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August 27, 2010     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 27, 2010

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 27, 2010 HERITAGE welcomes and encourages let- ters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to No 2010 Chanukah stamp Dear Editor: There may be no Chanukah stamps at your post office this year. For 2010 the Chanukah stamp is the same 2009 meno- rah stamp. The United States Postal Service did not reprint the stamp for 2010. Therefore there is no automatic distribu- tion this year. Post offices will sell leftover stamps from last year if they have any or order more Chaflukah stamps if they, individually, decide to do so. If Chanukah stamps are not available at your post office by now and they tell you, "It's last year's and we don't have any left." or "We ran out and didn't reorder any more." or any other reason they give you for not having the Cha- nukah stamp, please let me know. It is very important that you send me the town name and Zip Code of the pos[ office. Please send the information to me at: Hanuk-, When you buy Chanukah stamps, don'tjustbuy enough foryour Chanukah cards. Buy 100 or more and use them on all your mail through the holi- day season and beyond. I buy 100 or more and use them on all my mail for the entire year. The United States Postal ser- vice claims "a lack of demand" as the reason for not issuing a new Chanukah stamp (design) every year. I don't believe that lack of demand is true. They also claim that the public is "well served with a re-issue." I do not believe this to be true as well. The year 2009 was the first year of this new menorah design. At this time, I do not know if there will be a new design or revalued version of the 2009 for 2011, even though there will be a new postal rate. Ronald Scheiman Remembering Bert Brown By Gary Rosenblatt STOCKHOLMWhen the tall Hungarian woman in the back of the room rose to speak, I could see the passion and flash of anger in her face. She was the first to raise her hand after my talk to 27 young men and women from both Eastern and Western Europe, participants in a 10-day pro- gram in the Swedish capital for academics and activists committed to enhancing Jewish life in their native countries. I had been invited by the By Jeffrey K. Salkin COLUMBUS, Ga. (JTA) I admire my colleagues and friends who have shown themselves to be courageous enough to speak out against the anti-Islam hysteria that tends to surround conversa- tions about the Islamic center that is being planned for a property that for many is un- comfortably close to Ground Zero. They have shown them- selves to be paragons of reli- gious tolerance, and for this I commend them. But in the general category of "Is this good for the Jews?." program sponsor, Paideia, the Swedish-based European Institute for Jewish Studies, to describe American Jew- ish life and attitudes toward European Jewry. I was direct in my com- ments to the group, noting that we American Jews don't tend to thinkabout European Jewry often, and when we do, it is to lament its imminent demise, the victim of an aging, diminishing population, and a sharply disturbing increase in anti-Semitism. We hear about attacks on synagogues and cemeteries, we might want to examine the words of the man who is the imam of the Masjid al-Farah FeisalAbdul Rauf. Luckily we have no short- age of those words. A brief perusing of his book "What's Right With Islam Is What's RightWithAmerica" (Harper- One, 2005) might prove both instructive and sobering. What does Rauf believe about Israel? Rauf states that the creation of Israel was an unfortunate byproduct of the nation-state idea. Jews. he said. lived completely peace- fully in the Muslim world for centuries. fear in France of walking in public with a kipah, British concern about Israel-related boycotts, and most recently, violence against the Jewish residents of Malmo, Sweden, by local Muslims. The youngwoman respon- dent, Anita Bartha, 26, is a graduate student in Jewish studies in Budapest and the coordinator of a Hungarian Jewish youth organization. Like her fellow participants in the program, Paideia's Project Incubator--an interactive workshop to hone plans for new community-centered "They looked, spoke and ate--even sang--like the rest of the people around them," he wrote, adding that the creation of Israel began a most unfortunate schism between Jews and Muslims, who had previouMy experienced "a deeply intimate kinship with each other" (page 169). Raufwould have us imagine that life in the Middle East was Woodstock until the creation of the hasty State of Israel. which comes to ruin everyone's good time. We might rightly wonder aloud whether the historic dhimmi -- status of the Jew in Muslim initiatives she is highly educated and deeply involved in Jewish cultural and renewal efforts on the local level. She didn't disagree with my observations but said she was "offended" that American Jews have a dismissive attitude toward European Jewry and fail to recognize the variety of small but exciting new programs percolating in com- munities throughout Europe. Her comments were met with loud applause from the other participants in the pro- Identity on page 23A cultures actually implies the deep intimacy that Raufimag- ines. And a subtle but telling point: Is the nation-state as a concept to be condemned (an arguable point), or only if that nation-state happens to be Jewish? In his imagined history of the Middle East, Rauf con- tinues to say that because of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Sephardic Jews became "un- fortunately victimized" in many Muslim societies. He goes on to say that the worst thing about this is that it de- Words on page 23A Bert Brown representing the Central Florida Hillel board of directors at Hillel at UCF's Bar Mitzvah event in 2007. Last week. our community lost a tireless volunteer and a great friend. Bert Brown may have been 84 years old when he passed away