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April 20, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 20, 2018 Toddlers, preschoolers, and parents attending the Bagels up" session. Kindergarten through sec- ond-grade students in the Mei- tin Alliance for Growth and Learning (MAGAL), Temple Israel and Temple Shir Sha- lom's collaborative religious school, participated in their first annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday, April 8. Toddlers, preschoolers, and parents at- tending the Bagels & Blocks "me and my grown-up" ses- sion also took part in the day after learning about mitzvot, sharing snacks, singing songs, reading a story, and playing games. All participants created colorful, handmade birthday cards to donate to the Foun- dation for Foster Children in Winter Park, whose mission is & Blocks "me and my grown- "enhancing the lives of chil- dren in foster care through support and advocacy to create opportunities for a brighter future." The Foun- dation for Foster Children has a Celebration Club that ensures children's birthdays and special achievements are recognized and celebrated with cards, cake, and gifts. MAGAL students make birthday cards for the Foundation for Foster Children's Celebra- tion Club. The Mitzvah Day birthday cards were brought to the foundation, along with birth- day candles, gift bags, and gift cards. In all, MAGAL created about 25 birthday cards and collected more than $350 in gift cards to help the founda- tion make such purchases as birthday gifts, educational incentives, athletic equip- ment, prom and interview attire, and more. To carry on the birthday party theme, students also collected cake mix, frosting, and sprinkles throughout March to donate to the JFS Pearlman Food Pantry. Each week, MAGAL students collect food for the pantry based on a fun theme. These hands-on service proj- ects encourage students to focus on the community in which they live and learn about how they can help other people in meaningful ways. If you are interested in learning more about MAGAL, please stop by the school open house on Sunday, April 29, from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m or visit during religious school hours on Wednesdays from 5 - 6:30 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. By Marilyn Shapiro In early winter 2017, Sheri Morton, a thirty-year resi- dent of Osceola County and a political activist, was very concerned about the upswing in anti-Semitic incidents that were occurring throughout Florida and the nation. "I was scarred, said Sheri, who is Jewish, "and so were many of my friends." Morton's fears were sup- ported by statistics. Accord- ing to the Anti-Defamation League's report, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States had surged more than one- third in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017. There was a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November 2016, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bul- lying and vandalism at non- denominational K-12 grade schools. Morton contacted Darren Soto, who had been elected in November 2016 to represent Florida's 9th Congressional District. Prior to being elected to Congress, Soto had served for four years in the Florida Senate and five in the Florida House of Representatives, representing parts of Orlando and the Central Florida area. Morton and Soto had been in contact throughout his politi- cal career. "Can you do anything to help?" Morton asked. Soto, originally from New Jersey and the son of a Puerto Rican father and Italian moth- er, knew many Jews from his background as well as his law practice and political experi- ence. He suggested planning an event during Purim. The annual holiday commemo- rates an historical event that took place in ancient Persia in which Jews, threatened by those who wished to hurt them, survived because of the actions of Jews and non-Jews working together to defeat an evil force. Representative Soto wished to recognize the relevance of the holiday to the current political climate. On March 12, 2017, he and his staff hosted the first public Con- gressional event ever held in the 9th Congressional District for the Jewish community, a Purim gathering at his office in Kissimmee. Over 50 people from the surrounding Jew- ish communities, including members of local synagogues and Solivita's Shalom Club, shared hamantaschen that Soto's staff provided from New York City. Joining Soto were John Cortes, who represents Northern Osceola County in the Florida House of Repre- sentatives, and Russell Gib- son, SheriffofOsceola County. "By coming forward and welcoming the Jewish com- munity into his office," said Morton, "Darren took a stand against prejudice and rac- ism." Morton said that Soto's actions set an example for other government officials throughout Florida, encour- aging