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September 7, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018 PAGE 21A By Jonathan Weiss It all started with 50 faxes. Yes, faxes. In 1992, after moving to South Florida, Rabbi Kalman Packouz was fascinated with the latest technology, a fax modem. So he found away to put it to good use, by sending out a one-page "dot-matrix" fax about the weekly Torah portion to 50 people. Today, it's still sent out by fax to tens of thousands and has grown to become one of the world's most popular Jewish emails as well with hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide. The goal of the Shabbat Shalom Weekly (originally called Shabbat Shalom Fax and referred to as "The Fax of Life") is to excite and connect Jews of all ages and all different backgrounds to their heritage. With insights into life, personal growth and Torah, Rabbi Packouz's caring for and connection to his readers, along with his delightful sense of hu- mor and great story telling, have earned him a following across the English-speaking world. Now, Rabbi Packouz is embarking on an expansion to reach an even wider audience. Starting this Rosh Hashanah, 26 years after sending that first fax, the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is launching Hebrew and Spanish editions. "I am thrilled and humbled that I have been able to touch so many lives, and with the new Hebrew and Spanish emails, I look forward to the opportunity of connect- ing even more Jews to the Almighty, their heritage and Israel." said Rabbi Packouz. "I am both touched and sad- dened when readers write that the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is their only connection to any- thing Jewish in their lives. " What is the Shabbat Sha- lom Weekly? It's a weekly uplift and inspiration in five short sections: 1. Insights into personal growth and life or an upcom- ing holiday, usually with a humorous story or joke. 2. A concise overview of the Torah portion of the week. 3. A short D'var Torah imp rting a lesson for life-- how to be happy, find the righ spouse, make one's mariage work, raise one's chilcen and have more joy in lit, spring boarding from a ve e in the weekly Torah portm. 4. Candletighting time around the world. 5. !uote of the week. "Some peope subscribe just for the quo --and many read it first! R bi Packouz has a thick foldr of notes from his readcs. Writes Abby, "Your Shabat Shalom Weekly has help l me shape my Jewish iden ty." Rick shares, "The Shal bat Shalom Weekly has connected me to my Jewish heritage, faith and belief. You cannot image how much I value your weekly letters." For a taste of the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, here's a timely excerpt from Rabbi Packouz's Rosh Hashanah edition: This time of year, many Jews all over the world are rushing to make sure that they have places reserved in their synagogues. I am reminded of the storyof the person who had to deliver a very important message to a man in a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. The usher wouldn't let him in because he didn't have a ticket. "Please, I just need a moment to tell him the message! No way!" says the usher, "No ticket, no entrance! Please," begs the man, "I promise I won't pray!" Rabbi Packouz was born in Portland, Oregon, where he attended Beth Israel, a reform temple that has given him a sensitivity to Jews from all backgrounds. After college, he found his way to Israel. Following a brief stayon a Kibbutz, he was introduced to Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the founder of both Yeshiva Ohr Somayach and the Aish HaTorah world- wide outreach movement. Continuing his studies under Rabbi Weinberg for six years, he received his rabbinical ordination and for 45 years has helped build Aish HaTorah into a pow- erhouse and leader in the Jewish outreach movement. Rabbi Packouz was the co- founder of Aish HaTorah's first branch in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1980 Rabbi Packouz founded the Aish HaTorah Jewish Computer Dating Service, perhaps the world's first Jewish digital dating service, leading to an appearance on the Today Show. He is the creator of, Aish HaTorah's webcam on the Western Wall where you can see the Kotel live in real-time and even send a note to be placed Rabbi Kalman Packouz in the Wall. To date it has received almost 37 million visitors. Of all of his accom- plishments and creations, the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is his greatest love. To sign up for the free weekly newsletter, in Eng- lish, Spanish or Hebrew, visit www.ShabbatShalom. org. :o win (JNS)--With the indict- ment of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a grandson of a Black September terrorist who killed 11 members of the Israeli athletic team at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, is likely to go from being a long-shot candidate to upsetting the California Republican this November in what is a heavy conservative congressional district. Campa-Najjar, 28, a prac- ticing Christian born to a Palestinian father and a Mexi- can mother, has distanced himself from his grandfather, Muhammad Yousefal-Najjar, who was involved in the plan- ning of the Munich massacre and was assassinated by Israeli commandos in Beirut in 1973. "As an American citizen living in the 21st century, I will never be able to un- derstand or condone the actions and motivations of my grandfather," he told Haaretz in February before tellirg local outlets that these remarks would not be utilized for political gain. "Like many American families, my heritage bears a heartbreaking history," he added. "To achieve peace, Palestinians and Israelis will have to make the same persmal choice I've had to make leave the dark past behina so that the future shines brighter in the eyes of our children." Campa-Najjar is running as a progressive in California's 50th district which the non- partisan Cook Political Report shifted from "Solid Republi- can" to "Lean Republican." Along with his wife, Hunter pleaded not guilty to illegally using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filing false reports with the Federal Election Commission. As of June 30, Campa-Najjar raised more than $1 million but spent much of it, accord- ing to federal records. Campa- Najjar's campaign reported $280,000 in the bank, with $25,000 in debt, while Hunter reported raising $850,000 but had a surplus of $350,000 by the end of June. Whether the Democratic Party will allocate significant money into a race they deem as not winnable, compared to other districts consisting of vulnerable Republican incumbents, remains to be seen. U.S. President Donald Trump won Hunter's district by 15 points, despite losing statewide by more than 4 million votes in 2016. Ammar Campa-Najjar From page 4A frequently and consciously draws on anti-Semitic notions of "Jewish power." The best illustration of this