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July 12, 2013

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 12, 2013 How can art move some- one to be more accepting of differences among people? Can what we see change how we feel? Those are the questions that drove The Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem to hold an international competition among world-famous artists and designers, asking them to interpret the theme of coexistence. The resulting exhibit, CO- EXISTENCE: The Art of Liv- ing Together, was created as striking way for visual art to create a call to action for social change. The works, selected as seen by a prestigious international jury, became a large outdoor exhibition that toured the world between 2001 and 2010. The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Cen- ter is currently displaying a smaller version of the original exhibition. Some panels of the exhibit show what coexistence could and should mean; oth- ers explore visual reflections on the state of intolerance. American graphic designer Seymour Chwast decon- structs the human face in a whimsical reminder of same- ness and difference, while Shi- geo Fukuda, Japan's consum- mate visual communicator, creates a new interpretation of da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Each panel is accompanied by writ- ten reflections that enhance the mood and the message: a striking pose of intertwined hands by Israeli photographer Yossi Lemel is matched with Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech; a graphic describing the brutality of racism fashioned by German designer Lex Drawinski is perfectly pared with MayaAn- gelou poem "And Still I Rise." Pam Kancher, executive director of the Holocaust Center, says the importance of the exhibit and its message should not be underestimated. "One of the greatest lessons of the Holocaust," she says, "is the importance of living with differences and to respecting our neighbors. Cleafly, wewill never achieve peaceful coexis- tence until we understand and confront our misunderstand- ings and prejudices. This exhibit is a wonderful way to open that conversation and keep it going." The exhibit will be on dis- play at the Center until Sept. 1. There is no admission charge to visit the Center or to attend its general programs. Panels from CoExistence Haredi Orthodox Jews passing through Shabbat Square, two Jerusalem haredi neighborhoods. Ben Sales a central intersection between Ben Sales A wall ofpashkvilim, or posters bearing communal announcements, in the Jerusalem haredi neighborhood of Mea She'arim. By Ben Sales JERUSALEM (JTA)---The large white poster is topped by a screaming headline written in large black letters: "Hell." Posted on a wall in Jeru- salem's haredi Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood, the sign describes a development that threatens the com- munity with "extinction" and "makes all living hearts tremble." Known as a pashkvil in Yiddish, the signs are com- mon in Mea Shearim, most of them announcing upcoming funerals or opportunities for Torah study. But several now predict impending doom if the Israeli government moves ahead with plans to draft haredi men into the military. One poster, announcing a protest for June 19, describes the battle as an "existential war." If there was a war on the streets of Jerusalem that night, nobody noticed. With the exception of a demonstration in May that drew 30,000 people, there have been no mass haredi demonstrations in Israel similar to what took place in Lower Manhattan in early June. This despite a range of measures under consider- ation that threaten to strip the haredi community of privileges it has long enjoyed. In addition to a bill to draft thousands of haredi yeshiva students into the army beginning in 2017, the government is considering various incentives to draw haredim into the workforce and off the public dole. The government's new auster- ity budget drastically cuts haredi childcare subsidies. The Education Ministry is mandating math and English in haredi public schools, where such subjects are given little attention, if any. Even at the Western Wall, where haredim have long held sway, Israeli courts recently determined that women have the right to pray there publicly as they wish. "We're in the hands of God," said Yitzchak, 47, EWISH NEWS assistant Approximately 22 hours per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, from 1 - 5 p.m. Wednesday 11 - 5 p.m. Responsibilities will include editing, writing, page layout, photography and some misc. clerical. Knowledge of the Jewish community and computer experience helpful. Please send resume to : or call Jeff at 407-834-8787. who studies full time in a yeshiva. "You should protest desecrations of God's name or for keeping the Sabbath, but on economic decrees you look to God." Despite the apocalyptic rhetoric, Israel's haredi com- munity has stayed relatively silent in the face of proposed reforms, a posture due in part to the reticence of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the leading Ashkenazi rab- binic authority. Shteinman declined to support the May protest and instead has advo- cated a quiet response. For a man of his influ- ence, Shteinman, who is approximately 100 years old, is reserved. On a recent weekday afternoon, his mod- est apartment in the haredi stronghold of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, had only one small sign on the door, a note announcing the time for evening prayers. At the appointed hour, men in black hats and coats packed into his living room. When prayers were over, Shteinman received them individually as they sought his blessings on anything from finding a wife to clos- ing a real estate deal. He responded to each in a brief, hoarse whisper. Shteinman's attitude to the proposed reforms has been similarly soft-spoken. Yisrael Friedman, a fol- lower of Shteinman and the deputy editor of the leading haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman, told JTA that the rabbi's preferred response is for the haredi community to strengthen itself from within, focusing on Torah study, prayer and repentance. Friedman said haredi yeshi- vas have seen an uptick in students on weekends. "When a person prays, he says 'Master of the universe, I'm weak, help,' " Friedman said. "When he goes to the street, he's saying 'I'm strong.' He believes in his own strength to change de- crees. Heavenly decrees you don't change yourself." The Sephardic religious leadership has taken a simi- larly restrained approach. The Shas party plans to fight the reform legislatively, but so far has not called for protest. Even Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a figure known for his fiery pronouncements, has stopped just short of calling his followers into the streets--though he did have harsh words for proponents of reform, calling on God to "pursue them in anger and destroy them." "Pray to God to foil our enemies' counsel, suppress their thoughts, revisit their plans on their heads," he urged followers last month. Not everyone in the haredi community has chosen to place their trust solely in the hands of heaven. Rabbi Shmuel Pappen- heim, who in the past rep- resented Eda Haharedit, the haredi organization that backed the May protest, says the quiet is mainly tactical. The draft is four years off and as it draws near, he says, the volume of protest will increase. "There will be an internal war within the Jewish peo- ple," Pappenheim said. "We'll create great chaos until the secular Israelis will say let's go back to the arrangement we had before." One place where the haredi rank-and-file has taken a more voluble approach is online. Last year, Aharon Kravitz launched the website Dos- sire.corn to convey the haredi perspective on Israel's cul- ture wars. The site, with a name that plays off an Israeli slur for religious Jews, aims both to present haredi so- ciety in a positive light and to document anti-haredi articles and physical/lttacks on haredim. Haredi leaders are silent because they "don't have the tools to fight the fire from the media and politicians," said Kravitz, who says it's important to have the haredi viewpoint out there even if no one is persuaded. Friedman agrees that such efforts at dialogue are probably useless be- cause the haredi lifestyle is so misunderstood among secular Israelis. Better, he says, for haredim to focus on upholding their way of life. "The State of Israel has brought us to a situation where the Jewish nation and the Israeli nation need to separate," he said. "The State of Israel is lending a hand to the worst and most dangerous thing. They haven't broken us with this. They won't break us."