Tag Archives: sarasota
14 Jun

#PrayForOrlando smaller Jun2015


The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is outraged and saddened by the tragic and horrific mass shooting this weekend at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This act of terror and hate, inspired by radical Islamic views, has left 49 people confirmed killed and at least 53 more severely injured. We were dismayed to learn of this horrifying attack on the LGBTQ community while Jews around the world were celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the anniversary of the day G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

A key tenet of the Torah is that humankind was created in G-d’s image, and therefore we must treat one another with compassion and respect. The Jewish Federation strongly condemns those who target a particular community. We will not stand idly by and let terrorists and those who espouse hatred win.  Instead we as the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish community pledge our devotion and loyalty to all communities who are subject to hatred and discrimination. We will work together to fight back and stand in solidarity together.

The rising tide of extremism and violence, around the world and here in the United States, is profoundly disturbing and reiterates the threat of terrorism to the entire free world. We mourn for those murdered, offer our condolences to their families and pray for a swift recovery of the injured. All Americans were attacked, but the LGBT community was targeted.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ and entire Orlando community.

Howard Tevlowitz
Executive Director


100 Days of Impact: Experiencing

7 Oct
Camp  Grants and Scholarships from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

Camp memories last forever!

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee awarded $56,750 in camp grants and scholarships in 2014, helping to send seventy-nine children to Jewish overnight camps this summer.


Justin at Camp Ramah Darom

Justin at Camp Ramah Darom

If it were not for the assistance of the Jewish Federation scholarship grant, I would not have been able to attend camp this year.  A fantastic adventure for the past 8 years, this is my last year at Camp Ramah Darom as a camper. As a Senior Camper I will have the privilege of going on a 10-day road trip up the east coast.

I have truly grown up at camp and have had the best Jewish experience. The relationships I have made at Ramah Darom have impacted my life so much that I now aspire to become a camp counselor.  I hope to give back and share my experiences with others and impact their lives as people have done for me.

These Jewish Federation Camp grants can help other children enjoy the many summers that I have and begin new journeys as well as develop a love for Jewish camping. If it were not for the Federation’s assistance, I would not have had the greatest summer ever.  I am still at camp until August 4th, and Camp Ramah is my home away from home.  With help from the Federation it can become your summer home too.

Written by Justin B., a sixteen year old 11th grader at Sarasota High School

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 11

23 Jun

We started our day like many others: wake up at 7, pack, eat breakfast. However, today was very different. I ate breakfast and packed my bag with extreme haste due to the fact that we were going to ride camels later that day. I had been waiting for this day the entire trip and was over the moon that it had finally arrived.

After a quick breakfast we boarded the bus and headed to the City of David.
Once there, we were led into a theatre to view a short film about what the City of David was. After sitting through a brief history lesson, we began our journey through the water-filled underground tunnels. For me this was very difficult due to my slight fear of very small, tight spaces that also happen to be in the dark. As we entered the tunnel, the water rose to just above my knee an we began our trek to the light at the end. Not only was the water freezing, but the tunnel was completely dark. We all were given small flashlights but that didn’t make much of a difference. After walking for a little while, the water fell to the middle of my shin and remained that way until the end. As we were walking, the group behind us began to sing strange harmonies that sounded familiar but only made the experience in the tunnel slightly more eerie. As we reached the end, the water rose and I climbed my way out of the tunnel.

After the tunnel, we walked back to the main city and had an ice cream break. I had my second Magnum bar of the trip and it was incredible. Once we had all finished our frozen treats, we boarded the bus and headed to an archaeological digging site. When we arrived there we were led into a large greenhouse looking place and were told to sit down. We sat for about 20-25 minutes and learned a brief history/introduction to what we were sifting for. We paired up with a buddy and began sifting through buckets of dirt from Temple Mount. Julie and I found many pieces of pottery and even some burnt bone! Jared and Adam actually found a really interesting coin and an ancient nail. After sifting for a solid 30 minutes, we went over to a glass case that showcased some of the more impressive finds which were sorted into categories based on what time period they were from. After finishing up sifting, we sat around and ate lunch…FALAFEL! It was delicious. After finishing up lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to the desert: it was camel time.

