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January 18, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 18, 2013 By Sandee Brawarsky New York Jewish Week Edie Middlestein loves fast- food sandwiches, potato chips with onion dip, and Chinese dumplings stuffed with spicy seafood. She likes devil's-food cookies too, and once, late at night, while everyone at home was sleeping, ate two boxes of • them to see what would hap- pen. She didn't feel a thing. The 6-foot, 332-pound Edie, a Chicago lawyer, is at the center of JamiAttenberg's accomplished new novel about a suburban Jevish fam- ily, "The Middlesteins" (Grand Central). Food wrappers pile up throughout the narra- tive, as Edie keeps eating, as though trying to fill up some vast emptiness. After 40 years of marriage, her husband too wants something more and leaves her. That's when her kids step up to try even harder to save her life. Toronto Jewish couple found murdered in Florida townhouse TORONTO (JTA)mThe deaths of a Toronto Jewish couple found in their winter home in South Florida are being investigated as a double homicide. David Pichosky, 71, and Ro- chelle Wise, 66, who spent the winters in their Hallandale• Beachtownhouse,were found dead on the night of Jan. 10. Their deaths are not believed to be a murder-suicide. "We have few details on how they were killed, but this is definitely a double homi- cide," Capt. Sonia Quinones, a spokeswoman for the Hal- landale Beach Police, told the Miami Herald• The two reportedly were supposed to have lunch the day before with a friend. When the couple did not show up, the friend used a spare key to check their home, where he found their bodies. Pichosky, who was known to friends and relatives as Donny, had retired after sell- ing his office-carpet business and had spent at least 20 years wintering in Florida. He reportedly prayed every day andwas religiously observant. Wise was a former pre- school vice principal at the Bialik Hebrew Day School in Toronto and a founding direc- tor of a local day camp. They were married after the death of Pichosk.y's wife in 2006. In Florida, she volunteered ate Hebrew day school in Hallandale, helping children with learning problems. She also was an active member of • Na'amat, the Jewish women's organization. Shana Harris, Bialik's head of school, wrote in an email to parents last Friday, "We are all profoundly shocked and distraught by the tragic loss of Rochelle Wise and her hus- band Donny. Rochelle was a beloved member of the Bialik community and respected as an outstanding educator and wonderful human being." McConnell: Israeli, U.S. Mideast agendas 'the same' WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. and Israeli agendas in the Middle East were identical. When the novel opens, Edie weighs in at 62 pounds as a 5-year-old, "a cement block • of flesh" who hates to walk and loves salty liverwurst and red onion on warm rye bread. Her immigrant father eats and eats and never gains a pound; he starvedwhile mak- ing his way from Ukraine o Chicago and has been trying to make up for that since. And he would carry his only child wherever she wanted to go, on his shoulders, "high'up in the sky, as close to God as he could get her." Later on, when she's closer to 160 pounds and her father is dying, she meets Richard Middlestein and they marry. Edje is smart, feisty and a talented lawyer (although she is nudged out of her firm because of her size). She's the kind of sympathetic person people, even strangers, talk to about their troubles. Atten- berg's characters, including Fleshing out a story Edie, her son and daughter, was wanting to write about daughter-in-law, ex-husband and the old friends from syna- gogue, the Cohns and Gl:od- steins and Weinmans and Frankens (always mentioned together and, when given a voice, speak as "we") seem very familiar without being stereotypes. Even Rachelle, the slender daughter-in- law who is planning every moment of her twins' b'nai mitzvah celebration, is dis- tinctively quirky. Attenberg, who says that she was once 50 pounds heavier, gets the details just right and captures emotional and weight fluctuations with tenderness and humor. The cinematic story unfolds through different, perspec- tives, holding out the pos- sibility of unexpected love. When I asked Attenberg about the inspiration for "The Middlesteins," she says, "The starting point for me a character who had hit rock bottom physically, but when I tried to hear what that character was saying, it was instead the family members who were speaking to me. So initially I wanted to write about how family members contend with that situation. "But then I've certainly hit rock bottom in my own life in various ways--it's a long life we lead, isn't it?