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November 21, 2003

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PAGE4 III David Bornstein Faith A few weeks ago my son Ethan and I took a trip to San Antonio to visit David and Joanne S. David is a long time friend from high school, and our last night there Joanne asked me a simple question that has reverberated deep inside me ever since. "Do you ever question your faith?" It seems she was. They are Catho- lic, and a Vietnamese priest had been installed in their church. They couldn't understand him and felt like they were losing touch with their Sunday services and their religion. What they were losing wasn't their faith, really. Itwas their connection. But when Joanne asked me, and I attempted an answer, a Pandora's box of questions imploded inside me. By Carl Alpert News you may have missed Haifa - It has been said many times: Thebut he still remains an enigmatic personality. human interest stories that never make head- A new book,"My Husband, Bar Kokhba" (Gefen lines tell a great deal about the spirit and the Publishing), by Andrew Sanders, is true to atmosphere here even in the wake of a dreadful history, but adds a fictional, intimate account suicide bombing. For example: as told by his wife. The result is an enthralling Fare Dealings. An elderly Orthodox Jew, story which also invites comparison with the victimofaterroristattackonabus, wasrushed problems faced by Israel today. ton hospital, bleeding. Interviewed some hours ThatRussianimmigration.Amothernurs- later, he had a request to make: "Because of the ing her child at home suddenly noticed that the long line entering the bus at the front door, I child had stopped breathing and was turning and my three children boarded via the rear blue. Frantically, she rushed into the lobby of door, which was open. Before we had a chance the building, and someone there put in a call to pay, the explosion occurred." He paused and for an ambulance. The minutes passed, and sighed. "Because I can't get up, do you think things looked bad. At that moment the clean- Egged Could send someone here, so I can pay" ing man entered. He saw what was happening, for the trip?" dropped his broom, and at once began resusci- We Are Both Jews. The attack on the tation treatment which shortly resulted in re- Maxim Restaurant in Haifa took place on the sumptionofbreathing, andthechildwassaved. Sabbath. The moment Shabbat was over, a It turned out that the 59-year-old cleaning group of volunteers from Chabad, among oth- man had been deputy head of a children's ward ers, visited the wounded in the hospitals to in a Russian hospital, but when he got to Israel comfort them. One wounded victim expressed he was told that he was too old to continue in surprise that a haredi man would come to visit his profession here. one who had eaten in a non-kosher restaurant * Lovers of Art? A survey conducted by the on Shabbat. The Chabadnik reassured him: Mutagim Institute reveals that 10 percent of "That isn't important. What binds us is much Israelis have no paintings on the walls of their more important. I care about you because we home. are both Jews, which is exactly why the terror- 53 percent have up to nine paintings on their ist wanted to kill you. I'm here to let you know walls, 29 percent have between 10 and 20 I care and am praying for your recovery." paintings, and eight percent have more than DoggedEffort. An Israeli scouting party had twenty. besieged a house in Nablus where a Hamas Look at the Date. The following is from the terrorist leader was holed up. After an exchange January l, 2OOl issue of Time Magazine: "Israel offire, theykilledhimthroughthewindowfrom and Hizballah, the Islamic militia in Lebanon, which he had been firing and then prepared to are negotiating a prisoner exchange. Working enter the empty house. But first, they sent in through German negotiators, Israel is seeking Barry, their black Belgian shepherd dog, who the return of three soldiersanda retired colonel. had been trained for such occasions. Hizballah is demanding the return of 19 Moments after he entered, they heard the Lebanese. They include Mustafa Dirani, a mill- screams of an armed terrorist who had been in tia intelligence officer kidnapped as a bargain- hidingandwaitingtoa.mbushthem.Barryhad ing chipfor Ron Arad, an Israeli airman miss- leaped at him, bitten his hands and feet, and ing since he bailed out over Lebanon in 1986. was holding him with his teeth until the Israe- Israel insists on Arad's release as part of the lis entered and relieved both the dog and the deal." terrorist. Speaking of Abortions. Efrat, a body de- * With Tongue in Cheek. From the humor voted to encouraging childbirth among Jews, column in the paper, Makor Rishon: The Pales- has published a bold print advertisement