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October 9, 2009

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PAGE 22A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 9, 2009 By Debra Rubin Washington Jewish Week Julian Jolkovsky would go. to a variety of shuls and then complain about the long ser- mons: Rabbis just don't know when to stop. His son. Binyamin. came up with away to keep sermons on point: He created a Web site., that features talks of 11 minutes or less by rabbis and other Jewish lecturers. His original slogan choice dropped so as not to offend, he says--"Our rabbis know when to stop!" A Brooklyn, N.Y., resident who grew up in Hyattsville, Jolkovsky, 41, spent hours researching for the project, takingword of mouth sugges- tions and listening to online lectures. "I challenged some very good speakers to cut their lectures to under 11 minutes," he said, and then have wha{ he calls their "Godcasts" profes- sionally recorded. Many of the speakers were unable to meet his time constraints, Jolkovsky said. Others turned out not be to effective enough to put on the site. "A lot of speakers need an audience to give thema sense of electricity," he said. not- ing they lost their charisma when recording in a studio. "Some people came across two-dimensional." He launched the site, in memory of his parents, Ju- lian and Pauline. about a week before Rosh Hashanah, and already has some 250 mini-lectures on it. Lecture titles range from "Is There A Little Z0roastrian in You?" to "Plagues of Indifference,'~ to "Six Questions You'll BeAsked in Heaven? Uh Let's Just Take One for Now;" speakers from Lisa Aiken, a psycholo- gist and author, to Rabbi Abra- ham Twerski. a chasidic rabbi and psychiatrist, to Gavriel Aryeh Sanders, a Catholic turned evangelical minister turned Orthodox Jew. "It's all uplifting," he said. "I don't like negativity. I don't like degrading people." Jolkovsky, publisher of the Web sites Jewish World Review and Political Mavens, acknowledges that most people won't spend too much time studying, but he hopes Jwisdom's lectures will keep them coming back and spur their interest to learn more about Judaism. "Spiritual growth should not end with the High Holi- days. The idea is to give them a taste, ifyouwill, of the Torah," Jolkovsky, who had interned atWashington Jewish Week in the early 1990s, said. Sarah Chana Radcliffe, a family counselor in Toronto, is one of the site's regular contributors doing a lecture series called Family Secrets. "I think there's something for everybody," Radcliffe said, noting that although most of the contributors are Orthodox (Jolkovsky calls them "tradi- tionalist." but said he doesn't have a litmus test), the lec- tures themselves are geared toward a wider audience. She described her own lectures as "almost secular with a nod to where Judaism has a comment or value," adding her hope that people interested in Judaism "might accidentally come across" the site,"notrecognize the names and hopefully stumble upon something interesting." If it hadn't been for his fa- ther's death due to a botched surgery in 2007, Jolkovsky might not have created Jwis- dora. Julian Jolkovsky, then liv- ing in Baltimore, died when his aorta was severed durir~g surgery to remove his gall bladder. His family sued for malpractice, and his son is us- ing his portion oftheproceeds for Jwisdom. (Under the terms of the settlement, he may not disclose the hospital where the surgery took place or the amount of the settlement.) Working on the site, Jolkovsky said, was a way to "invest all my excessive energy I had." Jolkovsky plans to add a new lecture daily "until I see there's no interest, or I run out of money." JNF honors From page 1A not provide for themselves. These acts were done quietly, one-on-one: and collectively, the impact was profound in helping to heal these indi- viduals and the world. They also helped to celebrate with bride and groom, with bar and bat mitzvah families, and at the births of children~ and shared in many community celebrations. Married for more than 60 years. Rabbi and Rose Adler have three children and five grandchildren, fromwhom they get much naches. Dr. Deborah C. German was appointed as the founding dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida in December 2006. She leads the development of a full-scale medical school and academic medical center that is part of an evolving research-based medi- cal citywithin a highly engaged central Florida community. In less than two years, she has hired more than 200 employees and appointed more than 800 volunteer faculty, gained pre- liminary accreditation, raised enough money to provide full four-year scholarships for the entire charter class, and is overseeing construction of 400.000 square feet of medical school space. German has served in vari- ous positions at Duke Univer- sity-including associate dean of medical education, and at Vanderbilt University includ- ing senior associate dean of medical education. After 13 years at Vanderbilt. she became president and CEO of Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville. leading a successful hospital turn-around and initiating service