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September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘JCC’

D.C. Theater Retools Controversial Play about Israeli Arabs

Friday, October 11th, 2013

A Washington Jewish theater funded in part by the local Jewish federation scaled back its plans to produce a controversial play concerning how Israeli Arabs were treated when Israel became a state.

Rather than showing the entire play, Theater J instead will present “The Admission” as a workshop in which viewers will be invited to give their feedback. A spokesman for the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, which houses Theater J, said the play, by Israeli playwright Motti Lerner, will be used as a platform for discussion on how difficult subjects are treated.

Washington D.C. JCC officials told the Forward that outside pressure had nothing to do with the decision, which they said was made in part because there was no available Israeli theater to co-produce the play. In the past, Israeli plays mounted at Theater J have involved an Israeli company.

A small group known as COPMA — Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art — in an advertisement in the Washington Jewish Week and an email campaign on several Jewish listservs urged potential donors not to give to either Theater J or the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Robert Samet, COPMA’s chairman, said his group was not against showing the play and does not believe in censorship. However, he said his group was against any Jewish federation funds being used to put on the play.

Samet said the play was “essentially an effort to put into theater some of the people who rewrite the history of Israel.”

In an interview with the Forward following the announcement of the scaled-back version, Samet said he would still push to have the play canceled.

Federation officials had defended staging the play, citing free speech and as a pushback against the problems they said could ensue from the precedent of acceding to threats from a small outside group.

“The Admission” is a fictionalization of a controversy over whether Israeli troops carried out a massacre in Tantura, a small village on the coast, during the 1948-49 Israel Independence War.

What’s With NY Jewish Institutions? JCC Film Fest Dir. Pro-BDS!

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

The shocking news that the 92nd St Y’s now former director was involved in an affair and the possible cover-up of vendor shakedowns, could possibly explain the recent pattern of that institution’s promotion of celebrity proponents of economic and political warfare against Israel.  Perhaps it was simply collateral damage from a leadership gone astray.

But how to explain the New York City Jewish Community Center employing as its film programs director – that is, someone who chooses what films the New York Jewish Community is going to tout for its Jewish audience to see – someone who publicly embraces and encourages others to embrace that despicable movement known as BDS, the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against the Jewish State?

It did not require any investigative journalism to make this discovery.  The JCC’s film director, Isaac Zablocki, wrote an article touting his anti-Israel bona fides in one of the most widely-read (if frequently anti-Israel) outlets, the Huffington Post.

In an article published earlier this week titled, “Boycotting the Messenger,” Zablocki writes glowingly about the use of boycotts against Israel to punish the Jewish state for “violating the human rights of Palestinians.” He romanticizes boycotts as the paradigmatic “non-violent form of protest for centuries.”

The BDS movement fights against the normalization of the occupation of the State of Israel and pushes to exclude Israel from any international program as long as it is violating the human rights of Palestinians.

But Zablocki does not support all boycotts of Israel.  But his selective warfare against the Jewish State is not the Peter Beinart version of “beyond the Green Line is not kosher, within is kosher” style of boycott of Israel.

Nope, Zablocki, being an artiste and all (he had a one film career), is only opposed to arts and academia boycott of Israel. All other kinds of boycotts are hunky-dory.  We’ll allow him to explain it.  Here, again, from his Huffington Post article:

In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nonviolence is a welcome form of protest for the region, and the importance of the use of boycott to get international attention towards pressuring Israel to end the occupation is unquestionable. However, the protest of art, culture and education brings up dangers in the realm of freedom and evolution of thought. Artists and educators have an important impact on changing society. Their diversity of opinions plant seeds of thought and help minds grow.

Could it be that Zablocki, who grew up in Israel, but was educated at Columbia University (affectionately referred to by some as Bir Zeit on the Hudson) sees only as virtuous those in the industries he knows best?  It makes sense, in a selfish kind of way, that Zablocki would want to protect his comrades in the academic and arts industries from having their livelihoods harmed even by his favorite form of “non-violent protest.”  But businesses?  Manufacturing? Construction?  Those are for the uncultured masses.  Never mind that those are the industries in which most Arabs, especially poor Arabs, in the region are employed.  But let’s not allow that to be a consideration.

On the most fundamental level, the question has to be raised and raised repeatedly: why it is that so many institutions which are presumed to be providing services to the Jewish world, and are certainly raising their funds from Jews, are staffed by people who see their bona fides in the arts world as requiring a lusty desire to damage the Jewish State?

