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February 1, 2013

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1, 2013 By David Bornstein The rabbi's yad My life, these days, is surrounded by bar mitz- vahs, and not necessarily my son's. And it seems that with each bar (or bat) mitzvah I attend, I am struck by something new. Something different. This past weekend I was hit hard, in the most surprising way. I attendedmy first Orthodox service. The first in my life, which in and of itself is shocking. I don't know why I haven't been before. The service was both the same and not the same as what I'm Letter from Israel Palestinian dreams By Ira Sharkansky One should never say never, but it appears that the Palestinians have shut the door against the idea of a state, Too often they have donewhatAbba Eban placed in the handbook of political aphorisms, missing __ yett another opportunity to miss an opportunity. One can produce numerous explanations for their fatality: An insistence on a monopoly of justice for their claims; Not taking account of the economic, mili- tary and political weight of Israel, and the need to adjust their demands to what Israel would be !ikely to accept; Becoming overly reliant on economic and po- litical aid from others, thus deprivingthemselves of the opportunity to mature into aself-reliant entity capable ofrecognizingopportunities and dangers; Wearing out their supporters with their ,xcessive demands and insufficient flexibility, not only among sympathetic Israelis, but also among western governments and even their supposed friends among Arab governments; , Widespread diappgintment---amoogIsrelis, westerners and Arabs--from the violence and chaos that has come from Arab Spring. The most i'ecent signs of these problems are yet another expression ofpalestinian demands for others to solve their problems. Prior to the Israeli election, members of the West Bank ruling clique perceived a move to the right, and began pleading for others to pressure the Israelis into doing what the Palestinians consider proper. In the Palestinian parlance, the proper is accepting the Palestinian narrative of history and the Palestinian demands for refugees, a substantial share of Jerusalem and the rest of the well known list. In whatArab commentators have called a break through toward a recognition of the Israeli reality, the Arab League issued a request of Israeli Arabs not to boycott the Israeli election. In years past, theinternationalArab community has considered Israeli Arabs traitors for remaining in Israel and partigipating in its politics. Jerusalem Arabs are steadfast--and under considerable pressure--not to vote in municipal elections. There was a call is- sued by Israeli Arab activists to protest Netanyahu by boycotting the national election. However, the Arab League weighed in during the last week to urge participation. Perhaps responding to that," Israeli Arabs participated in greater numbers than the previous election, as did Jews. What this means for larger Arab support of Pal- estinian nationalism is notentirely clear. However, it may be taken along with the significant and persistentshortfallsbetweentheenoneypromised and actually delivered from Arab coffers to sug- gest Arab fatigue with the Palestinian leadership. Weare also hearingArabvoices that IsraeliArab Knesset Members ought to spend less time on their extremist nationalist demands--which get their constituents nowhere--and begin emphasizing economic concerns. Perhaps one day they will learn to work like minority politicians who have become successful elsewhere, and go along in order to get along. It's also not clear if the larger message about the failure of the Palestinian dreams is apparent tothe American 'nite .......... House a,u uu puliu- cal leaders in Europe who follow its leadership. We have heard from on high that the President is likely to withdraw from active involvement in the mess of the Middle East, along with what may only be a routine output from White House and State Department bureaucracies that Israel and the Palestinians must return to meaningful negotiations. If one listens carefully, it is also possible to hear from Israeli politicians their commitment to negotiations. This suggests that Israelis likely to be in high of- rice have not fallen off the world, and will continue playing the games required to remain acceptable in the community of decent countries. However, much more prominent in what the newMKs are saying is theirsupport of evening the weight of domestic responsibilities. This means pushing the haredim out of the academies and int the irmy or national service, and especially to work, and insisting that their youngsters learn something that will help them earn a living, sup- port their families and pay taxes like the rest of us. The Israeli routine expression is that the door remains open to negotiations, without precon- ditions, as long as the Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The latest Palestinian expression is that they are willing to negotiate as long as Israel recognizes the legiti- macy of their state. Now Palestinian expressions come with a threat tha t they will use their recent blessing from the U.N. General Assembly in order to bring a case against Israel for violating interna- tional law by continuing settlement activity, and thatthe Palestinians will exercise that option if Israel builds in area El. I will not conclude by declaring that the door is closed and locked with respect to a Palestinian state. However, the door is closed, even if not yet locked, never to be opened by someone who held the key and has thrown it away. At least for the time being, which can last who knows how long, the Palestinians will continue to have substantial autonomy in the West Bank and--separately--in Gaza, with increases in au- tonomy and freedoms of movement, import and export as long as they behave themselves. That means severely limited violence against Israelis. We, or our children, or their descendants, will see how long this lasts. