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October 18, 2013

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PAGE 14A Centennial From page 1A couples to how synagogues can be revamped to focus more on what people want. The Shabbat preceding the conference will feature five different prayer services si- multaneously ranging from a contemporary-style service with instrumental music to a non-egalitarian minyan featuring the tunes of the late Orthodox spiritualist Shlomo Carlebach. Some of the pre- senters and entertainers at the conference are Orthodox. More than 1,100 people have registered, including more than 100 clergy, ac- cording to organizers. That's a sharp rise from recent " biennials, which have drawn about 400. "A number of elements of this conference reflect that the leadership of the Con- servative movement is really aware of what's going on and is really willing to be chal- lenged to findways to address it," said Rabbi Sharon Brous, a graduate of the move- ment's Jewish Theological Seminary who leads IKAR, an egalitarian community in Los Angeles unaffiliated with United Synagogue. "There's .a deliberate attempt to in- corporate voices from the community that have been more marginal." JNF From page 1A Utilities Commission, and as a board member of Winter Park United Way and JNF. Louise Weiner worked as a teacher for the Orange County Public School System for 30 years; 10 years 'with Lee Jr. High School and 20 years with W.R. Boone High School where she was twice selected as Teacher of the Year. Sheis currently on the board of the GOLD Tennis League and is active in the League of Woman Voters. Ben and MauraWeiner have been volunteers in the central Florida community for many years. Ben, an Orlando native, has been very involved in the Jewish community, serving on the Jewish Family Services board for more than 20 years, during which time he also served a term as president. He has also served on the TOP and UF Hillel boards. Ben has been an investment advisor for almost 30 years. Maura currently serves as president of the board of Jew- ish Academy of Orlando where the couple's children, Jacob and Joshua, attend school. She was also on the board of a Gift for Teaching for several years, sat on the JCC board and is a Leadership Orlando graduate. Maura also was in commercial banking for more than 20 years. Orlando patrons Lois Tan- nenbaum, Sy and Debra Israel, and Mark and Caryn Israel will also be honored at the dinner with JNF's Guardian of Israel award. Stand-up comedian and writer Joel Chasnoff will entertain the crowd with his notorious comedy routines based on his own personal Jewish experiences. Chasnoff has performed at more than 1,000 colleges, clubs and Jew- ish organizations worldwide; including JNF's National Conference in Orlando last October and has been seen on NBC and ABC TV. The dinner will take place on Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, located at 9700 International Drive in Orlando. Sponsorship information and tickets are available online at For more information, please contact Laura. Abrardson at or 800,211.1502. Oneofthevexingproblems as Conservative, butwhether for the Conservative move- they promote the kind of ment is theflight of its most Judaism espoused by the promising young leaders movement. Iftheydo, they're away from formal affiliation Conservative--whether they with the movement. Brousadmitit or not. and fellow JTS graduate Rabbi Shai Held, co-founder and dean of Mechon Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York that also does not affiliate, both were asked to present at the conference. (Brous said she declined due to a scheduling conflict.) The invitations to Brous and Held are about more than just opening up the conversation. They are part of a larger strategy by Con- servative leaders to co-opt the successful congregations, institutions and communities started by JTS graduates that have shunned the Conserva- tive label. Both Wernick and Arnie Eisen, the chancellor of JTS, said the important thing is not whether such groups identify "If good things are hap- pening out there and they are fully in accord with what JTS wants to happen, and they're nearly identical to Conserva- tive Judaism and they don't fly the flag of Conservative Judaism, I'm very happy with that," Eisen told JTA. Wernick stressed the same point. "I don't think that affili- ation with the movement is really the key," Wernick said. "The movement only exists in order to perpetuate a world- view of Jewish life." That approach gives Con- servative leaders an alterna- tive to the narrative of decline ia movement institutions, particularly United Syna- gogue. Several years ago, a group HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 18, 2013 of renegade synagogues refused to pay their