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May 16, 2003

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PAGE 4 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY By David Bornstein Bar Mitzvah Blues: First in the bar mitzvah series Ethan has done it again. Pinned on his bed- has been our first challenge. With a boy like room wall, between basebalLtrophyplaques, is a Ethan it's easy to lose perspective. You see pagetornoutofSportslllustrated.Thepicture's having a baseball star wasn't even on the list of of one of baseball's most moving moments, predictions for our children. I could have imag- when LOu Gehrig gave his farewell speech. The ined author, musician, computer geek, punk headline above the picture reads, "To some it's skater, eventennisplayer, butsouthpawpitcher? a sport. To others, a religion." When he hung it I don't think so. It's one thing to have a kid who up he pointed it out to me proudly. "See?" he enjoys sports or plays what we condescendingly said."That'sme."Myeyebrowscurled.Ithought call "rec ball," or little league. It's another to for a moment about an appropriate response, support a child with scholarship potential and holding my knee jerk"Judaism is your religion" beyond. As many of you know, when you have a in check, l knew, atthatmoment, itwoulddono child who truly excels in any area, and who good. So I smiled, book marked the scene, and makes a willing commitment to it, as a parent said, "I know how important baseball is to you. your job becomes helping them reach their Have you done your bar mitzvah study yet?" potential. We've begun preparations forouroldest child's Ethan's standard week includes a team prac- bar mitzvah, and maintaining the proper focus tice, adoubleheader, apitchinglesson,astrength and conditioning workout, batting cages, long toss, soft toss, weighted balls and fielding drills. Our lives seem to revolve around the stitches of a baseball. Where, then, does religious educa- tion fit in? To be honest, this year had been a struggle, as I've recounted in earlier col umns. Hebrew school conflicts with baseball practice, Sunday school with games. We've balanced that reasonably well, but it's still easy to get askewed viewpoint. That all changed as we thought about the real meaning of his bar mitzvah. At a b'nai mitzvah meeting at our shul, the rabbi, education director and cantor all made it dear in the most positive way that the lessons our children must recall are about the responsi- bilities that come with transitioning into a Jew- ish adult, not recounting their first words, dia- per training or home runs. So first, we have to remember is that we're sharing the experience with our synagogue. It's part of a religious service, not merely a family celebration. That may seem obvious, but when I've imagined talking to Ethan on the bimah, what's always come to mind are his exploits on the field, not in the field of study. What I realized, what I've begun to speak to Ethan about, and what is particularly difficult to convey to a twelve or thirteen year old, is that who they are today is just today. Many things change in life - friends, athletic abilities, homes, schools - but one constant is an internal iden- tity, a communal consciousness and reli base that our Judaism provides. For the who retains a sense of restless immortality, t belief that life is long and today is everything, i hard to inculcate an both long and fleeting, that we most of our moments and the most of our that who we are is defined by how we live; what we believe as well as what we Those three areas form the foundation of t own Jewish sensibilities. And that is what tried to impart to my oldest son, for example, for the months leading up to his mitzvah. In hi~ have had a tough break, but to live for." In my short speech to my already'spinning in my head, I won't baseball, but-I may talk about Torah. I won'tt~ about fame, but I may mention faith. viduals our flames are bright. As eternal. We have that through the bar mitzvah vey that to my son. Life is full of tou but the toughest of all would be missin opportunity to be a committed Jew. The opinions expressed in this colurnn ~ the writer's, and not those of the any other Jewish word until next week. mail your comments, critiques, to By Carl Alpert terlcan pressure on Israel are News from Israel you have never read before HAIFA--In recent weeks the headlines in Doing What They Are Supposed To Do. In Israel have dealt with such matters as the war in the first six weeks of its existence this year, the Iraq, the Histadrut general strike, the threat of Knesset received from its members 900 propos- SARS,unemployment, suicidebombersandhalf als for new laws. Experience of the past shows, a dozen other major problems. But why make however, that only about 5 percent will actually ourselves uncomfortable with such matters be approved. when a close reading of the papers can put us in Military Revolution. As of the coming Au- a much more cheerful mood. For example: gust, draftees into Israel's military forces will A Matter of Luck. A couple driving on a receive underwear in a choice of many colors, Galilee road were startled when a pedestrian ran including green, blue, black, brown, purple and infrontoftheircar, andtheystruckhim.Hewas gray. White underwear will be discontinued. badly wounded and unconscious, but had one This applies to males only. Girl soldiers must piece of luck: Both the driver and his wife were bring their own underwear. medical aides at the Carmel Hospital in Haifa. A New Record for Israel. With 7 percent of They jumped out of the car and at once began its population claiming to be vegetarians, for applying necessary first aid. health or ideological reasons, Israel holds first Their efforts paid off. The victim was brought place of non-meat consuming nations in the back to consciousness and his life was saved, western world. In following order are Britain Not AllBus Drivers. An elderly lady boarded with 6 percent; the U.S 5 percent; Holland, 4.4 a bus in Raanana and then discovered to her percent; and Germany, 1.25 percent. Poland constemationthatshedidnothaveenoughmoney comes last, with 0.2 percent. in her purse to pay for the fare. She offered to get TheyTookaRisk.WhentheJerusalemGold off, but the driver volunteered to pay for the Hotel informed the public that during a two ticket, and she would repay him at a later oppor- month period guests would have to pay only tunity. She agreed, and when she got home she what they felt the service was worth to them, the told her husband, a tour operator, what had management was warned of a catastrophe. The happened. He was so impressed with the driver's staff put itself out to provide maximum service courtesy that he offered him a five-day vacation and hospitality, and