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May 8, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 8, 2009 Specter From page 1A in a phone booth. Now we're packing a ballroom. George W. Bush managed to increase his polling in the community from 19 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2004, but then came Obama's strong showing last year--with Jewish Democratic activists insisting that GOP moder- ates are being increasingly shut out by conservative Republicans. "In this day and age, the Democratic Party is a big tentand the Republican Party wants to circle the wagons closer," said Ira Forman, the director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Fred Zeidman, a long- time Bush ally, major GOP fund-raiser, moderate and the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, sees Specter's departure as a clarion call for Jewish Republi- cans to push the message that the party is not as extreme as Specter is suggesting. "All ofuswho are moderates need to be much more vocal," he said. "Let everyone know the Republican Party is not ultra-conservative." Matt Brooks, who directs the Republican Jewish Coali- tion, said such an effort was under way and that he was disappointed Specter was leaving at such a critical time. "Rather than staying and helping to move the party in the direction" he wanted it to go, Brooks said, "he's leaving precisely at the time the party is embarking on an effort to remake the party." Brooks added that the Specter announcement was a surprise considering that he had just spoken to the senator two weeks ago about attending the RJC annual meeting in June and future events that the RJC wanted to do with him. At theApri128 news confer- ence, Specter said of such crit- ics, "Frankly the disappoint- ment runs in both directions." In recent months, Specter's best-known dissent from the GOPwas his vote--aiongwith two other Republican moder- ates-clinching passage for Obama's economic stimulus package. But in his news conference Specter stressed his modera- tion on social issues--exactly the issues that continue to keep Jews from voting Re- publican, despite the party's strong pro-Israel posture. He noted his bucking party opposition to embryonic stem cell research and, in general, backing increased funding for health issues. "Increases in funding for the National Institutes of Health, which I have spear- headed, have saved and pro- longed many lives, including my own," said Specter, a cancer survivor. Specter acknowledged that his poor showing in polls among Pennsylvania Repub- licans was a factor in his deci- sion. He remained bitter that in 2004 he came within a haws breadth of losing the primary to Pat Toomey, a conservative who again has set his sights on Specter's seat. "I had a I percent primary win in 2004," Specter said. "I'm not prepared to have my 29-year record in Pennsylva- nia to be decided by the Penn- sylvania primary Republican electorate." But he said also that the problem was a national one for the GOP, noting losses by Republican moderates in recent years in Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico that he attributed in part to tepid national party support. "It is important to have a two-party system and a mod- erate wing of the two-party system," he said. Specter said Democrats had reached out to him for at least five years, including the state's Jewish governor, Ed Rendell. "Governor Rendell said if I became a Democrat he'd help me raise money," the senator said. "I responded that if I became a Democrat I wouldn't need to raise money. I changed my mind about that." Marcel Groen, the chair- man of the Montgomery County Democratic Commit- PAGE 19A tee in suburban Philadelphia, said he would fight hard for Specter's victory in 2010. "It's like he's coming home," Groen said. Party labels for Jewish voters have always been much less important, he added, than Specter's stances on Israel, "choice issues, gun issues, the whole litany, the stimulus package." Lonny Kaplan, a top pro- Israel fund-raiser in the Phila- delphia area, said Specter's switch would not affect his popularity among pro-Israel donors; those funders always steer toward a pro-Israel incumbent, and Specter fits the bill. "There's no question in my mind," Kaplan said. "The let- ter you have after your name is not something we focus on." Washington correspondent Eric Fingerhut contributed to this report. Wexler From page 4A who we are and embracing. It allowed us to see ourselves in a different way. By the time we had met for those two days, the four of us already had held meet- ings with Obama strate- gists, reviewed campaigns for causes, had talked with viral professionals, been in countless strategic meetings with the fund-raising staff and laypeople, as well as the federation's entertainment division and its Pathways (young professionals) groups. During the first several hours, we established our guiding principles and basic assumptions: 1. The federation receives 25,000 gifts from 18,000 households. (Several house- holds make double gifts.) 2. LosAngeles has 550,000 to 600,000 Jews living in 175,000 to 200,000 households. Our opportunity we realized was 157,000-plus households that we did not have. 3. In a downturn economy, we will lose a certain amount of gifts. But we recognized the huge pool that exists which could be a massive inflow if we did this right. 