Once we reached the Bedouin settlement, we were immediately greeted by dozens of camels. I was so excited I screamed. Our tour guide informed us that we should work on our camel impressions because we were going to try and see whose was best. After walking into the settlement and sitting down for 15 ish minutes, we were informed of the safety rules and then guided to the camels. Maia and I ran over to the camels and picked out a dark brown camel. I got on the back and Maia got on the front. The camel stood up and I could not stop smiling. Maia and I decided to name our camel. After much deliberation we decided on Candice Habib Ziletzger (we combined last names). Along with Candice, the other camels (also names by the Young Ambassadors) were Sven, Shirley and Curtisa. After riding the camels for 25 minutes we were guided back to the settlement and dismounted the camels. Maia and I had to say goodbye to our baby Candice, but not before we took a billion pictures with her. Amber then told us to put everything at a table and then lead us to an empty space. She then instructed us to get in a line and put our hands onto the shoulders of the person in front of us and walk; but here’s the catch…our eyes had to be closed. As we walked around only being lead by the sound of Amber’s voice, we were faced with many problems. I kept stepping in Jared’s feet, Julie kept letting go of Sam’s shoulders, and then there was the small problem of constantly tripping over giant rocks in your way. After reaching our destination, the desert, we were told to take off our watches and walk to an area where we would be alone and to come back in 10 minutes. I walked to a small hill and took a seat. I found two flint stones and decided to keep them. I then began digging around in the sand for things and found nothing. After what felt like five seconds, Amber began singing this beautiful tune that was the signal to come back (I didn’t realize that and stayed on my little hill for another 2 minutes). After walking back to the settlement the same way we had walked before (hands on shoulders and eyes closed) we were led into a tent. In the tent we were served tea and coffee, out of respect and curiosity I drank them both. The coffee was gross and the tea was really sweet. A man dressed in robes and a head covering walked in. He told us his name was Muhammad and he began to tell us about the Bedouin culture. Some fun facts for you: Muhammad has 52 camels, over 60 sheep, 3 wives, and 23 children. After speaking a little bit longer, we took a picture with him and then we went onto dinner. We were served dinner on a large plater. It was couscous with a vegetable stew and chicken wings and meatballs. It was DELICIOUS. After stuffing our faces, we boarded the bus, said goodbye to the camels and went to our hotel. Once we arrived at the hotel and got into our rooms, we were given a curfew of 9 due to our 4
a.m. Wake up call. The next morning was time for Masada.

Jamie M. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.


Young Ambassadors Update: Day 7

21 Jun

After waking up in a freezing cold hotel room, Jamie and I gathered with everyone in the hotel lobby. We ate a delicious breakfast of eggs, weird salads, coffee or hot chocolate, and a cheese pastry. Once our faces were stuffed, we jumped on our cute little bus and headed to a museum exhibit called Dialogue in the Dark. When we arrived, we walked through the entrance with only a few sheckles. Boaz took us inside and we were told to put all of our belongings, especially if it would reflect any light, in a locker. Already blind from not wearing my glasses, we all sat down in a room awaiting our introduction to the museum. A woman greeted us and explained the objective of the museum which was to better understand how it feels to be blind. We would experience that by walking through seven everyday activities (or stations) without any light. Jamie requested to be a volunteer for the woman who was trying to explain how we would walk through a museum and was given a blindfold. She was told to follow the woman’s voice as she walked in circles with her arms waving around her aimlessly. After viewing Jamie’s fantastic example, we began walking through a hallway that grew darker with each step. Eventually we could see nothing but darkness. I held Erica’s hand for the first fifteen minutes because obviously if a vicious monster came to eat us up, Erica could protect me. Gabi, our tour guide and the only one who actually knew the way through the museum, met up with us in the room. We approached him by following his voice. There was no use keeping our eyes open although it was habitual to look down at our feet every time we tripped, which was a lot for me. We all introduced ourselves and Gabi began to lead us through seven stations. We walked through another short hallway. The sound of water running down a stream, frogs croaking, birds squawking, and various animals flowed through the room. It seemed as if we had actually entered the rainforest instead of just a small room that could potentially be empty. I was debating with myself whether or not we were just listening to a recording when Maya tells us she found water and Jamie yells, “Guys, there’s a tree here. Don’t walk into it like I did.” And what did I do at that very second? I face planted right into the tree. Gabi led us across a bridge over the stream as we all bumped into each other like pool balls, straining to see in the blackness, and waving our arms. The next station was a house. We didn’t figure it out until finding a microwave and picture frame on the wall. Next, we were led onto a bench that wobbled slowly as if it were in the ocean. We heard a motor and once we figured out we were on a boat, we sang a few songs together as we rocked. When we got off of it, we entered a city. We felt our way through the room to find a bike leaning against a lamp post and a small car. We approached a grocery store which we were able to figure out only after feeling the different types of fruits that were lined up in baskets. We were soon told to sit against a wall and listen to a few songs. They called that station ‘the music room.’ Gabi led us into another room where our adventures ended. It was a cafeteria which was still in the dark. We stood in front of a counter and listened to a woman list snacks that we could order. We all shared chips and yummy Israeli chocolate that tasted like Kit Kats. We all squeezed around a table, ate our delicious food, and listen to Gabi answer any of our questions although we were still unable to see him. We all squinted when we exited as our eyes adjusted. We ate lunch outside in the grass. We were given sandwiches, apples, and chocolate muffins that were absolutely wonderful. We watched children wrestle near us. Jared took advantage of that opportunity and taught them one of his wrestling moves with the help of Flora who translated for him.

Next, we went to the beach. The waves were huge! All of us, completely pale with sunscreen, got into the water. The ground was speckled with beautiful sea shells and grew softer as we walked deeper into the sea. We jumped over the waves but being drenched every time a big wave came by was inevitable. Erica, Jared, and I went on a walk down the beach and afterwards I got a good 30 minutes of sleep in the sun. Some of us got ice cream before getting on the bus again.