Horror in Connecticut

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

On Friday, Adam Lanza (20) stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and killed 20 children.

He began his day fighting with his mother, who he shot in the face with a gun she had legally bought. He then headed over to the kindergarten where his mother taught. It was initially thought that Lanza was allowed into the school because they recognized him, but investigators are now saying they think he forced his way in.

He then shot the the school principal, a school psychologist and three other teachers who were holding a meeting, killing them all and wounding one other person.

After that he walked into a kindergarten class and opened fire killing 18 children and their teacher. Two additional children died in the hospital.

A school custodian ran through the school warning about the shooter, and someone else managed to get on the PA system letting the rest of the school know something was wrong.

Lanza then shot himself in the head.

Lanza was described as shy, disturbed, and autistic, but also brilliant.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and other world leaders sent their condolences to President Obama following this senseless massacre.

 

Palm Beach Fl. JCC Squashes Videotaping of Presidential Debate

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Round two in a no-holds barred debate on whether Jews should vote for Obama or Romney for US president took place Wednesday night at the Palm Beach South Jewish Community Center in Boynton Beach, Florida.  The joint was jumping: hundreds of people were turned away for lack of space, audience members were shouting, speakers were heckled and interrupted and ugliness prevailed.  But unless you were able to squeeze into the room, you’ll have to take the word of those who were there.

Everyone agrees the JCC management preventing any filming or even audiotaping of the event, but the reasons for that prohibition, and the timing, vary widely.  There was also disagreement about which side’s supporters were more raucous. Without any videotape, we will never know who was most at fault.

Why and when were cameras barred from the room?  According to the panelists, the JCC management knew there were going to be cameras.  The pro-Obama debaters said they had spent an hour earlier in the week with a JCC building manager, discussing room requirements and placement of the cameras.

However, JCC director Jeff Trynz insisted no arrangements had been made for cameras to be used, and, as a result, no cameras were permitted.  Trynz explained to The Jewish Press that in order to protect the privacy of JCC members, filming of any event has to be arranged in advance.  However, that does not explain why audiotaping or videotaping of just the debaters was also prohibited.  Nor does it explain why there were armed security guards in the room who, according to several participants, repeatedly threatened to confiscate any equipment that was used to record the event.

All four debate participants told The Jewish Press they were disappointed the debate was not filmed.  The pro-Romney team, however, was livid.

Tom Trento, a Christian Zionist and president of The United West, paid for the use of the JCC room, and paid to have videographers come to livestream and record the event.  Trento and his pro-Romney debate partner, Alan Bergstein, believe they were censored by the JCC.

Trento explained to The Jewish Press: “I made an appointment with the JCC building manager with whom we met for an hour the day before the event.  We talked about where the camera would be placed, there is no way the JCC did not know we were going to film the event.”  “Besides,” Trento added, “I always videotape my events, that way I can prove exactly what I said and what others said, if there’s an issue later.”  In addition, “thousands of people were planning on watching the debate, we publicized it heavily, why would we do that if only two hundred people could see and learn from it?”

(There is no doubt that Treno and his followers had fully expected to videotape the debate. Their home page clearly invites visitors: “Watch this live cast right here on our home page, Tuesday August 21, 7pm, in the viewer below…” The invitation, in large type, appears above an image of the moderator, Jannique Stewart, and an embedded video browser.)

Bergstein believes the barring of recording devices is another example of a pattern of liberal political oppression that has taken place in South Florida this election season.  He recounted the following: a Republican synagogue member was forbidden from speaking at Temple Israel of Greater Miami when Democratic National Committee Chair Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was scheduled to speak there; the barring of Bergstein himself from entering B’nai Torah synagogue in Boca Raton when US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spoke there, and the escorted removal of an audience member for waving a small Israeli flag during Amb. Rice’s speech; and the recent cancellation by the Florida Broward region of Hadassah, of a political debate which included the same debate teams as appeared at the JCC Wednesday night.

“It is because they don’t want liberal Jews to hear the other [Romney] side,” was Bergstein’s explanation, “They panicked, they’re frightened, and they have reason to be.”

Tryntz, the JCC manager, believes he was completely justified in forbidding the recording devices.  He felt the debate group – all four of them – acted “nefariously,” by failing to inform him of the plans to record the event.  When asked whether, according to Bergstein’s account of the evening, “the day before, a JCC official carefully planned where the best locations for the cameras would be,” Tryntz said, “absolutely not, that’s a lie.”