in the tinians have complained about the slow pace of press reading: "A genuine danger to the exist- the negotiations for release of prisoners, Thus ence of the Jewish state. STOP the quiet Holo- far, the Israelis have not released a single caust. Since the establishment of the state, suicide bomber, more than two million babies have been de- The Inside Story. The historical story of stroyed before their birth. Join the Efrat orga- Bar Kokhba's revolt against the Romans, and nization, the biggest life-saving operation in the tragic end, are known in general outline, Israel." THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S Winner of 36 Pres# Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish #Vews ( ISN O I 994V/ 21) 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. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 {407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 emaih Her! INDEPEI DENT JEWISH VOICE O Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor EmeriluJ Associste Editor Cene Stare Kim Fischer Society F, ditorBookkeeping Gloria Yousha Elaine Schooping Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Harci Caeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Carl Alpert Michael Gamson Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gaff Simons Production Department David Lehman Teri Marks Desiree Tavera HERITAGE FLORIDA You see I have had numerous reasons to question my faith recently. I haven't doubted my commitment to my Judaism, but I have been asking a lot of deep, personal questions, about my faith in myself, my faith in others, and in some ways, my faith in the Torah, in the word of God. My questions have come about because of a confluence of incidents; Joanne's question was icing the cake, if you will. ! have, for many months, had running dialogues with my brother who is, in his own right, a deep soul searchiflg man with a strong commitment to personal JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 21, 2003 I Why do people with power and influence abuse their power and hurt the innocent? Why can't we be good? So where is my faith? What do I believe? I believe that faith is internal and eternal, that it coroes from within and while it may be dinged and damaged from without, survives despite questions, uncertainty, and doubt. I have faith in others, because,feel the strength of family, the support of community, and'in the hardest times have experienced help and nurturance from the most surprising places. growth. 1 regularly send him commentary on the Torah, and from time to time he takes offense at the weekly portion. Perhaps it speaks of a vengeful, judgmental God. Perhaps it is about the Jewish people's cohquest of the Promised Land. Perhaps it sounds anti-woman, or anti- gay. Whatever the reason, he has asked how I can appreciate a religion that year in and year out reads material that is violent, harsh, and negative, while he yearns for peace, under- standing, hope, and faith in the goodness of the universe. He reads books like "Conversations with God," and seeks a purity of purpose and morality, a sensibility that rarely exists in this convoluted world. And while I don't believe in this level of purity, I have looked at the Biblical passages he refers to with disdain, and I, too, often find myself disliking them. This has been a particularly tough baseball season for Ethan, not because he has done poorly. In fact, statistically he's had the best season of his life. It's because he's had a coach who, for the first time ever, didn't have faith in him, and has literally forced us off a team Ethan loves. I have found myself becoming overly protective, suffering more than Ethan as I tended to his wounded self-esteem. I have questioned my faith in others, in the authority figures I rely on to nurture my children, as I have watched them play favorites, criticize without thinking to praise, And I've worried that perhaps a personality conflict between myself and this coach has hurt my son. Perhaps it's my fault. Perhaps I'm to blame. I've begun the painful process of stripping away some of my bravado, my masks of cer- tainty, my egotism wrapped around my ability to make things right, and my questions have multiplied. Why does someone form opinions about someone else and refuse to change them? Why are people unfair? I have faith in myself because I am learning to have compassion for myself, to forgive my- self. I trust that my intentions are good, re- gardless of my constantly questioning every- thing around me, including me. I have faith that redemption is possible, that babies are born innocent, that while people may be in a quagmire of moral dilemmas, there is always something good to be found. I even have faith that Bonnie Friedman will count the number of positive articles I've written. I