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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 1, 2014 i Support From page 1A life, but being unbound by such values Hamas is forcing upon the Israeli government a terrible moral dilemma." He stated the dilemma Israel is in. "Everyone under- stands that Israel must defend its citizens. Israel must ask itself a very painful question. Does it protect Israelis but risk harming Gaza civilians thus exposing itself to the criticism engendered by out- of- context global misperceptions, or does it spare Gaza civilians and not strike at Hamas targets? "Israel expends vast re- sources building bomb shel- ters for its own population. Hamas, on the other hand, has invested all its concrete to make bunkers for its leaders and tunnels for its terror- ists. Hamas has embedded itself deep inside the civilian population, firing rockets from its school yards, stor- ing its weapons in Mosques, and establishing military headquarters in hospitals and private homes." Shacham emphasized that Israel has continued to pro- vide the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza throughout this conflict. "Daily hundreds of Israeli trucks loaded with food, medicine, fuel, and pro- viding electricity from its own national grid is brought into Gaza. Israel even established a military field hospital just outside the border of Gaza pro- viding medical assistance to wounded Palestinian citizens. He compared the actions of the two sides in this war: "While Hamas has shelled the humanitarian crossing points, knocked out the electricity lines, prevented its population from reaching the hospital, and left its own peo- ple in hunger, darkness, and pain. Israel has readily agreed to every ceasefire proposal put before it hoping to avoid further bloodshed. While Hamas has cynically violated all cease fire arrangements on the ground. "Israel has used its know howto develop precision guid- ed weapons both to protect its population from rocket fire with the Iron Dome together developed with the help of the United States. While Hamas has used its know how to manufacture blind rockets, which are only good for firing at large civilian targets such as cities. "Israel has expended vast efforts to warn every single Gazan in a target area to evacuate in order to avoid injury using telephone calls, text messaging, leafletting, and warning shots. While Hamas has purposefully instructed its population to disregard Israeli warning and to remain in the target zones to protect its military assets with their own lives. The Orlando Sentinel Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico Chaim Shacham. In conclusion, Shacham stated, "In short, Israel is employing its arsenal to pro- tect civilians, while Hamas is employing civilians to protect its arsenal." Sixteen-year-old Eli Ziegler shared some of his observa- tions on Israel after attending the NFTY in Israel Summer 2014 Program. While visiting an army base on the Golan Heights Ziegler said he was taught what it meant to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). "I learned that the soldiers of the IDF are willing to put their lives on the line not only for their family and friends but for people like you and me. The soldiers of the IDF are willing to put their lives on the line so that Jews all around the world will have a place they can feel safe and feel at home," Ziegler said. Other speakers at the Israel Solidarity Gathering included Ina Porth, chairperson Jew- ish Community Relations Council; Dr. Mark Klafter, chair Israel Advocacy, JCRC; Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer, Golda Meir Congregation of Reform Judaism; Rabbi David Kay, Congregation Ohev Shalom; Alan Rusonik, head of school, Jewish Academy of Orlando; and Beth Schafer, spiritual leader Temple Shir Shalom. Dr. Olga Yorish, executive director of the Federation, encouraged everyone to do- nate generously to the Israel Emergency Fund. "Your do- nations will provide relief for children living in the 'zone of fire' and long term rehabilita- tion grants for these families." PAGE 15A For more information contact the JFGO at 407-645-5933. The evening ended with a hauntingly beautiful rendi- tion of "Hatikvah" sung by Samantha Trattner, Camp J song leader. All in attendance rose and sang these words from Hatikva, "Our hope is not lost, the hope of 2000 years, to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem." It is our love for the State of Israel that unites us as a people and a proud Central Florida community. Weiss From page 1A Weiss has a strong com- mitment to community: He served,17 years on the JCC bord,:.orked with Harris Rosen to help get the JCC Jack & Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando campus up and run- ning, and in 2006 his family gave $25,000 to the JCC to become lifetime members. He was elected JCC president in 2007, and in May 2009 he was awarded the Jewish Com- munity Leadership Award and continued to serve as immediate past president for two more years. Just recently at the JCC Annual Meeting, JCC Executive Director David Wayne awarded Weiss a JCC Lifetime Service Award for his longtime service, com- mitment, and general love for the JCC. In 2013, Weisswas elected to the Jewish Academy of Orlando Board of Directors, a position he recently resigned from and now his wife, Rona, serves on the board. In fact, the whole family is involved with JAO. Shira, 14, is a JAO graduate, now attending Winter Park High School; Jordan, 12, is in the seventh grade at JAO; and Ari is entering first grade. Weiss attended the Univer- sity of Florida where he ma- jored in history and minored in religion with plans to teach. "I love teaching," he said. "I've taught in law school, colleges, religious schools. In South Florida I taught at the Central Agency for Jewish Education, and I taught Jewish history to high school students who obtained college credit for the program through Miami- Dade Community College." But it was when he went to work for the Jewish Agency in New York in 1991 that his background in history and religion paid off. He had two goals: to promote Israel throughout college campuses and create an educational opportunity for all students, Jewish or non-Jewish, to study abroad in Israel through an exchange program. ',We realized how impor- tantjJ:was for our students to experience Israel. We felt that if they could go and study in Israel and learn the history and politics, then when they came back here, they would be leaders in their communities and take with them what they learned