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April 4, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 4, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 2014 PAGE 5A By Stephen M. Flatow Every time there's a public discussion about whether Israel should release more imprisoned Palestinian ter- rorists, my heart skips a beat. My daughter Alisa was mur- dered by Palestinian terrorists in 1995. Two of the killers have been in an Israeli prison since 1995, serving life sentences. I always worry that they will be among the ones released. So yes, it's personal. But it's also much more than that. It's not just about my daughter's killers; it's about dozens of other Israeli and American families whose loved ones also were vic- timized by Palestinian terrorists. It's about the future Israeli victims, if the released terrorists return to their violent ways, as so many of them do. It's about what's best for Israel's national security. And, of course, it's about what's best for America, too. Last year, Israel agreed to release more than 100 terror- ists, some of them convicted murderers, in stages, as a gesture of "good faith" to the Palestinians. Itwas a meaSure of Israel's desperation for peace, and of the Obama ad- ministration's not-so-subtle threats to publicly blame Israel if the peace process derails. So to keep that process going, the Israelis took what everyone agrees is a serious security risk. Now the PalestinianAuthor- ity (PA) is demanding that Israel release yet another batch of terrorists--even though the PA is threatening to walk away from the peace negotiations in the weeks to come. Sadly, the Palestinian lead- ership never responds to such gestures with any gestures of its own, any steps that would show their desire for peace. Instead, the released killers are welcomed as heroes, with public celebrations, marching bands, and speeches from PA leaders heaping praise on the murderers. When Palestin- inns embrace terrorists, it tends to convince Israelis that the Palestinians still, well, embrace terrorism. In a separate "good will" gesture, the Israelis recently gave the PA the bodies of five terrorists, two of whom were involved in suicide bomb- with the stars who loved the soil of the homeland, in which they will lie forever having returned to it as martyrs (Shahids)." Imagine the uproar if after the funeral of Oklahoma City It won't increase the chances for peace. It will just give the Palestinian another prime-time opportunity to glorify mass murderers. ings that left 16 Israelis dead and more than 80 wounded. Here is how a reporter on PA Television described the two dead bombers at the March 12 funeral in Nablus: "The skies of Nablus adorn themselves bomber Timothy McVeigh, a reporter for a mainstream American television station, declared: "The skies of Okla- homa City adorn themselves with this star who loved the soil of the homeland, in which he will lie forever having returned to it as a Martyr." PA Television then inter- viewed the brother of suicide bomber Imad Zubeidi, who said, "This is not mourning, but a wedding of martyr- dom--we are very proud that our brother gave of himself for Palestine." And the sister of the other bomber, Maher Hbeishah, said, "He would always pray, 'Allah, make us live happily and die as mar- tyrs'--praise be to Allah, he achieved it." This is the culture of glo- rifying mass murder that the Palestinian Authority has created. If Israel releases 26 more terrorists, as the PA is demanding, that will mean 26 more celebrations, 26 more parades, and 26 more relatives on television, tell- ing millions of Palestinian and other Arab viewers how wonderful it is to carry out suicide bombings. You d~n't have to be a prime minister or a seasoned diplo- mat or a four-star general to understand that setting more killers free just doesn't make any sense. It won't increase the chanc- es for peace. Itwilljust give the Palestinian another prime- time opportunity to glorify mass murderers. It won't help our ally, Is- rael. It will be just another one-sided concession for which Israel will get nothing in return--and will whet the appetite of Israel's enemies to keep demanding more and more. It will send a message to the Palestinians that they don't need to change their ways. They can keep on encouraging terrorism, they can keep pro- moting a culture of violence-- and the Obama administration will keep on pushing to give them a sovereign state, even though we know that it will be a terrorist state. That won't be good for Israel, forAmerica, or for peace. New Jersey attorney Ste- phen M. Flatow is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad in 1995. By Richard A. Ries I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that I've been to more synagogues in the Orlando area in the last few months than many people get to in ayear, letalone a lifetime. I have not been "shul shop- ping"mlooking for a place to specifically join. Most of my pit stops had little more depth attached to them than where my car happened to bean I-4 on a given Friday or Saturday. A few weeks ago, I had a Friday business confei;ence at a Disney resort. I had never been to the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, so I stuck around the resort's pool until sundown. I had a special reason for dropping by SWJC: the rabbi, Hillel Skol- nik, was my English student at The Solomon Schechter High School of Long Island. His jaw dropped when he saw his former teacher walk in. I wanted to say "I am thy brother Joseph, whom thou cast out of Israel." But I settled for "happy birthday," because it turned out, ironically, to be his birthday. I don't know what birthday it was for him-- probably 32 or 33--but as the human mind works, itwas his 19th for him in my mind. The sixth graders led the service that night, and it was good to see there was such a strong turnout. It was a human and Jewish joy for me to see that one of my former students had become a pulpit rabbi. Not that this was a shocking surprise: his father, Gerry Skolnik, is president of the Rabbinic Assembly and head of Forest Hills largest Conservative synagogue. A few Fridays ago, I had a profound reason to visit CRJ, where I had never been: I had nothing to eat in the fridge, and their website said they were going to have a Chinese buffet dinner that night for nine bucks. Do you remember the old Today Show segment, "Where in the world