United Synagogue dues, saying they were not getting any- thing in return. In January, JTA reported that United Synagogue ran a cumula- tive budget deficit of nearly $6 million over the previous two years. A|ong with the drop in the number'of member syna- gogues, the number.of Solo- mon Schechter day schools has fallen sharply. And in June, United Synagogue an- nounced that it was shutting down Koach, the movement's college outreach organiza- tion. In Wernick's view, the decline in the number of formally affiliated Conserva- tive synagogues is besides. the point; popular egalitarian minyans like L.A.'s IKAR and Manhattan's Kehilat Hadar ought to count, too. In an interview with JTA, Wernickwould not put a figure on the number of United Syna- gogue member synagogues. "That's a" conversation I'm not having anymore," he said. A spokeswoman later said the number is about 630. Held of Mechon Hadar says the open-minded line touted by conference organizers is a good star but the question is how far the movement is will- ing to take the conversation. Would Conservative JiJda- ism be better off without United Synagogue, with mem- ber congregations having the freedom to redirect the $30,000 or so they pay in an- nual dues toward investing in family education? "There's two urgent ques- tions here: One is the future of Conservative Judaism, and the secondl which is not entirely overlapping, is the struggle of United Synagogue for continued relevance," Held said, "From my conversations with rabbis in the field, there is a lot of skepticism out there." Pew From page 2A but I don't, think anyone's waking up." Jewish foundations need to get on the same page to develop a comprehensive strategy to begin to reverse the negative trends, hesaid. "Donors by and large are focused on particular efforts and not focused on'the field as a whole," Charendoff said. "Ther needs to be.more coor- dination, more resources. We're only going to have that impact if there's alignment and not 10,000 people doing God'swork butwithout regard to what their neighbors are doing." Whether the Pew study will prompt a systemic response, or even an attempt at one by Jewish funders, remains to be seen. Next month, the Jewish Federations of NorthAmerica will convene its annual Gen- eral Assembly, which draws fundraisers and leaders from federations throughout the United States. Jerry Silver- man, the umbrella group's CEO, told JTA that this year's confab is not the place for beginning a community-wide conversation about the Pew study results. This year's G.A, will be held in Jerusalem and focus on the Israel-Diaspora relationship. The Pew study will not be on the agenda, he said. "You really need to bring to- gether thinkers and thought leaders who can really think this through. I don't think that's the G.A. population," Silverman said. "That's not the forum to think this through." Chip Edelsberg,'the ex- ecutive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, which has awarded about.S280 million in grants for Jewish education and engagement since 2006, said his foundation needs more time to delve into the Pew data to figure out what changes are necessary, if any, to their strategies for engag- ing young American Jews. "It will certainly animate our discussions and have a bearing on the foundation's decision making, because it is actually good data," he said. Michael Steinhardt, the mega-philanthropist behind Birthright Israel, Hebrew- language charter schools and a host of other Jewish community programs, said the results of Pew are hardly news: Other community stud- ies over the last few years have made the trends clear. "We should not need the Pew study to give us a reality check," he said. "The question is what to do about it." Steinhardt says he isn't optimistic that the Jewish community will respond ef- fectively. "Nothing's a galvanizing What Does It Mean To Be Jewish? % ~y~n~_._ ~ ~n NET e~en!:i~/ pad~ of what Jewish being Jewish mean5 to ~em % Remembering Holocaust 73 Leading ethica~mora} life 6g Working for justicefequa!ity 55 Being intellectually curious 49 Caring about Israel 43 Having good sense of humor 42 Being part of a Jewish commur~t 28 Observing]swish law 19 Ea~ng trad~onal .lewish Foods 14 2~I3~ PEW ~,ESEAECH CENTER event for the Jewish com- munity," he said. "I don't see the community thoughtfully dealing with it." [ Obarna From page 4A or even a peace treaty with the PA, would produce peace with the Palestinians. A June 2013 Smith poll can be taken as representative: 57 percent opposed the recent freeing of Palestinian terrorists into which President Obama pres- sured Israel, while 68 percent believe that Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would harm Israeli security. Numerous Palestinian polls over the years--includ- ing one in recent weeks