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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Jon Voight Woos Jews in Otherwise Tame Tampa Convention

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Delegates to the Republican Convention have been pouring into Tampa for the last several days.  The delegates have been pouring in, but thus far, despite predictions that Hurricane Isaac might bring with it heavy rain and driving winds, there has been ‘nary a cloud in the sky.

Lynne Kessler Lechter  serves on the National Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.  Lechter told The Jewish Press that on Saturday night she attended a dinner for Republican Jewish Coalition leadership at the home of Ambassador Mel and Betty Semble.  Semble, a co-chair of the Florida Finance Committee for Mitt Romney, served as US ambassador to both Italy (2001 – 05) and Australia (1989-93).

The Academy Award-winner Jon Voight was one of the speakers at Saturday night’s dinner.  Lechter, who serves on the National Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition, was delighted.  Voight explained to the RJC leadership that in part, his strong support for Israel was based on the fact that “his dad worked hard all his life and taught him to love and respect Jews because they have similar values.”

Marion Taxin is a delegate to the Republican Convention, representing Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, located in suburban Philadelphia.  This will be Taxin’s second Republican Convention, having attended as an alternate in 2008.

The Jewish Press caught up with Taxin as she traveled by bus from the West Shore Doubletree Hotel on her way to the Convention site.  Although Taxin had not yet heard the news that Rabbi Meir Soloveichik was going to be giving the Convention invocation, she already knew, she said, that “Mitt Romney was truly committed to the Jewish State.”

“Josh Romney spoke to our delegation at a breakfast this morning,” said Taxin.  “He told us with such great pride that when he and his parents were recently in Israel, the response from the Israelis was incredibly enthusiastic,” she continued.

“He told us that so many people came up to him, when he was in Jerusalem, and said, ‘we need your dad, we have to have your dad win.’”  Taxin said that “Romney’s son understood that his father needs to win because Israel’s future is at stake.”

 

Group Picture with a Congressman

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Here’s Congressman Allen West with the folks of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Reminder: the Republican Convention is on in earnest as of today, having escaped the ravages of Hurricane Isaac which is on its way to New Orleans (Please, God, not again…).

Allen Bernard West (formerly battalion commander of the 2d Battalion 20th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division), is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 22nd congressional district.

Lieutenant Colonel West was fined and relieved of command in 2004 for the way he had handled an Iraqi suspect.

At his military hearing, near the end of his career, West was asked if he would act differently under similar circumstances in the future, and he testified, “If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”

At a town hall meeting in Palm City, Florida, in April of 2012, West was asked what percentage of the American legislature are card carrying Marxists or International Socialists. West responded that he believed “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party.” He then clarified that he was referring to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They may not be actual Marxists, but they might as well be, is what he meant.

In July of 2011, West brawled with Democratic Representative and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, emailing her in response to comments she had directed at him in a speech on the floor of the House, calling her “the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives,” adding that she was “not a Lady,” and advising her to focus on her own congressional district.

You don’t want to get caught in the crosshairs of Lieutenant Colonel Allen West.

On the economy, West is a flat tax guy, anti abortion and anti gay marriage. He is the only Republican member of the African American Caucus.

On Israel he is a straight friend. He concluded a speech on the topic with: “There are battle lines clearly drawn, I know where I stand, and that is to support the State of Israel. The lessons of history have been learned by me and I offer one simple retort, ‘Not on my Watch.’”

We wish the RJC and the RNC a fine, exhilarating convention. The Jewish Press is getting ready to endorse the Republican ticket come November, and I, for one, can find at least one excellent reason why the Republican convention should outclass the Democratic one: No Jimmy Carter speeches!

Florida debate: ‘Should Jews Vote for Obama or Romney’

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

If you are already bored with the US presidential campaign rhetoric, do we have a debate for you!

Tonight’s debate in the swing state of Florida will not be the standard snooze, and you can watch it on your very own computer screen.  Among the players are one vegetarian, animal rights, nuke-the-terrorists rabbi; a Christian Zionist whose opposition to Islamic terrorism has placed his group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups; a dyed in the wool Democratic Party leader; and a former high school teacher who debates as if his life depends on it.  He thinks it does.

