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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 26, 2013 Museum From page 2A lion Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust; thousands more survivors left in the wake of postwar pogroms. Still more departed in the 1960s amid anti-Semitic campaigns by the Communist regime. But with the fall of commu- nism, there has been a revival of Jewish life in Poland and a movement by Jews and non- Jews to reclaim Jewish culture. "Imagine, the idea for this museum arose in 1996, just a few years after the fall of communism," Kirshenblatt Gimblett said. "The many efforts of the last two decades to renew Jewish life, to recover the Jewish past, and to foster open debate and dialogue about the most difficult mo- ments in the history of Poland and Polish Jews have created the momentum and support for this initiative." The only permanent part of the exhibit installed to date is the dazzling reconstruction of the roof and painted ceiling of an 18th century wooden synagogue that once stood in Gwozdziec, now in Ukraine. So stunning that it has been com- pared to the Sistine Chapel, it features a wealth of brightly painted folk designs combined with Jewish symbolism: lions, griffins, Zodiac signs, birds, flowers, unicorns and much more. Financed by the Polish state, the city of Warsaw and numerous Jewish and non- Jewish private donors, the development of the museum suffered setbacks and delays over the years due to political and organizational issues as well as funding shortfalls. The very !dea of such a museum in Poland, which many Jews re- gard as a vast Jewish cemetery, was long a hard sell. Over the past decade, how- ever, Polish-born Jewish phi- lanthropists such as Ameri- cans Sigmund Rolat and Tad Taube passionately took up the cause. Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation collaborated to provide the largest private commitment to the core exhibition of the museum, a total of $16 million since 2007. "The Taube Foundation and the museum share a similar mission: to understand not only how European Jewry died in the Nazi genocide, but how European Jewry lived in Po- land and created a prodigious civilization over many centu- ries," Taube told JTA. "This knowledge is not a betrayal of Holocaust memory. In fact, we honor Holocaust memory by reclaiming our rich, long and varied existence in Poland." Taube and others say they are hopeful the museum and the story it tells can have a long-term impact: on local Jews, local non-Jews, and the Jews from the United States, Israel and elsewhere who are expected to visit. "The idea of there being an authentic Jewish community in today's Poland is notoriously metwith bewilderment and of- ten sheer disbelief," said Katka Reszke, the author of"Return of the Jew," a new book about young Jews in Poland today. PAGE 15A "The museum--its staff, its narrative and its program- ruing--must be prepared to confront this skepticism and the often difficult questions coming from foreign Jewish visitors." Swiss diplomat Simon Geissbuehler, a historian who has written several books on Jewish history, called the museum and its mission "an important step forward." Still, he added, "We don't have to have illusions. It will not change everything im- mediately. There are those who don't want to recognize this part of their history. But I hope the museum will help." Chances From page 4A now the practice, where local rabbis often are unhelpful. Not surprisingly he has met with bitter opposition from the haredi-controlled religious establishment. Rabbi Stav is the only candi- date supportive of prenuptial wedding agreements as a means of preventing cases of agunot, a problem in which women are unable to divorce and remarry. He has pledged to end corruption of the rab- binic court system, privatize kashrut supervision and encourage government-ap- pointed community rabbis to be accessible and welcoming. Overall, his position is to make Judaism a source of posi- tive identity rather than one perceived as creating walls around the Torah and its laws. At present he is embroiled in a bitter election struggle that, in typical Israeli fashion, is more about politics than religious ideology or prin- ciple. He has garnered public endorsements fromYair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party as well as from Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Betenu and Tzipi Livni's Ha'Tnuah party. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to favor Rabbi Stav but has not made an endorsement, no doubt because he is fearful of alienating the haredi par- ties he may seek to bring into his coalition in the coming months. Where Is Naftali Bennett? Ironically, the appointment of Naftali Bennett of the Jew- ish Home party as minister of religion, widely viewed as a natural ally of Rabbi Stav, has not yet led to more support for the rabbi. That's because Ben- nett, whose campaign called for a strong Jewish state and appealed to secular Israelis looking for a fresh start, is getting serious pushback from a strong right-wing element within his party and others insisting that he support a haredi candidate for Ashke- nazic chief rabbi. Among those candidates are Rabbi Eliezer Igra, rab- binical judge of the Supreme Rabbinical Court; Rabbi Yaa- kov Shapira, dean of Merkaz HaRav yeshiva and son of former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira; and Rabbi David Lau, chief rabbi of Modi'in and son of former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau. While respected figures, they are, overall, satisfiedwith the status quo of the Chief Rabbinate and its relation- ship to society, as opposed to Rabbi Stav, who is calling for radical change. Nachman Rosenberg, the executive vice president of Tzohar, comments: "It is only nice to look at the glass as half full when judging oth- ers. When judging oneself, on the contrary, we must look at the glass as half empty." He said this is true for all public leaders, but especially applies "to the Chief Rabbinate that controls the Jewish future of the State of Israel, and cur- rently leaves very much to be desired." Among the efforts to thwart Rabbi Stav's chances for election, his haredi oppo- nents have approached the popular and charismatic rabbi of Migdal HaEmek, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman, known to many as the Disco Rabbi for his outreach efforts to secular youth, to run for chief rabbi. So far he is not a candidate. There are also efforts to change the law and allow the current chief rabbis, ShlornoAmar (Sephardic) and Yona Metzger (Ashkenazic), to continue for a second 10- year term. The election process itself is a bit murky. No date has been set for the secret-ballot election, scheduled for June, in which an all-male group of about 150--half of whom are rabbis and half holding political positions--will vote for the two chief rabbis. What is clear is that the minister of religion has enor- mous clout in determining the outcome, with a hand in choosingwho votes. In recent years the post has been held by haredim, but Bennett, who also serves as minister of diaspora affairs, is a Religious Zionist. That doesn't translate into an easy victory for Rabbi Stav, though. "Everyone wants Bennett's support, but if he supports a candidate he will have to pay the [political] price," observed Yedidia Stern, a vice president at the Israel Democracy Insti- tute and astute observer of religious affairs. Another official close to the issue noted bluntly: "If Rabbi Stav wins, there will be many people who deserve credit. If he doesn't, you can blame Bennett because he can make it happen." Stern himself supports Rabbi Stav because "he un- derstands and identifies per- sonally with the problems, and recognizes that the chief rabbi has a national mission, not just a religious one." The other candidates have no com- mitment to make changes, he said."He's the man for the job." Rabbi Stav enjoys wide, but private, support from a num- ber American Jewish leaders, including those outside the Orthodox world; they realize full well, though, that a public endorsementwould only hurt his chances. There are still many liberal voices insisting that religion and state should be separate in Israel, as it is in the United States. But Rabbi Stav and his sup- porters note that Israel is not America, and that the Chief Rabbinate can and should play an important role in keeping the Jews of Israel united as one people. With the election on the horizon, the stakes are high but public awareness in Israel, and certainly here, is low. The more light shed on the situ- ation, the better Rabbi Stav's chances should be in restor- ing a once proud title--chief rabbi--and the image of religious leaders who seek to engage rather than distance themselves from the great majority of their fellow Jews. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. You can email him at Nations From page 4A Palestine Authority. It is also appropriate to differentiate Gaza and the West Bank. Especially since the "disengagement" of 2005, the onset of control by Hamas in Gaza, and several military operations since then, West Bankers have become much closer to our reference point (and that of the Americans and Europeans) as relevant Palestinians. We can measure the dis- tance between us and the Palestinians of the West Bank by the difference in perspec- tives expressed by Israelis of the center and right on the one hand, and by the Israeli and international left, along with the folks in the White House Economy From page 10A sidering to balance the budget is a reduction in the per-child allowances the government pays out monthly to families. Many in Israel have come to rely on these meager but steady allowances to help pay for recurring expenses such as food and diapers. Slashing the allowance is likely to be unpopular particularly with those that need it most--the poorest sectors of Israel's society. "Almost every tax system makes some kind of allowance for dependents in a family," and several European govern- ments, on the other