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August 11, 2017
 

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Editorials ..................................... 4A Op-Ed .......................................... 5A Calendar ...................................... 6A Scene Around ............................. 9A Synagogue Directory ................ 11A JTA News Briefs ........................ 13A Sara Nathan Stern By Christine DeSouza Her demeanor is reserved. She speaks softly with dignity and grace. Yet beneath that quiet exterior lays a strength to spearhead many projects that enhanced the Orlando Jewish community. Sara Stern reveals her deep love of Judaism and the Jewish people through her accomplish~ ments within organizations such as Congregation Ohev Shalom, Hadassah, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando ,e ensues over WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Chabad of East Boca Raton, Florida, is once again fight- ing for its right to build a synagogue. Despite two court victories in less than a year in Gagliardi v. The City of Boca Raton, Fla., the Chabad's battle for a house of worship is once again back in court. With the help of a New York lawyer famous for attacking religious civil rights law, a small opposition group is prolonging the lawsuit by appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In 2015, the Chabad re- ceived overwhelming support from the community and unanimous approval from the city of Boca Raton to begin construction of their new synagogue. But a New York attorney sued the city on behalf of a small group opposed to the synagogue. The suit claims that by al- lowing a single synagogue to be built on private land, the city is establishing the Jewish religion and discriminating against Christians. But the city ordinance they are suing over requires equal treatment for all faiths to build houses of worship. This latest appeal continues a decade-long battle and the Women's League of Conservative Judaism. Her motivation comes, she stated, from "a deep-seated belief that all human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore they need to be treatedwith kindness, dignity and respect." Describing Stern, Es Cohen stated, "I am reminded of the poem 'Woman of Valor' and one particular line, 'Her speech is wise, and the law of kindness is on her lips.' Through her words and ac- tions, Sara exudes love and respect. She is a true leader, friend and mentor to our com- munity and to me." For these reasons the Heri- tage is pleased to announce that Sara Stern is the recipient of this year's Human Service Award. "Sara is the perfect recipi- ent of this year's Human Ser- vice Award. She exemplifies the virtues of the award, an individual who does not look for recognition, but performs tikkun olam, repairing the world through human ac- tions," said Cohen. Stern and her husband, Dr. Louis Stern, met in Gaines- ville, Fla., when he was in medical school, she in nurs- ing school. Louis se~ed his residency in Mobile, Ala., then the couple moved toTampa for three years, arriving here in Orlando in 1987. Sara worked allowing the synagogue to build would overwhelmingly increase traffiC, prevent emer- gency vehicle access to the area, and lead to "inevitable" flooding. Yet the site of the proposed two-story syna- gogue is surrounded by much larger buildings, including strip malls, a 7-11, and massive 22-story condos. Some groups launched a at Florida Hospital South (resigning from her nursing position in 1997), served the Jewish community, and raised three children--Anna Serviansky, who lives in New York City and is assistant dean at List College; David Stern, who is a full-time em- ployee at Universal Orlando; and Melissa Stern, an RN at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. "I am so proud of all my children," Stern stated with a sparkle in her eye. After arriving in Orlando, the first Jewish organization Stern became involved in was the Aliyah Hadassah group. "Itwas great--a bunch of us young women, all pregnant at the same time with our third child. Itwas so much fun," she said with a big smile. At that time, there were three groups of Hadassah in Orlando--Rishona Masada, Chaverot and Aliyah. Oversee- ing the three groups was the Orlando Chapter of Hadas- sah, in which she was also a volunteer. "I helped with voters reg- istration, co-chairing with Janie Unger. Here I was in my 30s and I got to know women [in the Orlando Chapter] like Audrey Pearlman and Trina Herman--they were just so cool and so much fun!" she said with a sense of awe about these, and other dynamic women who contributed so much to the Jewish com- munity. In 1988, Sternwanted to be more than a member at Con- gregation Ohev Shalom. She served on the education com- mittee and the Beit Hamidrash board. Over the years, Stern has held positions at COS as parliamentarian (2003-2005), vice president Administration (2005-2006), executive vice president (2006-2008), and then president twice--from 2008-2010 and 2013-2014. She was Sisterhood president from 1998--2000 (and was chosen Sisterhood Woman of the Year in 2001), and served on a plethora of committees. Asked if she had a favorite position at COS, she answered hesitantly at first. "Actually, By Amy Schwartz Kimlat When Kacie Zemel relo- cated from Orlando to North Miami Beach to accept a posi- tion as a third-grade teacher at a Jewish day school, she still thought of herself as an active participant in The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando community--despite living more than 200 miles away. She would teach her chil- dren by day, and then continue to make plans for The Roth Family JCC at night. Dur- ing school breaks, instead of relaxing or recuperating, Before she lived this geo- graphically disparate life, Zemel was immersed in day- to-day life at The Roth Family JCC. She began as a part-time Welcome Center Associate in 2010, and then took on the role of Birthday Party coordinator. One day she was asked if she'd like to become Camp J's Arts & Craft special- ist, and that commenced her professional summer camp journey. She worked her way up to Head Specialist, and then transitioned into Camp J coordinator, and finally to Camp J assistant director--a position she held during sum- website against the Chabad she would make the journey mer 2017. that contained anti-Semitic posts. The Chabad also suf- fered a string of attacks in the last few years, including the destruction and theft of glass mezuzahs that contain sacred scripture, a smashed to Maitland to oversee the JCC's winter and spring break camps. Her dedication was so great that in summer 2016, she secured seasonal hous- ing just to work at Camp J throughout the summer. "Kacie has been a part of our JCC family for a long time, but we are very excited to finally welcome her aboard full-time," said Robby Etzkin, the JCC's executive director, who has twice served as The yes, but notwhatyou'd expect. I am very proud to have been president twice, but actually, being Mikveh Lady was my favorite," she said shyly. Why? "Helping women. It was an interpersonal kind of thing. I remember two incidents in particular of two women who had been traumatized prior to coming there and I hope that I was a comfort to them. And one who was returning to Judaism. It's those more personal things that are most meaningful to me," she said. Personal interaction and showing kindness to others also prompted Stern to vol- unteer with Maasim Tovim-- cooking for the homeless. As a member of the Wom- en's League of Conservative Judaism, Stern chaired the Torah Fund, with a goal to raise enough money to have a plaque at the Jewish Theological Seminary--the Seminary of the Conservative movement. Stern on page 15A Kacie Zemel in the JCC growing up, went to a Jewish sleepaway camp, graduated from a Jewish day school, and was involved in Jewish teen programming. In college, it was natural for me to find my way back to to prevent the Chabad from synagogue door, andaphysi- Beginningwith this school RothFamilyJCC'scampdirec- theJCC." building a permanent home. cal assault against a teenage year, Zemel will no longer tor on an interim basis since Zemel explained that her Enough is enough. It ismember of the Chabad whohavetosplitherresidence--as he arrived in 2012--and per- Jewish education combined past time to drop the legal was told to "go back to Aus- The Roth Family JCC has ap- sonally trained Zemel. "She's with her love for the JCC, and shenanigans and let Boca chwitz" and that"Hitler was pointed her as its newYouth organized, empathetic, and workingattheJjustfeltright. Raton welcome the Chabad right." &CampdirectoreffectiveAug. extraordinarily dedicated." While she worked part-time, into the community," said "It's sad that a very small 21. In that role, Zemel will be Etzkin added that it's al- she earned her Bachelor's in Daniel Blomberg, counsel group would rather have responsibleforprovidingpro- waysthebest-casescenarioto Elementary Education from at Becket, which represents a tattoo parlor or a liquor fessionalplanning, direction, promote from within, sothat the University of Central co the Chabad of Boca Raton. store in their communityimplementation, supervision, thedirectorcanbuilduponex- Florida. She continued her "This ugly attempt to turn a than a synagogue. People of and administration of all fac- isting bonds with colleagues, education in South Florida disagreement about zoning all faiths should be free to ets of year-round children's parents, and children, rather by graduating from the Jew- into a federal lawsuit sets a construct houses of worship and family programming for than starting from scratch, ish Federation of Broward -- ~ ~ dangerous precedent, harm- in their communities," said grades K-8, and grades 1-10 JCC life is practically a County's Horizons Leadership o, attack on the here Becket has represented When the Youth & Campattended the David PosnackWhen Zemel talks about synagogue co~ threatens houses of worship many religious institutions director position becameJewish CommunityCenterinthis new opportunity, she i i everywhere." that have faced unreasonable available, I felt that it was Davie for preschool, summer practically oozes enthusiasm. Since 2007, the Chabad of oppositionbasedsolelyonthe the calling I needed to make camp, and after school care. EastBocaRaton, anOrthodox religionoftheproposedhouse my way back to Orlando," Zemel on page Her time at the JCC launched 15A Z Jewish center, has encoun- of worship. The Islamic Cen- Zemel said. "It's a wonderful her on a Jewish journey that ~r O ~ ~ positiontoitsattempttobuild in New Jersey, recently won professionally, and work with president of her USY chapter ~o - - r-- a new center for its growing its right to build a house of the campers and staff that I in high school. "~ ~ ~O congregation. Opposition to worship after years of local have grown to love over the "I grew up with a strong the synagogue claimed that discrimination, course of my time here."Jewish identity. Iwas involved