Friday , November 17, 2017 / 28 Cheshvan, 5778

November 17, 2017
One of South Florida's Best Film Festivals!
We are honored that Miami New Times has selected the Miami Jewish Film Festival as one of "South Florida's Best Film Festivals!" Over the last five years the Festival has grown to become one of the world's most respected and largest Jewish cultural events, reaching an audience of nearly 30,000 film lovers, and bringing communities together through the power of film. If you haven't already done so make sure to Save The Date of January 11-25, 2018when the Miami Jewish Film Festival will celebrates its 21st annual edition, featuring over 60 films, acclaimed guests, live performances, and so much more!
Our Festival Director has also been invited this weekend to attend the Key West Film Festival as a special jury member and speaker. We are thrilled about the Festival's continued growth and success, and thank the Festival's Advisory Committee, lay leadership, members, sponsors, community partners, and film lovers for their continued support in bringing the best of world cinema to Miami!
Approaching Israel 70 through 
Better Israel Education

  • How often do you currently talk about Israel in any way: with students, with work colleagues, with friends or family? 
  • To what extent do you feel comfortable/confident engaging in discussions about the Israel/Palestinian conflict with people who know a lot about Israel or... with people who disagree with you? 
  • Do you dance around the complex issues that comprise Israel's reality?
  • Do you ignore them or do you talk about them in a way that fosters open discussion and exploration?

Robbie Gringras, the Creative Director of MAKOM, the premier innovative Israel education organization of the Jewish Agency for Israel, asked these questions of congregational educators and youth engagement professionals from 9 Miami programs in this year's Sharsheret professional development program on Israel education. Part of a multi-series set of workshops MAKOM is providing our educators, Gringras was guiding them in wrestling with and embracing the complexities of Israel by using the "4HQ" method. 

MAKOM's original, creative and intellectually stimulating 4HQthe Four Hatikvah Questions--  provides a framework for educators and their learners to explore Israel's current reality through 4 lenses/ perspectives, that originate from Hatikvah, Israel's national anthemL'hiyyot- To Be, Am- a People, Chofshi- Free, B'artzeinu- In Our Land.     
  • L'hiyyot- To Be (issues of security and safety),
  • Am- a People (issues of peoplehood and citizenship),
  • Chofshi- Free (issues of democracy and religious diversity),
  • B'artzeinu- In Our Land (issues of territory and borders).     
Research has shown that American Jewish educators have done an excellent job in connecting students with the awareness of Israel as our homeland.  However, when these teens or young adults are asked to explain what "Israel as their homeland" means, most cannot speak about Israel with any depth and clarity.   

CAJE director of Congregational Education, Joy Schandler is collaborating with Robbie Gringras, Creative Director for MAKOM, in presenting a series of learning seminars and webinars to help educators deepen their own knowledge of contemporary Israel and at the same time, give them tools to teach the nuances of Israel: in a way that is understandable and basic, but not overly simplistic; in a way that deals with the politics but is not obsessed with it; and in a way that gives a human and Jewish voice to the ever present issues that dot Israel's landscape. 

Perhaps this is the best gift Miami Jewish educators can give to Israel on the occasion of its 70th anniversary- the gift of insight, awareness and open discussion that will emanate from our exploration of 4HQ.  

Click to watch what this year's Sharsheret is all about..

Profiles of our Marchers
Danielle Engel 

I love how uniting the March of the Living is. Young, old, reform, orthodox -everyone can participate. This builds a sense of community that I would like to be apart of.The Holocaust is such a large part of Jewish history that must be discussed and understood. As a young Jew, I am interested in continuing the Jewish religion and learning from its past. Schools teach it and temples discuss it, but physically seeing and learning about the impacts of the Holocaust from survivors offers a whole new sense of awareness.

I would like to take this opportunity to remember those who perished and those who survived with open hearts and minds full of respect and understanding. Not only as Jews, but as genuine human beings, we must recognize the array of horror and torture that occurred in the past in order to create a future where the perils of the Holocaust is unthinkable... A future where bigotry and hatred is nonexistent, a future where all religions, people, and beliefs can harmonize. Ultimately, I hope that the March is a server of remembrance. I hope that the March of the Living reminds all people that we must produce a future that we will one day be proud to call the past.

Alexandra Fincheltub 
(Scheck Hillel Community School)

What interests me most regarding the opportunity to participate on the March of the Living is being able to meet and engage with the remarkable survivors that come on the trip.The events and history of the Holocaust have been thoroughly taught and studied by me thanks to my exposure at school as well as my own curiosity and research. However, I have always been aware that these sources are secondary and are on an inferior level in regards to their connection to the actual events. They are also, more often than not, found lacking in emotion and expressing how tragic and horrific the Holocaust was....

What I wish to take away from the March of the Living experience is a new, more grounded awareness and understanding of a past that changed my people forever, and what it means to be a Jewish young adult in this day and age. I want to forever remember the connections I will make and what I will be shown and taught on the March... 

Cameron Behar 
(MAST Academy)
The March of the Living is something I have heard about my entire life, as my mother had the privilege of being a member of the first class to attend in 1988.  Although her experience occurred almost thirty years ago, it helped define our Jewish household, its beliefs and customs and our connection to Israel.  As my mother is now a docent at the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial, I am eager to have my own first hand experiences by walking amongst the physical remains which serve as a constant testament to Nazi crimes of the past and a reminder of modern day hate and racism... 

From my March experience, I hope to continue forging my sense of modern Jewish pride and community, not just in my synagogue, but with Jews from around the country. I also hope to gain a new network of Jewish friends for University and beyond.  Most of all, I want to connect and share those experiences that helped define my mother, whom I love and respect for her constant devotion to Jewish causes, which emanated directly from her experience on the March as a young 17-year-old teenager much like myself.
Words of Wisdom 
by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar
Two Sides of the Same Coin

This week's Dvar Torah on Parashat Toldot is taken from the Union of Reform Judaism website, where our very own Rabbi Judith L. Siegal, of Temple Judea in Coral Gables, is featured:


Each one of us has the inclination for good and for evilIt is taught in Avot d' Rabbi Natan that a child does not even attain the inclination to do good until the age of 13.

Jacob and Esau are described as a myrtle tree and a wild rose growing side by side until they attained maturity. Only after the age of 13 did Jacob choose to go to the house of study, while Esau went to idolatrous shrines (B'reishit Rabbah 63:10).

What makes us human is the ability to choose good or evil. Our DNA might determine much about who we are (the color of our eyes, our height, our skin color), but we still choose, every day, how we will live.

Jacob and Esau had different traits even in the womb. Jacob is the brother who gains the favor of the Rabbis ultimately, but in Toldot, he is conniving and conspiring. Esau...  is viewed by the biblical author as "impetuous and brash" and by later commentators as a "wild beast." The words in Toldot imply that their character was inescapable.  

Yet, Jacob goes through changes in his lifetime. He becomes a person who later wrestles with God and is given the new name by God, "Israel." Toldot gives us a powerful reminder that we not only have the ability to ask for and grant forgiveness, but also, that not one of us is faultless. Each of us sins. Each of us, even Jacob, for whom our people is named, follows the wrong path sometimes. And like Jacob, we each have the capacity to turn back and become the best possible human being we can be.

Rabbi Siegal will be a featured speaker at the Union for Reform Judaism's 2017 Biennial in Boston, December 6-10, 2017.



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