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October 9, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 9, 2009 PAGE 15A By Richard Greenberg Washington Jewish Week Tom Dine. who once headed America's best-known pro- Israel organization, has been hired to burnish the image of abroadcasting networkwhose prime target audience lies on the other side of the Mideast divide. The former executive direc- tor oftheAmerican Israel Pub- lic Affairs Committee and past president of Radio Free Eu- rope/Radio Liberty in Prague, Dine recently was retained as a communications consultant by Middle East Broadcasting Networks, aU.S.-government- funded nonprofit devoted to courting the region's Arabs. MBN. which was created by an act of Congress in 2003, operates a television station. al-Hurra (Arabic for "the free one"), and a sister station, Radio Sawa. The two news outlets are would-be alterna- tives to Mideast broadcasting giants such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, whose content is of- ten regarded as biased against Israel and the West. MBN's stated mission is to "'provide objective, accurate and relevant news and infor- mation to the people of the Middle East about the region, the world and the United States. MBN supports demo- cratic values by expanding the spectrum of ideas, opinions and perspectives available in the region's media." Dine, who was hired about a month ago, was brought in to spruce up the image of MBN, which has been tar- nished during the past few years due to allegations of financial mismanagement, biased news reporting, low ratings and a general lack of professionalism. MBN approached Dine because his "vast experience and understanding of U.S. in- ternational broadcasting and the Middle East" make him well-suited to present MBN's case to opinion shapers such as media outlets, universities and think tanks, according to Deirdre Kline. director of com- munications at MBN. Dine. who serves on the Isra- el Policy Forum's U.S.Advisory Council. could not be reached for comment. Kline said in an e-mail he was "unavailable for an interview." Kline said MBN is the vic- tim of misperceptions created largely by distorted or errone- ous news reporting. She was referring primarily to series of critical "articles carried this year and last by the investi- gative Web site ProPublica. which reported in June 2008, for example, that al-Hurra had aired "anti-American and anti-Israeli viewpoints" and had "showcased pro-Iranian policies." In July 2008, MBN issued a 15-page rejoinder that chal- lenged many of the allega- tions raised in the ProPublica reports. MBN is supervised by the Broadcast Board of Governors. an independent federa! agency that oversees all U.S. govern- ment-supported nonmilitary international broadcasting, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. MBN is funded solely by the U.S. government; its fiscal 2008 budget was about $103 million. BBG director of public af- fairs Letitia King also charged that MBN has often been mischaracterized. For ex- ample, she maintained, some detractors erroneously claim that the network suffers from extraordinarily low ratings because it is not trusted by the Arab populace. King said the numbers usually cited do not accurately reflect the popular- ity of the network, which is actually "phenomenal.'" Contacted earlier this week, Ibrahim Hooper. commu- nications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, questioned Dine's appointment. "On its face, al-Hurrais trying to project an American viewpoint to the Arabic-speaking world, and I don't know if that would be helped by hiring the former head of a pro-Israel lobbying group," Hooper said. Dine headed AIPAC from 1980 to 1993, during which time the organization's staff, membership, budget and influence grew explosively. However, he was forced out after making remarks during an interview that disparaged fervently Orthodox Jews. Dine subsequently became the longest-serving president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, completing his eight- year tenure in 2005. He then became chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. a post he left in June 2007. A report issued in May 2008 by the OffiCe of Inspector General of the BBG and the U.S. Department of State concluded that "in the past year, al-Hurra has taken significant steps to tighten its procedures and policies in order to protect the credibil- ity that is critical to fulfilling its mission." MBN is undergoing a regu- larly scheduled inspection by the State Department's OIG that is unrelated to any reports of problems at the organization, according to a spokesperson for the OIG. Question: Every year I see the Jewish community get really excited about the crop of etrogim to be used during Sukkot. Is there any other use for this strange fruit? Does anyone else get as excited about etrogim as we Jews do? Daniel, New York Answer." The Torah tells us in Leviticus 23:40 that we should "take the product ofhadar trees, branches ofpalmtrees, boughs of leafy trees, andwillows of the brook, and rejoice beforeAdonai your God seven days." The product of the hadar trees was understood by the rabbis to be the etrog, a citrus fruit that looks like a lemon. and the boughs of leafy trees are understood to be myrtle branches. So on Sukkot we wave the palm branch, myrtle branch and willow branch together with the etrog. The Talmud specifies that these four species should be attrac- tive and of good quality, but the etrog in particular should be beautiful (Sukkah 35a). As a result, there are many people willing to spend a lot of time and money acquiring an especially good specimen of the etrog. But the etrog has a secret gourmet life that it lives under its alias, the citron~ When its living its citronJife, the etrog is a sought after ingredient popular in the cuisine of many Countries and regions. You've probably heard of Jews making etrog jam after Sukkot, but how about pick- ling some citron for a Tamil