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September 13, 2013

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PAGE 4A i The Good 00ord ]By David BornBtein The girlfriend's dilemma: A family fable to start the new year The girlfriend had been living with her boy- friend for early seven years. They lived a good life. He owned a successful business he'd built up himself. She worked at a highly respected international environmental organization. She was extremely cool--bright, funny, well liked by all. Neither was young anymore They'd both been married once, and though they loved one another, they hadn't yet gotten over the bad taste their previous, difficult relationships " had left. So, while they didn't rule out tying the knot someday, they weren't in any hurry to head back to the altar. There were many reasons for this besides the failed first marriages. He had two college-age children, a boy and girl or, as was the case, a young man and young woman. The daughter was still in college. The son was more of a free spirit who worked part-time for his dad, went to community college a bit, lived with them and was making a name for himself as one of the premier DJs in the area. She had no children. Nor had she been around to help raise her boyfriend's. By the time they were involved the children were fully  formed. This led to several key issues. Since she was the live-in girlfriend, the two children deigned to listen to her as they would any adult, but not as their parent. The daughter breezed in and ot of the townhouse they lived in as she saw fit, often with friends from school. She largely took care of herself, worked hard in school and in the summer, and caused no one any problems. The son.., well, the son was another story. It's not that he was a bad kid. Not close. Big-hearted, happy, good-looking. He didn't have a malicious bone in his body. He just didn't have a plan. Girls loved him. He worked enough to get by. His gigs kept him out at the oddest hours, and he'd traipse in sometime between 2 a.m. and the time he had to show up for work at his dad's place. This all concerned the girlfriend. It created an air of instability in the house, and she often felt as if she was a distant last place to everyone else. Her boyfriend put his children's needs first, even though they were old enough to be on their own. The crazy hours the son kept, the girls coming and going.., the girlfriend could only hope he'd had the right conversations with his dad about everything from STDs to prophylactics because she couldn't tell him anything. Even though they all liked one an-" other a lot, she was more like a big sister than a morn. And because of all this, even though she loved her boyfriend, she was thinking of moving out and getting a place of her own. So when the son started stirring early one morning the girlfriend knew something was up. And when he walked to the stairwell and looked down at her, she wondered what he was going to say. And when he yelled, "Hey R-----, do you kfiow how much the morning after pill costs?" she nearly choked on her breakfast. Hearing us where we are By Gary Rosenblatt If our prayers are heartfelt, they will resonate on high, and be answered favorably. One of the loveliest aspects of Rosh Ha- shanah and Yore Kippur is the concept of forgiveness, the notion that if we are sincere in our commitment to make atonement for past sins and try to improve our ways, God will, in effect, wipe our slate clean at the outset of the new Jewish year. But too often, despite our best efforts, hu- man nature intervenes and we are back to our old ways before we know it. That's why one particular, and often ne- giected, passage of the Torah reading for Rosh Hashanah resonates with me: Most of the attention and sermonizing, naturally, is on the day's main narrative, that of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. But the reading ends with the story of Abraham making a pact with Abimelech, the leader of the Philistines. Abraham offers sheep and oxen toAbimelech and they name the spot Beersheba, which translates "they swore an oath there." Then, Abimelech departs and returns to the land of the Philistines, who were known for their violent Ways. AndAbraham? The Torah tells us he "planted a tamarisk [tree] at Beersheba and invoked there the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time." The different responses of Abimelech and Abraham speak volumes. Both men have just come together to make a solemn agreement, just as we come to the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah to make an inner pact, pledging to better ()urselves. But afterward, Abimelech returns to the Philistines. In other words; he returns to his old habits. Abraham, on the other hand, puts down roots, planting a tamarisk, and invoking God's name. That's why he is able to live in the land of the Philistines and yet remain a righteous person. Despite his surroundings, he is ever aware of God's presence in his life and is committed to establishing a permanence, symbolized by the planting, that can be passed on to the next generation. Perhaps that is why God blessed him and Sarah with a son, Isaac, who will ensure the survival of the Jewish people to this very day. This same chapter of Genesis, read each year on Rosh Hashanah, takes on added significance in that it also makes reference to Abraham's other son, Ishmael, destined to become the progenitor of the Arab world. After the birth of Isaac, we read how Abra- ham sends away his concubine, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael. Mother and child wander in the desert, out of water, and seem destined to die. Suddenly, "God heard the cry of the boy, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What troubles Rosenblatt on page 15A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Chris DeSouza HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISI 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207. O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky" David Bornstein Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman Joyce Gore email: news@rlandheritage'cm Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky HERITAGE FLORIDA J EWlSH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 A million thoughts went through her mind at once. What's been going on upstairs? Doesn't he know better? Does he know any- thing? Has his dad ever talked to him about sex? ShouldI? I just want to scream at him. Didn't he use a condom? What girl was up there last night anyway? Is she still here? Was there more than one? If I say how much the pill costs will hethink his dad got me pregnant and I took it? If I say I don't know will I sound like an uncool idiot? I can't deal with this before work. It's even before my first cup of coffee. Just then, luckily, thankfully, the sister, who was home on vacation called out, "$201" and he said, "Thanks" and went back into his bedroom to sleep. .. The girlfriend was left dumbfounded. What she thought, for a moment as she drank her coffee, picked up her keys, her pocketbook and headed out the door, was "I'm not his par- ent. I should never be put in this situation in the first place. I have to move out." But then she thought again, and she real- ized something. He had asked her. He had opened his door and asked her, maybe flip- pantly, maybe on the spur of the moment a personal, important question. A question that exposed himself to her. In a Way, he was say- ing, "I need help. I need your advice. I made a mistake, and I acknowledge that you're the adult around here." Sure, she was bailed out by little sis. But she was also included in the family circle. And so she decided to stay, and the son eventually got his own place, and while they're not necessar- ily living happily ever after, they're a whole lot closer to it. This year, may we all find ourselves in the right place, surrounded by the ones we iove. And that's the good word. The opinions in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other individual, agency or organization. