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April 11, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 11, 2014 PAGE 5A Should A message for Passover: the people of Israel become the Jews of s ilence? By David Bedein Fifty years ago, Eiie Wiesel, then a little known Israeli news correspondent in the U.S. wrote a book that shook the soul of a generation: "The Jews of Silence." Wiesel de- scribed two kinds of of silence: Jews in Galut who were silent aboutthe fate oftheirbrethren in the USSR ... the Jews who were silenced in the USSR. At Akiba, the high school I attended in Philadelphia, our student council asked Wiesel to speak for the school com- mencement ceremony for the class of 1967, the year before I graduate. And Wiesel did speak on the night of June 6, 1967, the second night of the Six day war, following a three week siege of which frightened the Jewish world. Wiesel tossed out his pre- pared text, and addressed "an Israel that stood alone" in May 1967. "Where was France, Is- rael's only ally?", Wiesel asked. Wiesel said that the moments of trepidation in May, 1967 brought him back to World War II when Jews stood alone and to the fate of his family in the crematoria--when no one cared,andwhen few spoke out when it counted. Indeed, Wiesel's message that night was that we are indeed alone, which meant that we cannot be silent in the face of over- whelming odds. Fast foreward 47 years: A nascent entity has emerged on Israel's frontiers, carved out of the PLO--the Palestine Liberation Organization-- created by the Arab League in 1964 to galvanize local Arabs to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, under the war whoop of the "right of return'--by force of arms. Twenty years ago, with the launch of the peace process and the Palestinian Author- ity, you could not discern that the message of the PA was one of peace. But the people of Israel hoped for the best, because this was a peace process. Why is this Pesach different than any other Passover for the past 20 years? Now, all bets are off. The PA does not mask its genocidal purpose, to wipe out the state of of Israel and to replace it with an Arab Palestine. All you have to do is to watch PA TV, listen to PA radio, read PA newspapers, peruse" PA school books and follow all public statements of the PA. Most people in Israel prefer not to see the PA. Most people do not even know that the Arab League pioneered the PLO to join the continuing the 1948 war to exterminate the entity that is Israel. The people of Israel hope for the best, listening to news anchors who speak every day about a peace process and about an entity which is described as a peace partner. It would seem that some people, even when they are sober, can not tell the dif- ference between Mordecai and Haman. Perhaps that is the reason why Purim and Pesach are obligatory. On both festival days, Jews cope with the reality that in every gen- eration, there are those who reallywant to exterminate the Jews... To paraphrase Wiesel, God does not want the people of Israel to become "Jews of Silence." David Bedein is director of the Israel Resource News Agency, Center for Near East Policy Research. Kosher bacon? Passover bagel? What's the pc,fnt? By Paul Golin The Jewish Week There is a unifying credo ev- ery American can agree upon, regardless of generational, racial or red-state/blue-state divide: Everything is better with bacon. Bacon-infused alcohol Ba- con ice-cream sundaes. Even bacon toothpaste. I'm pretty sure the last one is a gag. But how are they not all gags? The bacon craze has seem- ingly affected even the most famously pig-averse of people, observant Jews--at least if measured by media cover- age of the latest entry into the kosher bacon pantheon, bacon-flavored Ritz crackers. Of course Bac-O Bits, among other baconAshproducts, have long been kosher. When I asked an observant relative why he might eat bacon-flavored products, the answer was straightforward to the point of deadpan: "To see what it tastes like." Okay, why not; he can do so without breaking the rules. He can-- but should he? There's the spirit of the law, and the letter of the law, the latter paid lip service by such ersatz items as the "Passover bagel" or kosher cheeseburger. What some might simply see as novelty foodstuffs raises deeper questions for me, a non- observant Jew still committed to finding meaning in the tradition and sharing it with other non-observant Jews. The more loopholes I see--for example, Shabbat elevators so you don't have to push buttons, or eruvs that use barely-visible wire as a border to turn entire neighborhoods into theoreti- cal private domains so carry- ing on Shabbat is allowed, or simply getting someone else to do it for you--the more I won- der how those rules still have meaning for people who utilize such elaborateworkarounds to seemingly avoid them. Most observant Jews prob- ably can articulate the meaning for themselves, if asked. To me the bigger challenge is that, for those of us among the 80 percentofAmerican Jewrywho don't keep kosher, we rarely hear the compelling arguments for "Why do it." We only hear the "How to"--or in the case of bacon-flavored Ritz crackers, "How to work around it." There's potential value in kashrut that is too rarely conveyed by the organized Jewish community, and that's a missed opportunity--not because I hope more Jews will keep kosher necessarily, but because I believe it could be a source of meaning for folks like me who are seeking Letters To The Editor We are a diverse community and we welcome your letters and viewpoints. The views and opinions expressed in the opinion pieces and letters published in The Heritage are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Heritage Florida Jewish News or its staff. The Heritage reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, content, and accuracy. And respectful of lashon hara, we will not print derogatory statements against any individual. Please limit letters to 250 words. