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December 14, 2012
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 14, 2012 PAGE 5.A. By Eric R. Mandel JNS.org Judaism is punctilious in its adherence and respect to agreements and contracts. For example, most rabbis would not marry a woman who had not received a "Get" (Jewish Marriage Contract) in order to remain faithful to an agreement, even in cases where a civil court has granted a divorce. Yet many American Jews who believe in the rule of law for our religious, civil and criminal justice systems and the binding nature of contracts seem to allow their sensibilities to be changed in regard to the binding agreements made by Palestinian Arabs. In going to the United Na- tions General Assembly last week to upgrade their status, the Palestinians clearly and unambiguously violated their written agreement with the Israelis. The Oslo agreement mandated that neither side would take unilateral actions and refrain from "steps that will change the status of the West Bank... pending the out- come of the permanent status negotiations." Unfortunately, there are people trying to spin this egregious action not only as something we must accept, but also as an opportunity to improve the prospects for peace. I do not think they were listening carefully enough to President Abbas's speech at the U.N. Abbas's words were anything but conciliatory. He referred to Israel's "perpetra- tion of war crimes." Abbas also alleged "Israeli occupa- tion is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement." As if those words were not virulent enough, he referred to the "dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing," and Israel "wiping out entire families," while the Palestinians are "burying its beloved martyrs." It is time for all those who claim to be within the pro- Israel tent from right to left, to come to an agreement that words matter and that signed agreements must be honored. It is only fair and logical that consequences should be im- posed upon those who break those agreements. We live in a nation that believes in the rule of law, and those breaking agreements should have conse- quences reviewed by unbiased legal bodies. Unfortunately, the U.N. is composed of a large number of non-democratic states. Its own human rights commission is best known for the' notorious human rights abusers that comprise its council. Israel needs to seek redress, but not in a morally corrupt institution which has made Israel the Jew among nations. Fortunately, Is- rael has the U.S. Congress on its 5 side, which controls the purse strings of its foreign aid. Let's wish our congressional repre- sentatives well in their delib- erations. Hopefully, they will impose financial consequences upon the Palestinians who will have to think twice before breaking an agreement again. All those who truly yearn for peace will come to realize that imposing consequences will actually lead to a more sustainable and longer-lasting chance for peace. Eric Mandel, MD, is the co- chair of the StandWithUs/New York office. By Aliza Wadler Solomon NEW YORK (JTA)--As we become a society of couch potatoes, our health declines. Americans are eating more and moving less, and un- fortunately, these habits are rubbing off on our children. Food marketing has led to increased portion sizes and added sugars, salts and fats, while the advent of new technologies has had the un- intended effect of decreasing physical activity. More than ever, American kids eat loads of junk food and spend much more time texting, watching television and playing video games than running around and being active. Researchers estimate that only about 20 percent of chil- dren meet basic activity level recommendations and 25 per- cent are completely sedentary. At the same time, the foods we eat have become larger and more calorie-dense over the past 20 years. Bagels and pizza slices are almost double the size they used to be, and certain beverage cups can now hold an entire bottle of soda. These changes in theAmeri- can lifestyle have increased children's risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other health conditions. Indeed, children are increas- ingly succumbing to adult diseases--so much so that doctors have changed the term adult-onset diabetes to type II diabetes because so many children have the disease. The Jewish community is not immune to this trend. Original research by Dr. Men- dei Singer, director of the Jewish Community Health Initiative and a professor at Case Western Reserve Medi- cal School, shows that Jewish children are almost as likely to be obese as their non-Jewish counterparts. In fact, Singer found that Jewish children in certain pockets of the com- munity are substantially more likely to be obese. Part of the reason for these troubling findings is that children who attend Jewish day schools study a joint Jewish andsecular curriculum, which means 10 hours per day sitting in school, and then going home and sitting for a few more hours of homework. Physical educa- tion is often deemed less im- portant than other subjects, so kids are sedentary for most of the time they spend in school. Moreover, in many Orthodox day schools, fitness activities are further restricted because of limitations on coed exercise. Unfortunately, Jewishadults are not doing any better. We have a food-centric culture in which the highlight of each week is often an elaborate Shabbat meal that is rich in fat and calories and can last late intothe night it'slikehaving Thanksgiving dinner every week. We justify these meals by saying things like "calories don't count on Shabbat," but it's time thatwe become honest with ourselves. As a commu- nity, we like to cook and eat but we don't like to exercise very much. The average Jew- ish family is more likely to eat a lavish meal together than go for a walk or kick around a soccer ball. Parents should set an exam- ple for their kids by adopting healthy lifestyles for them- selves. This means more fruits andvegetables, less oil, saltand sugar, and a far more active lifestyle. Instead of watching television as a family, parents should encourage walking, hiking and other healthy activities. At the same time, our Jewish day schools should recognize that physical activity is just as important as Hebrew and algebra, and