Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles from the December 22, 2023 edition


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  • There is an eruv in Central Florida

    Dec 22, 2023

    Central Florida continues to see an influx of observant families. In response to a growing need for Jewish families seeking affordable housing, attractive schooling options, warmer winters and lower taxes, a new 14-mile eruv has been established. Over the past year, local real estate executive Jacob Hara with the assistance of two rabbis from south Florida and under the supervision of Rabbi Sholom Ber Dubov of Chabad of Greater Orlando, investigated, planned and established this eruv. What is...

  • An open letter to the survivors of Oct. 7

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) - To the women, children and men who survived the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 in Israel: You are not alone. We see you. We hear you. We are crying with you. And I am sorry. I am so very sorry. Those words are not adequate enough to convey the depth of my sorrow for what you were made to endure, but they will have to do because I don't believe adequate words exist. I am sorry for the horrors you suffered on that Black Shabbat. And I am sorry for every day of continued suffering you...

  • These are the heroes of Oct. 7

    Josh Hasten|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — Eran the potato farmer. Rachel the food hostess. Michaela the midwife. All three are residents of the northwestern Negev who were caught in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre; all three are heroes who were able to think quickly on their feet and save myriad lives on that dreadful day. Their stories of heroism, and many more, are being gathered and documented online for children, to give them strength and create a sense of unity amid the horrors being shared about Oct. 7. The name of the project is...

  • JFNA fundraising passes $700m

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — The Jewish Federation of North America announced recently that its post-Oct. 7 fundraising has surpassed $700 million. The $242 million that it has allocated—of the $711.5 million raised—is going to about 300 partnering organizations, including Jewish Agency for Israel, United Hatzalah, Magen David Adom, ZAKA and Chabad, the Federations stated. Its areas of focus include food security, support for Bedouin Israelis and people with disabilities and rabbinic services and pastoral guidance. Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Federatio...

  • The Fallen

    Natalie Sopinsky|Dec 22, 2023

    Our first Susya soldier fell. It was the first night of Chanukah. We were eating dinner and my daughter, 16, saw a message in her medical whatsapp group. The head Medic was wishing a friend of mine sorry on her son. I saw it, and said "he probably got injured" and we continued eating. The mother, a good friend of mine, is one of our original medics here. She is a strong person, one of my group of friends, and is one of those women who seems to do it all. She can even do a lay-up on the basketbal...

  • JP Connections luncheon delivers a festive affair

    Dec 22, 2023

    On Dec. 4, the Hilton in Altamonte Springs played host to the JP Connections luncheon, leaving attendees with a memorable experience. The highlight of the luncheon was the recognition of Judy Appleton, who was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award for her outstanding contributions and dedication. Looking ahead, JP Connections is gearing up for its next spectacular event - the annual fashion show at Dillard's on Feb. 15. The upcoming affair promises to be a stylish celebration where Lisa...

  • Rabbi David Wolpe resigns from Harvard antisemitism committee

    Jacob Gurvis|Dec 22, 2023

    (JTA) — Rabbi David Wolpe is stepping down from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard University, citing “events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony” of the university’s president, Claudine Gay, during a congressional hearing this week on campus antisemitism. “Without rehashing all of the obvious reasons that have been endlessly adumbrated online, and with great respect for the members of the committee, the short explanation is that both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I ca...

  • Harvard president will remain in office despite criticism of her response to antisemitism

    Andrew Lapin|Dec 22, 2023

    (JTA) – Harvard University’s board of directors will keep Claudine Gay as the school’s president despite pressure to force her out after she declined to say outright that calls for the genocide of Jews violated campus rules. The Harvard Corporation, the school’s board, met behind closed doors for hours Monday night before formally announcing it would “reaffirm our support for President Gay.” The board said its decision was unanimous, and the statement was signed by all 11 members, including its senior fellow and former Commerce Secretary P...

