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February 14, 2014

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PAGE 14A Sochi From page IA development or encourage them to accept alternative sexual relationships. "There have already been attempts to remove children from lesbian couples. So, basically, LGBT people [in Russia] have an incredible amount to fear right now, es- pecially if they have children," Gessen said. Furthermore, while the law itself only bans propaganda, there has been an increase in anti-gay violence around the country. International Olympic Committee member Gian- Franco Kasper has claimed that as much as a third of the record-high $50 billion price tag for the Olympics has been siphoned off, while Boris Nemtsov, a critic of Putin's government, toldABC News he has evidence that Russian officials and business executives stole at least $30 billion of the funds meant for Olympics-related projects. Levitov told that the the Olympic sports ven- ues were hastily built and may be hazardous to spectators and players. "The ]Olympic] construc- tion was done by migrant workers, many of whom were sent back home without pay," Levitov said, adding that growing nationalist and anti- immigrant sentiment has been growing in the country in recent years. Putin has denied allega- tions of Olympics-related corruption. "I do not see serious cor- ruption instances for the moment, but there is a problem with overestimation of construction volumes," Putin recently told report- ers, explaining that some contractors had won tenders due to low bids that they subsequently inflated. "This price increase, it is sometimes due to contrac- toffs deliberate acts, and sometimes it is due to the fact that the professional valuation of necessary in- vestments, especially in mountain conditions, for a mountain cluster, are not efficient enough," he said. Putin's presidency has not been associated with the kind ofstate-saflctioned anti- Semitism that was prevalent during the Soviet era. But Levitov believes that"the rise of state-sanctioned xenopho- bia and anti-gay hatred.., as any intolerance, is ultimately a threat to the Jews." But Ivan Kosarev, a Jewish businessman from Moscow, said that since the deci- sion was made to hold the Olympics in Sochi, he fully supports investing money in the major sports competi- tion, and doing so efficiently. Kosarev told he is glad the games are taking place in Russia, and that while corruption around the games should be investigated if it exists, political issues such as the LGBT rights should be discussed separately. On the other hand, "If I were the Russian president X years ago when they de- cided to apply for holding the Olympics, I might have not made the same decision but rather invested [the same funds being used for the games] into infrastructure in a more broader sense," such as railways, airports, and roads, he said. Like Kosarev, Interna- tional Paralympic Committee (IPC) Editorial Manager Stu- art Lieberman--who will be reporting on the March 7-16 Paralympic Games, which are also taking place in Sochi-- disagrees with boycotting the Olympics. "I don't think you can be entirely separate from politics [as it relates to the Olympics], but I don't think you should be avoiding countries for reasons like this," Lieberman told Part of the value of the games is "to inspire and excite the world, and to instill change in society," he added. Sochi's Chabad-Lubavitch center is preparing to welcome an influx of Jewish athletes and visitors to its 3,000-mem- ber local Jewish community. Chabad has acquired two temporary centers thatwill be staffed by 12 rabbinic interns, and its staff has equipped itself to prepare about 7,000 kosher meals over the course of the games. Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, the Chabad emissary to Sochi, does not take a political stand on any of the human rights or corruption issues in Russia. "I view my role in this com- munity as a spiritual one, I'm here to cater to the needs of the Jewish community, as well as to visiting tourists," Edelkopf told "It is our goal as an orga- nization that the spiritual and religious needs of those living and visiting Sochi are met, and hopefully expanded," he said. Edelkopf did, however, note that the Sochi Jewish com- munity is "in touch with local officials and security experts" regarding safety precautions, in light of concerns that the Sochi Olympics may be a target for terrorist attacks, particularly from Islamist groups in the Northern Cau- causus region. In December, two suicide attacks killed 34 people in Vol- gograd, about 700 kilometers north of Sochi. An Islamist group from the Caucausus claimed responsibility for the attacks. Police have started to impose long-planned re- strictions of access into and movement within Sochi. Up to 70,000 personnel will be patrolling the games, accord- ing to some estimates. Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS. org that he hopes Russia "will do its best to prevent any attempt of terrorist acts dur- ing the Olympics." A positive sign is that Russia reportedly cooperates with the U.S. on security issues, said Kliger, who also cited rumors that Russian security cooperation with Israel is also on the way. Levitov, however, questions the publicity surrounding security risks to the games. "I personally view the widely publicized threats of terrorist attacks simply as a PR effort of Russian authori- ties," she said. "It both creates pre-text for further attacks on civil rights, more restrictions on freedom of travel around the Olympic area, and allows for excuses if something does go wrong. Any mismanage- ment, infrastructural failures or collapsed buildings can be explained by terrorism." Mark B. Levin, executive director of the National Con- ference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia (NCSJ), told JNS.orgthat the organization isn't certain about any specific threats to Jewish people at- tending the games. But the group has been contacted by some concerned individuals and is directing those people HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1 4, 2014 to the U.S. State Department, said Levin. Like the IPC's Lieberman, some Jewish groups see the Olympics as a way to promote tolerance and freedom. "The Olympic Games have the potential to mark a new direction in which there is no discrimination based on race, gender, handicaps or sexual- orientation," B'nai B'rith International said in a statement provided to JNS. org. "The Olympics are a microcosm. While we expect athletes from every nation to have the right to compete fairly, a societal commitment to tolerance and acceptance should be applied to every aspect of society." Abraham H. Foxman, na- tional director of the Anti- Defamation League (ADL), told that the games provide "a chance to dem- onstrate solidarity with the LGBT community and to promote democratic ideals." ADL is not supporting a boycott of the games but calls for the U.S. to "consider new ways.., to lead in the effort to have Russia address (the) anti-LGBT persecution in the same way Jackson-Vanik dealt with Soviet Jews or the Magnitsky law addressed cer- tain human rights violations," Foxman said. AJC's Kliger pointed to Rus- sian President Vladimir Pu- tin's recent political gestures, such as the releases of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the members of the Pussy Riot band from prison, as a positive sign for the country ahead of the games. Kliger told he is encouraged by "recent decla- rations by a number of Rus- sian officials that there will be no discrimination against any group or individual [at the games], including LGBT people, whatsoever," and other "signals of goodwill coming from the Russian gov- ernment indicate that Russia is much more interested in conducting the Games in the spirit of sports, peace, and cooperation." But Masha Gessen--who recently released her latest book, "Words Will Break Ce- ment: The Passion of Pussy Riot'--told ABC News that "people who have not had the kind of international at- tention that those people had are remaining in prison... So it's not a sign of an end to the crackdown." "It's a very transparent and actually a very cynical PR gesture," she said. Evans Property Services' Levitov told that the Sochi Olympics are avery im- portant event for Putin and his public image. Since the games are being marketed as Russia's symbol of strength and pres- tige among world powers, she believes it is important for the games to show that none of the human rights and corruption issues in Russia belong in the civilized world."It would be great if leaders of the world's leading democracies would demonstrate their position or disapproval openly. I have no hope that the Jewish leaders would, but it would be great," she said. NCSJ's Levin believes that, naturally, "there will be athletes and spectators who will voice disapproval" about controversial issues in Russia, given the "serious differences politically between the Rus- sian federation and the United States or the West." But at end of the day, said Levin, the Olympics "always go to the country that's willing to pay for it." Envoy From page 1A a public-private partnership to raise awareness about and provide support for survivors. In general, the administration is looking for ways to !'help people stay in their homes and communities and live in settings of their choice," Sufian said. That objective is particu- larly important for Holocaust survivors who "have specific issues and needs based on their experiences--issues of social isolation, issues around institutionalization that har- ken back to their experiences during the war," said William Daroff, vice president for pub- lic policy at the Jewish Federa- Custom Print Marketing Invitations & Announcements Digital & Offset Prinng Brochures & Booklets Direct Mail Services Forms & Letterheads Envelopes 407-767-7110 Bu,i,c 205 North Street Longwood, FL 32750  vw. elegantprinting, net -'- Mentn This Ad ancl Receive 18% Discount -- 31268759 76952438 8451 9372 19837624 62345981 45781263 97123546 53496817 28674 1 95 tions of