4. While the marketing campaign had to help retain and upgrade existing donors, it was imperative that it open the door to new donors and begin a cultivation process. 5. Many of those potential new donors already were in synagogues and other Jewish organizations, but the vast majority was not and those people were not necessarily open to traditional Jewish messages. 6. Obama's campaign had proved you could raise money from the mass, who had been left out of most Jewish fund- raising strategies. L.A.'s mass was 600,000 Jews. 7. It also proved that a new generation is ready to step up to the plate. 8. It proved, too, that people will respond to causes, a move- ment, wanted and needed involvement, and if given the right circumstances, would donate online. 9. We realized that if we were to succeedwith the mass and raise money, we would need to actively advocate for causes that could create change and involve people through volunteerism. 10. We would need to base our idea upon a community organizing initiative. 11. Our working objective in order to succeed at this task needed to be the gathering of hundreds of thousands of e-mails, so we could begin to identify who these Jews were and enter into some type of relationship with them. 12. We knew we needed a big idea; now we had a day and a half left to create it. So we took a break and ate- -Mexican food. After lunch, the blend of our minds began to work and magic entered the room. We had not yet created the big idea, but we could sense we were on the path. We knew we were onto something big and different. We determined we would change the image of the organization to be seen as cause-oriented. What had been called the federation's five pillars would now be called its five causes. We would amend the tired, over-spoken ' concept of tikkun olam and refresh it to be "The Move- ment to Repair the World," which would incorporate the five causes. But what would be the centerpiece of that movement? Several months earlier, when it was apparent how serious the economic un- raveling was, we had written the line that was now being used throughout the fund- raising campaign, "A Bad Economy Demands A Good Community." We understood the promise of that line to be housing, jobs and food. As we talked about those promises, the big idea began to crystallize. The federa- tion could not get into the housing business; it required professionals who knew the housing world. It could not get into the jobs business. That already was the domain of the Jewish Vocational Service. But it could get into the hunger business in a big way. Relieving hunger was a Jewish principle. The issue was being built every day in the press. The White House was planning its own hunger initiative. People would involve themselves in eradicating hunger. The big idea was formed. The Jewish community would declare thegoal of eradicating hunger among Jews in Los Angeles, as well as hunger among all people throughout Los Angeles County. We would work as an activist community toward this goal. With this message we could penetrate many of the households that we could not involve with other Jewish messages. It also was a message that could penetrate the Hollywood Jews, many who would also not re- spond to a traditional Jewish message. The Hollywood Jews are key to success in a city like Los Angeles. We could create a movement around hun- ger that would indeed need thousands of volunteers for both gathering and feeding, as well as political advocacy and activism. We would make the syna- gogues the physical center of the movement, thereby creating a collaboration between federation and the synagogues that not only would be one of social action, but one that would drive Jews in the neighborhoods into their local synagogues. We would work in close col- laboration with Mazon, the L. A.-based international Jewish response to hunger, and with SOVA and Tomchei Shabbas, the local Jewish hunger organizations. The movement would be multi- generational. We would work to create curriculum on the issues for the Jewish schools. The ideas and possibilities were endless. In the end, we are hoping that through the hunger initiative we will attract thou- sands of Jews who will learn of the federation and its causes. As we tell this idea to the leadership of the federation, to professionals, donors and community partners, the excitement is palpable. People who at first were skeptical are now bought in. The biggest controversy so far has been the sectarian/nonsectarian discussion. In an economic downturn, can we afford to set a goal this expansive? Shouldn't we be realistic and just concern ourselves with Jewish hunger? In response, remaining just in the realm of being market- ing strategists, we remind them that without us target- ing all of the people, the Jews we are trying to attract, espe- cially the Hollywood Jews, will never buy in. These are people who have not responded to Jewish need alone- -even many of the wealthy ones. The challenges ahead of us are enormous. We must be ready to roll this out on Yom Kippur, the day when everyone is