should modify their cur- riculums to make physical activity a major part of the day. This can be as simple as creating a schedule that makes children walk across the school to get from one class to another, or short- ening every period by a few minutes to make more time for organized physical activity. Schools also might consider bringing in profes- sional dieticians and exercise instructors to teach children about exercising at home and making smart food choices. Summer camps are also great places for children not only to be active, but to learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle at home. It's up to all of us to make sure that today's Jewish chil- dren grow up to be tomorrow's healthy adults. Aliza Wadler Solomon, a graduate student in public health, is working closely with Camp Zeke, a new Jewish overnight camp that immerses kids in pure foods, energizing fitness activities and culinary arts. By Cheryl Halpern NEWYORK (JTA)--Twen- ty-five years ago, I joined hundreds of thousands of my fellow Americans--Jews and others--on the National Mall to draw attention to the plight of Soviet Jews. We were united by a simple belief that the Soviet Union, by denying its Jewish citizens both the right to religious freedom and the right to move to Israel, in effect was imprisoning them. We called that day Freedom Sunday and "Let my people go!" was our rallying cry. It was a memorable mo- ment of unity in support of oppressed Jewry. And during the next few years, as the USSR broke apart, Jews did indeed get to leave. And so this year, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of that rally in Washington, we have much to be proud of--those who were there, those who provided support and those who were rewarded with freedom. But this movement did not come to the U.S. Jewish community speedily. Ap- proximately 20 years before Freedom Sunday, Jewish students began to raise questions about the plight of Soviet Jewry. They chal- lenged the low priority given to the Soviet Jewry cause in the Jewish community and organizational discussions. They cajoled, they protested and they made themselves into a nuisance. I should know because I was one of them. From when I was a high school student volunteering for my first political campaign, Joe Lieberman's first run for state office, through my postgraduate student years, I was an active participant in Jewish political action, including the Soviet Jewry issue. I recall riding buses organized by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry to attend protest rallies every time a senior Soviet official would visit New York City. We would hold up our signs to be seen and call out our slogans to be heard, even if we were only a few dozen. We wanted the emissaries of the "Soviet Empire" to know we were aware of what they were doing to Jewish families behind the Iron Curtain. We were not always effec- tive, but we were committed. We built relationships with members of Congress and earned support in unusual places. A senator from Wash- ington State, Henry "Scoop" Jackson, became a loyal friend to our cause. A Catholic congressman from Chicago, Henry Hyde, joined the effort as well. The coalition was broad and all-American. We were from all religious de- nominations and doctrines. There were no walls between us, regardless of our personal religious beliefs, practices or lack thereof. The cause drew us together and the cause was our focus. We learned later about our full impact. In 1991, as the USSR began its dissolu- tion, I flew, as a member of the Radio Liberty board, to Moscow and met with Elana Bonner, the widow of noted refusenik Andrei Sakharov and an outspoken human rights activist. She told me how important it was for her and others like her to know that Americans were marching for the dignity and freedom of the Russian dissi- dents. The news that she and others received on the short wave Radio Liberty broad- casts regarding the protest movement in America gave her and the other Russian activists the much-needed support to carry on. American Jews can look back at these years with pride. It was a monumental political accomplishment. And it would not have hap- pened without the Jewish students, including Dennis Prager and Glenn Richter, led by Jacob Birnbaum, the founder of SSSJ, who raised the issue. Now American Jewry must rise to the occasion again. We who live in comfort, freedom and security are watching while other Jew- ish communities are facing rising anti-Semitic and anti- Zionist threats. The threats today in many respects are more menacing than what was endured by the Jewish refuseniks. Instead of the repression and subjugation imposed by the Communist regime of the USSR, Jews in Israel and throughout the world face the nuclear ambitions of Iran. A nuclearweaponwould enable the Iranian leaders to realize their goal of wiping Israel off the world map. Where are today's Jewish students? Some are actively working to draw attention to the genocidal ambitions of Iran. However, multiple surveys of Jewish public opin- ion have shown that it is not the high school and college students who are initiators of action but rather the 50-and- older generation of Jews. I wonder whether an SSSJ movement as existed in the 1960s and 1970s could be created today. Would we see the students of today marching and protesting outside Russian embassies and consulates or across from the United Na- tions? Or would their choice of activity be limited to blog- ging and tweeting without a visible, united physical presence to be noted? Today, Jewish leaders1 young and old--have no end of potential causes: Not just Iran, but the willful destruc- tion of the Oslo process by the United Nations, the unjust incarceration of Alan Gross in Cuba, the life imprison- ment of Jonathan Pollard, Holocaust denial and violent anti-Semitism, and so on. Perhaps today's Jewish young adults will rise up as one and unify around any of these issues. I have reason to hope because I've seen it before. Cheryl Halpern is a docu- mentarian and a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum Council. I THE Ikq'ERNATIONAL REACTION WAS I IAI'E CagleCartoons.com NOW THAT AZA'S LEAOE2S SAID THEY WOULD DESTROY ISRAEL, KILL ITS CITIZENS, TAKE ALL THE LAND, AND NEV NEGOTIATE... 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