last Tuesday, but he remained as committed and ac- tive in strengthening the Jewish identities of young people as he was 50 years ago. For decades, he was involved at the international level with B'nai Brith. having been a member-of h~ AZA chapter 70 years ago. In fact, just this past May, the teenage boys of our Orlando Rebels AZA chapter held a program in which they video-interviewed him discuss- ing his rich experiences. I am sure those boys will remember Bert for a long time. I met Bert as a student leader with Central Florida Hillel dur- ing my days at UCF in the early 2000s. shortly after he co-founded the organization in 1999.Bertstuckoutinalotofour minds as a board member who was determined to understand the realities of Jewish college life in the new millennium. He was that rare lay leaderwho regularly made the trek out to UCF to at- tend all of our major programs. He took an interest in our lives, including mine--always wanting to know how I was. how things were going, and quick to share his happiness when an event he attendedattracted a large crowd. When I graduated from UCF and started work'mg at the JCC, I was fortunate to be able to see Bert on a regular basis. He actively participated in theJCC's board of directors and finance committee for the last few years. still eager to give advice on such financial matters as how to allo- cate overhead, prepare external financial statements, and word financial footnotes. I aspire to be a leader like Bert--persistent in working towards the causes that motived him. always willing to share professional expertise, and com- mitted to remaining relevant by regularly interacting with those affected by the decisions made by the boards in which he participated. Iwillalways admire the way he remained in touch with the young Jewish people he cared so much about. I'll miss catching a glance of him walking on a treadmill in the JCC fitness center, bump- ing into him in the lobby, and sitting across the room from him at board meetings. Most of all. [ will miss Bert's visits to my office--when he would share stories from his life. ask me about my new theatrical career, or even discusswith me the future of our Jewish community. Bert has left a substantial footprintonthis Jewish commu- nity, and particularly the young people who have benefited from the programs he supported, and in some cases, helped to found. On behalf of the decades of young people you've impacted, Bert, I say, todah rabah. Sincerely, Amy Schwartz By Walter Ruby NEW YORK (JTA)--Over the last few months, I have had a front-row seat to history. Last May, I spoke at a public hearing of Manhat- tan's Community Board No. 1 in support of Imam Feisal AbdulRauf and Daisy Khan. the husband-and-wife team who initiated plans to build a 13-story Islamic community center two blocks north of Ground Zero. I was there on behalf of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which has worked with the group Rauf and Khan lead, the American Society for Muslim Advance- ment. in ongoing efforts to strengthen Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States and around the world. In my testimony at the hearing, I said that since our organizations began cooper- ating three years ago, I have consistently found both Feisal and Khan to be unequivocally opposed to violence and ter- rorism and deeply committed to the American values of de- mocracy and pluralism. These are values. Feisal argues in his book, "What's Right with Islam." that are intrinsic to Islam as well. For this reason, our foun- dation has consistently sup- ported Feisal's effort to create an Islamic community center in New York that will serve as a high-profile platform from which to articulate that vision of peaceful and plural- istic Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Months ago, he and his wife told the president of our foundation, Rabbi Marc Schneier. that they hope to create a center for Muslim-Jewish dialogue atthe Islamic community center in cooperation with our foundation and the larger Jewish community. Over the past threeyears, Rauf and Khan have taken part in an annual event sponsored by our foundation known as The Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Syn- agogues Across North Ameri- ca, duringwhich mosques and synagogues offer one-on-one programs focusing on and celebrating commonalities in our two faith traditions. From what I have learned, when Feisal set out during the past few years to bring to frui- tion his decades-old dream of creating an Islamic com- munity center with a strong interfaith component in New York City, he was never much concerned about where the center would be located. Yet, when a space large enough to fulfill his vision became available two blocks north of Ground Zero, he saw special significance in the site. He argued that the building of an Islamic community center there dedicated to non-violence and mutual understanding among faiths would represent a deeply felt gesture of compassion.and healing by the Muslirfis of New York to the entire New York community, including those who lost loved ones on 9/11. In retrospect. Feisal can justly be accused of naivet~ for not perceiving that build- ing an Islamic community center so close to Ground Zero would unleash the kind of firestorm of fear. loathing and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has erupted in recent weeks. From my conversations with him and his wife on the subj ect ofthe proposed center going back almoSt a year. it is clear to me that they never anticipated the kind of political backlash that has occurred. Together with the Ameri- can Society for Muslim Ad- vancement and other mod- erate Muslim organizations. our foundation will continue to nurture a movement of Muslims and Jews committed to communication, reconcili- ation and cooperation. Walter Ruby is the Muslim. Jewish relations program officer at the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Dry Bones I A 18'I BELIEVE SL /EY KEEP T EM C4JES G THEY OONT