Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
May 10, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 5     (5 of 52 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 5     (5 of 52 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
May 10, 2013

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 10, 2013 PAGE 5A By Eric R. Mandel Tolerance is justifiably one of liberal Democracy's most cher [shed values. But what do we do when tolerance, with its openness to multiple views, permits and even supports intolerance? This is particu- larly an issue todaywhen open prejudice against Jews and Israel, and anti-Seraitism, go unchallenged. Fundamentalism and prej- udice are rife in the Middle East, where many countries practice forms of gender, religious, ethnic and sexual apartheid. Yet, Saudi Arabia remains a U.S. ally despite How much tolerance for intolerance? the fact that women there are subjugated and it is illegal for Christians to pray in public. The most egregious forms of anti-Semitism are ram- pant in the Middle East. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi libeled Jews as apes and pigs, yet U.S. leaders speak of the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderating force. Similarly, we turn a blind eye to the anti-Semitism, intolerance and corruption that are rife in the Palestinian Authority. We do so even though these practices and views violate two pillars of America--tolerance and pluralism. Unfortunately, the United Nations and Europe also condone intolerance. In Eu- rope, anti-Semitism remains a serious problem, but it is often camouflaged by po- litically correct speech and rationalized as political dis- course about Israel. Terrorism against Israel: is frequently excused or rationalized. Michael Totten, in his book The Road to Fatima, wrote that one ofliberalism's"great- est dilemmas" is the question, "How much do the intolerant deserve tolerance?" He was speaking of the difficulty a weak nation like Lebanon faces, despite its history of liberalism, in dealing with an intolerantterror organization like Hezbollah. This phenom- enon is not just a Lebanese problem. It is widespread. We live in a world where many enlightened nations and their cultural leaders excuse terrorism because they are sympathetic to liberation movements, or because they view the terrorist group as the weaker party. ManyWestern intellectuals subscribe to a moral standard in which the party that is weaker in arms or political strength is morally right. Anti-Israel rhetoric is the most prominent example of this bias. Today, Israel is per- ceived as the stronger party, and Palestinian terrorism is justified, as the weak fighting against the powerful. This moral framework has allowed many to express their latent anti-Semitism under the guise of morality. How should we resolve this dilemma? We ,should see other coun- tries and movements as they really are, not as we wish they were. When we deal with a United Nations dominated by non-democratic countries, or an Arab world that still pro- i'notes hatred and prejudice, we should acknowledge that reality instead of retreating to the passivity of moral relativ- ism. We shouldact responsibly and wisely, and stop excusing those who are intolerant and threaten our national and foreign security interests, and threaten our values. Eric R. Mandel, MD is co- chair of StandWithUs-New York. Letters To The Editor HERITAGE welcomes and encourages let- ters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone How shmita can help us kick the consurnerist habit By Sarah Chandler * FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. (JTA)--Judaism is designed to be a person's operating system, the platform on which other areas of one's life functions. But for many Jews, religious practice sits on a shelf alongside theater subscriptions, gym memberships and soccer prac- tice, relegated to One of many offerings from which we can pick and choose. For Jewish educators like myself, this mindset poses particular challenges, forcing us to adopt the tactics of public relationsagencies to induce Jews to participate in Jewish life. Why can't these opportunities speak for themselves? Why do people have to be convinced to take a Hebrew class, attend Shabbat services or drop in on a lecture? Partly, of course, it's an issue of time. Lots of people might want more Jewishness in their lives, but work, family and other commitments end up taking precedence. Even in the best-case scenario, when people do show up for Hebrew school, committee meetings or worship services, many are un- able to leave their consumerist addictions at the door. They may sincerely want to achieve something--learn a new skill, be inspired by a rabbi's talk or approve next year's bud- get--yet they instinctively rely on"experts" to package Judaism for them. The cult of achieve= ment seeps into everything. Leaders steeped in the ethos of corporate America expect flawless execution at meetings. Parents pushing their kids on the fast track are never satisfied with the rate of their children's Hebrew acquisition. What if, instead of being just one more place to look for "more" and "better," Jewish life could be an escape from this compulsion? What if, instead of beingjustone more place to"get Shmita on page 18A Time to replace programmatic model of Jewish affiliation stories, identify their talents and passions, care about them and for them--and then craft programs that engage them with the Jewish experience• Thankfully, there are orga- nizations and individuals on the cutting edge of this rela- tional tipping point. Chabad has grown from a small group of disciples to an army of 4,500 rabbis and their families who reject the dues model of affili- ation: pay up front, then you are served. Rather, they build a relationship with individu- als first and only then ask for financial support. Congregation-based com- munity organizing begins with one-on-one conversa- tions designed to tease out common interests that can be the basis for communal action. Hillel is sending well- trained college studelats into the dorms and Greek houses to develop relationships with peers who would never walk into a Hillel House• A number of next generation initiatives like Synagogue 3000's Next Dor and Moishe House are designed to reach young Jew- ish professionals by building relationships. Social mediaare increasingly useful as a way to build virtual communities and encourage face-to-face meetings. The best fundraisers know that relationships are at the heart of raising money; most charitable giving is to people the donor trusts, not simply to support a particular cause. From these case studies and more than 150 interviews with those doing relational work, my book throws a spotlight on a number of best principles and practices that any Jewish institutional professional or lay leader can use to do this transformational work, rang- ing from