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March 8, 2019     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 8, 2019

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 8, 2019 By Christine DeSouza Imagine Lawrence Dressler's surprise when fel- low inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, N.Y told him that he was mentioned on the Bill Maher show the night before. "At the time the show aired I was eating gefilte fish and lokshen kugel with fellow Sabbath observant felons," Dressier posted on his blog (, which is about the lives of wealthy, powerful men he lived in close quarters with at Otisville. "I was honored to be men- tioned on a show that is hosted by a fellow Jew." Maher was talking about one of America's "10 Cushiest Prisons" according to Forbes magazine. Also called a "castle b'ehind bars," the prison is a low- security campus connected to a 1,200 -inmate medium-security complex and houses only 125 inmates--two to a room. The Otisville prison caught the media's attention when Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer who was sentenced to three years in federal prison on fraud charges, requested to be placed at the resort-like facility. Inmates, often referred to as the "gold-chain gang," have access to free weights and machine weights, boccie courts, horseshoe pits and even soccer. They can watch HBO, Showtime and Cinemax as late as 2 a.m. Otisville boasts a full- time Chasidic chaplain, daily minyanim, weekly Shabbat services, and kosher kitchen and vending machines in the visiting room. The prison commissary sells yarmulkes for $6 and offers a kosher selection that includes matzo, gefilte fish, rugelach and seltzer. Otisville's campus has long been the lockup of choice among Jewish white-collar offenders, including Sheldon Silver, former lawyer and Democratic Party politician who was arrested on federal corruption charges. Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin--CEO of Agriprocessors, a now- bankrupt kosher slaughter- house and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa--was sen- tenced for bank fraud, and sent to Otisville but serves in the section relegated for people with longer sentences. Ber- nie Madoff, who received 150 years for his Ponzi scheme, had his request for Otisville denied. Otisville is known for its well-attended Passover sed- ers. On April 19, about 48 prisoners will observe a seder complete with a Haggadah, kosher-for-Passover chicken, potatoes, and the seder plate. According to Rabbi Men- achem Katz, director of prison programs for the Jewish- outreach Aleph Institute, Federal Correctional facility at Otisville, N.Y. the Bureau of Prisons "kind of unofficially" designated Otisville as a prison to meet the needs of Orthodox Jews. "Once you've been at a prison Seder, it'll never be the same on the outside," said Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International. "The Haggadah has a line that reads 'Tonight we are all free men,' and for the duration of the Seder, they are." "For a Jewish person, there is no place like Otisville," said Earl Seth David, 54, a former inmate who attended kosher meals, religious classes and weekly Shabbos services in the prison shul. "As a Jew, there's no other prison you can get services like that." By Lisa Levine " The Pearls of the Pavilion luncheon on Feb. 22 treated some of the Jewish Pavilion's most generous supporters to a gracious afternoon social affair. Attendees were cel- ebrated as "pearls" because of their yearly commitment of at least $500 to support the Pavilion's programs, which keep hundreds of Jew- ish seniors in Central Florida living facilities connected to their Jewish heritage and to the community. To symbolize their value to the organiza- tion, all attendees who were first-time annual donors of $500 or more received a beau- tiful strand of hand-knotted freshwater peacock pearls. Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by George's Gourmet Cookies and Cater- ing, featuring panko-encrust- ed salmon filet with bearnaise sauce and capers and basil cream penne Alfredo, and fol- lowed, of course, by George's mouth-watering cookies. The event was sponsored and co-chaired by Geanne Share and Eva Krzewski, who also created the beautiful table decor. As guests enjoyed their meals, Share thanked them for their support of the Pavilion, asking them to imagine a life in which a day's highlights might be dressing, eating, and playing Bingo. "Now, you can imagine what it means wh@a the: Jew- Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel Proucll9 .Serving Our Communit; Por Over Years i i ish Pavilion visits or hosts a program," she continued. "We give them a hug, a touch, which is so meaningful. We bring them a slice of challah, a little pudding, and we make a connection with the seniors we visit. Because of your gen- erous support, Jewish seniors have not been forgotten." The event's highlight was an intimate private perfor- mance by Orlando Ballet II dancers, made possible by the generous donation of the Orlando Ballet. Orlando Ballet School director Phil- lip Broomhead introduced the sneak preview of two new works, "Arrival" and "In Concerti," which are in final stages of rehearsal before an upcoming performance. The Jewish Pavilion hosts a number of entertaining and meaningful events through- out the year and warmly welcomes members of the community to get involved. To learn more about the Jewish Pavilion, visit JewishPavilion. org or call 407-658-9363. Jewish Pavilion CF, O Nancy Ludin shows appreciation for Pearls of the Pavilion co-chair Geanne Share with a gift of framed art with the Hebrew word "ahava," meaning love. The Congregation Sinai Sisterhood will host their annual multi-denominational Outreach Program on Thurs- day, March 21, starting at noon at 1200 West Broad Street, Groveland, Fla. Wom- en from six local churches along with Congregation Si- nai Sisterhood members will celebrate "The Wonderful and Willful Women Of The Bible." This special event will feature influences from Miriam, Es- ther, Naomi and Ruth as one, with Hannah, Sarah and the Daughters of Tzlofhad. Participants from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church of Clermont, First United Methodist Church of Cler- mont, Oakland Presbyterian Church of Oakland, Zion Lu- theran Church of Groveland, Iglesia Tercer Cielo of Grove- land and the Bible Study Group of Summit Greens will enjoy this open invitational opportunity to share faith- based empowerment through a diverse education, social networking, community sup- port and personal develop- ment program. Joe and Lynn Goldovitz, spiritual leaders of Congregation Sinai, will be sharing songs and partici- pating in a presentation for this program. Following the Outreach Program everyone will socialize with a lunch featuring souvlaki and an ar- ray of middle-eastern foods. For more information about this multi-denominational Outreach Program, contact Sinai Sisterhood President Michele Sobel at GramMi- For in- formation about Friday night and holiday services, member- ship and special events; call: 352-243-5353. Email info@ Visit www.Congregation-Sinai. org. Congregation Sinai is located at 1200 West Broad Street, Groveland, FL 34736. Affordable annual member- ships are available. Additional Jewish Pavilion Purim parties A few more parties were added to the party list. They include: Walter Goldstein/Lance Rhodes March 14, I p.m. at Sonata West March 17, I p.m. at Brook- dale Dr. Phillips March 18, 10:30 a.m West- minster Towers March 21, 2 p.m. at Kinnert Apartments Everyone is welcome to attend. Special thanks to Cornerstone Hospice for supplying the hamantashen pastries. For more information about the Purim parties, please call 407-678-9363.