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to news@ Mikvah 1 launched in memory of two shluchot To our dearest ladies here in town whom we truly cherish: Coming out of Purim and the month of Adar there is lots of joy in the air, yet we write to you with a heavy heart. This past month our dear colleague, Rashi Minkowitz, 37, a fellow shlucha like ourselves, who ran a Chabad house in Georgia was sud- denly taken from this world with simply no warning. She left behind a husband, eight beautiful little children, and a grieving community that she really grew and connected with. Yet it didn't end there; another fellow sister shlucha, Rivky Barber, 49, who led a Chabad house in Melbourne, Australia, just passed away two weeks ago leaving behind six young children. This truly reminds us that life is so precious and to cher- ish the family and friends we have. Our friend's across the globe have launched the Mikvah 1 campaign.. connections, even if we never intend to take on all the rituals. That Jews may have been the first people to think con- sciously aboutwhatwe put into our bodies, and to relate food to ethics, can be a real point of pride, particularly today when such concerns are gaining uni- versal appeal. As Sue Fishkoff pointsoutinherbook,"Kosher Nation," the industry is explod- ing not because of Jews but because Americans in general believe that the kosher stamp of approval means the food is higher quality, and healthier (though it's hard to see how "health" relates to anything bacon-flavored). I also appreciate the idea behind making the mundane holy, the intended function of so many Jewish rituals. Everyone has to eat, but by only eating certain things, and praying before and after, we sanctify a thrice-daily (or more) bodily function. Why I need to do it in the specific way Judaism dictates, however, is where I get hung up. Then, too, there's a dis- cipline to keeping kosher, and observance in general, that many of us who are not observant can envy. I enjoy my freedom to eat whatever interests me--I could put actual bacon on a Ritz cracker if I so desired (which, for the record, I do not)--but with total freedom comes lack of structure. I feel this less with food than with other rituals, like powering down for Shab- bat, the benefits of which more and more non-observant folks are recognizing. For me and I presume others like me, the question is about the source of that discipline. If it comes from the belief that God is watching overyou, cares what you eat and will punish you if you eat something treif, well, that kind of obligation is not going to be very.meaning- ful to many of us. Obligation for obligation's sake is long gone from the minds of most non-observant Jews. I will take on obligation, but only after I understand the value in doing so. I don't give to charity because Ilm obligated to, I've taken on that obliga- tion because I've been shown the value it brings to my life and the lives of others. It's not just semantics; the difference between obligation andmean- ing is a major disconnect for large swaths of the organized Jewish community that can't understan d why the majority of Jews in their communities are disengaged. The challenge of leading with meaning over obligation, however, is that you then have to define and defend your Rashi just finished build- ing a beautiful Mikvah in her community for the woman to use. She was so proud Of the new beautifully looking spa and has had so many women from her community use it in the short time that it was opened. For many, Mikvah is a taboo topic that they are not so familiar with. This is such a powerful mitzvah that To- rah says brings blessings for the children, the home and marriage. It is even more important than having a shul or a Torah! Mikvah enhances a mar- riage, creates peace in our relationships with our spouse and has a lot of physical and spiritual benefits from at- tending. The web site www. has a lot of great lectures, facts and vicleos on the topic. We ask you, please, in honor of Rashi and Rivky, to open your heart and mind and give yourself, your family and your spouse the gift and chance to visit the Mikvah at least once. Various women here in town have already taken upon themselves this special mitzvah. We would love to be in touch personally to talk more about this topic by phone or email. To find a little comfort, it would mean so much to each of us as a personal favor (and of course the benefits and blessings go straight to you!) We would be honored to share with you more on this mitzvah. During this very difficult time, we, and all the family of Rashi and Rivky, will be so touched and comforted know- ing women across the globe are taking upon themselves this powerful mitzvah at least just once. With great thanks and love, Your shluchas, Chanshy Majesky (Chabad of North Orlando) 407-488-6536 Devorah Leah Dubov (Chabad of greater Orlando) 407-529-5966 Bra- cha Leibowitz (Chabad of Greater Orlando) 407- 690-1111 Chani Konikov (Chabad of south Orlando) 321-948-6921 Rivkie Lip- skier (Chabad of UCF) 407- 949-8732 values. For example, I feel it's more ethical to eat shrimp or lobster than a cow. When I look into a cow's eyes, I feel there is some intelligence there. Can you even find the eyes on a lobster? Yet Judaism says I can't eat a lobster under any circumstances, but a cow is fine so long as it's slaughtered the right way, not eaten in its mother's milk and so on. I want to believe kashrut is about ethics but when I've asked for a defense of my lobster/cow debate, I've been told that kashrut is also about keeping Jews separate. That's a pretty unsatisfying answer for a fully-integrated American who doesn't see keeping apart from my non-Jewish neighbors as a positive value. Ibelieve these are the kinds of challenges Jews from across the denominational spectrum would be willing to and in- terested in grappling with-- perhaps, given the upcoming holiday, over matzah BLTs. Paul Golin is co-author of "How to Raise Jewish Chil- dren..: Even When You're Not Jewish Yourself" and the associate executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute. Follow him on Twitter @ paulgolin. Hirschfield From page 4A it is shared among loved ones year after year. You must go free, if we are to go free. Try using these shared symbols as a way to celebrate your unique exodus. Celebrate personhood as a path to peo- plehood, or at least as a path to friends and family-hood at this year's seder. Wine symbolizes joy, and even the pride in Jewishness expressed by 94 percent of Pew respondents. As you lift each cup at the seder, share what makes you most proud of whateveryou think of as Jewish. Matzah reminds us of the journey to freedom and dig- nity. Before you eat, share the story of a journey to greater freedom or dignity that you are on, and why that journey really matters for you. Bitter herbs symbolize the hurts that inevitably come with life. We dip them in cha- roset, showing our capacity to sweeten what is bitter. What can you do to sweeten the hurt. that may arise in your life? n answering these ques- tions, we make the Exodus our own, walking a path as old as the first Passover. It's a path reflecting the insight that without personhood, therewill be little or no people- hood. It's a path that invites us to make the most of what Pew tells us are our greatest assets in Jewish life--each in- dividual who is on the journey. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield serves as president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and co-founder and executive editor of TheWisdomDaily. corn. Dry Bones THE 00OO0 % I JS THAT I00AEL I I NAS RCEtVE ADVANCEO (WOVV! 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