personal encounters to new relational membership models. This paradigm shift will not be easy; this is labor-intensive work. It will not require more buildings but a realloca- tion of the precious time of staff and laity• We will need • engagement rabbis, relation- ship directors, community concierges and sophisticated tracking systems to ensure appropriate follow-up and transitions as individuals traverse the life cycle of com- munity engagement. We will not need new institutions, but to transform the institu- tions we already have from programmatic to relational communities•-People may come for programs, but they will stay for relationships. So as we fill .out those calendarsfor next year, let's embrace a new goal: to engage every member of our institu- tions and every interested unaffiliated person in a deeper relationship with Judaism, o with the Jewish experience and with each other. Let's begin by putting people before programs. Let's learn who they are before we try to fig- ure out what they want. Let's inspire them to see Judaism as a worldview that can inform the many different levels of relationship in their lives. Let's work toward a rededi- cation of our mishpachah, our people, to a relational Judaism. Ron Wolfson is the Finger- htit Professor of Education'at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and the co- founder of Synagogue 3000/ Next Dor. His new book is "Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community" (Jewish Lights Publishing. By Ron Wolfson LOS ANGELES (JTA)--It's that time of year, when Jew- " ish institutions pull out their 2013-14 calendars and fill them with events. Many of the programs are very good, with clever names and slick marketing: Jews and Brews, for young Federation leader- ship; L'mazeltov, for expectant parents; Torah and Tacos, for synagogue members who favor a certain southwestern cuisine with their Bible study. And yet, after all this well- meaning effort, membership in synagogues and JCCs is de- clining, federation campaigns are fiat and a generation of young Jewish adults is in no hurry to affiliate. The 20th century model of program- matic engagement is not working. Recently I received an urgent phone call from what once was one of the largest s2nagogues in America, some 1,500 households. In 2000, the congregation had a balanced budget and no mortgage on a sprawlingbuilding. Ominous- ly, young couples were moving out of the neighborhood and older folks were dropping out. The leaders knew they had to do something. Here's what they did: They borrowed $1 million. Nearly half was spent on a slick rabbi who lasted less than two years. The rest was spent on pro- grams: lectures by top speak- ers, concerts by renowned ce- lebrities and an array of events targeted to specific segments of the community. Lots of people came to the programs and ostensibly enj0y'¢d them. Then they went home. Nothing was done to ad- dress the widely held percep- tion that the congregation was cold and unwelcoming. Nothing was done to create connections between those who showed up and the clergy and staff. By the time the lead- ers called, me, the congrega- tion was $1 million in debt and had shrunk to 350 households. What's going on? Syna- gogues, rabbis and Jewish educators once were the main access points to serious Jewish learning. JCCs were a comfortable place to put your little ones in preschool, join a health club and participate in cultural activities. Federa- tions were the central a.ddress for supporting the various arms of the community. The Internet has changed all that. Hundreds ofwebsites feature rich Jewish content for free. Why pay to join a congre- gation when I can watch live streaming video of worship services, arrange for a bar or bat mitzvah tutor online and have the ceremony in my backyardwith a rent-a-rabbi? Why join a JCC when I can go to a fitness center and easily find a cheaper preschool? Why give to a centralized federation when I can direct my giving to causes that resonate with me? This begs the ultimate question: What is the value of affiliating with a Jewish institution? In my new book, "Relational Judaism" (Jewish Lights Pub- lishing), I suggest it is this: a face-to'-face community of relationships that offers meaning and purpose, belong- ing and blessing. To create such a com- munity, we need to turn our engagement model upside down. Rather than spending all our time planning events and hoping people show up, let's begin with the people: Welcome them, hear their number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to When will CAIR condemn 'terrible crimes' Dear editor: The executive director of the Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Tampa, Mr. Shibly, was ex- tremely troubled by a letter from Sandra Solomon, advis- ing us to Stand StrongAgainst Islam [Heritage Florida Jew- ish News, April 12, 2013]. I am extremely troubled that CAIR never really condemns the terrible crimes committed in the name of Islam, and the evil influence of comfortably situated imans in our free society on young idealistic people to convert them to mass murderers. Most re- cently a 30-year-old student who was permitted to remain in his dormitory at UCF even though he had not paidtuition or rent, bought a huge variety of weapons with the intent of killing as many of his fellow students as possible. Only a miracle prevented that tragedy. The Boston bombers were more success- ful in killing and maiming people. In England, Muslim fascists are hard at work destroying that culture. In France, Muslims kill Jews walking to their synagogue. In Germany, Muslims are lining Up with others who long for the return of Naziism. In Nigeria, the Philippines and Egypt, Muslims are killing Christians, and in the Arab areas in Israel they name streets after child murderers. In Iraq and Syria, Muslims are murdering Muslims. Ms. Solomon did not advo- cate hating Muslims, but she cautioned against the dan- gers that religion presents when it becomes a significant minority anywhere while en- joying the freedoms existing in the Western Democracies• There are no minority rights once there is a Muslim ma- jority. There is no validity to the analogy between Nazi persecution of Jews and the fear of Muslim fanaticism. Jews never planted bombs in crowded Nazi gatherings, albeit in retrospect I wished we had. There is indication that CAIR provides financial support to terrorist orga- nizations. I am extremely troubled by that. There probably are perfectly peaceful and humane Mus- lims, but the only sizeable group that demonstratedsuch traits are in the tiny country of Albania. According to our President, Muslims have contributed significantly to the welfare of our country, but there is very little evidence to support that conclusion. IJavid G. Danziger Winter Park Dry Bones THE TWO G00EAT PA005 Of: OUR ANCIENT 00AMILY ARE NOW COt0000R00G TRE 00EW$ OF NORTH AMERICA ANO THE PEOPLE OF I52AEl.