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June 15, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 15, 2012 PAGE 15A Pain From page 1A in a way they have until now mostly avoided. Some said it has forced upon them a new consciousness and political awareness. "I have a law degree and a master's degree. I served in the army," Inbram said. "Another friend of mine who was beaten up is a Ph.D. candidate. We're Israeli citizens. But none of that matters. Ever since we came, the state has treated us as if we should say thank you for anything we receive, as if we have no rights as Jews and Israelis. But now we are afraid because in the eyes of whites, we are first of all blacks." Aliza, 23, a sociology stu- dent at Hebrew University who would give only her first name, told JTA, "At the beginning, when white friends would ask me how I feel about the migrants from Africa, I would get pretty angry. Why should I feel anything special? Just because we're both black? I thought it was racist and patronizing. I'm Jewish and Israeli. Jewish history is much more relevant to me than African history. I relate more to Jews from Eastern Europe than to African Muslims or Christians. I was a baby when I came here." But the violence--and in particular, she said, the torch- ing of an apartment where Eritrean migrants were living in Jerusalem last week--have changed her mind. "Now I'm scared to live in my own country--because I'm black," she said. Shula Molla, 40, a Jeru- salem educator who chairs the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jewry, a leading advocacy group, said Aliza's feelings were common. "The violence has forced the Ethiopian community to come to some difficult, but mature, realizations," she said. "Until now, some com- munity leaders have tried to avoid talking about systemic racism. They tried to explain away racist incidents; some even blamed the commu- nity-that we're not progres- sive enough, that we haven't adapted quickly enough. "But now we all must deal with racism," she added. "Of course I don't feel particularly connected to Africans, but society is forcing us into a common fate. How I define myself doesn't matter. Only my skin color is visible." Inbramwasamemberofthe Foreign Ministry,s committee that deals with asylum seekers and said he feels no particular affinity or commonality with the migrant workers. He said he hesitated before adding the Nazi badge to his shirt. But then he thought: "We Jews and Israelis are very quick to condemn anti-Semitic attacks--like the ones near Lyon in France just...(last) week. But same thing is hap- pening in our own country. Instead of being a 'light unto the nations,' we behave worse than many of the countries we criticize. Germany has much more humane policies toward migrants and asylum seekers than Israel has. We should be doing some serious soul-searching." He added, "At first, Hitler only called for the expulsion of the Jews. "I don't think of myself as African; I think of myself as Jewish and Israeli," he said. "And the majority of these people are not asylum seekers. They are migrantworkers who should be deported. But while they are here, they should be treated with kindness and compassion and provided with vocational training. I say that because I'm human, not because I'm black or African." Mollais particularly critical of Israeli leaders. "I'm certainly not justifying the racism against migrant workers, but I believe that each of us has a kernel of rac- ism in him or her," she said. "In South Tel Aviv, society has pitted a poor, neglected community of veteran Israe- lis against the even weaker, more vulnerable community of migrants. "So I don't expect the resi- dents of Tel Aviv to rise above themselves, but I do expect our leaders to rise above their own racism, and to lead," she continued. "Instead, they are fanning the worst form of racism." She noted that Miri Regev, a Kadima member of Knes- set, compared the Africans to "cancer," while Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas "accused them of spreading disease and raping women." Meanwhile, Knesset mem- ber Aryeh Eldad of the Na- tional Union said that "anyone who touches Israel's border should be shot, and even the prime minister says that the infiltrators threaten the char- acter of our state," Molla said. With political leaders granting legitimacy to the violence, she says she has felt a change in how some strangers treat her. "On the bus, people turn to me and speak in English, be- cause they assume that I am a migrant. The security checks at malls and movie theaters aren't the same as they are for white Jews, because I'm considered suspicious. It's getting harder to stop a cab," Molla said. Pointing to recent events in Israel, she said that the situation is likely to getworse. "Lastyear, in Safed, the rab- bis called on residents not to rent to Arabs," she said. "Our political leaders were quiet-- and soon after, in Kiryat Mala- chi, apartment owners signed an agreement not to rent or sell to Jews from Ethiopia. "It's bad enough that an uneducated, deprived mob has taken to racial violence, but what is really terrible is that political