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March 10, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 10, 2017

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 10, 2017 PAGE 11A Hillel Kuttler Alejandro Eskenazi demonstrates to an Israeli youngster the proper grip to throw a change-up. By Hillel Kuttler friends: Arizona Diamond- backs outfielder Yasmany Tomas, his teammate on a Havana youth club, and a Toronto Blue Jays' prospect, infielder-outfielder Lourdes Gurriel. Eskenazi hopes to interest them and other Cu- ban baseball-playing friends in the United States, none of them Jewish, in coaching in Israel, too. Eskenazi wants to spread the baseball gospel by visiting schools across the country and interesting administra- tors in the sport. He'd like to create a program to train Israelis as coaches and build- ing a baseball infrastructure in a country with only a hand- ful of baseball fields. "I'm just a simple coach. It's not about me. It's about collaborating as a group," Eskenazi said as he bit into a hamburger two hours before leading a biweekly practice session with Israeli young- sters. "There is not baseball [in Israel] like in America, but it has the support [of people] in America." As for Cuba, he added: "I love my country. If I could have gotten hired with a good salary, I would stay. The environment is good. The government respects us, the Jewish community." After graduating with a degree in physical educa- real-estate developer who with four friends contributed TEL AVIV (JTA)--Unlike $10,000 toward Eskenazi's the dangerous maritime flights and living expenses, tion from Havana's Manuel escapes attempted by some Kahan said he met Eskenazi Fajardo University of Physi- of his fellow Cuban baseball at the Maccabiah Games in cal CUlture and Sports Sci- players, the worst Alejandro 2013 and during a visit to ences, Eskenazi worked as a E zienduredtoleavethe C a and -ame away im 'personal trainer. Following islandnationwasamountain pressed, major league games was of paperwork. "He's a hard-working, difficult because of poor documents he gath- honest, good kid. My parents internet access, so Eskenazi er d and the forms he com- worked to get refuseniks and his friends downloaded pleted took eight months to out of Russia. This was my video clips when possible and process, delaying the Havana refusenik moment--help- passed them around on flash native's arrival in Israel until ing someone get to Israel," drives. His favorite players, last August. But coaching he said. both now retired, were Greg Israeli youngsters in baseball Eskenazi had visited Israel Maddux, then of the Atlanta and playing in a league here on a Birthright trip in 2009, Braves, for his ability to mix madethewaitworthitforEs- as a Birthright leader in 2011 pitches, and Yankees short- kenazi, who is participating andasaplayeronCuba'ssoft- stop Derek Jeter. in a professional internship ball team at the Maccabiah As a pitcher, Eskenazi is "a organized by the Masa Israel Games four years ago. The huge addition" to the Israeli Journey program lasttripcementedinhismind national team, said Ophir Eskenazi, 27, came here the plan to move to Israel. Katz, directorofdevelopment on a one-year student visa "I'd finished my degree, for the Israel Association of and is now a citizen. In so Iwas prepared. I realized Baseball. The squad will play flawless English, Eskenazi I wanted to make aliyah," in a European tournament explained that he did not he said. next summer. flee Cuba and can return for Eskenazi lived in an apart- "He's a few levels above the visits or to live. He also said ment in this city's hip Flo- others in the [Israeli] league. his parents--father Jaime is rentine neighborhood with He is a dominant starting a mechanical engineer and sevenotheryoungmendoing pitcher, so for short tourna- mother Juanna teaches in Masainternships, andisnow ments, that's huge," said a boarding school--face no saying with friends nearby Katz, who called the slider repercussions from their He acknowledges missing Eskenazi's best pitch. son's departure, his mother and father, whom As to coaching, Katz said Jewish Cubans, Eskenazi hecallsweekly.ViaFacebook, Eskenazi "teaches baseball said, can travel abroad fairly Eskenazi stays in touchwith well and knows the funda- freely, baseball-playing friends who mentals of the game. The "I didn't want to risk my escaped to the United States kids really like him and bond life. I know how many people andthe Dominican Republic. with him, and that's half the died at sea," he said. "Being "One day, I'd like to see work." in Israel is a connection with them or play with themOn a warm January eve- myroots.IwanttohelpIsrael again," he said. "I miss my ning in this city's Yarkon in baseball." family, friends, neighbors Park, Eskenazi led a group Eskenazi is the first Cuban and the Jewish community, of 25 youngsters in runs and athletetoparticipateinMasa, But I'm living a new life. It's throwing drilts. They trained and teamwork involving fine. Even here, struggling, on the blacktop of two il- American donors andCanadi- life is better." luminated basketball courts an and Israeli diplomats was Baseball officials here said because the vast park's sole needed for Eskenazi to reach that they became enamored baseball field lacks lighting. Israelthistime--hehadbeen with Eskenazi's personality Later, he taught play- there three times. With Israel and love of coaching. Envi- ers the grip for throwing a and Cubalacking diplomatic sioning him pitching for the " change-up. relations, Canada's embassy Israeli national team didn't "He's more ofaprofessional in Havana and Israel's em- hurt, either, baseball coach and player. bassy in Ottawa served as Eskenazi played and He's a great pitcher and gives intermediaries, coached in a Havana base- us great tips," said Uri Shani, "We thought, what a won- ball academy, and wants to 13, of Tel Aviv, a beneficiary derful way to give him op- continue on those paths in of the change-up tutorial. portunities outside Cuba," Israel. He turned his phone "His level is much better than said Tony Kahan, a Chicago to display photographs of two other coaches in Israel." Orlando Weekday Morning Minyan (Conservative/Egalitarian), services Monday- Friday 7:45 a.m. (9 a.m.