Florida is one of the key swing states in play in this year’s US presidential campaign.   President Obama made a personal visit to  Century Village in Boca Raton, Florida last month, and newly-annointed Republican vice presidential candidate Cong. Paul Ryan (R-WI ) made one of his first official campaign visits there.  Ryan appeared with his Wisconsin-based mom, who lives part of the year in Florida.

Within the swing Sunshine State,  Florida’s 639,000 Jews are attracting a lot of the campaign attention.  According to a Boston Globe article this week, President Obama is losing some support amongst Jewish Floridians.   Although Jews constitute only 3 percent of Florida voters, their high voter turnout means they may account for as much as 7 or 8 percent of the vote.

Which brings us to tonight’s debate.

Rabbi Barry Silver is the religious leader of the 200-family Reform congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Lake Worth, Florida.  His shul has been holding the Rabbi Sam Silver Controversial Issues Series for years.  Topics they have addressed include: “Which branch of Judaism is the most authentic?” and “Is vegetarianism consistent with Jewish law?”

On May 15, 2012, the Controversial Issues Series held the first debate in this year’s election series.  The question debated then was: “Is President Obama Good or Bad for Israel?”

Tonight’s question is a slightly broader one: “Should Jews Vote for Obama or Romney?”

The same quartet from May is back for tonight’s rematch.  In the blue corner, representing the pro-Obama vote, is Mark Alan Siegel, chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, and Rabbi Barry Silver.  In the red corner, speaking for the pro-Romney vote, will be Alan Bergstein, a transplanted Brooklynite, currently a South Florida pro-Israel activist and Tom Trento, president of The United West.  The United West describes itself as a counter-jihad organization.  It is adamantly supportive of Israel, which Trento describes as America’s beacon of light in the Middle East.  Siegel, however, described Trento and Bergstein as anti-Islamic extremists.

In the earlier debate, Trento seized on Siegel’s statement, that “there is more to this election than merely Israel.” To which Trento responded: “no, there isn’t, there’s one issue – it’s Israel.  It isn’t abortion, it isn’t healthcare, it’s Israel.”

This afternoon, speaking by phone to The Jewish Press, the Palm Beach County Democratic Chair said that in tonight’s debate he “will be presenting a drash, based on traditional Jewish sources, which make clear that Jews should vote for Democrats, because that party is more consistent with traditional Jewish values.”  Siegel especially focused on “the Democratic party being more representative of the Jewish belief in communal responsibilities, such as for education, than is the Republican party,” which he said “focuses on individual responsibility, in other words, everybody for himself.”

In contrast to Siegel, who is a party line supporter of President Obama, Rabbi Silver is less enthusiastic.  Silver told The Jewish Press that the president “speaks well, but what he does doesn’t match up with the rhetoric.”  The Republican challenger, however, fares even worse.  In Silver’s estimation, “Romney doesn’t even say the right things, and unlike Obama’s baby steps in the right direction, Romney is taking huge leaps in the wrong direction.”

But just when you start to chalk up the Reform Rabbi’s positions as predictable of a solid left-leaning Democrat, he shatters that stereotype.

“Israel and the US and the rest of the western world should declare war on terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and also Ahmadinejad,” Silver explains.

“How does the world expect Israel to achieve peace with those terrorists?” asked Silver.   “Just as during World War II we didn’t try to find a way to live with the Nazis, we defeated them militarily, and then we found friends with whom we could make peace.”  According to Silver, “the same has to happen with the Islamic fundamentalists.”

‘Purple Poll’ Showing Romney Leading Obama, Ryan Improving Ticket

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The “Purple Poll” focuses exclusively on likely voters in the swing states, which explains why folks in New York haven’t heard from their pollsters, but also appears to be a sound approach to getting an interesting snapshot of the state of the elections at this moment.

So, did the Ryan appointment give Mitt Romeny the predicted 3+ points edge? You bet your hanging chad it did (as of August 15):

Ohio: Obama 44, Romney 46—Romney +2 Florida: Obama 47, Romney 48—Romney +1 Colorado: Obama 49, Romney 46—Obama +3 Virginia: Obama 45, Romney 48—Romney +3

For comparison, today’s Gallup poll shows Romney with 47 percent of the vote vs. Obama with 45.

But, please, don’t jump into any conclusions here – nothing means anything in American presidential campaigns until after Labor Day.