leaders ha':e legitimized it," she said. "And now that it's been legitimized, the racial violence will spread against all blacks--and that includes me, my children-- all Jews from the Ethiopian community." Sisterhood From page 1A Mills applied to HUC-JIR and started rabbinic school at age 26. No one was surprised when Mills decided to become a rabbi, according to Marl. "She's a natural. I think we saw it coming." Mills was ordained on May 13 at Temple Israel of Holly- wood, making her the third Chernow sister to become a rabbi. The Chernows have made history by being the only family in the United States to have three female siblings become rabbis. "This isn't something that any of us set out to do," Mills says. "What's great about it is that each of us found this path because it was the right one for us. We just want to be the best rabbis we can be." Mills feels fortunate to have two siblings who are rabbis. "When I have a problem, I can call my sisters. They know me and they know this work better than anyone." Now 32 and a mother of two boys, ages 4 and 2, Mills will take her first pulpit as an ordained rabbi atTemple Solel in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She starts on July 1. Rabbi John Linder, senior rabbi of Temple Sold, says although therewere a number of other fabulous candidates, "Ilana Mills rose to the top." "The things we value most about Temple Solel and a rabbi serving our congrega- tion were embodied in Ilana, such as her personal warmth, desire and commitment to forge deep relationships, her passion to bring Torah alive by how we treat one another and the earth, and her wisdom beyondyears in pastoral care." Linder also noted that Mills spent an additional year at HUC-JIR getting a master's degree in Jewish education. "That reflects her passion to bring creativity to deepen our experience with children and families in our preschool and religious school," he says. The Chernow sisters come from a home infused with Ju- daism. Their mother, Arlene, is an outreach consultant for the Union for Reform Juda- ism, and their father, Eli, is a retired Superior Court judge who serves on the URJ's North American board. All three sisters agree that Judaism was central to their lives while growing up. "Juda- ism was just part of everything we did," Jordana says. Mills says her parents set the example that being Jewish was important. "Our home was always filled with Jewish everything. We had Shabbat every week and had 40 people over for Passover. Being Jew- ish was just who we were." Marl says her parents weren't all that observant when she was a small child. They sent her to a Jewish school and when she came home singing "the lunch song, which we now know is the Motzi, my parents said, 'What is :his all about?'" Now, years later, her parents are very involved on a lay-leadership level. "They're daveners, they're learners and they're very serious about their Judaism. It has really developed a little bit at a time," Marl says. "They had such positive associations with their own Jewish life and Jewish growth, it just sort of dripped on us. I think of them as the opposite of the parents who said I hated religious school, you're going to hate it too, so you're going." Mills is enthusiastic about becoming the second rabbi at Temple Solel. She's looking forward to participating in life cycle events, teaching and having one-on-one conversa- tions with congregants. "I'm really excited to get to know the community and for us to get to know each other," she says. She will also take an active role in Temple Solel's caring community. During rabbinic school, Mills spent a lot of time visiting hospital patients and working as a grief support group leader. Doing both at the same time showed her the importance of the "after the hospital moments," when people were grieving and needed more rabbinic and community support. Mills thought about be- coming a hospital chaplain, but didn't like it when the relationship with the patient ended after he or she went home. "I knew I wanted to spend time with people aftcc the illness and after the scary moments," she says. While Mills was finishir.g school, her husband, Colb, moved the family into new Scottsdale, Ariz., holy e with the help of Temple SoL! volunteers. She hadn't see;l the house since they fir:t looked at it, but that's she says. "The last two tim:i we moved I was pregna so I couldn't do anythip~:. I'm used to other peop helping." Guidelines From page 1A sively banned by classical rabbinic law," or halachah. The biblical prohibition against homosexual intimacy appears twice in Leviticus. "A man who lies with a male as with a woman, the two have committed an abomination," says Leviticus 20:13. "They shall be put to death; their blood is upon them." Leviticus 18:22 makes a similar state- ment. The Conservative move- ment's decision said that, "for observant gay and lesbian Jews who would otherwise be condemned to a life of celibacy or secrecy, their human dig- nity requires suspension of the rabbinic level prohibitions." Dorff, Nevins and Reisner proposed two possible cer- emonies that incorporate what they deem to be the four key elements