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April 26, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL ZO, 2013 By Deborah Fineblum Raub Picture yourself retired. You're no longer rushing off to your job, so morning just might find you hiking along the beach, a picnic lunch in your backpack. You can enjoy yourself, worry-free, knowing your new home is in a com- munity with terrific public transportation and access to shopping, theaters, recreation, universities and synagogues of every stripe. What's more, you have your health insurance squared away and your retire- ment income more than takes care of your expenses.Andifyou have questions about your new community, help is but a phone call or e-mail away. You breathe in the sea air and text a friend back in your old hometown: By Robert Gluck Film historian Bob Birchard describes an anti-Jewish preju- dice inAmerican culture that ex- isted wen into the 20th century, not at the level of the Nazi desire to exterminate the Jews, but rather looking down upon Jews as inferior to the mainstream Protestant class that developed in the United States. Famed actor Kirk Douglas was raised against that social backdrop. "This [anti-Semitism] came about because of the large number of Jewish immigrants that came in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the perception that they were under- educated and undercapitalized and somehow lesser than the old Anglo-Saxon stock. I think that is reflected in Kirk Douglas's persona," The 96-year-old Douglas-- who was born Issur Danielovitch in New York to poor, Yiddush- speaking Jewish immigrants from Gomel (now Belarus) and embraced Judaism late in life after surviving a helicopter crash--has appeared in 70 films and has been nominated for the Academy Award of Best Actor three times, for "Champion," "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust for Life," over the course of a six-decade acting career. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and the Na- tional Medal of the Arts in 2001. Listed by the American Film Institute as its 17th-greatest actor of all time, Douglas's lat- est accolade came in February when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Cinematogra- phers Guild (ICG). According to Steven Poster, national president of the In- terfiational Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, when Douglas took the microphone at the ICG PublicistsAward Luncheon, his vibrancy and youthful exuber- ance belied his 96 years. "The ICG [at its ceremony this February] had just recognized a publicist member who is still active at 95 years old," Poster said. "The first thing Mr. Doug- las said was, 'I'd give anything to be 95 again. I'm 96.' The audience erupted in laughter and applause. The depth of his career as an entertainer and the quality of the work that he did as one of America's most important talents belies the fact that he has committed his life to his work in philanthropy and his involvement with his community." "Wish you were here." Expecting those "early bird specials" and alligators lurking in the gutters? Nope. It's not a Florida beach you're strolling along. You've just retired to Israel. Foragrowingnumber of baby boomers and older folks too, Israel is the Promised Land for retirement.Whether they've got kids (and as often as not grand- kids) already there, or they're finally living outtheirown Israel dream deferred, they're making plans and making their move. AvigailBuiumsohnisaretire- ment expert for Nefesh B'Nefesh ( Though based in Israel, she spends large" chunks of her time presenting to groups of English-speaking prospective retirees. These seminars are popular. Arriving at one in Boston last winter a Snowbirds fly to Israel mere 10 minutes late, a friend plenty of Skype hours in be- Israeli society as painless as and I were lucky to find seats. And the crowd was serious, judging by the 30 minutes of questions they lobbed at the end of Buiumsohn's presentation. "They are serious," she con- curs. "The children are grown and their careers arewinding down, plus they're still young enough to enjoy themselves, so now is their chance." . What's more, many of today's seniors are still employed, either full- or part-time, and they ar- range to telecommute after they make aliyah. This puts them in the enviable position of earning dollars but spending them in a shekel-based economy. For every grandparent who joins the kids in Israel, another racks up the frequent flyer miles coming back to the States for school vacations, putting in tween. Others pay to have the kids flown over in the summer, giving the grandkids the oppor- tunity to live in Israel for weeks or months at a time and pick up the kind of real-live Hebrew they could never learn in religious or day school back home. When Larry Woznica made aliyah from Toronto he had ev- ery intention of retiring--until Nefesh B'Nefesh offered him a job he couldn't refuse. "But whether or not you work, this is an amazing place for people our age," he says. "There's so much to do and the services are terrific." A bonus for Woznica: He just became a grandfather for the first time, and the baby lives in Israel. Buiumsohn says Nefesh B'Nefesh works to make the transition and integration into possible, includingongoingsup- port in such areas as selecting a community, finances, health coverage, housing and even connectingyou to opportunities forvolunteeringand socializing. More and more private firms are springing up to help their clients select and pack those belongings destined to be useful to them in Israel, while leaving the rest behind. One such service