After another hour on the bus, we arrived in Rishon Leziyyon, where thirty-plus Israeli teens excitedly greeted us, and had a small buffet prepared. All of the girls were absolutely beautiful and tan. After a few mixer games to get to know each other, they taught us a few of the dances they know and we taught them the Wobble which is a dance that all of us learned in like 6th grade. We took many, many selfies and then were assigned to our host families and went home. Yuval was a 15 year old girl who hosted me and Jamie. She was really nice and super excited to meet us. Her English was basic but very fluent which was impressive. She had a younger sister who was just as sweet and her parents spoke hardly any English. They were really nice and offered us food every two seconds. The house was small, cute, and cozy. All of the host family kids and us met up again later on. We all went out to a restaurant for dinner and most of us enjoyed mint lemonade with sandwiches and/or fries. We walked down the streets filled with Israeli couples, people with shopping bags, and children. We roamed around and it actually felt extremely safe. We stopped for ice cream before going back to Yuval’s house. Once we were inside, we plopped into bed and practically fell asleep the second that we did. Zzzzzz.

Rachel M. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.

Young Ambassadors Update: Day 5

17 Jun

On Monday morning, we awoke in the Akko Youth Hostel, and over breakfast exchanged both fears and excitement over the commonly discussed upcoming three hour hike. We all anticipated a challenge, and while some of us were elated to accept, others cringed at the thought.
Nonetheless, we all went hiking, and personally, I’d like to say it was a beyond-incredible experience. Sure, it was strenuous, but aching calves and sweaty backs were a small price to pay for the absolutely breathtaking view of Nachal Kziv. Throughout the hike, our tour guide, Boaz, pointed out sage and bay leaf growing around us, and during our break made us fresh sage tea. As we continued, the only problem I was facing was the internal struggle over deciding to look at the view or to watch where I walked. The alternating downhill rocky obstacles and uphill battles with gravity definitely added to the experience, but also posed quite the challenge. I found my mind getting lost in rocks and conversation as we walked, and the three hours finished much sooner than I had expected.

After our hike, we drove to the Keshet Cave, where we repelled down a 150 foot mountain and into a cave 400 feet above ground. As we ventured out of the cave, we were faced with yet another seemingly-endless mountain of rocks leading to the top, where our bus was. The thirty-minute climb featured yet another beautiful view of the villages and towns below us. I’m proud to say that every minuscule scrape and dirty fingernail was well earned today.

Just when we thought our day was over, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive in Tzfat, which is one of Judaism’s four holy cities, and is home to brilliant art and ancient synagogues. After providing us with some basic insight, Boaz led us into an ancient temple that once protected Jews escaping from Spain. When we left, we walked through the market in Tzfat, and came into the home of Avraham Levental. Avraham looks as many Orthodox Jews do, with a long, black beard and payot, but we were all surprised that he speaks like an American. With vocabulary like ״dude״ and “radical,” we all approved immediately. Avraham’s home is decorated with his various paintings and computer-designed artwork. As we sat upon the cushions on his floor, he told us about how he uses the sounds of the shofar to create artwork, and calls it “painting with sound.” Avraham told us the story of his life, and how up until the age of 25 he was living in Detroit using the name Robert. He went on about the importance of names, and how his life completely changed when he stopped using his English name and switched to his Hebrew name. For the past 10 years he has studied the meaning of the name “Avraham” in order to learn more about his spirituality. Avraham told us of the spiritual and meditative practices in Judaism that many people seem to neglect altogether. He said that when he was in college he became so devoted and intrigued about meditation, and was amazed to learn that his own religion was already a major part of it.

After we left Tzfat, we arrived at the beach of the Kinneret, where we all cooked our own vegetable stew in a pot on our bonfire. We ended the night with s’mores and sleeping bags under the night sky with crashing waves close by.


Julie L. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadrs Teen Leadership Program.

Young Ambassadors update: Day 4

15 Jun

Today was full of culture and learning new things. After an early morning wake up call, we ate a delicious breakfast at the Kibbutz (Jamie taught everyone how to make the “perfect hot chocolate”), we drove to a fruit orchard where we picked peaches along side children to donate to poorer families. We did this through an organization called Leket Israel, which our Federation grants money to. When we were done, we learned that we collected enough peaches to give to 75 families in need. We then drove North for about an hour and a half to Haifa for a delectable lunch of American subs and pastries while sitting over the incredible view of the Mediterranean Sea. We entered the Bahai Gardens after three of us girls were denied entry at first for the length of our shorts, and were able to learn about the gardens on top of Carmel Mountain that looked down over the city.

Next, we drove to a unique mosque where a man shared some info about life in a mosque and how coexistence is important, followed by a quick glance into the prayer room. We then drove to a market in a Druze village which was my favorite part of the day. We paired up and shopped for about an hour and bought some amazing finds (“20 shekels? Uhhmmm what about 15? 17?”).

Lastly, we drove and met up with another man who introduced us to the Druze culture. We learned that the Druze people are very much like Amish people in certain ways and it was really interesting. Following, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner of pita, meatballs, tabouli, vegetable stew, grape leaves, and so much more. We headed to the hotel to settle down for a great night’s sleep after a long day of exploring.

Erica B. is a participant on the Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.