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January 24, 2014

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= PAGE 15A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 24, 2014 ky who think a bit more effort andsomeofthelateronesquite forward since the Six Day War likelytobelsrael'smostgener- Paiestinians have their Sharkans wil, find the keys. Tsipi Livni differentfromtheearlierones, andthenthepeacetreatywith ous offers, own needs to be dealt With, From page 4A is trying, and Yair Lapid is He changed direction, but Egyptandwithdrawalfromthe Americans can seek to im- separate from the dreams ridiculing his governmental characteristically bulldozed Sinai. Othersseeitascreating provedeliveryoftheirpotential of those who would reach of Palestinian schooling, or colleagues forworkingagainst wherever he headed. He was a constant threat of missiles for high quality medicine, an agreement with Israel, or other sensitive matters, what he thinks is possible, instrumental in the creation falling on Israeli civilians, worrymoreaboutguns, drugs, wipe Israel off the map. The _ We do better without the Avigdor Lieberman may be of settlements. When he was Polls and the commentspoor eating habits, and vio- media and my friends talk frustrations awakened when serious about trading Israeli Minister of Housing and Con- of ranking Palestinians and lence, as well as schools that about fighting corruption, prominent figures try with Arabs for settlements, struction, he was the settlers' Israelis about Kerry and what invest more in sports than improving tax collection and thewellknownpanaceas, once They're politicians. Who principal representative in the heistryingtoproducesuggest science, law enforcement, and using again, and do not succeed in knowstheirtrueinnerfeelings government. Then as Prime mistrustofthoseontheother Israelis likewise have an more of the foreign aid to overcoming highly emotional or intentions? Minister, he became the set- side, and mistrust of Kerry. agenda worthy of attention, improve the services provided political constraints weigh- We are hearing fascinating tlers'enemywhenhewithdrew No one should be excluded Putting the Haredim to work, to individuals. ing on both populations, that stories about the late Ariel settlements from Gaza. from the argument, and we and demanding that they ex- It could be worse. We could come along with mistrust Sharon, told by individuals Sharon's death has revital- should never say never, pose their children to math, be living alongside the Rio associated with each com- who worked with him from ized the already lively argu- For the time being, how- science, languages and per- Grande. Here the weather is munity's narrative of history. 1948onward. Perhaps someof ment among Israelis about ever, it would be wiser to deal haps history may deal with better. Think of coping with the themaretrue.Arikcan'targue, thewithdrawalofsettlements, with something beside an problems of sacred ignorance Ira Sharkansky is aprofes- status quo as the latest lesson It is common to say that nowrelevanttotheWestBank, agreement with Palestinians and clerical authoritarianism sor (Emeritus) of the Depart- of Jewish history, there were many Ariel Shar- Some see thewithdrawal from who have proved themselves that are no less threatening to ment of PoliticalScience, He- There are those among us ons, larger than normal life, Gaza as Israel's major step unwilling to accept what are us than Islam. brew University of Jerusalem. Rosenblatt From page 5A a turnoff for intermarried Jews who may be searching endogamy--marryingwithin for ways "to make Jewish the Jewish faith--andwewill choices and live a Jewish life unrepentantly work to facili- of purpose and depth." His tate the journey of would-be job, our job, is to be there for Jews into our family. I am, we them, he said. He cited the are, in the business of creating benefits ofwhat he calls"auda- Jewish homes." cious hospitality," noting the So is the Reform commu- number of dedicated people, nity, Rabbi Jacobs says. He including rabbis, he knows told me he agrees that "the who have come to Judaism issue is not endogamy vs. out- through its warmth. "That's reach, but how do we use the the strategy for the Jewish power, beauty and inspiration future," Rabbi Jacobs said. of Judaism to bring more [in- "We have to engage the next terfaith] families into the fold generation with on-ramps" by practicing our leadership (to Jewish life) because "the differently." majority of them will be the He described "the birth of children of intermarriages, outreach" as Rabbi Alexander and potentially our leaders." Schindler's decision, as head Potentially.Or they may dis- of the Reform movement in appear from the Jewish ranks. the late 1970s, to endorse While I don't think of in- patrilineal descent. Rabbi Ja- termarriage as "a disease," cobssaid"thefinger-wagging to cite Rabbi Jacobs' phrase, of inreach is yesterday," and I do believe its becoming the norm poses a threat to the sustainability of American Jewish life. I am not alone in this as- sessment. Last week about two dozen like-minded con- cerned Jews--including rab- bis, sociologists, lay leaders and journalists (myself in- cluded)--came together for a five-hour meeting in Midtown. The purpose was to offer reflections on the data of the Pew study and, perhaps more importantly, discuss