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December 18, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 18, 2009 PAGE 11A Need to rejuvenate after the hectic holiday season? Need a refresher now that the kids are back at school? Want to just relax and get pampered with friends in a serene, tranquil and positive environment? On Tuesday night, Jan. 12, 2010, at 7 p.m., Sabra Hadassah will hold its monthly meeting at the Longwood Healing Center & Spa. The program will offer treatments such as a paraf- fin hand treatment, a detox foot soak, and a choice of magnificent massages, "all at reasonable prices." Participants can pick one or multiple treatments. Some treatments last five minutes, others up to 30 minutes. Three therapists will be available. Chat with friends, enjoy a tour of the facility, sip herbal tea and healthy snacks while awaiting your soothing treat- ments. In addition, there will be time for questions and an- swers on a variety of subjects such as nutrition and stress management, weight loss and weight management, treat- ing menopause naturally, acupuncture for pain man- agement, detoxification and the benefits of using organic herbs from around the world. Longwood Healing Center and Spa is a holistic clinic offer- ing avariety of treatments. It is located at 212 W. Bay Avenue in Longwood, off Highway434. Parking is available at the site, or in the corner lot. So, "join the Sabra la- dies and rejuvenate your body and soul." RSVP to Rhonda Des Islets at or 407-869-7660 for further information and to specify which treatments you would like. By Rabbi Levi Cooper The Talmud recounts that the wicked Roman govern- ment once issued an edict against the Jewish people prohibiting the study of To- rah (B. Berachot 61b). Rabbi Akiva disobeyed this injunc- tion and publicly convened assemblies where he taught Torah. When Rabbi Akiva's contemporary, Papus the son of Yehuda, discovered this deliberate disregard for the Roman decree, he wondered: "Akiva, are you not afraid of the regime?" With a colorful parable, Rabbi Akiva explained that Torah study was the life- blood of Jewish existence; that without it we are like fish on dry land, with no chance to survive. The Talmud goes on to relate that it was not long before Rabbi Akiva was arrested and thrown into prison for the dissemination of Torah. As he sat in jail, another person was thrown in. Rabbi Akiva exclaimed: "Papus, what has brought you here!?" Rabbi Akiva was well aware that Papus had not dared flout the Roman edict against Torah study and was thus surprised to find that his friend had been arrested too. Without answering the question, Papus bemoaned his fate: "Fortunate are you, Rabbi Akiva, for you were apprehended on account of the words of Torah. Woe is Papus, who was arrested for meaningless matters." What was Papus's crime? What "meaningless mat- ters" is he referring to? The Talmud does not tell us of Papus's deeds, but elsewhere in the Talmud the tale of two brothers, Papus and Lulianus, is told. If this is the same Papus--an assump- tion mentioned in some sources, though supported only by scant evidence-- then we can know of his deeds. The Talmud reports that Papus and Lulianus were executed by the Roman Turyanus (B. Ta'anit 18b). The Talmud here, too, does not tell us the nature of their crime. Rashi (11th century, France), however, fills the gap: The daughter of a Roman emperor was found dead and the Romans accused the Jews of killing her and threatened the entire Jewish people with retribution. At that point Papus and Lulianus--who were entirely innocent-- stepped forward to take sole responsibility for a crime they never committed. Their goal in this courageous act was clear: To save the Jew- ish people from a Roman onslaught. If the assumption about the identity of Papus is correct, then indeed he was a person of stature; as com- mentators point out, he and his brother were completely righteous (Rashi). Else- where in rabbinic literature Rabbi Akiva refers to the two brothers--Papus the son of Yehuda and Lulianus the Alexandrian--as "the pride of Israel" (Sifra, Behukotai 5:2). We can therefore un- derstand how Papus could be contemporary of Rabbi Akiva, going so far as to ad- dress him as a peer, without his rabbinic title. Indeed, Papus was a Torah scholar and some of the discussions he conducted with Rabbi Akiva have been preserved (see for instance Mechilta, Beshalah, Vayehi 6). One question remains: Why did Papus say that he was incarcerated for "mean- ingless matters"? Can there be anything greater than saving the entire