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PAGE I 'A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 20:I2 By Rabbi Rachel Esserman Sophie is not only required The (Vestal, N.Y.)Reporter toforsakeherclosestchildhood friend, but to.join a Nazi group Not every German supported for teenagers in order to further the Nazis during World War the cause of the Fatherland. II. Some even protected their However. Sophie is unable to Jewish friends and neighbors, bend her will to either man's risking their lives to defy. the desire. This is partly because of Nazi regime. Yet. as teenager herattachment to Isaac Zarco. Sophie Riedesel discovers in anelderlyJewishneighbor, and Richard Zimler's new novel his friends, a group of former "The Seventh Gate" (The circus performers who don't Overlook Press), being true to fit the physical image of the yourself isn't always easy. perfect Aryan. Plus. Sophie Sophie's story opens in worries about the future of Berlin in 1932, when her her' younger brother, Hans. childhood is about to abruptly whose developmental disability end due to changes wrought places him-on the list of those by the Nazi regime. In order the Nazi consider inferior and to protect his own life. her expendable~ father, a communist, deserts Isaac and his friends form the movement to join the Nazi the Ring. a secret group that cause. Her boyfriend. Tonio. takes action against the Nazis. becomes fascinated by Hitler While Sophie longs to take part and expects her to share his in their ~activities, Isaac seeks newlyfoundhatredofJewsand to protect her by limiting not other minorities, only the role she plays in the group, but how much she is told. However. when it becomes clear that the Ring contains a traitor, Sophie seeks to discover who is betraying the group. At the same time. she also must come to terms with one of the greatest challenges of her life: Is it possible to still love those her father and Tonio--whose philosophy and behavior go against her most fundamental beliefs? "The Seventh Gate'l is an uneasy mix of mystery and drama. The most successful sections are those where Zimler writes about the conversion of ordinary Germans to Nazism. For example, Sophie's mother has an interesting explanation for Hitler's popularity: "Mama swears she has the definitive answer to all my questions about Hitler: he owes his success to too few calories in German bellies. 'Five million people practicallystarving, and 20 million more who are afraid to join them. are going to make the wrong decision every time. Hunger goes to the brain.'" At the same time. Sophie's fa- ther has convincedhimselfthat Hitler really is the answer to all of Germany's problems: The Nazis will create the workers' paradise of which he dreamed. All he has to do in return is "swear todestroythosewhojeer as the dove spreads its wings over Germany. And who warn foreign ambassadors about the dangers the Nazis pose. The Jews~in particular. And maybe he will have to stop smoking, too.-That will undoubtedly prove much harder than hat- ing the Jews, who were only pretending to be good German~ all along, as we all now know." Less successful are Zimler's attempts to integrate Isaac's "interest in mysticism. Each section is calledamystical gate, although itneverbecomesclear exactly how these gates connect to the plot of the novel. Isaac's mystical belief that Nazism ]s connected to a kabbalistic variationofthe end oftheworld was also unconvincing. These paragraphs seemed drafted onto the story rather than being an integral part of it. The solution to the mystery of the traitor also felt contrived. Much more suspenseful is the story line featuring Sophie's brother, Hans: Will she be able to protect him from the new laws that target anyone who looks or acts differently? Will her fathe~ be her ally or is he so wrapped up in his new life as a Nazi that he is willing to sacrifice his son for the cause? These sections are among the most moving of the novel and provide the true heart of the story. Sophie does offer an an- swer to one of the questions most frequently asked after the war: Why didn't the Jews and those who supported them flee Germany when they had the chance? There are two reasons, even though Sophie knows that, after the war, they sound absurd and futile. One is that "we had people depending on us, I always want to shout. Is that so hard to understand?" The other is a hope beyond hope that?'the whole countrywouldwakeup. We were offended and wanted an apology. We thought we could outlast them." It seems Sophie and her friends were unable to give up the idea thatthe reaL- Germany--the one they so loved would one day emerge from the horror and chaos that surrounded them. Balance From page 1A the current balance of power between right and left. which editor in chief, noted in an currently favors the right, ex- Op -Ed. pected to change. The Seats split It's not that there's no op- between Israel's center-left and positiontoNetanyahuinIsrael. ~eft parties may change con- Shelly Yachimovich. leader figuration, but the right-wing of the center-left Labor Party, bloc in Netanyahu's'coalition is has called his conservative expectedto keep its dominant economic policies a "violent position. jungle." according to Maariv. Kadima, the6-year-oldparty Shaul Mofaz. leader of the cen- started by Ariel Sharon that trist Kadima Party, criticized won the most seats in the last Netanyahu's"lackofjudgment" election, in February 2009. is on a potential attack on Iran's likely to cede the most ground. nuclear program. Somepolls predict that Kadima. Zahava Gal-On, leader of the which was part of the Netan- leftist Meretz Party, asked in a yahu government this year for Facebook post Oct. 9 whether morethantwomonths,willwin voters"watit fou~r more years of as few as eight seats. trampling democracy, damag- The Labor Party is likely ing human rights, freedom of to pick up many of the voters expression, free assembly and defecting from Kadima. Polls protest?" Even Ehud Barak, show Yachimovich could lift Israel's defense minister and Labor to as many as 20 seats, Netanyahu's coalition partner, up sharply from the eight it has been sparring with the nowhasbutsignificantlydox~n prime minister over U.S.