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January 13, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 13, 2017

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2017 "Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel ...' Chanukah was especially fun this year at Brookdale Ocoee, as Beverly and the other residents all played dreidel after a large lunch from the facility with gelt, cookies and music provided by the Jewish Pavilion. Chanukah visits that brighten the spirit Families and friends were invited to Jewish Pavilion Chanukah celebrations all throughout the holiday. When loved ones visit from out of town, the feeling of Chanukah and the songs and latkes brighten everyone's spirit. Shown here (left) are Lynn Shader Podber with her father, Stan Shader and (right) Susan Bernstein, playing guitar at the festive Chanukah sing a long. Shader Podber is grateful for the visits and attention her father receives from Jewish Pavilion volunteers. "It was such a treat to be in town for this fun and festive celebration. There aren't enough words to let you know how much your wonderful organization is appreciated by me because I don't live in Orlando. It warms my heart knowing that your incredible volun- teers bring the holidays to him. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every smile, decoration, song, cookie and homemade latke. Most important, thank you for including Alzheimer's patients in all that you do... and for recognizing that they too can enjoy these celebrations and visits," she said. "Thank you to the many, many volunteers and families who participated in the Chanukah parties. We hope you enjoyed the beautiful lights and celebrations with your loved ones," said Emily Newman, program director and Senior Resource specialist. By Andrew 'robin JERUSALEM (JTA)--About 200 Jews from around the world toured the West Bank in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent speechwarning of the dangers of settlement expansion. The group, organized on short notice by Miami-based fashion designer Joseph Waks, visited Jewish communities and met with their leaders on Monday, Jan. 2, to show solidarity with the settlement movement. A few dozen of the participants flew in from various countries. Most were foreign citizens living in or visiting the country for Cha- nukah, and a handful were native Israelis. "This was not a political trip. It was more to show we care and support the people in Judea and Samaria [the biblical names for the West Bank] and Jerusalem, which is now being questioned as well" regarding Israeli ter- ritorial claims, Waks said in a telephone call Tuesday from the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the tour wrapped up. "We're not experts. But we believe in our right to live in a Jewish state, and we're proud of what has been built here," he said. "We heard somebody say our state is no longer going to be Jewish, and we think that is questionable." Most of the world considers Israeli settlements in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal under international law, but Israel disputes this. Waks said he thought the trip, which he coordinated with settlers' leaders, sent a strong message to the Obama administration that its critical approach to Israel was unac- ceptable. A self-described liberal and secular Jew, Waks said he initially supported President Barack Obama. "But this president has turned out to be a disaster," Waks said. "We hope the new administration will support Israel and lead to a stronger Middle East, a stronger Jewish state and a stronger America." Waks announced and documented the trip on his Facebook page, which has 5,000 followers and is filled with right-wing Israel com- mentary. In a call to action a day after Kerry's speech last week, he said the trip would be in "honor of John Kerry with trl k solidarity tou Joseph Waks, fourth from the right, posing with Jewish visitors and soldiers at the Oz Vegaon tent outpost in the West Bank, Jan. 2, 2017. andtheUnitedNationsrecent government authorization a speech that laid out his anti-Semitic resolutions and and against Israeli law. Some principles for the resolution shameless questioning of the 400,000 settlers live in the of the Israeli-Palestinian Jewish historical and legal West Bank, the vast majority conflict and rebuked Israel's right to Israel." of them in the largest of the "pernicious policy of settle- On Monday, he met the more than 120 authorized ment construction." He said participants--representing settlements, the settlement movement various streams of Judaism The trip ended at the West- was attempting to thwart and hailing from countries ernWall, where Rabbi Shmuel a two-state solution to the including France, Belgium, Rabinovitch, who runs the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russia, Ukraine and Austra- holy site and has opposed whichwould deny"freedom lia--inJerusalem.Fromthere the creation of an egalitarian and dignity" to the Palestin- they packed onto four tour prayer section there, greeted ians and threaten Israel's buses and headed