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May 25, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 25, 2012 Closer to home: Of baseball, faith and family By Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher New York Jewish Week PAGE 5A When I was growing up, basetall was all about fathers and sons. I am grateful that my dad transmitted his love of the game to my older brother and me, and am reminded of it each spring, when the promise of a new season still fills me with childlike excitement. Take this season, so far. I am well aware that my Baltimore Orioles have not had a winning record since 1997. And competing in the toughest of American League divisions, alongside the free- spending Yankees and Red the cellar again this year, team just by writing this acquired Frank) and a few Thoughwe lived in Mary- neighborhoods, holding real as usual. Like most beloved paragraph, and by the time gifted young pitchers, were land, my brother and I grew jobs in the off-season--rifle- teams, the Orioles torture their fans. The depressing pattern of the last few years is for the O&apos;s to play well in April, and then, as soon as you get your hopes up, they start to fade--moraccurately, nose- dive. Year after year it feels as if they're mathematically eliminated by Memorial Day. Now I am a patient guy and I've learned not to get my hopes up. I explain to friends that the Orioles are just having a bad century. But it's mid-May already and as I write this, the Orioles, the surprise of the league, are in first place. That's heady stuff for a long- suffering Baltimore fan. (Of you read this, the O's may well be on their way to another happy-go-nowhere season.) Baseball, with its six 5 month-long seasons of peaks and valleys--and no game-clock--offers real life-lessons, like faith, forti- tude, sacrifice and devotion. Looking back, I realize that even as I grew closer to my father through baseball, the love of the game also helped me achieve a sense of inde- pendence from him. In fact I can track the transition to one memorable season. Series-Bound It was 1966, the year the Orioles; powered by two future Hall of Fame Robin- finally having a breakout season. In early May, Frank Robinson, who went on to win the American League Most Valuable Player award that year, became the only player to hit a home run completely out of Memorial Stadium--later marked by a flag at a spot in the last row of the left field stands that simply said "Here." You had a feeling this was the O's' year. Over in the National League, my dad's beloved Dodgers were having another great season. His favorite player at the time, not surpris- ingly, was Sandy Koufax, who won 27 games that year and was a strongly identified Jew ,up devoted Brooklyn Dodger fans. That's Iecause our dad, a calm, soft-spoken rabbi, grew up near Ebbets Field and was fiercely loyal to the Dodgers, who season after season came close to win- ning it all before managing to break their fans' hearts. They had never won a World Series in more than six decades in Brooklyn, and "wait 'til next year" became the plaintive cry throughout the borough. Theywere known simply as the "Bums," and that classic team in the 1950s was easy to love in those days when Ma- jor League ballplayers were real people, living among armed outfielder Carl Furillo worked Construction in the winter--making modest salaries, and playing year af- teryear for the same club and with the same teammates. Future Hall of Famers like Duke Snider, Carl Erskine, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, and my hero, shortstop Pee Wee Reese. The Dodgers were favor- ites of those rooting for the underdog. After all, they played in Brooklyn, a cultural universe away from the impe- rial Yankees and Manhattan- based Giants. More than that, as the first team in baseball to hire a black player, the Dodg- Sox, they figure to land in course I probably jinxed the sons (Brooks and the newly fromBrooklyn, like my father, their fans in working-class Baseball on page 19A American liberals don't understand Israeli politics By Jonathan S. Tobin JointMedia News Service But the deft maneuver reflected more than just Netanyahu's political skill. The new coalition represents the fact that the great de- bate between left and right about the peace process that defined Israeli politics, and the worldview of many of Israel's foreign friends, has been largely resolved. Though there are still those on the right that wish to hold onto all of the West Bank and active remnants of the once mighty left that views'the conflict as something that can be so|ved by Israel alone, Netanyahu's ascendancy illustrates the broad.consensus within the Jewish state that now exists on these issues. Most Israelis support the concept of a two-state solution but understand that it will have to wait until the Pales- tinians decide to make peace. Israeli politics has been thrown into an uproar by the decision of the sinking Kadima Party and its leader Shaul Mofaz to throw in their lotwith Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This led to the postponement of new elections thatwere going to be moved up to this September from the fall of 2013 and to the creation of a new government with the support of more than 90 members of the 120-seat Knesset. Much of the reaction to the deal rightly centered on its being a political master- stroke by Netanyahu, since it not only strengthened his already firm grasp on power but also insulated him against pressures from foes at home and abroad. In the meantime, like Netan- yahu, they believe the country must stay strong. They oppose foreign pressure to make unilateral concessions to the Arabs, and they agree with the prime minister that an Iraoian nuclearweaponwould be an existential threat that cannot be tolerated. What it all boils down to is that the left has been completely marginalized in Israel. That is now reflected in an enormous governing coalition with the traditional voices of the left sitting on the sideline with not much hope of bettering their position when elections do come along next year. This consensus is the prod- uct of 20 years of peace pro- cessing that has conclusively proved to the Israeli public that they have no partners and that a repeat of the Oslo Ac- cords or the withdrawal from Gaza would be a disaster that would be paid for in Jewish blood. In the meantime they prefer their government con- tinue building the economy and hope the new cabinet-- which will not be reliant on support from religious parties--can make progress toward genuine electoral reform and a more equitable distribution of the burden of military service." But the fact of this con- sensus, so obvious to anyone conversant with Israel, hasn't penetrated the consciousness of American liberals. They still don't understand the stub- born refusal of Israeli voters and their leaders to join them in ignoring Palestinian rejec- tionism and remaking the state in the image of American Jewish liberalism. They are baffled by President Obama's unpopularity in Israel and utterly flummoxed by the prospect of