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February 15, 2013

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PAGE 4A The Good 00drord By David Bornstein The youngest bar mitzvahmPart 3 And so the day has come. Our youngest child. Oflr last family bar mitzvah. I'm think- ing less and less about what I'll say to my son, more and more about remembering every moment as deeply as possible, because events like these don't come around again. They are bookmarks, reference points, times that are easy to look back to and say yes, I recall that time in our lives. Gabriel will do just fine. He's ready. Now all he has to do is be himself, enjoy the celebration alongwith his friends and family. For him, the culmination of his efforts will be a weekend of fun and recognition. For his mother and me, it will be that and something else altogether. There's something different about that last child, when you know everything you do and experience with them will be for the last time. There will soon be no more homework, no more extracurricular activities, no more fam- ily events on the horizon that'bring everyone together once we go through it all with Gabriel. Sure, there will be weddings, but those aren't dates on a calendar. They happen when they will or not. A bar mitzvah is a rite, set in stone, something to plan for. And perhaps because of that, because it's the last, it's both joyful and bittersweet. It's joyful to think of family traveling to be with us, Shabbat dinner, good wine, great company coming together for a common purpose--the recognition of a young man's growth, accomplishments and commitment to his faith. It's bittersweet to understand how quickly the next five years will pass, when he leaves for college and we move into the empty next phase of our lives--the last child departs and the parents become who they once were again, lovers united by themselves. It's joyful to imagine the scene at our synagogue, and it will be bittersweet to ac- knowledge, this time, how many friends from far away couldn't be here. Joyful to read Torah and speak to him from the bimah, and bit- tersweet as all those words will represent the conclusion, in part, of decades of parenting. But mostly it will be joyful and bittersweet to look at our son and see him on the cusp of adulthood, one part child and one part man, and this awkward, fragile time in his life is also one that will never come again. The Jewish museum you've never been to By Gary Rosenblatt New York Jewish Week One of the best-kept secrets in the New York Jewish community most certainly is the Museum of Tolerance in Midtown --and not by design. Opened a decade ago by the Los Angeles- based Simon Wiesenthal Center and located on East 42nd Street, between Second and Third Avenues, the museum features exhibits and interactive programs challenging visitors to confront issues of bigotry and racism, with the Holocaust as a backdrop and tragic example of the price paid for passivity. There is much to engage the mind and emo- tions, but on the day I was there two weeks ago I was the only yisitor walking through the large exhibit area. (A junior high class, on a school trip, was meeting in a closed room.) Rabbi Steve Burg, who came on as director of the center's New York branch last month after serving as a director of the Orthodox Union, explained that when the museum opened in 2003, itwas mostly used for school group tours, and for training programs and workshops for educators and law enforcement officials. Several years ago the decision was made to open the museum to tourists and others, including the Jewish community. But the response has been decidedly muted, with of- ficials acknowledging that relatively few people take advantage of the tours offered, or even know about them. (There were about 15,000 visitors between July 2011 and July 2012, of- ficials said, and the great majority of them were schoolchildren on class trips and adults participating in the educational programs.) The museum is open Monday through Friday, and one Sunday a month. What's particularly surprising about the lack of buzz for the museum is that the Wiesenthal Center, the international organization that Combats anti-Semitism and promotes Israel and human rights, is well known for its pro- grams and its talent for attracting publicity and media attention. Under the leadership of its founder, the high-profile Rabbi Marvin Hier, two of the center's documentary films have won Academy Awards ("Genocide," 1981, and "The Long Way Home," 1997) and its most ambitious project, to build a Museum of Tolerance in the heart of Jerusalem, is well on. its way toward completion after years of controversy and delay. Modeled after the center's successfui Mu- seum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the New York version offers the kind of interactive experience, through videos and state-of-the- art multimedia, that is particularly appealing to young people, who are the primary target audience. One especially compelling exhibit, "The Point of View Diner," is set in a cyber caf and offers a choice of three 15-minute films--one on drunk driving, one on free speech vs. hate speech, and one on bullying--that invite visi- tors to express their opinions and "interview" the actors. I watched the film on bulling, which was set in a high school where a small group of students labels Brianna, a shy new girl, as a lesbian and devises ways to humiliate her online and in person. One member of the group is torn between her sympathy for the new girl and her desire to be accepted by her bullying friends, and in a post-presentation interview she acknowledges, "I wish I'd stood up for Brianna." An exhibit called "Power of Words" shows how public leaders ranging from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Rev. Mar- Museum on page 19A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. !   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards HE ITAGE HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin " Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Richard Ries Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Teri Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope HERITAGE Gabriel, what I have come to understand after having gone through this twice before, is that time does fly, andyouwill grow up quickly from here, but you'll never really leave us, nor will we ever leave you, because our lives are wound together in the most wondrous ways possible. Everything important, everything meaningful, everything significant will be shared by us as our lives progress. And you, my amazing youngest child, will not just be pulling up the rear. You'll be anchoring it. It was said by more than one person when you were born, and it continues to be said today, that you have an old soul. What is meant by that, I think, is that there are some people whose depth belies their age, and you are one of those, a child with adult understanding, and so, in away, you've been ready for this moment from the first day of your life. I could take this opportunity to send you a message, to try to convey something deep and profound and heartfelt, but this being the Letter from Israel By Ira Sharkansky In all the blather from politicians and media personalities following Israel's indecisive elec- tion, it is possible to see two ideas that might provide a map to