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August 14, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS AUGUST 14 2009 By Eric Fingerhut WASHINGTON (JTA)--An Orthodox rabbi spoke out against anti-gay rhetoric in the Orthodox community at a Washington vigil mourning two Jews slain at a gay center in Tel Aviv. "It's time to do some inter- nal accounting" as towhether such "rhetoric has created this climate" that allows for violence and "vilification" of gays and lesbians. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the Ohe~ Sholom Talmud Torah Con- gregation said Aug. 3 at the candlelight vigil. More than 200 people at- tended the hourlong rally in which participants lit candles. held~signs denouncing hatred of gays and lesbians, and sang songs. Six young Jewish adults organized the event. U.S. vigils remember slain gay Israelis which was co-sponsorsed by a number of communal groups. A similar community- sponsored candlelight vigil and march was held in San Francisco the same evening, with a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervi- sors and Jewish and LGBT leaders among the speakers. In an attack Aug. I at night at the Tel Aviv community center, a masked gunman killed a 17-year-old and a 26-year-old. Ten others were injured. The motive remains un- clear, but speculation has centered on it being a hate crime. At press time the gun- man is still at large. At the Washington vigil, speakers included Rabbi Jack Moline of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, Mark Pelavin of the ReligiousAction Center of Reform Judaism. an Israeli Embassy official and other Washington Jew- ish community leaders and activists. Herzfeld called for the Or- thodox community to create a"communai pledge" that"we will not create a climate of gay bashing" and "enforce it." In an interview after his speech. Herzfeld did note that homosexuality was "prohib- ited by the Torah." but said" at the same time that crimes like the murders that Satur- day evening in Israel were "a desecration of God's name." Martin Peled-Flax, the Israeli Embassy minister- counselor for domestic politi- cal affairs, in his speech called the murders an attack not just on the LGBT community, "but on Israel's civil society as a whole." He also noted that Israel is the "only state in the Middle East where it could occur" because it is the only place where gays and lesbians can "gather together without a fear of violence." Meanwhile, the Progressive Jewish Alliance is sponsoring a "Virtual Summer Love-In" to repudiate the weekend vio- lence and mark Tu B'Av, which started Aug. 4 at sundown and is known as the "Jewish Valentine's Day." Shooting PAGE 21A The e-card campaign is designed to allow particpants to "spread the message that they welcome and love their LGBT friends, family and colleagues." Kitra Cahana Participants at a candlelight vigil in Washington on Aug. 3 remember two Israelis slain at a Tel Aviv LBGT youth center. From page 1A Shas Knesset member Nissim Ze'ev, who has said that homosexuals would be reincarnated as rabbits, said he received death threats after the attack. Israel's Chief Rabbinate issued a statement condemn- ing the shooting, as did Shas. Addressing a special Knesset session on the shooting, Pub- lic Safety Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch promised to bring the assailant to justice. Even though many gay Is- raelis said they feel less secure after the attack, public reac- tion has been sympathetic, Pinkas said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Presi- dent Shimon Peres and oth- ers denounced the shooting. Pinkas said he hoped Netan- yahu would send a message to the planned solidarity rally. "It's a seminal moment," Pinkas said. "People.better Gala understand what the mean- ing of discrimination and the price of incitement is. Israelis don't know there is discrimination." The shooting occurred just before 11 p.m. in the basement club at the center just off of Rothschild Boule- vard. The gunman entered the club and began firing randomly as youths dove for cover, said Ori Gil, 26, in an interview with Israel reporters from a hospital wheelchair. "He didn't~hoot steadily," Gil said of the gunman. "That was the shock. He aimed everywhere." Nir Katz. 26, a coun- selor at the center, and Liz Tarboushi, 17, were killed. Eleven people were wounded, four of them critically. As Tel Aviv is considered unusually friendly to the gay community, the shoot- ing surprised many. The city has a gay community center, gay representatives on the City Council and an annual gay pride parade that draws tens of thousands. At the end of this year's parade in mid-June, Mayor Ron Huldai presided over an unofficial sunset wedding for gay couples on the beach. Israel's chief of police has cautioned against a rush to judgment before investiga- tors whittle down theories on the possible motive for the shooting. In addition to a hate crime, investigators are checking to see if the attack may have been because of a personal quarrel or even ter- rorism. There is a gag order in place on the investigation. Red police tape blocked the driveway at the gay cen- ter two days after the attack. Posters reading "Silence Equals Death" and "Love, Not Hate," hung along gay pride flags and a flower wreath courtesy of the Tel Aviv municipality. A trickle of mourners lit memo- rial candles on the sidewalk