of a Jewish wed- ding: welcoming the couple, symbols of celebration, a document of covenant and blessings thanking God. One ceremony hews closely to the traditional Jewish wedding, making changes in the language and the bless- ings based on the couple's gender and sexuality. The other departs from that cer- emony, with three blessings, for example, instead of the traditional seven. The Conservative decision did not call same-sex mar- riages kiddushin, the tradi- tional Jewish legal term for marriage, because that act of consecration is nonegalitar- ian and gender-specific. In the traditional kiddushin ceremony, a pair of blessings is recited and the bridegroom gives his bride a ring, pro- claiming that he is marrying his bride "according to the laws of Moses and Israel." Such a ceremony would be inappropriate for same-sex ceremonies, the Conservative rabbis suggested in their posi- tion paper. They also noted that the use of kiddushin opens the door to divorce dis- putes in which a husband may deny his wife a religious writ of divorce, or get--something that "has been the source of great suffering in many Jewish communities." Rabbi Menachem Creditor, who has been performing same-sex marriages since 2002--four years before the movement permitted them-- said that Jewish law is flexible, and shouli respond to changes within thdewish community. "Moden halachah has always sen the Torah as its center, bt: not any one mean- ing as tie final interpreta- tion," sak Creditor, the rabbi of Berkeley's Congregation Netivot Saalom. "There is a growing mderstanding from within Cmservative Jews that our respolsibility is to steward our comnunity with clarity. Conservatve Judaism believes halachahchanges when it must." Rabbi baron Kleinbaum, who head.the LGBT Congre- gation Be: Simchat Torah in New Yorkaid that these new guidelinerepresent a major step forw t in Conservative Judaism'sensitivity toward the LGBTommunity. "We cat be held hostage to the radical right wing of the Jewish world," said Klein- baum, who was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rab- binical College. "The Conser- vative movement is rejecting religion based on bigotry." While the 2006 decision to ordain gay and lesbian rabbis and accept gay couples was controversial, even Rabbi Joel Roth, who resigned from the law committee in the wake of that decision, called this latest responsum"avery fine thing." "The fact that they created the ceremony is five or six years overdue," he told JTA. "In the Conservative move- ment as it exists, the classical position [of forbidding gay relations] is considered non- normative." The Reform movement's Central Conference of Ameri- can Rabbis endorsed Jewi~ l gay marriage in the late 199 ; while acknowledging the rig t of rabbis to choose whether o officiate at same-sex cerem - nies. Reconstructionist rabbis also may officiate at same-s ceremonies. The Orthod( movement does not allow g 'y marriage. Kleinbaum said she hopes that the Conservative move- ment's next step in address- ing LGBT issues will be in accommodating bisexual and transgender people. Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, the president of the Rabbini- cal Assembly, said that the movement's constituency will determine its priorities. "Ultimately," he said, "the Jewish people have a tendenc y ofdecidingwhat the next item on the agenda will be." Natives From page 4A The prominence of all those Africans, growing daily by new arrivals, may be the most pressing of the country's problems, kept in the headlines by stories of violence and other crimes attributed to the Africans, anti-African violence attrib- uted to fearful or fed-up Is- raelis, and the worry about more serious violence that will disturb Israeli morality and give the country a bad press internationally. Not yet a serious threat, but somewhere out there, is a renewal of last summer's social protests. Note the plural in "pro- tests." Last year's protest- ers seemed to get nowhere, despite demonstrations that may have reached 400,000 at their peak. There was too great a variety of de- mands being expressed by different clusters of protest- ers, and no unity or disci- pline among the contenders for protest leadership. Two weekends ago saw the onset of protest season, but the effort was piddling and themultiplicity of goals no Jss than last year. Estimate range between 3,000 5,000 marching in Tel Avi . Vulnenble to whatever develops on the streets are coalition partners Kadima (28 MKs) and Independence (the split off from Labor with five MKs). It is among those parties' MKs where one hears about support for the middle class and others claiming to suffer from one or another social or eco- nomic disadvantage. The populist voices from Likud in behalf of its poor voters in South Tel Aviv and populists in Israel Our Home may add to this segment of trouble- makers disturbing the sleep of the prime minister. It is too early to say Kadish for the coalition, c to prepare the shrouds ar :l shovels. But it is not too early write about the possibili- ties. Ira Sharkansky is profe sor emeritus in the Depa~ ment of Political Scien at Hebrew University Jerusalem.