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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 28, 2013 By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News I sometimes joke that my synagogue is not just Conservative with a capital C, but with all the other letters capitalized as well. It' prides itself on the dozens of Conservative rabbis and JTS faculty members in the pews, on the number of its kids who attend Solomon Schechter and Camp Ramah, on its tight bond with the Masorti movement in Israel. I guess that would make me a movement man, except I've always been catholic (small c) in my Jewish choices. I grew up in a Reform synagogue, joined a havura in my 20s, and then a Conservative shul after we started hav- ing kids. While living in Israel, we attended a Reform synagogue on Friday nights and an Orthodox shtiebl on Saturday mornings. Mov- ing back to Riverdale,N.Y., we joined a Modern Orthodox synagogue with a high tolerance for halachic fence-sitters like us. If I wasn't concerned about the synagogue's "brand," I did look forh few key features: Was there a strong sense of community? Were services well attended? Was the davening spirited, serious,, and participatory? Were the congregants Jewishly literate or eager to become so? Was the kiddush hearty? (I'm kidding [No I'm not].) An academic might call toe"post-denomina- tional," and others might call me wishy-washy. Rabbi An@ Bachman calls me the wave of the future. Bachman, a Reform rabbi who leads the booming Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, believes denominations area hold- over from the 19th century. At the national gathering of the Jewish Communal Service Jim Shipley Jewryminward or outward Jews were a peoplehood long before we were rules as they are interpreted by this particular a religion. I've said many times, I know a lot group of rabbis. of ex-Catholics, but I never met an ex-Italian. -Well, inwhatworld? In the days of the shtetl, When we became a religion we suddenly had - we had "our ways," they had "their ways." We a bunch of rules to follow and the peoplehood do not live in ashtetl any more--Williamsburg and the religion kind of merged. Brooklyn notwithstanding. Orthodox Jews like For a long time people left us alone and we Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut did pretty well. Then along came the Babylo- serve in the U.S. government and work for nians hnd then the Romans and pretty soon their beliefs in social justice and a good life we were for the most part out of our native for all, totally in keeping with the core values land and this great Diaspora was created, of Judaism. We lost our Temple and most of our social To put it in a different way, as Hillel said~ organizations that held us together. So, we "If not me, then whom? And if not now, then invented something uniquely Jewish: The when?" The earth needs a whole lot of heal- Portable Community. ing and Jews should be in the forefront. There We had no Temple, so we built synagogues are philosophies that, fronted by the mask of (Vey! Do we build synagogues!) Our national religion, statethatnotonly shouldtheirbeliev- social network was destroyed. S) we created ers live in their way--so should all of tls. Jews Jewish organizations like Family Services to never,belicy~ed,[~s: Accept our beliefs; fight create our own wherever we happen to be. yotlr Way~in~ Y'o~!can become Jewish. Sorry, Today, at least half the Jewish people reside not a Jew--that's by birth--but a follower of outside the JewishNation of Israel. We are well the Jewish religion. integrated into these societies worldwide. We The Catholic kings of the Middle Ages tried maintainthe"JewishCommunity"forthemost to force their religion down the throats of all partbutweadapt.Thoseofuswhoreallywant people with some devastating results, espe- to remain Jews do it in many wonderful ways. cially for the Jewish people. We contribute to our Jewish organizations, Today, the descendants of the Caliphate, the monetarilyandwithourtimeandexpertise.We Muslim believers, are trying the same thing. do or do not belong to a given synagogue and But look at them in action. Shia fights Sunni. we have our individualideas ofwhatconstitutes The civil war in Syria is descending into just a Jew. The Heritage Florida Jewish News, our that: A religious war between two warring Jewish newspaper here in Orlando, had two factions of Islam. The millions of relatively interesting columns, one on top of the other a secular citizens of Syria who, while probably fewweeksago.Tworabbisarguing(so,whatelse practicing some form of Islam, livedin peace is new?). The subject? Tikun olam--roughly with their Sunni and/or Shia neighbors are translated: "To Heal The World." mostly in Turkey and Jordan, afraid to go home. I was raised that tikufi olam was the whole We Jews keep our disagreements mostly purpose of Judaism. That with our laws, in intense discussion, some lasting for gen- our sensible community