-Israel for a party that once was one of relations, the two main parties in Israel. But none of these political As a sign of Netanyahu's leaders representsaformidable strength, both Kadima and challenge to Netanyahu. Nor is Labor are seen as potential coalition partners for Likud. and neither Yachimovich nor Mofaz has ruled that out. The only non-Arab party that has vowed not to join Netanyahu in a coalition is Meretz. which controls just four seats. "It will be entertaining t6 watch them fight for their place in line." columnist Yossi Verter wrote in Haaretz. Netanyahu cited his coali- tion's failure to pass a budget as the reason for calling the early elections now. As it has for his entire term. the issue of how to stop Iran's al- legednuclearweaponsprogram could dominate the c~mpaign. In addition, the Arab Spring and the regional instability in Egypt and Syria may work to Netan- yahu's advantage, accorditig to Hebrew University political sci- ence professorAvrahamDiskin. "If people see there'sathreat, people always go to the right," Diskin told JTA. The only real threazs to Ne- tanyahu's third term we not in the Knesset right now,They in- clude Ehud Olmert, th~ former prime minister from Kadima who recently was cleared of the corruption case that prompted his resignation in 2008; Livni, who resigned from the Knesset after losing to Mofaz in Kadima primaries in March; and Yair Lapid, a journalist turned poli- tician who has founded a new centrist secular party called Yesh Atid. which translates as There is a Future. But Olmert still faces cor- ruption charges in other trials. and he has not yet said whether he will try to make a political comeback. Olmert said he will reach a decision in a few days. At least one Likud Knesset mem- ber, TzipiH0tovely, reportedly is looking into legal options to ban Olmert from running, given the indictments he still faces. It's also unclear whether Livni will run or which party she'd join if she does. Livni has failed twice to form the coali- tion government that would have made her prime minis- ter--once when she inherited Kadima's mantle after Olmert's resignation, and then when Kadima edged the Likud by one seat in the 2009 elections~ As for Lapid. while his en- trance into politics was greeted by much hype--he's also the son of the late secular politician Yosef"Tommy" Lapid--he has no experience in government and is not considered a viable alternative to Netanyahu when it comes to Israel's foreign policy challenges. Yachimovichan~tLapidcould try to swing the campaign back to the economy, playing to the economic liberalism advocated by Israelis in the mass socioeco- nomic protests of the summer of 2011.Buteven thereNetanyahu is seen as having significant advantages: The economic crisis that slammed the United States and Europe largely has bypassed Israel. Netanyahu"has the ability to say there's aworld crisis and it's only hit Israel lightly," Gideon Rahat, another Hebrew Univer- sity political science professor, told JTA. "The social protests did not succeed in topping the agenda." In his speech announcing the early elections. Netanyahu touted the stability of his current coalition, which ex- cluding this year's brief unity government has fluctuated between 64 and 68 members since 2009 without any real coalition crises. Netanyahu owes that stabil- ity to a solid bloc of right-wing parties including the nation- alist Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Avigdor Liberman; the religious nationalist HaBayit HaYehudi; the Sephardic Or- thodox Shas Party; and United Torah Judaism. These parties, polls show, will not grow or shrink sub- stantially, with one possible wild card: Aryeh Deri, the former Shas leader who left politics in 2000 after being convicted of corruption. Deri may run again, even if it means starting a rival party to Shas. Should he win a small bloc of seats, he could become a kingmaker to either a right-wing or left- wing coalition. . Wise From page 1A surprise Pam Kancher, who has served as the Holocaust ing light to a new generation Center's executive director of leaders and volunteers." since2006.