--national holidays); 2nd floor Chapel--Jewish Academy of Orlando; 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland. For information call 407-298-4650. Celebration Jewish Congregation (R), services and holiday schedules shown at www.; 407-566-9792. Chabad Lubavitch of North Orlando (O), 1701 Markham Woods Road, Longwood, 407-636-5994,; services: Friday 7:00 p.m.; Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Chabad of South Orlando (O), 7347 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, 407-354-3660; www.; Shabbat services: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. and 10 minutes before sunset; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, 8:15 a.m. Chabad of the Space & Treasure Coasts (O), 1190 Highway A1A, Satellite Beach, 321-777-2770. Congregation Ahavas Yisrael/Chabad (O), 708 Lake Howell Rd., Maitland, 407-644- 2500;; services: Sunday, 9 a.m.; Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.; Shabbat services: Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Family service, 4th Friday of the month. Congregation Bet Chaim (R), 301 West State Road 434, Unit 319, Winter Springs, 407-830-7211;; Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Am (C), 3899 Sand Lake Road, Longwood, 407-862-3505; www.; Shabbat services: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Congregation Beth El (C), 2185 Meadowlane Ave., West Melbourne, 321-779-0740; Shabbat services, 1st & 3rd Friday, 8 p.m.; 2nd & 4th Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. Congregation Beth Emeth (R), 2205 Blue Sapphire Circle, Orlando, 407-855-0772; Shabbat service: monthly, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Israel (Rec), Collins Resource Center, Suite 303, 9401 S.R. 200, Ocala, 352-237-8277;; Shabbatservice, second Friday of the month, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Sholom (R-C), 315 North 13th St., Leesburg, 352-326-3692; www.; schedule of services on website. Congregation Beth Shalom (Progressive Conservative), Orange City congregation holds services at 1308 E. Normandy Blvd., Deltona; 386-804-8283; www.mybethshalom. corn; Shabbat services: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Congregation B'nai Torah (C), 403 N. Nova Rd., Ormond Beach, 32174, 386-672-1174;; Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 Congregation Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Daytona (O), 1079 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach, 386-672-9300; Shabbat services Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Congregation of Reform Judaism (R), 928 Malone Dr., Orlando, 407-645-0444; Shabbat services, 7 p.m. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Fridays; 6 p.m., 4th and 5th Fridays; Saturday: 10 a.m. Congregation Mateh Chaim (R), P.O. Box 060847, Palm Bay, 32906, 321-768-6722. Congregation Ohev Shalom (C), 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, 407-298- 4650;; Shabbat service, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 9:30 a.m. Congregation Or Chayim (Rec), Leesburg, 352-326-8745;; services 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month at Providence Independence of Wildwood. Congregation Shalom Aleichem (R), 3501 Oak Pointe Blvd., Kissimmee, 407-935- 0064;; Shabbat service, 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, 8 p.m. Congregation Shomer Ysrael (C), 5382 Hoffner Ave., Orlando, 407-227-1258, call for services and holiday schedules. Congregation Sinai (C/R), 303A N. S.R. 27, Minneola; 352-243-53i3; congregation-; services: every Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Shabbat Service evert Saturday, 10 a.m. Orlando Torah Center (O), 8591 Banyan Blvd., Orlando; 347-456-6485; Shacharis- Shabbos 9 a.m.; Mon.--Thurs. 6:45 a.m.; Sun. and Legal Holidays 8 a.m.; Mincha/Maariv Please call for times. Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation/Ohalei Rivka (C), 11200 S. Apopka- Vineland Rd., Orlando, 407-239-5444; Shabbat service, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Temple Beth E! (R), 579 N. Nova Rd., Ormond Beach, 386-677-2484. Temple Beth Shalom (R), P.O. Box 031233, Winter Haven, 813-324-2882. Temple Beth Shalom (C), 40 Wellington Drive, Palm Coast, 386-445-3006; Shabbat service, Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. Temple Beth Sholom (C), 5995 N. Wickham Rd. Melbourne, 321-254-6333; www.; Shabbat services: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday: 9:30 a.m. Minyan, 3uesday, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, 10:00 a.m. Temple Beth Shalom (R), 1109 N.E. 8th Ave., Ocala, 352-629-3587; Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m.; Torah study: Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Temple B'nai Darom (R), 49 Banyan Course, Ocala, 352-624-0380; Friday Services 8 p.m. Temple Israel (C), 50 S. Moss Rd., Winter Springs, 407-647-3055;; Shabbat services: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday 9:00 a.m. Temple Israel (R), 7350 Lake Andrew Drive, Melbourne, 321-631-9494. Temple Israel (C), 579 N. Nova Road, Ormond Beach, 386-252-3097; Shabbat service, Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday: 10:30 a.m. Temple Israel of DeLand (R), 1001 E. New York Ave., DeLand, 386-736-1646; www.; Friday Shabbat service, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. followed by Torah study. Temple L'Chayim (R/C), Clermont City Center, 620 W. Montrose S'., Clermont, 352- 988-6877; Shabbat services: 2nd and 4th Frdays, 7:30 p.m. Temple Shalom (formerly New Jewish Congregation) (R), 13 3 Country Road 101, Oxford, 352-748-1800;; Shabbat se ices: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; last Saturday of the month, 9:30 a.m. Temple Shalom of Deltona (R/C), 1785 Elkcam Blvd., Deltona, 381-789-2202; www.; Shabbat service; Saturday: 10 a.m. Temple Shir Shalom (R) Services held at Temple Israel, 50 S. Moss Re, Winter Springs, 407-366-3556,; Shabbat services: three Fricays each month, 7:30 p.m. Traditional Congregation of Mount Dora (T) Mount Dora, 352-735-4774; www.; Shabbat services: Saturday, 9:30 a.m. sharp. (R) Reform (C) Conservative (O) Orthodox (Rec) Reconstructionist (T) Mehitsa