organizations, our erations. But, we don't take up arms against tradition of taking care of our own and then each other. However some of us m~ argue reaching out--we could, eachofusinourown that we should continue to turn inward and way, heal at least a little corner of the world, study and forget the rest of the world. It is not One rabbi, fromthe Conservative Rabbinical ~ possible today. Assembly, pretty much defined tikun olam as In an integrated society like America, doing I understood it: healing our part of the world the right thing--the just thing--would seem and seeking social justice for all from a Jewish to be easy. There are those, some of them even point of view. Jews who feel, "I got mine. Go get your own." The other rabbi, extremely orthodox and That is not tikun olam. To me that is not supposedly a descendant of the Bal Shem Tov Judaism. We live in a tough world. Our job as himself, takes a totally different course. He Jews, as human beings, should~e to make feeisifthereisany"meat"atalltotikunolam, it better. Who said it was easy? But burying it is strictly in the study of Torah and living yourself in ancient texts and customs is not the life of an observant Jew. That the goal of the way to create the kind of world we want life is the study of Torah and living by those for our children and grandchildren. k THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. !CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41Press Awards Editor/Pub~her FLORII EWISH NEW HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. 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 ernail: news@orlandoheritage.com Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene 8tarn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carrno Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky * Caroline Pope Association of North America, held earlier this month in Whippany, he addressed a roomful of Jewish professionals looking to solve the riddle of Jewish disengagement. "Don'tassume people have any interest in identifying them- selves across the denominational spectrum," Bachman told them. Removing labels was just one of the tips he offered in a session called "Breaking Idol's," in which he described the assumptions he discarded in turning Beth Elohim into one of New York's fastest-growing synagogues. Granted, its Park Slope neighborhood is at the epicenter of a demographic and cultural boom, with hipsters giving way to young families drawn by the inevitable gentrification. But if they come for the latte, will they stay for the leyning? To make sure they do, Bachman jettisoned a number of communal conventions. First, he wants Jewish organizations to stop treating intermarrieds as a lost cause. Instead, many interfaith couples are ripe to make Jewish choices, he said, if institutions make them feel welcome. "Intermarriage is no longer 'marry- ing out' of the community," said Bachman. He urged his audience to "engage people without regard to family make-up." That includes sexual orientation. While many of the new families aren't in- terested in denominations, they are interested in politics and culture. Beth Elohim attracts them with top-notch cultural events, like readings by A-list authors. For those strug- gling with worship, cultural happenings allow them to connect with a Jewish institution on their own terms. "Initially, synagogues were beitei knesset--places of assembly--and not beitei midrash, places of prayer," he said. "We positioned ourselves as a meeting place of the Jewish people." (This extends to the r~eighborhood's Is- raelis, often regarded with ambivalence by American-born Jews. Beth Elohim's Hebrew sing-alongs--capitalizing on a vogue for public sing-alongs back in Israel--draw 300 people on a Friday night.) Younger Jews are also struggling with their feelings about Israel, and are looking for places that honor that struggle, not deny it. "The most By David Pollock and Michael Eisenstadt WASHINGTON (JTA) When two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital found themselves well pre- pared for the aftermath. Two years earlier, Israeli medical experts had helped update the hospital's disaster response plan to deal with mass-casualty incidents. Drawing from expertise honed over decades of treating victims of terrorist attacks, Israeli doctors and nurses shared best practices with their American counterparts, including how to distribute the wounded to hospitals and methods to locate fragments deep in wounds. On the day of the bombing, Alastair Conn, Mass. General's chief of emergency services, acknowledged the value of that exchange, tell- ing reporters, "We asked the Israelis to come across and they helped us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner." Israel's training of Boston first responders spotlights one of the many ways the United States has benefited from bilateral cooperation with the Jewish state. The U.S.