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PAGE 18A Kotel From page 1A the Chief Rabbinate and other great rabbis, exam- ine if we should oppose the proposal referring to Robinson's Arch, which is Moderate not part of the Western Wall synagogue, if this would be a solution acceptable to ev- eryone," Rabinowitz said in a statement two weeks ago. On April 30, Sharansky said his proposals Were meant as "long-term solu- tions," not quick fixes for immediate concerns. "The merit of these pro- posals [does] not depend on any day-to-day develop- ments that happen in the courts or near the Kotel itself," Sharansky said in a statement, using the wall's Hebrew name. "All the stakeholders have agreed that the next important step is the timeline which will be developed by the prime minister's office in the next few weeks." But the ruling appears to have lessened Women of the Wall's appetite for com- HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 10, 2013 I promise, leading the group to reassert a longstanding insistence on being allowed to pray as it wishes in the regular women's section. The group has announced that at its monthly service on May 10, a member will read from the Torah in the women's section; that hasn"t been done for a decade. The ruling "allows Women of the Wall to pray how we al- ways wished," said Hoffman, "with women of all denomi- nations in the women's set- tion, with our prayer shawls and Torah and shofar." From page 2A he'd agree to free up money for investigators. More substantive reforms would require the approval of both chief rabbis, Ash- kenazi and Sephardi, as well as the approval of the Chief Rabbinical Council, a 17-member voting body that controls Rabbinate policy. The council, a mix of appointed and elected mem- bers, is dominated by conser- vative elements. "We needa radica!revolution, and Rabbi Stav won't bring that," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, CEO of Israel's Reform Movement. He said Stav would "just Trial give a cellophane cover to a - ruined candy. "Maybe it matters who the chief rabbi is for formal cer- emonies, but it doesn't really matter for-how conversion and kashrut happen," Kariv said. "The processes within the rabbinic establishment are so extreme that who the chief rabbi is doesn't matter." Even if a reform-minded chief'rabbi manages to get elected and push through some reforms, he could be thwarted when it comes to enforcement. Implementa- tion depends on local rabbis and judges in rabbinical courts who are appointed and'removed only by ar ap- pointment committee, also dominated by conservative elements. Stav said he's confident he'd be able to get the rabbis to cooperate. "If they don't cooperate," he said, "there will be problems." Stav's primary competi- tors for the position Of chief rabbi will be several haredi rabbis seen as moderates acceptable to both Israel's haredi and centrist Orthodox communities. Among ttfem are Eiiezer Igra, a former Israeli combat soldier and religious judge; David Lau, clief rabbi of Modiin, a booming central Israeli city; and Yaakov Shapira, who heads the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem. The past few Israeli chief rabbis, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, have been hare- di--a testament to the grow- ing numbers and clout of the haredi community in Israel. Pending the likely passage of an amendment allowing chief rabbis to run for a sec- ond term, current Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is the leading candidate in the Sephardic .race. The vote is limited to 150 people: a lelegation made up of 70 rabbis, mostly from Israel's biggest cities and towns, and 80 "public rePresentatives"--mayors , Knesset members chosen by committee and heads of local religious councils. Stav's supporters say that even if significant change doesn't happen right away, having a chief rabbi with a moderate, open image 'will help advance religious pluralism. "Change happens slowly," said Dov Lipman, a Knesset member from the centrist Yesh Atid party, which has endorsed Stav's candidacy. "There's not going to be an overnight overhaul. But as a first step let's have a rabbi But other advocates for religious pluralism feel that th Rabbinate is too broken for any chief to make a dif- ference and that the only solution is the most.radical one: abolish the Rabbinate entirely and separate church and state in Israel. "The system has become bankrupt," said Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi and president of Hiddush, an Israeli non- profit that promotes reli- gious pluralism and opposes Orthodox control over reli- gious issues in Israel. "The Chief Rabbinate has become who's openly Zionist: Even.. a threat to the State of Israel that symbolic change is very and to the Jewish people. It significant." should be abolished." From page 2A $3,600 each, totaling about $18 million, and 658 fraud- "ulent pension claims total- ing $24.5 million. Claims Conference Public Rela- tions Manager Amy .Wexler told JNS.org that Schneider is "not giving interviews during the course of the trial." "I can't speak specifically about anything we do inter- nally [at the Claims Confer- ence]," Wexler added. Martin Stern, an Israeli citizen born in Germany, whose family escaped and survived World War II in Scandinavia, told JNS.org that the Claims Conference has been lax in its surveil- lance of the reparations application process. "The [Claims Confer- ence] staff was told [by the German government] to 'get us people.., find us Shmita names,'" Stern said. "There was a demand to find more and more claimants." Stern said Germany "signed more and more agreements to pay survivors and the. Claims Conference needed to find more and more survivors who did not exist." The indictment against the Claims Conference employees states that dur- ing one month, one em- ployee typically approved applications for Holocaust reparat.ions in just a few days, whereas other case- workers generally spent at least 60 days reviewing an application before ap- proving it. Schneider has indicated his investigation and eventual discovery of the fraud was sparked by the realization that certain applications were processed with unusual speed, rather than the normal period of several months. In December 1999, the U.S. and German govern- ments &greed to a $5.2 bil- lion settlement that Ger- many would pay to resolve all, Holocaust-ezra slave and forced labdr claims by survivors against Ger- man companies, and the Claims Conference ha administered Germany's reparations payments to the survivors. Attorney Sam Dubbin, who has worked on behalf of Holo- caust