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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 13, 2014 PAGE 5A By Gary Rosenblatt The Jewish Federations of North America, or JFNA, may soon launch an effort that would include supporting groups in Israel working to limit or end Orthodox control of personal-status issues such as marriage, divorce, conver- sion and burial, The Jewish Week has learned. Clearly this is a key, of- ten emotional, issue in this country, where about 85 per- cent of the American Jewish community is non-Orthodox; some feel they are looked upon as second-class Jews by Jerusalem. But the proposed project, known as iRep--Is- rael Religious Expressions Platform--while presented as advancing freedom of re- ligious expression, may stir controversy among many observant Jews and those un- comfortable with the notion of diaspora Jewry stepping up its support for critics of Israeli policy, especially through the vehicle of JFNA, its primary consensus organization. iRep is likely to pass a pre- liminary vote of the board of trustees of JFNA, the umbrella group of North American fed- erations, alongwith two other proposed projects. The initia- tive will not be described as an attempt to bring down the Chief Rabbinate, which has become increasingly haredi, and insular, in the last several decades in overseeing issues of personal status. Rather it will be cast in positive terms as promoting individual rights and freedom of choice, with an initial focus on support for civil marriage in Israel. (At present all marriages in the Jewish state must be religious ceremonies con- ducted by an Orthodox rabbi. Many Israelis, resentful of that requirement, choose other options, and more than 25 percent of marriages are believed to take place out of the country, primarily in Cyprus. The current Knesset is weighing several pieces of legislation to allow for civil marriage.) Acceptance of eivil mar- riage is considered "low hang- ing fruit" on the political-reli- gious vine of personal status issues. Even some Orthodox leaders have spoken positively of it as an alternative for those who cannot marry under traditional halachic require- ments. A common example would be a Kohen who is forbidden from marrying a divorced woman. "Our goal is to build com- munity and connection to the State of Israel," explained Jer- ry Silverman, CEO of JFNA, in an interview this week. He said the intention of the iRep proj- ect "is not to delegitimize the rabbinate but to create more educational awareness of the different types of religious expression in Israel. We want to have a stronger educational and informational platform there, for Israelis to drive the discussion." He noted that JFNA has a long history of involvement in freedom of expression issues in Israel. The most recent was over conversion legislation and efforts to , provide equitable space for non-Orthodox prayer at the WesternWall. The iRep project is seen as particularly impor- tant as an educational tool at atimewhen JFNAand others, through the free Birthright Israel trip, are helping to bring tens of thousands of young people on visits to Israel. The great majority of them have little knowledge of the rab- binate and its responsibilities. Promoting Collective Giv- ing The proposal to the trustees will come from the Global Planning Table (GPT), a JFNA committee created several years ago to promote the Jew- ish federations' "collective global work and drive collec- tive solutions to important issues within the global Jew- ish community," according to its website. In recent years local federations have become increasingly autonomous in deciding how to spend their charitable donations. The GPT is an attempt to reinvigo- rate the concept of collective giving, especially overseas. Progress to date has been slow, with the committee working against the trend of increased emphasis on local needs and wariness over funneling funds through a central agency. David Butler, aWashington attorney and chair of the GPT, is upbeat about the group's recent efforts to "identify and excite the donor base, expand the campaign, increase dol- lars to support JFNAactivities, and work with foundations who share similar interests." He said that two "signa- ture initiatives," defined as involving at least 10 fed- erations pledging to spend, collectively, a minimum of $500,000 annually for three years on them, will be up for JFNA on page 15A By Rafael Medoff JNS.org Seventyyears ago lastweek, the Allies staged the D-Day invasion, landing some 24,000 troops on the beaches along France's Normandy coast in one of the major turning points of World War II. What is not widely realized, however, is that the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944, also had an important link to the fate of Europe's Jews--and in particular to the controversy over the Allies' refusal to bomb Auschwitz. Apologists for the Roosevelt administration's failure to bomb the death camps often point to the fact that Presi- dent Roosevelt and the U.S. military were preoccupied with D-Day. "We are talking about the summer of 1944,'~ Roosevelt Institute president William vanden Heuvel has emphasized. "[Because of] the invasion of Normandy on June 6th ... American and our allies were stretched dangerously across western and southern Europe." But that argument mixes apples and oranges. The bombers that would have been used to strike Auschwitz would have had to come from the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, ~whichwas based in Italy. They were the ones closest enough for such a mission--and they had almost nothing to do with the D-Day preparations. Moreover, Allied planes were flying over Auschwitz long before D-Day. Start- ing in February 1944, four months before the Normandy landings, Allied photo-recon planes based in southern Italy began carrying out surveillance missions over Auschwitz. We are a diverse community and we welcome your letters and viewpoints. The views and opinions expressed in the opinion pieces and letters published in The Heritage are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Heritage Florida Jewish News or its staff. The Heritage reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, content, and accuracy. And respectful of lashon hara, we will not print derogatory statements against any individual. Please limit letters to 250 words. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL'32730. Or e-mail to news@ orlandoheritage.com. Yes to climate change through lower emissions Dear Editor: Excellent column by Alan Kornman regarding encour- aging Jews to become more active seeking climate change mitigation through lower emissions. Rabbi David Kay gave great examples, but-when asked about the Heritage Foun- dation's opposition to EPA regulations which will curb the use of coal and other dirty fuel, Kay chose not to answer a hypothetical question. However, since that article was written, the EPA has already made it clear what their regulations will be (they released the regs on June 2). An upcoming Torah read- ing guides us to reject the Heritage Foundation's op- position to these regulations. Why? In Parashat Korah, men complain against Mo- ses. Rabbinic tradition says there are complaints and causes for the sake of heaven and these will endure. But other causes not for the sake of heaven will not endure. Korah's was not for the sake of heaven. Why? Because Ko- rah sought his own personal advancement and had selfish reasons for disputing Moses. Only arguments raised for altruistic reasons are for the sake of heaven, and therefore legitimate. Regarding the Heritage Foundation's objections to EPA regs, the Heritage Foun- dation is heavily funded by fossil fuel interests and has monetary reasons for arguing against EPA regs. Moreover, Heritage Foundation doesn't mention these selfish reasons This Allied surveillance was focused on a cluster of synthetic oil factories that the Germans set up in that area, some of them within the greater Auschwitz complex and operating on Jewish slave labor. Several of the plants were situated less than five miles from the gas chambers and crematoria. On May 12, British bombers carried out the first raid in what was to become known as "the oil war." The oil plants represented a high-priority military target for the Allies because the Germans desperately needed them to sustain the Axis war effort. It was in part because of their dwindling oil supplies that the German air force, the Luftwaffe, was unable to take part in the defense of the Normandy region when the Allies landed. for opposing the EPA. Instead they claim that the regs will hurt American families, businesses and manufactur- ers. Thus they pretend their objections are altruistic. But they are not. If Heritage Foundation were worried aboutAmerican families and businesses they would argue for Congress to pass a carbon tax and rebate all the proceeds to American families or decrease business taxes. Rather Heritage wants nothing to be done about climate change because doing something will hurt their personal wealth and advancement. Heritage Foundation does notwantyour readers to know that a carbon taxwouid be an excellent way to lower emis- sions and protect American families from energy price increases. The tax would be paid by fossil fuel companies, and it would be rebated to households. If energy prices increase due to the tax, families will be protected by rebates. Heritage Foundation doesn't want the public to un- derstand this because it will hurt the Heritage Foundation and their patrons. When climate change leads to more asthma and heat-related illnesses do you think Heritage Foundation will be lobbying for more health benefits for American families? No, they will still "During the entire first day of the invasion, enemy opposition in the air, fighter or bomber, was next to nil," U.S. air force chief General Carl Spaatz noted in a postwar interview. That was a major reason why the D-Day inva- sion succeeded, and why less than 4,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives at Normandy. Spaatz directed the Allies' "oil war" offensive. In the sum- mer of 1944, he clashed with Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower, after Eisenhower repeatedly diverted bombers from the oil attacks to the NQrmandy region, to support the Allied advances following D-Day. Spaatz was furious over the diversions and ulti- mately threatened to resign, forcing Eisenhower to relent. Ironically, at the very same time Eisenhower and Spaatz were arguing about diverting be trying to repeal national healthcare. Furthermore, various studies have shown that there is no support for the argument that protect- ing the environment hurts the economy. Rather, states that have already introduced emissions reduction legisla- tion survived the recent recession better than states that have been ignoring cli- mate change. Why? Because green energy creates more jobs than are lost as fossil fuel businesses shrink. Because energy efficiency measures require more construction workers, more innovations, and an upgraded energy grid. In the next few weeks more studies will be released that indicate that the faster we re- duce emissions, the stronger are economy will be. And the safer are nation will be from the severe consequences of climate change. Readers should urge Sena- tors Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Representative John Mica to support legis- lation to reduce emissions, making sure they understand that a carbon tax with rebate to the public is the best policy to lower emissions and pro- tect families. Rabbi Judy Weiss, volun- teer member of Citizens' Climate Lobby, an organiza- tion of volunteers lobbying for legislation to stabilize the climate planes from the oil war, the "diversion"argumentbecame the centerpiece in the contro- versy over whether or not the U.S. should bomb Auschwitz. American Jewish leaders who urged the Roosevelt administration to bomb the death camp or the railways leading to it were told by As- sistant Secretary of War John McCloy that such bombings would be "impracticable." McCloy claimed that the War Department conducted a "study" of the feasibility of the proposal and concluded it would require "diversion" of U.S. bombers from battle zones elsewhere in Europe. In fact, no such study was conducted and, as the War De- partment knew, American and British planes were regularly bombing the Auschwitz area as part of the oil war. "In other words, the bombers were al- ready there--the claim that they would have be 'diverted' from the war effort was false," Stuart Erdheim, director of "They Looked Away," a docu- mentary film about the ques- tion of bombing Auschwitz, told JNS.org. "Spaatz himself was fightingwith Eisenhower to keep American bombers in the Auschwitz area to target 15RAEL 15 CHOOSING ITS NEXT PRE$1OENT. the oil factories, and Spaatz won that argument." The irony is painful: while the Roosevelt administra- tion was claiming it could not "divert" planes to go to Auschwitz, the only actual di- version was when Eisenhower diverted American planes away from Auschwitz. Elie Wiesel, then a 16-year- old slave laborer in Auschwitz, was an eyewitness to the American bombings of the oil factories next to Auschwitz and wrote about what he saw in his best-selling book, "Night." "[I]f a bomb had fallen on the blocks [the prisoners' barracks], it alone would have claimed hundreds of victims on the spot. But we were no longer afraid of death; at any rate, not of that death,"Wiesel wrote. "Every bomb that ex- ploded filled us with joy and gave us new confidence in life. The raid lasted over an hour. If it could only have lasted ten times ten hours!" Dr. Rafael Medoff is direc- tor of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Stud- ies, www.Wymanlnstitute. org. His most recent book is "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith." THE OOEr-2J'T GET TO