others to work against the racist acts that have tar- geted the Jewish community. The event was so success- ful that Rep. Soto decided to make the "Purim Forum" an annual event. On March 2, 2018, the Jewish community was again invited to his office for hamantaschen and a light lunch. Morton introduced the congressman to the group of over 60 people. Marilyn Glaser, the president of Con- gregation Shalom Aleichem in Kissimmee, retold the story Shown here (l-r): Marilyn man Soto; and Sheri Morton of Purim that was rightfully interrupted with noisemakers each time Haman, the villain's name, was mentioned. During the event, Rep. Soto shared stories of his recent visit to the Holy Land, which he detailed in a later interview with me. Soto and other members of Glaser, president, Congregation Shalom Aleichem; Congress- at Purim Forum on March 2, 2018. a Democratic Congressional Delegation traveled to Israel in August 2017 as guests of the American Israel Education Foundation, a branch of the American Israel PublicAffairs Committee. The five-day tour included visits to key strategic sites, including defense and technology projects; Gaza, Syrian and Lebanon borders; the Golan Heights; Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sites; and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum. On Aug. 7, both Democratic and Republican members of Congress met with President Soto on page 14A By RabbiYankyMajesky Chabad Lubavitch of North Orlando There's the old joke about the Jewish atheist who re- fused to send his son to a Jewish school but wanting a private school education for his child, he sent him to Trinity School, despite its denominational roots, it was a great school and completely secular. After a month, the boy came home and said casually, "By the way, Dad, I learned what Trinity means! It means 'The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'" The father could barely control his anger. He grabbed his son by the shoulders and said, "Listen here Boychick, there is only one God and we don't believe in him!" Like many Jewish jokes, there is often a message with some wisdom and a kernel embedded in the humor-- even the so-called atheist Jew rejects Christianity, but why? Why have the Jewish people rejected the Christian Messiah for 2000 years? We have been killed, expelled and treated as second class citizens over the centuries by the Inquisition, the Crusad- ers and many others while we stubbornly held on to our Torah, why didn't we convert and live happily with our neighbors? Today, in the free world, where thank G-d, Jews are well integrated in to every facet of society, we no longer face the choice our ancestors were forced to face--the sword or the cross. However, almost every American Jew has encountered a friend, co-worker or neighbor who at some point has approached them with a statement or question like "I wish you would be saved and be with me in heaven"; "Weren't the first Christians Jews?"; Wasn't their leader a rabbi?"; "Don't you know the vir- gin birth and the suffering servant were foretold in the Torah by Jewish prophets?" Despite the fact that Juda- ism existed for hundreds of years before the rise of Chris- tianity, and the verses quoted had a completely different understanding and meaning for our ancestors, many Jews simply don't know the answer as to why our grandparents held on to our Torah on the pain of death. To help answer some of these questions, Chabad in Orlando presents "Why The Jewish People Rejected The Christian Messiah? An analy- sis of the biblical sources and an exploration into the Jewish view of this fascinating topic" with Rabbi Zalman Kravitz MBA of Jews for Judaism. Kravitz is the director of Jews for Judaism, an international organization with its mission to preserve Jewish identity through education, counsel- ing and outreach programs that enable Jews of all ages to rediscover and strengthen the connection to their heritage. Founded in 1985 as a response to deceptive proselytizing targeting Jews for conversion, their unique programs have provided hundreds-of-thousands of people with tools to respond to religious harassment and discover the spiritual rich- ness of Judaism. They are a respected resource for all ages andall denominationswithin the Jewish community. Un- der his stewardship, Jewish for Judaism has become an innovate movement with multifaceted programming for a new generation. The lecture will be hosted in two convenient loca- tions: On Sunday evening, April 22, at Nate's Shul in Longwood--for more in- formation please visit www. JewishNorthOrlando.com or call 407-636-5994. Monday evening, April 23, at the Chabad of South Orlando--for more informa- tion please visit www.Jew- ishOrlando.com or call 800- Rabbi Zalman Kravitz 765-7905. This event, as all Chabad events is open to the entire community regardless of affiliation.