--and have seen others do the same," she continues. "And I wanted to investigate that moment in one's "life with compassion. Even if the characters in the book aren't always compas- sionate to each other, I was writing from that place. I was seeking an understand- ing. That is one of the most beautiful aspects of being a writer--you can use your art to create an understanding." Born in 1971, the author grew up in Buffalo Grove, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago, where she was known as "the kind of girl who wears black a lot." She now lives in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, after stints in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Portland and Los An- geles. Along the way she has had a variety of jobs, from bartender to nursing home assistant, while writing. She was an early blogger, starting in 1988, and has been pub- lished by a number of zines as well as by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Salon. "The Middlesteins" is her fourth book and the first to .get major attention and hit the bestseller lists. She's the author of a story collection , "Instant Love" and two previ- ous novels, "The Kept Man" and "The Melting Season." Theauthor seems proudly Jewish, and has said that she identifies culturally rather Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA Netanyahu met last Friday with McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, who was leading a group of senators on an Israel tour. "As everybody in Israel knows, there are a lot of things we disagree on in America, we've had big battles over deficit and debt, but there's broad bi-partisan support for Israel, and our agenda in this part of the world is the same as your agenda," McConnell said, accordingto a statement from Neanyahu' s office. Netanyahu thanked the senators and said his major priority, should he win reelec- tion on Jan. 22, would be" to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons." The statement from Netan- yahu's office did not say who else was in McConnell's group. Other senators known to be in Israel last week include Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). Jan Fischer knocked out of Czech presidential race (JTA)--Czech Jewish presi- dential candidate Jan Fischer failed to reach the second round of voting, despite being considered a leading contender. Fischer, aiming to become the country's first Jewish president, finished third among the nine candidates with 16.4 percent of the vote, according to the Times Qf Israel. The top two finishers in the balloting held last Friday and Saturday advanced to a runoff. Fischer, who had served briefly as prime minister of the Czech Republic following the collapse of the govern- ment coalition in 2009, had slipped from first to second in the polls following a lacklus- ter performance in a televised debate. His father was a Holocaust survivor and his mother was Catholic• Fischer is a former head of the Czech Statistical Office and vice president of the Euro- pean Bank for Reconstruction and Development• New York warning on con- troversial circumcision rite is upheld (JTA)--A Manhattan fed- eral judge upheld a New York City health board regulation requiring parents to sign a consent form allowing a con- troversial circumcision rite. U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on Jan. 11 lifted the stay of implementing the required warning to parents of the dangers of metzitzah b'peh, in which the circumciser uses his mouth to draw blood from the baby's penis• "There is ample medical evidence that direct oral suc- tion places infants at a serious risk of herpes infection, as well as evidence that parents are sometimes unaware in advance of a circumcision that MBP will occur, and the regulation plainly addresses these legitimate societal concerns," Buchwald wrote, according to Reuters. Scientific American mocks claims that Darwin was Jewish (JTA)--Scientific Ameri- can magazine satirized claims in a Turkish children's book that Charles Darwin was Jewish. The Jan. 8 article was writ- ten in response to reports in October about a series" of books aimed at Turkish schoolchildren that describe Darwin as a hook-nosed Jew who kept the company of monkeys. The books sparked out- rage in Turkey and protests from Turkish teachers. The Istanbul-area school district that distributed the books later claimed it was not aware of their content. In the online article, Steve Mirsky writes that the "Ju- daic background" of Darwin, who studied to be a priest at Cambridge's Christ's College, is "common knowledge in the Jewish community" but "seems to be a shock to many non-Jews." Mirsky added that this background influenced the writing of Darwin, who first described biological evolu- tion through natural selec- tion with scientific rigor in his book "On the Origin of Species." The manuscript, Mirsky wrote, was originally titled "ffChaim: The Whole Megil- lah." The official website of Darwin Dayl an interna- tional organization that celebrates Darwin's heritage, says his parents are buried at Montford Parish Church, His mother belonged to tle Christian Unitarian theologi- cal stream and took him as a young child with her to the Unitarian Church• Darwin, who died in 1882 at the age of 73, was married to Emma Darwin, a