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March 27, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 27, 2009
 

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,~t_ .li .~ui ~, .' ,. ], II~H Ii. , |~llil IL JllniJ.dl.dL:_.tl ~ii| IL~ i]iLii|J]JL ![ Ut ill. l ~.,~. i~L .lli~Lll] :ILiL ,,I'~LLI 11: : " " PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 27, 2009 By Adam Kredo articles before Shabbat." if this is something I'm do- Washingto, Jewish Week With the keyword "free" in ing for myself, others may be mind, the D.C. residentbegan interested, too," Keyak said. Newspaper publishers bringing home a stack of ar- On Jan. 30, Keyak wrote Cringe at the thought of ticles Friday afternoonswith hisfirstShabbatReadingblog someone like AaronKeyak. thethoughtof"makingonline posting, where he included Though the 24-year-old media available on Shabbat." several links to feature-length had long received The New The experiment, hesays,!ed articles published in a variety York Times on weekends, him to stretch the concept to of mainstream news organi- economicstraits forced himto his job at the National Jewish zations. make "the painfulto decision Democratic Council. As the His goal, Keyak said, was to to cancel" his subscription NJDC's press secretary, Keyak get people reading and think- earlier this year. isthegatekeeperofthegroup's ing during the Sabbath. "The only reason I contin- Web site and blog, whereeach "Toooftenwereadthesame ued my Times subscription week new and old media col- topics every single day, so I'm was because I read it on lideintothedefinitiveShabbat hoping to have some diver- Shabbat," said Keyak, who Reading list. wouldn't use a computer on "NJDC has been working the Sabbath. "Then I realized on expanding 6ur presence on that I could just print outthe the blogosphere so I decided I Community service Helen Caspin, a resident of Life Care Center Of Altamonte Springs, receives a Shabbat Shalom card from Evan Ludin and Joe Shader. The two friends visit Helen and nine other ~siden~ of the facility weekly- hand, and volunteering with the Jewish Pavilion is a great way to obtain community service hours for the Bright Futures Scholarship. | sity," he said. "I'm using Shab - bat as an organizing principle [and] since it's fundamentally Jewish, it's a unifying factor; this isfft Democratic reading, it's Shabbat reading." Since that initial post, and with the help of the nouveau networking Web site Twitter, Keyak said his concept "has really taken off. People really know what Shabbat Read- ing is!" Last Friday's postings--the fifth on the #shabbatreading Twitter site--drew more than two dozen participants. The key to its success, explained the press guru, is Twitter, an infantonline com- munications venture that has already gainedthe attention of a gaggle ofmedia-~avvy Wash- ingtonians, including NBC News anchor David Gregory~ Bush-era deputy chief of sl~aff Karl Rove and Sen. Claire McCaskili (D-Mo.), who is one of about 60 members of Congress using the site. The concept is simple:,In First person by Ron Be~nstein On Tuesday, March 10, my wife Gila and I had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony of the JNF sponsored Indoor Recreation Center in the city of Sderot, the largest of its kind in Is- rael. The center, opened on the festive Jewish holiday of Purim, is a gift to the brave and steadfast children and adults of gderot, from the Jewish National Fund. The festivities included the plac- ing of the mezuzah on the doorpost and presentations by the JNF leadership and mayor of Sderot. The following day, inside the facility and outside on the surrounding streets, Iorthe firsttime in eightyears, Sderot celebrated Purim with a huge, festive and colorful street carnival. Hundreds of children with their parents were greeted with carnival booths and activities, spon- sored and maintained by JNF and the leadership present. How did the idea of a center of this nature come about? Certainly this is not 140 characters or less, answer the question, "What are you doing?" Yet, the site's pithy nature and use of frequent shorthand symbols among users initially left Keyak a bit nonplused. Help came from Jaclyn Schiff, a staffer at the D.C.-based communications firm Rabi- nowitz/Dorf (Keyak's former employer); "l thought it was a cute concept and also had seen that Aaron has just started an NJDC Twitter account," Schiff recalled. "I was just thinking about the ways Jews are connecting and identify- ing themselves on Twitter and approached him about the idea of turning his blog post into an interactive Twitter discussion." The two media maestros teamed up in early February to turn the once-static Shabbat Reading blQg into a real-time conversation among like- minded Jews. "The goal is to have a con- versation on Friday morning on what should be in the Shabbat reading," he said, "We could.., hop in and out of Twitter and throw in the two-cents on any topic." Last Friday, the forum experienced its most robust discussion to date, with some two dozen Jewish "tweeters" from D.C. and elsewhere post- ing interesting articles and lyrical-sounding comments. "Young Venezuelan Jews mobilize, a bass .player talks leadership," wrote one par- ticipant, who calls herself EstherK. Others posted ar- ticles relating to California's Proposition 8, the corrupt financier Bernard Madoff and the Holocaust-denying Catholic Bishop Richard Wil- liamson. Schiff even posted an ar- ticle offering timely advice to nonprofit agencies: "For all the non-profits: Advice for Charities on Making the Most of Twitter," she wrote. A few novice Jewish tweet- ers also tuned in last week. "What's ShabbatReading? I am out of the loop!" wrote user PopJudaica, who never- theless posted a link later in tile discussion. "I think that seeing Shabbat on Twitter is the aspect that's most interesting," Schiff said in an interview. "When you see it, it's a term that Jews know and understand ahd while it might mean different things to different people, Shabbat is an identifiable thing that indicates you're communicat- ing amongst