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September 7, 2012

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 07, 2012 By Charlotte Anthony NEWYORK (JTA)--LastYom Kippur, a fasting Brenda Rienhardt sat in the hallway outside her classroomstudying foratestwhilewatchingonline Yom Kippur services on her laptop. "I wanted to keep up with what was going on religiously and not fail my test," said Rienhardt, 2B, a Fort Lauderdale resident who was then a senior at Florida Atlantic University. "It was just a challenge because I was balancing what I should do with what I needed to do." For many American Jews like Rienhardt, the High Holidays mean balancing the demands of the American workplace and school with their Jewish observance. LisaVaughn,who has worked as an urgent care and emergency physician for 17 years, said that being on call doesn't give a lot of opportunities to take days off. "When you have that job, you work every shift, holiday or not," said Vaughn, 51, of Massillon, Ohio. '~'ou hope God understands because you know your employer doesn't." Jonathan Sarna, professor of Ameridan Jew- ish history at Brandeis University, says the High Holidays are a time when Jews are conflicted with their identity. "I think because there are many non-Jews who know about the High Holidays and wonder if a Jewish person doesn't celebrate th~em ... Jews find themselves confronting the t~ension between identifying with the Jewish community or identifyingwith the general community," Sarna said. "It's not about the High Holidays but about one's larger identity as a Jew different from the rest of America." Shawn Green, a now retired Jewish professional baseball player, satouta2001 LosAngeles Dodgers' game onYom Kippur for just that reason. Itwas the By Ruth Messinger NEW YORK (JTA)~Two months ago I trav- eled to Ghana with 17 American rabbis We spent 12 days constructing the walls of a school compound in partnership with a local Ghanian community ravaged by hunger, poverty and labor exploitation. More important than our efforts to mix cement and schlep bricks, we built powerful relationships with Ghanaian human rights activists. We also engaged in rich discussions aboutwhat it means to be faith-based leaders and global citizens. One afternoon, a rabbi was exchanging stories withayoung Ghanaian girl. In the middle of their conversation, she suddenly asked the rabbi if he had eaten lunch. When he said that he was plan- ning to eat soon, the girl responded, "I pray to God you will be able to eat tomorrow," reflecting her own understandable insecurity about food as well as her concern for others. As I prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the young girl's words weigh heavily on my mind, especially as I reflect on a familiar refrain from the High Holy Days liturgy: "Who shall live and who shall die?" Most of the blessings we celebrate on Rosh Hashanah are unearned blessings. I often remind myself that I did nothing to deserve being born in the richest country in the world Iwas lucky. I did nothing to deserve a roof over my head and hot meals on my kitchen table--I was lucky. Most American Jews who are privileged enough to read the words of the High Holy Days liturgyare among the luckiest people in the world. We have rarely in recent years known the hard- ship of being "the hungry" or"the naked"--the very people Jewish tradition demands thatwe feed and clothe. For the vast majority of American Jews, fasting on Yom Kippur is a voluntary act, not a chronic reality. But when nearly a billion people around the world go to bed hungry every night, when drought exacerbates hunger in the United States and around the globe, and when fasting for too many people is not a choice but an endemic condition, we must adopt a food ethic that en- ables everyone to experience the sweetness of having enough. The links between hunger and the Yom .Kippur liturgy--"Share your bread with the hungry"-- require thatwe challenge the injustice of hunger and champion the right for everyone to access healthful food. It is easy tO forget that the potential to affect global change is intimately tied to our local lives. Whatwe consume,which government policieswe support, where we work, and how we spend our money and our time have a profound impact on the lives and human-rights of people, thousands of miles away--earthquake survivors in Haiti, mi- grantworkers in Thailafld, young girls in Ghana. As I take stock of all that happened this year, I know that many American Jews already have made a difference in challenging policies that are unintentionally undermining the ability of people in the developingworld to feed themselves. Last fall, American Jewish World Service and a coalition of Jewish organizations committed to ending hunger in theUnited States and around the world launched the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill. Together we gathered more than 18,000 signatures in support of a just food and agriculture system. As compassionate, concerned citizens, we must continue to educate our own communities about the urgent need to address hunger. With the New Year upon us, one way to make a difference is by observing the Global Hunger Shabbat on Nov. 2 and 3. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel described Shabbat as a~n "island in time" a portrait of how the workd should be. Global Hunger Shabbat is an opportunity to use thissacredtime to reaffirm our commitment to food justice for all. It is a time to ask ourselves: How do we use our power as American Jews to make a difference in the lives of peop!e facing hunger in the developing world? How can we be more effective as advocates and Catalysts for change? Certainly, extreme poverty and hunger are colossal problems. No matter the number of Global Hunger Shabbat observances, we cannot eliminate these problems on our own. But we can--and must--expand our collective respon- sibility to support people who are unable to put food on their own tables. With the Days of Awe upon us--a time when we weigh our lives against our benefit to others--we must hold ourselves and our com- munities accountable. Join me in assuring the young girl I met in Ghana, and so many others like her around the world, that we will live the values of our tradition: We will work for justice so that people around the world have enough to eat tomorrow and for many years to come. Ruth Messinger is the president of American Jewish World Service. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ~)N THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. x CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOiCE x ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards Edit0r/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser |.1~~,~ -J~,, ~.~'~.~ ~ | Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor ....... ~ ........... Gene Stare Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News ( ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, EO. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407)-831-0507 email: Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Richard Ries Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Zieg!er Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Teri Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky 'Caroline Pope first time in 415 games that he chose not to play. calendar and see that Yom Kippur is on Wednes- '~,s a baseball player, it's a little different, you day and not understand why an employee needs don't have the luxury of picking several holidays, to leave on Tuesday night or why one employee But if I was going to pick one holiday to sit out, takes two days off when another takes a week," then that's the one," Green said about Yom Kip- Barkey said. pur. "I felt that as one of the few Jewish athletes, Sippy Laster, 24, a recruitment coordinator at it was important to acknowledge my connection JPMorgan Chase in New York, does her best to to my heritage." compensate for the time that she takes off. His first major challenge.came in 2004 when "I spend a lot of time working later, and the the Dodgers were locked in a tight battle with days leading up to the days that I have to take off, the San Francisco Giants for the division title. I end up spending later nights at work so a lot of With only 10 games left in the season and two preparation goes into it," she said. of them scheduled for Yom Kippur--one on Kol Barkey said thatwhile most employees are able Nidre, one on Yom Kippur afternoon--Green to observe holidays by trading shifts and talking faced a dilemma, with their employers, religious accommodation "I was in a no-win situation because if I miss issues are still a problem. both games, that would be a little hypocritical because i really wasn't very religious, but at the same time Iwanted to acknowledge my connection and heritage," Green said. "So I opted to play one and to sit one garhe as a compromise just to say look, I am acknowle.dging my Jewish roots, but at the same time I also have a responsibility to the team and to my fans at the Dodgers." Most Jews don't face such public dilemmas and often can adjust their schedules. That's true for Meyer Koplow, executive partner at the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz law firm in New York. "Most of the things you do as a l itigator involves There was a 32 percent increase in religious accommodation charges filed by Jews from 1998 to 2011, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While Jews comprise 2 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 14.9 percent of all 2011 religious accommodation charges. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides the primary protection, Barkey says there is no absolute requirement for an employer to give time off. "If you have a religious conflict, especially if you know far in advance, you have a duty to tell your eitherbriefing matters, taking discovery, trials and employerinadvance,"hesaid."Alotofcomplaints other court appearances.You almost always know well in advance what the schedule will require for each of those tasks," said Koplow, 61. "It's usually very easy to schedule them around the holidays so that holidays are not a problem." For some people, it's not getting time off for the holidays that's problematic, it's the stress of being disconnected that causes tensions. Take Stu Loeser, who recently left his job as we getare from employeeswhowaited two or three days before the holidays to ask for time" Jacqueline Simon, public policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing governmentwork- ers, says the problem often isn't getting the time off but feeling left out. "I think people are tolerant of someone taking time off for religious observance, but much less press secretary for New York Mayor Michael willing to alterthe schedule of a group to accom- Bloomberg. Loeser said that with his BlackBerry modate one or two people," she said. turned off during holidays and the Sabbath, he Rienhardt has seen that firsthand. "If you go doesn't necessarily know about breaking news. to the dean and make a fuss, yes, you can have "When you pick up the newspaPer the next the day off, but if you have a test, you are going to day, then you can be in for quite a surprise," be at a disadvantage," she said. 'q/Vhen they have said Loeser, 39. "I find it especially stressful and testsscheduled, teacherstendtobelessforgiving." nerve-wracking. I have a deputy who steps in for me, but even though you have phenomefially competent people filling in for you doesn't mean that it's not stressful" For Loeser and other observant Jews, however,' it's the lesser-known holidays, such as Shemini Atzeret and Shavuot, that can be most challenging in terms of taking days off. "Everyone's heard ofRosh Hashanah and people understand that there are people who observe and some people who sort of observe," Loeser said It's the other 10 days-- Simchat Torah, Shemini Atzeret, two for Sukkot, the first two and last two of Passover and two for Shavuot--that are the most difficult. "People start thinking that you are taking the same two days offa month because people have never heard of them" David Barkey, the Anti-Defamation League's religious freedom counsel, said much of the confu- sion surrounding the holidays arises because not all people observe the holidays in the same way. "You might have employers that look on the Many Jews believe that clients and co-workers view their decisions to take time off positively. "For a business that is all business all the time, I think a lot of [my clients] respect that there's something else that's important to me than just the business," said Cory Richman, 34, a partner at the talent management firm Liebman Entertain- ment in New York. "It keeps me grounded and I have morals." Rabbi Abigail Treu, a rabbinic fellow and director of planned giving at the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary, says that for people who absolutely cannot take time off, there is an understanding built in to the tradition. "I think that there is a respect in the tradition for parnassah, the need to earn a Iivelihood, so certainly if the choice is between losing one's job and not being able to support oneself and one's family versus celebrating the holiday in the traditional way," Treu said, "then the tradition encourages us to keep our jobs and being able to support our families." By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi WASHINGTON (JTA)--Phflanthropist Charles Bronfman once told me, "Leaders lead. That's what they do." Years later I wassitting with his professional partner for philanthropic impact, Jeffrey Solo- mon. "Leaders lead,'~ Solomon said. "That's what they do." Like an. old married couple who finish each other's sentences, these two are so intertwined in their thinking and doing that at times it's as if their minds are locked together, even when the conversations are years apart. Butwhat does it mean to be a leader in the Jew- ish community today? Who can hold those reins? John Ruskay, the devoted leader of the UJA- Federation of New York, talks about his goal of "creating [an] inspired community that can sear the soul and engage people." It's a lofty goal, and he's more than doing his share to make it happen. But it's easier said than done, and the community needs a lot more leaders to say"heineini,"here I am. Ruskay obviously isn't alone and can't do it alone, and lay leaders hold vital keys And as maj or figures such as Abe Foxman and Malcolm Hoenlein, who have devoted decades of service to the Jewish com- munity, are approaching retirement age, we need to think about who will fill their shoes So what's the secret sauce of being a success- ful Jewish leader? The willingness to fail and the willingness to work as a team. People can achieve massivebreakthrough resultsonlywhentheywork together and share risks. Of course, risk is scar~. Sadly, there is still a lot of lip service in the Jewish community regarding performance m~trics and change. Still, too many of us ultimately get cold feet. Lay leaders, afraid that their ideas will get shot down or their fundraising solicitations will be rejected, too often sit on the sidelines. Responsibilities once held proudly by lay leaders are being dumped on CEOs like worn-out overcoats. CEOs in turn fear backlashes from their boards and donors, and sometimes set leadership expectations too low. Employees all too often ask "how has it always been done" as opposed to "what is the right thing to be doing today" The forthcoming book "Reimagining Leader- Leadership on page 27A