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March 29, 2013

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PAGE 4A i HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 29, 2013 In every generation, we must tell the Passover story the majority of Israelites,whowere mysteriously protected from the worsening crisis, worry that their all-powerful overlords would eventually exact revenge? How many were able to grasp the scale of these events and their significance, and to go beyond the immediate traumas and fears for the future in an entirely different and unknown environment? Did groups like Israelite Voices for Peace and C (Cairo) Street organize demonstrations and sign petitions against Mo- ses, Aharon and the other Elders, and publish columns in leading newspapers denouncing the rabble rousers? In recent generations, more than 3,500 years • later, the Jewish people are again in the middle of tremendous historic events. The Shoah, the return to the Land of Israel and re-establishment of national sovereignty after 2,000 years of exile, accompanied by the ongoing wars and threats of extinction, are all wrenching changes in our individual and collective existence. This suffering By Gerald M. Steinberg I have often tried to imagine how the Israelite slaves in Egypt responded to the Ten Plagues, the midnight flight and sudden Exodus into the unknown desert, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds with Pharaoh's army in hot pursuit, and the abrupt transition from bondage to freedom. Slavery was all that they and numerous generations before them had known. Suddenly, appearing out of nowhere (actually, the Sinai desert) and without any primary elections or other democratic processes, an Israelite named Moses, speaking like an Egyptian, claimed to have received divine instructions to become their leader and to negotiate on their behalf with Pharaoh. But instead of improving their situa- tion, this only made it worse, as the taskmasters added to the workload and the overall suffering. When the plagues began to cripple Egypt, did not work. America found that out after a long struggle. So did South Africa. Israel grumbled, but the European oriented, basically Socialist Israeli population of the 1940s and '50s absorbed close to a million Jews from Africa with a totally different culture. Today, Israel is a mosaic. Jews from Brooklyn live and work with Jews from Poland, Argentina, Ethiopia, Syria and Iraq. It does not always go smoothly. It never does. But, if an Ethiopian veteran of the IDF invents a doohickey that saves heart attack victims and makes a boatload of shekels from his venture, can he live in Netanya or Savion outside Tel Aviv? I would sure think so. But--simply because he's a Jew--he can't live in Jerusalem? Look, there will always be differences. Dif- ferences in color, in heritage, in customs. But in this ever more connected world, we learn. Right now our family lives in a totally integrated neighborhood. We have Yankees, Southerners, Hispanics, Africa.n Americans and even Asians. Somehow the kids all mount the same bus in the morning, we wave to each other and hold packages for one another. Could• that ever be possible in the Middle East? Arabs have always been a culture where family, tribe and clan come before even religion or country. But, if the Palestinian urge is for nationhood, they should put aside this nonsense that the Jews have no right to the land, that the land is "theirs." In 1948, when Israel declared independence,. it brought the first indigenous government to that land in over two thousand years. Gone were the Caliphs and the Crusaders and the Ottoman Turks and the British. In their place were a people to whomthe land was sacred and from which their people had "emigrated so many years ago. They were Jews in a Jewish land. Deeper than religion, this was national heritage. I know many ex-Catholics, but I do not know any ex-Italians. So, let us not argue about Jews buying apart- ments in a Jewish nation. They have every right. The day will come--I have no doubt--when neighborhoods, not all, but most in Israel, will be even more integrated. Peace must be between people before it can ever work under government decree. We in the U.S. are still learning that. We know that the road is bumpy and uneven. But it is worth traveling. As Jews we are used to "complicating the situation." Where shall a Jew live? Jews are pretty good developers and build- ers. Look at Lennar Homes, Toll Brothers, KB Homes and others. The basics are easy. The builder-businessman selects a market that looks promising, buys the land, gets his pe:mits. Up go the homes and the owners movie in. Simple? Itwould seem so. In 1950we moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio. A lovely suburb at that time on the outskirts of Cleveland. I found out, shortly after we bought a home there, that if we had moved 10 years earlier, we could not have boughtahome in Shaker Heights. They hadwhat was known as a "restrictive covenant," which (legal atthe time) prevented Jews and blacks from owning a home in Shaker Heights. Yes, we have come a long way from restrictive covenants." Today, any Jew can live anywhere he can afford anywhere in the United States. It would appear that this is true in Europe, South America and just about anywhere, else in the world. Except that is... in Israel?. Asmall group of developers in the Jewish State have begun