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March 28, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 28, 2003
 

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HE RITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 28, 2003 PAGE 17 New plants 'seed of hope' for Argentina's strapped community By Florencia Arbiser BUENOS AIRES (JTA)--A "seed of hope" for a Jewish COmmunity in crisis. That's how the executive director of Argentina's first Hillel characterized the center's opening this week. Indeed, Tuesday's festive opening was one big Jewish mega-philanthropists Edgar Bronfman, Lynn Schusterman and Michael Steinhardt, all of whom serve on the Interna- tional Board of Governors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jew- ish Campus Life. With the economic crisis having pushed nearly one- third of Argentina's Jewish community below the pov- Party, replete with music, erty level, the new Hillel of- laughter, circle dances, hugs fered a glimmer of a better ~nd cries of"mazel tov." Hun- future. reds of Jews from the United While most Argentine Jew- States, Israel, Argentina and ish institutions are shrinking Other Latin American coun- or merging - or focusing on tries gathered for the celebra- humanitarian relief- the tion. opening of the Hillei repre- Showing their support for sents a"hinge" for the Jewish the financially beleaguered community, said Gabriel Jewish community with their Trajtenberg, the center's 37- attendanceweremanypromi- year-old executive director. nentJewishphilanthropicand The sentiment was echoed COmmunal leaders, including by many of the invited guests. "People who know me gen- erally accuse me of being pes- simistic. And more often than not, they are right," Steinhardt told JTA, seated at the edge of the stage used for the ceremony. "But l:hen, sometimes, there is a magical experience, a moment that allows one to dream about a stronger and brighter Jewish future. This night was one of those mo- ments." For her part, Schusterman described the event as "uplifting for the whole community." She said it was particularly "emotional and special to see these young people and feel the impact they are going to have in the community." Others attend- ing the event included Stephen Hoffman, president of the United Jewish Commu- nities, the umbrella organi- zation of the North American federation system; Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress and presi- dent of the Claims Confer- ence; Israel's ambassador to Argentina, Benjamin Oron; and Michael Schneider, former president of the American Jewish Joint Dis- tribution Committee. Local Jewish leaders were also very much in evidence, including the president of the AMIA Jewish community cen- ter, Abraham Kaul; the presi- dent of DAIA, the political umbrella organization for Argentina's Jewish commu- nity, Jose Hercman; and the Jewish Agency for Israel's top local official, Arieh Avir. There were also hundreds of students who had already joined Hillel Argentina, whose target audience is some 9,000 Jewish students enrolled in the two public and 15 private universities in Buenos Aires. Last August, Hillel opened temporary quarters in Argen- tina. According to Trajtenberg, 1,600 young Jews have already enrolled ~ Hillel activities, and 1,000 are participating in a weekly regular activity. Bronfman alluded to the first Hillel to open in Latin America- in Montevideo, Uru- guay - and said that the new Hillel in Buenos Aires proves that the organization "will continue growing" through- out the region. Indeed, Hillel centers are expected to open in Rio de Janeiro, San Paulo and Santiago de Chile. Along with providing classes in a variety of subjects ranging from languages to art, Hillel also offers a center - Tzedek Hillel, with more than 300 volunteers - that reaches out to help the financially strapped community - both Jews and non-Jews. For Nancy Rovner, 24, a physiotherapy student from the northern Argentine city of Tucuman, the new Hiilel was just what she needed. "I am alone here. I need the Jewish connection," she told JTA. "To be honest, I like the sports activities offered by Hillel," said Guido Feldman, an industrial engineering stu- dent who is also 24. But he had another reason for joining Hillel. "I also want to find a Jewish girlfriend." At institute, Holocaust's lessons to be studied to understand future By Tom Tugend LOS ANGELES (JTA)--The mission ofa new institute at the University of Judaism is Clear: ' Ve will study death, but in the service of the Jewisla ture," says Michael erenbaum in explaining the nlission of a newly created in- stitute at the University of Ju- daism. The mission is also implicit n the name of the Sigi Ziering nstitute for the Study of Eth- Os and the Holocaust, for it is erenbaum's belief that many of the cutting-edge ethical is- stues facing Jewry and society Uaay grow out of the Holo- ttst. Berenbaum, one of the swe rld's leading Holocaust ,Olars, has been named di- rector of the Ziering Institute. He says that by placing it thin a university focused on e Jewish future and outreach l t ther disciplines, the insti- sg n Can transmute the les- of the bitter