Jews in this very public place." Others also said they found the Jewish twist welcoming. "Having that little bit of Shabbat reaching into what I'm doing in my work life is a really nice thing," said Ar- lington's Arielle Holland, 23. The act of conversing with fellow Jews in anticipation of the Sabbath provides Holland with a subtle sense of com- munity in the midst of her hectic work week. "If you're not able to get to Shabbat service where after- wards you may have dinner and talk about things, this is a way for people to still be interacting in that same sort of mindset of dis~:ussion and collaborations, but to do that within this new medium," explained Holland, a senior as- sociate at the online commu- nications firm eCampaigns. Ethan Porter, 23, said Keyak's forum allows him to keep on top "of what's hap- pening and what people are talking about." As the associate editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, the District resident says he oftentimes misses the longer newsarticles published throughout the week. "The great service [Keyak] performs by collecting these articles is that he points people to those pieces that are too long and we don't have time to read during the work week." And: the Shabbat hook, Porter said, helps him keep to keep an age-old tradition. "The ideaofShabbat reading is perfect because it exemplifies how Shabbat is different,', he said. ',It allows you to read and think in a more contempla- tive way." The forum is also indica- tive of the tough times some Jewish organizations are hav- ing in communicating with the younger generation. For those who don't know Twitter, or don't want to, the online Tweeting on page 19A the traditional JNF project of This trees~ water, land, community born. developmen[ anJ fke env;r0n- ment. The motto of JNFis"For Israel, forever." Inthis casewe can say "For the children of Sderot, Israel, forever." Since 2001 the Israeli communities on the border with Gaza have endured continual and seemingly end- less Kassam rocket attacks. is when the idea was auiekl JNI , with the assistance of the Sderot municipality, located a 21,000 square foot abandoned textile warehouse in the industrial zone and converted it into a $5 million state-of-the-art indoor playground and recre- ation center. The facility con- tains the following features: was attended by the mayor of - gderot, members of the local team who designed and built the center, Chesley; Ronald Lauder, JNF chairman; Rus- sell Robinson, JNF CEO; JNF Makor members (special volunteer corps); Israel iMK's; IDF officers and lots of local children and their parents. A Sderot teenager of Ethiopian descent sang Israeli songs The city of Sderot, less than recreational and exercise andHatikvah, and not many five miles from the border, equipmentforchildren16and dry eyes could be found in has been hit hardest. Due to under.jungle ymequipment, the hall. Most noticeable was the bombardment, Sderot's soccer field, volleyball court, children have grown up in rock climbing wall, snack the shadow of violence, fear area, movie and television and uncertainty, area, disco and therapy rooms . In Aprll of 200 , tanley tohelpchildren ufferingfr0i Chesley, president of JNF- trauma. USA noted during a visit to The center was fortified Sderot that children were not under the supervision of the running about on bicycles, in Israeli Army Engineers for playgrounds or soccer fields. Security Clearances, and There was no sound of laugh- therefore protected against ter, cries or screeching, but rocket attacks. It has the ca- rather an eerie silence. The pacityforupto500peopleand children had no safe place to will serve the 5,000 children of play, parents had no safe place Sderot and surrounding kib- to allow their children to play butzim and moshavim.While and the children were grow- the children are in school, the ing up traumatized. Children center will be Open for senior could not be children as you citizens to meet. or I know it. The opening ceremony the noise and sounds missing from the streets for the past eight years, the laughter, screeching and shouts of happy children in every cor- ner of the building. The greatest expression of Sderot's gratitude to the JNF, its leadership and donors is not only the saying of thanks, but more so the recognizable sound of children, playing and laughing as children should and now will continue in Sderot, forever. Ron B ernstein is a resident of Kibb~ttz Yahel~ a few hours outside of Sderot, and a JNF supporter, who donated to build the center. JNF puts out the fire On Frlday, March 13, the building that houses the Nefesh B' Nefesh headquarters in Jerusalem caught fire, causing significant damage on floors I and2. After an hour, firemen stopped the blaze from crossing the hallway to the NBN office. The NBN staff noticed that the compact fire trucks on the scene bore the JNF logo and they sent a special thank you to JNF. "Everyone at NBN sends their deepest appreciation to JNF," said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, NBN executive direc- tor. "Your partnership with NBN knows no bounds." NBN staff reported that thanks to those trucks and the brave fire fighters that used them, the NBN offices were able to remain open and conduct business as usual, helping the next wave of people loola'ng ~o make aliyah. Carol Stein sings and plays piano volunteer. as a Jewish Pavilion Carol Stein, long-time member of Central Florida Jewish community and well-known musician, gives generously of her time to entertain long-term care residents in South Orlando facilities served by The Jew- ish Pavilion. Although She works full time at night, Carol will get up early in the morning to help celebrate a Jewish holiday program with the Jewish elderly living on the south side of town. She plays the piano and sings at as _many as four facilities in one day. The Pavilion would like to salute Carol for her commitment and big heart. The Jewish Pavilion is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. For more infor- mation, please call Nancy Ludin, executive director, at 407-678-9363.