Jewish nation from the collective punishment the Romans sought to wreak? The answer to this question may lie in the final exchange between the brothers and the Roman Turyanus. As Papus and Lulianus stood in Ludkia-- the city of Lod--Turyanus turned to them and mocked: "If you are from the nation of Hananya, Mishaei and Azarya, let your God come and save you from my hand, as He saved them from the hand of NebuchadnezzarF' Turyanus was referring to when Nebuchadnezzar threw Hananya, Mishael and Azarya into a fiery furnace and they emerged unharmed (see Daniel 3:19-27). Papus and Lulianus re- sponded: "Hananya, Mishael and Azarya were perfectly righteous people and they were worthy that a miracle should be wrought for their sake. Moreover, Nebuchad- nezzar was a fair king who deserved that miracles be wrought through him." While Nebuchadnezzar was certainly a wicked ruler, after Hananya, Mishael and Azarya emerged from the furnace, he praised the Al- mighty and in this particu- lar instance his response was worthy (see Daniel 3:28-30). Papus and Lulianus con- tinued, perhaps turning to those assembled: "But that evil one," referring to their captor Turyanus, "is a mere commoner who is undeserv- ing that a miracle should be wrought through him. And as for us, we are liable for death for sinning against the Almighty and if you do not kill us the Omnipresent has many executioners, and the Omnipresent has many bears and lions in this world who could attack us and kill us." In a final show of defiance, the brothers concluded: "The only reason that the Holy One, blessed be He, placed us in your hand, is in order to eventually avenge our blood from your hand!" These bold last words, full of confidence and pride, exhib- iting trust in the Almighty and in ultimate justice, must have incensed Turya- nus. Despite the promise of divine retribution for this unjustified act, Turyanus killed the brothers without hesitation. The Talmud recounts that before anyone could move-- perhaps as they stood star- ing in stunned silence at the slain bodies of the Papus and Lulianus, with blood still dripping from the sword of Turyanus--a pair of officers arrived from Rome with an imperial edict against Turyanus. The messengers promptly clubbed Turya- nus to death; an immediate fulfillment of the brother's final, prophetic words. That day, the 12th of Adar, became known as Turya- nus Day and for a time was commemorated as a minor festival on account of the immediate slaying of the wicked tyrant after his brutal and unjust treatment of the falsely accused, and in recog- nition that the Jews had been saved thanks to the sacrifice of Papus and Lulianus. Just as Papus and Lulia- nus modestly claimed to be incomparable to Hananya, Mishael and Azarya, so too Papus had seen his act of self-sacrifice for the nation as a "meaningless matter." It appears that Papus, in ad- dition to being prepared to give his life for the Jewish people, was modest about his contribution. Rabbi Levi Cooper is director of Advanced Pro- grams at the Pardes In- stitute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. His column appears weekly in The Jeru- salem Post Magazine. This reprint is presented courtesy of the Pardes Institute, il, a coeducational, non- denominational center for in-depth Jewish learning from beginning to advanced levels. By Sue Fishkoff SAN FRANCISCO (JTA)-- Seventy-year-old Harold Eichenbaum doesn't think much of kashrut. He grew up in Texas, Reform like his parents and grandpar- ents, and was confirmed at 16. If he'd wanted a bar mitzvah, he says, he would have joined the Conservatives. Now there's talk of kasher- ing the kitchen at Temple Beit Torah, his Reform congrega- tion in Colorado Springs, Colo. Eichenbaum wants no part of it, and is dismayed by what he calls the younger generation's lack of respect for Reform Judaism's ideological heritage. "There are very few of us classical Reform Jews any- more," he mourns. "People are listening to talk, they think you have to be kosher to be true Jewish people. I disagree. Kosher was fine 5,000 years ago, but in the modern day I don't see any purpose to it." For more than a decade, the Reform movement has been moving toward greater observance of Jewish rituals from Shabbat to mikveh, and greater incorporation of Hebrew in worship services. Meanwhile, a small but increasingly vocal core of Classical Reform adherents is digging in its heels, saying the growing coziness with Jewish tradition is taking the move- ment away from its original universalist message and rationalist approach to faith, away from the