excellence and quality programs that received national recognition. Throughout this time she continued to practice medicine. In 2005. Dr. German spent a year at the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C. as aPetersdorf Scholar in Residence. She has received numerous awards. most recently the Orlando Sen- tinel's Editorial Board Central Floridian of the Year. 2008. Rasesh "Sesh" Thakkar is senior managing director of Ta- vistock Group and a member of its board of directors. For more than 20 years hehas focused on merg- ers and ~;quisit'lOl'tS, operations and strategic planning for the group. He helps determine overall strategy, targets sectors for invest- ment. negotiates acquisitions and sales.andtransitionsacquisitions into the group's holdings. He has lived in [he United States. South America and Europe on behalf of Jewish National Fund began in 1901 collecting coins in blue boxes to purchase land and return the J~ewish people to their homeland. In its more than 107years, JNFhas evolved into a global environmental leader and become the central address for partnering with the group. Currently, he serves on the boardoftrustees for the Central Florida Partnership. the Gover- nors Council of the Metro Or- lando Economic Development Commission and is chairman of the board of governors for M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Tavistock Foundation. board of directors of the UCF Founda- tion and board of directors for BioFlorida. - the land and pegple of'IsraeL JNF has planted 240 million trees: built more than 1,000 parks and recreational areas; constructed security roads; educated students around the world about Israel; created new communities so that Jews from around the worldwould have a place to call home; discovered new means of growing plants under arid conditions, bringing green to the desert; and built over 200 reservoirs and water recycling centers, increasing Israel's water supply by 10 per- cent. Today, JNF is supporting Israel's newest generation of pioneers by bringing life to the Negev Desert. Israel's last frontier. A United Nations NGO, JNF sponsors international confer- ences ondesertification, shares afforestation techniques, and funds research on arid land management. JNF is a regis- tered501(c)(3) organizationand continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers. For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit http:// The Rosen Plaza Hotel is located at 9700 International Drive in Orlando. For more in- formation or to RSVP, contact Lois Tannenbaum at 407-804- 5568 or ltannenbaum@jnf.Org. Shalit From page 1A Larger issues are at stake. too. A major prisoner ex- change deal between Israel and Hamas could help create conditions for a new and dif- ferent kind of Israeli-Palestin- ian dialogue in which Hamas plays a pivotal role. On the table would be the opening of the border crossing points into Gaza in return for a long-term cease-fire of 10 years or more. That. in turn, could pave the way for serious negotiations on Palestinian statehood with a unified Pal- estinian leadership. For now, all this seems a far cry, withvirtually everything on the Israeli-Palestinian agenda deadlocked. Releasing Shalit could help break the logjam. Hamas officials hint that a deal cot~ld happen quickly. They are portraying the vid- eo traded for the release of 20 Palestinian women in Israeli prisons as the first phase of a larger deal. They say an exchange of Shalit for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners could happen in as little as six weeks. Among those Hamas wants released are hundreds who ac- tively participated in terrorist attacks against Israelis. That is the main stumbling block for Israel, which is loath to free prisoners it defines as terror- ists with blood on their hands. "If Israel wants to wrap up this affair, it could be concluded quickly," Mahmoud a-Zahar, a Hamas official in Gaza. told Israel's daily~Ia'aretz, hinting that Hamas might show some flexibility. "Not everything is written in stone." Hamas clearly wants to deal, mainly to improve its image among Palestinians in the run- up to elections scheduled for early next year. The suffering and deprivation in Gaza following .Israel's22-daymilitaryoperation last December and January has hurt Hamas politically. A major prisoner release would greatly boost its public standin~ As to the contours of a possible deal, there is no ar- gument about the majority of the prisoners Israel would release. The sticking point is some 450 prisoners Hamas wants--and insists upon without exceptioh. The London-based Ara- bic daily Ashark al-Awsat reports that there are two other major obstacles: Israel's reluctance to release Israeli and eastern 4erusalem Ar- abs on the Hamas list. The paper also claims that Israel knows where Shalit is being held, but will not storm the hiding place for fear that Shalit would be killed by his captors before a rescue could be effected. Grayson From page 1A received several calls from concerned readers, including Dean Faracchio. an employee benefit and retirement advisor and a Republican, who said he'd gotten e-mails from at least 15 people asking, '"Did