One witness to the event who asked not to be identified shared with The Jewish Press her view that the JCC probably was worried about what she called “Bergstein and Trento’s reputation for disruptive behavior,” and possibly someone high up “did not want to have the JCC used in a propaganda film for the pro-Romney team.”  That witness agreed, however, that the audience members were far more disruptive and rude than were any of the debate participants.

And that was the other aspect of Wednesday’s debate about which the participants disagreed: which side’s audience supporters were more disrespectful. In Bergstein’s words, the pro-Obama audience members were “raucous, rude, disrespectful, [a] well-trained squad [which] heckled, [and] jeered.”  The pro-Obama debater Rabbi Barry Silver used many of the same words to describe the audience members who disagreed with him.  Silver told The Jewish Press, “I was not able to even complete a sentence without jeering, booing and shouting from those who disagree with what I said.  They were especially hostile to any mention of global warming.”

Trento described a group of about fifty women who entered the room together as soon as the doors opened.  These were all older women who were holding uniform, professional looking 11″ x 18″ signs that read, “Women will remember in November” and had the Obama logo.  He said these women kept yelling out, “he’s lying,” “you don’t know what you are talking about.”

The JCC manager disagreed with the debaters on this point, also.  According to Tryntz, both sides were uncivil and equally rude to each other.  He described the scene as “ugly,” and “nasty.”  Tryntz was joined by his 13-year old son at the event, and he was at a loss to explain, when his son asked, “why is everyone yelling?”

There was one high note for the evening.  At one point, when the pro-Romney Trento talked about the need to eliminate the Iranian regime, Rabbi Barry Silver stepped out of role and, acting on his own beliefs, embraced Trento, saying “I’m with you, brother.”  The debate moderator, Jannique Stewart, said, “great! We’ve achieved world peace!”  It was short-lived.

 

 

 

 

 

JCC Maccabi Games to Hold Worldwide Minute of Silence at Opening Ceremony

Friday, August 10th, 2012

WEST NYACK, NY – Ankie Spitzer will lead a live-streamed, worldwide minute of silence this Sunday in Rockland during the opening ceremonies of the JCC Maccabi Games to honor the 11 members of the Israeli team killed in the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The minute of silence will take place between 8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT, Aug. 12, during the live broadcast of the ceremonies. The global community is encouraged to participate in the live stream (http://www.jccrockland.org/maccabi) and show its united support. Spitzer, the widow of murdered fencing coach Andrei Spitzer, has relentlessly fought for a formal commemoration during the Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to deny the victim’s families’ requests.

“The actions of the IOC are unconscionable,” says Spitzer. As she recently told an audience in London that included IOC President Jacques Rogge: “Shame on you, IOC…You have forsaken the 11 members of your Olympic family.” She went on to add that, “We will come back until we hear the words you need to say because you owe them…did they [IOC] forget they are supposed to promote peace, brotherhood and fair play?”

Most recently, the IOC refused to hold a minute of silence as part of the opening ceremonies of the London Games. The decision was made despite worldwide pressure that included an online petition from the JCC – with more than 110,000 signatories representing more than 150 countries – and support from governing bodies all around the world.

“Only the IOC can give the surviving family members what they want, and ultimately deserve,” says Steve Gold, past president of the JCC and chair of the Minute of Silence campaign. “But we want them to know that we are behind them, and let the IOC know that we aren’t going away.”

Since 1995, remembering the Munich 11 has been a component of every JCC Maccabi Games: a week-long Olympic-style athletic event that brings together more than 3,500 Jewish teen athletes from around the world to compete and help promote unity and understanding. JCC Rockland took this one step further when it forged a relationship with Spitzer and the families of the victims to help bring attention to and, ultimately help redress this 40-year-old issue. The JCC also chose to dedicate the 2012 Games to the murdered Israeli athletes by hosting a series of 11 events in their memory. The 11th event will be the opening ceremony of the 2012 JCC Maccabi Games that includes this very special minute of silence.

Other leading Jewish groups, including The Jewish Federations of North America, have rallied behind Spitzer, in calling for a minute of silence. “The Jewish Federations of North America stand with the families of the fallen and the JCC in honoring the victims of this terrible tragedy,” says Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America. “A formal honoring of the slain Israeli Olympians and their families is long overdue, and we fully support efforts like this one to urge the IOC to rectify this painful omission.”

