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July 4, 2014

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PAGE 14A Boycott From page 1A guide for Presbyterian con- gregations earlier this year called "Zionism Unsettled." Focusing entirely on alleged Israeli crimes and ignoring any context or history that has led to current political re- alities, the study guide paints Zionism as evil and irrational It's been criticized by Jewish groups as grossly simplistic, unfair, and one-sided. The Anti-Defamation League called "Zionism Unsettled" perhaps the "most anti- Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory." Another source of rabid anti-Israel sent'imeflt within the Assembly--and among contemporary Christian churches in general - was featured speaker Rifaat Odeh Kassis. Described in the New York Times as "a Palestin- ian Christian who traveled from Bethlehem to urge the Presbyterians to vote for divestment," Kassis is much more than a simple Concerned individual. He's a founder and organizer of the Kairos Palestine Document, a widely disseminated 2009 essay that calls on Christians of all denominations around ' the world to repudiate the Jewish state. It's available for sale on the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s website, where it's described as "the Letter from a Birmingham Jail" for our time. Kassis' influential essay states that Israel, in its pres- "ent form, is "a sin against humanity." In the black-and- white world of the Kairos document--and the Presby- terian study .materials that explain it--Israel is painted entirely as a bully, an irra- tional force for evil that has only to be countered, never sympathized with, learned about, or understood. Arab violence and terror attacks are ignored, while Israeli reactions to violent provoca- tions are held up as examples of an unreasonable desire for violence, an unstoppable blood-lust on the part of Jews and the Jewish state. Invitation denied Jewish groups andpro-Isra- el delegates tried desperately to present a more balanced picture at the annual meeting. In an unprecedented show of unity and action, over 1,700 American rabbis and Jewish leaders from all 50 American states signed a letter to the Presbyterian "Assembly, urg- ing them to reject calls for divesting from Israel. "Placing all the blame on one party, when both bear responsibility, Spring into Action with rlandoAc .co. Air Condition & e Aation if!i! iilil ili ii[i }! i '  Every day that you're outside, you're exposed to dangerous, but invisible, ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. Left unprotected , prolonged exposure to UV radiation can seriously damage the eye, leading to cataracts, skin cancer around the eyelid end other eye disorders. Protecting your eyes is important to maintaining eye health now and in the future Shield your eyes (and your family's eyes) from harmful UV rays. Wear sunglasses with maximum UV protection. I THEViSIONCOUNCIL increases conflict and division instead of promoting peace" the letter read. One national Jewish leader even offered to broker a meet- ing between senior Presbyte- rian leaders and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu, so they could discuss their concerns and present the Church's positions, on condition that they vote against divestment. The del- egates declined, and instead, after hours of passionate; emotional debate, voted to divest Church funds totaling over $20 million from three companies that sell to Israelis, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar. Sadly, the Presbyterian Church is only the latest in a Kabbalat From page 1A In 2010, near the 50th anniversary of his family's coming to America, Luski recalls U.S. Rep. Bill Young of Florida inviting himto deliver the opening prayer before the House of Representatives. "What a Jewish journey," the rabbi exclaims. On the West Coast, too, fireworks will add to Shab- bat's "joyous song," though it might be more like ".joyful noise." In Santa Rosa, Calif., Con- gregation Shomrei Torah is situated on a hilltop half a block away from a professional fireworks show put on at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, accbrding to Denise Harrison of the temple's office. Each year on the Fourth, the synagogue grounds be- come a prime fireworks viewing area for 200 to 300 congregants and their guests. With a service timed to end before the show begins, this Taglit From page 1A ticipants, like Ryan, see the Birthright Israel experience as a springboard for a life- long connection with their heritage." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally greeted Hunter at a Birthright Israel Mega Event, which brought together 3,200 participants from 60 bus tours for an evening of culture. The cel- ebration of Zionism included comments from Netanyahu, and leading philanthropists, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. There was also a performance by acclaimed Israeli vocal artist, Ivri Lider. Taglit-Birthright Israel also welcomed its 70,000th Israeli 74918 231 54 68.532 42763 95381 81679 36-425 57296 1 9847 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 4, 2014 string of mainline Protestant churches that have begun to boycott the Jewish state. The Mennonite, Quaker and Methodist Churches have all imposed partial divestments of companies that do business with Israel in recent years. Their divestments sided proclamations on Israel, place them on the wrong side of history. Amid the repressive regimes of the Middle East and beyond, where Christians are increasingly persecuted, where human rights are rou- tinely violated and ignored, Israel alone represents an island of tolerance, a liberal democracy where freedom of religion means that all can worship as they choose. Following the Presbyterian vote, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu issued an invitation: "Fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then - take a bus tour. Go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, a.nd see the difference... I would give them. two pieces of advice: One is make sure it's an armor-plated bus, and second, don't say that you're a Christian." Yvette Alt Miller earned her B.A. at Harvard University. She completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Jewish Studies at Oxford University, and has a Ph.D. In International Rela- tiorcs from the London School of Economics: She lives with her family i n Chicago, and has lectured internationally on Jewish topics. year, though, Harrison says "people have to come to ser- vices to see the fireworks." Let's hope the sermon doesn't run long. In Glencoe, Ill., in addi- tion to parading with the Torah on Saturday morn- ing, members ofAitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living will be parading on the Fourth with a 1953 pickup truck in parades there as well as in nearby Highland Park, which has five synagogues in a city of 30,000. Along the parade routes, "We pass out small American and Israeli flags," says Todd Jacobs, the executive direc- tor of a congregation he calls "post denoriainational." "In Highland Park they prefer the Israeli flag." The truck has a sound sys- tem that Jacobs says plays "a mashup of'TheYankee Doodle Boy' by George M. Cohan and a niggun by Shlomo Carlebach." Aitz Hayim Center has been in the parades for20years, and Jacobs is proud of the banners they put on the truck. "Values by Lincoln, Body by Ford," it read one year. Jacobs recalls that one year, seeking to make a Jewish connection to the Fourth, a member dressed up like the Statue of Liberty while hold- ing what looked like a Torah. On years the Fourth has fallen on a Saturday, Jacobs says that in an effort not to offend observant Jews, the group walks and doesn't use the truck. Perhaps seeking a historic Jewish connection to Inde- pendence Day, one year the truck banner read, "Half of the first graduating class of West Point was Jewish." "That year," Jacobs ex- plains, "there were only two graduates, and one of them was Jewish." Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at edmojace@ participant to the Mifgash ("Encounter") program, in which 8-10 Israeli students and soldiers join the tour buses to establish life-long global friendships with Jew- ish peers. "We have reached a remarkable milestone in our ongoing mission for world- wide Jewish continuity," said Gidi Mark. "Our 400,000 par- ticipants represent a strong and active bond between Israel and the Diaspora; and Taglit- Birthright Israelwill continue to provide hundreds of thou- sands of young Jews with an opportunity to explore Israel - the heart of Jewish culture, history and its people, so that they may rediscover and cre- ate a personal bond with their faith and global community." 6532 9-768 7 1 94 5819 4276 2453 1987 8341 3625 Taglit-Birthright Israel of- fers the gift of a free, 10-day trip to Israel for Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to26. The trip aims to strengthen each participant's identity as a Jew; to build an understand- ing, friendship and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel; and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide. Taglit-Birthright Israel has sent 400,000 young Jewish adults to Israel from more than 66 countries and from all 50 U.S. states, including stu- dents from nearly 1,000 North American college campuses. Attendees are immersed in an active educational experience that includes visits to Jew- ish historical sites, history museums, Holocaust remem- brance sites, the Western Wall, arts and culture programs as well as touring, hiking, discussions, social events, camel and jeep rides in the desert, and more. The trip focuses on three main areas: the narratives of the Jewish people,'contemporary Israel, " and the formative values of Judaism. Taglit-Birthright Israel has a unique, historical and in- novative partnership with the Government of Israel, thou- sands of individual donors and private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world through Jewish Federations of NorthAmerica, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency of Israel. Visit www.