is the Boston- based Design Coaches (www. "Helping people move their belongings to a new location is part of what we do," says owner Thelma Newberger-Hirsch. "The other part is creating a new home that reflects their new lives as they .make aliyah." Josie Arbel, Director of Klitah Services and Programs for the Kirk Douglas still earning accolades at 96 Angela George Kirk Douglas in March 011. Growing up, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enoughto buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and worked at more than 40 jobs before becoming an actor. He legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy during World War II. Douglas's 1988 biography, "The Ragman's Son," notes that his father was denied work in the carpet mills because he was Jewish. "So my father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got him- self a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal and junk for pennies, nickels and dimes. Even on [New York's] Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town,where all the familieswere struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman's son." Looking back on his career, Douglas has said the underly- ing theme of some of his films, including "The Juggler," "Cast a Giant Shadow" and "Remem- brance of Love," was "a Jew who doesn't think of himself as one, and eventflally finds his Jewishness." In February 1991, Douglas survived a helicopter crash in which two people died. This sparked a search for meaning that led him, after much study, to embrace the Jewish faith in which he was raised. He docu- mented this spiritual journey in his 2001 book, "Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Mean- ing" (2001). In "The Ragman's Son," he wrote, "Years back, I tried to forget that.I was a Jew." But Douglas's attitude changed after the helicopter crash, and he went on to say that coming to grips with what it means to be a Jew"has been a theme in my life." He explained his personal transition in a2000 interview with "Judaism and I parted ways a long time ago, when I was a poor kid growing up in Amsterdam, N.Y. Backthen, Iwas pretty good in cheder, so the Jews of our community thought theywould doawonderful thingand collect enough money to send me to a yeshiva to become a rabbi. Holy Moses! That scared the hell out of me. I didn'twant to be a rabbi. I wanted to be an actor. Believe me, the members of the Sons of Israel were persistent. I had nightmares--wearing long payos and a black hat. I had to work very hard to get out of it. But it took me a long time to learn that you don't have to be a rabbi to be a Jew," Douglas told Although his children had a non-Jewish mother, Douglas has said in interviews that they were "aware culturally" of his "deep convictions," and that he never tried to influence their own religious decisions. At the age of 83 in 1999, Douglas celebrated asecond bar mitzvah ceremony. Birchard--editor of the American Film Institute's Cata- log of Feature Films and the au- thor of several books including "Cecile B. DeMille's Hollywood" and "Silent-era Filmmaking in Santa Barbara"--told that Douglas "is interesting not only because of his presence as anactoronscreenbut also for his role asapioneering independent producer." "He's produced a number of films that are classics, such as 'Spartacus ' and 'Paths of Glory,'" Birchard said. "H is one of the people who helped form a new approach to filmmaking. As the studio system began to break down in the 1950s, Douglas was among the pioneering in- dependent producers who was able to cash in on his screen popularity in order to make films that might not otherwise have been made." Douglas is one of the last sur- viving actors from Hollywood's GoldenAge. In 1996, he received the Academy Honorary Award for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion pic- ture community. He also played an important role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist (also known as the "Hollywood Ten," a list formed in the mid-20th century of actors, directors, musicians and other entertain- ment professionals who were denied employment in their field due to political beliefs or as- . sociations) by making sure that screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's name was mentioned in the opening and ending credits of "Spartacus." "Trumbo had been black- listed in the early 1950s, and his only credits after 1953 were under another name be- cause he couldn't write under his own name," Birchard said. "It was certainly a principled stand by Douglas. Douglas felt Trumbo wrote the script so he was entitled to the credit. There were a few other companies and producers, not many, who defied the blacklist before, but Trumbo was certainly one of the more important of the blacklisted Hollywood people, and it es- sentially broke the back of the blacklist." IN H EALTHCARE PAGE 3R Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), reports that her organization is a home-away-from-home for new olim over the age of 60, advising them on everything from healthcare to housing to learning Hebrew. "From the time they arrive, they're already creating rewarding, ac- tive lives. It's wonderful to be a part of this process." In fact, the most frequent comment Buiumsohn hears from the over-60 olim is "if I had known how good it was going to be I would have come much earlier." Deborah Fineblum Raub is a Sharon, MA-basedwriter, editor and Jewish LifeStory coach. She currently does communications for Jewish Women's Archive and regularly entertains aliyah thoughts. 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