constructing some medium sized, medium income apartment complexes in Jerusa- lem. They have spectacular views of the Old City, are bright and airy and reasonably priced. They present a terrific opportunity for some families to move from more dangerous neighborhoods in, let's say, The West Bank Settlements. Great! So, what's the problem? Itwould seem that the U.S. government, the United Nations and of course the Palestinian Authority feel this "complicates the Jerusalem situation ."Maybe. I'm sure the first Jews moving into Shaker Heights "complicated the situation." Jews have a way of doing that: "complicating the situation." Is the State of Israel the Jewish homeland? Does that not mean that Jews from all over the world come to live in the sanctity and traditions of that land? Can I, a citizen of the U.S., live anywhere else I choose as long as I can pay the freight? But not Israel? Get outa here! Will there some day be a Palestinian State? Probably. And the state will have borders, of course. At that time people will have to choose. They did in India in 1947 (let's hope this goes a bit better than that did). If Jews care to live in that designated Palestinian State, they should have every right to do so. Likewise the Palestin- ians who wake up and find they are now in a modern, Western-style democracy should look forward to a better life! What then is the problem? Segregation does THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OFHERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'S.INDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards HE ITAGE I FLORIDA'J EWISH NEWS i HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787' Fern Park, FL 32730 • FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbarado Carmo Marci Gaeser RichardRies Contributing Columnists Jim Shirley IraSharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman * David Gaudio * Teri Marks Elaine Schooping • Gil Dombrosky • Caroline Pope includes mass terror attacks, barrages of missiles from Gaza and Hamas, and the coldblooded murder of Jewish children. In our exodus, the Jewish people moved from exile and subjugation into freedom and self- determination, embodied in the State of Israel, with all of its faults and growing pains. For the majority of Jews around the world, Israel has become the center of their religious/cultural and nationalidentities abouthalfofthe Jewish population now makes their homes in Israel. Mil- lions more identify closely with Israel, weigh-in on the efforts to adjust diverse traditions to the demands of a modern democratic society, and contribute to or benefit from the rich Jewish cultural renaissance. But for some Jews, the modern mix of afflic- tions and triumphs is too overwhelming to deal with; and they focus on more immediate and local concerns. Thei r relationship to Israel is limited, distant, and sometimes alienated. For a small but influential group with access to the media and funding from hostile non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Israel and Jewish inde- pendence is a burden and an embarrassmenL Their•minimalist Jewish identity remains deeply embedded in the Diaspora. Today's Jewish and Israeli counterparts to Moses's critics are unable to cope with the re- quirements of freedom and self-determination, and look to a generally hostile "international community" to impose their interests and poli- cies on the rest of us. These post- and anti-Zionists write columns in the New York Times and travel the world, denouncing Israel on university cam- puses, in United Nations frameworks, and some churches supporting the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a means of keeping the Jewish nation in a state of political slavery. But history does not move in reverse. "Inde- pendent Israelites" who stayed in Egypt quickly disappeared, as did those who turned around in the desert and returned to the house of bondage, • embittered and angry. Similarly, in our times, Jewish history is moving in one direction. We have witnessed terrible suffering leaving the Diasporaand regaining freedom.Andwhile Israel is not yet the perfect Jewish and democratic state that has been imagined, what we have managed to accomplish is still miraculous. Gerald M. Steinberg heads NGO Monitor and is professor of political science at Bar Ilan University. We talk a good game By Gary Rosenblatt their own rabbinic organization instead of joining New York Jewish Week the New Jersey Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Goldin said membership in the Orthodox How much, if any, cooperation and collabora- groupdidnotprecludejoiningthestatewideboard, tion can there be---or should there be--among and explained that,"90 percent of our discussions Reform, Conservative and Orthodox communi- [in the Orthodox group] are about kashrut." ties, starting,with their rabbis? Another sign of communal segregation: just AttimeswetalkagoodgameofJewishpeople- two weeks ago a new Jewish weekly newspaper hood, ClalYisraelandJewishunity;crisesstillcan began distribution in Bergen County. Called bring us together, like concern about the fate and The Jewish Link, it is geared toward the growing security of Israel, threats,of anti-Semitism, the Orthodox population in its local news coverage need for Jewish education. Butwhnyou get down and choice of columnists.The paperwas launched, to the practical level, the fact is that there is very in part, because