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November 9, 2007

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 By Gary Rosenblatt be longtime members of AARP. Again, well New York Jewish Week read, interested, articulate, accomplished. And elderly. Amid all the kvetching (including my own) There's this dirty little secret among those about the fear of losing disengaged young on the mainstream Jewish speaking circuit. Jews, so many of whom show little concern Whether it's a Sunday morning talk at the for Israel and affiliating with American Jewish synagogue or evening adult education pro- organizations, let us offer a word of praise for gram at the JCC or a large-scale book fair, their parents and, more likely, grandparents you'll find that the often-large audiences are who make up the majority of attendees at so made up primarily of folks middle aged and many mainstream Jewish events, up--and up. These thoughts come to mind after attend- More power to them. ing a recent all-day conference at the East It used to bother me, seeing these crowds, Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn. More but not anymore--no doubt in part because than 350 people turned out for the program, I haven't gotten any younger myself. But also titled "Can We Talk About Israel? Enhancing becausethereisaspecialconnectionIfeelwith The Dialogue," sponsored by The Institute for menandwomenwhocantellyoustoriesabout Living Judaism in Brooklyn and the Hadassah their experiences during World War II and of Brooklyn Region. their support for the creation of the State of The majority of attendees were senior citi- Israel. They've lived through so much and still zens, and while they were slow to navigate the care deeply about the Jewish future as well as stairs, they were quick with their questions Jewish history. and comments. At the session I addressed, on Sociologically, one understands why young Jewish journalism, they were knowledgeable people are largely invisible when it comes to and engaged on the issues, and their concern such communal events. They are busy with about future generations was palpable, work and family, especially during the week. When I asked how many read The Jewish They lead increasingly busy lives with little Week, nearly every hand went up. Where time for relaxation, much less Jewish involve- are their grandchildren? They shrug and ment. And those in their 20s are looking to acknowledge that young people today have connect with their peers. other interests, especially on a lovely Sunday The older" folks, though, are proof that we morning, are living longer, more productive lives. Brains A few nights later I spoke at a synagogue don't stop working after retirement. Passion in Manhattan and more than 100 people for Jewish life doesn't end at age 65. Lectures, were there, and virtually all appeared to classesan~bookfairsareanopportunitytoget .i in By Gidi Grinstein diminishing the overall impact of Jewish philanthropy. TEL AVIV (JTA)--Jewish philanthropy in The socioeconomic center of Israeli soci- Israel is at a crossroads. Powerful trends are ety is increasingly disconnected from Jewish marginalizing its impact on Israeli society, philanthropy in Israel. Philanthropists are More than a billion dollars of philanthropic engaged with the poor and the needy or with givingfromJewsworldwide, spurredbyendless very small, intensely intellectual and POlitical goodwill, passion and care, are not impacting English-speaking elite. Israel or contributing to global Jewish people- Finally, there is the belated and much- hood to the extent they should. The current awaited rise of Israeli philanthropists, who system is in dire need of an overhaul, are stepping in to address societal challenges IwritethispieceasanIsraeliwhosenational andlocal needs. identity is founded upon and deeply informed As much as they are challenges, these trends by his Jewishness. I am also a person who also present opportunities. The menu of p- has realized a dream and established the tionsforphilanthropicinterventionsexpands. Reut Institute, a policy group that provides Furthermore, Jewish philanthropy is in an strategic decision-support to the government excellent position to impact and lead the four of Israel because of the generosity of time, rising sectors of Israeli society: the business spirit and money by rabbis, lay leaders and class, philanthropists, local government and philanthropists fromthe United States, France nonprofits. and England. The approach has to be qualitative. Raising WhydoIcare?AsanIsraeliandforavariety enough money to keep up with the growing of obvious reasons, I wish to ensure that these needs is not feasible. Being more efficient is dollars are put to the best possible use. As a very important but only amounts to an insuf- Jew, I view philanthropy as a critical tool of ficient "technical fix." The real challenge is to connecting the Jewish Diaspora with Israel leverage much greater impact on Israeli society and a key ingredient in the blood that flows with