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to the Heritage or email Letter from Israel Where do we stand? By Ira Sharkansky The people of Israel continue to live in a condition that is marked on the one side by the theme of the national anthem, Hope, and on the other by the national slogan, oy gevalt. Once again, this New Year has its reasons for optimism, not unblemished by worries. '" Life is good for most ofus. Measures ofhealth rank Israelis as one of the most long-lived of people (Jews and others), with a medical sys- tem considered among the best in the world.. Hospital care does not provide the luxuries associated with private rooms enjoyed by Americans with the best insurance, but here the whole population is more likely to get the best of what is available. Economic indicators put us up there with the rich. Including among us the Jews of the Diaspora we are, by some indications, the mostwell-to-do of ethnic and religious groups. As ever--going back to Josephus' Against Apion and the ugliness in the New Testament, on through Christian anti-Semitism, the Pro- tocols, Nazis, and now the Muslims--success comes along with envy and hatred. This evening we can expec t the roads to be jammed as people move from one part of the country to another in order to enjoy what the various participants have brought with them. The star of our evening will be a little grand- daughter whose heritages from Germany and Iraq symbolize Israel's climb from disasters to strength and success. The neighborhood is even more restless than usual. The U.S. is moving toward something in Syria. We are beholden to America, and evaluations of the president are problematic. The prime minister has wisely stifled any comments from members of his government, and he has said little more than no one should attack Israel; that our response will be massive. President Shimon Peres has limited himself to praise and support for Obama. Commentators tend to the critical of the American president, some of them well into the range of ridicule for limiting his options, tying himself to Congress, and providing all the time needed for Assad to protect his assets. Others note that consultationwith Congress may actually toughen the response that the U.S. will make. Overall, Israeli writers are wary of an American president who seems to have ac- cepted views of Islam that moderate Muslims have described for their faith. While he has repeated Several times his commitment to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the center of gravity is somewhere between suspicious and doubtful. There are commentators so enamored of the U:S. as to qualify for the label of sycophants. For them the deliberations toward a strike against Syria represent the essence of what is good about America. It takes its time to decide, and then does what it should. Those who see the grass as much greener in America say that Israeli politicians, in contrast, speak grandly and do very little. I suspect that few if any of those commenta- tors are aware that the field in political science that goes by the name of Implementation was born in the United States. For the most part, its message is that implementation is a problem. Laws are passed, regulations have to be writ- ten, but are delayed, add or delete provisions with respect to what the chief executive and members of the legislature thought they were enacting. And then there are further delays in actually working according to the regulations. Some of them remain on the" books forever without tle money or the personnel assign- ments necessary to put them into effect. One test of this literature will come with the various stages of what's called Obamacare. Currently we are hearing that Congress will include in its resolution that there be no American "boots on the ground" in Syria. That, tQo, is the president's commitment. Yet we are hearing that there are already several hundred pairs of American boots on the ground in Syria, with the feet of American troops in those boots. The U.S. military, its ancillaries and con- tractors remain active against bad guys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and maybe elsewhere My Muslim friends are sure that the U.S is engaged in a crusade against their faith. Whatever happens here or in America will owe a great deal to politics. For me, politics is the essence of civilization. I consider myself privileged to be working in an intellectual stream going back to Aristotle. Politics is the decent way to deal with differ- ences in perspective prior to taking action. There are Hebrew as well as Greek roots in this perspective. By argument, we can see the value in other views, and alter our own. There are numerous ways to do politics The separation of powers inherent in the U.S .presidential manner of government differs from that of the parliamentary arrangements in Israel and western Europe. Democracy in all its forms is messy. There is mud-slinging, back-biting, dealing and going back on deals, and decisions so convoluted as to defy anything that would go by the word implementation. Israeli media are-currently transfixed on Syria, whatever America might decide, how that affects what happens in Iran, the possibili- ties of attack by Syria and Hezbollah, and what the IDF might do in response to all the above. There are signs that Egypt's government is moving against the threat to that country and our from Islamic extremists in Sinai and elsewhere. There remain unresolved disputes in our domestic politics. They have been pushed aside until after the holidays, and after whatever occurs in Syria et al. The list includes the edu- cation, financial support, and pushing toward work via the military or national service of ultra-Orthodox, and whatever is happening in those secret talks between our representatives and the Palestinians. There is some dispute that Winston Churchill deserves the credit for the thought, but among his one-liners worthy of repeating is, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." The range of decision-making apparent in democracies is most suitable to the cultures likely to be shared by most of the people read- ing this note. Two hundred meters from here is a border between civilizations. On the other side is a culture that--to the limited extent I understand it--I do not envy. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.