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September 7, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 24A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, sEPTEMBER 07, 2012 " By Edmon J. Rodman LOSANGELES (JTA) On Kol Nidre, we sing for our lives. At the minyan where I pray, as a lay"shaliach tzibur," Or service leader, I was asked to lead the singing this year. and I was starting to wonder if I was up to it. I wasn't asked to lead the actual Kol Nidre prayer at my Movable Minyan someone else was given that honor-- but to chant the Maariv evening service that includes several key passages, such as the Ya'aleh. the medieval piyyut, or liturgical poem. that anticipates and prepares the congregation for%he com- ing day from dawn to dusk of solemn introspection.. At prayer environment communities like the Mov- able Minyan, the .former Jewish consumer is turned into a producer. I didn't want to blow it. For Kol Nidre. it's one thing to sit as a congregant for the service, which as the sun begins to set usually finds me rushing to get to the shul on time. It's quite another to stand before a group of friends, who also . are beginning a day of fast- ing, to remember the nusach, melody, and come to it with kavanah, intention, as well as the proper Hebrew pro- nunciation. I needed to consult with someone who had done it all before. So ,I took a drive out to the cemetery. Hillside Memorial Pa+k in Los Angeles is the final resting place for the famous show business son of a can- tor who in film had his own issue.s with showing up and leading Kol Nidre--A1Jolson. In the historic first talkie, "The Jazz Singer/' Jolson's cantor father wants him to follow in his footsteps, but Jakie Rabinowitz instead turns to Broadway. In the 1927 film's classic scene, after canceling a performance, Jakie returns to the syna-" gogue to sing Kol Nidre with the spirit of his dying father at his side. Melodramatic perhaps, but here was an act of "teshuvah." returning, to which I wanted to get closer. So I was off to Hillside-- the final resting place of. among others, Eddie Cantor. Allan Sherman and Dinah Shore to commune with tile "Sweet singer of Israel." as it says inside the tiled ceil- ing, of the 75-foot-high white marble canopy resting atop six stone pillars that stand over Jolson's tomb. To ascend to the memo- rial, I had climbed a green hill that is waterscaped with five tiers of cascading pools flowing down it s side. At its top, beneath the canopy, is a marble sarcophagus that is simply marked"Al Jolson." To one side is a bronze sculpture of the stage, nightclub, radio and movie star classically in "The Jazz Singer" pose. down on one knee. Sitting on a stone bench nearby, looking out at the seagulls that were landing in the pools, I wondered what it all meant. Did I need to put my heart into my singing? Go down on one knife? Certainly in the Vidui, with prayers like Ashamnu andA1Chait, there is alot of pleading for forgiveness. Edmon J. Rodman AI Jolson's final resting place in Los Angeles provides a source of inspiration for a lay service leader as Yom Kippur nears. Communing with Jolson. I rephrased his classic movie line. "You ain't heard noth- ing yet" to "I hadn't heard enough'--that to change up my act. I also needed to consult with someone who could help me sort this all out. Cantor Joel Stern is not a Hollywood kind of guy at all. He enjoys performing well. just like any singer in this entertainment-driven city, but his approach isn't theatrical. I know: I've heard him chant. Stern works days as a busi- ness analyst andwriter for an educational software com- pany. But in the evenings and on off days he tutors others to lead services and read Torah. And on the High Holidays he is the cantor at Metivta, a center for contemplative Judaism in Los Angeles. "Get familiar with the nusach so familiar you don't need to think about it." Stern advised me after I told him my volunteer as- signment. "You certainly need to be able to sing on pitch," he added, thankfully not asking me to sing, Stern also recommended that I become proficient with the text. "It's not about you: It's really about connecting with God." he said. "If you're not dmon J. Rodman Statue of Al Jolson at his final resting place shows the singer in his signature stance from "The Jazz Singer." connected, no one else will be either. "You need to become cen- tered and calm. You really want to get into a quiet place before you go on." More practically, he ad- vised that before singing, ' no acids or caffeine." Stern also ifistructed how I should stand. "Don't turn away from the congregation/' he said. "It helps to see their faces, receive an encouraging smile. There's warmth." "What about if I mess up? I asked. "You're going to make mistakes; you need to move on," he replied. "You're doing the best you can with the utmost sincerity. And that's what Counts. "Leadiflg services is about moments," about getting people to a place they could not have reached on their own. he told me. "When you get one it's incredible." As to kavanah. Stern un- derscored that "Unless you are davening with a full heart, it's just a performance." That sounded even more heartfelt than getting down on one knee. Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at edmojace@ gmail.com. lrna es...on nor women The Media Line Fearing costly vandalism aimed .at buses c arrying~, advertisements that include images 0fwomen; to avoid legal issues of discrimination if only images of men appear; and to side-step head-on colli- sions with Jerusalem's ultra- Orthodox community; Egged, Israel's public bus cooperative has ordered the company handling its on-bus advertis- ing to stop running ads with pictures or representations of either men or women. As of Aug. 1, a "faceless" policy was put into effect. Vandalizing public adver- ti~ments bearing women's pictures is not a new issue. Bus shelters, for instance. were frequently damaged or destroyed going back decades. More recently, issues of dis- crimination againstwomen in the capitol have become head- line affairs.The present issue came to a head eight months % A :: ~ No one wants to be forgotten... Itis the mission of the Jewish Pavilion to enhance the quality of life of our elders in long term care by strengthening their connection to the community. Join us for "A Walk in the Park"- Sunday, October 28th at 9:30 a,m, - Cranes Roost Free breakfast, entertainment, family festival, vendors, health fair and walk! The Jewish Pavilion wishes the community a happy and healthy New Year 421 Montgomery Rd. Ste.'131 Altamonte Springs, FL 32714 407-678-9363 www.j ewishpavilion.org ago when the Yerushalmim organization anNGOadvo- cating for a pluralistic city of Jerusalem sued in the High Court of Justice to f6rce Ca- naan. the exclusive ad agency for the Egged bus company, to run its campaign featuring "The Women of Jerusalem." Its legal effort was supported by the Ministry of Transporta- tion, which submitted a brief ob] ecting to any Censorship of photos of women. According to Yerushaimim CEO Rabbi Uri Ayalon, at that point it seemed that the matter was solved and the ads, replete with photos, would be run- ning on Egged buses. According to Ayalon, the apparentunderstanding fell apart when the discussion turned to the specifics of the images submitted by the NGO to the ad agency for the buses to carry. At issue was the length of the sleeves the models were shown wearing. Yerushalmim insists that when it agreed to the sleeve issue,a new request was made to replace T-shirts with long- sleeve blouses. While the back-and-forth was continuing, Egged decid- ed to chango.its policy andban advertising in the Jerusalem market that contained any hu- man images at all. Canaan told Yerushaimim it would honor its commitment for a 10-day- period, after which time the agreement to run its ads would lapse. Ayalon told The Media Line that his organization did, indeed, submit its ads in. a timely manner, but Canaan- differed, saying the NGO failed to get the ads in before the contract expired. Yerushalmim was estab- lished in 2009 by Jerusalem residents advocating a plu- ralistic city. Opposing the exclusion of women from the public sphere, the organiza- tion kicked-off its campaign one year ago in response to the censorship of anad campaign of women. It included ads dis- played on balconies and street stands throughout the city of Jerusalem that featured im- ages of women. Yerushalmim claims bus ads have been free of female images for the past eight years--and five years in the case of posters. Nissim Zohar, director of marketing for Zohar adver- tising company, told The Media Line .that "for years" his agency had been trying to place ads in Jerusalem that included images of women. Zohar credited Mayor Nir Barkat with raising the issue six months ago, resulting in media coverage of the issue and subsequently, more than 500 posters were displayed around the city. Advertisements that fea- ture women have found a home on Jerusalem bridges, though. Uri Neter, CEO of Rapid Vision, franchise-holder for billboards affixed to bridges in Jerusalem, told The Media Line that. "We divided ad- vertising on bridges in large formats across the platforms. Currently we don't have any ads with women, but [when we did] we didn't have a problem because it is hard to get to the bridges and cause damage because of the height." Canaan CEO Ohad Gibli told The Media Line the "faceless" policy instituted by Egged and prompted by the Yerushaimim fracas has cost him his Jerusalem offices, which he recently closed, cit- ing a loss of more than $60.000 a month. Gibli said for Egged, it's just a business decision stemming from the financial costs the bus company has sustained in the past due to acts of vandalism. A spOkesperson for Canaan said that there is a lot of provo- cation around this'story, but since there is no problem of discrimination now, no deci- sion is expected. Ayalon, though, disagreed and told The Media Line that not publishing any human images in Jerusalem while allowing it everywhere else is also an act of discrimina- tion, and" that Yerushalmim will continue to pursue the issue. The group's attorney, Aviad Hacohen. told The Me- dia Line that, "It's not only an act against women, but it's an act against men it's against freedom of speech and equality."