  • Israeli ministers recommend not letting in Palestinian workers

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — Israel’s Socioeconomic Cabinet on Sunday evening voted to recommend not reintroducing tens and thousands of Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria into the country’s pre-1967 lines. The measure was reportedly opposed by almost all 15 members of the Socioeconomic Cabinet, which is smaller than the full government but includes the finance and economy ministers. Only Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter and Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur abstained, according to Ynet. The decision will now be put to a vote in the Security Cabinet, which...

  • Hamas officials quit Qatar, shut down cellphones

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — Several Hamas leaders recently left Qatar together with their entourages, cutting off communications including cellphones. The leaders left for Algeria, Lebanon, Iran and other countries, according to sources cited by Kan News’s Arabic channel. Among Hamas leaders living in Qatar are Ismail Haniyeh, head of the terrorist group’s political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzook and Khaled Mashal. They live a life of luxury in the Gulf state even as most Palestinians in Gaza live in abject poverty. Officially a major non-NATO ally of the U.S., Qatar...

  • Why the images of Hamas prisoners sparked outrage

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — I was poised to go on a live broadcast of WION, an English-language Indian television network, last week to discuss the war against Hamas. But before my turn to speak came, I was startled by the program host’s introduction to the segment. He spoke of images that were shocking the world and the world’s outrage about them, and gave what might be termed a trigger warning for those about to see them for the first time. As I soon learned, he wasn’t referring to the evidence of the indescribable atrocities committed against Israeli civilia...

  • J Street lobbies against Israeli war on Hamas

    Daniel Greenfield|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — The Oct. 7 Hamas massacres hit hard at communities where many of the residents were left of center. As a result, even some of the usual anti-Israel types temporarily came around to the idea of fighting Hamas. That included the anti-Israel lobby group J Street. On Oct. 9, J Street issued a statement denouncing the attacks and stating that “we stand in solidarity with the Israeli people and with the Israeli armed forces that have been battling desperately to protect them. We support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from this barbaric...

  • FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: Don't let anyone distort the truth

    Christine DeSouza|Dec 22, 2023

    Portions of this article are very graphic. I was talking with my daughter on the phone Friday evening. “What did you do this week?” she asked. I mentioned that I attended a private briefing and screening by the Consulate General of Israel in Miami to see the raw footage of what happened in Israel on Oct. 7. “What are you talking about?” she asked. She hadn’t heard of the Oct. 7 attack. As I started explaining, she asked, “Who is Hamas? Where was this?” Now my daughter is a smart, mature person, but she chooses not to watch any news. “It’s t...

  • 100 years later, Ze'ev Jabotinsky's hawkish Zionism sounds like a formula for peace

    Uri Dromi|Dec 22, 2023

    (JTA) — One hundred years ago, in November 1923, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the greatest leaders of the Zionist movement and definitely the one with the greatest foresight, wrote in Berlin a seminal article in the Razsviet (Dawn, in Russian) newspaper, titled “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs).” His main argument was that in order for the Zionists to succeed in settling the Land of Israel and persist in living there, they must create an “Iron Wall” that will thwart Arab ambitions to eradicate the Zionist enterprise. It is worth quoting him...

  • What's Happening

    Dec 22, 2023

    MORNING 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., 407-298-4650. GOBOR Community Minyan at Jewish Academy of Orlando — Monday – Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Temple Israel — Sunday, 9 a.m., 407-647-3...

  • Israel offers up to $400,000 for Hamas leaders' whereabouts

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces is urging Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to help topple Hamas rule, with flyers dropped in the coastal enclave promising up to $400,000 for information on the whereabouts of Yahya Sinwar and other terror leaders. “Hamas’s end is near. For your future. Anyone who can present information that could help us arrest the individuals who brought destruction and ruins to the Gaza Strip will be rewarded,” read the pamphlets, photos of which were shared on social media. Gazans are offered $400,000 for informa...

  • What does the future hold for Nir Oz?

    Shahar Vahab|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) - I've been in Europe for a month and a half now, and as beautiful as autumn is, it's also cold and wet. I only returned to Israel for a few days, to visit everyone and collect items from home. After two days of traffic jams in the center, I hopped over to Kibbutz Nir Oz for the first time since that day. On that awful Shabbat, Oct. 7, Hamas hordes broke through the Gaza border fence and attacked the sleeping Israel communities opposite the Gaza Strip. They murdered scores of Nir Oz...