upon checkout almost ev- overseas, travel and hotels, without charge, ery guest paid the full official rate. lsraelisHaveSeenItAlready. OfficiaiAmeri- From the Classics. When Arik Sharon won can figures reveal that in the year2002 there was the recent election and maintained his seat as a 14 percent decrease in the number Of Israeli prime minister, it is said that his major problem tourists entering the U.S. With 263,097 Israeli was what to do with Netanyahu. The question visitors, this country was in 16th place among was: to Bibi or not to Bibi. the countries of tourist origin. Typical Israeli Reaction. When muggings Madam the Doctor. This year, for the first and personal attacks on elderly people inHadera time, women exceeded the number of males reachedalarmingproportions, the potential vic- graduating from the Technion Medical School tims decided to do something about it. Classes in Haifa. were organized in karate, boxing and other Further, more women than men graduated aspects of personal defense. The weak and eld- with honors, erly were taught, for example, what to do when Policing the Police. Because of a shortage of threatened with a knife. police officers, private security guards have been We haven't seen any statistical result, but engaged to guard the entrances to police sta- neither have we noticed any reports lately of tions in Israel. assaults on the aged in Hadera. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. 1 II 1 1 CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE ~ O ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 36 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser LORII Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer HERITAGEFloridaJewishNews (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($4L95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Elaine Schoopmg Circulation Rachel Hughes Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Sara Crusade Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Carl Alpert Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gall Simons Production Department David Lehman Teri Marks Rachel Levy III II I By Jonathan S. Tobin At last week's meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiza- tions in New York, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the members of this ill-defined but prominent group were discussing the Middle East "road map." During this gathering, where pro and con views about the plan put forward by the diplomatic "Quartet" of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia were aired, Ronald S. Lander, president of the Jewish National Fund, is said to have spoken up preaching the need for a "unified" community stand on the issue. Lots of luck. Lauder's pious statement notwithstanding, the chances for unity on this issue or any other of any substance is, of course, nil. Composed, as it is, of groups that span the political spectrum from right to left (not to mention quite a few that should just be labeled "confused"), these organizations are as inca- pable of unity as the United Nations. Jews have a long history of disunity that has even persisted in the face of outside threats. So this is particularly remarkable about the fact that the "major" American Jewish groups - or Israelis, for that matter - don't all agree about the road map toward peace. Over the course of the last 20 years, both sides of the left-right divide over Israel have done their best to shut up or marginalize their oppo- nents. Most of these efforts have been disrepu- table. But that said, there have always been perceived limits on what should be considered legitimate "pro-Israer' activity. No longer taboo criticizing Israeli govern- ments is certainly no longer taboo, be they of the left or right. Nor should it be. But if there was any "red line" that mainstream groups refused to cross, it was that no one ought to encourage foreign governments, even the United States, to place pressure on Israel to do things its demo- cratically elected government was opposed to doing. The collapse of Oslo after the Palestinians rejected peace in the summer of 2000 and an- swered Israel's offer of a settlement with war and terror ended the debate here over these issues. Two consecutive electoral landslides for the Likud Party quieted much of the old, tired arguments about settlements and territories. But the triumphant end of America's war in Iraq may change yet again the political and diplomatic equation of the Middle East. The announcement of the road map and the appointment of what is supposed to be a re- formed government is providing the Palestin- ians with yet another opportunity to have the Europeans, and maybe even the United States, squeeze Israel for their benefit. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is at- tempting to finesse this situation by agreeing in principle to the road map, but insisting that it be revised to ensure that the Palestinians with the q terrorist organizations within their ranks. Moreover, all this is happening Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister selected to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser being clearly outmaneuvered by ist. that the key demand that armed groups be united under one already being flouted. Ararat - and not Abbas - will still control of several of these "security" tions that have been used to carry out attacks on Israelis in the past. And the since Abbas' confirmation has, brought more terror to Israel. So, given how far should American Jews who the road map go in order to hel To that end, a number of wealthy American Jews si ing President Bush to ignore "recent sidetrack implementation of the 'road This was widely seen as a slap Sharon's maneuvering, a widely supported congressional sored by mittee. That letter urged Bush to not on any arbitrary timetable to Palestinians with statehood, pliance with the president's for reform and the end of terror. It should be sti that letter are, without a doubt, love of Israel and a sincere belief that to make concessions is in the best the Jewish state. But let's supporters of the road map in thinly veiled green light for I do what its people have clearly voted not the last two elections: go back to the concessions. No one should question their right a cans to speak their minds. Bul tion the propriety of Jews lobbyin[ not to support Israel, but to force its ment to accept someone are not attacking democracy but Defending democracy, not What is at stake here is not left-right mutual dele a question of what gives a group of we Jewish philanthropists the American president it is okay an Israeli prime minister. o What is we all pretend to agree, as is so with our consensus-obsessed ganizations. We don't have to agree knows what he is doing, See "Tobin" on page 5