North America, who praised Sufian's appointment. "The White House impri- matur that comes with it will help to ensure that there's added focus and attention on this key population," he said. Asked why Holocaust sur- vivors should be singled out for special attention among all elderly individuals living in poverty, Daroff told JNS. org that it is "because they are Americans who are in need--just like it's the role of the federal government to help with your parents or my par- ents who have specific needs and who are in need of help." Sufian said it will be her job to work across agen- cies-among them HHS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration, Housing and Urban Develop- ment and the Department of Transportation--to help the agencies understand the 4 1 Jacobs 6 From page 5A variety of settings, especially with support and increased opportunity for learning and 7 engaging. Falling in love with someone who is not Jewish is not a failure of Jewish commit- ment at a time when young adult lives are just beginning. 8 How congregations and rabbis do this holy work var- ies, but today it is an axiom r L of Reform Judaism that we take on the work of inclusion 3 every day. Some rabbis offi- ciate at interfaith weddings; needs of survivors and ensure that survivors know what's available to them. "We want them to age well with comfort and dignity and the honor and respect they deserve," she said. Some advocates for Holo- caust survivors are pushing for state Medicaid waivers to use for home health care. Sufian is unsure of her in- volvement in that push. "I am in listening mode right now," she said. "I plan to identify bar- riers and service gaps and will work with my counterparts within HHS, across the federal government, and with cities and states to improve access to home and community based services." Jack Rubin, a Holocaust survivor who testified Jan. 15 before a United States Senate Select Committee hearing titled "Aging in Comfort: Assessing the Special Needs of America's Holocaust Sur- vivors," said Sufian's appoint- ment is inadequate. "We believe that a serious assessment by this com- mittee of the actual cost of needed in-home care and basic emergency services such as medicines, dental care, hearing aids, food, rent, utilities, transportation, and other vital services will show a multi-billion dollar deficit," he said, according to his prepared remarks for the hearing. Rubin said survivors are not seeking funds from the U.S. government, but rather seeking the government's assistance in pressuring Germany and companies that had insured Holocaust victims before the war, yet have not paid off those policies, to take responsibility for survivors not just in the United States, but worldwide. "The Holocaust survivors in this country strongly believe even at this very late date, we must return to the origins of Chancellor [Konrad] Ad- enauer's promise in the 1950s when he said that modern Germany must take care of the all of the needs of survivors due to the savage actions" of the Nazi regime, Rubin told the committee. "Survivors' mental and physical health care needs are more extensive, more complex, and more dire than other elderly people, and require serious, comprehen- sive responses," he said. "I'm sure the vice presi- dent meant well" when he announced his initiative, but "it's not going to solve the problem," Rubin told J For her part, Sufian said such matters are in the pur- view of the State Department. "I will be sharing what I learn about the needs of survivors with my colleagues at the State Department and with others in the federal government as appropriate," she said. others do not. But either way, thoughtful, content-rich outreach must become the gold standard of our Jewish communities. I hope that all of our federations, inspired by Boston's strategic shift decades ago, will soon come to that same conclusion. Little is gained by circling the wagons only around those who are involved intensely in Jewish life and writing off the others as a bad investment. What a difference inclusion of interfaith families has made, bringing the creativ- ity, leadership and service of hundreds of thousands to en- rich our congregational lives, while countless thousands of children are being raised with meaningful Jewish experi- ences and commitments. Let's be clear: Those of us who champion outreach know, of course, that creating opportunities for young Jews to meet and form close bonds with other Jews while' living Jewishly makes perfect sense. But such obvious strategies must only be one part of our ongoing work. The goal, one we all share even ifwe disagree on tactics, is to secure a robust Jewish future. We can only reach that goal with a real commitment to outreach. Day schools, Jewish camps, intensive adult learning op- portunities, soulful spiritual practice, acts of social justice andyes, inclusion of interfaith families in all of the above, are the most effective ways for us to strengthen the Jewish future. All opposed? Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism.