Battles past, present and future

It was a very short work week at the Federation office -- Memorial Day on Monday and two days of Shavuot on Wednesday and Thursday. The first day of Shavuot was the anniversary (by Hebrew calendar) of the Pulse nightclub massacre, and for me it will always be associated with this tragedy that shook Orlando to its core. It's hard to believe that it's only been one year since the attack, because so much has happened since. It seems that Pulse was a prelude to many things to come. We've been grappling with an upsurge of anti-Semitism at public schools and college campuses along with an increase in anti-Israel activity. Recently, we've heard some very troubling reports from students and parents about incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and harassment of Jewish students at our public schools. Thankfully, these episodes are not widespread, but even one is one too many!

Jewish Federations have always been at the forefront of fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms. In this fight, we work with outstanding partners such as the Anti-Defamation League and, locally, the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center. Our Jewish Community Relations Council feels strongly that we have a responsibility to prepare our young people for what they may encounter in their lives and to equip them with tools and strategies for dealing with it.

This coming Monday, June 5, Federation is pleased to welcome back Eric Ross, Associate Regional Director of ADL, to present "Anti-Semitism Today: A Local and Global Issue." The discussion will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the auditorium of The Roth Family JCC on the Maitland Jewish Community Campus.

Federation and Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation co-hosted Eric for a similar presentation back in April, and it was very well received. Eric, an alum of the Hebrew Day School (now Jewish Academy of Orlando), is a fabulous speaker who will take attendees through the current state of anti-Semitism around the world, in the United States and especially here in Florida, where some frightening anti-Semitic movements are headquartered. He will also suggest specific tools and tactics for confronting this terrible bias and will take questions after his formal presentation. The discussion is open to the entire community. I especially encourage parents to bring children who are in middle and high school.

On Wednesday, Federation's Grants Committee will get together to review a new round of collaborative grant applications. We have received nine applications from agencies and synagogues, ranging from services to the elderly to teen engagement programs. I look forward to reactivating the Grants Committee and working with its members.

This coming week also marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. I hope you have had a chance to explore the special JFGO web page commemorating this pivotal moment in Israel's history. Starting next week, we will post a new video each day for 6 days. These videos, produced by Jerusalem U and the Jerusalem Post, provide a valuable "you are there" perspective of the world-changing events of 50 years ago.



Shabbat Shalom,