Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles from the January 15, 2021 edition


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  • Orthodox Jewish Trump supporters decry violence but not the movement

    Shira Hanau|Jan 15, 2021

    (JTA) - Heshy Tischler, the pro-Trump provocateur of Orthodox Brooklyn, wasn't at the U.S. capitol when a mob stormed it Wednesday - but not because he didn't want to be. Tischler was one of a throng of Orthodox Jews who traveled down to D.C. to join mass protests of the election results Wednesday. He had left the city before the protest turned into an insurrection that drove members of Congress and the vice president into hiding, and in which a woman was killed. But that afternoon, unaware...

  • US immigration to Israel holds up in 2020 despite pandemic

    Larry Luxner|Jan 15, 2021

    TEL AVIV - Emma Caplan, 23, was seven months into her job teaching English at an elementary school in Rishon Lezion in March when the coronavirus pandemic compelled her to cut short her yearlong Israel experience and fly home to Westport, Connecticut. Three weeks earlier, her entire family in the United States had been infected with COVID-19, though by the time she returned to Connecticut her parents and siblings were no longer contagious. "I felt I needed to be home with my family, but when I g...

  • Florida Jewish History Month

    Marcia Jo Zerivitz LHD, Founding Executive Director Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU|Jan 15, 2021

    January is Florida Jewish History Month, designated by the Florida Legislature in 2003. It is a time to teach and celebrate the contributions of Floridian Jews to the development of the Sunshine State. Since my seminal book, "Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories," was released in January 2020, I am pleased that many organizations throughout the state and nation have invited me to present my PowerPoint book talk highlighting some stories with about 100 photographs selected from the 716 in the...

  • Ancient burial stone found in Negev

    Jan 15, 2021

    (JNS) - A stone bearing a Greek inscription from the end of the Byzantine period was discovered last weekend in the Nitzana National Park in the Negev, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday. The flat, round stone was used as a tombstone in one of the cemeteries surrounding the ancient settlement, the IAA said. It was found by Nitzana Educational Village director David Palmach, who came upon it while clearing hiking paths in the park. According to the IAA, Palmach noticed an...

  • 'The Challah Girl' - an old tale told in a refreshingly new way

    Jan 15, 2021

    Fairy tales generally have an "old world" feel to them that sometimes is jarring to our modern sensibilities. And yet, their classic story lines and vivid plotting make them a genre that always appeals. "The Challah Girl," a picture book by author Bracha K. Sharp, bridges the gap between out-of-date and timely in a way that is fun and fresh. The bones of the tale, which involves a despondent prince, his anxious parents, and a community-wide quest to cheer him up, feel familiar, but the author's...

  • Course in Orlando explores life, death, and the afterlife

    Jan 15, 2021

    This winter, Chabad Centers throughout Orlando will offer Journey of the Soul, a new six-session course by the acclaimed Rohr Jewish Learning Institute that will answer a question which has occurred to every self-reflective person: What happens when we die? The course will begin Feb. 2 and run through March 9, from 7:30-9 p.m., at Chabad of Altamonte Springs, Nate’s Shul in Lake Mary, Chabad of Greater Orlando, and 7– 8:30 p.m. at Chabad – Center of Jewish Life in South Orlando. The course will be offered over Zoom as well as in-person with...

  • It's always the season for 'comfort and joy'

    Jan 15, 2021

    Westminster resident Joseph Aaronson cozies up in his Jewish Pavilion “Linus Blanket” nicknamed by him and his son Benn, as it brings him great comfort and joy. He uses it every day to stay warm and feel comforted during quarantine. If you would like to help bring more joy and comfort to isolated seniors like Joseph, please consider donating your time or some funds to The Jewish Pavilion www.jewishpavilion.org or call 407-678-9363. — Nina Fine, program director...

  • One of Ukraine's chief rabbis endorses siege of US Capitol by Trump supporters

    Sam Sokol and Cnaan Liphshiz|Jan 15, 2021

    (JTA) — Rabbi Moshe Azman, a prominent Ukrainian cleric with ties to several Trump associates at the heart of last year’s Ukrainegate scandal, endorsed Wednesday’s violent attempt to prevent the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win, comparing the clashes to his own country’s recent pro-democracy revolution. Following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, Azman, a Hasidic rabbi who is one of several figures claiming to be the chief rabbi of Ukraine, posted on Facebook that the “Maidan has begun in the USA,...

