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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 11, 2014 :race -- Chanoch Korman At a family wedding in Israel, Regina Ament, right, is shown with her sisters, from left, Feige, Baila and Hinda. By Hillel Kuttler The "Seeking Kin" column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. BALTIMORE (JTA) -- The regular phone calls stopped, the letters went unanswered. For Lily Kraut, living in Judea and Samaria, communicationwith her mother, Regina Ament, all but ceased in late 2008 after the latter suffered a stroke. Then last late November, Kraut heard the terrible news - her mother had died in Florida several months earlier. This week, she will observe the first yahrzeit, the Hebrew anniversary of the death. Raised in Michigan and Florida before moving to Modiin Illit decades ago, Kraut, 62, had enjoyed a close relationship with her mother. Every Sunday morning after concluding her Shacharit prayers, Ament telephoned her daughter. "Itwas like clockwork," said Yaakov Feldman, a resident of the nearby town of Modiin and the husband of Kraut's grand- daughter. "There wasn't such a thing as missing a Sunday." Relatives in Israel and America believe that Markus Ament, Regina's son and care- taker with whom she lived in the Miami area, had cut her off from the rest of the family. Kraut was unable to fly to the United States to check on her mother. For Purim in 2010, Feldman flew to Miami and dropped in to see the Aments, but discov- ered they had moved. He staked out the post office where MarkusAment received his mail. Ament, the clerk told him, had just left. Feldman prevailed upon the clerk to view the security camera, which showed a taxi pulling away moments earlier. Feldman called the tele- phone number painted on the cab and eventually met the driver, to whom he showed Ament's photograph. They drove to the corner in Hialeah where the driver said he'd brought his passenger. Nothing. "He fell off the grid," said Feldman, who works as a tour guide. "It may sound ridicu- lous and crazy, but those are the facts." Last year, Feldman broad- cast his appeal for information on the Israeli radio program "Hamador L'chipus Krovim" (Searching for Relatives Bu- reau). He also approached a rabbi in Bnei Brak in an effort to make sense of the strange situation. The rabbi predicted that the mystery would be solved within months. So it was. Last June, another rela- tive, Chanoch Korman of Brooklyn, N.Y., searched online for information on ReginaAment, the sister of his grandma Hinda. Immediately he came upon the website of Eternal Light Memorial Gar- dens, a cemetery in Boynton Beach, Fla., which presented the following: Regina Ament, June 4, 1924-June 11, 2013 Death notices on most cemetery and funeral home sites usually include loved ones' tributes. Here were just the most basic of facts. Still, itwassomething.And it was timely, with Korman conducting the online search on June 14, 2013. Had it been June 10, he might still be in the dark. Korman sought to con- firm that the deceased was his relative, he said, but the cemetery's staff would not share information, cit- ing privacy laws. He asked them to call Kraut in Israel with the news, since she was Ament's daughter, but was rebuffed. So Korman decided to wait. Delivering the news would require Kraut to observe the shiva mourning period the requisite seven days - something he learned from rabbinic authorities he could avoid. Kraut was planning to attend upcoming family wed- dings, which mourning rules would have forbade. Korman, a technology spe- cialist, would be going with his father, Rachum, to Israel in the fall. They would deliver the news personally. So on a Friday morning in early November, the Kormans stopped by to see Kraut. Sit- ting at her table and sipping soda, the younger Korman told Kraut what he had learned. Absorbing the words, a sobbing Kraut, referring to her brother, blurted, "Why did he do it?" That's some- thing Korman and Feldman said they don't understand, either. When "Seeking Kin" tele- phoned a Florida cellular number, the man who picked up confirmed that he was Markus Ament. But when the purpose of the conversation was explained, the line went dead. Subsequent calls rolled over to Ament's voice mail, which was inoperative. Kraut, too, didn't wish to be interviewed, remaining "too upset" by the situation, Feldman said. It's all a pity, said Korman, who recalls seeing his aunt several times when he was younger. She was one of five children of parents who were bakers. All escaped the Nazi occupation by fleeing their native Yaroslav, Poland, for Siberia. After the war, Ament and her extended family stayed close. Now only Korman's grandmother remains. "It's a sad story of a lady who didn't see much of her grandchildren," Korman said. "Imagine, the last month of her life, if she spent time with them, the nachas she would have shepped [the joy she'd have experienced]." If you would like "Seek- ing Kin" to write about your search for long-lost relatives and friends, please include the principal facts and your -contact information in a brief email. "Seeking Kin" is sponsored by Bryna Shuchat and Joshua Landes and fam- ily in loving memory of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Shuchat, a lifelong uniter of the Jewish people. By Dmitriy Shap o JNS.org Washington Jewish Week: Religious freedom, family values, fiscal policy, and Israel were the primary drivers of discussion as faith activists and Republican politicians recently gathered in Wash- ington, DC for the Road to Majority 2014 conference, put on by the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. Despite the group's reputation as being mostly focused on evangelical Christians, Jewish speakers, pundits, and issues were prominent on the agenda, as was quoting the Old Testa- ment, an apparent nod to the broad range of inclusion that the group considers its goal. Held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel from June 19-21, the conference featured speakers who denounced President Barack Obama's foreign and domestic politics, as well as expanding on issues such as abortion, fiscal responsibility, and religious freedom. On the foreign affairs front, an active U.S. role in the Middle Eastand support of Israel as a strong regional ally were popular themes. Author and commentator Aryeh Spero kicked off the conference by delivering a fiery invocation answered by shouts of "Amen" from the several hundred people in attendance. "And David said to the Phi- listines: Thou cometh to me with a sword and a spear but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, Lord of this holy nation you