Netanyahurstaying in office for years to come. Author Peter Beinart, who supports boycotts of Israel that he says will save Zionism, is now an informal advisor to President Obama on the Middle East. He and others in the liberal media think Netanyahu is an extremist whose refusal to harbor illu- sions about the Palestinians and hardheaded assessment of Iran is madness, even though his views are seen in Israel as common sense. That's why the recent at- tacks on Netanyahu's stad on Iran from a few former defense officials and discred- ited Israeli poUticians were widely misinterpreted in the United States as a sign that the prime minister is weak, .when in reality he is stranger than ever and riding high in , public opinion polls. Despite the chasm that separates their views from the Israeli consensus, many liber- al Jews--including prominent voices in the American media like Beinart--are acting as if they know more about the situation in the Middle East than the Jews who live there. Netanyahu's triumph should. be a signal that, perhaps, it is time for those who wish to save the Jewish state from itself to Pipe'own and start listening to the Israelis. JNS Columnist Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine. com. He can be reached via e- mail at: jtobin@commentar- Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter. com/#//TobinCommentary. Sustaining a day school education, financiallyand morally By Aryeh Klapper Jewish Ideas Daily BOSTON" (JTA)--There is a lot of hand-wringing these days about whether the rising costs of Jewish day schools are sustainable. Thediscussion has been about money, but this misses the point: The largest costs of day school tuition are not financial but moral, and the key to solving the financial dilemma is to address the moral problem. What are the moral costs? Imagine that someone pro- poses a new Jewish practice that would have these out- comes: • Parents take second jobs, or work longer hours, that deprive them of almost all weekday contact with their children and leave them too exhausted to make Shabbat meaningful. • Nearly half of households are transformed for years from community contributors to charity recipients. • Children aspiring to intellectual, creative or ser- vice work, such as teaching (especially Torah) or other helping professions, are told that these are not options because they will not produce enough money to sustain a committed Jewish lifestyle. • Families choose to have fewer .children for purely eco- nomic reasons. We would consider such a practice stunningly irrespon- sible. Yet these are real-life consequences of current day school tuition, even as day school education is increas- ingly seen as vital in success- ful Jewish child-rearing. Should we therefore undo commitment to broad-based day school education? No; we can address the moral issues and, in doing so, the financial ones as well. Many of the moral chal- lenges come not from the amount that families must • pay but from the system that determines the amount. Under the current financial aid system, families have no guarantee of how they will be affected by tuition hikes or whether the school will take account of.a job loss or extra income from a second job. Unable to plan and chronically dependent on the decisions of others, they are deprived of economic dignity. Furthermore, financial aid applications require families. to state their expenses in often humiliating detail, so that an anonymous committee can sit in judgment of their priori- ties. A family that eats pasta all month so it can go to a movie risks an aid cut because it spends on entertainment. Yes, the price of poverty is often loss of privacy and dignity. But these are evils; they must be minimized. The current system maximizes these evils by forcing oth- erwise self-supporting, even wealthy families to apply for charity because "full tuition" is unaffordable even for many households earning more than $200,000 per year. A model like that of the Solomon Shechter Day School of Greater Boston offers great potential. Put simply, here's how it might work: Basic tuition is a fixed percentage of gross income set at approximately the percentage that the current financial aid process tends to charge middle-income families. High-income fami- lies can choose to pay a fixed amount, approximately what is now called "full tuition," in order to lower their tuition, and families unable to pay the fixed percentage could, as now, apply for financial aid. This model corrects many of the current system's moral deficiencies: • It makes the" tuition- setting process transparent and predictable for many more families. • It moves many middle- class families off the char- ity rolls and minimizes the schools' intrusion into their affairs. • It defines day school education as a public good to be communally supported instead of an individual good privately purchased. • It makes clear that the rich, even when they pay the maximum tuition, are as- sessed a lower percentage of their income than the middle class. What impactwill tlis model have on the financial bottom line of schools? At the simplest level, none; the percentage of income required as tuition can be set so as to produce ap- proximately the revenues that schools receive now. But more thoughtfully, it offers exciting possibilitie s for increasing revenues, enrollment 'and fiscal accountability. Here are just a few of them- - Dan Perla of the Avi Chai Foundation argues cogently that setting school payments as a percentage of income dur- ing a recession is an excellent investment, as when times improve, revenues will rise much faster than costs. • Families who now avoid day school because of the un- certainties and indignities of the financial aid process may now enroll. • Wealthier families may donate significantly more when they see their tuition paYments as reflecting a discount. • Administrators will have a much clearer sense of rev- enues, and the entire school community will be more accountable for designing the school so that it remains within the financial ambit of its constituency. • The fiction ofa"financial aid budget" that can be "used up" leads many schools to forego revenues that would be alfnost pure net profit. • Studentswho pay a significant portion of gross family income as tuition generally contribute more than the marginal cost of their education. This new model requires elaboration and customiza- tion, but it can redirect the community's conversation and efforts toward a model is financially and morally sustainable. Rabbi Aryeh Klapper is dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and teaches • rabbinic literature at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham, Mass. , This article was firstpublished by Jewish Ideas Daily <www.> and of day school financing that is.reprintedwith permission. Dry BonesA000000 00OIA THEY CALL00 BILLMI FAk00 NOW THEY'RE ! CLINTOI4 'THE • [ l CALLING OBA00 FIRST BLACK l / "THE FIRST 6AY , PRESlDB00V: AMB00ICAN MAIN 11 • STREAM MEDtA 00YII BUT THEY BE INACC00ATE, 5L00E ARE BIAS00, ] I006INATIVE/ SIZA00ELY I = U00ELIABLE I