  • Orthodox Jewish businessman vies for the crown at World Series of Poker's main event

    Marc Brodsky|Jan 15, 2021

    (JTA) — As Gershon Distenfeld sees it, life and poker have their similarities — notably “a certain amount of uncertainty.” “There is a little bit of luck involved — sometimes a lot of luck,” an Orthodox Jewish businessman from Bergenfield, New Jersey, told the morning show “Bloomberg Surveillance” last week, as reported by the Forward. “But in the end, skill does win out.” Distenfeld, 43, is hoping any combination of luck and skill will land him the champion’s bracelet at the World Series of Poker’s final table, which started Dec. 28 in Las Ve...

  • Iran to boost uranium enrichment to 20 percent 'as soon as possible'

    Jan 15, 2021

    (JNS) — Iran announced on Saturday that it intends to enrich uranium up to 20 percent at its underground nuclear facility at Fordow, in accordance with a law passed in November by the Iranian parliament. “We are like soldiers, and our fingers are on the triggers. The commander should command, and we shoot. We are ready for this and will produce [20 percent enriched uranium] as soon as possible,” said Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi, according to the AP. The Iranian legislation consists of nine articles, among which...

  • WHO fumes as China blocks entry to team studying COVID-19 origins

    Assaf Golan|Jan 15, 2021

    (Israel Hayom via JNS) — The World Health Organization has leveled strong criticism at China for refusing entry to a team seeking to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a rare rebuke, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said two scientists on the agency’s team had already left their home countries for Wuhan when they were told that Chinese officials had not granted the necessary permissions for them to enter the country. The arrangements had been jointly agreed with China in advance, reported CNN. “I am very disap...

  • Islamic Revolution 101

    Clifford D. May|Jan 15, 2021

    (JNS) — In early 1979, I was sent to Iran to report on the rebellion then underway. I was woefully ignorant of Iranian history, politics and theology. But older, more experienced colleagues in the journalistic, diplomatic and intelligence communities also misunderstood what would become known as the Islamic Revolution. So, it was with both curiosity and pleasure that I’ve been reading “The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty,” an enlightening new history by Ray Takeyh, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East...

  • A serious moral failure at Yad Vashem

    Hanan Shai|Jan 15, 2021

    (BESA Center via JNS) — The Holocaust became possible for two basic reasons. The first is that in contrast to the scientific revolution, whose founders replaced the narratives and delusions of the Middle Ages with logically and empirically proven truth and strove ceaselessly to disseminate that truth, the liberal revolution denied and continues to deny the existence of any one truth. The second is embodied in Nietzsche’s proclamation that “God is dead,” which expresses the idea of the death of biblical morality. The Hebrew Bible, which Christi...

  • Is war with Iran imminent?

    Fiamma Nirenstein|Jan 15, 2021

    (JNS) — The traditional New Year’s Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, took place without U.S. President Donald Trump. Faithful to his typical D’Artagnan style, Trump abandoned his friends and returned to Washington, D.C. a day earlier than expected. No one knows why, but rumors have been spreading about grandiose moves and controversial gestures he intends to make before Biden takes the reigns. The chatter among members of the international village centers on a possible war with Iran. Today, Jan. 3, is the one-year anniv...

  • Viewpoint: Dayenu - it should have been enough ...

    Ellen Lang|Jan 15, 2021

    With a lot of urging, I write to shed some light on the focus of the recent deluge of articles, letters, social media posts and phone calls regarding the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. I’ve received enough calls and emails asking me to address the issues at the heart of the deluge that here I am diving into turbulent waters. Why? I am a longtime volunteer, board member and immediate past president of our Holocaust Center. I am also the daughter of the Center’s founder, Tess Wise. These two roles enable me to com...

  • FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: Semitism, anti-Semitism and antisemitism

    Jan 15, 2021

    There are a couple articles in this week’s issue that use “antisemitism” rather than anti-Semitism. In fact, one writer insisted that Heritage use the spelling lowercased with no hyphen. This led to the question “why?” and an interesting dig into the history of the words anti-Semitism and Semitism. First, Heritage sought the answer by asking Marcia Jo Zerevitz, who used “antisemitism” in the article “January is Florida Jewish History Month.” She gladly supplied her answer: “This is currently the appropriate scholarly way to spell the word, whi...