have faith that a world of grays and inconclu- sive endings is all right. My Jewish faith is flexible, malleable, interpretive and evolutionary; Juda- ism isn't about heaven or hell, either/or, yes/no, We find truth in grains of sand, then reinterpret the sand and find other meanings. We are not absolute. We are radically philosophical and fa- natically open. We question. We cajole. We doubt. We hope. And sometimes we despair. But not forever. Faith doesn't work like that. It's transformative, and because it trans- i| forms, it is timeless as it begs questions: Who. :~ of vie Th rods am I? Why am I? Where am I going? And asking the questions, searching for truth, posing an- swers without any finality is enough for me. Years ago my sister made a hipi)ie/environ- mental/spiritual collage out of photographs, comic books and magazine headlines. I still have it hanging in my office. In the center of i the collage an anonymous author is quoted: I Myfaithinmeisstrongerthanallyourarmies, ! governments, gas chambers "and in the lower,Vel right hand,corner, a line written by Jorge Luis | Borges: "I reach my center, my algebra and nay,bear 1 key, my mirror. Soon I shall know who I am." | The opinions expressed in this column arc,the b i in the hands of an opinionated ignoramus. Far from the throughout the world, is, at some level, justified. In his opinion, it is caused by "the policieS the Bush administration and the Sharon ministration." His solution: "If we change that directiOO, then anti-Semitism will diminish. Indeed, the only thing remotely to Israel that Soros said he's prepared to port is the so-called "Geneva initiative." is, the "peace" plan funded b! tile to Israel and put forward by clans who were rejected by their voters. "Regime change" in Jerusalem the will of Israel's people, is George of a Jewish cause. All of which proves that while have always believed that money talks, are some rich people who should not tened to. Soros seems to have internalized every anti' Semitic canard in the book. Firstofall Anti-Semites cause it. Jews, which has always been defended variety of rationales, lies psyches of those who hate, not in the actior~ Jews, be they individuals or groups. .~ Anti-Semites have spread hatred and ~i lence because they think Jews are comrntl,n ~,I~, and because they think Jews are capital~a ~ Ed because they are religious and because theY |, i) n O re equally l?e%is assimilated. Take your pick. All a bogus. Ja,IclK In its latest incarnation, which hides ] its tege. the guise of anti-Zionism, anti-Semitis |.vm. Corr justified by criticism of Israel's actions agafro" [ tie,'haiti i Cloi 66 * ,t,Ar See Tobm on page 21 ~b f/i: Philanthropy is a tough business. And these days, Jewish philanthropy is tougher than ever. Why? Because in spite of the still high levels of giving, reports show that increasingly fewer American Jews are taking care of their own. Apparently, the bulk of the money that once went to specifically Jewish causes is now going to secular philanthropies or to prestigious causes that grant social status once denied to Jews. That's why groups are falling all over them- selves in efforts to market themselves to the large numbers of unaffiliated Jews. That is obviously a good idea since there is much to gain from reaching this large demographic Slice of the Jewish pie chart. But all this reinventing and strategizing causes some of us to wonder just how far off the deep end many will go in order to please a constituency that is, more or less, defined by its distance from Jewish identity. This was brought to mind by the appearance lastweek in New York of hedge-fund billionaire George Soros at a meeting of the Jewish Funders Network, a gathering of Jewish philanthropic foundations. Soros was born in Hungary and fled the Holocaust as a child before making it big in this country. According to Forbes magazine, he is worth $7 billion. The Washington Post, how- ever, reported this week that he has already given away $5 billion to various causes, though rarely to any connected to Jewish needs. Coveting his money According to those who report about Soros, his speei:h to the Jewish Funders was the first time anyone has seen him at a Jewish function, let alone speaking at one. As such, Soros is the quintessential unaffiliated Jew whose money charities covet. But as those in attendance soon discovered, the problem with honoring such people is that there may be a good reason why they've never dipped into their fat wallets to help poor Jews By Jonathan S. Tobin or to defend the Jewish state: They don't really care very much about us. Indeed, Soros' ported remarks at the event speak volunae : J about just how dangerous great wealth can be Jewish groups romance while he justifies hate for his own YOU, S respon next ; People CO~rse] refLise are the