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March 1, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH_l, 2013 Altamonte Mall Barnes andNoble hosts book fair featuring Passover Haggadot Passover is coming and we are always looking for new Haggadot, recipes and books. Altamonte Mail Barnes and Noble is hosting a book fair Sunday, March 10 duringstore hours from 10 George Via, public in- formation director of the Baha'i Faith in Central Florid a , will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday March 12 at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland. His appearance is part of the series on religions being presented by the Holocaust Center in partnership with the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. a.m.-7 p.m. to benefit Con- gregation Ohev Shalom's youth, education and family programs. Barnes and Noble will donate a percentage of every sale made with a special book fair voucher. You can also shop online from March 10-15 fair and include the book fair voucher ID: 11053519 on the payment page dur- ing checkout and COS will receive a percentage of all sales. Barnes and Noble is get- ting extra Haggadot, cook- books, children's books for Passover. Any purchases are eli- gible from electronics and music to the caf, not just the Passover books. Ohev Shalom is offering several programs in the store during the day that are free and open to the community including: 1 p.m. Passover Sing- Along with Rabbi David Kay; 2 p.m. Different and Baha'i Faith is focus of Holocaust Center's 'Religion 101' series The Baha'i Faith Origi- nated with the writings of mystic Baha'u'llah in May 1844, in Iran (then known as Persia). His handwritten tenets are still considered to be the Sacred Texts of the Baha'i Faith. The cen- tral teaching of the Faith is the unity of humanity, also called the oneness of humanity: no prejudicial distinctions between peoples because of origin, gender, color or class. The writings in,North America, South advocate the unity of diver- America, Africa, India and sity, and celeb,ate the variety in other countries. Itiswel- in the human race, where all comed by Native Americans are valued equally, as well as natives on other The Baha'i Faith came continents. According to to America in 1893 when Via, theBaha'isdonotpros: representatives attended elytize, and they do not at- the Parliament of World tempt to discredit or change Religions. An American the cultural practices ofany attendee named Thornton of the world's peoples. Chase was convinced, and This is the seventh pre= the movement here began, sentatin in the Religion The Faith is still growing 101 Series. These monthly presentations have been well received by the com- munity, drawing in large, enthusiastic audiences at each event. The April 8 presentation will be by the Rev. Kathy Schmitz, speaking about Unitarian Universalism. The final event, scheduled for May 7, will be a panel discus- sion with representatives of all eight faith groups that have been part of the series. PAG E 3A healthful Passover recipes with Joy Bochner; 4:30 p.m. Passover Jeop- ardy with Amy Geboff. For more information call the synagogue at 407-298- 4650 or go to its website: www.ohevshalom.0rg. George Via Orlando's Davalos featured in homeless documentary By Pamela Ruben Special to the Heritage 10,000 homeless children in the Seminole County area. Davalos plays a key role in "Take Me Home," guiding Morales to the transient hotel communities where the homeless take shelter and accompanying him on interviews with local fami- lies. Davalos said that her role in the Seminole County School System ensures that children without a stable home address receive the same education and rights accorded to their classmates. Davalos notes that despite their efforts, homelessness takes a toll on the educa- tional and emotional devel- opment of students. She states, "The average home- less student is 1.6 grades behind their classmates... It is difficult to think about multiplication when you are worried about your parents, or where you may be sleeping that night." Alden Courtney, a play- Beth Davalos, Families In Transition coordinator for Seminole County, with director and producer Fabian Morales and Ai4en Courtney, a homeless youth. ful, and seemingly "typical" 6-year-old student high- lighted in the film (and in attendance at the premiere), is typical of what Davalos calls "the changing face of homelessness." "Our families defy ste- reotyping," Davalos said. "They are families that love their children, and are the unemployed and the under- employed. They could be any one of us, and their children could be. any of our kids." Davalos, a clinical social worker has been employed by FIT since 2003. Her work vith the homeless came to national attention when she was featured on the CBS Nightly News in 2009 and two awarcl-winning segments of "60 Minutes" in 2011. Davalos, herself, has won many awards and was a final- ist for the Central Floridian of the Year 2012 sponsored by the Orlando Sentinel. I)avalos credited her work in social services with her Jewish upbringing and fam- ily life. She modeled herself after her parents, who gave through their professions, as well asin their daily life. She was taught as a child to do her part in healing the world (tikun olam), Her mother was a thera- pist, who encouraged Beth to help others. Beth took the advice to heart, and with the rapidly increasing number of homeless children, she passionately works to cre- ate community that wraps around homeless school-age children so that all of their basic needs can be addressed. She is currently anember of Congregation Ohev Shalom and is an alumna of the Born- stein Leadership Program. The-viewing of "Take Me Home" ended with a stand- ing ovation for filmmaker, Fabiin Morales, as he was awarded "Best Humanitar- ian Film" of the Ola Film Festival. During the follow- up question-and-answer ses- sion, Morales invited Davalos to join him at the micro- phone, where she received her own round of applause. Davalos stated, "Fabian Morales did an amazing job bringing awareness to Cen- tral Florida homelessness. All of us can make