-Israeli alliance contributes more than ever to American secu- rity. The strategic logic that first brought the two countries together to fight Soviet influence and counter radical Arab nationalism during the Cold War endures amid the current chal- lenges of political Islam and violent extremism. The U.S.-Israel relationship isn't symmetri- cal, as the U.S. provides Israel with indispens- able economic and military support--to the tune of more than $115 billion since 1949. But it is a two-way street. Israel has contributed to American "hard security" through counterterrorism coopera- tion, intelligence sharing and the development of such innovations as unmanned aerial vehicles and missile defense. And Israel also has contributed to America's "soft security": Advances in the high-tech, medical and sustainability sectors have helped maintain American ec(fnomic competitiveness and open conversation about Israel is taking place in Israel," said Bachman. Synagogues should emulate that, and "love people no matter what they believe." Like many rabbis, Bachman recognizes the~pull of social action. He isn't talking about canned food drives, however, but a deep engagement with disadvantaged neighbors. Beth Elohim houses a homeless shelter, and its members regularly chaperone children on visits to their incarcerated parents in upstate New York. It provided more than 60,000 meals to people hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. As Bachman wound up his list of "broken idols," a member of the audience asked how any of his suggestions relates to the traditional functions of a synagogue. Or to put it bluntly: "What's Jewish about all this?" Bachman answered the question by describ- ing the informal discussions he holds with prospective families. He lilies to ask a simple question: "What do you want?" And inevitably he gets the same list of answers: Community. Connection. Meaning. Israel, Opportunities to give back. Intellectual engagement. Soon he came to realize how their "wants" overlap with the words of Shimon HaTzaddik--that the world stands on three pillars: Torah, service to God, and acts of human kindness. "These are the values of Jewish life," said Bachman. And when people come to associate these values with a synagogue, "they understand for themselves that these things are based in a valued tradition." I looked at the answers, to Bachman's simple question, and noted how they overlapped with my own criteria for joining a shul. Community. Connection. Intellectual engagement. Which doesn't mean I would join just any synagogue that offered these possibilities; I still have a few bottom lines when it comes to ritual, and they often align with the Conservative movement. But Bachman is urging us to imagine a Jewish world where those kinds of differences matter less and less, and there is only one bottom line: engaging Jews in their "valued tradition." Andrew Silow-Carroll is Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. Between columns you can read his writing at the JustASC blog. promoted sustainable development. With a high-tech community second only to Silicon Valley, Israel's cooperation with U.S. companies on information technology has been crucial to their success. As Bill Gates observed in 2006, the "innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technol- ogy business." Unsurprisingly, dozens of leading U.S. companies including Intel, IBM and Google have set up major research and development centers in the country. Intel has a particularly strong presence, relying on Israeli engineers for the design of many of the company's most successful microprocessors. Greg Slater, senior counsel and director of trade and competition policy for Intel, told a recent Washington Institute forum that "Israeli engineers saved the company" by pioneering energy-efficient technology that enabled increased capacity on each microchip. Israel's mushrooming start-up population has particular appeal for U.S. companies look- ing to expand or consolidate their technical edge, as evidenced by Google's recent acquisi- tion of the Israeli traffic navigation start-up Waze for a reported $1 billion. Israeli innovators also have arrived at novel solutions to water and food security challenges, pioneeringwidely used techniques of conserving or purifying water, including drip irrigation and reverse osmosis desalination. According to the 2012 Cleantech Global Innovation Index, Israel leads the world in creating cleantech companies. Israel's success in producing clean technolo- gies---born out of necessity from living in a hot, dry and oil-free environment--also has made important contributions to American water, food and energy security. Netafirn, an Israeli manufacturer of drip-irrigation products, has a production facility in California and has cap- tured half of the global market share in this key tool against the risk of climate change. Also in California, BrightSource Industries is building a solar power plant using Israeli technology Alliance on page 15A