Here’s the proof of Ryan’s current glow (fueled mostly by the fact that fewer voters have heard about him than about the other three):

Obama Favorability: Favorable-47, Unfavorable-49, Not sure: 4 Romney Favorability: Favorable-45, Unfavorable-48, Not sure: 7 Biden Favorability: Favorable-41, Unfavorable-48, Not sure: 11 Ryan Favorability: Favorable-45, Unfavorable-39, Not sure: 16

And here are some sobering figures for the Obama campaign:

Direction of the Economy: Getting better-29, Getting worse-44, Staying about the same-25, Don’t know-2

Best plan for the economy: Obama-Biden-43, Romney-Ryan-46, Not sure-2

And this note should be of interest to the Romeny side:

Will protect Medicare: Obama-Biden-48, Romney-Ryan-40, Not sure-12

It’s My Opinion: Do The Right Thing

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Tomas Lopez was a lifeguard in Hallandale, Florida who saved a drowning tourist. Then he was fired. The private company that had hired him said he broke the rules. They claimed his action had caused a liability. The struggling swimmer he saved was 1,500 feet away from the zone Lopez was hired to guard. Lopez had deserted his post.

Tomas Lopez has become a national hero. His story has gone viral. It all seems quite unlikely. Lopez, who was making $8.25 an hour in this summer job, plans to go to college in the fall. He is just two years older than the 19-year-old teenager that he rescued.

The protocol for dealing with someone outside the authorized area was clear. The lifeguards were to call 911 and summon help. Of course, in this type of emergency, every minute is important. It can be the difference between life and death.

Lopez made the decision. He called out to another lifeguard to watch his assigned area. He knew his action would result in termination from his job. He did not care. He could not just watch someone drown. He later said in an interview with CBS News, “A job is not as important as a person’s life.”

Tomas Lopez pulled Maksim Samartev, a visitor from Estonia, from the ocean. Samartev was blue. The young man was dragged to shore, where Lopez administered CPR. He was taken to a local hospital.

Things have turned around. The company that fired Lopez, along with six other lifeguards who mutinied in the wake of the incident, has reconsidered. They offered the men their jobs back. Lopez politely declined.

Hallendale Beach officials presented Lopez and his coworkers keys to the city.

A civic-minded citizen who was on the beach and helped with the rescue was also honored. Maksim Samartev was out of the hospital and attended the event. He shook Lopez’s hand and thanked him.

Lopez said he thought he didn’t deserve all the recognition. He said he only did what he was supposed to do.

Perhaps he’s right. In order for society to function in a smooth and efficient way, there is a need for rules and regulations. From childhood, we are programmed to comply. We are admonished to listen to our parents, our teachers, the doctor, religious leaders and various authority figures. When we get older, that allegiance is often transferred to our business, to our boss or to our company. We are advised to conform.

One of the lifeguards who worked with Lopez had a poignant reflection regarding his company’s directive. He said, “Nothing can make that sound right. It’s wrong to not save someone.” It is important to realize that we need to think before we follow along. We need not abandon our common sense.

Following orders is not an excuse. The Nuremberg trials of German soldiers after World War II established that even in the military an individual is responsible for his own actions and there are directives that should not be followed.

Jewish law is very clear. When it comes to preserving a life, even the observance of Sabbath laws must be put aside. The sanctity of life is paramount. We are told that one who has saved a single life has in effect saved the entire world.

Tomas Lopez and his group of fellow lifeguards look like a ragtag group of skinny teenagers. They are, in fact, role models to us all. They bucked the system. They risked their livelihood. They just did the right thing.

When Yeshiva Day School Is No Longer A Viable Option

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The day school tuition crisis is not new. It has been brewing for years. School costs continue to rise while unemployment and underemployment remain high. And one also needs money to live in a neighborhood with shuls and mikvehs, to buy kosher food, to make proper simchas, to cover Yom Tov expenses, etc.

It seems that somewhere along the line it became mandated that in order to be frum you have to be rich – or at least extremely well off.

And of course you must keep your children in private day schools – or else, we are warned, you are putting your children’s Jewish future at risk.

We are told to sacrifice as much as possible in order to provide a Jewish education for our children. Give up vacations, cars, home renovations. Stop drinking coffee. Don’t send your children to camp. Don’t buy anything. Give all your tzedakah to the schools your children attend.

