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March 29, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 29, 2013
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 29, 2013 Passover festival at CRJ offers food, a rink and answers Children and adults flocked to the Congregation of Reform Judaism for a morning of Passover treats, music, wine and educational activities at the first A to Z Passover Festival on March 17 in the synagogue's social hall. Among the most popular features of the communi- tywide event was the Ask a Rabbi Q&A booth, which was manned by CRJ Rabbi Steven Engel. The booth--built by the rabbi--was fashioned after the psychiatrist booth used by Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip. But instead of costing five cents for amateur psychiatric services, this booth charged five shekels and was strictly limited to children's questions about the Passover holiday. The A to Z Passover Festi- Val, chaired by Norma Ball, was designed to answer a variety of questions about the holiday--from how to make your own Haggadah to how to set the table for a Passover seder--par ticularly for those who are new to Judaism or new to the community. The event also featured samples of homemade Passover desserts, Passover wines and catered Passover delicacies from Bagel King and Too Jays. There was also a horseradish eating "contest "for adults and sev- eral activities for children, including opportunities to make a "matzah house" (think gingerbread house made of matzah) and a seder plate. Kristin Abramson, left, and Caroline Bloom help keep the children entertained with storytelling and art projects at CRJ's A to Z Passover Festival. PAGE 3A Inspired by Peanuts, CRJ Rabbi Steven Engel hangs out his sign that the rabbl is in and will answer your questions for 5 shekels. Women's Multi-Faith Seder celebrates freedom Amy Schwartz/JCC . Event leadership: Front row, from left: Sheryl Sacharoff,, Shoshana Buchanan, Cantor Beth Schafer, the Rev. Dr. Vivio ana Collazo, Hajira Shvjaat, Aminah Hamidullah, Man]eh Sheik; back row, Alicia Buchanan, Candace Martin, Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer, Bonnie Rayman and HiUary Brook. By Annette Gluskin-Habin More than 100women and girls of different faith tradi- tions gathered at the JCC's Jack and Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando Campus on March 14 to share in a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. For the Muslim and Chris- tian women and girls in at- tendance, it was a chance to learn about the traditions of the Passover holiday and the symbolism of the Passover seder. For the Jewish women and girls, itwas a reminder of the story of their ancestors' exodus from Egypt to freedom and hope. The evening.pro- vided an opportunity for the women and girls to honor the idea of freedom, both histori- cal and personal, and to share their own journeys and heri- tage over the Passover meal. Event organizers said they hope it becomes an annual tradition. This seder was a chance to celebrate the guests' diversity, learn about each others' cultures and tradi- tions, and enjoy friendship, mutual understanding and social interaction. The evening opened with drama and music students from Windy Ridge elementary and middle schools perform- ing "Tradition" from "Fiddler on the Roof." The voices, costumes and dance moves provided entertainment and brought out emotion for the audience. A banner hung behind the podium that expressed the sentimentofthe eveningwith words meaning"pece" in dif- ferent languages--Shalom, Salam, Paz, Peace, Shanti and Paix. Cantor Beth Schafer of Temple Shir Shalom and Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer of Congregation of Reform Juda- ism provided beautiful music and song for the evening. First, they sang "Hineh Ma Tov," and a young girl stepped to the podium to explain its mearing in both Arabic and English. Throughout the evening women and girls Of many ages and varied faiths, including some families, took turns and stepped up to the microphone to read, sing and share. Some spoke in Arabic, Hebrew or Spanish as well as English, to read a portion of the seder service, a passage from the Quran, a story or poem, or to lead the group in a prayer. Each segment of the Pass- over seder and each element on the seder plate was ex- plained. The cups of grape juice were each drunk to honor inspirational women of the past and present and those to come. Young Samantha Cohen, on the podium with her moth- er, Caryn, sang the traditional "four questions" in Hebrew. Other young girls named the 10 plagues that befell the ancient Egyptians, as those in the audience symbolically dipped their pinkie fingers in the grape juice for each one. There were some additions to the ceremony as well as to the traditional seder table, to honor the evening's themes of celebrating Passover with a more multi-faith emphasis, as well as a female perspective. New items included Miri- am's Cup in addition to Elijah's cup, an orange to symbol- ize inclusiveness, renewal and marginalized people's increased participation in Jewish ceremonies, and a dish of olives symbolizing peace. Students from Theater South performed an excerpt from "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl." Following this, Candy Dawson, whose hus- band, Greg, wrote "Hiding in Amy Schwartz/JCC Hannah Martin and Samantha Cohen rehearse right be- fore the program for their TheatreSouth performance at the Women's Multi-Faith Seder. the Spotlight," a book about his mother's miraculous Holocaust survival, spoke about the need to stay hopeful about the future regardless of circumstances. As Anne Frank wrote so beautifully, it is important to still "believe that people are really good at heart." While honoring the women present and those in their communities, the event also mentioned women who could not be present or who were working for peace and change all around the world. There was much conversation, laughter and smiles at each table Shoshana Buchanan, co- chair of the event, said, "It's important to bring women together, to get to know the women behind the images-- the veils, the crosses or the Jewish stars. Events like this help to'break down barriers and assumptions, and help us to get to know each other as individuals." Candace Martin, co-chair of the event and adult pro- gram director of the JCC's Rosen Campus, added, "When women of different faiths come together, we're able to strip away pre-conceived ideas and judgments. We're able to break down barriers and build bridges of understanding and realize how much we have in common, despite our differ- ences." Kim Barnes; whose hus- band, Bill, is the lead pastor at St. Luke's United Methodist Church on Apopka-Vineland Road, said she enjoyed the experience of attending the women's multi-faith seder. "At St. Luke's we've always been very involved with the local community and those of other faith traditions since we started here over 20 years ago." She said that St. Luke's even provided space for the Hebrew school before the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation was built. "It's always been important for our church to do outreach,. and we will continue to work with those of other faiths to help make our community a better place." Hajira M. Shujaat is presi- dent of the Muslim Women's Organization, a local non-' profit. The MWO's goal is to Amy Schwartz/JCC Candace Martin, left, and Shoshana Buchanan were co- chairs for the Women's Multi-Faith Seder. provide the opportunity for Muslim women to reach out to those of many faiths with friendship and community service, dissolving barriers of misunderstanding. She said, "Itwas a humbling experience to attend my first Jewish seder. When tradi- tions are shared, our hearts are opened to embrace the differences of those within our community. When we can celebrate our differences and join in our similarities, the communities we live in will thrive." Annette Gluskin-Habin is a freelance writer living in Orlando Seder points out too many Americans still goinghungry Among those attending the Hunger Seder were, from left, Eric Geboff, Bill Sholk and Barbara Weinrich. Reagan Moskowitz is in front. Belt Hamidrash students, parents and community members gathered March 18 for a Hunger Seder led by Rabbi David Kay. Hunger Seder observed the ancient traditions of Pesach in the context of a stark reality: that too many of our fellow-Amer- icans are still going hungry. This seder's message pro- vided an important call to action for the Central Florida Jewish community to join in efforts to end hunger in America. The more than 50 partici- pants brought canned goods to be donated to the JFS food pantry. The Hunger Seder This program was sponsored and made possible by Mazon and JCPA through the Belt Hami- drash program Belt I;Iamidrash is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. Federation's mission is to care for people in'need here also featured the movie: "Food " at home, in Israel and around Stamped, Is it Possible to Eat the world and to nurture and Healthy on a Food-Stamp sustain Jewishlifeandlearn- Budget?" ing today and into the future.