by Pew Research--sh0w major- ity Palestinian support for suicide terrorism against Israelis. Fatah's unchanged Constitution calls for the "'demolition" of Israel and its armed wing, the A1- Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. PA media, mosques, school curricula and official speeches produce unending reams of incite- ment to hatred and murder, glorification of terrorists and rejection of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The fantasy behind the idea of an Israeli/PA peace under prevailing conditions cannot be gainsaid by claiming, as 1 4986-7523 36594287:1 728513496 813759642 657421938 4'923'86715 53429816,7 976135284 281674359 President Obama did, that "the world is more stable than it was five years ago" and that the time is there- fore "ripe'for international efforts to bring about an Israeli/Palestinian peace. The Middle East is 2ctu- ally experiencing its worst turbulence and bloodshed in decades. Over 100,000 have been slaughtered in Syria. Massive instability and brutal violence is afflicting Egypt. Yemen has been wracked Rosenblatt .From page 5A Israel andwho have been to Is- rael. And we have to remember that surveys can tell us only so much, and that people's views" and identities do not fit into neat, preconceived categories. Young people, especially, see themselves as having many identities, not just one or two, and they te, n'd to express their Jewishfiess through doing rather than joining. I was reminded of this the other day when Knesset mem- ber Ruth Calderon, the long- time Jewish educator and now a symbol of the possibilities for change in the new Israeli government, met here with a small roup of Jewish Week staffand board members. She pointed out that she would be characterized by surveys as by internal conflict for over two years. Libya has become a jungle of jihadist war- riors since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's dictator- ship. Thousands of Christians have been murdered and many dozens of churches destroyed in Egypt, Syriaand elsewhere. In Iraq, over 5,000 people have been slaughtered in vir- tually daily suicide bombings -just this year. The July 2013 death toll in Iraq was nearly unaffiliated or disaffiliated, labeled as secular. But she said her Jewishness is her primary identity, and having founded an egalitarian yeshiva, and having earned a doctorate in Talmudic literature from Hebrew University, she can- not be neatly pegged. There are many like her, here and in Israel, she said, who care deeply about their Judaism even if they do not meet traditional criteria of affili- ation. Finally, it should be noted that through much of our long history, the active, engaged segment of the Jew- ish population was a distinct minority. It is said that only about 50,000 Jews returned to Palestine from Babylonia after the destruction of the Temple. So numbers do not tell the whole story. 1,000 dead--more than in any other month since President Obama in January 2009. Given these undeniable and demonstrable facts, it is nonsense for President Obama to assert that, on his watch, the Middle East is experienc- ing, or drawing into, a period of stability greater than that which prevailed when he as- sumed office. And even if he were right on this score, the obstacles to an Israeli/Pales- tinian settlement, of which we have mentioned only the most important, would still hold true. Whatever else can be said of it, President Obama's idea that a Palestinian state is "central" to Israeli peace and security is a mirage and an absurdity. Morton A. .Klein is na- tional president of the board of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is director of the ZOA's Center for Middle East Policy. Still, there, is no doubt we are seeing a shift in the definition of American Jewish identification from religion to ancestry and culture. And the question that haunts me is how long Judaism can survive in this land of freedom without religious belief and practice at its core. The Pew survey and others can help us understand our present situation; it's up to us to ensure our future. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week, www., from which this column is reprinted with permission. Supporters From page 1A an extravagant silent auction and raffles such as the popular Dining Around Town initia- tive. Guests have the chance to win $100 gift cards tq 13 upscale local restaurants. Past events have raised nearly $250,000 for the organiza- flows essential programs and services. Each year, more than 20,000 individuals are posi- tively impacted by one or more of the three major services JFS provides: emergency services, counseling and community outreach programs. For more information about Evening of .Valor, purchase tickets or make a donation, please visit or call 407-644-7593.