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September 15, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 15, 2017

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 Q, Rosh Hashanah is the Jew- ish new year and the start of new things. With the turn of the seasons from summer to fall, it's a great time for thoughts and introspection. This time of year also happens to mark my one-year anniver- sary leading The Roth Family JCC community. It's been a rollercoaster of a year for all of us--from the lows of three fake bomb threats phoned in within two weeks--to the highs of seeing our community rally around the JCC family in support. We saw members dressing them- selves and their children in homemade "I Heart #MyJCC" t-shirts, we saw dozens (if not hundreds) of hands raised in the air offering to volunteer, and we saw $428,274 donated by more than 900 donors in a 24-hour period on March 8-9. Your overwhelming support this year is the surest testa- ment we can imagine that The Roth Family JCC was, is, and will be here for your fam- ily-then, now, and always. As we look ahead to 5778, we are excited for all the new things our JCC is bringing to the community: The first issue of J Life, our new Jewish community magazine, has just arrived in mailboxes, and with it a new quarterly look at our wonderful and diverse com- munity. It's free to subscribe, so sign up now at orlandojcc. org/jlife so you don't miss the December issue. This fall, our new co-ed youth sports offerings will provide a new opportunity to play sports, have fun, and engage with peers. The new or new-again programs include soccer for children ages 2 through grade 2, basketball for pre-K through grade 9, and flag football for grades 5-8. Our renewed emphasis on the cultural arts includes the inaugural Central Florida Jewish Book Festival on Sun- day, Oct. 29, featuring five authors and four exciting new books. One of the authors is UCF alum and former intern at our JCC, Jen Glantz! You can learn more and buy tickets at This summer, we launched a new partnership with The- atre South Playhouse, whose professional teaching artists are empowering our children and teens on-stage and off. Catch our next youth theater show produced in partnership with Theatre South,"I Wanna Be Annie," Dec. 4-5. Kacie Zemel, our newly promoted Youth and Camp director, brings new energy and excitement to our youth and camp programming. If you haven't met Kacie, make sure to introduce yourself-- she'll get you excited about the future of our year-round youth programming and summer-time Camp J. So as we head into 5778, I want to wish everybody a Shanah Tovah U'metukah--a good and sweet year. We're excited for what other new things 5778 will bring to The Roth Family JCC and the Central Florida Jewish community. EShalom, Keith Dvorchik, CEO Keith Dvorchik The number 40 has great significance in the Torah and throughout rabbinic litera- ture. The number 40 usually designates a time of radical transition or transformation. Consider the following: It rained for 40 days and 40 nights during the Flood (Genesis 7). Exodus records that Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. Forty is the number of years the Israelites were required to wander in thewilderness until they were allowed to enter Canaan. Corporeal punish- ment in the Torah involved 40 lashes. Elijah fasted for 40 days prior to receiving his revelation on Mount Horeb. According to the Talmud (Avot 5:26), at age 40 a person transitions from one level of wisdom to the next. After Moses led the Jewish people for 40 years in the wilderness, he told them: "God has not given you aheart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, until this day" (Deut. 29:3-4). From here we see that it took the Jewish people 40 years before reaching a full level of understanding. There are also 40 days between the first day of Elul, when we begin to blow the Shofar to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, until Yom Kippur, the end of the annual teshuva (repentance) period. These 40 days are the most auspicious time for personal growth and renewal. Tlhis year marks the 40th annfiversary of the Jewish Aca demy of Orlando. Estab- lished in 1977, the Jewish Academy of Orlando (formerly Hebrew Day School) was es- tablished, in the words of its founders, to create a school "combining a quality general studies and intensive Judaic curriculum." For the past 40 years, the Jewish Academy of Orlando has educated over 1,000young people. Over the past four decades, our graduates have excelled in their professional careers and have become leaders in their communities due to the strong academic foundation and values edu- cation received at the Jewish Academy. The students of the Jewish Academy of Or- lando celebrate their Jewish identity, heritage and values while fostering a passion for learning, critical thinking and high achievement. Our students are empowered to achieve academic success and to go out and change the world. True to the vision of its founders, the Jewish Academy of Orlando has astrong history rooted in academic excellence and Jewish pride! As the Jewish Academy of Orlando enters its second era of 40 years, our hope and our prayer is that the school will continue to grow "MeChayil E1 Chayil," from strength to greater strength. At this time of personal growth and renewal, maywe, our families, our friends and our entire community reach a level of understanding so that we can truly have a "Shana Tova U'Metukah," a good and sweet New Year! L'Shana Tova, Alan Rusonik, Head of School Alan Rusonik By Norman Kerdichevsky Few books in the last decade have aroused the controversy and public debate, at least in Europe, as Michel Houeile- becq's "Submission." Still at the top of the charts in France, the novel, "Soumission" in its original French, has now con- quered Germany, shooting to the top of the charts in its first week in shops, with more than a quarter of a million copies now in print in German. The novel, which drew controversy over its topic even before publication, was re- leased in France on Jan. 7, the day on which 12 people were killed by gunmen at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in- cluding Houellebecq's friend, Bernard Marls. It sold 120,000 copies in its first five days on sale in France. Katy Derbyshire, transla- tor and writer onss German books, described the latest sales as "pretty huge He's always been big here (popular with intellectual machos) but there's been extra hype this time". The fictional tale of a submissive intellectual class willing to trade more than a thousand years of Christian and national patriotic tradi- tions of the nation-state--as well as fundamental values of Western civilization, includ- ing the right to an education free from religious dogma, and equality of the sexes--for an Islamist regime in part- nership with the traditional "socialist parties" of Europe. This apparently contradictory scenario (by American stan- dards) is all too real in much of Europe. Once in power, the new re- gime, dominated by the same Muslim Brotherhood which President Obama favored until it was overthrown by massive demonstrations in Egypt, introduces obligations upon women to wear the veil in public, withdraw from public life, accept polygymy and end any openly secular public education or teaching by non-Muslims. I happened to finish reading the book in a few sittings just a few days after watching two films that left me with a pro- found unease over how often Diaspora Jewish "idealists" and "patriots," to paraphrase Lenin's dictum, "Will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." These two very recent films deal with the assassinations of the Archduke Franz Ferdi- nand that provoked the First World War in 1914 and Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. Both dwell at length on two Jewish characters. In reality, both of them played a major role in the events which, almost certainly, would have taken a very different course and altered world history had these two characters been anybody else. These are the conclusions that viewers are left with to ponder and speak volumes on the nature of the Jewish Diaspora mode of existence for highly educated, ethical and politically "liberal" individual Jews today who are/were hostile, apathetic or simply ignorant about the reality of Zionism then or Israel today. The films are "The Chosen" (El Elegido), 2016, produced on site in Mexico and "Sa- rajevo" (Das Attentat), an historical drama by Austrian director Andreas Prochaska, produced in 2014 by both German and Austrian televi- sion in order to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. "Sarajevo" focuses on Leo Pfeffer, the examining mag- istrate, appointed to handle the investigation. Pfeffer is outraged at the apparent gross incompetence of the local authorities in not preparing adequate security measures for the visit of the Archduke Ferdinand on his state visit to Sarajevo. Pfeffer is a brilliant and highly motivated, compe- tent investigator but he must tread carefully; he is Jewish and any failure to satisfy the higher authorities in Vienna will cost him dearly, probably ending his career. He knows he is under a deadline to complete his in- vestigation and duly find the culprits among the Serbian government and ultra-nation- alist Serbian or Pan-Slavic organizations given moral, financial, material and techni- cal support in Belgrade. His situation is made all the more tenuous by a love affair with Marija Jeftanovic, the married daughter of a wealthy and prominent local ethnic-Serbian land owner in Bosnia, who has prospered through sale of agricultural products. Pfeffer is a Hun- garian-Croatian Jew and has converted to Christianity to further his career. He is gener- ally regarded with suspicion, scorn or contempt by many of those in the army and civilian administration in Austrian- occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina with its substantial Muslim population. Marija's situation as a married woman and a suffragist only make Pfeffer's situation more precarious due to what is regarded as flouting traditional morality. Pfeffer is forced to bow to pressure against his con- science and resist the advice of a close Austrian friend, who addresses Pfeffer as "Moishe," to simply swallow his conscience and that no matter what he decides to do, his Jewishness will always be held against him. In "The Chosen," Sylvia Agaloff is a devoted Brooklyn Jewish communist and social workerwho came to Mexico to work for her devoted idol, Leon Trotsky. She is exploited by Ram6n Mercader, a dedicated Soviet agent educated by his fanatical communist mother in Spain, to make any sacri- fice, including giving his life to serve Stalin. He is taughtto ignore every human emotion of compassion and decency. Mercader is even tested by willingly killing his favorite pet dog on command from the NKVD. NKVD agent Leonid Eitin- gon, who operated in Spain, had a long running love affair with Mercader's mother. He trained Mercader in Moscow in 1937 in the ways of espio- nage and guerrillawarfare and was the brains behind the assassination. He chose Agaloff and cor- rectly believed she would be attending a secret conference of Trotsky's Fourth Interna- tional (aboutwhichthe NKVD had been tipped off) in France in the summer of 1938. Agaloff, avery na'fve and eas- ily fooled woman in Trotsky's last refuge in Mexico, gives Mercader access. Like Pfeffer, she is not a minor character. She provides the key through her infatuation and misplaced Jewish idealism. Out of a sense of pity, Trotsky's bodyguards grant her the favor of being with her lover inside the compound on special occa- sions. Sympathy for Agaloff's chance at a love relationship overcomes their logic. She is not particularly attractive, and Trotsky and his camp guards developed a special fondness for her. Her repayment is the cru- elest blow any jilted woman can face--betrayal. Not for anotherwoman but for Stalin! She unwittingly becomes an accomplice to the murder of her beloved Trotsky, leader of the idealistic cause she was devoted to. Would events have trans- pired differently ifAgaloffand Pfeffer had not been Jewish? This is a matter of conjec- ture but the list of misplaced Jewish idealism for remote non-Jewish causes, leaders, and nations is avery long one. Reading "Submission," one is struck by memories of the fascist anti-Semitic Vichy regime in France and the fate of the Jews, notably the many Diaspora idealists who rejected Zionism as too pro- vincial, andbelieved that their fate was inevitably tied with the success of some grand universalist ideology such as communism or believed that their date depended on complete identification with the culture and national ideals of their adopted homelands. The book's main protago- nist, Francois, is a university professor, a nominal Catholic, but actually, a typical agnostic academic and opportunist obsessedwith his favorite pas- times-writing, food, wine, tobacco and sex. He receives a letter from his former, much younger, Jewish girlfriend, Myriam, who has reluctantly followed her parents to Israel. Her parents, well aware of what happened in Vichy and the dangers they cannot pre- vent, make the decision for her to start a new life in Israel. Myriam has repeatedly told Francois that she is devastated because she feels so thoroughly French and has always been devoted to France and French culture but after six months, she writes to him that she is entranced by the vibrancy of Israel and its people who live life to the fullest and are unafraid of the multiple dangers surrounding them. This only increases his anguish and pessimism over what he faces in an Islamist France. Francois feels the loss of his country and way of life all the more intensely because, as he reluctantly answers her, " There is no Israel for me." Later, he convinces himself that he can nevertheless live a more comfortable life if he simply goes with the flow and reaches the convenient choice that what he gains 9 Submission on page 21A