Sarasota shows solidarity for Israel

18 Jul
A Night of Solidarity for Israel

A Night of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014 at JD Hamel Park, Sarasota

More than 350 people gathered on July 15 at J.D. Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota for a Night of Solidarity for Israel.  Dr. Lewis Hanan, co-chair of Federation’s Israel Emergency Committee, described Israel’s defensive efforts against Hamas and the events leading up to it.  Amber Ikeman and Jeremy Dictor opened the program in song and the audience was addressed by Rev. Dr. Tom Pfaff, Chairman of the Sarasota Ministerial Association; Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Chabad of Sarasota; and Rabbi Michael Werbow, Temple Beth Sholom. Past Federation President Ian Black had returned from Israel the day before. He shared the experience of hearing a siren and having 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter.  Black saw the Iron Dome take down a rocket sent by Hamas.


A Night of Solidarity for Israel Speakers

Left-to-right: Rev. Dr. Tom Pfaff, Chairman of the Sarasota Ministerial Association; Dr. Lewis Hanan, co-chair of Federation’s Israel Emergency Committee; Past Federation President Ian Black; Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Chabad of Sarasota; and Rabbi Michael Werbow, Temple Beth Sholom.


The Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Gospel Choir closed the program which was followed by a candlelit march along the bayfront.

The Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Gospel Choir performs at A Nigt of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014

The Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Gospel Choir performs at A Night of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014


Supporters of Israel walk along the bayfront of Sarasota during A Night of Solidarity for Israel

Supporters of Israel walk along the bayfront of Sarasota during A Night of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014


A supporter of Israel looks on during A Night of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014

A supporter of Israel looks on during A Night of Solidarity for Israel on July 15, 2014


The event was coordinated by The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee ( and The Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative ( Special thanks to the event speakers, performers & volunteers; the City of Sarasota; the Sarasota Police Department; and everyone who attended.


Israel launches Operation Protective Edge

8 Jul

Israel Under Fire

Israel has launched Operation Protective Edge in retaliation of ongoing rocket fire. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee will continue to monitor the situation in coordination with partner agencies.

Operation Protective Edge


Israel’s response to the intense rocket fire from Gaza over the past month, which has been dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” (“Tzuk Eitan” in Hebrew), launched last night. Since Monday morning, over 100 rockets have been fired at Israel. Hamas terrorists in Gaza have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks which are activating “Code Red” sirens deep into central Israel.


More than 240 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since June 12, the day on which the three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered. A nursery school was hit (July 3), two factories in Sderot were razed (June 28) and a number of homes and cars have been damaged by other rockets striking open areas. In addition, a terrorist armed with a grenade tried to enter an Israeli village (June 22) and there have been several cross-border attacks.

The projectiles being fired at Israel include a combination of military-grade Grad missiles, locally-made “Kassam” rockets and mortars. Rockets fired can reach over 50 km affecting more than a million Israelis. Here is a map illustrating areas within rocket range and detailing the maximum time available for finding shelter in each location.

Yesterday, Monday, July 7, a farm was destroyed, and staff at the Soroka Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Beer Sheva rushed newborns to a protected area (click links to watch eyewitness video footage of these events). A retirement home in Yavne was also hit, and a large fire broke out in Ashdod when a rocket hit an empty house.

Last night, two Ashdod residents were out sailing when rockets were fired in their direction. This video shows the rockets, the Iron Dome response and their reactions. This short clip shows children running out of a swimming pool to shelter, leaving no room to question the impact of life under fire.

Once again, the preventative measures in place are helping mitigate the situation. As disconcerting as the sound of sirens wailing can be, residents in southern Israel are used to the need to move quickly and have been following the instructions of the military and civilian authorities, rushing to protected rooms and safe areas whenever needed.

These measures, together with the deployment of the highly effective Iron Dome defense system, have kept physical injuries to a minimum (primarily shrapnel wounds and shock), even as psychological and social support services are seeing a big spike in calls to help lines and other requests for assistance. In future updates, we will provide more information on the disruption of daily civilian and economic life.


School vacation started last week. Yet in some locations, children are returning to schools with protected space to which camp programs and other activities have been relocated. The situation for preschoolers is more complicated, as few daycare centers have sheltered space and facilities between 7 and 40 kilometers from Gaza have been closed under orders from the Home Front Command. Farmers tilling fields on the Gaza border have been ordered to stop work due to the threat of sniper fire. Additionally, the Home Front Command has prohibited gatherings of more than 500 people across the affected zone.