is the very same argu- ment that Almond chooses to defend from the charge of anti-Semitism; namely, that Israel is the outcome of a "racist endeavor," a favorite theme of the Corbynite left. This argument has his- torically been the preserve of anti-democratic ideolo- gies and regimes. As early as 1965, Soviet diplomats at the United Nations were bracket- ing Zionism with Nazism; a decade later, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution spearheaded by a coalition of communist and authoritarian member states that equated Zionism with "apartheid" and "racism." Publishing houses in Moscow pumped out cheap booklets that often ended up on West- ern university campuses, in which the reader would learn that Zionism was a natural extension of the "Jewish exclusivism" fostered by the Talmud. Similar propaganda appeared in the Arab media, usually accompanied by lu- rid cartoons of hook-nosed Israeli soldiers driving inno- cent Palestinians from their homes in Nazi-like fashion. Ore might counter that not Everyone who presents Israe as a "racist endeavor" is drgen by the same mo- tives-strategic, diplomatic, ideohgical--that the USSR was vhen it adopted anti- Semi:ism in the name of anti-;ionism. Perhaps. But to m',ke the case, one is still forcel to rely on the same argunents. If Israel should, as Amond astonishingly advocates, be presented as a "setthr-colonial" project to schod students encounter- ing Re Israeli-Palestinian confl:ct for the very first time, how is that to be done in a way that doesn't jeopardize attitudes to local Jewish communities? If Israel is to be portrayed as a rogue state of global proportions, whose inhabitants have essentially fabricated their historic and spiritual links to the terri- tory which they now occupy at the expense of the indig- enous Arabs, how can such an argument possibly avoid anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish wealth, Jewish politi- cal influence and ingrained Jewish exclusivism? And if the Palestinians are to be portrayed as ongoing victims of ethnic cleansing by Jews (and Jews alone), then how can one neatly separate the opposition to Zionism from the anti-Semitism? The short answer is that you can't. That's because the "racist endeavor" portrait of Israel, however much one encoun- ters it in Middle East Studies departments, is grounded on the anti-Semitic trope of a distinctly "Jewish" dishon- esty-in which schmaltzy, disingenuous appeals for public sympathy, ruthless po- litical lobbying, the strategic use of financial wealth and overbearing military might are the essential elements in the story of Israel's creation, as well as its ongoing exis- tence. If Almond and those who agree with him want to protect Diaspora Jewish communities and achieve concrete progress for the Palestinians, the proper question they should ask themselves is whether their discourse about Israel is helping either of those goals. Ben Cohen writes a weekly column for JNS on Jewish af- fairs and Middle Eastern poli- tics. His writings have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. From page 5A with the book's unseemly treatment of Michael Jordan, just as Simon had to endure sneering critics who found his substance somehow lacking. Despite the achievement of the Eugene Trilogy, "Lost in Yonkers" had gotten trashed in Washington that winter. The New York Times critic who had so admired the tril- ogy also sniffed at Simon's latest. But "Lost in Yonkers" would wind up running for two years on Broadway and found a new way to impact audiences--or at least me. And that's what I wanted to talk to Neil about in Hamburger Hamlet. At the time, I too was working on a play about my own German-Jewish family. In "Yonkers," we meet Bella Kurnitz, a sweet, middle- aged, behaviorally challenged woman still living at home. Her successful brothers have moved onto busy lives outside the home, leaving Bella to live with their fierce, command- ing and less-than demonstra- tive mother, who scares her visiting grandsons have to death. With the exception of that icy Grandmother Kur- nitz, the set-up reminded me of the situation in my own father's family, and his own troubled sister, my Aunt Irene. Like Bella, she had been born with scarlet fever, was a little bit slow and very much the black sheep. Overshadowed as she approached middle age, she was a girl in a woman's body with dreams that would likely not come true. My Aunt Irene didn't make it past 40 and, over the ensuing years, I tried to write what it meant to lose her. A play came out but it took a long time--both in getting it produced, and then in try- ing get it right; I probably never did. I was just at the beginning of writing that play when Neil Simon introduced Bella Kurnitz to the world, and I thought to myself, "He's captured my Irene better than I ever will. And he's saved her through comedy." I admired Neil Simon for a lot of reasons but none more than for the effortless dexterity that went into "Yonkers." Genius makes hard work look easy. I got to produce "Lost in Yonkers" some 16 years later, as I grew more comfortable as an artistic director at a Jewish theater, and it became a huge hit for us, of course. It attracted great artists and great audiences alike. It also attracted that surly critic from the Washington Post, now a fulltime writer outside of journalism, who joined our team as production dra- maturge, having given Neil Simon and his play another look. Neil Simon would be vindicated before his critics, and before those acolytes who thought they could craft a deeper brand of expression. Neil won on account of his genius. What set Simon apart, especially from Roth, was the empathy on display to women: Bella and Grandma Kurnitz in "Lost in Yonkers," and to Kate, the broken mother in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Broadway Bound," who would come to endure her husband's defection, echoing the same betrayal in Simon's own family. We see their grit, and then heartbreak, and then tenderness, framed in laughter. Simon found his material from within, but he wrote outside of himself just as brilliantly. Hewas the Michael Jordan of Broadway--with all quirks, critics, and limita- tions that come with. But his achievement was singular, and the way he re-shaped the game, and the art form and business of theater, is total. We'll not see his like again. Ari Roth is a playwright, producer and founding artis- tic director of Mosaic Theater Company ofDC, dedicated to creating independent, inter- cultural, uncensored, socially relevant art. As artistic direc- tor over 18seasons at Theater J, Roth built the fledgling DC theater into the largest Jew- ish theater in North America. Roth's plays include "Born Guilty," a sequel "The Wolf In Peter," "An@ and The Shadows," "Life in RefusaL" "Oh, the Innocents," "Love and Yearning in the Not for Profits" and "Goodnight Irene." The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.