The opening ceremonies of the JCC Maccabi Games will take place at the Eugene Levy Fieldhouse at Rockland Community.

For more information on the minute of silence or to learn more about the Games and JCC Rockland, visit http://www.jccrockland.org/.

JCC Food Pantry Seeks Help For Passover

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Imagine being in the unenviable position of choosing between filling up your car or putting food on your family’s Passover table. For many in the Five Towns – including senior citizens faced with the decision to buy medicine or food – that is a sad and grim reality.

The sluggish economy and higher prices for nearly everything, especially gasoline and home heating oil, has forced many of our neighbors to make these difficult choices every day. For 267 Five Towns families faced with these difficulties, the JCC of the Greater Five Towns’s Kol Ditzrich kosher food pantry in Woodmere is providing some welcome relief. A sharp rise in the number of families accessing the food pantry is stretching its ability to serve those in need, and the demand is growing. The pantry, which saw a major increase over last year in the number of families accessing the community resource, saw five new families looking for help just last week. Many of those recently visiting the pantry at 1012 Central Avenue were looking for the typical items needed for the traditional Passover Seder.

“Passover is a family-oriented holiday, a time of togetherness, and it’s heartbreaking to know that some of our neighbors may not even be able to afford to buy something as simple as matzot,” said Rina Shkolnik, executive director of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns. “We are seeing more families and seniors coming to our food pantry for help, and their stories are similar and very sad.” Many of those who rely on the pantry for food are not eligible for government assistance, such as food stamps. A report by Feeding America and Island Harvest said that among 117,000 people in Nassau County identified as being at-risk for hunger, 62 percent do not fall within the eligibility guidelines for help from programs such as the SNAP program (formerly food stamps).

Ellen Warshall, coordinator of the JCC’s kosher food pantry, tells the story of the family of five whereby both parents, professionals with college degrees, lost their jobs. While they eventually found work, their debt had mounted and their new salaries were not nearly what they formerly earned, putting them in a tight financial situation. “They told us that the pantry had become not only a lifeline in providing much-needed food for their family, but it was a blessing because of the kindness of the staff and volunteers who helped them cope with their new situation,” said Warshall.

The pantry receives support from UJA-Federation of NY and several community-based organizations, like the Five Towns Community Chest, local synagogues and schools. But it is largely funded as a result of the generosity of individual donations.

As a mitzvah to help those struggling to enjoy a warm and blessed Passover holiday, the JCC of the Greater Five Towns is reaching out to the community for monetary gifts or donations of non-perishable kosher-for-Pesach food items to help our less fortunate neighbors during this special time of year. Among the food items gratefully accepted are frozen kosher poultry. Personal care items – such as diapers, deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo – are also welcome. To drop off food or personal care items, please call the Kol Ditzrich kosher food pantry at 516-295-5678. For financial contributions, please make checks payable to the JCC of the Greater Five Towns Food Pantry, 207 Grove Avenue, Cedarhurst, NY 11516.

Working together, your generous donations to the food pantry will allow our less fortunate neighbors enjoy the warmth, happiness and spirit of Passover. The JCC wishes everyone in the community a Happy Passover, and thanks you for your support of what has become a vital community resource for those facing difficult times.

Helping The Jews Of Marine Park

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

During the day, Shea Rubenstein works in real estate development. In the evenings he helps run the Jewish Community Council of Marine Park, an organization he helped establish, to meet the needs of the local community, as its executive vice president.

 

The Jewish Press: How long ago did you start this organization?

 

Shea Rubinstein: This organization started about two years ago. Over time, we have focused more on understanding the needs of our community and have developed different programs. I would say that Marine Park is the fastest-growing Jewish community in the world. Seven years ago, there were 50 families in Marine Park; now, we have over 1,000 frum, Shomer Shabbos families, almost all between the ages of 25 and 35. We have 14 shuls and three yeshivos within the district, ken yirbu.

 

      We saw an opportunity to create achdus; it’s a small community, outside Flatbush and Midwood, with a younger crowd with similar mindsets. Baruch Hashem, other organizations have been extremely helpful to us in the past. They are dealing with a big workload by representing their own communities. I figured, let’s use the same model.

 

That’s how a few individuals – Shua Gelbstein, Jeff Leb, Yossi Sharf and myself – decided to create this JCC of Marine Park. Each of us has our own area of expertise. Shua Gelbstein, who’s a practicing attorney, is our legal mind, Yossi Sharf our financial whiz who serves as our treasurer, and Jeff Leb is our political strategist who knows local, City, State and Federal Government like the back of his hand. We all brought different ideas to the table and the JCC of Marine Park was formed.

