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.

BMYA Update: What does it mean to be a minority?

4 Mar

Exploring the Israeli Declaration of Independence with my fellow Young Ambassadors

For the fifth time in the two months since the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors (BMYA) contingent was announced, we convened at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee on Sunday morning, March 2nd.  In addition to all eight of the group members being present, there was a guest who was visiting as an exchange student from France.  The session kicked off with an Israel Update, presented by one of our delegates, Sam, on Israeli strikes on Hezbollah-affiliated convoys traveling near the Syrian-Lebanese border.  The fourth and most recent of these strikes occurred on February 25th.

The main topic of the day was “Israeli Demographics.”  We learned some very interesting  and valuable lessons about the origins of the modern Israeli state, belonging, nationalism, and inclusiveness vs. exclusiveness.  The first task was to read a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and highlight passages about nationalism in one color and inclusiveness in another color.  The group then examined the similarities and differences between these two concepts as they pertain to modern-day Israel.

Following this, the group learned that 30% of Israeli citizens do not subscribe to the Israeli National Anthem, “Hatikvah,” either because they are ultra-Orthodox Jews who may be offended that the song has no mention of G-d, or because they are not Jewish.  We then listened to an alternative version of “Hatikvah” that could appeal to broader audiences.  We discussed whether or not Israel should be more or less secular, and whether or not Jewish symbols should remain in place. Then, we were asked to think about a comparison between Jewish symbols in Israel and Christian symbols displayed in American schools or in the halls of Congress. We also examined our own national anthem, how it makes us feel and what its significance is to the American experience.

Lastly, the group discussed what it means to be a minority.  We talked about what it means to belong and what it means to fit in. We learned several facts and came to several realizations about the people of Israel and what it means to be an American Jew.

Adam C. is a member of the 2014 Bob Malkin Teen Leadership Program.

The Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program is presented in partnership with the Shapiro Teen Engagement Program (STEP) of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 



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