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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 15, 2012 PAGE 13A Most,he y,abbi chel ss.oa ,Vestal book, about ,epo er ewis I' i!i!ii i! ii!! !!ii! i ii! i liliI est to Lubav,tcher Chasi, m .oweve even those !iil d,sa ,ee w,th its theo,og,ca, i : :approach can still find gems holidays qualify as "how to I: :: ~:~w~ ': ~:.:1 ofinsighttohelpthemutilize works--for example, how to ~:~:~,~:Zj~:~,~ Jewish holy days in order to hold a Passover seder, how to light Chanukah candles, how to build a sukkah, etc. Although some do include sec- tions on the spiritual meaning of the day, that's usually not their main focus. The opposite is true, though, of "Change and Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals and Days of Remembrance" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (Mag- gid Books). In these collected essays, Steinsaltz doesn't dis- cuss the legal requirements of observance or the correct way to perform a ritual; rather, he concentrates on how these holy days can "provide us with opportunities not only to celebrate and mourn, but to renew and change ourselves." Readers should note that Steinsaltz' work is aimed "at a particular audience. His inclusion of such commemo- rations as Yod-Tet (19th) Kislev, celebrated by Chabad Chasidim to remember when Rabbi Schneur Za~man of Liada was released from prison in 1798; Gimel (3rd) Tammuz, the yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher rebbe; and Jerusalem Day (but not Ho- locaust Remembrance Day or IsrEeli Independence Day) make his book of most inter- , improve the spiritual aspects of their lives. One of my favorite selec- tions is "The Return to the Sukkot of the Wilderness." Steinsaltz notes that the holiday asks us to question Our ideas of permanence; to wonder if there is "virtue in exile and in wandering." His answer is yes, because permanence can lead to "complacency, smugness and carefreeness."We can become desensitized to the needs of others and discount their suffering. Sukkot instead forces us to relive our past as homeless wanderers in the Sinai desert and reminds us that there really is no dif- ference between "'us'--the successful, secure and strong ones--and 'them'--the in- secure and helpless ones." Our obligations to "them" never end. Other essays offer ways to find additional meaning and depth in a variety of prayers and rituals. For example, in "The Essence of the Day Atones," Steinsaltz suggests that Kol Nidre can be seen as not only an opportunity to be released from vows, but as a way of breaking out of "all the ties, designations, affilia- tions, labels and definitions" we place upon ourselves. It's a time to look freely at what we have become, to review and give up "habitual desires and old habits" that impede our lives and take us away from our spiritual roots. From this point of view, Kol Nidre allows us to start fresh and reclaim our true and better selves. "The Meaning of Matzah" is discussed in the section On Pesach. In addition to helping us remember the Exodus from Egypt, Steinsaltz sees matzah as "representing direct divine revelation in Egypt and at all times. All of man's greatness, his culture, everything that became puffed Up during the course of the year or over thousands of.years, is shat- tered, flattened in the face of revelation." Eachyear, matzah forces us to return to our start- ing point, to remember how little we truly know and how little of our lives is directly under our control. When writing about "Tes- huva--Return to the Source" Other sections were less convincing. The secret rea- sons for drinking alcoholic beverages on Purim struck me as a~way of rationalizing bad behavior. The explana- tion of why one should dance on Sukkot was wonderful, but. didn't address whether women would also be allowed to participate. The section on Chanukah suggested a rather extreme view on when one may transgress a law in order in the section on"Elul andTe- to save one's life. However, it's shuva," Steinsaltz expands the meaning of the term. Teshuva reflects more than the idea we must repent for our sins; rather, we should be looking to "return to the right place, the correct and fundamental condition suited for each per- son from his inception." The author sees this as a "return to the divine essence," but the idea can also be helpful for anyone who feels they have strayed from beingthe person they should be, the person they want to be. to be expected that liberal Jews and more traditional Jews will disagree on matters of theol- ogy ~nd practice. "Change and Renewal" makes a welcome change from more standard works focusing on Jewish holidays. Chabad Chasidim will find the book of greatest interest,. but others can still enjoy the insights Steinsaltz offers on Ways to increase one's appre- ciation of the deeper meaning of our festivals and days of remembrance. By Danielle Berrin Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles A group of 30 leadingmusic executives, talent agents and entertainment lawyers gath- ered in late April for lunchin the downstairs, Conference room at the law offices of Ziffren Brittenham in Cen- tury City. Together, the group represents the likes of Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez and Justin Timberlake--to name a few. Organized by the nascent group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a nonprofit seeking to counter artist boycotts of Israel, the meeting would include an educational PowerPoint presentation and an informal discussion with Los Angeles' Consul General of Israel David Siegel. Cueing up the first slide, adorned with photos of fa- mous musicians--Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and the alternative rock band the Pixies--David Renzer, the former chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, asked, "What do these artists have in common?" The room remained quiet. Renzer clicked to the next slide, displaying photos of jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, alt rocker Cat Power and U.K.