 

Of course, we went to the rabbanim. Here we have 14 rabbanim, a Vaad HaRabbanim of Marine Park, and we work closely with them through that vehicle. We come up with ideas, and they give us their da’as Torah. They guide us on how to create achdus, and have our community prioritize issues, rather than relying on neighboring communities.

 

Where is Marine Park?

 

Marine Park begins after Midwood, at Nostrand Avenue, and continues until Flatbush Avenue, and from Kings Highway until Ave U. Mill Basin, Gravesend and   Flatlands are a few different neighborhoods that border us. Even though we call ourselves JCC of Marine Park, we represent a lot of people in the 20′s and 30′s.

 

Tells us how you operate.

 

            We have about 25 volunteers and a call center. People call with any issue, social services, or in need of some of the other projects we’ve developed. Volunteers take those phone calls and either they answer the questions, send them the paperwork or set up appointments for them with caseworkers or local organizations, when necessary.

 

Do the volunteers work home?

 

We have an office on Flatbush Ave and volunteers who get together at night, and work from their homes or offices. You phone the call center and tell them, for instance, “I need health insurance.” They’ll put you on hold and connect your call through to a woman who helps people with health insurance, HEAP, Medicaid and food stamps. She’s a volunteer.

 

Let’s say you need a job; they’ll refer you to someone like me. Some people will call because they’re in too high a bracket to qualify for Medicaid or food stamps, but they need money; they cannot sustain themselves. The rabbanim take care of qualifying a person for a project we came up with, called Project Mazon.

 

What is Project Mazon?

 

Tomchei Shabbos is an amazing organization that does fantastic things. Some people, though, might not be utilizing this wonderful organization. Many of the families in our community suffer in silence – they would rather starve than get a food delivery to their door. Their needs are different in that they have young families. They also need formula and diapers. For these reasons, we began Project Mazon.

 

            We try to get everybody in the community to sign up, to donate five dollars a week via their credit card. They either go to ProjectMazon.org, on the web, or they’ll call our office and give their information. We charge their credit card  $5 or $10 a week, but the minimum is $5 a week, which is equivalent to a sandwich and a coffee. The money goes into one pot, one bank account.

 

Then, in order to qualify, any rav in the community has the ability to sign somebody up. So if somebody feels they need it, or if a rav feels that somebody in his shul needs help, he calls one central person. He gives him only the person’s phone number and the grocery where they shop. From that week on, every Thursday morning, there’s a $50 credit in that person’s account, so they can purchase without anyone knowing. They prioritize their own shopping list and buy things that they really need for their family.  It’s all done anonymously so that people feel comfortable about accepting help. No one in the JCC knows who the recipients are; only the rabbanim know. Obviously, we all trust the rabbanim to qualify the people.

 

           We worked it out with the kosher groceries in Marine Park, and in the high 20′s and 30′s for now. It takes 10 people giving $5 a week to help one family. So if we opened it up to the entire public, the system would be overwhelmed. I spoke about this recently at the Agudah Convention, and encouraged other communities to each start its own “Project Mazon” to support those who are struggling in their own communities. We have a standing offer to assist any organization that would like to start a similar program in its community with organizational support.

 

You have two big events coming up for Project Mazon. Can you tell us about those?

 

Yes, We do have two big events coming up for Project Mazon. The first event is coming up in less than two weeks. On July 21, 2010 – the day after Tisha B’Av is our Second Annual Project Mazon – Glatt Mart Barbeque. It starts at 7:00 p.m. and will be in a large tent at the playground of PS 240 – at 2500 Nostrand Avenue, between Avenues K and L, and it features the delicious meats of Glatt Mart and the wonderful talents of the renowned mentalist Shimi Illuzini. It is the only fundraising event of the year for Project Mazon and we encourage everyone to attend and help support your friends and neighbors who are in need of assistance.

 

The second event that we are running concurrently is our Project Mazon Raffle where you can win a free two-year car lease for a new Honda Insight! This is sponsored by Plaza Auto Mall car leasing. We are having the raffle is September, IY”H. One ticket is $36 and 4 tickets are $100.

 

You can find out more about the Barbeque and the Car Raffle at www.ProjectMazon.org, www.KosherQ.org, or email info@jccmp.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/helping-the-jews-of-marine-park/2010/07/14/

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