some felt The Jewish Standard, little interaction between liberal and Orthodox which has covered the community since 1931, Jews. We tend to socialize with those in our own was either too critical of the Orthodox or did not congregations and religious communities, and give them sufficient coverage, or both. view "the other" as too different for our tastes. At the Ahavath Torah program, Rabbi Emert Oneoftheunintendedbenefitsoftwoprograms said he envied the level of Jewish learningwidely for high school students sponsored by The Jew- found in the Orthodox community and the de- ish Weeff--Write On For Israel, an advocacy and gree to which congregants care for each other educational project, and Fresh Ink, a webzine in times of need or in Shabbat meal invitations. written by and for Jewish teens--is that they But he said that as a liberal Jew he was proud bring together students from public, private and of his synagogue's levels of inclusion, creativity, dayschoolswhootherwisewould never meet each autonomyand innovationandwould not sacrifice other, and often they become friends, them for the sake of unity. That's just what worries some" educators and Looking ahead, he said that while the evening parents. They'd rather keep the teens apart, con- was a success, it must not be a one-time event. cerned they might socialize, date and perhaps "What are we going to do as a community to- marry someone they feel is either too religious, gether?" he asked. or not observant enough, for their comfort level. RabbiGoldin, whoispresidentoftheRabbinical "When our kids get to college they're intimi- Council of America, echoed the call for follow-up • dated by the Orthodox kids at Hillel," said Rabbi butnotedthat"therearerealdifferences, andfirst Kenneth Emert, a Reform rabbi who leads Con- we have to respect" that fact. "I won't validate ev- gregation Beth Rishon inWyckoff, N.J."They can't erythingyou believe, but I can valuewhat-you do." • interact with the Orthodox, they don't have their He recalled previous attempts to establish Jewish educational background, and they don't interdenominational dialogue, through the local know each other." . Jewish federation. Many rabbis came to the first Speaking at an interdenominational dialogue meeting, he said, fewer to the second, and there the other night in Englewood, N.J., Rabbi Emert was no third. "No one prepared issues fordiscus- called for more opportunities for both young sion," he said. "It lacked seriousness." people and adults to study and socialize across The three rabbis agreed that a new attempt denominational lines, should be made and that there were opportuni- The program, sponsored by a new group called ties for their congregations to study together Unite4Unity to promote such dialogue, was without preaching different philosophicalviews. moderated by Linda Scherzer, director of Write Other suggestions included exchanging pulpits On For Israel/NY, and attracted more than 250 for presentations, a joint lecture series, programs people.TheywitnessedthreeBergenCounty(N.J.) training children in philanthropy, and a softball rabbis--in addition to Rabbi Emert they were league. David-Seth Kirshner of the Conservative Temple Scherzer, the moderator, emphasized the Emanu-elofClosterandShmuelGoldinofthehost centrality of Israel across the religious move- OrthodoxCongregationAhavathTorah--interact ments and the importance of transmitting with a rare blend of candor and collegiality about Jewish identity and Israel support and advocacy the possibilities and limits of cooperation, to young people. While they each promoted more interaction LeeLasherandIanZimmerman, thetwomem- amongthe religious streams and called for learn- bersoftheBerrieFellowshipLeadersprogramwho ingfromeachotherwithouttryingtochangeeach created Unite4Unity, were pleased with the large other, they also were open about the challenges, turnout and stimulating discussion, and pledged and boundaries posed by their beliefs, future meetings to bridge the religious divide. "As Orthodox Jews, as Jews, we have to build Will other Orthodox rabbis share a platform walls," Rabbi Goldin bbserved, "but if we don't with liberal clergy? Rabbi Goldin is more open reach beyond the walls we're not succeeding." and moderate than a number of his colleagues Rabbi Kirshner responded that he didn't want who feel that such cooperation lends legitimacy to see walls but rather portals to paths of connec- to the non-Orthodox movements. And there tion. He noted that after his father passed away, are liberal rabbis who feel resentful toward the he came to the daily minyan at Rabbi Goldin's Orthodoxandwouldratherkeeptheirdistance. synagogue on days that his own temple did not As in this instance, it is th laity who are most have services, and he was impressed with the apt to take the lead, and the goal is, and should warmth and dedication qf the congregants and be, not to pray together but to meet, listen to and their rabbi, understand each other. As Rabbi Kirshner noted He said the experience left him with a "bit- in his comments, "How can I know you when tersweet" feeling in that he felt close to Rabbi we're apart?" Goldin but regretted that he had no relationship Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The with other Orthodox rabbis in the area. It was a New York Jewish Week, from which this article shame, he said, that the Orthodox rabbis have was reprited.bypermission.