is Matt Lauer?" The anchor would show up in off-beat places like Zanzibar or the Galapagos Islands. Rabbi Engel--of the "Three Wise Guys" on NPR-- is taking a sabbatical year and is also doing world travel. He could be in Thailand; he could be in Schenectady. We just don't know. We do know that "Cantor Jacki," Jacqueline Rawiszer, is taking over the clerical helm for the time being. I actually met Rawiszer at a conference several years back, and she was a gregarious woman who was passionate about Judaism. She was single then. Now that she has found her besharit, and is happily wed, she is contagiously filled with joy. Don't take anti- depressants; go to CRJ. Jackie exudes a joy of life and a joy of Judaism that any synagogue would be lucky to have. In Billy Joel's signature song, "Piano Man," there is the famous line "And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar, And say 'Man, what are you doin' here?'" Man, what is Can- tor Jacki doing only in Central Florida? Shehas avoice tanta- mount to Sarah Brightman's. She has a gift that belongs to the world stage. You have not been moved by cantorial chanting until you have had the Rawiszer experience. She should be singing the national anthem at Super Bowls. It's difficultto competewith Ohev ShalOm, even if you are not a Conservative Jew. The oldest and largest shul in Orlando, its one-two punch of Kay and Rubinger is like having Ruth and Gehrig on the same team. They are dif- ferent speakers, but each can deliver homeruns--grand- slams of spiritually uplifting messages of incisive sermons about the security of the state of Israel--like few speakers I have ever encountered in the many cities I have inhabited. I didn't make it to Temple Israel this round, so Rabbi Neely came to me. In Klal Yisrael spirit, Temple Israel joined Ohev for Purim. Neely, fitted in military fatigues and night-vision goggles like sol- diers wore in Desert Storm, said that he was dressed as a "post-apocalyptic zombie hunter." Neely could chant from the Megillah quite well, but it was hard to compete with Kay's schmaltzy voices (soprano for Queen Esther; stage villain for Haman) and constant switching of hats for each role. How do we know Kay is a man of faith? Because he was wearing a Cubs' jersey. Waiting for the Cubs to win a World Series is a lot like wait- ing for Moshiach. They last won in 1908. I guess anybody can have a bad century. I'm admittedly not Ortho- dox, but I dropped by Chabad of Lake Mary last Friday for the oneg Shabbat. Their meeting house is difficult to find; they meet in an obscure industrial park office behind another industrial park. Rabbi Majesky is a kind, passionate man. I don~t agree with his politics, or even his phi- losophies of Judaism, and he knows this, but we are able to shake hands and break bread. If you've never gone to Beth Am, it's worth the trip at least once to hear Rabbi Rick. Hammy and schticky, you can tell that if it weren't for the rabbinate, he'd rather be doing the Borscht Belt or making appearance on late night comedy talk shows. Watching Sherwin is like watching Johnny Carson or David Letterman. Yet for all his zingers and puns, he possesses a combination of academic depth and hu- man warmth that is rare in any individual. Whereas the Orthodox talk about a "philosophical" Eretz Yisrael, Sherwin talks about AIPAC, cuts to the chase, and reminds us not to get too lulled into Iran's latest chummy rhetoric. People associate Orlando talent and magic with Univer- sal Studios and Disney World. That is manufactured magic designed to remove you from reality. The Jewish rabbin- ate and cantorate of Central Florida have talents to refresh your reality--and inspire you to be a better person in the process. Try to at least occa- sionally visit synagogues you normally don't. It's a small world after all. Richard A. Ries is a gradu- ate student at UCF and oc- casional contributor to the Heritage. EUROPE ZOI4 i$ lffr$ R $1A ON ON THE how many add~itional students cost of $5,000 for a 10-day 0~ ~IDE We are a diverse community and we welcome can be educated if all of the Israel experience (Birthright your letters and viewpoints. The views and opinions $365,000,000 is allocated to Israel is less), $365,000,000 expressed in the opinion pieces and letters published the United States, and the would fund 73,000 Jewish in The Heritage are the views of the authors, and do preferredvehicleisJewishDay teens on a life-changing Is- not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The School, atacostof$20,000per rael experience, as compared HeritageFloridaJewishNewsoritsstaff.TheHeritage studentannually, or$180,000 to a mere 21027 children for reservestherighttoeditlettersforclarity, content,and 'per student for nine years (K- a Jewish day school experi- accuracy. And respectful of lashon hara, we will not 8)? The answer is shockingly ence. Potentially, every Jewish print derogatory statements against any individual, few: 2027. If we assume that 16-year-old and 25,000 addi- Please limit letters to 250 words. Send letters to P.O. in each grade level there is tional teens in the Diaspora Box300742,FernPark,FL32730.Ore-mailtonews@ a potential pool of 60,000 could be served each year,, students (1 percent f ttal with "the antidte t rising! ]!] ~T~ [ estimated American Jewish assimilation, intermarriage, population of six million), it and disengagement from the ~} A ~1~ g Allocate monies from Israel is apparent that use of the Jewish community." Jewish ~ ~ iasp money to educate this way is continuity will be assured. '~ ~(~I~ "~L budget to fund D ora day fruitless. Mr. Liberman must be ap- ~D~I~ While a 10-day or two-week plauded for his wonderful idea schools? duration Israel experience is of allocating $365,000,000 not the equivalent of a K-8 fr0mIsrael'sbudgettoeducate I Dear Editor: the objective of which is "to Jewish Day School educa- Jews of the Diaspora. Now his Foreign Minister of Israel, serve as an antidote to rising lion, there is evidence that in challenge is to use the money Avigdor Liberman has pro- assimilation, intermarriage, terms of Avigdor Liberman's most effectively. posed that the State of Israel and disengagement from the objectives, that there is a near Robert I. Lappin, President, budget $365,000,000 annu- Jewish community." equivalency. Lappin Foundation ally for Diaspora education, A threshold question isAssuming a per student Salem, MA