way Reform Judaism was practiced until at least the 1940s. A year-and-a-half ago, a handful of Reform rabbis committed to the Classical Reform credo created the Reform table of our historic Reform heritage." Berman was speaking at one of two sessions he led at the Union for Reform Juda- ism's biennial last month in Toronto. While Berman celebrated his group's inclusion in the conference agenda, other sup- porters of the Classical Reform approach grumbled that the "explicitly Classical Reform," Berman said, while the others are "mainstream Reform" that run separate services along Clas- sical Reform lines regularly or occasionally to serve mainly old- er congregants "who are often pushed aside, marginalized" by guitar-playing, kipah-wearing, younger Reform rabbis. The split is largely gen- erational, with most Classi- Md., says her 167-year-old syn- agogue maintains a choir and organ, and occasionally holds Classical Reform services on Friday nights for those who are more comfortable with that liturgy and style. "It's part of our heritage," she says. Much of the appeal of Classi- cal Reform is aesthetic. During his session at the biennial, 'Meanwhile, a small but increasingly vocal core of Classical Re- form adherents is digging in its heels, saying the growing cozi- ness with Jewish tradition is taking the movement away from its original universalist message and rationalist approach to faith...' Society for Classical Reform Judaism to preserve and pro- mote the values and traditions of American Reform Judaism. That includes its distinctive worship style--services con- ducted mainly in English, accompanied by organ music and a choir. "One of the most common misperceptions we face is that Classical Reform Judaism is a phase of history that is now over rather than a vital movement within Reform Judaism today," said the soci- ety's executive director, Rabbi Howard Berman. "We want to reassert the place at the movement as a whole doesn't take them seriously. In a session on the topic led by Michael Meyer, a professor at the movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a question about "the so-called revival of Clas- sical Reform" was met with widespread chuckles. Berman and his colleagues aren't laughing. Fifty Reform rabbis and cantors, as well as nine Reform rabbinical students, sit on the society's advisory board, and the group works with three dozen North American con- gregations. Some of them are cal Reform aficionados old enough to remember the movement's original siddur, the Union Prayer Book, which downplayed the idea that Jews were "chosen" by God. It was replaced in 1975 by Gates of Prayer and is rarely used today. The society is releasing a new version of the Union Prayer Book next year in partnership with the Chicago Sinai Congregation, one of the country's two main Clas- sical Reform holdouts, along with Temple Emanu-El in New York. Louise Ziretta of Har Sinai Congregation in Owing Mills, Berman played the first song on the society's newly released CD of Classical Reform music, "Come, O Sabbath Day," by early 20th-century composer A.W. Binder. As the stately or- gan tones and sonorous male baritone fill the room, there is a respectful silence. Berman nods his head appreciatively. The Classical Reform revival carries a strong intellectual component, too. Meyer, one of the foremost authorities on the history of Reform Judaism, noted that the movement's 1999 Pitts- burgh Platform, which advo- cated a more open approach to rituals discouraged by the early Reform leaders, has its own problems. "It does not deal sufficiently with the problem of evil, and pays insufficient attention to the challenges posed by biol- ogy and astrophysics, harmo- nizing the idea of a personal God with the vastness of the universe," he said. "We have come to a point in Reform Judaism where we stress the personal, emotional connec- tion more than is perhaps sustainable." While Meyer does not view Classical Reform as a growing tendency, he does consider ita valuable check on the move- ment's growing pietism. "There is a place for reason in religion, and sometimes in Reform Judaism today we don't give that enough attention," he said. Berman said the society he heads doesn't want to replace the warmer, more devotional worship style popular in Reform congregations today. He and his colleagues just don't want their approach to be shoved aside. "In the contemporary Re- form movement there is a broad variety of interpreta- tions and practice. That is appropriate," Berman said. "We Classical Reform Jews are coming out of the closet."