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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘South Florida’

The Ultimate Antidote

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Two South Florida officials were arrested and led away in handcuffs on the same day last week. Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono were taken from their respective city hall offices. They were charged with corruption in two separate cases. It is alleged that both Pizzi and Marono took thousands of dollars in bribes. FBI agents say they’ve recorded many of the incriminating conversations. Both men were released on bail and are awaiting trial.

South Florida seems to be a particular magnet for this type of activity. The problem, however, is far from regional. Abuse of power by officeholders is endemic and widespread.

There are politicians of every level, from locals to heads of state, who succumb to a smorgasbord of transgressions. There are cases that involve misuse of funds, stealing, payoffs and graft. There are cases of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance. There are cases of “sexting,” harassment and involvement in a litany of inappropriate behavior. The scandals are plentiful, the details salacious.

How is it possible that those who are in the public eye would act in such a manner? Don’t they think of the possibility of getting caught? Why do they act with blatant disregard of the dictates of normal society? Why do they believe they are above it all?

The answer is sobering. Power and influence are quite heady. Its draw can be intoxicating. Those who succumb can become “drunk” with power.

Freudian psychology calls the dilemma the conflict between the id and the superego. Jewish tradition calls it the fight between the yetzer hara and the yetzer tov.

Jewish law has the ultimate antidote for the problem. The king in ancient Israel was given an excellent tool for managing his role as monarch. Instead of being presented with a royal scepter, he was mandated to carry something of much greater worth.

The king was required to always have a Torah scroll by his side. He was to read and study, reflect and learn. It was the ultimate insurance against an inflated sense unbridled entitlement.

The passage in Devarim states: “And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes to do them; that his heart be not lifted above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment.”

Flesh is weak. The pull of temptation is strong. It is good to understand that, ultimately, we all have to answer to a higher authority.

It’s My Opinion: Kristallnacht: 74th Anniversary

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Jewish community is marking the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which occurred on November 9-10 in 1938. South Florida’s Holocaust Memorial, located at 1933-1945 Meridian Avenue, held its ceremony on the evening of November 8. Commemorations were observed around the world.

Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, took place in Germany and parts of Austria. Synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses were vandalized and in many cases destroyed. Their windows were smashed and the streets were strewn with broken glass. The result of the event was catastrophic: 91 Jews dead and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Kristallnacht was a pivotal event in the Shoah. It was an ominous moment in history and foretold what would soon follow. The world, for the most part, stood silently by. The collective Jewish community, for the most part, hoped that this anti-Jewish wave would somehow pass. Hitler was given a silent nod to proceed with his plan of genocide.

Of course, in retrospect, the events of Kristallnacht did not come in one shattering night. The signs were there. Some could anticipate. Some ignored. Some had no idea what was being fomented.

I am a so-called baby boomer, born after the war. When I learned about the Holocaust I asked my parents, “Why didn’t the Jews in America do more to help?” The answer was, “We really just didn’t know.”

It is obvious to see how dangerous and even deadly “not knowing” can be. It is quite shocking to realize that many Jews do not yet understand this concept.

I am saddened to hear some of my well-intentioned Jewish brethren proudly proclaim that they do not listen to television or radio and do not read newspapers. They are sincere in their attempt to avoid the shmutz that abounds in the secular world. They do not want to deal with matters out of their personal circle. They attempt to circumvent the negatives of secular society and concentrate solely on the spiritual world of Torah.

The reality, however, is that we are in olam hazeh (this world), not olam haba (the world to come). Whether we like it or not, we are all affected by trends and actions surrounding us.

There are many storms that are necessary to monitor, and not all of them are found in weather reports.

There is another commemoration the Jewish world is marking. It is the 22nd yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, z”l. Rabbi Kahane was a brilliant Torah scholar and fearless leader. His motto was “Never Again!” We all need to understand what that phrase really means.

