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May 4, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 4, 2012

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FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS CRC focuses 'Jewish Lens' Randi Sidman-Moore Ana and Steven Weisman and Stephanie Trump march to Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate April23 during the first "mega event  of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's mission of 700 people to Israel. Biggest federation trip to Israel in years brings more than 700 from Miami By Uriel Heilman (JTA)--From afar it appeared to be a luminescent snake, twinkling in the dusk that was just beginning to cloak the desert mountains ff ..... "Having a mega-mission enables us to produce events that have a tremendous wow factor," Jacob Solomon, president and CEO of the Miami federation, told JTA in a telephone interview. "I'm watching this 00l00ltJ, , If,l, ,,I I I I ,I, it Uponclos, lidll l' 11 ht 11,1" It l ,Jll.i.l be hundreds ........................... bearing glox down Masada's snake path i-n an Israeli Independence Day celebration. They were part of the biggest federa- tion mission to Israel in at least a decade, organized by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Shortly before their trek down the snake path, the hikers had participated in a ceremony atop Masada that included a prayer for the State of Israel, the singing of "Hatikvah," Israel's national anthem, and the release of 130 doves. Earlier in the day, many of the participants had been in the Negev development town of Yeruham singing, dancing and partying with the locals from Miami's Israeli sister city. Before the trip, about 140 of the par- Ucipants spent several days in Poland at the site of the Nazi concentration camps. With such a large group, the Miami mega- mission presents numerous logistical chal- bn It took two years to put together, and und in Israel involves 16 buses, 26 mdonecharterplane (whichbrought naately 400 of the participants). Each Israel and federation mission veterans,wire ous nasits ownitinerary, andthewhole grmlp participants ranging in age from 22 to 88. Each day of the mission has its own theme--Jewish peoplehood, tzedakah, tikkun olam, leadership and federation val- ues, to name a few---and the trip includes everything from visits to federation-funded projects supported via the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel toascheduledApri129meet- ing with Israel's president, Shimon Peres. There is no Palestinian component to the trip, although some participants are doing site visits to Israeli-Arab projects supported by the federation system, ac- cording to Solomon. comes together about halfa dozen times dur- ing the 10-day trip for so-called rnega events. "The scale is pretty impressive, even for me," Solomon told JTA. The purpose of the trip, Solomon said, is to foster community. "Nothing builds community like a mission," he said. "The point is to inspire people, to touch people, to engage them. Clearly there is a fundraising objective. But there's also a human resource dimension that's equally important. Past mission go- ers have become campaign chairs, board chairs. We did it as an investment in the future of our community." Bid, bet and boogie at J Ball Last year, more than 400 partygoers bid, bet, boogied and imbibed the night away c - ,4 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando's J Ball at Rosen Shingle Creek. That night, which raised close to $150,000, is by far the largest fundraiser of the JCC's Early Childhood Learning Centers, Camp J and J University after-school programs through the Mar- vin Friedman Scholarship Fund. The J Ball this year will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12 once again at Rosen Shingle Creek. "Last year, we received a lot of feedback about how much fun people had at the J Ball," said Jodi Krinker, who is co-chairing the J Ball along with Marry Berman. "We try to be the opposite of stuffy and give people a lot of fun things to do." A few of the "fun things" this year include a DJ with a dance floor, caricatures, green screen photo opportunities, Adam and Jennifer Scheinberg have their caricatures drawn at last year's J Ball. casino games, poker, silent auction, and door prizes, plus a bar, light fare and desserts. At $75 per ticket, the J Ball is a good value too, says an event organizer. Seniors, Or Hadash participants, and parents with children currently enrolled in the Early Childhood Learning Centers are eligible for $50 tickets. The attire is dressy casual. The Saturday Night Out program will be offered that evening for both JCC loca- tions, with a special rate of $10 per child. Tickets may be purchased at, and RSVPs are requested by May 4. Todd Brenneman Not since John E Ken- nedy ran for president of the United States in 1960 has the religious background of candidates for national of- rice been under such intense scrutiny. Questions of the limit of First Amendment rights of free exercise of reli- gion and protections against state-sponsored religious expressions are a flashpoint of the November elections. The Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jew- ishFederation of Greater Or- lando takes up these issues in the next installment of its "Jewish Lens on Current Events" series. "Religion in the Public Square" will fea- ture a First Amendment at- torney, an academic scholar on religion and an area rabbi with a background in politi- cal science. The Jewish Lens program has the expressed purpose of "shedding light, rather than heat, on the pressing issues of our day." Dr. Todd Brenneman, who earned his Ph.D. in American religious history and teaches at the University of Central Florida, is the academic expert. Derek Brett, a senior partner with the Tate Firm who regularly litigates First Amendment cases and appears frequently Joshua Neely Derek Brett in local and national media, provides the legal expertise. And Rabbi Joshua Neely of Temple Israel, who studied philosophy and political science as an undergradu- ate, represents the voices of Jewish tradition. As with last year's Jewish Lens program on immigra- tion, "Religion in the Public Square" will be hosted by the Jewish Academy of Orlando, 851 Maitland Ave. in Mait- land. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the school's multi-purpose room. For more information or to RSVP, contact Emely Katz at 40%645-5933 or ekatz@ nti Israel o concerns growing By Stewart Ain New York Jewish Week French Jews fear that the odds-on favorite to win the French presidential run-off election Sunday will do so by reaching out to the far left, among whom are rabid anti- Israeli activists who favor the boycott, divestment and sanc- tions movement that seeks to delegitimize Israel. The Jewish community's favorite candidate, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, remains be- hind in the polls after coming in second in a 10-candidate race in the first round of balloting April 22. "Sarkozy in his first presi- dential campaign was consid- ered a friend of Israel because he had shown a real empathywith Nicolas Sarkozy Israel," said Richard Prasquier, president of the CRIF, the um- brella group of French Jewish Concerns on page 14A