the same dollars. in the veins of global Jewish peoplehood. As a There are three parts to the needed qualita- grantee, I feel a debt of gratitude and a sense tive approach: vision, organization, and focus of responsibility to share my ideas openly with and priorities. Each element requires a fun- my partners, damental change of deeply embedded values Four major trends are marginalizing Jewish and patterns of conduct. philanthropy in Israel. First, on vision: Jewish philanthropists need Chronic inefficiencies, budget cuts and to embrace a positive vision that can provide privatization have led to a decline in the Is- an overarching framework for their actions. raeli government's will and ability to address The TOP 15 Vision, which aims to place Is- the needs of Israel's population. Therefore, rael among the 15 most developed nations in the menu of options for philanthropic giving terms of quality of life within 15 years, is one has expanded while its resources have been example of such a context. This is the vision stretched beyond Capacity. that guides the work of the Reut Institute The rapid growth of the Israeli economy-- by an estimated $7 billion in 2007 alone--is Grl~teln on page 15A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Winner of 38 Press Awards EWISH NEWS HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($41.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILINGADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL32730 FAX(407) 831-0507 Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Assocbte Editor Gene Starn Lyn Payn~ Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Wayne Gray Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Thomas Ullmann Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine Tim Boxer David Bomstein Gail Simons Production Department David Lehman * Teri Marks * Elaine Schooping Lane Silberstein * Gil Dombrosky out and see friends while learning more about topics of deep and longtime interest. These people are well read and they care about Jewish affairs. These are the men and women who give to Federation, buy Israel Bonds and support so many worthy Jewish organizations and causes. They make books into best-sellers, buying and reading the novels and non-fiction books with Jewish themes. They are the subscribers to Jewish newspapers and magazines. They are the synagogue-go- ers, and the officers and lay leaders of the sisterhoods, brotherhoods and men's clubs. They are Zionists to the core, and visit Israel when they can. In short, they are the heart and backbone of the active Jewish community, and because of that, and the unique blend of sweetness and feistiness they possess, they are my heroes. By Jonathan S. Tobin After Israel's War of Independence, Hebrew poet NathanAlterman famously memorialized those who fell in that struggle in his poem "Magash Hakesef'--"The Silver Platter." The reference was to a statement by the country's first president that no one was going to hand the Jews a state "on a silver platter." In other words, it would have to be earned by sweat and blood. Alterman's poem speaks of a young girl and a boy "dressed in battle garb," and "boneweary from days and nights in the field." The poet speaks of a nation "in tears" asking "who are you?" of the two. The pair, symbols of the 6,000 who died in battle so that Israel and the Jewish people might live, reply: "We are the silver platter on which the Jews' state was presented today." Throughout history, liberty has always been purchased at the price of the sacrifice of the young and the brave. Due to the requirements of defending a country whose existence much of the world still refuses to accept, Israelis are subject to a draft that brings the majority of the nation's youth into the army. But that's not the case for Americans. For us, the draft is but a distant memory linked to the service of fathers and grandfathers. Rumors of war As the world's only superpower, we have gotten by with an all-volunteer military for more than 30 years. Military service is simply not something that most upper- and middle- class kids even consider when they leave high school. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when America itself was attacked by Islamist terrorists, and the subsequent launch of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has been common to speak of the United States as a nation at war. That is true. But though it is a war in which our survival is very much hanging in the balance, it's hard to notice if you judge by the way almost all of us live our lives. The people who do the fighting and the dy- ing are largely strangers to the vast majority of Americans who go about their business each day with scarcely a thought about those who make our blithe indifference possible, But for a couple of days in September, I got a small taste of what life is like for some of the people in the military and learned a little about what makes some of them tick. In this case, it was a visit to the USS Harry S. Truman, taking part