Voter Registration Drive In South Florida

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The Orthodox Union and Jewish Leadership Coalition for School Choice (JLCSC) are pleased to announce a joint nonpartisan voter registration campaign in Hollywood and Boca Raton, South Florida.

September 10 through 24 will be designated for voter registration in local organizations, synagogues and schools. At these locations, voter registration forms, instructions and eligibility resources will be available. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the level of participation and engagement by Jewish Floridians in the upcoming federal, state and local elections.

Florida’s Jewish community is certainly mindful that the presidential and congressional election will impact key national policies including U.S. policy toward Israel, the economy and the healthcare system. However, many voters often overlook other important issues decided by state and local governments – issues such as tuition scholarships for their children and critical aid for parochial schools, including Jewish day schools, are often directly influenced by elections at the state and local level.

Jesse Hervitz, deputy political director for the Orthodox Union, has made the Jewish day school community’s involvement in state and local government one of the OU’s main focuses in South Florida. “There are many issues of importance in state and local governments on which the Jewish community’s voice must be heard. This will not take place until our community as a whole makes the most of their civic responsibility.”

Eliot Schreiber, director of the South Florida Chapter of the JLCSC, noted the potential impact of the Jewish community in local races as it pertains to issues of importance to the local Jewish schools. “A number of races of importance in North Miami and Miami Beach were decided by only 800 or so votes,” he said. “The Jewish community needs to understand how important each vote is. We need to get more involved and send the message that our community values this fundamental American right and takes it seriously.”

It’s My Opinion: A Perilous Journey

Friday, August 17th, 2012

A dilapidated old boat recently came ashore in South Florida. The rickety vessel was a small, old fishing boat. Eighteen passengers were crammed aboard. Its engine was recycled from an old Soviet automobile and had a fuel leak. A tree branch propped up the sail. The hull was cracked.

The “Esperanza” – the Spanish word for hope – arrived in Miami from Cuba last Wednesday. The journey was perilous.

The human condition has a strong component of self-preservation. What could possibly drive individuals to take such a dangerous voyage? What circumstances would justify the risk to human life?

Fidel Castro was the sweetheart of the Cuban people when he came to power 52 years ago. The population took to the streets chanting his name. They thought the country would undergo a change. They thought everyone would be equal and prosperous.

Fidel led the charge against the rich. He confiscated their mansions to convert them into apartments for the poor. He advocated a slew of government-centered programs in health care, education and jobs. He was the patriarch who would care for all needs. He also would tell his compatriots what to think and what to believe. His efforts were a dismal failure. The Communist system does not work. It has failed everywhere it has been tried.

Cuba today is a decimated country. Most of the population lives in a primitive state of abject poverty. There is no commerce, no hope. The job creators – manufacturers and businesses – fled to friendlier places. The desperation is palpable.

The Cuban balseros (rafters) have risked their lives on many occasions to escape Cuba. They have come in leaky boats, inner tubes tied together and rafts.

The Cuban exile community is a hard-working population that has enjoyed success in America. The American dream has always been the ideal of equality of opportunity, not equality of accommodations for all. Many Cubans have risked their lives to escape Castro’s tyranny. Obviously, to them, life in those circumstances was not worth living.

Elections in America are coming soon. We should take this opportunity to appreciate American democracy.

Kosher Food Concession Stand Opens At Marlin Park

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Marlins Park, the new home of baseball’s Miami Marlins, has a kosher concession stand called Kosher Korner. The stand, an exciting accommodation to South Florida’s kosher crowd and visitors, has been met with great enthusiasm.

Kosher Korner sells kosher hot dogs, hamburgers, “cheeseburgers” with pareve soy cheese, pastrami and corn beef sandwiches, potato knishes, French fries and drinks. New items are planned and will be added through the season.

Kosher Korner is under the strict supervision of ORB certification. There is a certified mashgiach on hand during every game, except for Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Jewish holidays. The stand hosts a daily Minchah/Maariv prayer service, located on the Promenade Level/Section 1 of the stadium.