Give up everything that might bring you joy because there is no joy greater than your children’s Jewish education. This, we are told, will guarantee that our children will remain safely in the Jewish fold.

But what of families who have already sacrificed everything? What of families who are receiving financial assistance from the schools and still have trouble making those monthly payments? What of families forced to decide each month which bills to pay and which to ignore? What of families who risk losing their home to foreclosure or having their car repossessed? What guarantees do they get?

In an ideal world, families in need of tuition assistance would receive it and remain anonymous. In the real world, especially in smaller communities, this is impossible. The scrutinizing, the judging, the criticism of families who receive financial aid is intolerable and should be unacceptable. Those paying full tuition are frequently – and quite publicly – resentful, accusatory and spiteful.

The benefiting families are made to feel like a burden on their community. God forbid someone sees them eating at a restaurant. Heaven help them if someone notices them at the movies on Motzaei Shabbat.

Some parents no longer wish to be a burden. They want to pay bills when they are due without worrying where they’ll find the money for tuition. They want to save something for college or retirement. So they make the difficult decision to remove their children from day school and place them in public school. Other families opt for a Hebrew language charter school.

Here in South Florida, a number of Ben Gamla charter schools have opened in the past few years. The advantage of a Hebrew language charter over the local public school is that Israeli culture is taught alongside the language. So while the children cannot daven at school or study religious texts, they can learn, for example, about Chanukah and how the Maccabees fought and beat the Greeks. Just don’t mention the miracle of the oil.

Far from being ideal for frum families, the Ben Gamla charter schools offer an intermediate solution: free secular education for your children, with the added benefit of Hebrew language and Israeli culture and history, taught by Sherut Leumi (National Service) girls.

But what about Judaics?

You tell yourself you’ll send your children to the local Talmud Torah, but then you learn they no longer exist, at least not anywhere near you. You think you’ll hire a teacher from a local day school to tutor your kids a few afternoons a week – until you discover that not a few day schools have told their teachers not to tutor children who have transferred from day school to public school.

So these wonderful educators, who as it is are underpaid by institutions heralding Torah, mitzvot and midot, are threatened with job loss by those very institutions.

Perhaps the rabbis in the community would like to advise parents on finding tutors? Maybe they would like to facilitate a group-learning opportunity for the many children now in public schools due to the tuition crisis?

Some community rabbis seem to believe the majority of families with children in public school do not care enough about Judaics. I beg to disagree. For families who pull out of yeshiva for financial reasons, the cost of private tutors (if you can find one) is too high. For them, the idea of a communal Hebrew school program, geared specifically toward kids who began life in day school, is an attractive one. Something local, affordable and communal. A program like that will cost less per child, and even if it begins with just a few children the likelihood is it will grow in numbers as people see it working and parents are happy with what is being taught.

Netanya to Putin to Florida

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah kick off this segment by discussing Yishai’s recent solar birthday and a trip to the coast in Netanya. They move on to talk about a new prize that was recently announced, presented to those that are influential to Jewish history. The segment continues with a discussion about a recent trip to Israel by Russian President Vladimir Putin and its affect on Israeli/Russian cooperation and wraps up talking about a missing Jewish millionaire.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Sheldon Lisbon Announces Candidacy For House District 100

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Sheldon Lisbon, currently city commissioner of Surfside, has filed to run as a democrat in House District 100. The new district hugs the coastline and takes in many of the beachfront condos, home to mostly retirees from the Northeast United States.

“This new district shares many common interests and I know I am best able to serve the citizens of House District 100,” said Lisbon.

Lisbon taught American government and economics in the D.C. public school system for 36 years. He and his wife also ran a small business in the Silver Spring, Maryland area. Since relocating to Florida in 1996, he has been active in many local associations, was president of his synagogue, and is currently a part-time teacher at three high schools in the area.

Lisbon plans to bring his small-business experience to Tallahassee to create more jobs, with special focus on targeted job training for our unemployed and underemployed. He also will dedicate himself full-time to fight for seniors who deserve high quality healthcare.

“It is time our community has someone who will speak up for the taxpayers instead of the lobbyists,” he said. “My pledge to the voters on August 14 is that I will work tirelessly for the residents of Florida, not the special interests in Tallahassee.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/sheldon-lisbon-announces-candidacy-for-house-district-100/2012/06/06/

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