hand. A recent op-ed piece in the centrist Israeli newspaper Ye- dioth Ahronoth (latest news) expresses the differences . It contrasts the "obsession" of the Obama administra- tion with finding the key to bringing Israelis and West Bank Palestinians together (it appears that not even Obama aspires to solve the problems of Gaza), with an Israeli perspective that there is a standard of living and a security for individuals in the West Bank that surpass anything available in most of the countries governed by Muslims, and that Abbas and his coterie would disap- pear if not coddled by Israel. While the overseas and Israeli friends of Palestinians see them confined and oppressed by Israel, the article describes the corruption of the Pales- tinian leadership, billions of aid that "evaporates within seconds," and Palestinians' dependence on Israeli patron- age and Israeli security forces that "watch... over them." Currently there is a squab- ble within Palestine focused on Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and President Mah- moud Abbas, which Israelis and others struggle to under- stand. Fayyad has resigned for the nth time, and Abbas has said he accepts the resigna- tion, but it may be too early to decide that their conflict is finished. Fayyad came back to the West Bank after earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas and a career with the U.S. Fed- eral Reserve Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and has been identified with working to develop the in- frastructure of a Palestinian economy. Commentators of different political affinities describe the problems of Fayyad as primar- ily those of a technocrat who has struggled with Abbas and other Palestinian politicians concerned primarily with lining their own pockets and putting relatives and friends in jobs, or as a man who can- not achieve his aspirations for Palestine due to Israeli interference. Among John Kerry's efforts in his recent visit were requests or instruc- said Offenbacher, who ex- plained that the concept of the child allowance is somewhat similar to the personal deduc- tions in the U.S. tax code for each dependent. "The question is: If you are going to cut child allowances, what are you going to do in- stead?" he said. Lapid may have an even more difficult time balancing the budget and dealing with the social fallout of so-called austerity measures without the guiding hand of Fischer, who is scheduled to leave his post in less than three months. Fischer is widely credited with steering Israel safely through the global financial meltdown of 2008 and 2009, an effort that has placed Israel in relatively stable economic standing compared to other advanced economies. According to Offenbacher, "I had the good fortune to be majorly involved, and my own personal opinion is that Stanley Fischer pulled off a masterly performance." While Fischer "anticipated the collapse of the global economy," Offenbacher said, unforeseen challenges will face the next Bank of Israel governor--whose identity is yet another unknown. "By and large, given Israel's record in the past crisis, and given the fact that our bank- ing system has been very well supervised, Israel has been ahead of the curve," Often- bacher said. "Solid management of the Israeli economy, as well as good management within Is- rael's business sectors includ- ing in hi-tech has put Israel in at least as good a position as any other economy to deal with its long-term issues, and that is reflected in the good ratings that Israel has secured, and the foreign in- vestments we have received," he added. tions that Fayyad and Abbas continue their cooperation. However, American interfer- ence is cited as one of the reasons for Fayyad's latest resignation, due to the stain on his reputation from being too close to the Americans. Just outside of Palestine are events even more distant than what separates us from them. According to the author of that op-ed piece, in order to accept the Obama-Kerry obsession that an Israeli-Pal- estinian rapprochement will help the region and the world, we must "pretend that the rival camps in Syria are not using chemical weapons and committing unprecedented war crimes in the Middle East ... that North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq are not be- ing dissolved in front of our eyes, and that Salafi kingdoms are being born instead." Britain of the 21st century is not the same as what Dis- raeli and Dickens described for the 19th century. The Haredim, non-Haredi Israelis and Palestinians of the 21st century should not let their pessimism--however it is justified--lead them to say never. But neither should we expect great or rapid changes as a result of efforts about the Haredim by the new Israeli government, nor from the obsessions of Barack Obama and John Kerry about Israel and Palestine. Ira Sharkansky is profes- sor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Sudoku solution from page 7 365987241 149236587 278451 936 926874153 851329764 734165829 61 3598472 592743618 487612395