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The Power Of Love In This New Year


I saw this on social media and it really resonated with me. While I shared it on social media and many others have as well, it’s worth sharing again here as we just finished observing Yom Kippur. There are such lessons to be learned as we enter the new year about how we treat others, our community, and ourselves. Over the past 18 months, we have all endured incredible stress and we must remind ourselves to take care of ourselves, not just others. We all need to find joy and the beauty in our lives.

“One day, a nine-year-old girl walked into a jewelry store and said, “I am here to buy a bracelet.” She looked through the glass cases and pointed to a bracelet that was $3,000. The owner, the man behind the counter, asked her, “You want to buy that bracelet?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Wow, you have very good taste. Who do you want to buy it for?”

“For my older sister.”

“Oh, that is so nice!” the storekeeper replied. “Why do you want to buy your older sister this bracelet?”

“Because I don’t have a mother or father,” the little girl said, “and my older sister takes care of us. So, we want to buy her a present, and I’m willing to pay for it.” She pulled out of a whole bunch of coins from her pocket that totaled just under eight shekels, a little less than two dollars.

The man says, “Wow! That’s exactly what the bracelet costs!”

While wrapping up the bracelet he said to the girl, “You write a card to your sister while I wrap the bracelet.” He finished wrapping the bracelet, wiped away his tears, and handed the little girl the bracelet.

A few hours later, the older sister entered the store. “I’m terribly embarrassed,” she said. “My sister should not have come here. She shouldn’t have taken it without paying.”

“What are you talking about?” the storekeeper asked.

“What do you mean? This bracelet costs thousands of dollars. My little sister doesn’t have any money! She obviously she didn’t pay for it!”

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” the storekeeper replied. “She paid me in full. She paid seven shekel, eighty agurot, and a broken heart. I want to tell you something: I am a widower. I lost my wife a number of years ago. People come into my store every single day. They come in and buy expensive pieces of jewelry, and all these people can afford it. When your sister walked in, for the first time in so very long since my wife passed, I once again felt what true love is.”

He gave her the bracelet and wished her well.”

On Rosh Hashanah, we come before God. With sincerity, we express our devotion and dedication. We recommit and renew our relationship with our dear Father in heaven, and we ask Him to bless us with another year. We empty out our pockets and try to give the little we have. We show the few good deeds we’ve accumulated throughout the year. With a broken heart we resolve to do a bit more. “I’ll pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely. I will study some Torah. I will be more scrupulous about my observance, I will be more charitable, more patient, more kind, more appreciative, etc.”

And, just like the owner of the jewelry store, God sees our broken hearts and says, “You know what? You’ve touched my heart. I feel the love. You’ve paid in full. May you be blessed with another year filled with good health, happiness, love, light, joy and success!”

The Federation partners with the Lavin Family Foundation and CC’s Wish List to provide new clothes to those in need. We recently got our second shipment and partnered with the American Muslim Community Center to get these clothes into the hands of those who need them. My friend Atif messaged me this morning, saying, “Hi Keith. I am here in Parramore Ave. The poverty here is heart breaking. Drugs and Crime ruin these neighborhoods. So your support is so essential to provide hope and self-respect to families trying to get themselves to a better place.”

As we prepare for Shabbat and reflect on the holidays that just concluded, I urge you to feel love. To focus on the positive and let go of the negative. To enjoy what you have and to reach out and help those less fortunate. Atif’s message reminds me to be grateful for the wonderful gifts in my life. The story reminds me that I get more from giving than I do from getting.

Shana Tovah U’Metuka. May you all have a happy, healthy, and sweet new year. May 5782 be a year filled with good health, happiness, love, light, joy and success.

Shabbat Shalom,


Storytime and yoga in the Park

Join us at beautiful Lake Lily Park in Maitland for a Purim-themed storytime and Baby & Me Yoga. We’ll meet on the south side of the lake, opposite the playground (follow the pedestrian bridge running alongside 17-92). Remember your yoga mats!

PJ Baby & Me was created especially for babies and toddlers, ages 0-3, and their very special person (parent, grandparent, caregiver, etc.).

Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

This program is brought to you free of charge by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.

Register Now!

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.


Becoming Dr. Ruth

Thursday, January 30 · 7:30pm (6:30pm – optional tour of the theater)
Orlando Shakes · 812 E Rollins Street · Orlando, FL 32803

In a touching one-woman show, Dr. Ruth’s incredible journey is told, from fleeing the Nazis in the Kindertransport and joining the Haganah in Jerusalem as a scout and sniper, to her struggles to succeed as a single mother coming to the United States ­– and of course how she became America’s most famous sex therapist.

About This Production
Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist. Few, however, know the incredible journey that preceded it. “Becoming Dr. Ruth” is filled with the humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became “Dr. Ruth,” America’s most famous sex therapist.

Special Women’s Division Seat Pricing
Orchestra center tickets: $44
Side of theater seating: $34

Ticket supply is very limited. Get yours now!

Women’s Division Community Service Day

Join us Thursday, January 16, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at A Gift for Teaching for the first Jewish Federation Women’s Division Community Service Day of the new year!

Please bring packaged crayons or other school supplies to donate to A Gift for Teaching. We require that you register in advance so that A Gift for Teaching can plan for the correct number of volunteers.

You’re welcome to stick around afterward and join us for lunch (lunch is not provided free).

Register Now!



