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June 28, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 28, 2013 PAGE 5A By Sue Fishkoff j. jewish weekly of Northern California Summer is here and kids are getting ready to go off to camp, where they'll swim, play games, do arts and crafts and, probably, complain about the food. Or, if they're in the Gaza Strip, they'll smear green paint on their faces, brandish mock rifles and pretend to kill Israeli soldiers. That's right, folks, it's time once again for summer camp Hamas-style,where, in addition to fun and games, youngsters receive paramilitary training and ideological indoctrination that, according to one orga- nizer, will prepare them to fight for the liberation of Palestine. Last summer, according to the Israeli foreign ministry, 100,000 Palestinian children attended such camps, most run by Hamas but a few organized by Islamic Jihad and their ilk. The media was filled with scary pictures of young boys wearing camouflage and toting machine guns as explosions go offin the desert behind them (to see some of the photos, visit http://www. I'm looking at one of those photos right now, shot by Agence France-Presse in July 2012, and I'm examining my feelings. Horror. Sadness. An- ger. But what is it exactly that upsets me? After all, every kid who's gone to summer camp has "played" colorwar, or knows someone who has. When I was a kid I'd play "army," a half-baked game thought up by my next- door neighbor that, so far a,s I recall, involved the two of us was different: How can Israel (or Well, one could argue that shootings in the West Bank" chasing each other around the the Jewish community) com- a one-day historical re-enact- andwantedto"seeitinperson." block. And let's not get started plain ment is very different from One father, a 40-year-old on violent video games, ing for Palestinian kids when, weeks of simulated combat bankerfromMiami, broughthis All kids fight, for real or in .he wrote, they are just playing against a contemi~orary "en- 5-year-olddaughterwho"burst play.Whyshouldwebeshocked? "the same games Israeli kids emy." Fair enough: into tears" when she entered What's different, in my opin- have been playing since before Then Even-Or points to a theshootingrange.Ahalf-hour ion, is, first, the playacting in the State of Israel was born?" more recent example:an article later, the reporter wrote,"she is theseGazacampsiswaytoore- Even-Or recalled when he published by his own news holdingagunandshootingclay alistic, and it's directed against and his fifth-grade class were outlet last June that described, bullets like apro,"while her dad actual, living "enemies"-- taken to the Caesaria beach inverypositiveterms, a"tourist "proudly watches." against me, asan Israeli citizen, and instructed to pretend they attraction" in an Israeli settle- Like a pro? This is a good and by extension against Jews were pre-state Irgun fighters ment in the West Bank where thing? in general, attempting to smuggle illegal American visitors, under the I look at her picture, and I Buttheworstpartisnotthat Jewish immigrants into the watchful eyes of former Israeli put it beside one of a Gazan me and mine are the target of country while fighting Brit- commandos, get to pretend- kid learning to shoot Israeli thesewargames,butthatadults ish soldiers. Even-Or and his shoot Palestinian terrorists, soldiers.And I think, shouldn't areorganizingtheentireopera- classmates "had to crawl under Picking up realistic-looking these children be learning to tion.Andthattakesitoutofthe wires, run for cover under fire M16 rifles, the visitors shoot play soccer or climbing trees? realmofchildishposturingand and engage in several other clay bullets at a row of smiling What kindofparentsends their muscleflexing, makingitsome- 'combat drills,'" he wrote. "terrorists,"whiletheirinstruc- kids to such places? And what thing much more insidious. Did that make them"would- tors shout at them to"take him kind of society permits it? Israeli journalist Oded Even- be terrorists," the chargelobbed out." The reporter interviewed Sue Fishkoffis the editor of Or wrote about this last week against today's young campers several families who said they j., and.can be reached at sue@ in Gaza? had "heard on the news about By Rabbi Rachel Esserman The Reporter, Vestal, NY Remember the opening of the "Mission Im~.ossible" TV show? The ass]~hment was recorded on a tape that self- destructed so no record of the conversation would exist. That gave everyone deniability if the mission went awry. It's far more difficult, though, to make a thing disappear in contempo- rary society. Between email, text messages, online stores, GPS trackers and reward cards, it's possible to track our move- ments and p{archases. I've joked that if you want to keep a purchase secret, go to a store and pay for the object in cash without using the store's reward card. Unfortunately, now that