devout Christian• Report: Bieber sued for 'as- saulting' Israeli bodyguard (JTA)--The Israeli former bodyguard oteefi idol Justin Bieber reportedly sued the pop star for assault. Moshe Benabou, who lives in the United States, is seek- ing-unspecified damages for assault and battery and more than $420,000 in unpaid overtime, the news site TMZ reported Jan. 10. According to Benabou, who claims he worked for the singer from March 2011 to Oc- tober 2012, Bieber, 18, berated him and punched him in the chest multiple times during a disagreement about how to handle a member of Bieber's entourage. Benabou allegedly had attempted to keep the member of the entourage away from Bieber. TMZ quoted sources "in Bieber's camp" as saying that Benabou was "a disgruntled employee looking for money," and calling the claim that Bieber struck Benabou "ab- surd." Benabou made a splash 6n the gossip website last Febru- ary when he was filmed strug- gling with a photographer at a Los Angeles airport. After a brief struggle, both men fell to the ground. France paroling Lebanese man involved in murders of Israeli, American (JTA)--French authorities will release a Lebanese man involved in the murder of an Israeli diplomat and an American military officer in the 1980s. A parole board agreed to release George Abdallah, 61, on condition that he is expelled from France by Jan. 14, the French news agency AFP reported Jan. 10. Abdallah was captured in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for the 1982 murders in Paris of Yaacov Bar-Simantov and Lt. Col. Charles Robert Ray. Bar-Simantov's killer, a woman wearing awhite beret, fled into the Paris subway after shooting him in the • head in front of his wife and children at their apartment building. The diplomat was the second secretary for po- litical affairs at the embassy. Abdallah shot Ray, an assis- tant military attache, outside Ray's apartment building the same year. The murders were com- mitted in the name of the Lebanese Armed Revolution- ary Faction, a group founded by Abdallah. Abdallah's lawyer said his client hopes to return to Lebanon and take a teaching job there. Palestinian's' E-1 tent city evacuated despite Israeli court's injunction JERUSALEM (JTA)--Is- raeli security forces evacu- ated about 100 Palestinians from a tent city set up in the controversial E-1 area, despite an injunction from the Israeli Supreme Court. The evacuation came late Saturday night even though ° the court had granted a tem- porary injunction allowing the outpost to remain for six days while the issue was investigated. The outpost had been set up a day earlier in the area between  Jerusalem and Maale Adumim on land the Palestinians say is necessary to form a state. Israeli security forces re- moved the people but not the tents, saying that met the court's requirements, accord- ing to reports. The area was declared a closed military zone on Satur- day and the roads to the area were blocked. Protesters that PAGE 13A than religiously. When asked about this, she replies, "The wonderful thing about being Jewish is that you always have an awareness that you are part of something bigger than just yourself, and it is always waiting for you to ac- cess it when you need it. The community, the familiarity, the values, the spiritual com- ponent-whatever your entry point, Judaism cad be there for you. When I write, I try to examine small, intimate mo- ments of life, but I always have an eye toward the idea that the smaller stories comprise a bigger picture. "I write because I have to, because I need to,"Attenberg continues, "but also because I feel like I have a responsibility to the world around me." Sandee Brawarsky is the bgok critic at The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. refused to go willingly were carried out by Israeli soldiers. Some of the tent city resi- dents included international activists• The Israeli government in November announced plans to approve construction of thousands of apartments for Jews in the area in response to the Palestinians' decision to appeal to the United Na- tions General Assembly for enhanced statehood status. Israeli gay couple asks court to recognize spousal support agreement- JERUSALEM (JTA)--An Israeli gay couple married 10 months ago in New York has asked an Israeli family court to validate a spousal support agreement. Elad Aflalo Farber and Roni Farber Aflalo on Sunday asked the Ramat Gan Fam- ily Court to recognize their agreement--the first time a legally married gay couple has done so, according to Haaretz. Previous recogni- tions of same-sex spousal support agreements involved common-law spouses. IDF bans civilians from road near Egypt border (JTA)--The Israeli military banned civilian traffic from parts of a road running along Israel's border with Egypt. The*Jerusalem Post re- ported last Friday that the army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, announced the new instruction for traffic on Route 10 on Jan. 10. 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