survivors in Florida, told JNS.org that the entire currentsystem for compensating survivors Is flawed, and that there should have been "no in- dividual settlement." "The Jewish commu- nity should have offered survivors three things: home care and assisted living insurance, Medicare supplement, and funeral in- surance so survivors could live with dignity and not be a burden to their children," Dubbin said, adding, "We made a mistake for all survi- vors by not going that way." Defendant Esfira .Bas, who was charged November 9, 2010 and has admitted to processing 60 fraudulent reparations applications, has become a witness for the U,S. government. Bas was not a Claims Confer- ence employee and agreed to cooperate in hopes of re- ceiving a lighter sentence, according to facts cited in court during her testimony. "The recipients all knew they were not eligible," Bas said in court. "Some were born after the war." Bas noted that adver- tisements promoting the program were placed in Russian-language news- papers. Bas said she col- lected documents, even from those she knew to be clearly ineligible for repara- tions, and passed them to a person named "Fainia." For her part in the alleged scam, Bas said she received $9,000. She is facing up to 40 years in prison. Bas stated in court that she has provided all the information available to her to the FBI and other U.S. government agencies. She stated she "had no contact" with the applicants, and acted "because they gave money back" to her. When asked if she considered how her part in perpetrat- ing the fraud would affect Holocaust survivors, she responded, "I did not think about it." The sweater-clad Dom- nitser appeared unmoved by Bas's words in court. Neither Luba Kramish nor Oksana Romalis, both of whom pied innocent, re- sponded. Maxine Dovere. Julius Berman, pictured, chairman of the board of the Claims Conference, said alleged fraud at the Claims Conference amounted to "phony evidence" provided for claims of eligibility for Holocaust compensation. The fraud lasted for about a decade-and-a-half and alleg- edly depn'ved Holocaust survi. vors of more than $57 million, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern Distn'ct of New York. From page 5A it done," Jewish life could be the place Jews awoke to gratitude for what they have in each moment? The ancient Jewish practice of shmita, the biblically man- dated sabbatical year of rest and release thatbegins in September 2014, offers one way to roll back this trend. At its core, shmita is a chance to show contemporary Jews that ancient Jewish texts have the potential to serve as a sophis- ticated map for many areas of their lives, not just occasional events in particular buildings. But it is also a way to induce individual Jews to ke more responsibility both for their personal consumption habits and shaping the contours of their spiritual lives. Traditionally, shmita was a time when farmers did not cultivate their lands, debts were forgiven and slaves were set free. In a contemporary context, when rflost of us are neither farmers nor slaves, we can see this year not only as a chance to restore balance and share more equitably, .but to release out'salves from the mentality that sees everything HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man & General Maintenance Air Conditioning Carpentry Electrical, Plumbing Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References [vailable STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 in the world--fr0m natural resources to Jewish communal ones--as one more set of things to b e consumed. Anyone looking to revive their communities, spend more time with family and friends or even live more simply can take inspiration from the concept of shmita. Hazon, a national Jewish organization promoting sus- tainability, is part of a coali- tion of eco-minded Jewish projects planning a series of initiatives in anticipation of the next shmita year. Taking our cues from the transition town movement, asocial experi- ment that focuses on economic localization and sustainable agriculture, the Shmita Proj- ect seeks to revive the ancient teachings of the sabbatical cycle and apply them to our times. Bringing these principles alive is our next best shot to counter the consumerist impulse from within the Jewish tradition, all the while supporting the envi- ronment, our communities and ourselves. Jewish texts explain that dur- ingtheshmitayear, landowners would take down their fences so that the poor and animals could take freely from the crops. Today we might consider which resources from our "fields" we can offer to others. We could lit- erally feed the hungry, or give of ourselves in otherways, through volunteering, pro bono work or other collaborative community projects. Shmita also calls upon us to release debts and take time off fromwork. Today, communities might consider setting up a"de- growth" plan in recognition of the fact thatwe are livingbeyond the capacities of the ecosystem. The Worldwatch Institue cites studies in Europe that indicate cutting back from a work week of more than 50 hours actually would create jobs. My hope is that such efforts will result not only in people taking a closer look at how economic sustainability might work in their communities, but also in individuals takinggreater responsibility for personal, con- sumption habits and relieving themselves of the expectation that others will perform Jewish practice on their behalf. Rather than criticizing the failings of our institutional leaders, we can take active roles in revital- izing Jewish life--and local economic and environmental systems--as co-creators. In turn, we can begin to discharge the consumerist tendency from our communal life. Parshat Behar, the Torah por- tion that contains the injunction to observe shmitta, falls this year on May 3-4. It will be a wonder- ful opportuhit to share shmita educational and experiential of- ferings in your local synagogue, school, community center, community garden. Imagine the Jewish commu- nity digging into these ancient texts about shmita and renew- ing them for modern times. Imagine. disaffected Jews ignit- ing change through community organizing inspired by Torah. Howwillyou integrate shmita principles into your personal "and communal life by Septem- ber 2014? Joinusonthejourney. Sarah Chandler, the director ofearth-basedspiritualpractice for Hazon's Adamah Farm at Isabella Freedman, is a Jewish experiential educator, commu- nity activist andspiritual lead Sudoku solution from page 7 196357284 237849651 548162379 975628143 412935867 683714925 769483512 35.1276498 8 2 4 5 9 1i7 3 6