entrance to the building's courtyard. After kneeling to light a candle, Yarden, a 22-year-old army medic, said his mother called him the night of the shooting to see if he was at the club. "I used to come here when I was younger. I'm shocked," he said. "People say that they don't know what the reason was, but it was obvious that it was homophobia. This is the first time something like this has happened in Israel." Pinni Altman. an Israeli American visiting from San Francisco, came with his life partner and 9-year-old son. Altman said he raised money for the center backin the 1990s. It wasn't so long ago that the gay community huddled into one club not much bigger than a car and feared harassmeflt by police and roughnecks in public areas, he said. Now. Altman said, he points to Tel Aviv's embrace of gays to counter anti-Israel rhetoric from the American left. "I always thought Tel Aviv was the San Francisco of Israel," Altman said. "You have to go thousands of miles to find another city that's as gay friendly. 1 don't know if it changes the reality, but it changes the picture in my head. It smashes the bubble." Israel has repealed anti- sodomy laws and gays are open about their sexual identity in the nation's military. Gay marriages are not legally recognized and gay couples are not always eligible to receive certain social benefits. Mike Prashker, the found- er of Merchavim, a group that promotes pluralism among Israeli youth, said that regardless of the shoot- er's motive, the attack has highlighted the difficulty of promoting tolerance among Israel's diverse groups. "We need to do a better job at helping Israelis of all back- grounds feel comfortable with their fellow citizens," he said. "Ignorant attitudes toward diversity must be delegitimized, whether it's homophobia or xenophobia." Avner Berenheimer. who co-wrote "Yossi & Jagger," a film about a gay couple in the Israeli military, said the Israeli public has undergone a dramatic change in its at- titudes over the past decade. "If it's a hate crime, then - it's the first major hate crime in Israel since the foundation of the country," Berenheimer said. "Suddenly we've joined all these countries with violence and bigotry against gay people." From page 1A a wing at Westminster Care. Reva's grandson, Joe Shader, visits residents of Life Care Center every week. It was in 1912 that Morris Wittenstein. along with his parents. Bella and Peter Da- vid, left Pittsburgh to create a new life. They moved on to become pillars of the Orlando Jewish community. It was in the following year that Mor- ris returned to Pittsburgh to marry his beloved sweet- heart, Esther Shader, and bring her back to Orlando. Esther Shader Witten- stein proceeded to impress her family that was left behind in Pittsburgh with the wonderful life in sunny Florida. With this encour- agement, Israel and Rose Shader, with their sons, Isadore, Myer and Ben, bravely moved to a new world--Orlando. Upon settling in their new surroundings, these northerners recognized the importance of owning their own properties. Mor- ris and Esther bought land in Fairvilla. and their acre- age stretched between Lake Silver and Lake Fairview. This pioneering couple had four children Jo- seph. Florence Wi ttenstein Kimberly Shader and her dog, Shomer visit Jewish Pavilion resident Ida Eisen. Tobias, Tybel Wittenstein Kahn and Neil. Esther ShaderWittenstein had two sisters who followed her to Orlando: Fannie Shad- er and her husband, Jacob Meitin. came in 1917. Sarah Shader and her husband. George Miller, came several years later. It was George, an innovative engineer, who was involved with the design and construction of the Ohev Shalom synagogue on Church Street in 1926. Both Shader sisters were prolific and with their lov- ing husbands increased the Jewish population of their new hometown. Fannie and Suzan Shader Jacob Meitin bore four chil- dren: Ralph, Evelyn, Naomi and Ruth. Sarah and George Miller had two children: Robert and Dottsie. Israel and Rose also purchased land and settl ed in to create their own homestead. In 1922 their son, Ben, married Bessie Joseph. Bessie and Esther had been close girlfriends up north, and upon Es- ther's suggestion, Bessie traveled south to visit her dear friend, and also to meet this "handsome. won- derful man." Ben Shader. It was love at first sight and their union led to Reva Shader the eventual birth of four children, Charles. Stanley, Edythe and Ronald. Israel, Rose. Bessie, Ben and their progeny all resided and worked on their farm--a dairy, along with acres of orange groves. Rose and Israel-Shader's other sons were not to be outdone. Myer married Beatrice. who hailed from Mount Vernon, N.Y.. and they were blessed with three children: Melvin, Fern and Richard. Isadore had been drafted into the Army at the onset of World War I. and while-he was stationed in Columbia. Joe Shader (right) and Evan Ludin deliver a greeting to a Pavilion resident. S.C.. he met Gittle. who was to become his bride in 1919. They were blessed with one son. Louis, before Isadore's untimely death at an early age. And thus this first genera- tion of these pioneers and their posterity generated the beginnings of this ex- traordinary Jewish commu- nity that we enjoy today--a clan of people driven to succeed through mutual sharing and participation as they created a stronghold in their new World Central Florida.