won't always help: many stores have cameras taping everyone who walks through their doors and record- ing everything they buy. The Jewish Community Center's front door notes there are cam- eras in the building. The last time I purchased clothes, the dressing room's sign said my activities were being monitored by someone of the same sex. Some cities affix cameras in public spaces for surveillance purposes. As with almost everything, there are good and bad aspects to this technological invasion. The reason law enforcement of- ficials were able to uncover the identities of the Boston Mara- thon bombers so quickly was due to the photographs of the crowd. People may be less likely to commit crimes if they know their actions are being taped, although this isn't always true. Just check out the number of people who tape themselves or their friends doing something illegal and posting the resulting vs. prtvacy video on YouTube. consider: will employers check so quickly that many people Ofcourse, thislackofprivacy out applicants' political beliefs are unaware of just how public can also have a detrimental ef- before hiring them? Will the their private information is, or fectonourlives.First, whilethe government keep a closer eye how easily it can be accessed. webis greatfor spreadinginfor- on your activities because you This goes beyond being careful mation, people often don't take visited a particular website? about what you post on your the time to confirmwhether or Will your health insurance Facebook page or say in an not what's being passed on is company turn you down for email. What is needed is an in- true. I'm sure almost everyone treatment because of some- dependent group to explore the hasembarrassedthemselvesby thing you posted on Facebook ramifications of what shou|d forwarding an e-mail that con- or another website? Not only be made available and under tained outdated or erroneous is this possible, it's already what conditions groups can information. However, that's occurring, access that information. This not theonlyproblem.Thereare We need find a way to bal- is far too important to leave to things we want to keep secret, ance the good of the general the politicians. Unfortunately, not because they are illegal, but public versus the rights of the the issue is so politicized, an becausethey'repersonal.There individual. The problem now independent study may no arealsoimportantquestionsto is that technology is changing longer be possible. By Gary Rosenblatt New York Jewish Week JERUSALEM--In the hour she spent with 150 young Jew- ish entrepreneurs and social activists from around the world last Wednesday morning at the annual ROI (Return on Investment) Summit here, new Knesset member Ruth Caldemn chose to teach a Talmudic text, coax thoughtful comments about it from her audience, apply the discussion to modern-day situations, and then welcome questions about current affairs. It was a vintage performance by the academic-turned-politi- cian, encapsulating who she is, what her priorities are, and, as she left the stage to enthusiastic applause, why she has become one of the most respected and admired figures in Israel today. Calderon, who was a founder of Elul, the first secular yeshiva in Israel, in 1989, and recently caused an international sensa- tion when she taught a Talmudic text in her inaugural Knesset speech, says her work and goals have not changed in the switch she's made from teacher to na- tional leader. "Isee myself as doingthesame work I've been doing all my life," she told me during a breakfast interview prior to her address at ROI, sponsored by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. "I'm working for the s,am boss," she added with a smile, pointing heavenward. That task is to foster Jewish education and identity among Israelis, with an emphasis on the secular element of society. "It's about making public space in Israel more Jewish, andwork- ing with the non-halachic com- munity to deepen their Jewish knowledge." She noted that the Knesset with mutual respect Knesset Stav, the moderate candidate is not"the target" ofher career, members can help build a just for Ashkenazi chief rabbi in the but rather "the vehicle" for her society, currentelection, sheseestherab- work, consistentwiththegoalsof Thevideoofhertalkwentviral, ' binic system as "paternalis dc," the educationalinstitutions she with hundreds of thousands of sinceitonlyrecognizesOrthodox helped found, including Alma, viewers, and Calderon's gentle rabbis to officiateatweddings or the Tel Aviv-based "home for butfirmcallforrespect, equality sanctiondivorces, andshewould Hebrew culture." That institu- andinclusivenessseemedtoreso- prefer it be abolished."I want to tion offers courses, programs nate with great numbers ofJews livemyownJewishlife,"shesays, and events for adults, while Elul in Israel and around the world, adding that she is working on a encourages pluralistic