How Anti-Semitism Ended a Mayor’s Career

23 Apr

At around 2 PM Eastern Time the day before Passover started a tragic event occurred at a Kansas City Jewish Community Center.   Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Miller, shot five people, killing three and wounding two others at the community center and a neighboring senior living facility. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Underwood, 69 and 14 years of age respectively were both killed at the Jewish Community Center. Terri LaManno, a mother of three, was killed while going to Village Shalom, the neighboring senior facility. This horrify event was something that sent shock waves not only throughout the Jewish community, but also various other communities across the nation. An outcry of support for those affected by the tragedy could be seen; however, some showed little to no empathy for the victims and outrage at Miller’s actions. One such man is Marionville, Missouri Mayor Dan Clevenger.

Dan Clevenger has received a fair amount of criticism from locals and people from around the country for the comments he made on Miller. Clevenger knew Miller as he came to his store numerous times and even went so far as to call Miller a friend. Clevenger was quoted as saying about Miller that, “He respected his elders greatly as long as they were the same color as him.” Furthermore, Clevenger said, “Kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much.” These comments made by Clevenger shocked me. The fact that he doesn’t express much anger with Miller’s actions is enough to make me angry; however, Clevenger’s previous writings and current comments about his beliefs enter a whole different level. About ten years ago Clevenger wrote an editorial for the Aurora newspaper in which he wrote, ”The Jew-run medical industry succeeded in destroying the United States’ workforce.” and how the medical industry, “Made a few Jews rich by killin’ us off.” He then switched focus and talked about how he believed that the Jewish people ran the banking industry and put the U.S. into debt.  He also said the Federal Reserve just handed out money and in his words, “The people that run the Federal Reserve, they’re Jewish.” However, with his ignorant beliefs Clevenger believes that Miller had no right to do what he did.

Anti-Semitism is something that I hoped was nearly nonexistent, at least in the United States. However, these recent events have proven that it is anything but extinct. People like Miller and Clevenger unfortunately live throughout the United States. Their beliefs still thrive in the present day. Clevenger blaming most of the United States’ issues on the Jewish people is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany. The sort of beliefs that Clevenger holds truly frightens me. I strive to understand all people’s beliefs, but with Clevenger that is amongst the hardest challenges. When events like this happen it only strengthens my desire to hold onto the traditions and cultures of the Jewish people. The continuance of Anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination is unfortunate but something that can be stopped. We as Jewish people must continue to not only further support and stop hatred for other Jews but any people discriminated against. With Passover at a close, we must reflect as to the events of Passover and the reason we celebrate it, as the reason still holds very true today.

Editor’s Note: Dan Clevenger has since resigned from his position as Mayor.

*All quotes from Mayor Clevenger can be found in the following links: and

Written by Grant C., Heller Israel Advocacy Intern for The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee


Mensch of the Month – Bunny Skirboll

8 Apr

Bunny SkirbollBunny Skirboll has been a part-time resident of Longboat Key for ten years. Bunny is an active member of the Federation’s Board of Directors, as well as past co-chair of the Women’s Division and past Vice President of Programming. She  has chaired many Federation programs and events including the Lion of Judah Luncheon, Women’s Passover Celebration, Book Festival and the first ever Purim Masquerade Ball, held in March 2014. She was the 2010 recipient of Federation’s Women of Valor Award. We are thrilled to officially announce that Bunny has been selected as our Federation’s nominee for the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award, which will be presented at the International Lion of Judah Conference in NYC in September.

Among her many community involvements, Bunny is a member of the Board of Directors of the Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center and has co-chaired its gala. A member of its Maestro Society, the Sarasota Orchestra honored her as a “Leading Lady” and she has co-chaired its gala and brunch.

Bunny founded Compeer, Inc. an international non-profit organization that helps adults and children in mental health treatment in recovery through the healing power of supportive friendships in 1976.  She was the Executive Director until 2004 and presently serves on the national board.

For these reasons and many more, we thrilled to honor Bunny as our Mensch of the Month for April!

5 Israel programs you’ve got to check out

27 Mar

Are you going on an Israel program this summer? Need a little extra money to help get you there?

If you are between the ages of 13 and 30 and have been accepted to a program sponsored by an accredited academic, experiential or volunteer base program (examples: BBYO, NFTY, USY, Young Judaea, etc.) between 3 and 52 weeks, you are eligible to apply for a S.K.I.P (Send-a-Kid-to Israel program) scholarship through The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee! skip ad april 2014

If you’re still looking for the perfect summer trip, here are 5 Israel programs you’ve got to check out. If you have been accepted to any of these programs, apply for a S.K.I.P scholarship now! Don’t delay – the deadline to apply is April 4th.

1. Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI)
Discover the magic of Israel while earning high school and college credit

2. Young Judaea
Choose between 5 specialized teen summer programs or spend a gap year in Israel after high school or college.

3. NFTY in Israel
Study abroad for high school credit, travel for 4 weeks in Israel or go to Europe and Israel for 5 weeks.

4. USY
Offers several different Israel and combination Europe/Israel trips.

5. BBYO Passport
Explore Israel, gain leadership skills, and visit European countries like Spain and Italy.

Can’t find something you’re interested in? Check out tons of other similar programs or apply for a MASA program and ask us about our MASA travel scholarships.

S.K.I.P is presented in partnership with the Shapiro Teen Engagement Program (STEP) of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. STEP Logo

Modern Mourning

25 Mar
Charlotte with her granddaughters on Passover

Charlotte with her granddaughters on Passover

My mother-in-law, Charlotte, recently passed away at the age of 93.  She was Orthodox in her religious beliefs and practices, including having kosher food delivered by ferry to her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from Baltimore before the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  But Charlotte was a thoroughly modern woman for her time in many ways, always working outside the home and furthering her education. It was fitting that the funeral took place on Purim and the rabbi appropriately made many comparisons between Charlotte and Queen Esther, another proud and strong Jewish woman.

