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December 19, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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December 19, 2014
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 19, 2014 PAGE 11A By Cnaan Liphshiz ROTA, Spain (JTA)--While setting up a synagogue at the American naval base where she works, Ahuvah (Amanda) Gipson made something of a bitter-sweet discovery. Rifling through a stor- age area at the sprawling American-Spanish military complex Naval Station Rota in 2012, Gipson, a former naval outreach professional who now teaches off base, found three dusty Torah scrolls and a dismantled4-foot Chanukah  menorah. ' The objects were all that remained from a community Sephardic vogue, Argc',ntine immigrants fueling Jewish revival in Spain thatAmerican Jews sewing at Rota established many years ago, but which fell apart after they shipped out. Setting up a durable con- gregation on a military base is difficult because of fre- quent turnover, but nearly three years later, Gipson's 15-member Bet Januka com- munity--a name referencing the found menorah--is still going strong, largely because many congregants now are local Jews. "We're small, butwe're here to stay," Gipson said. "It's kind of like the bigger story, but on slightly smaller scale." The bigger story is the rapid growth of Jewish life in Spain, once home to one of the world's largest and most accomplished Jewish commu- nities butwhich has had only a modest Jewish presence since the expulsion in the 15th and 16th centuries. Nowhere is the growth felt more strongly than in Madrid, home to Spain's largest Jewish community of some 12,000 members, where six of the capital's seven synagogues have opened in the last decade. Bet Janukais one ofsixReform communities founded across thecountry since 2007. "[It's] a phenomenal regen- eration not only in interest Learn Krav Maga in Southwest Orlando By Christine DeSouza Assistant Editor In this day and age people, more than ever, need to protect themselves. News stations are always broadcasting news of theft, attacks in broad daylight, and domestic violence. Channel Esposito, a pro- fessional bodyguard, knows about these dangers. As a child not only did he suffer abuse, but he also saw his aunt beaten right in front of him. Bringing awareness to domestic violence is a strong passion of his. That's why he started Central Florida Krav Maga--Israeli self-defense. He teaches chokes, grabs, punches and ways to defend against many different kinds of attacks. His students learn how to defend themselves in all circumstances. "I teach them how to get safely home; how to pay attention when walking through a parking lot; how to protect yourself if someone welds a gun at you, and when to engage the fight or flight response," he explained. He currently offers classes on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings in Davenport, at 500 Ridgeway Blvd. His classroom building is on the border of Kissimmee and Davenport. "If you come in the back way, it's Kissimmee, and if you come in the front door, it's Davenport!" he Said. The first class is a women's only class from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.; from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Channel Esposito is the men's or blended class. His class costs are based on starting a class at the Jack aslidingscaleandhewillwork- & Lee Rosen JCC in January. with his client on a financial Moreinformationaboutthe payment plan. class will be available soon. Esposito, who is a member for information about the of Southwest Orlando Jewish Davenportclass, call Esposito Congregation, will also be at 407-334-2909. Holocaust Center presents 'The End of Auschwitz' The i On Jan. 22, 2015, the Hol0- caust Memorial Resource and EduCation Centerwill present its monthly education fo- rum, "The End of Auschwitz: The Seventieth Anniversary of Liberation." The discussion will cen- ter On how, and by whom, liberation was achieved and what-evidence of Nazi brutality remained for the railroad approach to Auschwitz. world to see as the gates opened. This significant anniversary also provides an opportunity to think about the ways that suf- fering and injustice continued. The aftermath ofliberationwas not celebration and sudden comfort, but only the beginning of an often grueling journey to safety and normalcy. The experiences of eyewit- nesses--victims and bystand- ers-assist us in understand- ing the great human drama of that moment in history, The forum begins at 6 p,m. and is open to the community. There is no charge to attend. Reservations are appreciated but not required. Teachers may earn in-service credits -for their participation. in Judaism, but also in the level of encouragement from the government," said Leslie Bergman, president of the European Union for Progres- sive Judaism. Locals say the process is being driven by a number of factors, including a supportive government and the arrival of thousands of Argentine Jews who were driven to Spain by the financial crisis of the 2000s and earlier by the Dirty War, the reign of political terror in the 1970s. Prior to their arrival, the Jewish community was constituted overwhelmingly by a small group of Orthodox Jews of Moroccan descent. But Spain's so-called Jew- ish revival is also being fueled by processes outside the Jew- ish community. Following Portugal's lead, Spain this year intro- duced legislation that may make many Jews of Sephardic descent eligible for citizen- ship, a measure officials described as a form of atone- ment for the expulsion of Jews during the Inquisition. Along with a host of public initiatives to celebrate Spain's rich Jewish heritage, the law has helped foster the growth of local Jewish communities. "It isn't affecting the growth ofc0mmunities directly, [but] it certainly helps generate a climate that is more positive to Judaism and conducive to strengthening communities," said David Hatchwell, presi- Cnaan Liphshiz Ahuvah (Amanda) Gipson, left, and other members of the Bet Januka congregation located at Naval Station Rot in southern Spain, July 30, 2014. dent of the Jewish Commu- nity of Madrid. "When rural municipalities with hardly any Jews celebrate Sukkot and Chanukah in festivals, it encourages Jews to also celebrate their tradition more proudly than before." In addition to encouraging Jews to celebrate their faith, the initiatives to highlight Spain's Sephardic heritage is drawing out the anusim, the descendants of Jews forced to convert to Christian- ity during the Inquisition. While only some of them formally convert, many more attend and even organize Jewish-themed events in the Spanish and Portuguese countryside. The rural festivals have also made it easier for small Jewish communities like Rota's to access municipal resources that facilitate community- building. Rota's municipality, for example, allows Bet Januka to make use of a community center in the city's center, which is more convenient than dealing with security procedures at the base. All the processes reshap- ing Jewish life in Spain were on display during a recent Havdalah ceremony at the center. "This scene probably wouldn't have been pos- sible 15 years ago," said Jose Manuel Fernandez, a retired police officer who converted to Judaism with his wife after learning he was descended from anusim. "The Argentinians were not here yet," he said, "and I'm not sure the municipal- ity would've necessarily let us be here." Every doy thot you're outside, you're exposed to dongerous, but invisible, ultroviolet (UV) sunlight. Left unprotected, prolonged exposure to UV rodiotion con seriously domoge the eye, leoding to cetorocts, skin concer (]round the eyelid ond other eye disorders. Protecting your eyes is importont to mointoining eye heolth now end in the future. Shield your eyes (ond your fomily's eyes) from harmful UV rays. Weor sunglosses with maximum UV protection.  THEVISIONCOUNCIL