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January 24, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 24, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 24, 2014 PAGE 3A O O Many Jews and non-Jews are unaware that nearly one million Jews were driven out of their homes in Muslim countries. For more than 2,500 years, these Jews resided in substantial numbers in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region--fully 1,000 years before the advent of Islam. Following the Muslim con- quest of the regions, under Islamic rule, Jews were con- sidered second-class citizens but were, for a period of time, permitted limited religious, educational, professional and business opportunities. However, upon the declara- tion of the State of Israel's independence in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab coun- tries worsened as many Arab states declared war or backed the war to destroy Israel. On Nov. 21, 2013, a hearing on the 'forgotten refugees' of the Arab-Israel conflict-- Jews forced from their homes in Arab countries was held at the United Nations convened by the Israel Mission to the United Nations, the World Jewish Congress, the Confer- ence of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiza- tions and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. The film about these Jewish refugees, "The Forgotten Refugees," was viewed at the hearing. The Central Florida com- munity has the opportunity to see this film on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at 2 p.m. at Temple Israel, 50 S. Moss Road, Winter Springs. The Adult Education Commit- tee of Temple Israel and Zionistas are sponsoring the program. Participating in the afternoon's program will be local members of the Jewish community who emigrated from Arab countries. There is no admission charge and it is open to the public. Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Silvan Shalom, whose grandfather was once the leader of the Jewish com- munity of Gabes, Tunisia, said, "Over the last 65 years, the U.N. and its agencies have spent tens ofbiUions of dollars on Palestinian refugees, but not a cent on Jewish refugees." Ron Pros.r, Israeli ambas- sador to the U.N., noted that since 1947 there have been 687 U.N. resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including 101 that speak specifically of Palestinian refugees, but no resolutions on Jewish refugees. World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised the Canadian parlia- ment's recent recommenda- tion that Canada officially recognize and encourage the need for justice for Jewish refugees from Arab countries as part of any resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. "We hope that all members follow the Canadian lead," Lauder said. Zionistas is a coalition of Christian and Jewish women united to support Israel. Founded in 2011 by Eva London Ritt, Diana Scimone, Judy Shujman and Sandi Solomon, Zionistas' goal is "advocacy, awareness and activism." To reserve your seat or for more information, please email Sandi Solomon at or call her at 407-575-9899. Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew root meaning "to receive." While popularly associated with Jewish mys- ticism, in its general sense kabbalah refers to something passed down from genera- tion to generation. The idea of someone creating their own original kabbalah is just one of many misconceptions and misrepresentations sur- rounding Jewish esoteric teachings. In the last 20 years, a num- ber of high-profile celebrities have become involved in a popular form of these ancient teachings, further clouding already murky waters. With all this in mind, Rabbi Kay will be teaching a course for Congregation Ohev Shalom's Adult Yeshiva Program called "Kabbalah for Real: Introduc- tion to Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation)." "Kabbalah for Real: Intro- duction to Sefer Yetzirah"will meet Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m., Jan. 29th through April 2, at Congregation .hey Shalom, 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland FL, and is supported by The Sager Fund. RSVPs are encouraged, but not required. For more information or to RSVP, contact Susan Sparrow at or (407) 298-4650. "Everything from get-rich- quick schemes to evil magic has been promoted under the name 'Kabbalah'," Rabbi Kay explained. "Many of the most distorted claims came from outside of the Jewish world, and some were treated to deliberately smear Judaism as secretive and malevolent. Those from within the Jew- ish community were often the result of a few traditional sources mixed with folklore. "Don't expect the secrets of the universe or quick and easy techniques for trans- forming your life, though, Rabbi Kay warns. "Sefer Yetzirah and the concepts of kabbalah it sets down are meant to guide us in ac- cepting the world the way it is. That's the first step to understanding." O LAKE MARY--OMG! A Battle Between Faith and Logic will launch in select cities across the world this winter for Jewish teenag- ers, and is being offered at Chabad in Lake Mary. This course is specially engineered for the thinking youth who grapples with the seeming discrepancies between religion, philoso- phy, and science. OMG! is scheduled to launch on Feb. 5, 2014 at 7 p.m. Are religion and belief in G-d outdated and ir- relevant? OMG! will jump right into the heart of the debate between atheism and religious faith. Reminiscent of the infamous middle-age religious disputes, Jewish youth will have the oppor- tunity to examine many long-standing questions such as: Are science and religion at odds with each other? Is there pro,f that G-d exists? How can all religions be right? Should we believe just because our parents and teachers telI us to? Rabbi Yanky Majesky ex- plains, "The point of OMG! is to make you think. Rather than tell students what to believe, this course will en- courage students to examine and debate the issues. Juda- ism is not dogma. My goal is that students will walk away from the experience better prepared to develop a system of personal principles that will provide guidance and direction throughout life." The course will bridge age-old Jewish wisdom with modern thinking. In addition to practicing the art of debate and logical reasoning, students are provided with a warm, safe, and friendly environment to meet others and social- ize. Beverages and snacks are always provided. The class includes textual learn- ing, group interaction, and cutting-edge multimedia presentations. Register today to reserve a spot in the course. OMG! Will be held at Chabad of North Orlando, 39 Skyline Drive in Lake Mary for six Wednesdays. Every class brings the lesson to life through games and videos so the teens are having fun while learning. The cost is $54 per student. However, no one is turned away due to lack of funds. Students who attended the "Is it Legit?" classes in the fall, learned in a fun, interest- ing way. One of the highlights of the Jewish Federation's Choices event is their spec- tacular raffle. This year the raffle will feature a $1,000 shopping and beauty spree from Neiman Marcus, fine designer jewelry courtesy of Be on Park, a monthly flower arrangement delivere d to your home courtesy of Lee James Floral designs, just to name a few. The beauty of the Choices raffle is that raffle tickety buy- ers can choose what they want to win and don't have to be at the event to be a raffle winner. Raffle tickets can be pur- chased by calling Marissa West at the Jewish Federation office at 407-645-5933. Tick- ets are $25 each or 10 tickets for $100. An 18-Karat white gold pave set diamond and ruby bracelet, valued at $5,500, from Be on Park. An 18-Karat white gold pave heart pendant, valued at $1,700 from Be on Park. WE LISTEN... 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