such as Danish or Hungarian, there may be more space to help the student understand the history of the linguistic homelands, their national traditions, music and culinary specialties. When it comes to the unique case of Hebrew, that had previously served for many centuries only as a liturgical language without a single homeland for speakers in which the language was the spoken idiom from birth, textbooks with 'national content' were entirely lacking. Even textbooks produced after the establishment of the State of Israel for use in the Diaspora often used dialogues of rabbinical students, families, teachers and pupils thatwere set either in Bibli- cal times or recounted traditional folklore, and legends set in the East European shtetl, Medieval Spain or the time of the Talmud~ As a former resident of Israel, a student and now an instructor of Hebrew, I can appreciate how difficult it was for the first textbooks of modern Hebrew to make the transition from a language taught for centuries without a living tie to a homeland to the situation today of a spoken national language like any other. The pioneer item of this transition was the book,"Everyday Hebrew; Twentymine simple conversations with English translation and full grammatical introduction" (London, J,M, Dent & Sons Ltd 1943,1945), by Chaim Rabin, a Ger- man born scholar of Oriental languages, who later emigratedwith his parents to Palestine and then settled in Britain. For many years, he was a distinguished professor of Hebrew at the Uni- versity of Oxford. The book was first published in 1943 and a second edition appeared in 1948 almost simultaneously with the establishment of the State of Israel. The "twenty-nine conversations" follow Simon and Rachel, a newly married couple, on their way to the land of Israel by ship to visit family and friends. Rachel is from England and Simon is a native born sabra. From the very first conversation, the Jems define themselves as "proud Palestinians" and call "Palestine" their homeland. Professor Rabin faced a dilemma and resolved it by creating characters who typify ideal types of veteran and new Jewish arrivals in mandatory Palestine for his conversations that reflected the sense of the Zionist mission in their adaptation to the new chosen homeland. Their dedication, enthusiasm and love of the Hebrew language enable them to overcome the hardships of family separation. The language of the conversations in both Hebrew and the English translations are somewhat stilted, overly polite and formal as we might expect from the distinguished Oxford professor. The "official grammar" outlined in the textbook definitively dates the book, as, much of it is wholly outdated and would mark anyone using it in ordinary conversation today as a time-traveler on the order of Rip Van Winkle. Rabin struggledwith the problem of both trying to produce a textbook with all the traditional, rules of classic Hebrew grammar but one that would also serve as a modern textbook with a Textbook on page 22A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS oF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE ISSN 0199-0721 I4rmner of 40 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. r~ POSTMASTER: Send address ~:hanges and other Correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831.-0507 email: news@orlandoheritage.com Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Lyn Davidson Mike Etzkin Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio . Teri Marks Loft Apple Elaine Schooping Gil Dornbros~ His party, made up primarily of former Soviet immigrants, is key to the Netanyahu coalition, and though he is viewed as thuggish in the West-- he rarely visits the U.S.--he is a popular figure in Israel and prides himself on being controversial. "For me to be controversial I think is positive," he says, equating it with fostering new ideas. Of all the politicians jockeying to succeed Netanyahu, Lieberman may have the best shot. One of Yisrael Beiteinu's members, David Rotem, became a household name in Israel as the author of a controversial conversion bill that sparked outrage among liberal Jews in the U.S. this year. A Jerusalem native who lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Rotem, 61, created a bill whose aspects pleasedand infuriated people at the same time. Intended to help resolve the fact that some 300,000 Russian immigrants in Israel are not halachically Jewish, Rote'm's bill allows for municipal rabbis to perform conver- sionsl widening the process. But as result of a political deal to help ensure the bill's passage, Rotem along the way agreed to a provision that would give the Chief Rabbinate sole jurisdiction over conversions. This is offensive and worrisome to Conserva- tive and Reform Jews whose movements have. made inroads in the Israeli Supreme Court against such a monopoly. And the bill came at a time when the Chief Rabbinate has acted particularly narrowly, setting the highest stan- dards for conversion and alienating the great majority of Jews. At year's end, a six-month moratorium on Rotem's bill was about to expire, with no clear Seven on page 22A Doing something about hunger is an act of tikkun olam By Terri Fine The beginning of the secular New Year is often peppered with promises for self-improvement. Among the most numerous of these are resolu- tions to lose weight. Advertisements forvarious weight loss plans and enterprises dominate the airwaves this time of year, and so many of us resolve, once and for all, to beat the battle of the bulge. More often than not, fighting this battle means cutting back on meals, calories or both. But what about those who have no choice but to cut back on meals and calories not because they want to but because they lack the needed resources to eat properly? Hunger in the United States, and in the world, is a far reaching