to the West the participants. Jewish and democratic char- Bank.An unidentified Miami- Shapse Jacob, 36, a modern acter. based philanthropist who is a Orthodox attorney and busi- He also defended the con- friend ofWakssponsoredthe nessman from Manhattan,troversial decision by the trip, and Jewish Journey's flew to Israel ahead of the United States the previous tour company and the Yesha tour, though he was planning week not to veto a U.N. Secu- Council of West Bank settle- to come anyway for hissister's rity Council resolution con- ments helped make it happen wedding. Jacob said he was demning Israeli settlements free of charge, motivated by the "stab in the in the West Bank and eastern Afterstoppingatthe Psagot back" from Kerry and the U.N. Jerusalem. winery in the West Bank, Security Council. "Let's be honest, Kerry where Dani Dayan, Israel's Jacob was always a big sup- looked like an idiot saying consul general in New York porter of the Jewish state. But what he did," Waks said. "We and a settler leader who has hesaidthetour, whichwasthe saw the outcry afterward ahome in the area, made an firstvisittothesettlementshe from most Americans and appearance, the participants could remember, changed his from both Democrats and headed to the heavily Ameri- thinking. Previously he had Republican politicians." can settlement of Efrat. The considered settlers a "little While the West Bank tour local boys' choir regaled kooky"andsaidhewaswilling was intended to give strength them with Chanukah songs, to listen to alternative views to Israelis, he said, meeting and Shlomo Riskin, the about Israel. But meeting the "amazing" people living in settlement's chief rabbi and Jewish residents of the West the settlements had actually co-founder, and Oded Revivi, Bank showed him they were bolstered the participants' the chief foreign envoy of "just regular people going faith in the Jewish state. the Yesha Council, addressed through the same things we Israel, Waks repeatedly said, them. all do." Now Jacob said he is needed to be strong given the Their next stop was the Oz done trying to reason with "slaughter of Jews in every Vegaon tentoutpost, founded Israel's critics, generation." in response to the 2014 mur- "It kind of taught me, we "This is a country that der and kidnapping of three shouldn't really care what America should be the most Israeli teenagers by a Hamas others think," he said. "It's supportive of, and that is ex- terrorist cell. It sits on the time to stop convincing the actly what we want," he said. site where their bodies were world and just do what you "I think we created hundreds found. The outpost is one have to do." of new ambassadors to Israel of about 100 built without Lastweek, Kerry delivered today." By Jason Frances "Beneath the Helmet." The ington, a Christian Israel Israel is to educate students fresh fresh documentary advocate who travels around aboutdifferentfacetsofIsrael This past November, follows Mekonen Abebe, an the world with the goal of and challenge their thinking Knights for Israel (KFI) and Ethiopian immigrant to Is- educatingothersonthediver- as well. Trudy Morse, Junior, Central Florida Hillel col- rael who went on to become sity that exists within Israel; and chair of Israel Initiatives laboratedtohosttheveryfirst an officer in the paratroopers regardless of race, color, or at Hillel said that "events like Israel Diversity Week at the unit of the Israel Defense creed. Pastor Washington led these show people that there University of Central Florida; Forces. In the former, direc- an impassioned discussion on is more to Israel than what the second largest school in tors followed a number of the religious, racial, and po- you learn in religious school." the nation with over 62,000 soldiers, including Mekonen, litical diversity that makes up This is one of our biggest students. With the help of during their army service, theStateofIsrael.Notonlydid goals at KFI and for the week CAMERAonCampus, thetwo Such an up-close perspec- hespeakontheimportanceof overall. By introducing new organizations came together tive enabled all viewers to diversity, buthealsoexplained topics and conversations to host a number of events establish a connection with howtostronglydefendIsrael's about Israel, students become with the goal of educating the soldiers. The event con- diversity from the numerous more educated and in turn students on the diversity that cluded with an open dialog misconceptions that sur- become more involved with makes Israel the sole inclusive onMekonen's story aswell as round the state. The event pro-Israel efforts on campus state in the Middle East. other topics that surround drew over 50 students and and worldwide. The week began with the diversity in Israel. wasoneofKnightsforIsrael's Jason Frances is the vice screening of "Mekonen," The week continued withmost successful events of the presidentofKnightsforlsrael the sequel to the successful the featured speaker of the semester, and a Campus Fellow with Jerusalem U documentary week, PastorDumisaniWash- Our goal with Knights for CAMERA on Campus.