Needless to say, all citizens have been instructed to remain close to a shelter at all times. This means intercity traffic is very light and is having a significant impact on local business.


The Israel Air Force struck over 50 targets Monday night across the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchers, a weapon storage facility, training bases, terror tunnels and other key objectives. Some 1,500 IDF reservists were called up for duty yesterday, with breaking news of a further draft of some 40,000 now approved.

Israel continues to deploy the Iron Dome defense system, which is reported to have an 85% success rate against incoming rockets.

Many Israelis across the country, including those living outside the immediate range of the rockets, and Israel supporters abroad have downloaded the ‘tzeva adom’ phone app, which alerts users when a rocket is being fired at Israel. Supporters of Israel are being encouraged to download the app to raise awareness. Social media reports are trending under #israelunderfire and #protectiveedge.


Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, from the IDF Spokesman’s Bureau, released a statement saying, “In the past weeks, residents of southern Israel were forced into an unbearable reality – a situation they haven’t encountered in these scales since November 2012. In light of these circumstances, the IDF commenced Operation Protective Edge. We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas’ terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region. Terrorists perpetrating the aggression against Israel have a personal price to pay and will bear the consequences of their actions.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “This operation will not be over in a matter of days….We will not tolerate rocket fire over Israel and we are prepared to expand the campaign with every means at our disposal to continue to strike against Hamas. I would like to reinforce the southern residents, mayors and councils who demonstrate leadership and responsibility, helping us to continue the offensive effort.”

As Minister of the Interior Gideon Sa’ar said “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of rockets at Tel Aviv.”

For more information:,7340,L-4539418,00.html

YouTube: 15 Seconds: Not Enough Time

15 seconds

Murder is murder

7 Jul

Jewish Federation of Sarasota - Memorial ServiceThis weekend has been an emotional one for American Jews. We thank the more than 500 members of our Sarasota-Manatee community who came out to our Community-Wide Memorial Service on Thursday night. It was extremely meaningful and brought many of us a sense of comfort in such a fulfilling way. The following day was the Fourth of July, a holiday in which Americans celebrate freedom and the founding of our nation. For many of us it was a day of reflection in the wake of the horrible violence over the past 3 weeks in a place we call our second home. How lucky we are to live in a country where we can protect our borders and retaliate against acts of war without being called violators of human rights. Then, the worst news of all, that the young Arab boy who was murdered in East Jerusalem was, in fact, murdered by Israelis.

Over the weekend The Jewish Federations of North American released the following statement that we agree with to the fullest.

“The Jewish Federations of North America condemn the brutal murder of 16-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and is appalled by the heinous nature of this crime. We commend the Israeli Police for the swift arrests, and have full confidence that the Israeli justice system will ensure that those responsible will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-KIDNAPPING-FUNERAL“Jewish Federations endorse the sentiments expressed by Israel’s leaders rejecting all forms of violence and calling for new efforts at achieving peaceful coexistence. We echo the strong words of Rachel Frankel, mother of murdered Israeli teen, Naftali, who said: “If a young Arab really was murdered for nationalist reasons, this is a horrifying and shocking act. There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder. There is no justification, no pardon and no atonement for murder.”

At The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee we condemn the senseless murders of all 4-boys over the past 3-weeks in Israel. We cannot forget that all of these boys should still be alive today. Murder is Murder.

Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee condemns murder of Arab youth

2 Jul

jerusalem-palestinian-terror-fire-protest-violenceThe Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee condemns the murder of an Arab youth whose body was found in Jerusalem today. “Such incidents must not be tolerated and the perpetrators must be pursued and apprehended. We are confident that Israel, a country where the rule of law prevails, will pursue this case aggressively and that justice will be done – no matter who committed the crime,” said Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for law enforcement to work as quickly as possible to find the perpetrators and motives behind the “reprehensible” murder of an Arab youth whose body was found today in Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem Post. According to the New York Times, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, condemned the killing of the teenager in a statement. “This is a horrible and barbaric act which I strongly condemn,” he said. “This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice. I call on everyone to exercise restraint.”

Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of one of the three slain Israeli teenagers, told Ynet, a news site, “There is no difference between blood and blood.” He was quoted as saying, “Murder is murder…Whatever the nationality or age are, there is no justification, no forgiveness or penance for any murder.”



