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May 11, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 11, 2012 By Cnaan Liphshiz In Belgium, national rupture spreads to Jews U.N.-led investigation of West Bank settlements. Belgium's Flemish and French-speaking Jewish com- munities long have main- tained a modus vivendi for cooperation underhich they alwaysapproached federal authorities together. But on the vote on the U.N. probe, the two communities broke with each other. Flemish Jews, represented by the Forum of Jewish Orga- nizations, or FJO, met with Belgium's justice ministerand released a statement saying that "the Jewish community was shocked and appalled" by the vote. By contrast, French-speak- ing Jews, represented by the Umbrella Organization of Jewish Institutions of Bel- gium -- known by the French initials CCOJB -- did not condemn Belgium's vote. In- stead, CCOJB's president met a Belgian Foreign Ministry official who concluded that Belgo-lsraeli relations were "warm and frank." The ministry "regrets cer- tain disagreements are being used t o import theconflict to Belgium," CCOJB informed its members in a statement• "The meeting at the foreign ministry would've gone differ- ently hadwe been invited," Eli Ringer, honorary chairman of the Antwerp-based FJO, told JTA. He noted that CCOJB, the organization represent- ing Francophones, recently added to its board a member of JCall, a left-leaning Jewish group that describes itself as pro-Israel butalso is critical of BRUSSELS (JTA)--Few Jewish couples define their marriage as "mixed" just be- cause bride and groom were born and raised 30 miles apart in the same country. But Linda and Bernard Levy live in Belgium, a country whose long experiment in fusing two distinct cultures recently has been showing signs of breakdown. With the Dutch-speaking Flemish half of the country increasingly at odds with the French-speak- ing part, Belgium's corre- sponding Jewish communi- ties are finding themselves at loggerheads as well. Lindawas born in Antwerp, the capital of Flzmders in the self-governing Flem- ish region. She rarely uses Flemish (similar toDutch), the language of her youth, since she married Bernard, a Francophone from Brussels. They live just outside Brussels with their three children. "Language is actually a non-issue in mixed marriages like ours," she said. "Flemish Jews are usually bilingual." But a recent rupture in relations between Belgium's Flemish and French-speaking Jewish communities, each with approximately 20,000 members, has exposed some profound ideological dif- ferences between the two communities, particularly on Israel. The trigger was Belgium's decision in March to join Austria as the only two EU countries to vote in favor of a the Israeli government. JCall was modeled after J Street in the United States. "I hope we can once more speak with one voice on the federal level," Ringer said. It was hardly the first dis- pute between the two Jewish communities. In December, Ringer criticized CCOJB for hosting as a guest of ho.nor at a gala a Belgian politician who had equated Israel and Nazism. He called the move "unwise." Joel Rubinfeld, the previ- ous president of CCOJB, says the two organizations have reached a point of an "open row." Relations between the groups "have never been worse," he said. His CCJOB successor, Maurice Sosnowski, declined to be interviewed for this article. The Jews of Antwerp and Brussels long have been dif- ferent. Jews from Antwerp tend to be more religious, tight-knit and hawkish on Israel, while their Brussels coreligionists are more lib- eral, according to laymen and leaders from both communi- ties. Antwerp has 13 Jewish schools compared to three in Brussels• Linda Levy's father, a dia- mond dealer, is one of approxi- mately 18,000 Jews living in Flanders. Most Flemish Jews in Antwerp are Orthodox and speak Flemish or Yiddish at home as well as French and Hebrew. "I was raised in a largely secular home, but our family in Brussels thinks I'm some kind of religious authority Cleveland Browns draft Jewish lineman By Matt DeFaveri Cleveland Jewish News The Cleveland deli scene might see a new patron. Mitchell Schwartz arrived in town May 10 for the Cleveland Browns' rookie minicamp. The team selected him with the 37th overall pick in the recently concluded NFL Draft. "Matzah ball soup or a nice deli sandwich. And of course in the winter, latkes warm you up. I'm sure I'll eat a lot of everything once the season starts," Schwartz said from his hometown of Los Angeles as he rattled off some of his favorite Jewish comfort foods• The Browns hope the 22-year-old right tackle from the University of California Berkeleywill shore up the right side of the offensive line, an area of concern after a disap- pointing 4-12 season last year. When Schwartz's cell phone rang during the second day of the draft on April 27, he said emotions in his house ran pretty high. "Whenever you get that call you're not quite sure that it's going to be 'the' call," he said. "But I picked up the phone and heard the good news. My family reacted a little more intensely than I did. They were jumping on the couch and running around a little. It was awesome." Schwartz said he and his brother Geoff, a member of the Minnesota Vikings, were raised in a strong Jewish household. Mitchell Schwartz "We've always been in Hebrew school from an early age," said Schwartz, whose family belonged to Conserva- tive