  • Two months on, still no word on elderly US woman wounded on Oct. 7

    Etgar Lefkovits|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) - A pair of eyeglasses. In 66 days, that is the only trace found of the 70-year-old American-Canadian teacher who was shot by Hamas terrorists when out for a walk with her husband on the grounds of their southern Israel kibbutz the morning of Oct. 7. Judi Weinstein Haggai is currently the oldest woman among those kidnapped by Hamas that day whose fate is unknown. In all, more than two months after the attack, 117 people are still being held by Hamas-along with the bodies of 20 people...

  • House passes resolution equating antisemitism with anti-Zionism, despite many abstentions

    Ron Kampeas|Dec 22, 2023

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a nonbinding resolution saying that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, with support from all but one Republican and a substantial minority of Democrats. The resolution was introduced by the two Jewish Republicans in the House, Max Miller of Ohio and David Kustoff of Tennessee. It was notable for the number of Jewish Democrats who voted “present,” effectively abstaining, in part because they did not agree with the resolution’s contention that all forms of anti-Zionism were antisem...

  • Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Male caregiver tips

    Dec 22, 2023

    Men account for almost 40 percent of the caregiver population. In order for male caregivers to properly care for their loved ones, they must remember to care for themselves. Here are seven emotional and physical tips for male caregivers: • Participate in a support group. • Vary the caregiving responsibilities among family members or friends. • Exercise an average of three times per week and maintain a healthy diet. • Establish time for meditation. • Practice time management. • Prepare all necessary documents, i.e.: insurance policies, d...

  • Is it OK to eat? Child hostages ask doctors who treated them

    Etgar Lefkovits|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) - Is it OK to eat? Can we look out the window? Is it alright to leave the room? These were among the questions that scores of traumatized Israeli children held hostage for over 50 days by Hamas in Gaza asked doctors and social workers during their first days of freedom and recuperation earlier this month. Slowly, the children began to regain their trust. A half-smile; an immediately granted after midnight request for schnitzel and mashed potatoes. After some days, they were released from...

  • Families of American hostages meet with Biden in person for the first time

    Ron Kampeas|Dec 22, 2023

    WASHINGTON (JTA) - Wearing black T-shirts bearing the photos of their captive loved ones, families of American hostages held by Hamas met face-to-face with President Joe Biden for the first time, part of a high profile U.S. tour by the group to keep the hostages' plight at the front and center of public discussions about the Israel-Hamas war. "We are grateful to President Biden for his steadfast commitment to bringing our family members home and the compassion he demonstrated today," said a...

  • Turkish lawmaker dies two days after collapsing during rant

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — A member of the Turkish parliament, Hasan Bitmez, died on Thursday, two days after collapsing while delivering an anti-Israel rant on the plenum floor. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced his death. The lawmaker, who apparently suffered a heart attack while speaking to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, was saved by his colleagues, who also had him rushed to the hospital. Turkish lawmaker gets heart attack right after saying Israel will ‘not be able to escape the wra...

  • BBYO 'global Shabbat' draws more than 16,000 teens

    Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) - More than 130 gatherings on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 through BBYO's "Global Shabbat" initiative drew more than 16,000 teens from 30 countries. "This historic teen-led movement-wide initiative has been anchored in BBYO culture since it first launched in 1928," per the nonprofit, which was formerly called the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization and which split from B'nai B'rith International more than 20 years ago. The recent event had two themes-"forever young" to mark BBYO's centennial year and "re...

  • Citizenship applicants must sign statement in support of Israel

    Toby Axelrod|Dec 22, 2023

    BERLIN (JTA) — Recognizing Israel’s right to exist is now mandatory for those who want to become German citizens in the former East German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Applicants living in the state will have to confirm in writing “that they recognize Israel’s right to exist and condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the State of Israel.” Saxony-Anhalt’s interior minister, Tamara Zieschang, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union party, said Tuesday that the rule went into effect at the end of November. The new sta...

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