in exercises in the Atlantic before the ship sets sail next month for the Persian Gulf. The Truman is one of the most powerful battle systems in our nation's arsenal. Its airwing of over 80 jet warplanes can bring more firepower into action by itself than the entire air forces of all but a handful of other countries. Stepping out onto the deck of the Truman at sea is, for those of us accustomed to our soft civilian lives, avisceral experience pretty much like landing on a different planet. The noise, both above and below decks, is deafening and constant. The danger from the hot jet exhaust, fuel lines, missiles and other impediments of naval aviation provide a frightening obstacle course for the swarms of crew dressed in shirts of various colors (a different one for each of the various tasks involved in getting a plane aloft) who perform an elaborate nonstop action ballet in the course of performing their duties. Powerful jet aircraft, including the navy's top-of-the-line fighters, the F-18 Hornets and Yes, Jewish groups are right to focus on attracting younger people, but my speaking engagements this past week reminded me that the heart of the active and Organized community is a generation that experienced great hardship and accomplished much good, for their families and community, building up our institutions. We owe them our gratitude and thanks. And while our challenge continues to be to find new and positive reasons for younger Jews to engage in Jewish life, let us not forget the debt we owe those who got us here. In that way we can give new and more positive meaning to the phrase, "the Elders of Zion." Gary Rosenblatt is the editor andpublisher of the Jewish Week, from which this editorial is reprinted with permission. Read the Jewish Week online at Super-Hornets, took off and landed constantly as the carrier"cycled'--practi~ing round-the- clock air missions just as they will be required to do in battle. Flying and landing on a pitching deck in the middle of the ocean is a perilous occupation. Even putting aside the military objectives that they will pursue once they are in position to aid American ground forces in Iraq, literally every thing they do on such a ship is a matter of life and death. The intense pressure to get their tasks right each and every time is enormous. Theirs is a mission that is unforgiving of even the most casual or minor mistakes. The loss of one of their E-2 Hawkeye radar planes and the three aviators aboard in a nighttime takeoff a few weeks ago brought that truth home. The sailors and aviators work long hours every day. Their compensation is minimal, and they are forced to be qualified and requalified constantly in each of their disciplines. Who leaves the comforts of home to do such difficult work? The majority of those aboard the Truman are kids, most of the enlisted personnel are under 25. Many are teenagers fresh out of high school. Most come from the lower end of the economic ladder. They seek money for college via the G.I. bill or technical skills that will lead to civilian jobs. But throughout the ship, it's easy to see that morale is high. Talk to anyone on board in various departments, and their dedication to their tasks--and pride in their ship and its planes--is not to be underestimated. The esprit de corps is manifested in the swaggering nicknames assumed by both pilots and their squadrons ("Gunslingers,""Zappers" and "Rawhides," to name a few). But behind the silly names are dedicated professionals for whom old-fashioned patriotism is a major motivation. 'Standing up' With the men and women (the ship's crew is 20 percent female, a number that includes the commander of one of the F-18 squadrons) of the Truman soon headed into harm's way in the Persian Gulf, where they will fly combat missions in Iraq, that's a factor that can be a premium. Though the war has lost support from many Americans, the Truman, under the leadership of native Philadelphian Capt. Herm Shelanski, is prepared to do its part in the fighting. Shelanski, a student of history, understands that "standing up" to the Islamist tyrants of Iran and their terrorist allies in the region is a crucial mission and a threat that cannot be safely ignored. A proud Jew, he also isn't shy about pointing out that Israel's safety is connected to the ability of its sole ally to maintain its strength in the region and throughout the globe. Sadly, some on the Truman may not come home from the Gulf. With Iraq now a political football and a maddening Sept. 10th mentality infecting much of the electorate, some of us may choose to ignore or denigrate the value of their sacrifices. But it is the brave men and women of our armed forces--like the crew of the Truman, volunteers all--who are the "silver platter" upon which America's freedoms are being handed to each one of us here. As Nathan Alt~rman wrote in a not dis- similar context, "the rest can be found in the history books." Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be contacted via e-mail at: jtobin@jewishexpo-