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October 11, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 11, 2013 TV review--'The Goldbergs,' then and now PAGE 13A By Jana Banin HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (JTA)-- Some were psyched for the nostalgia of"The Goldbergs," a newABC sitcomabout abois- terous, outspoken American family set in the 1980s. But Wednesday's premiere was a little too loaded with references to that neon- colored, big-haired decade-- think REO Speedwagon, Sam Goody, hair crimping and rabbit-tail key chains. Such period gags aside, ear- ly on it looks in many ways to be just another formulaic sit- com. There's Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the clan's overbearing morn; Murray (Jeff Garlin), her brash on the outside/soft on the inside husband; and their three kids: Erica (Hayley Orrantia) is pretty and she knows it, Barry (Troy Gentile) is high-strung and Adam (Sean Giambrone) is a precocious cutie pie who records the family's histrion- ics on his clunky old-school video camera. In typical family comedy fashion, they find one another incredibly frustrating, but underneath it all there's lots and lots of love. Folks have been compar- ing "The Goldbergs" to "The Wonder Years," andwith good reason. Both are time capsules containing family stories told from the innocent-yet- knowing perspective of their clans' youngest members. But even deeper in the ar- chives is another comparison: The first incarnation of "The Goldbergs," which premiered on the radio in 1929 and moved to television in 1949 for an eight-year run. The modern version is not a remake of the original, which was the brainchild of writer- actress Gertrude Berg. The 2013 show is an autobiographi- cal project from creator Adam Goldberg, who as a kid actually did videotape his family. And, of course, what it means to be Jewish inAmerica has changed drastically over the past few decades. The new Goldbergs live in the suburbs instead of a Bronx tenement. Mom and dad don't speak with Eastern European accents or have a hard time reading English. And Pops, the eldest modern Goldberg, with his track suit and swinger talk, is a far cry from suspender-clad, Old World Uncle David. Hollywood has changed, too. The original Goldbergs were among the first Jew- ish characters on television. Today our new friends are entering a landscape paved by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Ari Gold, Larry David, Kyle from "South Park" and, most recently, Larry Bloom from "Orange Is the New Black." At their core, though, the shows are quite similar. Nei- ther is overtly Jewish--the title family name notwith- standing-and both explore the dynamics not of an aver- age Jewish American family but of an average American family that also happens to be Jewish. In this way, "The Gold- bergs" redux is less like "The Wonder Years" and more like "The Cosby Show," which showed much of the TV- watching public that just because a family comes from a different cultural background, they still fight, make up and wear bad sweaters. It's tempting to say that "The Goldbergs" is not nearly as groundbreaking or funny as "The Cosby Show" or "The Wonder Years." Nor is it as important as the original. But ABC/Bob D'Amico "The Goldbergs" premiered Sept. 24 on ABC. after one episode, that really progresses, the show will and the characters lose a lot isn't fair. handle its nostalgia impulse of their caricature-like ele- Hopefully as the season with a little more subtlety ments. Well From page 1A Central Florida Hillel, told the Heritage that the board of directors of Central Florida Hillel were looking for an ex- ecutive director who reflects the ideals of the Hillel orga- nization and would bring "an innovative program to serve the broadest possible segment of Central Florida's Jewish college students." Well's vision is huge, but listening to Well as he speaks with conviction, knowledge and genuine optimism, one can't help but want to jump on the bandwagon with him and say, "Let's do it!" Katzen saw that conta- giously igniting spirit when he asked Well about a year- and-a-half ago to consult with him about what they should do with the Northview building project, what the program should look like, what staff they would need, job descriptions and how to run the campaign. In fact, Katzen asked Well to draw up a job description of what kind of director was needed to be able to pull off what would be expected. When Well showed him what they should look for, Katzen looked him in the eye and said "Great, that's you!" Scott Brown, vice president talent of Hillel International also saw that same spirit. "Aaron is a talented leader in our Hillel network who inspires interest and support through his entrepreneurial spirit," he said. Well, 48, brought stability to Hillel JUC and developed programs that strengthened the Jewish campus com- munity-which included the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and other nearby colleges--as well as the Jewish community at large. When he arrived at Hillel JUC, it served 2,500 students with a staff of four. As he left, that student body had grown to 5,000 and a staff of 10. The budget went from $475,000 to $1.2 million. From 2003 to 2010, under Well's leadership, the Jewish student population at JUC increased 34 percent and student applications had increased 256%. Well envi- sions that happening here. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he created the award-winning and nation- ally recognized J'Burgh program, which encourages the 20-something Jewish population to stay connected to their Jewish community. Within five years, 900 of the 2,500 Jewish students in that demographic were coming to the J'Burgh program. His entreprenuerial spirit and 'can do' attitude earned him the 2011 Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award and the 2010 Leonard and Doris Rudolf Jewish Professional Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Now he will serve the second largest Jewish un- dergraduate population of an American university--a Jewish undergraduate stu- dent body of more than 6,000 that is second only to the University of Florida, which has 6,500. However, Jewish students who attend Rollins College and Seminole State College fall under the UCF Hillel umbrella, which makes this student population the largest Hillel population in the U.S. Does this seem like an overwhelming project? It might. But Well sees the po- tential. "Imagine a state-of- the-art Hillel to serve 6,500 Jewish undergraduate stu- dents and you get an idea of the potential for what can be built. They're going to build a Hillel unlike anything that's ever been built," he said. One of Well's first chal- lenges was getting used to how spread out the Orlando Jewish community is. He came from Pittsburgh, where the 42,000 members of the Jewish community live in a compact area. His office was four minutes from his home. It is about a 30 minute corn- mute from UCF to Maitland. But the