thfnking about food. This is a big change in how the L. A. federation does business. Change is never easy. But now, it is paramount. The risk is worth taking. Gary Wexler is the owner of Passion Marketing, consult- ing with some of the largest nonprofits in the world, in- cluding many in Jewish life. He is a JTA board member. Fine From page 4A cumstances." According to these perspectives put forward by Helmreich and Hyman, then, Jewish mothers are unique despite their shared experience as immigrants and women when compared with other populations. So who are our Jewish mothers? Are they the women glorified in Eshet Chayil every Shabbat? Are they one or two generations removed from the shtetl? Or are they the mothers with whom we spend quality time the one day each year that was des- ignated for them by the U.S. Congress? Put another way, are our mothers Americans, Jews, second generation im- migrants or a combination of all three? While I cannot answer that question for any of you, I can answer that question for myself. My own Jew- ish mother was born in 1931, married my father in 1953 and gave birth to five daughters between 1955 and 1964. She herself was the eldest of two daughters, and she grew up in a poor Jewish neighborhood in Portsmouth, Va., during the Great Depression. She is two generations removed from the Russian village where my great-grandparents lived until they were expelled in a pogrom. Never having the chance to attend college, she pushed her children to do so. She drove into Buffalo's (N.Y.) inner city every week to tutor African-American children living in poverty, while she maintained a busy, middle class Jewish home. Our lives dramatically changed in the 1970s when our parents divorced. It turns out that my mother, like so many of yours, is all three. An American woman of valor descended from im- migrants. Thank G-d she is a Jewish mother. No joke. Dr. Terri Susan Fine is a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. She can be reached by e-mail at Roundup From page llA news release, and then would not leave the scene when they were asked to by police. Also arrested was Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast. The groups say that the Sudanese decision to expel aid groups will leave 1.1 million civilians without food aid, 1.5 million without health care and more than I million without potable water. Jewish groups get swine flu info WASHINGTON (JTA)--A Jewish community security network distributed health advisory information to its members on the swine flu outbreak. The Secure Community Network sent out a memo and materials April 27 provided by the Centers for Disease Control to hundreds of Jewish institutions, including federa- tions and Jewish community centers. SCN has an existing partnershipwith the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security. The memo gives details on the public health emergency and provides symptoms and other information about the flu. For more information, SCN suggests going to its Web site,, or the CDC's site, Jewish Ukrainian journalist honored KIEV, Ukraine (JTA)--A Jewish Ukrainian journalist received a national honor. Sergey Tyhyi, editor in chief of the Ukrainian newspaper Gazeta Po-Kievsky, was given the title Honored Journalist of Ukraine on April 23. A decree signed by Ukraini- an President Victor Yuschen- ko recognized Tyhyi for his "prominent personal contri- bution to the development of journalism, defending of democracy and freedom of speech, high level of profes- sionalism and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Associa- tion of Journalists." Surveillance videos show healthier Demjanjuk WASHINGTON (JTA)--The Justice Department released surveillance videos which it says show that a Nazi war criminal is healthy enough to be deported. Lawyers for John Demjan- juk, 89, have claimed that because of his condition, transporting their client to Germany would constitute torture. They won an emer- gency stay of deportation two weeks ago when Demjanjuk was on the way to the airport. Butavideoshows Demjanjuk walking and getting into a car without much trouble, and an affidavit from an immigration agent says that he moved with no more difficulty than any other man of his age, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In Germany, Demjanjuk would face trial as an acces- sory in the deaths of some 29,000 Jews. Actress Bea Arthur dies JERUSALEM (JTA)--Ac- tress Bea Arthur, famous for her roles in the television sitcoms "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," has died. Arthur died April 25 in her Los Angeles home, reportedly from cancer. She was 86. Arthur, born Bernice Fran- kl in New York, played Yenta the matchmaker in the original Broadway version of "Fiddler on the Roof." She won a Tony Awarder best support- ing actress for her portrayal of Vera Charles in "Mame." She received Emmy Awards for her title role in the sitcom "Maude" and for "The Golden Girls," in which she played Dorothy Zbornak, a divorced substitute teacher living in Miami with three women, including her mother. Arthur was married briefly to playwright Robert Alan Arthur. She and director Gene Saks were married for more than 20 years beginning in 1950 before divorcing.