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December 26, 2014

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Calendar ...................................... 6A Synagogue Directory .................. 7A B'nai Mitzvah .............................. 8A SceneAround ............................. 9A WWW.HERffAGEFLCOM YEAR 39, NO, 16 DECEMBER 26, 2014 4 TEVET, 5775 ORLAN , SINGLE COPY 75 By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Alan Gross was imprisoned while trying to connect Cuba's isolated Jewish community to the wider world. The deal that got him released five years later may do just that and much more. Gross' flight home to sub- urban Washington, D.C., on Dec. 17 with his wife, Judy, was part of a historic deal that overturns more than five decades ofU.S, policy isolating the Communist island nation helmed by the Castro brothers. u w w CXl m : , ,_OZ "-" < .U event "We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries," President Obama said in announcing Gross' release and radical changes in U.S. Cuba policy. U.S. officials in a confer- ence call outlined sweeping changes, including the re- sumption of full diplomatic relations, the opening of an embassy in Havana, and a loosening of trade and travel restrictions. Dina Siegel Vann, the direc- tor of the American Jewish Committee's Belfer Institute for Latino and LatinAmerican Affairs, said Gross' release and the opening of ties with Cuba is a twofer for the Jews: In addition to the benefits accrued to all Cubans from open relations, she said, Cu- ban Jews "will have stronger ties to Jewish organizations, they will be much more in the open." An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Jews live in Cuba. Gross, who is now 65, was arrested in 2009 after setting up Internet access for the Cu- ban Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Never for- mally chargedwith espionage, Gross was convicted in 2009 for "crimes against the state." Back in the United States on Wednesday, Gross held a news conference, which he Win McNamee/Getty Images Alan Gross, freed from a Cuban prison earlier in the day, waves after concluding his remarks with his wife, Judy, at a news conference in Washington shortly after arriving in the United States, Dec. 17, 2014. a very interdependent rela- tionship," she said. "Anti- Semitism and anti-American rhetoric are being used by the regime in Venezuela, and with this that's being under- mined." Daniel Mariaschin, who directs B'nai B'rith Interna- tional, a group with a strong LatinAmerican presence, said a new era of ties "will raise the profile of Latin American communities and interest in those communities." In a deal American of- ficials said was technically separate from the Gross re- lease, the United States and Cuba agreed to exchange the three remaining incarcerated members of the "Cuban Five," a Florida-based spy ring, for an American spy held in Cuba began with the greeting"Chag sameach," noting that his re- lease coincided with the first day of Chanukah. He thanked political leaders, the Wash- ington Jewish community, the local Jewish Community Relations Council and other faith groups that pressed for his release. "But ultimately--ultimate- ly-the decision to arrange for and secure my release was made in the Oval Office," said Gross, reserving special praise for President Obama and his National Security Council. Vann said improved U.S.- Cuba relations would have a rollover effect, removing obstacles to U.S. ties with other Latin American coun- tries- and this in turn would remove tensions that have affected Jewish communities. "Cuba and Venezuela have Gross on page 15A ORLANDO Jewish Na- tional Fund (JNF) is proud to announce the appointment of Debbie Meitin as president of JNF's Board of Directors in Orlando. "Debbie is a strong leader for JNF and for the Jewish community in Orlando," said Laura Abramson, JNF Orlan- do campaign executive. "She works diligently on behalf of the people and land of Israel. As president, her passion and vision for the campaign year will be an inspiration that will take JNF to the next level." Meitin was born in Cleve- land, Ohio, and went on to graduate from Michigan State University and Ohio State University. While living in Chicago, she went on a Jewish singles cruise and met Samuel Meitin, z'l, from Orlando, who she eventually married. Meitin moved to Orlando in 1987 and worked in health administration at Ernst & Young and Florida Hospital. She also began leading the Israeli dance group at the JCC and became involved with Temple Israel. Meitin has served as cantor, on the board and executive board of the synagogue for 11 years and chaired the Ritual Committee for several years. After going on a JNF Women's Mission to Israel in 2008, Meitin was asked to start a local women's group, and with the help of a great steering committee, the group has been running suc- cessful programs since. She has also served as local leader of the JNF National Women for Israel Board~ Meitin is very proud of her children, Jennifer and Jeffery Prechter, and their children, Abigail and William; Rebecca Meitin; and Amy Gutter-Gohike and 4 .I Rabbi David Kay On Feb. 8, 2015, Rabbi David Kay will be honored at Congregation Ohev Shalom's annual gala. This year's event, Java and Jazz, will com- memorate Rabbi Kay's 10 years of service with not only Congregation Ohev Shalom, Debbie Meitin her sons, Anthony, Odin and Orion. Following the death of Samuel in 2007, Meitin mar- ried Larry Gutter. "I am honored to serve as president of JNF in Orlando," said Meitin. "This is an amaz- ing organization that does so much for the people and land of Israel. I've seen it first-hand on two different JNF missions to Israel. We have a very dynamic board in Orlando and we will be having more opportunities to spread the word about the work of JNF in Israel. I look forward to our community programs that increase knowledge about JNF and allow more people to become involved in our mission and campaign." New members on the JNF Orlando Board of Directors include Robert Gebaide, Dr. Robin Katzman, Dr. Daniel Layish, Sheryl Meitin, Edward Milgrim, Nina Oppenheim, and Laurie Smith. For more information on JNF in Orlando, please contact Laura Abramson at or 407.804.5568. % but to the Greater Orlando community as well. Rabbi Kay came to Orlando in August 2004, as the first assistant rabbi of Congrega- tion Ohev Shalom. Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May 2002, he also received his MA in Jewish education. During rabbinical school, he served as a student rabbi for several con- gregations, including Shalom Independent Congregation of Johannesburg, South Africa. "Rabbi David Kay has been a perfect fit for Congregation Ohev Shalom," said Senior Rabbi Aaron R. Rubinger. "He is personally so deeply com- COS on page 15A