Thursday, January 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Series Part 7: Still Part of the Community


At 8:27 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

March 18, 1988
By Carol Brzozowski, Staff Writer

Three months into the current Israeli/Arab conflict, the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis and the South County Rabbinic Association have released a statement on the situation.

The statement takes a middle-of-the-road approach to the problem and calls for dialogue between the two parties.

Here's what they say:

''The Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis deplores the violence and attendant tragic loss of life that has been occurring in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We urge that every effort be made to prevent the loss of lives. Towards that end, we welcome the new American initiative led by the Secretary of State, George Shultz, which hopefully will enable Israelis and Arabs who seek peaceful solutions to find a way to sit down together.

''We are united in our support of Israel's commitment to a peaceful
resolution of the Palestinian problem and the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Violence will not resolve the problems in the Middle East. Only dialogue and a willingness of the Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate directly with Israel will enable all parties to reach a lasting and just solution to the tragic conflict.

''There must be at least two sides at a negotiating table. Arab leadership must bear the ultimate responsibility for the conditions under which the Palestinians live, having rejected every opportunity, including that offered in the Camp David accords, to negotiate a resolution of the Palestinian situation through participation in the peace process. It is in this context that we urge a unified Israeli government to reiterate strongly that it understands the plight of the Palestinian Arabs and that,
against the tide of much Arab intransigence, the Israeli government
continues to be ready and anxious to negotiate a viable political

Rabbi Howard Shapiro, president of the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis and spiritual leader of Temple Israel in West Palm Beach, said the statement was three months in coming for several reasons.

''The Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis only meets once a month,'' he said. ''And it's very hard to come up with a statement that everyone could agree on or one that would not result in a lot of dissention.

''The statement passed unanimously in the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis, but it did not pass unanimously in the South County Rabbinic Association.''

Shapiro said he doubts that such statements by small groups of Jewish leaders receive much attention in Israel.

''However, it means a lot to the American Jewish community,'' he said.

-- Meanwhile, a panel discussion titled ''A Wide Spectrum of Opinion on the Jewish Conscience Versus Israel's Survival'' will be presented at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Temple Sinai in Delray Beach.

The panelists are: Rabbi Richard Agler of Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton; Rabbi Pinchas Aloof of Temple Anshei Shalom in Delray Beach; William Gralnick, southern region director of the American Jewish Committee; Ivan Novick, past president of the Zionist Organization of America; Florida Atlantic University Professor Samuel Portnoy; Rabbi Louis Sacks of Congregation Anshei Emuna in Delray Beach; Florida Atlantic University Professor James Slitor; Rabbi Sam Silver of Temple Sinai i n Delray Beach;
Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz of the Boca Raton Synagogue, and a representative of the ''Peace Now'' movement.

Is Aronin, Florida coordinator for the Theodor Herzl Institute, will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.


March 11, 1988

You've most likely seen the ads on television.

They depict a family situation, tense at first and brought to a
tear-jerking reconciliation in a matter of seconds through the magic of television. And then comes the kicker: ''Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.''

It's becoming more evident these days: Religious groups are discovering that the Madison Avenue approach so many of them condemn from the pulpit can actually work in their favor. More and more congregations have public relations coordinators who in turn have advertising budgets.

Some of the religious advertising has become downright competitive on a theological basis.

Case in point: Last year during Easter week, the Episcopalian Church ran an ad in local newspapers.

It showed a rendering of Jesus and read: ''He died to take away your sins. Not your mind. You don't have to stop thinking when you walk into an Episcopal Church. Come and join us in an atmosphere where faith and thought exist together in a spirit of fellowship.''

Jews do not proselytize, but now synagogues are increasing their use of advertising to target an audience of their concern: unaffiliated Jews.

Nationwide, the percentage of Jews involved in synagogue life is 26
percent; studies in Palm Beach County show that only 13 percent of the Jewish population is affiliated. Estimates elsewhere in South Florida are slightly higher.

A national advertising effort of 25 synagogues -- including two in South Florida -- is now under way and is being directed by the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York, which initiated the program eight years ago.

Called ''Turn Friday Night Into Shabbos,'' the program is designed to attract the attention of unaffiliated Jews through the use of newspaper ads, bumper stickers and posters.

The fruits of that effort culminate in a special service tonight at
participating synagogues. The service will be simplified to allow the participants to fully understand what for many of them may be foreign customs. A traditional Sabbath dinner will be served.

The two participating synagogues in South Florida are the Boca Raton Synagogue and Young Israel of Hollywood.

''We chose synagogues where we knew the rabbis were dynamic,'' said Suri Kasirer, New York coordinator.

The idea for ''Turn Friday Night into Shabbos'' was the idea of New York media consultant Jesse Cogan, a member of the Lincoln Square Synagogue.

''He put together literature that catches the eye,'' said Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz of the Boca Raton Synagogue. ''It's sleek, it's professional, it's the kind of thing we need to do. We believe this will be enormously effective.''

A number of advertising materials appealing to modern ways of life have been prepared. For example, one of the flyers reads: ''On Friday, March 11, how about sharing red wine for kiddush instead of white wine for cocktails?''

''We need to be able to use the most sophisticated media possible before we can even begin to talk to people,'' Winyarz said.

Upon his arrival last year, Winyarz took out an ad in the Jewish World that read, ''Tired of impersonal, monotonous High Holy Day services? Tired of looking at your watch and waiting until it's over?''

The ad raised the ire of fellow rabbis. It also raised his congregation's membership.

Winyarz cites the low synagogue affiliation rate in the area as
justification for his advertising.

''Who wants to say that the emperor has no clothes?'' he asked.

All of the participating synagogues in the ''Turn Friday Night Into
Shabbos'' are Orthodox congregations.

''It's foreign for an Orthodox synagogue to be involved in this kind of approach,'' said Rabbi Edward Davis of Young Israel of Hollywood.

''It's really a novel approach,'' he added. ''I think it's about time.''

Davis -- who formerly worked at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York -- said his congregation, located in a primarily young family area, has had no need to advertise with its 165-family congregation.

''We just felt it was something nice for us to offer since we do have a new building,'' he said.

Davis' congregation has placed ads in local newspapers and is distributing flyers to homes in the Emerald Hills area.

Winyarz said he has distributed the posters throughout the Boca Raton area and has sent out nearly 4,000 advertisements throughout the community.

Avi Chai, a philanthropic foundation, has awarded the Lincoln Square Synagogue a grant of $65,000 to expand the program throughout the United States and Canada.

Foundation leaders were impressed with the way Lincoln Square was reaching out to the unaffiliated.

''What makes the program so splendid is that it is done in sophisticated ways in terms of marketing,'' said Avraham HaCohen, executive director of Avi Chai. ''We must speak to Jews in modern society using contemporary language, talking about the things that interest them. It is not a hard sell nor is it demanding of people for an extraordinary commitment.''

Two South Florida synagogues are using more advertising to target
unaffiliated Jews.
PHOTOS (2, one mug of Rabbi Edward Davis)


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