the country's future. One is the equalizing of the burdens between the haredim and the rest of us. Prominent in the explanation ofYair Lapid's 19 Knesset seat victory are the mass demonstrations that oc- curred during the summer of 2011. That was hardly a united movement. Chants and signs demanded too great a variety of injustices to be corrected. Whatwas clear, however, was that there were few if any haredim among the marchers. Lapid's campaign, especially since the election, has emphasized the injustice of the haredi freedom from military or national service, as well as the substantial sums going to a population that is not working and paying taxes. The haredim are not living high on the hog. The payments made to families via several sources, not all of them transparent, provide a bare minimum, in crowded, unaesthetic neighborhoods, small fiats, and lots of chil- dren. In total, however, a lot of money goes to a growing population that is arrogant in claiming to preserve the society through prayer and the study of archaic texts that do not hold the keys to current problems. The other idea has been given a boost by two individuals of high prestige, well placed in the military and Likud establishments. One is General Yaakov Amidror, currently serving as National Security Adviser, who went public with the warning that construction in West Bank settlements is losing Israel the support of its most important friends. "It's impossible toexplain the issue of settle- ment construction anyplace in the world .... It's impossible to explain this matter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel or even to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Construction in the settlements has become a diplomatic problem and is causing Israel to lose support even among its friends in the West." Such comments have not ended Amidror's career. Currently he is engaged, along with Americans, in arranging the upcoming visit of President Obama. Prime Minister Netan- yahu has chosen to confirm that Amidror said something like the media is reporting, without extensive comment. On the same wave is Dan Meridor, a second generation member of the Likud elite, at various times Knesset Member and holder of ministerial portfolios. He is widely respected for his thoughtful opinions despite having lost a seat in the Knesset due to the right wing onslaught in the primaries that also unseated other Likud moderates. Meridor has come out against further construction in the West Bank, outside of the major settlement blocs. He would continue building in neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and in settlements that Israel is bound to maintain, but cease further construc- tion in the scattered settlements that are least defensible politically, and provide no tangible benefits to Israel. Meridor is far from certain that his idea will produce any response from the Palestinians. He is doubtful that a Netanyahu government will offer Abbas anything more--or even as much--as Abbas rejected in 2009. He also suggests that the Palestinians may not be willing to accept anything an Israeli govern- FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 15, 2013 last time, and you being the last of the litter, I choose a different tact. I choose to let you be you. No, I expect that of you, and I so look forward to watching you become. For your life from this point forward is yours, and while we may always be here to help guide you, the direc- tion you take will be all your own. So breathe, and live, and love being Jewish and being you. There is nothing more anyone can do. Y'va-reh'ha Adonai v'yish-m-reha. May the Lord bless you and protect you. Ya-eyr Adonai panav eyle-ha vi-huneka. May the Lord show you kindness and be gracious to you. Yisa Adonai panav ehle-ha v'ya-seym l'ha shalom. May the Lord bestow favor upon you and grant you peace. Amen. And that's the good word until next time. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's, and not those of the Heritage or any other Jewish organization. Write the Heritage, or email your comments, critiques and concerns to Possibilities ment can offer. His eyes are on international politics beyond the Palestinians, and what Israel should do in order to support a reason- able and defensible strategy in the presence of Arab hostility. Neither the Lapid nor the Amidror-Meridor ideas may survive the current maneuvering toward an Israeli government. If Netanyahu chooses the easy road of coalescing with the haredim and enough hangers-on to give him a bare majority, the secular middle of Israel can forget about equalizing the burdens between the haredim and themselves. And ifNetanyahu includes Jewish Home in his coalition, Israelis concerned about an international initiative can forget about a moderate settlement policy. On the other hand, Netanyahu is a four-star politician, skilled in finding the wind and sail- ing accordingly. Among the reasonable guesses is a large governnent with Lapid, Jewish Home and the haredim, but with commitments to reducing the benefits of the haredim and making an effort at talking with the Palestin- ians. It is possible to see an implementation of something that Amidror and Meridor could sell to Europeans and Americans. And if not, ()ne can imagine pressure build- ing, Lapid on the outside making an issue of the haredim, alongwith international pressure against settlements that combine to increase the tension on Netanyahu and shorten the life of his government. Lapid has threatened that he will be the next prime minister if he must serve as leader of the opposition. Likudniks have ridiculed him as a fresh- man politician who has jumped higher than his pupik. So far Lapid appears to be holding firm to his demands that the price of joining the government is serious action to reduce the benefits of the haredim. He would be a for- midable annoyance if not in the government. Netanyahu wants him on the inside. Perhaps Bibi is thinking of LBJ's comment about a problematic antagonist (J. Edgar Hoover), "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." Netanyahu also wants the haredim inside his tent, for pretty much the same reason. There is no simple solution either for the haredim or the Palestinians. Even an aggres- sive effort could not bring.the haredim into the economic mainstream in less than a genera- tion. Most of the men have no education that would help them find productive employment. Most of those over the age of 30 already have lots of kids and may be too set in their routines to expect serious training for secular employ- ment. Too great and too quick a reduction in their benefits could cost more in the budget supplements necessary for welfare and the police than is saved from direct payments to the haredim and their academies. Also a possibility, and consistent with Ne- tanyahu's skills and previous practice, is to include all of the above in his tent, on the basis of promises that he keeps in small part, if at all. If that happens, and Lapid quits in frustration part way through the government's tenure, he will have tarnished his reputation and join the substantial club of promising Israeli centrists who tried, failed, and retired early from any aspiration to leadership. There are lots of possibilities.Awise observer should avoid predictions. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.