dare to mock and dismiss," said Spero. "So my friends, we ask, who are these judges, these bureaucrats, these hedonists of Hollywood, that they should come and taunt America and defy the living God upon whose word this Judeo-Christian nation was founded?" He added, "The brazen and the prideful have stood over us to transform this country by first transforming our language; by redefining our historic and biblical under- standing of marriage; of life in the womb and outside the womb; our view of freedom of conscience, and especially our right to freedom of religion as opposed to only freedom of worship." This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, recited by Sammy, Ezra, and Dara Berger--the children of Or- thodox Jewish Republican ac- tivist, donor, and obstetrician Alan Berger of Englewood, N.J. The boys wore their kippot on stage. With only rare exceptions, almost all of the bible passages evoked by the speakers came from the Old Testament. Spero told JNS.org that he considers this to be a historic shift. "When I was younger, as a kid, Christians generally were all New Testament-oriented. Some of the Catholic com- munity had actually rejected the Old Testament and among Protestants, they accepted it but it wasn't their bread and butter," he said. "But you're seeing a tremendous shift here historically into emphasis on the Old Testament. Which is wonderful that's another reason why they,re very sup- portive of Israel." Other Jewish speakers in- cluded Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the American Al- liance of Jews and Christians; nationally syndicated talk radio host Michael Medved and his wife Dianne, a clinical psychologist and best-selling author; and Jewish comedian Evan Sayet. "While clearly the over- whelming majority of mem- bers of the organization are evangelicals, I believe the values that we're advocating as a matter of public policy are based on the bible and natu- ral law and based on biblical principles of the importance of family, of hard work, of individual self-initiative," said Ralph Reed, the Faith and Freedom Coalition's chairman and former executive director of the Christian Coalition. "I think there's tremendous continuity between the Old Testament and New Testament on the values that we advocate and while many of our mem- bers hold to Christian faith, you're not required to hold to that faith," Reed added. "We have an open membership policy. We're open to people of all faiths or no faith at all and particularly on issues relating to the security of Israel as the Jewish state." Reed estimates that in previous years, 5-10 percent of the conference attendees were Jewish. According to development director Orit Sklar, the confer- ence did add more specifically Christian-geared programing to cater to its core audience, such as a Christian music performance. "The important thing to us is to make sure that we bring together people who understand the importance of Judeo-Christian values in our society and that we have programing for both com- munities," said Sklar. "We very much have an outreach effort and an interest in growing the membership of our organization within the Jewish community. It goes with the understanding that people of faith were crucial in the founding of this country and they need to have a voice in government today." The big draw of the confer- ence was top-tier politicians, many with their sights set on winning the GOP's nomina- tion for president in the 2016 election. These included U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, TV host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Christie criticized the Obama administration for its lack of leadership in the world, telling attendees that leadership includes clearly making sure that friends and adversaries know who they are around the world. "And we are seeing now all across this world that this administration's pulling back of American influence and American ideas around the world is having catastrophic effects in every corner of the globe," Christie said. "That's not anything more than the failure of the American leader to speak clearly, profoundly and inspirationally aboutwhat America's role is, whether it's drawing a red line in Syria and then not enforcing it; hurt- ing America's credibility and allowing the Russian leader to fill the vacuum of leader- ship in a way that will not be good for the world; and then watching how that movement moves from Syria, our lack of engagement, to now causing the issues their causing in Iraq." Though Christie has drawn criticism for describing the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria as "occupied territo- ries" at a Republican Jewish Coalition summit in Las Vegas earlier this year, and not men- tioning Israel months later at the Champions of Jewish Values Gala hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, he praised the Jewish state this time around--and to thunderous applause. "Worst of all, you have sit- ting in the midst of this, the beacon of hope, and democracy and respect for human rights in that section of the world-- the state of Israel--who now feels at risk because they are no longer convinced that America is their unwavering friend because of the actions of this administration," he said. "That's wrong. Israel is our friend. We need to stand up for it and fight for it." Attendees later filled a meet- ing room in the basement of the U.S. Capitol to be addressed by Republican lawmakers. In his remarks to the group, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who is seeking re-election in November, invoked the Holo- caust, telling attendees that "modern-day gas chambers are being constructed as you sit here, stand here, as I talk to you, they're being constructed. And they're being constructed by people that say, 'We're going to wipe out Israel and we're going to wipe out the United States' and they're building what they need to do that." When asked for a clarifica- tion, Gohmert said that he was referring to Iran's nuclear ambitions. "The Iranian leaders have made clear they want to wipe the 'little Satan', Israel, off the map and they've made clear they consider the United States the 'great Satan', and we need to go too," he explained. Departing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who lost to a Tea Party chal- lenger in his state's Republican Primary earlier this month, canceled his appearance due to "scheduling issues," although attendees suspected that he didn'twant to deflect attention from the newly elected major- ity leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, who was scheduled to speak the following day. This article is exclusive to JNS.org.