-However, Kancher said Emely Katz, Jewish Fed- was surprised that Wise didn't eration of Greater Orlando, even mention to her that she associate executive director, had received the KWF Award. Ryan Lefkow!tz, Jewish "She is so deserving of this," FederationofGreaterOrlando, Kancher said. "But when I co-board chairman agrees, asked her why she didn't tell "Tess is truly a pillar of this me about it, she said, 'It's what community, She has worked Abeandldo.'She'sverymatter- tirelessly to strengthen aware- of-fact about it. They don't do nessandeducatefutUregenera- it for the accolades; they don't tions on the importance of our do it for the recognition. They heritage. The impacts of her just believe it's the right thing work help ensure the existence to do. It's tikkun olam. It's their of Jewish communityformany tzedakah. And it really is their generations." pleasure." Wise, 87,wasn't in New York Tousia (Tess) Goldberg was to accept the prestigious Kip- born on June 16, 1925, in a nis-Wilson/Friedland Award small town in Poland, where90 because she had something percent of the population was more important to do. Hus- Jewish. The Goldberg family band Abe, who will be 90 this owned several leather tanner- October, isinfailinghealth, and ies, andhergrandfather, Chaim she is determined to remain by Goidberg, taughtWise her first his side. lessons in philanthropy. "I'm very honored and "He was one of the most pleased,"Wise said,"but I knew charitable men in our commu- [when she was told about the nity," ~ise said of her grandfa- award] that I maybe won't be ther."Hewasverywealthy, and there when it happens. Phases henevermissedanopportunity inlifearealwayschanging, and to help someone. Itwas on his we're in a phase of our lives dailyagenda.Sohesetthetone where we're not able to be as for our family." active as we were before. But by the time Tess was Thatselflessattitudedoesn't 16 years old, in 1941, "things began to go bad in Polnd," she said. During World Wr II, she and her family were onfined to a ghetto, then cocentra- tion camps. While sationed at a nearby labor cam, Wise's mo~er died of pnemonia. Her father perished in)achau. Before he died, Wis6 father encouraged her to esoe from the camp, and she d so in 1942, aided by a genti Polish girl named Mariawho: family had lived near the Gtdbergs before the war. Aftelspend- ing a few years withMaria's relatives, Wise returnd to her hometown of Rado~n 1945 andwas reunitedwithler only surviving family menbers-- two uncles, two auns and a favorite cousin. After encountering iolence and anti-Semitism inPoland, Wise's family soon fred to Germany, where she ~ttended me dical school at the Ufiversity of Munich, and they :ame to the United States in 1947. At a Jewish youth group meeting in Orlando, she mettwinbrothers Abe and ZeligWise and ~as said, "I don't remember who talked to me first, but it must have been Abe, because he's the one I/narried." Abe Wise married Tess Goldberg on Oct. 16, 1949. The two would become pillars of the Jewish community, while also raising two children. Son Steven and his wife Leora live in Jerusalem with their four children, Ayala, Shira, Ben, and Noam. Daughter Ellen and her husband, Mark Lang, live in Orlando. Their children are Briana, who lives in Orlando and Noah, who resides in Cali- fornia. Ellen, who lives around the corner from her parents, is following in their footsteps.: She is actively involvedwith the Holocaust Center and currently serves as secretary on the board of directors. "We didn't know much about each other," Tess said of Abe, "but we slowly began our relationship and talked about our plans for the future, and things just grew." Among their shared inter- ests were community, history, Zionism, and the survival of the Jewish people. Driven by her experiences in Europe, coupled with a determination to teach others, Tess founded the Holocaust Center in 1981, ' and it received nonprofit status the following year. The center's mission--com- bating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice with the ultimate goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural pro- grams and the lessons of the Holocaust--is just as relevant today as it was,30 years ago. "After the war and the genocide of the Jewish people I was determined to do my utmost to make sure the Jew- ishpeople survive," she said. "I grew up in a family that prized education--Judaic education, as well -and there needed to be an awakening of Jewish communities, because the Jewish communities of Europe had perished. We needed to make people aware of what was lost." The Holocaust Center was the first of its kind in the south- east and has received national and international recognition. in addition to recounting the his.tory of the Holocaust, the museum also offers educa- tional services to students and 'teachers and an anti-bullying initiative that teaches children to stand up for each other. "She had such amazing insight, to create an organiza- tion that focuses its energies on education," Kancher said. "But at the same time, She had the vision to teach about the reper- cussions of hate and prejudice and current social isstJes." In addition to her volunteer work, Wise is also a "voracious reader." She is fluent in French, German, Polish and Hebrew, and after raising her children, received a degree in French Literature from the University of Central Florida. Wise also enjoys doing embroidery and traveling. She has been to Israel "at least 25 times." During her 60-plus years in Orlando, Wise has dedicated herself to helping and teach- ing others. Since 1981, she has traveled around the country and overseas to participate in conferences and make presen- tations about the Holocaust. Her awards and honors are too numerous to squeeze into this story. Wise's message is simple: "Get involved! Be active! Give meaning and a larger purpose toyour life! Do it foryourselfand future generations, including your children." "She is a remarkable wom- an," Kancher said. "Both she and Abe have such a strong commitment to making Or- lando's Jewish community as strong as it c/m be. Judaism is their passion. They inspire each other. They're a wonder- ful couple and wonderful role models for the next generation."