Israel Crisis: Federation is providing support

Smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early Tuesday in a resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)


The conflict in southern Israel has continued into a second day. The Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel office has prepared a comprehensive update that we are sharing.
In addition, the following articles detail how our partners at the Jewish Agency have helped during this difficult time — with Federation support:  
Israel Crisis Update from JFNA
Major developments as of November 13:  
  • More than 250 rockets have been fired at Israel by Palestinian Islamic Jihad since 6:00 am Tuesday, Israel time.
    • Despite a six-hour lull overnight, the rockets resumed early Wednesday morning.
    • Sirens have continued to sound across the south, and have also been heard in a number of locations near the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway corridor.
    • Some 60% of rockets fell in non-populated areas (or fell short, landing inside the Gaza Strip).
    • 90% of those rockets headed toward population centers were successfully knocked out of the sky by the Iron Dome Defense System.
    • Forty eight Israelis have been hurt by rocket fire or by falls when running to a shelter (mostly sustaining light or moderate injuries) and at least 25 people have been treated for shock.
  • In response to the rocket fire, the IDF carried out three waves of retaliatory attacks on Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets.
    • In the attacks, Israel reportedly hit dozens of Islamic Jihad sites across Gaza, destroying infrastructures and weapons stockpiles as well as killing 12 terrorists (according the Palestinian Ministry of Health).
    • Among other targets hit by the IDF were a facility that develops long-range rockets, as well as naval vessels belonging to the terrorist group.
    • According to an unnamed Israeli military source, the IDF has a “rich data bank” of additional potential Islamic Jihad sites that it can continue to hit.
    • For photos and further details about the IDF strikes, click here.
    • Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, less than 24 hours in his new position, appeared on Israeli television saying that “We are sending a strong and clear message to our enemies, on all fronts: Whoever plans to attack or harm Israel by day, should never be sure that they will make it through the night.”
    • Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We are not bent on escalation, but … will respond to every attack against us, and respond very sharply. Islamic Jihad would do well to understand this right now, instead of when it will be too late. I believe that Islamic Jihad is starting to internalize this message. They understand that we will continue to strike them without mercy. They understand that Israel is very strong and that our will is very great. We are determined to fight to defend our country and if they think that these barrages or these strikes will weaken us or lessen our determination, they are mistaken. Therefore, they have but one choice – to stop these attacks or take more and more blows. The choice is theirs.”
    • According to reports, Israel sent a message to Hamas saying that if the terror group stays out of the current fighting, it would be not be targeted by the IDF. This is a seemingly different approach than the one that Israel has taken in the past, where the IDF had stated that it holds Hamas responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip. From all accounts, both sides are keeping to this understanding, and there has been no direct conflict between Hamas and Israel in this round of fighting. (In fact, some commentators have suggested that Hamas is even encouraging the current fighting as a way of curtailing the strength of its rival, Islamic Jihad).
    • While the IDF says that it does not want the situation to escalate into a broader military operation inside the Gaza Strip, there has been a small increase in troop deployment along the Gaza border fence with a limited number of companies and battalions.
  • The IDF’s Home Front Command continues to impose restrictions:
    • All schools and kindergartens south of Tel Aviv remain closed.
    • In the south, all places of work, other than “essential services,” have been shuttered.
    • In the Tel Aviv region, school has resumed, but non-essential places of work are only permitted to open if they have a designated shelter or protected place that can be reached by workers within 90 seconds.
    • Economic damage to industry – mainly as a result of lost working time – after just one day of conflict, has been assessed at $80 million.
  • JFNA’s Israel office continues to operate under emergency protocols and is in close touch with relevant Israeli government branches, our partners, and individual federation representatives on the ground.
    • JFNA’s Israel office attended a meeting yesterday afternoon of the Emergency Coordination Roundtable (known by its Hebrew acronym, “Rahel”) at IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
    • JDC is in the middle of a process of reaching out to municipalities in the South to asses needs. JDC has also opened the Virtual Center for Independent Living, which is a hotline for elderly residents living alone who may need special help, advice or counseling during the current emergency situation. The hotline was established with the support of a Jewish Federations grant. In addition, the JDC Ashalim program has recently trained social workers who work with families at risk, to provide special care during emergency situations and crises. The social workers are provided with a special emergency kit, which has proved – over the last 24 hours – to be extremely effective.
    • The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror (supported by Jewish Federations) has already provided immediate emergency assistance to families whose homes in the south have suffered direct hits. Within hours of yesterday’s attacks, the Agency’s Amigour subsidiary sent construction teams to repair homes hit by rocket fire, in coordination with the Ministry of Finance.
    • The Jewish Agency has also provided assistance to 6,500 new immigrants in absorption centers and 5,000 seniors in assisted living facilities in areas affected by the current crisis. At the same time The Agency is in talks with local municipalities in the south discussing the possibility of respite days for residents of the affected areas.
    • The Israel Trauma Coalition’s resilience centers continue to experience a significant increase in emergency calls. The Natal and Eran hotlines are operating at full capacity, 24 hours a day, and are currently reporting a 40% increase in call volume. Over 50% of calls are coming from the center of the country, 20% from the South and 15% from the North. Most calls are from anxious parents seeking guidance as to how to speak with their children about the situation. ITC instructions that provide recommendations on to how to help children cope in times of crisis, have been widely disseminated.
As always, JFNA’s Israel office remains in close touch with Israeli government authorities and our partners and is very closely monitoring the situation.
Sources: Office of the Prime Minister, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDF Spokesperson, Israel Channel 12 News, Galei Tzahal Radio, the Jerusalem Post