past into t" lueposts for present and fu- ure generations. ASone example, Berenbaum ztes the field of medical eth- "The notion of informed l ent by a patient, and his t to stop treatment at any tt e,was derived directly from POstwar trials of Nazi doc- ~tS," he says. Albertson enHnued from page 1 Healthcare System Orlando Magic Youth , to cite only a few. vision of commu- at the core of Center's mis- , " Judy's de- work of the Ho- that one woman does a difference if she has to care." among the very b Perceive that one must the past (and) learn order to protect the re. modesty and this recogni- n~ay not be her favorite but, knowing her to Our mission, she quipped. of her ser- devotion to the Holo- Albertson was paint- ly Colton. )tance remarks, Turning to business ethics, Berenbaum recalls the sub- stantial financial investments by Germany's I.G. Farben to assure it a steady supply of slave laborers. "The Nazis perfected the use of humans as consum- able raw material," says Berenbaum, and applies the observation to such contem- porary issues as child labor and sweatshops. "We must ask ourselves, what is the borderline between an appropriate investment, and a morally compromised one," he says. Another frontier issue is rooted in Nazi experiments in eugenics. "Now that we are nearing the capacity to 'per- fect' human beings by genetic manipulation, we must ask whether something should be done, just because we know how to do it," he says. Questions arising from the role of laws and the judiciary during the Holocaust are now being studied at dozens of American universities and in military academies, Berenbaum says. One can argue that the Na- zis committed no crimes, be- cause their actions were legal under their own laws, he ob- serves. However, the Nuremberg war crime trials found that blind obedience to immoral MICHAEL BERENBAUM, first director of the Univer- sity of Judaism's new Sigi Ziering Institute for the Study of Ethics and the Ho- locaust. laws, or the rationalization of just following orders, is no longer a valid defense in them- selves. "Without Nuremberg as a precedent," former Yugoslav president"Slobodan Milosevic would never have been put on trial by the U.N. Tribunal in The Hague," argues Berenbaum. At 57, Berenbaum has been studying and analyzing the Holocaust since his graduate student days and he is the au- thor of 14 books on the tragic era. Berenbaum, who was one Albertson spoke of the emo- tions running through her. "The first one is pride," she said, "I'm extremely proud of my association with the Holo- caust Center as I believe it to be a most important organiza- tion. It serves as a timeless reminder of the indifference to injustice. "My second emotion is hu- mility I feel very humble, as I know there are many of you here tonight who have, as I have, committed much time and resources to organiza- tions having similar impor- tance. So part of me feels that I'm here as the spokesperson for all the volunteers who enrich our community in so many ways. I have been truly inspired by the people who work with us- Holocaust survivors, chil- dren of survivors and our di- verse interfaith board, made up of educators, profession- als, clergy and caring citizens from all backgrounds, repre- senting the broad demograph- ics of our community. Still, it came as a surprise when Tess called me one evening some months ago and asked me to consider accepting the role of Dinner of Tribute honoree; if you know Tess, you know she doesn't take 'no' for an an- swer. So here I am and if my presence here results in any greater awareness of the good work of the Holocaust Center, that is sufficient reward for me. In closing, she paid tribute to her husband, David. "He's a great volunteer in his own right He'll do anything for anybody. He's worked in this community for a very long time but he's always been sup- portive and encouraging in everything I do. He's my part- ner in every way." The entertainment follow- ing dinner was provided by the comedy group "The Capi- tol Steps," former Congres- sional staffers who satirize ev- erything and everyone on the Washington scene. of the key figures in the cre- ation of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has served as president and CEO of Steven Spieiberg's Shoah Founda- tion, and held teaching posts at leading universities. He cur- rently is adjunct professor of theology at the University of Judaism. The institute that he now directs, funded through $3 million in donations, honors the life and memory of Sigi Ziering, a Holocaust survivor, successful American industri- alist and author of a searing play on the Holocaust, "The Judgment of Herbert Bierhoff." The institute, which is to become part of a planned University of Judaism's Cen- ter for Jewish Ethics, will spon- sor a range of scholarly and popular conferences, seminars and lectures. Its initial offering was a three-part roundtable discus- sion among Jewish and Chris- tian theologians, philosophers and historians on "The Vatican, the Pope and the Ho- locaust." issue Issues. It's Big It's It's The FLORIDA EWISH NEWS 11, Advertising Deadline: April 2, 2003 For Further Information Call 407-834-8787