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August 16, 2013

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FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS Inside... Roth JCC Fall Program Guide Allyson Magda/Facebook Jewish communal attitudes toward interfaith marriages, like the wedding between Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in 2012, have shifted considerably since 1990. The war over intermarriage has been lost. wJ 00at? By Uriel Heilman NEWYORK (JTA)--When the nation's largest Jewish federation convened its first-ever conference recently on engag- ing interfaith families, perhaps the most notable thing about it was the utter lack of controversy that greeted the event. There was a time when the stereotypi- cal Jewish approach to intermarriage was to shun the offender and sit shiva. A generation ago, the publication of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey showing intermarriage at the alarmingly high rate of 52 percent turned into a rallying cry. No matter that subsequent scholarship revised the figure down to 43 percent, interfaith marriage was seen as the core of the problem of Jewish assimi- lation in America. Jewish institutions poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Jewish identity building with an eye toward stemming intermarriage. Fast forward two decades and the ques- tion is no longer how to fight intermar- riage, but how Jewish institutions can be as welcoming as possible to intermarried Jews and the gentiles who love them. "Clearly, Jewish communal attitudes have changed," said David Mallach, managing director of the Commission on the Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York, which hosted the one-day interfaith conference in June. "One of the results of the whole process begun with the 1990 study was that in a free America we're all Jews by choice. That's been a profound insight that has permeated a lot of the work of the Jewish community in the last 20-plus years," Mallach said. "It shifted the discussion from the classic stereotypical sitting shiva and never talking to a person again to saying that if we're all Jews by choice, let's also sit with this segment of the community and offer them that choice." In 1973, the Reform movement's rab- binical arm, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, issued a nonbinding resolution opposing officiating at inter- marriages. Today, more than half the movement's rabbis perform interfaith weddings. In 2010, a task force at the CCAR recommended shifting away from focus on preventing intermarriage to reach- ing out to intermarried families and adapting rituals to include non-Jewish family members. Now the movement is considering a further step. Rabbi Aaron Panken, the new Marriage on page 14A Jewish Federation or ,eater Orlando honors those who make an impact This" month, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando is recognizing outstanding leaders who have made an il z impact in Jewish Orlando this past year. Three awards will be given out in recognition of individuals who devote their time to make the Jewish com- munity a better place. Two awards recognize young and senior leaders. This year's Byron B. Selber Young Lead- ership Award will be given to Jeremy Udell and the Jerome J. Bornstein Senior Leadership Award will be awarded to Ina Porth. Eli Bercovici, former Sports and Wellness director of the JCC, will be the recipi- ent of the Jewish Communal Professional Award. The Byron B. Selber Young Leadership Award is given an- nually to a young member of the Jewish community who exemplifies the leadership standards set forth by the late Byron B. Selber. Jeremy Udell's hard work to improve the community is the essence of why he has been chosen to receive this honor. His com- mitment serves as an example to everyone. Ina Porth Jeremy Udell An Orlando native, Udell first developed his leadership skills as a day camp counselor at the JCC. He attended the Alexander Muss High School and later returned to Israel spending his spring semes- ter junior year at Hebrew University. At the University of Florida, he received bach- elor's degrees in business management and Jewish studies. For the last three years, he has served on the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando Board of Directors and as treasurer for the last two years. As director of financial strategies at Udell Associates, he oversees the JFGO on page 14A JCC 's Bercovici retires after 31 years By Chris DeSouza Assistant Editor It was September 1982 when 31-year-old Eli Bercovici arrived in Orlando to begin his new career as the Sports and Wellness director of the Jew- ish Community Center. There was no gym, no fitness center, only the Early Childhood Learning Center, housed in a small building (what is now to the right of the main entrance to the JCC) and orange groves. But the JCC executive director atthe time, Marvin Friedman, had an eye for people and must have known Bercovici would help to conceive and develop the gymnasium as well as all the sports and fitness pro- grams that came along the way. "He grew the program the old-fashioned way, with hard work, dedication and a winning personality," said Friedman. And now, 31 years and many accomplishments later, Bercovici is retiring. Current JCC Executive Di- rector DavidWayne concurred with Friedman. "Throughout his 31-year tenure at the JCC, Eli has had a tremendous im- pact on all the people h ha, served and played a significant role in helping the JCC provide quality programs while fulfill- ing our mission of building community, strengthening family life, and promoting Jewish values," Wayne said. Born in Tiberius, Israel, Eli Bercovici Bercovici moved to Montreal, Canada with his family in 1960. He returned to Israel as a spectator of the 1973 Maccabia Games and stayed after the games to help as a volunteer during the Yom Kippur War. Returning to Canada, he studied at Sir George William University. In 1979, he and Lisa married, and after jobs that took him to North Miami Beach and Phoenix, Arizona, he was recruited here through the efforts of Charles Schwartz, wlo regards Bereovici as a "great personal friend and a valuable asset to the JCC for 31 years." "It was a special time, one of my greatest too- Bercovtcl on page 15A Kerry briefs Jewish leaders WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Secretary of State John Kerry and National SecurityAdviser Susan Rice briefed Jewish leaders on Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. The Aug. 8 evening meeting at the White House lasted 90 minutes, participants said, and was characterized mostly by Kerry's enthusiasm for the resumed talks and the serious commitment he said he saw from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pal- estinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Kerry appeared bullish about talks he has worked assiduously to revive since becoming secretary of state in February, but also nervous about the potential for failure, warning of circumstances-- for instance, pressures on Netanyahu--that could un- dermine them. He repeated his appeal to American Jews to endorse and support the peace process, first made in early June when he addressed the American Jewish Committee. Kerry said there was a "strategic imperative" to ar- rive at a deal soon, and said he understood the difficulties faced by Netanyahu in dealing with a coalition that included right-wing parties. Kerry expressed frustration with the European Union's new policy of not giving grants and prizes to Israeli enterprises in occupied ar- eas, saying it was the sort of move that could nudge away Netanyahu. Present at the meeting, whichwas off the record, were leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli PublicAffairs Commit- tee, J Street, the Israel Policy Forum, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B'nai B'rith Inter- national, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations ofNorthAmerica, Hadassah, the National Jew- ish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of MajorAmerican Jewish Organizations. Kerry on page 14A