encoun- In our interview she empha- bill to legalize civil marriage. ters with modern and classical sizedthatsheisoptimisticabout For her session with the ROI Jewish texts, the new Knesset and has been participants, heralded as the "My aim in bringing Jewish greatly impressed by the sense vanguard of the Jewish future, literacy to my non-halachic of cooperation and empathy Calderon explained that she community is not an effort to among its members, including believes the best way to connect make them more Jewish but to thosewithwhomshehassharply Jews is through the study of 'our freeJudaismandreclaimitasour differing politicalviews, familytext,"whichshedescribed heritage and cultural language," "They are partners, and there as a"common ground" for those she says. is hope," she said. who "are interested and l!ke to "The good and the bad of our The previous night, she noted, think." past should be known to us, so she was up until 4:30 a.m. be- She chose a Talmudic pas- we can make better choices in cause of a Knesset filibuster by sage about Ray Zeira, a modest, the present for the future" ultra-Orthodox party members homely scholar known for treat- Caldemn, 51, is a bit of an who chose to spend their time ing his wicked neighbors with anomaly, a self-described"non- at the podium citing Talmudic kindness. halachic" woman with a doc- passages. According to the text, which torate in Talmud from Hebrew Thoughtired, shesaidshehad she had printed up and distrib- University, aserious intellectual enjoyed the Torah learning. But uted in Aramaic, Hebrew and with an easy, outgoing manner, much as she loves the Jewish English, the rabbi's colleagues andahigh-profilepoliticalleader component of Israel, she is quite looked askance at his behavior, of late who worries about "the clear inassertingshe is not will- but after he died the wicked culture of celebrity."ing"to pay the price of having a neighbors declared, "Rav Zeira That celebrity came for her non-democratic state:' prayed for us, but who will pray when she was among the 19 She cites with pride that for us now?" members of Yair Lapid's new as a result of a new Jewish As the story goes, they were Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) Renewal committee she is part so moved by these thoughts party who were swept into the of in the Knesset, the Ministry that they repented from their Knesset in the January national of Education for the first time evil ways. elections, and even more so in will be giving substantial funds Howisthistalerelevanttoday? mid-Februarywhen, admittcdly to non-Orthodox educational During the discussion with the nervous, she took to the Knes- institutions teaching Torah, like young people a theme emerged, set podium for the first time to the ones she helped found. She one that portrayed Rav Zeira as deliver what might well be the says her "dream" is to do away - the bridge between the tough most-viewedTalmudlessonever, with government subsidies to neighbors and the isolated The 14-minute talk, which religiousinstitutionsandreplace rabbis---two sides that ignored included personal anecdotes themwithanindividualvoucher each other. (One could think andaclose readingofaTalmudic system for Jewish cultural ser- of Palestinians and Israelis, or passage (she handed out sheets vices.Inthatwayeachcitizencan secular and haredi Israelis, for withsourcematerialinadvance), choose to use those funds as he starters.) underscored her belief that Jew- or she chooses, whether it be to Who will be the next Rav ishtextsareforeveryone, notjust support a synagogue or course Zeira? Who will risk criticism Torah scholars; that in a dispute in Hebrew culture, to take a bold step toward rec- both sides can be right; and that While she favors Rabbi David onciliation? Calderon told the audience she views classic Jewish texts as "ammunition and inspira- tion." Her charge to the young people in the room, whom she described as"good looking, cool and popular"--was to emulate Rav Zeira. "Each of you needs a little of Rav Zeira's nerd qual- ity," she said. "Don't be afraid to do something new and to be unpopular" She noted that while "com- promise" is a positive concept in the U.S., it's a negative in Israel, where defeating one's opponent is much preferred."Myway is not to fight" to win "but to fight for compromise," she said. Her approach certainly is THE MALE resonating with many Jews in Israel and in the diaspora. Whether it makes a difference in the Knesset remains to be seen, but Calderon says that wherever she is, her efforts to blend Judaism and democratic equality will continue. And she is not overly impressed by perks that come with her new status, like the official car given Knesset members. "I still have my scooter," she says. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisherotThe New York Jewish Week, from which this article was permission. You can email him at Gary@ REALITY HAO THER AB..