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Statement Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando leaders on the death of George Floyd:

We at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) are heartbroken and outraged over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s pleas for his life as he lay handcuffed and helpless on the ground were met with silence by the police officer. This death is yet another in a disturbingly long list of inexcusable injustices that have been perpetrated against African Americans across the United States.

We call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds and faiths to speak up now against the systemic racism that is a longstanding disgrace – one for which we all share responsibility.

As Jews we have seen how unchecked hatred can destroy millions of lives and haunt generations in its wake. Our tradition teaches us that all humans are created in the image of God. The Torah obligates us to not stand idly by.

The powerful words of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Weisel resonate at this time:

“I swore to never be silent whenever or wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

As a community of conscience, we pledge to all communities of color to work with you, not only to combat racism in all its forms, but also to remain vigilant in pointing out injustice and defending all its victims.

In the days since George Floyd’s death, we have seen tens of thousands of Americans peacefully take to the streets to demand justice. We stand with our fellow Americans and we will not be distracted by those who would take advantage of this righteous cause to further sow the seeds of discord.  Our collective future depends on this focused effort.

Our children and grandchildren are watching. Each of us has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against injustice and to join together in finding a constructive and peaceful path forward. In that spirit, we commit ourselves to the biblical call of “Justice, justice shall [we] pursue,” and the imperative of achieving a peaceful, just and equal society for all.

George Floyd should not have died. He, his family, African Americans everywhere and all who have suffered as a result of discrimination and bigotry are entitled to justice and freedom from hate. Today we stand in solidarity with them as we say, “Enough.”

We continue to work with our Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues to support the African American community.

Out of the Cave

Presented by Rabbi Joshua Neely

When Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon were sitting,
and Yehuda, son of converts, sat beside them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and
said: How pleasant are the actions of the Romans, they established
marketplaces, established bridges, and established bathhouses. Rabbi Yosei
was silent. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai responded and said: Everything that
they established, they established only for their own purposes. They
established marketplaces, to place prostitutes in them; bathhouses, to
pamper themselves; bridges, to collect taxes from them. Yehuda, son of
converts, went and talked about their statements to others, and they were
heard by the monarchy. They said: Yehuda, who elevated, shall be elevated.
Yosei, who remained silent, shall be exiled to Tzippori. And Shimon, who
denounced, shall be killed.

He and his son, went and hid in the study hall. Every day his wife
would bring them bread and a jug of water and they would eat. When the
decree intensified, he said to his son: Women are weak-willed, perhaps the
authorities torture her and she reveal us. They went and they hid in a cave.
A miracle occurred and a carob tree was created for them as well as a spring
of water. They would remove their clothes and sit in sand up to their necks.
They would study all day. At the time of prayer, they would dress, cover
themselves, and pray, and they would again remove their clothes afterward
so that they would not become tattered. They sat in the cave for twelve
years. Elijah came and stood at the entrance to the cave and said: Who will
inform bar Yoḥai that the emperor died and his decree has been abrogated?
They emerged, and saw people who were plowing and sowing. He
said: They abandon eternal life and engage in life of doing. Every place that
they directed their eyes was immediately burned. A Divine Voice emerged
and said to them: Did you emerge to destroy My world? Return to your
cave! They again went and sat for twelve months. They said: The judgment
of the wicked in Gehenna lasts for twelve months. A Divine Voice emerged
and said: Emerge from your cave. They emerged. Everywhere that Rabbi
Elazar would strike, Rabbi Shimon would heal. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi
Elazar: My son, you and I suffice for the world.

As the sun was setting on Shabbat eve, they saw an elderly man who
was holding two bundles of myrtle branches and running at twilight. They
said to him: Why do you have these? He said to them: In honor of Shabbat.
They said to him: And let one suffice. He answered them: One is
corresponding to: Remember (Ex. 20:8), and one is corresponding to:
Observe (Deut. 5:12). Rabbi Shimon said to his son: See how beloved the
mitzvot are to Israel. Their minds were at ease.

Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir, his son-in-law, heard and went out to him. He
brought him into the bathhouse and tended to his flesh. He saw that he had
cracks in his body. He cried, and the tears fell from his eyes and caused
Rabbi Shimon pain. Rabbi Pineḥas said to Rabbi Shimon, his father-in-law:
Woe is me, that I have seen you like this. Rabbi Shimon said to him: Happy
are you that you have seen me like this, as had you not seen me like this,
you would not have found in me this. At first, when Rabbi Shimon ben
Yoḥai would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would respond with
twelve answers. Ultimately, when Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would raise a
difficulty, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would respond with twenty-four

He said: Since a miracle happened for me, I will go and repair
something … Rav said: Jacob established a currency for them. And Shmuel
said: He established marketplaces for them. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He
established bathhouses for them. In any event, clearly one for whom a
miracle transpires should perform an act of kindness for his neighbors as a
sign of gratitude. Shabbat 33a

Celebrating the Genius of Women in History

“If a woman does brilliant work but nobody notices, can we call her a genius?”
Lise Meitner turned physics on its head when she was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission of uranium. She collaborated with Otto Hahn and Otto Robert Frisch. They were talked about for a Nobel Prize, and in 1944 the award came through for ‘the discovery of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei’ but the winner was … Otto Hahn.
Several scientists and journalists have called her exclusion “unjust. However, Meitner has received many posthumous honors, including the naming of chemical element 109 meitnerium in 1992.

Drawn together by their shared love of music and exceptional talents, famed composer Felix Mendelssohn and his older sister Fanny developed a close relationship that endured throughout their lives. While Fanny’s gender prohibited her from enjoying the same social opportunities or support in developing her musical gifts, her talents appeared to be nearly as formidable as those of her more famous brother. Felix would regularly submit his compositions to Fanny’s discerning musical ear, taking her critical advice to heart and modifying or excising material that she found questionable.

Before her death at age 41, Fanny witnessed changing attitudes toward women in musical professions, resulting in a handful of her works being published and thereby fulfilling her lifelong dream of being considered a serious composer. (Library of Congress)


“Why have there been no female Mozarts?”

A female Mozart quite literally existed: Maria Anna Mozart, the older sister of the brilliant and prolific composer Wolfgang. She might have been his equal if her talent hadn’t been left to molder.

When Wolfgang Mozart was young, his talent was expertly nurtured as his father took him on tour in Europe, introducing him to composers and musicians who advised and encouraged him.

Maria Anna, known as Nannerl, also had extraordinary talent: She performed on the harpsichord and toured with her brother when they were both young. Some reports say she was better than her little sibling and that he idolized and learned from her. At age 12, she was called one of the best musicians in Europe.

But it didn’t really matter. Once she hit her teens, her father deemed it inappropriate for her to perform anymore and sent her home to get married.


Gifted chemist Rosalind Franklin was one of the key figures in the discovery of the structure of DNA, but for many years she received no recognition.

Using a technique she developed herself, Franklin took X-rays that showed DNA’s helical structure. Using Franklin’s photographs and their own data, fellow King’s College researchers James Watson and Francis Crick created their famous DNA model. Watson and Crick walked away with the credit and the Nobel Prize. Franklin’s contribution was not acknowledged. Some have called it the most egregious snub of a woman scientist in history.

After Franklin’s death at age 37 from ovarian cancer, Crick admitted that her contribution had been critical to their breakthrough discovery.


Musical retelling of a children’s classic on 2/23

Join our PJ Orlando families as the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s woodwind quintet presents the iconic story of Hansel and Gretel.

We’ll experience the musical retelling of the story of two curious children who find themselves lost in the woods when their paths cross with a mysterious witch. Through their harrowing adventure, Hansel and Gretel exhibit two important Jewish Values: “ometz lev” courage/trusting oneself, and “optimiyut” optimism/problem-solving.

After the concert, children (ages 3 to 8 recommended) will enjoy hands-on activities in The Plaza Live lobby. A Toddler Zone for newborns and children up to age 2 is also available.

Our storytime tickets are generously gifted to our PJ Orlando families through a donation from our Friends of PJ Library Orlando Edward and Marian Bromberg.

Online registration is required ($2.00 non-refundable registration fee for each person over the age of 2 will be collected at registration). Tickets are available on a limited first-come first serve basis.

Please arrive between 1:30 pm to 1:45 pm to check in your family. A special section will be reserved for our families. The performance will begin at 2:00 pm.