you see this?'" The words "holocaust" and "Nazi." said Faracchio. "are on the shortlist of words guaranteed to get you on the news.., It bothers me that he apparently used this to spur his fundraising.'" When Grayson, who is Jew- ish. spoke to the Heritage last Friday, he was quick to point out that more than 5,000 people had contributed to his 2010 re-election campaign within the preceding 48 hours. But he was adamant that fundrais- ing and notoriety weren't his reasons for speaking his mind. He pointed to a Harvard study that hesaidprovedsome 44,000 Americans die everyyearasadi- rect result of not having health insurance. "I am fighting to save people's lives," Grayson said. "That's a very high call- ing. I could be like every other freshmanICongressman]:seen and not heard." Grayson objected to the idea that he was making com- parisons between a broken health care system and the genocide of the Holocaust. "I never drew an analogy to what happened in Europe, nor would I. I lost relatives in the Holocaust myself, and no way would I minimize the word." Though he drew a distinction between "'an American holocaust' with a little 'h,'" and "the Holocaust. capital 'hi'" he admitted that "'tragedy' would have been a better word to use" about health care. He also said his remarks were unscripted: "The entire speech was from the heart... The Bible teaches us that life is more importantthanwords. You can temporarily suspend Jewish law if you need to do so to save a life.'" Though Grayson told the Heritage he didn't feel he owed anyone, including Holocaust survivors, anapology, he said,"I won't be using that termagain." He summed up with, "Tik- kun olam, that's why I'm doing this." But Rabbi Rubinger isn't buying it. "I really believe that it was a political stunt to garnish massive headlines," he told the Heritage. ".To make use of that type of rhetoric about the Holocaust for political gain is very, very shocking and offensive... Maybe he thought that he could pull it off because he himself is Jewish. It shows to me, Jewish or non-Jewish, a complete lack of sensitivity to what the Shoah means, especially to Jews." "I saw the tape several times." said Rubinger, who doesn't think Grayson's words were"off the cuff." "In his demeanor, he seemed bemused by it, like he was intentionally trying to be provocative." With Israel facing possible nuclear annihilation by Iran--a situation for which Rubinger said the word "holo- caust" would be appropriate "for him'm throw thatword out there right now, I thought itwas an obscenity." But not even Rubinger thinks Grayson needs to apologize: "Coerced apologies I don't find very meaningful," he said. Andrew Rosenkranz. Flor- ida Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, last Thursday sent Grayson a letter calling on him to"retractyour statements and reject such odious comparisons in the future." Rosenkranz told the Heritage that he felt Grayson's written response and their subsequent phone conversa- tion were positive. "He said somethinghe shouldn't have said. We expressed our dismay about the choice of words. He said that he regretted his choice of words. It's time to move on." Holocaust survivor and Ho- locaust Center founder Tess Wise doesn't think Grayson owes the Jewish community an apology, nor did she feel personally Offended. "In gen- eral terms, I think the word is grossly overused, but I believe that Alan Grayson is making a very strong point, because he's talking about death and dying," she told the Heritage. "I don't believe that any- thing parallels" the Holo- caust, she said. "That was a unique historical extermina- tion directed at one unique people, the Jewish people...I don't think it's a term that should be used loosely. It was a genocide of the Jews, itwas a burning. Most people who use the term use it because they want to express a revulsion and a very passionate protest against something that they disapprove of." Wise said health care is- sues are "a very grave and real concern and I share his concern--but I feel that there are more appropriate terms." Survivor Helen Greenspun didn't feel personally offended either, but she agrees that Grayson's word choice was inappropriate. "How can you compare the Holocaust, when they murdered us, with health care here?... There we died, we were punished. It had nothing to do with politics, or a different opinion about insurance, or Republicans and Democrats." "What can they compare to the Holocaust?" Greens- pun said. "I was for 12 hours unloading the clothes from the dead. and when I took one extra piece of clothing, [the Nazis] beat me almost to death." With other genocides, such as that in Rwanda in the 1990s. "you can a little bit compare." But "he should never compare the Holocaust to insurance." Alan Grayson told the Heri- tage he thought the debate should be "less about words and more about life and how to keep people alive." Even so. the debate over his words continues to resonate among members of Congress and in the media. "My father used to tell me," said Helen Greenspun, "'As long as the words are in your mouth, they belong to you, but as soon as you let them ~ut, they don't belong to you anymore.""