distances do not deter Well. Using allegory, Well likened the Jewish center-- Maitland--to a heart. "What does a heart do?" he asked. "It pumps blood out, but it brings blood back in. You need a heart--that's what we need MMtland to be. But it all can't be in the heart. It needs to spread throughout the body. If blood stays in the heart, it can't live. We need arteries that stretch through the community to nourish the community and bring that back to the heart. "You can be pessimistic at the way it is today, or you can be optimistic and say 'Oh my gosh, look at the potential in this community! What we can build! It was very tough leaving Pittsburgh, but only the excitement of an oppor- tunity like this got me out of Pittsburgh," he Said. Well lives what he strongly believes. His family--wife Sharon, daughters Noa, 17, and Roni,15, and son Na- dav,12--were totally involved in the Pittsburgh Jewish com- munity. In fact, Well said that they would not have come here if there wasn't a day school. Both daughters attend Winter Park High School and their son is in the seventh grade at the Jewish Academy of Orlando. Next summer Noa will return to Israel to fulfill her national service in the Israeli army. The Hillel organization itself is undergoing change. "Hillel was created at a time when Jews went to college and got married and re-entered the Jewish community," Well said. "Fast forward 100 years later and they are not doing that anymore. They aren't re- engaging in the community. It used to be the 18- to 21-year- olds we worried about. Now it's the 18: to 31-year olds." Taking the idea from Se- attle's Hillel--"We all improve on each other," he said--the focus of outreach can no longer be as a college-student organization. "The founda- tion will always be the college campus," Well emphasized, "but our interest--market space--will be young Jewish adults in their 20s. "The organized American Jewish community doesn't have the resources or staffing or methodology to effectively reach the 20-somethings. Hillel is uniquely qualified to do that." Already, Hillels and federa- tions in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cinncinnati, Cleveland, Se- attle and New Orleans are working together to reach this age group and keep them 'in their communities. "What is the future of Or- lando's Jewish community?" Well asked. "Leaders of our community built something and they want the'young peo- ple to stay here. They built all this for future generations." Ninety-five percent of the UCF student population come from elsewhere. Only five per- cent are local. Well's goal is to keep as many of these young adults here in this Jewish community. How does Well plan to reach these young adults? Imagine a triangle he says: one side is developing a social life where young Jewish adults can find a partner, engage in sports programs and other social- izing activities. The second side of the triangle is job cre- ation-connecting students to mentors in the community and help them attain careers. "The greatest thing Hil- lel can offer today is not a corned-beef sandwich, it's an internship," Well said. "It's very different from Hillel of 100 years ago." Last year, 50 percent of American college graduates didn't have a job to go to. "Hil- lel has an amazing network," Well said. "Many cities have more dollars than Orlando has, what they don't have is job creation." The third side of the tri- angle is providing volun- teer opportunities in Jewish organizations. "Then they will understand that's what they need to Create for other people," Well explained. "In the universe, we tend to give back what comes to us. "What would the Orlando Jewish community look like if we all started investing our resources into creating that kind of triangle community where young adults enter a vibrant social community that has a great network connect- ing them to job opportunities and have volunteer opportuni- ties that allow them to give back?" Was this position at UCF what Well was expecting? "No!" he said with a laugh. "I underestimated just how challenging it would be. This A building in itself isn't a community, it's the people who go into that building who are the community. And that is what Well sees--that vibrant Jewish community. While respecting the tradi- tions from the past, Hiilel is looking for new ways to do business. UCF, Rollins, and SSC Jewish students will ben- efit from the ?Google-inspired" Hillel, which is designed to tap into student creativity and empower students to create their own visions of Jewish community on campus. According to a study done in 2002 by the Federations of North America, 90 percent of Jewish students identify isthehardestjob I've everhad themselves Jewishly not by in my life, including going through boot camp in the Israeli armyF' Does it excite him though? Definitely. "The reason I compared it to the army is because when you are in it, you can't see the full picture of it because of exhaustion," he explained. "But when you look back on it," Well saidwith a i'elaxed smile, "you look back with pride for what you did. But in the midst, you just don't have time to think!" When Well arrived June 9, his office in the new facility on campus was just a cement frame. His temporary office was a small space at the Jew- ish Academy of Orlando, and he was still in the process of completing his master's degree in Jewish professional studies (earlier this week he graduated). However, he said it has been an honor to be a part of the building process. When the fall semester started, 84 percent of the dorm rooms were rented, but the theater, kosher caf6, auditorium, game rooms, offices and confer- ence rooms are still under construction. "We have a capital cam- paign which we still need to finish," Well said. "We still need community support. It's a great opportunity for com- munity members who want to be involved in the project." religion, but by ethnicity and culture. "The Pew study confirms this," Well said. "We will be more of a JCC on campus, rather than a synagogue. We are concerned with Jewish peoplehood, but don't see ourselves as part of campus ministry." Well explained that Hillel continues to provide forall the five aspects of Jewish pegple- hood: Hebrew, land, history, culture and Torah. "What we are interested in is what's unique about be- ing Jewish," Well said. "For some, it's spiritual, others it is language. Our job is to create a generation that has educational tools to be able to understand what fit is right for them. "That research study (Pew study) paints a very dismal picture and if everyone stops doing what they are doings, today, it can happen. If we d5 what we are doing at Hillel, we are giving them the tools and knowledge in the 'language' they are interested in, we're going to reach them. "The challenge is to turn on those lights!" Well said. "They are there, but there is no one showing them there is some- thing worth getting involved in. They aren't inspired. If we show them a vision, they will get behind you."