Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
July 5, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 18     (18 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 18     (18 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
July 5, 2013

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 18A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 5, 2013 Rulings From page 1A necessary to ensure diversity, even as we are aware that the decision's wording indicates the Court may welcome future opportunities to review and potentially restrict affirma- tive action." The June 25 decision on voting rights, a 5-4 call that split the court along its conservative-liberal lines, shocked Jewish groups. The decision kept in place the shell of the 1965 Voting Rights Act but gutted its key provision, which had mandated federal review of any changes in vot- ing laws in areas and states-- mostly in the South--where racial discrimination had been pervasive. All three Jewish justices dissented from the major- ity opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, which found that the 1965 rules were outdated. In a withering dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg _noted that Congress had overwhelmingly reaffirmed the 1965 rules as recently as 2006 and said the court was overstepping its bounds. The decision drew strong Mark Wilson/Getty American University students Sharon Burk, left, and Mol- lie Wagoner share a kiss Jun 26outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington after hearing that the high court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. condemnation from Jewish groups and vows to bring the caseto Congress, although the likelihood is that current po- litical realities--a Republican House of Representatives and a Democratic Senate--will preclude a review of the 1965 law anytime soon. O n the morning of June 26, the court issued two rulings on gay rights. One overturned a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which mandated that federal laws abide by a definition of marriage as between a man and woman. In the second ruling, the court said that individuals who sought to overturn a California Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriage had no standing to sue. The first case stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a Jewish woman, Edith Wind- sor, who was forced to pay federal taxes on the estate of her late wife, Thea Spyer, who also was Jewish, although their Canadian marriage was recognized as legal by the State of New York, where they resided. "DOMA singles out a class Win McNamee/Getty Supporters of the Voting Rights Act waiting outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 25 after the court struck down a section aimed, at protecting minority voters. of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty," Kennedy wrote in an opinion joined by the four liberal judges, including the three Jewish justices: Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, as well as Sonia Sotomayor. "It imposes a disability on the class by re- fusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper." The marriage equality cases had Jewish groups filing friend-of-the-court briefs on both sides, with liberal groups defending the rights of gay couples and Orthodox groups seeking to push back against the California Supreme Court decision. "Society's mores may shift and crumble but eternal verities exist," the haredi Orthodox Agudath Israel of America said in a statement. "One is marriage, the union of a man and a woman. Its sanctity may have been griev- ously insulted by the High Court today, but that sanctity remains untouched." Liberal Jewish groups were elated. "Having faced prejudice and bigotry throughout our histo- ry, the Jewish community does not tolerate unjust discrimina- tion against others," Alan van Capelle, the director of Bend the Arc, a Jewish group that advocates on social issues and that had joined friend-of-the- court briefs in both cases, said in a statement. "Personally, as a gay Jewish man who has long been fighting for LGBT rights, it means so much to see our highest court rule that my family has as much right to happiness and protection under the law as any other." Smiling From page 1A Irish-Jewish relations haven't always been this sour. In the early 20th century, many Irish leaders were sym- pathetic to the Jewish people, with the Irish drawing heavily on historical parallels with Jews, including their suffer- ing, the large-scale migration of Irish in the 19th century, and their upward struggle for national self-determination against the British. But following Israel's inde- pendence in 1948, Irish sym- pathies inexplicably shifted. . The Irish no longer viewed Israel as the underdog strug- gling for its national rights, but instead as a foreign occu- pier on someone else's land-- the Palestinians--similar to the Irish experience with British control over Northern Ireland. Ireland did not extend recognition to Israel until 1963 and did not establish an embassy in Tel Aviv until 1996. Furthermore, Ireland was one of the first European countries to call for a Pales- tinian state in 1980 and has insistently focused on the Palestinian refugee issue. Today, despite its subor- dinate position within the European Union behind such larger powers as the U.K., France and Germany, Ireland has played an outsized role as a voice on matters concern- ing Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Current Irish Foreign Af- fairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (known as the Tanaiste in Gaelic) Eamon Gilmore has been one of Ire- land's most outspoken critics of Israel. Last month, Gilm- ore, who is a member of the left-wing Irish Labor Party, announced that Ireland would embark on a campaign to urge fellow EU states to label Israeli products from the West Bank as "settler" products, and to eventually encourage a boycott. "Settlements on the West Bank are illegal, and there- fore the produce of those settlements should be treated as illegal throughout the European Union," Gilmore said in May, according to the Jerusalem Post. "Ireland's policies have also targeted Israel on other fronts. In early June, Israeli government officials accused the Irish government of being behind the oppositionwithin the EU to label the military wing of Hezbollah as a ter- rorist organization. According to the Jerusalem Post, Ireland's concerns may be related to the Irish contin- gent of soldiers within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the U.N. peacekeeping mission which patrols southern Leba- non, Hezbollah's heartland. Prof. Miller told that historical animosity built up between Israel and Ireland over Ireland's par- ticipation in UNIFIL. "Between 1978 and 2000, over 40,000 Irish troop.s served in Lebanon, which represented Ireland's largest- ever military involvement outside its borders. Through- out the 1980s and 1990s, the Irish government regularly clashed with Israel over the treatment of Irish UNIFIL troops, and much public and political sympathy for Israel disappeared when he saw how they treated the