The funeral and full week of shiva were carried out the way she would have wanted following all of the traditional ritual practices. There were minyans each morning and evening, mirrors were covered and food was delivered to comfort the mourners.

With all of these customary practices came a modern twist—the funeral service was available for viewing online in real-time, allowing Charlotte’s sister and extended family in Israel to be there.  Thinking about an old family friend who would want to know of her passing, I googled his name and easily found his email address.  Within minutes of contacting him, I received a response and within a few hours, he was reminiscing with us in person.

Thanks to Facebook and text messages, the family was comforted by many family members and friends at the funeral and during shiva. Although Charlotte never got the hang of AOL or her cell phone, this traditional yet modern woman would have appreciated that technology allowed her family to be surrounded by love and memories during this sad time.

Ilene Fox is the Director of Development at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 

Purim Memories from Israel

14 Mar

Orna as a child dressed up for Purim

Being asked to tell you how Purim is celebrated in Israel brought  back  some of the happiest times of my childhood. I still have memories of how  I couldn’t wait for the holiday to arrive.  Weeks before the festivities,  my classmates and I would talk about  little else.  The anticipation was almost unbearable with  enthusiasm and wild imagination as to which costume we would choose.  In the late 70’s, the most popular costumes were a hippie and a cowboy.

Our teachers, of course, had stimulated this wonderful atmosphere by teaching us the story of Purim prior to the holiday as prescribed by the Israeli school system. Our families were asked to prepare OZNAI HAMAN (hamantaschen- a sweet pastry filled with  poppy seeds)  which we brought to school and consumed with great delight.  We were busy preparing RA-SHANIM (noise makers) in the art classes and twirled them while walking in the street parade.  Purim songs were heard all over the street.  You can hear some of these songs here.

As I got older I also celebrated Purim with the ADLOYADA (Purim Carnival).  And, how great was that;   AD DE-LO-YADA, translated, means “until one no longer knows.”  According to the rabbis, participants should celebrate on Purim until they no longer know the difference between  “blessed be Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman”.  I still recall with awe the beautiful processions of carnival floats which, by the way, parade down the streets of major Israeli towns to this day.  And night clubs up and down the country chalk Purim up as their biggest night of the year.

Any Israeli will tell you that Purim is embraced by the entire country with tremendous joy and pride. Religious Jews in Jerusalem as well as secular Jews in Tel Aviv celebrate far beyond its original religious roots.  Purim in Israel truly is a fascinating time to be in the country.  As for myself, I treasure my Purim memories and the warmth and joy  that they have imbedded in my heart.

We at the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee wish you CHAG PURIM SAMEACH – HAPPY PURIM.

Orna Nissan is the Director of Holocaust Education & Israel Programs at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Over 800 attend People of the Book event

13 Mar

From left: Howard Tevlowitz, Federation Executive Director; Ina Schnell, Chair of People of the Book; Robert Edsel, Speaker and Author of The Monuments Men; Steven High, Executive Director of The Ringling. Photo by Sally Ullman Photography.

It was a great evening at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee’s People of the Book event with Robert Edsel, the author of The Monuments Men. An audience of over 800 had the opportunity to hear Edsel speak about the brave, middle-aged men who risked their lives in WWII to save the art of Europe from the Nazis.

Robert Edsel, on a trip to Florence, Italy, wondered why so many art treasures had not been destroyed during the war. He had just sold his business and had the time and interest to investigate. His investigations took him to northern Europe. His most recent book is about the art in Italy and what happened to it.

Recognition for the work of the Monuments Men by the President of the United States for their valor and the importance of their mission occurred in 2007 through the efforts of Robert Edsel. Few people, however, knew the story until Edsel’s book was published in 2009 and the movie was recently released.

The response to People of the Book has been most gratifying. Audience members were pleased to have the opportunity to hear the story and meet the author who has formed a foundation to continue to pursue the return of artworks to their rightful owners, a most difficult task. As I left the auditorium, there was a long line forming to speak with Robert Edsel and have him sign books.

Many thanks to Federation for the opportunity to hear this fascinating story that provides a greater understanding of the importance of saving a civilization’s cultural heritage. The event served to thank donors of $36; we are incredibly grateful for their continued support of our efforts.  Special thanks to our partners and sponsors The Ringling, Sarasota Magazine, The Observer Group and BookStore One Sarasota.

Ina Schnell is the Chair of the People of the Book event.

Mensch of the Month – Roz Goldberg

6 Mar

Roz GoldbergIt is difficult to put into words what Roz Goldberg means not only to our Federation but the Sarasota-Manatee community. While she is likely best known in our Jewish community as the chair for our annual Jewish Film Festival, now in its fifth year, Roz has been actively involved with our Federation for close to 10 years.  Currently, she holds the position of Parliamentarian and is a member of the board of directors and executive committee.  She has also served as chair of the investment committee and as a member of both the finance and policies and procedures committee. Roz is also an active member of several non-profit organizations, such as the Sarasota Film Festival and AIPAC.

Roz is one of Federation’s most dedicated volunteers.  In her role as the film festival chair, she personally screens upwards of 30 films each year and works with a committee to make the selections, but also writes articles, secures interesting guest speakers and even negotiates with producers and filmmakers to secure reasonable screening fees.  She is extremely hands-on and takes her role as chair very seriously.  Her hard work has paid off…the film festival is one of our Federation’s most successful programs, having attracted close to 1,000 participants in 2013.

We are thrilled to honor Roz as our Mensch of the Month for March!  Show your support for Roz by attending this year’s festival.


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