whether and how to call for a kind of communal intervention. In otherwords, to force leadership to recognize the trends that would seem to portend a sharp decrease in the number of Jew- ishly engaged non-Orthodox Jews in the U.S. over the next few decades due to increasing intermarriage, late marriage and low fertility rates. In a paper called "Can We Have Continuity Without Jew- ish Content?" Steven Bayme, national director of the de- partment of contemporary Jewish life at AJC, and Jack Wertheimer, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, described to the group the current attitude of communal leaders as "a conspiracy of silence" in dealing with these issues. And they wrote that "a cascade of ever-lower expecta- tions" is resulting in a"culture of consensus" appealing "only to the lowest common denomi- nator" of Jewish identity and engagement. One example of this "si- lence" is what appears to me to be a growing reluctance among rabbis and families to encourage the non-Jewish partner to convert before mar- riage. The thinking is not to pressure the fianc (or more often, fiancee), and hope an interest in becoming Jewish will increase during the mar- riage. Or if that doesn't happen, that the non-Jewish partner will, at least, agree to raise the children as Jewish. I plan to report more fully next week on the group's dis- cussions, and the resulting proposals and implications. For now, I leave you with the approach of Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Bos- ton; his community is seen as a leader in successfully reaching out to interfaith families. "The important question is not how many Jews there are or will be," hewrote recently, "but rather what kind of Jewish life we want for our children and grandchildren and communi- ties. What is 'a Jewish life' and how do we build it?" What all sides - at least among the activists in this discussion- seem to agree on is the need for a strong com- munal response to the current drift, whether it's in the form of "audacious hospitality'l or raising the bar of obligation and responsibility. For now, though, the quiet but perfect storm continues--increasing intermarriage, fewerchildren, less affiliation, and costly or insufficient Jewish educa- tional opportunities. If our religious and communal lead- ers have neither the strategy, willingness nor fortitude to stem or reverse the tide, the battle is lost. But first we have to recognize that we are in crisis and agree on .what we are fighting for. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week,: www., from which this column is reprinted with permission. Shames ...... From page 5A sociatewiththewordZionism something on his Facebook and eat with our students, munity where students can because they think the label wall~br something she said talk, laugh, andshare. They discuss matters of interest lel's safe spaces, like Shabbat, lumps them in with policies in ciass, is probably not an pass by two Israeli flags on and/or concern about Israel to engage in difficult topics, withwhichthey may not fully anti-Zionist.Soyes, inviteher their way to our dining hall. and the Jewish people in a We beliew every student agree. Plus, millennialsdon't to dinner so that she too can They hear announcementscivil manner." I also agree has a place at our table for the like labels. That's not about feel welcome in her Jewish about celebrating Israel's withhimthatwemustbe"for following reasons: Israel. That's about exploring community, independence. It is not easy ourselves" first in putting What are these labels? one's identity in college. It's It's dinner, not divestment, for them. It's not easy for our forward our Hillel mission. Where is the line drawn only through engaging in a Yes, thereare studentswe students who have debated We have a proactive Israel among an anti-Zionist, post- conversation in a safe space have welcomed to Shabbat them in classrooms. But in agenda that we are proud of Zionist, and non-Zionist? (like dinner) thatwe can learn dinner who we know are these spaces where activism pursuing on campus. But As with most efforts to cat- their thoughts and feelings anti-Zionist. They are left- can be left outside, we can afterweareforOurselves, we egorize people, the reality is about Israel. leaning anti-Israel students have dinner as acommunity must remember,the second more complex than the labels Who is labeling? (Jewish and non-Jewish) who and talk. line of Hillel's famous quote, mightsuggest, Yes, thereare Wehostupto600students grew to trust us through I agreewith Eric Finger- "If I amonly for myself, what anti-Zionistsoncampus, but for Shabbat dinner. No one is our relationships, came to hut when he writes, "Hillel am I?" most of the students I meet checking Zionist credentials Shabbat, and felt welcomed welcomes a diversity ofTogether with our student who appear to reject Zionism at the door. Moreover, the by their Jewish community student perspectives onleadership, we need to create are supportive of Israel in studentwhosomeonelabeled for the firsttime. Theyleave Israel and strives to create spaces where students can someform.Theyjustdon'tas- "anti-Zionist" because of their activism at the door, an inclusive, pluralisticcom- deepen their relationship with Israel, love Israel, and advocate for Israel. But our students will hardly become effective advocates or under- stand and