while in Israel. Pales- tinians do have rights there that the media doesn't reveal. Israel has a unique political situation and they deal with immigration constantly." He was offered a position at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. But Weiss had decided he wanted to further his studies and get a law degree, so, unfortunately, he had to say no to that op- portunity. Why not continue his teaching career? "I always felt that if I got a law degree I could do anything I wanted with it--politics, teach, be a lawyer," he said. "In law school, I loved what I was learning about the law." Weiss leaned forward as he continued, "This system of justice where you can really help somebody. Not just help them socially like a counselor would or a teacher, giving advice, but actually maneu- vering through the system. With a legal degree and un- derstanding the courts, you can actually do something about it and go in there and advocate for someone." Weiss attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware, and transferred to the University of Florida College of Law to finish his degree. While in law school, Weiss served on the Widener Law Review and clerked at the Delaware Su- preme Court. He graduated in the top of this class, and upon graduation was awarded theprestigious Judge J. Cullen Ganey Criminal Law Award. With law degree in hand, he ran full speed ahead ,'do- ingsomething about" helping people.Kevin and Rona came back to Orlando where he be- came known as the "go-to-guy for appeals." He has briefed and argued more than 400 appeals, managed thousands of business litigation cases and represented hundreds of tor s an othe healthcare providers against insurance companies. He is also proud that he is Martindale-Hubbell A.V.-rated, which is a peer review rating that places him at the height of professional excellence--an attorney's highest rating. In 1999, after working for one law firm, Kevin set up his own practice, Weiss Le- gal Group, P.A., right across the street from the JCC and school, which made being available to his family very convenient. As managing attorney of the firm, he and his law firm provided legal services in the areas of personal injury, worker's compensation, in- surance disputes, corporate and entertainment law, family and divorce law, banking and foreclosure law, collections and civil appeals. As part of his mantra to always give back and help others, Weiss has volunteered his time and legal services pro bono to JAO and the JCC. "The key for me is public service and giving back to the community. I want to feel good about what I'm doing. It's tikkun olam--working to make things right and fair," he said. Last September, Weiss Le- gal Group merged with The Nation Law Firm. "I didn't want to just leave and leave my people without jobs," he said as he made plans to transition from his role as business owner to become a judge. At the time of the merger, Weiss was unopposed for the judicial position. Now, in the seventh hour, an oppo- nent has thrown his hat into the rng. However, Weiss is not discoaraged. ]ustlastweekhe won the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob/Straw Poll by more than 85 percent. He also won the East Side Chamber Hob Nob, the Apopka Hob Nob, the Winter Park Hob Nob, and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Hob Nob. Weiss will give up a lot becoming a judge--flexibility, time with his family, and sub- stantial income--important factors to consider. However, Weiss is passionate about justice and working to make things fair. "It's not about getting a job," he stated. "For me, I want to make an impact. As a judge, I have to apply the law, but I can insure the law is applied fairly, without discrimination. Equally--black or white, yel- low or gay, it doesn't matter." When a new judge is elect- ed, he or she is appointed by the chief judge to a specific division--juvenile, family- divorce, civil, domestic vio- lence, probate or complex litigation. Weiss confided that he would really like to work in the juvenile division--not a very popular division. "I would love to have the opportunity to help make a wise choice to give these kids an opportunity because once you send them to jail, forget it," he stated. "We have some really good social programs and you just have to have a judgewho has some patience." Weiss, who is devoted to his own children, has done some guardian ad litem work where he was an advocate for children, and his family has helped local children. "Kids need strong disci- pline, hugs. They need some- JCC Executive Director David Wayne presenting a lifetime award to Kevin Weiss. one to care about them. When they show up in the system, there's no parent, maybe a grandparent. They have no one who cares about the. Why should they care about you? I think Fve gotthe patience and the desire not to just make a quick decision and throw them in jail. Call the sheriff, ask him 'do you have any room in the Sheriff's ranch program?'" Often, when voters look at the election ballot, they will skim over the names of those running for judge positions and pick a name without knowing anything about the candidate. Why bother? Many may never see the inside of a courtroom. Kevin Weiss is not a name to be overlooked. He has been endorsed by hundreds of lawyers, the In- ternational Association of Fire Fighters, The West Orange Chamber of Commerce, State Attorney Jeff Ashton, For- mer State Attorney Lawson Lamar, several police chiefs (please see his website www. kevinweissforjudge.com for the complete list of endorse- ments) and even Harris Rosen, who rarely endorses anyone. Last week the Orlando Sen- tinel announced its endorse- ment of him, and now The Heritage, which normally remains impartial, is giving Kevin Weiss its endorsement. "At the age of 45, these experiences I have had that have shaped my personality help me to make sure the law is applied fairly and that justice is done in the courtroom. [Judges] have some discretion when it comes to sentenc- ing-as in family law, where a child should go, if child sup- port is paid fairly. It requires spending time researching and reading to make that right decision. I can't create the law, but what I can do is make sure it is applied fairly to everybody and that the system works." On Sunday, Aug. 10, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.,Aileen and Edgar Schaked are hosting a Meet and Greet for Weiss. To RSVP and get directions to the Schaked's home, please email Maria Hale at mimihar@cfl.rr.com. Elec- tion day is Aug. 26 and early voting begins Aug. 14.