Irish soldiers in southern Lebanon," Miller explained. Ireland's large participa- tion in U.N. peacekeeping missions follows the general pattern of Ireland's post-in- dependence non-aligned foreign policy. Unlike many other western European countries, Ireland is not a member of NATO and has a longstanding policy of military neutrality. In turn, Ireland has instead directed its foreign policy towards a commitment to international organizations such as the U.N. and the EU, and has participated in several major U.N. peacekeeping opera- tions. In addition to the Iriih government being harsher on Israel than some of its EU partners, Ireland's NGOs have been some of the most powerful anti-Israel groups in Europe. "The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign's (IPSC) is the leading organization engaged in the campaign for BDS in Ireland. In promoting the BDS campaign the IPSC, has in many ways, been more successful in spreading its message than other similar groups across Europe," Miller said. In early April, the Teach- ers' Union of Ireland became the first academic union in Europe to endorse a full academic boycott of Israel. But despite the domi- nance of pro-Palestinian groups in Ireland, there are several small pro-lsrael Irish groups, such as Irish Christian Friends of Israel (ICFI), that have attempted to change the tone in Ireland concerning the Jewish state. ICFI, which was founded in the early 1980s, describes itself as a group of "commit- ted Christians, from various denominations, who love Israel and its peoples." The group has held several pro- Israel rallies in Ireland and has sponsored fundraising campaigns for Israel, as well as trips to the Jewish state. "We are Christians from various different churches. We have been going for about 25-30 years," Paddy Monaghan, president of ICFI, told Monaghan explained that most Irish people have very open minds and can be per- suaded to support Israelmore if they are presented with a fair and honest discussion of the issues r "If Israel put more money in helping to create and mobi- lize pro-Israel groups, things could improve," Monaghan said. "While there is some anti-Semitism within Ire- land, especially within Mus- lim immigrant groups, there is a big middle ground that is open to being persuaded either way. A few years ago we put together a campaign for [former Hamas captive] Gilad Shalit that gained thousands of signatures." In addition to its charitable endeavors for Israel, ICFI has launched political campaigns to persuade the Irish govern- ment to back off on its support for a boycott of Israel. "We appeal to [Eamon Gilmore] not to use the last EU Foreign Ministers Council meeting to sponsor the labeling of West Bank settlement products and the subsequent proposed ban on them," ICFI said in a recent press statement. Groups like ICFI face an uphill battle.-In the spring, a small group called Irish- 4Israel, which was launched in 2010 by Barry Williams, a student at Ireland's Uni- versity College Cork, raised more than $2,000 in 10 days with the help of BlueStar, a pro-Israel advocacy based in San Francisco, to launch a poster campaign in Ireland promoting Israeli tourism. But within 24 hours of be- ing put up, the posters were vandalized by suspected pro-Palestinian groups, the Jewish Chronicle of LondOn reported. Alan Shatter of the Fine Gael--Ireland's center, right party from which the coun- try's current prime minister, Enda Kenny, hails from--is the lone Jewish member of the country's parliament and has been more support- ive of Israel than his fellow legislators. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in March, Shatter said it is important to distinguish between Irish NGOs, which are obsessively focused on Israel, and the Irish government, which is attempting to deepen ties with Israel. "Ireland is a friend of Is- rael," Shatter said. "We have a government in Ireland that wants a deeper engagement. But we also have a govern- ment in Ireland that is com- mitted to the peace process." Iv; fact, Ireland and Israel enjoy a growing economic rela- tionship. Both economies have experienced strong growth since the 1990s (with the ex- ception of the 2008 financial crisis that briefly damaged Ireland's economy) in the fields of science and technology. Despite efforts to boycott Israel, trade between Ire- land and Israel has grown significantly. According to Ireland's The Journal, Israel has become one of Ireland's fastest-growing trade part- nera, rising from 26th in 2010 to 14th in 2011. Additionally, both the Irish and Israeli embassies hold a wide variety of cultural events in each other's countries. Irish musicians and dancers regularly perform in Israel, while the Israeli embassy in Ireland holds many informa- tional events about Israel and shared Irish-Jewish history. One of the most famous parts of that history is Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, who was chief rabbi of Ireland's small Jewish community before becoming Israel's first Ashkenazi chief rabbi. But if Israel hopes to once again have Irish eyes smile upon the Jewish state, reaching out to the Irish may require more than state-to- state relations. "The Arab people and their supporters tend to under- stand Irish culture better. [The Israelis] often assume that Western people will un- derstand without establish- ing relationships. But we [in Ireland] are relational people," Israel needs to take the time explain the rightness of their case on a personal level," ICFI's Monaghan told JNSoorg. Werthman From page 1A Abraham was not enough for me. I've studied just about every religion known to mankind. From my early fascination with the ancient Egyptians to later studies of Catholicism and Buddhism, I have read, questioned and considered .... After much study, I came to the conclusion that Judaism, my ancestral faith, was the most reasonable and comfortable religious ex- pression for me." In 1983, Rabbi Thom moved to Florida, where he taught at Florida Southern College, Valencia Commu- nity College and a number of Hebrew schools be- fore joining the Seminole County school system, where he presently teaches. Now that his youngest son, Jordan Jacob Thomas, is in college, he is return- ing to the active rabbinate. After attending several services at Bet Chaim, he was approached by the board of directors about the possibility of becoming their spiritual leader and, after much discussion, has accepted the position on a part-time basis. Asked about his goals and philosophy for the congregation, Rabbi Thorn said, "It is making Judaism available to everyone; to help Jews find their niche," He expressed dismay at the thought that someone would Ie turned away from High Holy Day services just because they didn't have a ticket. "Nobody should be turned away," he empha- sized, "The shul is family. He also wants to make sure he visits the sick among the congregants on a regular basis and intends to hold small havdalahs at his home in order to know the synagogue's members better. Finally, he intends to set up some sort of hotline situation where members can share simchas and sorrows with each other.