love Israel's com- plexity if they only advocate, talk, and listen to themselves. We must continue to build confidence and trust among our student body to be a home for discourse and dialogue that meaningfully engages students in complex and challenging ideas. Because if not at Hillel, then where? Tilly R. Shames is the ex- ecutive director of University of Michigan Hillel in Ann Arbor, Mich. Heilman From page 5A 2005 pullout, the nickname ranch than with politicians felled, Sharon's critics have was a demoralizing drain on The first time I got to talk Sharon had acquired during in Jerusalem. Olmert was a pointed to the rocket attacks the Israel Defense Forces and to Sharon was during a, visit Compared ~ to the West his military days, Bulldozer, wheeler-dealerex-mayorwith from Gaza and the missile the Jewish people, he made to New York as for- Bank, Gaza was easy. There took on a new connotation, scant military experience, an threat from Lebanon as By allindications, Sharon's eign minister in 1999. I was were relativelyfewJewishset- and many of his settler sup- affinity for expensive cigars evidence that any unilateral plan for the West Bank was amongthescrumofreporters tiers in Gaza amid the more porters turned against him. and a habit of never turning withdrawal from the West to redraw Israel's borders squeezed into Mayor Rudy thanl.5millionPalestinians, As a sign ofhis new direction, downanopportunitytotravel Bank would have been a unilaterally to keep as many Giuliani's office in City Hall the strip offered Israel no tac- Sharon broke from the right- to New York. disaster for Israel, bringing Jewish settlers as possible, as during a news conference, tical military advantages and ist Likud faction and founded He quicklygotintotrouble, its heavily populated center, few Palestinians as possible and I asked Sharon if he had the Jewishpeople did not have a new centrist political party, The Palestinians in Gazatest- including Jerusalem and Tel and as much open territory any intentions of being prime deep historicalties to Gaza. Kadima, which peeled off edOlmertwithincessantand Aviv, within range of enemy as possible--including the minister. By contrast, theWest Bank moderates from the left and growing rocket fire. In 2006, rockets, strategically valuable Jordan Sharon responded dismis- held more than 250,000 set- right and instantly became when the Lebanese militant Would Sharon have come Valley. If he could have pulled sively, as if the notion of hav- tlers, represented a strategi- Israel'slargestpoliticalgroup- group Hezbollah attacked to believe that his withdrawal it off, it would have angered ing political ambitions were callyvaluable buffer between ing. an Israeli military patrol from Gaza was a mistake? Israeli nationalists and Pal- beneath him. Months later Israel and itsArab adversaries Then came the second and abducted two soldiers, I doubt it. He believed that estinians, and Sharon would he'd become Likud's leader, to the east, and was a reposi- stroke on Jan. 4, 2006, and Olmertlauncheda34-daywar diverting copious military re- have faced a deeply skeptical and a year-and-a-half after tory of Jewish history dating Sharon was gone. that went on long enough to sourcestokeepafewthousand international community, that prime minister. back to the Bible. Itwas obvious from the get- demonstrate that Israel could Jews amid aseaofPalestinians But it also probably would Sharon quickly made clear Everyone knew disentan- go thatIsrael'saccidentalnew notquitevanquishHezbollah, in a strip of land Israel never have resulted in a state for that he was in office to take gling Israel from West Bank leader, Ehud Olmert, could Any notion of extendingwanted in the first place was thePalestinians--something action. The wisdom of his Palestinians would be hard, not fill Sharon's shoes. Sharon'sdisengagementplan not sustainable militarily or Sharon endorsed in 2001-- movescouldbedebated--and but if anybody could do it, it Sharon was a warrior- to the West Bank quickly diplomatically, and given Israelashotat end- were--butnottheirboldness. was Sharon, an architect of statesman whose legendary faded, Olmert resigned under Would Sharon have repli- ing the messy entanglement Eightyearsafterhisprema- thesettlementmovementand battlefield feats dating back a cloud of corruption, Benja- catedhismodelofwithdrawal of the Israeli and Palestinian tureexit, andinthewakeofhis the man who once declared to Israel's 1948 War of In- min Netanyahu was elected intheWestBank? Hebelieved populations, death on Saturday at the age that the face of Netzarim, a dependence had earned him primeministerandtheIsraeli- that time was not on Israel's This vision may not be so of 85, Israel remains stuck in Jewish settlement in Gaza, the respect of adversaries Palestinian conflict fell into side, that the occupation was far off from what Netanyahu a holding pattern waiting for was the fate of Tel Aviv. and supporters alike but deadlock. Today, the conflict bad for Israel's diplomatic says he wants, but we haven't-" some bold move that will lift When Gaza's Jewish settle- who seemed more at homeseems as intractable as ever. standing, cost too much in seen much progress toward, the nation out of its morass ments were leveled amid the with the sheep on his Negev In the years since he was termsofmoneyand lives, and the goal. with the Palestinians.