delicacy called narthangai, drying it to make a Korean tea or using an old Greek recipe to make liqueur from the leaves of the citron tree? A quick search at epicurious. corn comes upwith 15 re~cipes calling for citron. If you look carefully, you'll likely find citrons stocked at fancy produce markets in the autumn when they're in sea- son. You may have even been walking by these tart-smelling fruits for years without recog- nizing them because there are many morevarieties of citrons than what we're used to seeing in synagogue. Some are green and as big as footballs (the Yemenite variety), and some bear astriking resemblance to a sea anemone (the Buddha's hand variety). These citrons are not acceptable for religious use on Sukkot, since citrons grown purely for consumption are often grafted onto foreign rootstock, which makes for a hardier--but unkosher for waving--plant. Citrons have also long been recognized for their medicinal uses. In the fourth century BCE. the Greek thinker Theo- phrastus prescribed citron as an antidote to poison and a calm- ing agent for upset stomachs. He also believed citron could keep moths out of one's clothes and improve one's bad breath. However, in all my citron scouting for this column. I didn't come across any non- Jews who seemed fanatically excited about the citron sea- son. So I guess that is a spe- cifically Jewish phenomenon. On the other hand. I was surprised at how popular citrons are in kitchens all over the world. I guess when life gives you citrons, you have more options than just waving them around with a palm branch. For more information about Judaism and Jewish life, visit marry a Jew? By Julie Wiener Jewish Week NEW YORK--Aron Fein- berg's junior prom in Skokie. Ill.. cost him a lot of money a $250.000 inheritance, to be precise. Decades ago, when his grandfather. Max Feinberg, learned that Aron was taking a gentile girl to the high school dance. the elder Feinberg revised his will. stipulating that any grandchild to marry a non-Jew should be consid- ered "deceased" and would be deprived of his or her inheritance. After a pro- tracted legal battle that pit- ted family members against one another and served as a sort of allegory of Ameri- can Jewish tensions about intermarriage, the Illinois Supreme Court last week unanimously upheld Fein- berg's right to disinherit four of his five grandchildren for marrying out of the Tribe. (Although Feinberg died in 1986. the case did not come to a head until 2003. when his wife died and money that had been held in trust was to be bequeathed.) "Equal protection does not require that all children be treated equally.., and the free exercise clause does not re- quire a grandparent to treat " grandchildren who rejecfhis religious beliefs and customs in the same manner as he treats those who conform to his traditions," Justice Rita Garman wrote in a ruling that overturned decisions by two lower courts. The lower courts, and some of Feinberg;s grandchildren. had argued such a stipulation promoted religious intoler- ance and was comparable to encouraging racial dis- crimination. According to the Associ- ated Press. the ruling was based partly on technicali- ties and did not provide a broad ruling on whether similar religious restrictions would be valid under other circumstances. The attorney for Michele Feinberg Trull. one of the disinherited grandchildren, told the AP she is looking forward to court action on her other legal claims. Describing the case as one of "religious rights." Rabbi Avi Shafran of the New York-based fervently Orthodox Agudath Israel told The Jewish Week he was "gratified" by the rul- ing. His group, along with the Orthodox Union and National Council of Young Israel. both based in New York, filed a friend-of-court brief.last spring in support of upholding the will. argu- ing that "the clause that the deceased placed in his will was an expression of sincere religiou~ belief, reflecting both the Jewish religious tradition and well-founded concerns about Jewish as- similation." But while the case may settle the legality of making Jewish marriage a requirement for inheriting Grandpa's money, it leaves open the practical issues. Feinberg's will did not deter his grandchildren from in- termarrying. In defending the will. "we weren't lauding his strategy as an effective means of stemming inter- marriage." Rabbi Shafran said. Nonetheless, he said. "there's some value" in ex- pressing disapproval" for behavior that violates one's beliefs. "Every parent knows with children that you send messages with what you reward and penalize" people for," he said. It is not clear whether the grandchildren were even aware of the requirement before Feinberg's widow died in 2003. According to the Chicago Tribune. in official court papers one grandchild stated that his grandmother had attended his wedding and not warned him that the marriage would cost him his inheritance. Ed Case of InterfaithFam-, a group that. like JOI, advocates for outreach to intermarried families. said that while he has no comment on the legality, he finds Feinberg's will "coun- terproductive." "A clause in a will like that is unlikely to be effective at deterring" people from marrying a gentile and "is going to decrease the chance that his descendants would engage in Jewish life." Case said. "It's off-putting to the Jewish descendants as well as their partners." Interestingly, according to a Chicago Jewish News article that appeared last year, the grandson who inspired the clause. Aron Feinberg, married a non- Jewish woman, but is ap- parently raising their three children as Jews and belongs to a temple in Northbrook, Ill. "He's a physician and is able to provide for his family. He married the woman he loved. He didn't care whether his grandfather gave him money or didn't give him money," Michael Feinberg, who is Max's son and Aron's father, told the Chicago pa- per. Aron even named one of his sons Max. 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