prob- lem, particularly among women and children, and is positively correlatedwith poverty. The poor are more likely to be malnourished or undernourished,whether itbe linked to calories and food, or essential nutrients. Thus, malnu- trition rates will vary in sync with a declining world economy and rising unemployment and underemployment rates, Recent statistics on malnutrition provide food for thought. In the United States alone, 49 million people, including 17 million children, live in households that experience hunger, or the risk of hunger. These numbers represent 11 percent of the entire U.S. population. World- wide, hunger is experienced by 923 million people, while almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes each day. The impact of malnutrition on children affects critical life experiences, as pre-school and school-aged children who suffer severe hunger tend to exhibit higher levels of chronic illness, anxiety and depression, and behavior problems, when compared with children who do not suffer from hunger. Among the poor living in developing countries, 820 million are undernourished--they consume less than the minimum amount of calories and nutrients needed for sound health. Of course, nourishment is one of those basic needs that, once lacking, precludes individuals from experiencing and fulfilling higher level needs. Abraham Maslow, a 20th century Jew- ish psychologist whose work is well known and cited, theorized that human needs functioned on a five-stage pyramid. The lowest level of this pyramid is physiological needs, which include food. One must move beyond meeting physi- ological needs in order to fulfill other needs. Richard Schwartz, Ph.D Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island, author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival," and a vocal advocate for Jews responding to world hunger through a Jewish lens, argues that: "Like other peoples, Jews have frequently experienced hunger. Because of famines, Abraham was forced to go to Egypt (Genesis 12:10), Isaac went tO the land of Avimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar (Genesis 26:1), the children of Jacob went to Egypt to buy grain (Genesis 42:1-3), and Naomi and her family fled Israel and went to Moab (Ruth 1:1-2). There were also famines in the reigns of King David (2 Samuel 21:1) and King Ahab (1 Kings 18:1-2)". Schwartz further notes that it was the Prophet Jeremiah who stated: "Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who pined away, stricken by want of the yield of the field" (Lamentations 4:9)." And, we read in the Book of Leviticus (19:16) not to stand by when our neighbor's life is in danger, which has been interpreted to mean that one should not stand still over one's neighbor's blood. Schwartz argues thatwhenwe ignore hunger in our communities, we are doing just that because we are refusing to help solve those prob- lems that, while monumental, can be alleviated in some small way through very simple means. Even the Passover seder Haggadah opens with Let all who are hungry come and eat." Because food is among the most basic needs, confronting hunger is an excellent opportu- nity for tikkun olam, "repair the world," the universal principle imploring all Jews to do what they can to make the world a better place. When hunger is alleviated, the world is better not just because the hunger itself is addressed but, taking Masiow's principle to heart, those whose hunger is alleviated themselves become capable of fulfilling higher level needs. Those who are no longer hungry are better equipped to perform acts of tikkun olam themselves. At its most basic, Judaism teaches involve- ment and concern with the plight of our fellow human beings.Schwartz argues in his essay "The Jewish Response to Hunger," that hunger is its own Holocaust because malnutrition kills eight million infants each year while the world stands idly by. Schwartz notes Elie Wiesel's admonition that, while the Holocaust cannot be analogized, it can be ased as a reference. Put differently, while these eight million children have notbeen singled out for their race, religion or nationality, their lives and their deaths are not without consequences that move beyond their own individual experiences. Thus we see multiple reasons why we as Jews should, need to, respond to hunger through a Jewish lens. MAZON ("food" in Hebrew) is one organization advocating a uniquely Jewish re- sponse to hunger. Founded in 1985, "MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national nonprofit organization thatallocates donations from the Jewish community to prevent and al- leviate hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds (www.mazon.org)." As I notedearlier, hunger is not just a prob- lem experienced by individuals--it is a social problem that pre-vents people from experienc- ing their full actualization. Millions of people who might themselves be solving social and community problems cannot because they, themselves, are hungry. MAZON's efforts are directed at both the causes and consequences of hunger as monies are distributed to both hunger-relief agencies and advocacy groups seeking long-term solutions to hunger. To date, MAZON has raised and distributed over $4 million in grants to over 300 agencies and advocacy groups. Of course, contributing to MAZON and other food-relief agencies is just oneway to perform acts of tikkun olam in our efforts to eradicate hunger as contributing muscle by working at local food banks sorting donated food or serving meals also helps eradicate hunger. In performing these acts of tikkun olam, in our own communities and in the world, we help solve the most basic of problems bit by bit and bite by bite. Dr. Terri Susan Fine is a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. She can be reached by e- mail at trine@mail.ucf.edu,