a differ- ence in our own way. It takes a village and a community to help almost 2,000 homeless families get back on their feet (in Seminole County alone). The best way to help is to "Google" organizations in your area. Visit our website at Seminolehomelesskids. org. These families could_be any one of us." Humanistic rabbi to speak in Winter Park Rabbi Miriam Jerris Jewish people's relationship with God. That is, except for Hu: manistic Judaism rabbis. The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, located in Chicago (with some classes offered in Detroit as well) is the Humanistic Judaism move- ment's own seminary. It trains Humanist rabbis to lead Jewish communities whose focus is on the Jewish people--not God. "Humanism" as a term came into parlance primar- ily with Erasmus, the Dutch theologian of the Renais- sance. Jewish humanists trace seeds of their movement to different sources: the book of Job; the rationalism of Spi- noza; 19th century political Zionism and general trends toward skepticism and scien- tific reason throughout much of Jewish history. The modern coinage of Humanistic Judaism as a movement can be traced to Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, who died in 2007. Wine, originally ordained as a Reform rabbi, eventually could not in good conscience lead his Michigan congregation in traditional prayer services. His personal reflections eventually led him to write "Celebration: A Ceremonial and Philosophi- cal Guide for Humanists and Humanistic Jews." That text in essence reinterprets and repackages Jewish history, civilization, ethics, culture, texts, liturgy and values. It is the seminal text of the Hu- manistic Judaism movement, akin to the role Mordechai Kaplan's"Judaism as Civiliza- tion" plays in the Reconstruc- tionist movement. Though Humanistic Juda- ism is sometimes perceived as entirely atheistic, it shouldn't be. "It is true that many Jew- ish huinanists are atheists," said Miriam Jerris, the Hu- manistic rabbi who will speak to Orlando area residents. "But not all." Jerris maintains that Humanistic Judaism is not "anti-God" as much as it is "pro the Jewish people," and attracts a smorgasbord of atheists, agnostics and philosophically speculative individuals. Rabbi Sholom Dubov of Chabad of Orlando does not denounce Humanistic Juda- ism, but says that "attempts like this in otir history never succeed in lasting for a gen- eration or two." He believes that problems with being a Jew in modern times are valid problems, but that the solu- tion is to "find our comfort zone within Judaism." He would rather see Jews unify than divi[ and stop trying to be "for" or "against" complex topics. "Labels are for cloth- ing--not people" Dubov de- clared. "A mitzvah is neither Orthodox nor Humanist. It's simply a mitzvah." What is the difference between a "secular Jew" and a "humanist Jeer?" Perhaps there are only nuances of variance, but in all likeli- hood the Jew who has spent enough time thinking about defining himself or herself as "Humanistic" probably has a stronger Jewish identity than the secular Jew. "Humanism is not identi- cal to Secularism" said Dr. Moshe Pelli, director and Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Professor of Judaic Studies at UCF. Humanist Jews want to get together and affiliate as Jews; secular Jews may not necessarily. Richard Weiner, a Winter Park resident who self-identifies as humanist (and is hosting the speaking event), strongly believes that Humanistic Judaism offers a valid approach to preserving Jewish culture and could counter trends in young peo- ple toward total assimilation. The Documentary Film, "Take Me Home," premiered at the Ola Film Festival at Premiere Cinema 14 at Fash- ion Square Mall in Orlando on Feb. 16, with a follow-up question-and-answer ses- sion from producer, direc- tor and Full Sail University student Fabiin Morales. Mo- rales spent two years with the Orlando's homeless community, aiming to bring awareness to the "new face" of this growing population. Throughout the film Morales relied on the expertise of the Orlando Jewish community's Beth Davalos, MSW LCSW, who serves as coordinator for the Seminole County School System's Families in Transition Program (FIT). Morales refers to Davalos as "Central Florida's own Mother Theresa," as she has assisted more than By Riehd Ries Are the Jewish people distinct and separate from Judaism itself? The answer might be found 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Winter Park, when the Society for Humanistic Judaism holds its first organizational meet- ing in Orlando and holds a reception for Rabbi Miriam Jerris, one of the movement's leaders. For thousands of years, being Jewish has been, well, about having a relationship with God. The Torah is about God; only one book in the Bible does not mention God (the Book of Esther); and most of the Talmud is about living ethically in accordance with God's will. The Siddur is a collection of prayers--to God. Rabbis train at theologi- cal seminaries like Yeshiva University, Hebrew Union College and the JewishTheo- logical Seminary because they study (in addition to history, ethics, languages and other salient topics) God's role in the universe--and the Sowhat, exactly, do Jewish humanists do? According to Weiner, humanists would not discard important rituals such as the brit milah or the bar or bat mitzvah. A wed- ding would still be under a huppah. Shabbat might still feature wine and challah, and holidays would still be observed to some degree. A Jewish Humanist synagogue would still teach Hebrew, eth- ics, and history, and instill senses of Israel in young people. It might emphasize aspects of Jewish culture such as cooking, Jewish film, poetry or dance. "Humanistic Judaism has very strong similarities with the Reconstructionist Move- ment," Rabbi Jerris stressed. "Where we part is on liturgy. Our services might have meditations, reflections and statements about ethics, but theydo not mention God." Richard Ries is a graduate student at UCF and a staff writer at the Heritage. For information about the "March 7 event contact Rich- ard Weiner at 407- 975-1244.