  • Holocaust Center is continuing the work Tess Wise started

    Jan 15, 2021

    Dear Editor: After reading articles in the recent edition of Heritage and past issues, as well as national press coverage of the Uprooting Prejudice exhibit at HMREC, I couldn’t help but realize that many of the people commenting and criticizing HMREC for hosting the exhibit, were not aware that from the very beginning of its existence, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center supported programming on two tracks in order to fulfill its mission. On one track, they successfully brought Holocaust education to the local schools, trained...

  • Our country is in danger

    Jan 15, 2021

    Dear Editor: After a bitterly contested fight the election for U.S. Senators is over in GA. Who won? You can say that the Socialists won. You can say that the Communists won. You can say that American Jews are among the biggest losers of this election. Why? Rev. Warnock is a bigoted anti-Jew, anti-Israel, friend of the notorious Louis Farrakan, head of the Nation of Islam anti-Jew and also friend of another anti-Jew and anti-Israel Jeremiah Wright. Former U.S. President Obama was a member of Wright’s church is Chicago for 20 years and his r...

  • What's Happening

    Jan 15, 2021

    MORNING MINYANS (Please note, because of the coronavirus, some minyans have been canceled or held virtually.) Chabad of North Orlando is holding in-person minyans. Chabad of South Orlando — Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. and 10 minutes before sunset; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, 8:15 a.m., 407-354-3660. Congregation Ahavas Yisrael — Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m., 407-644-2500. Congregation Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Daytona — Monday, 8 a.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m., 904-672-9300. Congregation Ohev Shalom — Sunday, 9 a.m.,...

  • Conference of Presidents condemns PA payments to terrorists

    Jan 15, 2021

    (New York, NY) — Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement: “Once again, we demand that the Palestinian Authority stop encouraging and incentivizing terror through its reprehensible pay-to-slay policies rewarding acts of terror against Israelis by financially compensating perpetrators and their families with so-called martyr payments. Palestinian leadership is going to extraordinary lengths to continue the...

  • Court strikes down capacity limits on houses of worship

    Shira Hanau|Jan 15, 2021

    (JTA) — A federal court of appeals ruled that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s capacity limits on houses of worship in areas with rising COVID-19 cases constituted a violation of religious liberty. The ruling on Monday comes after a Supreme Court injunction last month blocking Cuomo from enforcing the rules until the lower court could reevaluate an earlier ruling that upheld state guidelines limiting synagogue attendance to 10 or 25 people. The case, brought by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, an advocacy org...

  • Scene Around

    Gloria Yousha|Jan 15, 2021

    For many (many) years... I performed as a dancer but mostly as a vocalist. In fact, this was the first New Years Eve that I haven't performed. I will always remember the year 2020 as the worst I've ever spent in my long life, mostly quarantined at home watching "Dr. Phil" on television and over-eating! (Oy vay!) Maybe this year 2021 will be back to normal. (If I don't gain too much weight!). Here is a photo of me and Eddie Fisher working on one New Years Eve. (He had just left his wife, Debbie...

  • Jews in the Land of Disney: Jews in the Land of Disney Joe Goldovitz - From cranberry farmer to Jewish spiritual leader, but always a musician

    Ed Borowsky|Jan 15, 2021

    When Joe Goldovitz learned to play the piano at an early age, he didn't realize that music would be the consistent thread that kept him going in more ways than one can imagine. Goldovitz's father was Jewish, his mother Roman Catholic. Born in Portland, Maine, he was accepted into the Jewish faith at his bris by an Orthodox Bet Din. Goldovitz was six months old when his father passed away. "We were living in West Palm Beach however, after my father died, my mother moved back to Dorchester,...

  • Growing up in a hate-filled world

    Alexa Coultoff, First Person|Jan 15, 2021

    Sometimes I feel uncomfortable sharing my Judaism in public. Why should I have to be though? Judaism has had such a profound impact on my life and has shaped me into the person I am today. I attended a Jewish preschool, have been participating in local Jewish events since a young age, attend synagogue regularly, and have endless Jewish friendships made through Jewish youth groups and summer camp. Judaism is so special to me and creates a community that I am proud to be a part of. So why is it that I am so cautiously aware of the hamsa hanging...

  • Weekly roundup of world briefs

    Jan 15, 2021

    France gives $10M to Palestinian group that promotes Israel boycott By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA) — The French government has allocated about $10 million to a Palestinian organization that is a leading promoter of the boycott Israel movement. Promoting that boycott has been found illegal in France in several high-profile cases. The French Development Agency, or AFD, which focuses on “on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance,” last year gave an 8 million Euro grant to the NGO Development Center, or NDC,...

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