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science, Hebrew Uni- versity of Jerusalem. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards Editor/Publisher ?[._I "l I I rI' , ' "] Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE GloriaYousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Richard Ries POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman David Gaudio Teri Marks emaii: Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope used to. 1"he prayers were the same. So were the pointer often made of metal to follow the words, melodies, though they were sung differently. My bothtoshowrespecttot, heTorahbynottouchingit synagogue's services are more orderly, Prayers andtoshowrespecttothepersonwhohasanaliyah, are chanted in unison. At the Orthodox service so they can see the words and follow along. But each person sang at their own pace. Neither way in this case, not all the time but often, as Simcha is better. Neither is worse. They are just different, stood on a chair by his rabbi father, watching the The same is true of the service. My synagogue, Torah and listening to his father read, the rabbi while warm and friendly, has a gentle formality used his son's finger as his yad, holding the boy's to it. This shul was casual, conversational, with handandfollowingthewordswithalivingpointer. the rabbi walking up to people,giving cues, corn- What went through this little boy's head as his menting, asking questions, and the members, in finger followed the words? Did he feel a special turn, treating the service as much like a family connection to his father, to the service and the dinneras a religious experience.Again, nobetter or Torah reading? Whatwas the rabbi thinking? What worse. Just different. My synagogue is large. This was his intent? Was it something special they'd one is small. I could go on, but you get my point, worked out together? Or was he simply including One of my son's close friends celebrated his bar his son in the service? mitzvah. But this isn't about that. Not about the As is often the case at an Orthodox synagogue. maftir, or the haftorah, or the speech. It's about the Torah service took place in the center of the the rabbi's son. Now I don't know Rabbi Sholom sanctuary, not at the front on the bimah, and I sat Dubov. We've met many times over the years, but with my son two rows away, watching the rabbi Ican'tsayI'veeverhadalengthyconversationwith guide his son's tiny fingers across the scroll. And him. But he knows my name and I know his. He what I thought, rightly or wrongly as I watched, greeted me and my son Gabriel warmly. I liked was that maybe the rabbi was doing that because his sermon. I didn't know one of his children, a he knew in doing so he was closer t o God, and little 8-yearold boy named Simcha, has Down's so was his boy. I think maybe he knew that his Syndrome, son's finger, following scripture, was as close as Simcha was all over his father during the ser- anyone on earth could come to union with the vice, walking around the sanctuary, coming up holy. I think that together, aware of it or not, they to the rabbi, pulling him down to his level to say brought aunique, reverential spirit into the build- somethingorasksomething, standingonafolditlg ing. I know they did for me, as I watched a father, chair next to his father as the rabbi read Torah. [ a son, a rabbi and a little boy reach out together was impressed by what a good father the rabbi is, to try and touch God. patient, listening, attentive.Iwasequallyimpressed And that's the good word. The opinions in this by how accommodating the shul's members were columnarethoseofthewriterandnottheHeritage to theoy:smovedby what happPw.d-_ or_az oth,r indilid, a( agency or ork_anizqtion. while the rabbi read Torah. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to Tradition dictates that'the reader use a yad, a the Heritage or email Sharansky's mission: Impossible, By Gary Rosenblatt taste, than from the Orthodox. So why, he may New York Jewish Week be thinking, should he go out of his way to please those who are not his constituency, particularly Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive if he risks offending his base? of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was in New York If it's all about politics, which it usually is in foraquicktwo-daytrip lastweek, meetingwitha Israel, the chances are slim that Sharansky will variety of American Jewish leaders on his newest come up with a compromise that will please the assignment: seeking to resolve the conflict be- women's groups, who are now confined to pray tweenwomenwhowanttoholdprayerservicesat individually behind a mechitza directly facing theWesternWallinJerusalemandtraditionalists the Kotel or in alternative services at Robinson's who oppose them on religious grounds. Arch nearby, at the southern section of the Kotel. . SharanskywastappedbyPrimeMinisterBenja- But Sharansky, more than the great majorit> minNetanyahutobeaone-mancommissionand of Israeli leaders, understands diaspora Jewry. make recommendations on the issue, following havingheadedthatministryandspentmuchtime the uproar in the diaspora over a woman being - in the U.S. And he has the ear of Netanyahu who, arrested in October for leading a women's prayer after all, chose hirff to make recommendations. group at.the Kotel (Western Wall) in violation of PartoftheproblemisthatwhileAmericanJews Israeli law. wouldlike tosee the Jewish state adoptaU.S, brand Many American Jews, eSpecially in the Reform of democracy, which separates church and state, and Conservative movements, who are used to Israelisn'tabouttomakesuchadramaticchange, the notion of women wearing a tallit, or teflllin though many social reformers would prefer it. and reading from the Torah at prayer services, Much as we American Jews have our religious were offended by the arrest. They've galvanized and ideological debates among the various de- in opposition to the laws in Israel that make such nominations here, there is nothing to compare to worship for women at the Wall illegal, the complexity Jerusalem faces when its govern- Sharansky is not making public his efforts or ment itself deals with personal-status issues like histhinkingonthecontroversyfornow, nodoubt conversion, marriage and "who is a Jew." because whatever position he espoused would be Sentiments, pro and con, on women's prayer criticized by those in opposition. And it seems at the Kotel must be seen in the context of the unlikely that he will make his recommendations larger divideover diaspora and Israeli approaches until the next coalition and Knesset in Israel are not only to these issues but to the status of the in place so as not to affect the political process, settlements, the treatment of Israeli Arabs and He has a tough job, because the matter of Palestinians, and the reality of an Israeli govern- women holding praying services at the Kotel ment moving further to the right. What should is more of an issue here in the diaspora than in be particularly worrisome to Israeli leaders is that Israel, where women's rights advocates say they significant numbers of American Jews, especially have more pressing issues to address, including those under 40, are uncomfortable with the Israel not being restricted to sitting in the back of some they see and read about here. public buses. Of course the tensions are not new. Fifteen Most ofthe members ofWomen oftheWall, the years ago, Netanyahu, in his first tenure as prime group that prays at the Kotel each Rosh Chodesh minister, tried to tackle the who-is-a-Jew issue. andwhoseleader, AnatHoffman,wasarrested, are He appointed the Ne'eman Commission, which English-speakers, originallyfromNorthAmefica ultimately called for the establishment of a con- or other Western countries and representative of version institute made up of Orthodox, Reform allthereligiousstreams.Theydescribetheircause and Conservative instructors, with the actual intermsofcivilaswellasreligiousrightsinways conversions done through the rabbinic courts thatdonotresonateassharplywithnativeIsraelis, controlled by the fervently Orthodox. most of whom are secular and see the Kotel as It was a noble idea, but those courts applied the purview of the Orthodox. stringent standards and the result has been only While a wide range of American Jewish groups a few hundred conversions a year, with many have spoken out in opposition to the current potential candidates dissuaded from applying. law in Israel, which says that prayer at the Kotel Withthe ferventlyOrthodoxstilldominant, the must conform to "local custom," Israeli politi- odds are against a dramatic breakthrough now clans have little to gain in seeking reforms. They on prayer at the Kotel. But American Jews should do not represent Jews outside of Israel, and the take note that it was their outrage over the arrest religious parties in Israel, who uphold the laws of Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman that abouttraditionalprayer, haveagreatdealofctout, caused Netanyahu to seek a compromise. The same holds true, of course, for the prime Let's hope that keeping the pressure on will minister, whohavinglivedinAmericainhisyouth makh a difference, and that Natan Sharansky, may Well be sympathetic to diversity in religious who knows better than anyone the power of a expression, butwho knows there is little political righteous cause for human and religious rights, capital in championing this issue. He has needed willbeanidealadvocateinfindingamoreequitable the support from religious parties in the past and way for women to pray as they wish at Judaism's may again in his next coalition, holiest site. What's more, Netanyahu's support among Follow Gary Rosenb- American Jews comes less from liberal Jews, latt's blog, RosenBlog, at many of whom find him too hawkish for their throughout the week.