For further information or special requests, contact Mitchell Rubensteen at Kosherkorner@gmail.com.

Red Miracle Van

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The Schwartzes had three vehicles but only two drivers. At any given time the third vehicle, the 2005 red Ford van, could be seen on different driveways throughout the neighborhood – and sometimes even in Miami Beach and Hollywood, Florida. The Schwartzes kept a third vehicle, knowing that not everyone had a car.

Many people come to South Florida because of the excellent medical care, and while there they must deal with the cost of housing and food – and the loss of income. The Schwartzes wanted such people to at least be sure they had transportation and didn’t have to rely on renting a car or paying for a cab.

They first came up with the idea when Rabbi Rosen was in town for a liver transplant. The rabbi’s family was with him and they didn’t have transportation to get around. The Schwartzes realized Rabbi Rosen was saddled with many concerns and although they couldn’t solve all of them, transportation was one burden they could remove. For the few months that the Rosens were in town, they drove the red Ford van.

When other people were in town for medical procedures, they drove the red Ford van as well. When a member of the community lost his job and couldn’t afford to replace his car, the red Ford van showed up in his driveway. When someone had an accident and the insurance didn’t cover a rental, the red Ford van appeared in his driveway. The red van was a lifesaver to many people.

One day, Mr. Schwartz’s sister was in town and took the Schwartz children with her. An accident occurred and the van was totaled. No one knew how anyone got out of that van alive, but none of the Schwartzes or the driver received so much as a scratch.

The Schwartzes’ van was always a lifesaver for everyone. Perhaps that’s why it was a lifesaver for them.

Hachnossos Kallah of Greater Miami to Hold Benefit Tea

Friday, February 10th, 2012

South Florida’s Lana Ditchek Goldberg Hachnossos Kallah will observe its 28th anniversary with a delightful evening featuring Israeli singing sensation Rachel Factor. The women-only event will include delicious sushi, dessert buffet, coffee bar, boutique and raffle prizes.

The event will take place on Tuesday, February 21, at The Shul of Bal Harbour, 9540 Collins Avenue in Surfside. Complimentary valet parking will be provided.

This year’s honoree is Barbara Dahav, well known for her many acts of chesed throughout the South Florida community. She has served Hachnossos Kallah of Greater Miami since its inception and is treasurer of the group.

Hachnossos Kallah enables young couples needing financial help to have weddings they can remember with pride. The organization also provides aid in setting up a Jewish home. This is an expensive undertaking that many cannot afford.

The annual Hachnossos Kallah event provides a unique opportunity to ensure that Jewish newlyweds begin their marriage with dignity and simcha. Locals and visitors are invited to participate.

General admission is $36; Sponsors, $50; Patrons $100; Supporters, $180; Benefactors, $250; Silver Benefactors, $360; Gold benefactors, $500; and Diamond Benefactors $2,500 and up.

For more information about the event or the work of Hachnossos Kallah, call Judy Mayberg at 305-534-8635.

OU Executive VP To Be Scholar In Residence At Beth Israel Cong.

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil will return to South Florida to serve as scholar in residence at Beth Israel Congregation for Shabbat February 17-18, Parshat Mishpatim. The OU member synagogue is located in Miami Beach at 770 W 40th Street.

Rabbi Steven Weil

Rabbi Weil will give the Shabbat morning drasha on “Men Are from Mars, Women from Venus: The Orthodox Version.” He will present a shiur for men and women, beginning at 4:40 p.m., discussing “Mishpatim: The Great System That Makes or Breaks the Jewish People.” Rabbi Weil will also speak at seudat shlishit.

(Next week Rabbi Weil will lead a delegation of the OU’s top representatives who will be visiting 10 separate synagogues across South Florida to provide strength to the communities as they face today’s Jewish challenges.)

For further information, contact the synagogue at 305-538-1251.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/ou-executive-vp-to-be-scholar-in-residence-at-beth-israel-cong/2012/02/10/

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