- based electronic artist Joker. Then, in his most equa- nimous voice, Renzer offered he big reveal: "They've all boycotted Israel," he said. "They've all canceled their tours to Israel." Among the music indus- try executives, producers, lawyers and agents, few were aware that Israel faced an international campaign to create a cultural boycott of the country. Renzer described the boy- cott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) as a loose collection of self-.described "pro-Palestinian" activists who use every means--from sophisticated websites to tables on college quads--to spread a pro -boycott message~ Carlos Santana is one entertainer who won't play in Israel. He showed videos' of BDS in action, including one of the BBC cutting off its live broadcast ofthe Israel Phil- harmonic's performance at Royal Albert Hall last fall, after pro-boycott demonstrators disrupted the concert. "This is an example of the stuff that gets put in front of artists," Renzer said, adding that in April, Oscar-winner Emma Thompson joined three dozen other actors, directors and writers in pro- testing the inclusion of Tel Aviv theater troupe Habima in a Shakespeare festival at London's Globe~heatre. Not only musicians are targeted, Renzer said. "This is about culture." "Well, where's our music video? Where's the counter- publicity?" griped an angry Gary Stiffelman, a partner at Ziffrer~ Brittenham, who has represented Eminem, Britney Spears add Michael Jackson. "Don't the Jews still control the media?" Everybody chuckled. "It just shocks me that this ragtag group is doing a better job at the PR battle than Is- rael," Stiffelman said. "There should be a global campaign] I don tsee it. I don tsee counter, PR happening on YouTube." Talk turned to producing a pro-Israel promotional video; then, inevitably, questions followed about who might pay for it. "We need to make Israel cool," Atar Dekel, cultural at- ,t - tache for the Israeli Consuiate, concluded. CCFP is the first group led by industry insiders to l~ry to counter negative messaging about Israel targeted toward the artistic community. At a time when Israel's image as a vibrant, demo- cratic society is constantly threatened, the presence of World-class entertainers, many of-whom have large, impressionable :audiences, can help make life there seem, and feel, more normal. These days, however, luring mostly liberal-minded artists to a country whose reputation is often defined by its detractors can be a challenge. CCFP was created to dem- onstrate to artists that Israel is a decent p!ace, and that whatever their opinion of IsraeLi national policy, the boycott and divestment efforts unfairly punish the Israeli public. Butwhile some high-profile musicians have succumbed to pressure to cancel their Israel tours, many prominent artists are still performing there," including Lady Gaga, Elton John, Rihanna, paul McCartney and Leonard Co- hen. This summer, 46 musical acts are scheduled, including Madonna, who.started her world tour in Tel Aviv, as well as Rufus Wainwright, Horbie Hancock and Lenny Kravitz. For the classical palate, the Royal Philharmonic Orches- trawill perform; for spectacle, Cirque du Soleil.. But elsewhere, there may be trouble ahead. CCFP is already monitoring a situation arising with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, scheduled to perform in Israel in September, who have become the subject of an intense Internet campaign to cancel. C(~FP germinated in the summer of 2010 on a master class trip to Israel organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. I't was just weeks after the Gaza flotilla raid prompted an international uproar~ and soon musicians such as Lady Gaga is one enter- ta iner who will play in Israel. Elvis Costelio and the Pix- ies began to cancel. Renzer and his friend Steve Schnur, worldwide head of music for Electronic Arts v~ideo games, gotto talking aboutwhat they could do. Schnur had just come from an Elton Joh~ concert at Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan stadium. "Elton walked on stage and said, 'They're not gonna stop me from coming here, baby,' " Schnur recalled. "I was on the verge of tears, because someone was speak- ing up when all others were protesting. And the press was turning [the flotilla incident] into a forum for significant misinformation, and people have a tendency to belie~e- what they read." Renzer and Schnur held an informal meeting, which also included Ran Geffen-Lifshitz, CEO of Media Men Group, a music publishing company based in Tel A~iv, and Doug Frank, former president of music operations for Warner Bros. Pictures. They decided they could, use their connec- tions to reach out to artists whowere planning to perform in Israel. "The initial mission was: Make sure no one else can- cels," Renzer said during an interview with C.CFP co- founder Schnur last fall. "We saw the boycott movement was getting some wins," he continued, referring to the initial spate of cancellations, which also included spoken~ word artist and poet Gil Scott- Heron. C0stello, the most promi- nent artist to cancel, pub- licly vacillated at first, but ultimately did not want to get caught in a political tug- of-war, according to a post on his biog. While some might see CCFP's raison d'etre as fear- mongering, Geffen-Lifshitz sees it as prudent. "If you boycott Israel in art, the next thing .is boycotting Israeli manufactured goods, then a boycott of Israel as a tourist destination. Then a boycott of anything that has anything to do with Israel. We have to r~ip this in the bud.'~ But the point, really, is that music goes beyond politics. It is personal, emotional and can cut across language barriers, boundaries.and borders, and spread messages of openness and peace., "People who live in Israel -are music fans and have a right to hear the music they love," Schnur said. "Musicians that play there don't have to agree with the current or previous policies of the Israeli government---but they can go there and speak toward it or against it. Where else in the Middle East can an artkt do that?" Dan~elle Berrin writes for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, from which this article was reprinted by permission. T" Fast Service = Reasonable Prices =FREE Estimates Handyman Services Specializing in Roof Repair and of all types of Home Repair Beljay Roofing, Inc. Call Robert at 407.970.4448 Guaranteed Roof & Home Repairs Shingle, Flat; Tile, Metal Repairs & Reroofs ", Siding Drywall Painting Licensed and Insured CCC1328227