synagogue Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles "We went to temple every year, observed major holidays. We were pretty active, especially compared to some of the friends we had who were Jewish." Schwartz followed a simi- lar path to the NFL as his brother, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round (241st overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. Geoff signed a one-year deal with the Vikings on March 31. Schwartz's father Lee said that he and his-wife Olivia Goodkin feel lucky to have two sons in the NFL. "I guess the bestway to say it is, it's surreal," he said. "l kvell (take pleasure) when thinking about it. For a dad who's been ajock his whole life, it's a real unbelievable situation. "We stressed family, we stressed being good, ethi- cal people, morals," Lee Schwartz said of raising his sons. "We stressed the religion and being Jewish. I think it's just a collection of a lot of things that we as parents try to instill in them, and ultimately it worked out. Schwartz said he's lookilng forward to getting involv,ed in Cleveland's Jewish com- munity.. "From everything I've heard, it sounds like a pretty decent-sized community in Cleveland," he said. "I'm sure my mom and dad will help me figure it out. I'm plenty confident I'll be able to find something." As for joining asynagogue, Schwartz said he'd play it by ear. "You kind of have to figure that out as you go," he said. "Especially during the season, it's a lot harder to find time for that." While he paves the way for the Browns' running backs and protects the quarterback this season, Schwartz said he won't forget the influence Jlu- daism has had on his athletic career. "Judaism teaches a lot of dedication and hard work," he said. "You don't go back on your word. You do what you're supposed to do when you're told by your superior. I think it's more the spirit of being a good person in society. If you do those things the right way, you'll be successful no matter what you do." because I'm from Antwerp and I light Shabbat Candles," Levy said. Her husband, Bernard, hails from the Brussels Jewish community of about 20,000. Most of its members are concentrated in and around the French-'speaking federal capital, where they lead secu- lar lives. The split between the Jew- ish communities of Belgium mirrors what in recent years has b.ecome a national woe: the widening gulf separating Flemish and French-speaking Belgians. One of the first big" splits hit the Belgian Socialist Party in 1978, two years before the creation of the Flemish Re- gion and the onset of Belgian federalism, when the party split in two. There not only are two socialist parties now representing Francophones on the one hand and the Flemish on the other, but two Christian Democratic parties, two liberal parties and even two green parties. The seces- sionist New Flemish Alliance wants the Flemish part of the country to pull out of Belgium altogether. The very creation of a sepa- rate institution representing only Flemish Jews was itself a part of the same process. Founded 50 years ago, the CCOJB umbrella group used to represent -- nominally, at least -- Jews from both Flanders and Wallonia, the French-speaking region of the country. But in 1993 the Flemish community splintered off and formed FJO, reflecting the sentiment that Jews from Antwerp were not really represented in the main community umbrella group. Michael Freilich, editor in chief of Belgium's leading Jew- ish publication, JoodsActueel, says the two communities PAGE 17A Ben Harris Antwerp's Jewish distn'ct has something of the feel of a modern shtetl. inhabit two distinct political universes. Due to the political system, "in Flanders you can only vote for Flemish parties and in Wallonia only for French- speaking parties, even though parties from both regions sit in government," Freilich said. "This means politicians who matter to Wallonians don't matter to Flemish and vice versa. It's very difficult[ to lobby together when you inhabit two different, parallel political realities." Belgium's political crisis resulted last year in a new world record: Belgium went for 541 days without an elected government because Flemish andWallonian representatives could not reach a compromise. That was one of several crises since 2007 that has caused many in Belgium and else- where to doubt Belgium's sustainability as a unified state. Then there are intercul- tural gripes. "The problem is that there are a few people in Brussels who are still used to thinking of French speakers as the elite and of Flemish speakers as • provincial," Ringer said. The chairwoman of FJO, Kouky Frohmann-Gartner, put it more bluntly in an in- terview for Joods Actueel in October: "Those in Brussels think they're better," she said. Yet Ringer. says he is op- timistic about the future of relations, at least among Belgium's Jews. "Every time the Brus- sels community gets a new president, they decide they need to represent the whole of Belgium. Then they get over it," he told JTA. "We're a small community that needs to work together to overcome similar challenges." Health & Fitness Issue An Annual Issue PublishedBy HERITAGE Florida Jewish News and Featuring a Variety of Thought-Provoking Articles on Health and Fitness Related Subjects Publication Date: June 15, 2012 Reaching a Responsive, Health-Conscious Market Deadline for this Important Issue is Wednesday, June 6, 2012 CALL TODAY TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE 407-834-8787