Jerusalem Post: Hundreds of Arabs riot across Jerusalem after Palestinian teen found murdered

New York Times: Possible Revenge Killing Adds to Tension in Israel

Ynet: Abbas: Netanyahu must condemn boy’s death like we condemned kidnapping

Mensch of the Month – Jesse Schein

1 Jul

jesse scheinThe Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has been privileged to send hundreds of students on travel experiences that take them to Israel. Many of them return with a new profound outlook on their Jewish identity. This is certainly true for our Mensch of the Month, Jesse Schein.

Jesse is an outstanding student with a drive and a passion unlike most people his age. One of Federation’s first interactions with Jesse was when he became a Bob Malkin Young Ambassador in the summer of 2012, which takes high school students to Israel on a 2 week leadership mission. It seemed as if Jesse automatically fell in love with land, people, culture and even more so, his Jewishness. Since that time, Jesse has taken on many roles within our Jewish community, volunteering his time with us and Chabad in Lakewood Ranch. Most recently, Jesse returned from the March of the Living mission which has a heavy focus on Holocaust and genocide awareness. If Jesse’s past experiences didn’t fully impact him, this one surely did. It has been over a month since he returned from this journey and to see how much he has grown personally is incredible. Shabbat has become more important, family has become more important, and overall Jewish pride has become more important to Jesse.

It is because of this passion that Jesse has for his Jewish heritage that we selected him for Mensch of the Month for July. Jesse will be attending Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall and we know that this mensch will continue to be a powerful force in our community.

Young Ambassadors Update: Day 13

24 Jun

Today was a sad, but interesting and fun day. We did a few things such as planting a tree, visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, and some last minute market buying.

The highlight of the day was beginning. The group woke up around 7:30 in the morning and we soon left to start our day at Yad Vashem. For those who are unaware, this is the Holocaust museum located in Jerusalem. Our tour was around 4 hours long and consisted of a 45 minute video of a holocaust survivor and then we walked through the exhibits of the museum speaking about each room in detail. Not only was the information interesting, but the building itself was amazing. The architecture put into the building was beautiful and meant to instill emotion into the visitors’ hearts.

The part that impacted me the most in the museum was the children’s memorial center. As we walked in, it got dark and everything around us was enlarged. It was as if we were truly children again. The door was 4 times our height and everything appeared scary. I couldn’t help but think that how I was feeling was similar to how a young child in the Holocaust may have felt at their arrival to a concentration camp. The amazing thing about the architecture is that the building was build this way purposely. Not only was the information inside the museum valuable, but simply going to the building and just walking through was an emotional experience due to how it was set up. The museum in my opinion is one of the most important things I believe the Young Ambassadors have done on this trip. I feel honored to say that I am fortunate enough to have made it to Israel, and will forever mourn for the children of the Holocaust who had this right stripped from them.

Jared D. is a participant on the Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.


Young Ambassadors Update: Day 12

24 Jun

Waking up at 4AM is rarely something to brag about. In fact, the facial expressions of everyone on the bus this morning seemed to indicate that they agreed completely with my desire to stay in bed. However, despite our grogginess, we all wanted to see the sunrise atop Masada, and our 30 minute bus ride and 300 foot hike gave us just that.

Masada, while beautiful, bears a great variety of intimidating inclines and uneven stairs leading to the top. Now about 4:30AM, we were motivated solely by the streaks of pink already making their way up the mountain.
After sunrise, the Israeli heat quickly took over, but we spent our morning reading scripts as we individually portrayed people like King Herod and his Queen as we walked through their ancient palace.

At around 7AM, we were faced with a 1,000 foot descent, which took about 45 minutes. Climbing down took far longer then coming up did. Once we reached the bottom, we ate breakfast at the Masada guest hotel. We then arrived at a hiking park, and swam in an oasis. While an oasis sounds glamorous, it’s really just a small pond of water in the middle of the desert.

After hiking back from the oasis, we got back onto the bus and went to visit the Ahava factory where we learned about the Dead Sea and the cosmetics that the factory produces and how they benefit your skin. Then we went to the sea and we all put mud all over us and then went into the sea to wash it off and float around. The water was really cool to float in but we didn’t stay in long because the water burns. After lunch we went back to the hotel to shower and rest for a few hours until dinner. After dinner we had a really amazing speaker named Neil Lazarus who spoke to us about current events in Israel. He was very entertaining and we all enjoyed his perspective. We all then promptly went to bed due to our exhaustion from waking up so early that morning. Although it was hard to start off the day, in the end it was worth it.

Julie L. and Maia Z. are participants on the Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.



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