From Rabbi Birnholz

I want to call your attention to two matters.  One is an issue and the other  an opportunity.

The issue concerns the recent initiative of Hillsborough County School Superintendent, Jeff Eakins to have a greater and more active Jesus-based club and church presence in the public schools. I’ve expressed my thoughts about this development in a sermon found in this Shofar.  As of this writing, School Board Chair, April Griffin, has expressed the need to better define the role of religious groups in the schools. We will have to wait and see how this matter plays out.  In the meantime, please make sure that Judaism a significant part of your public school child’s life. It is the best way to prepare them to deal with peer missionaries. Also tell them not to feel obligated to engage in school religious activities that make them uncomfortable.

On a positive note, please make sure to attend the upcoming Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival sponsored by the Tampa Federation/JCC. We are blessed to be able to enjoy the luxury of such an offering and should take full advantage of it.

The series runs from March 2-9 at local cinemas. These are films you might not ordinarily see because many are foreign.  Most have won international awards.  They range from drama/WWII (“To Life”), to comedy (“The Kind Words”), to Arab-Israeli relations (“In Search of Israeli Cuisine” and “Rabin in His Own Words”), to romance (“Bulgarian Rhapsody”).

A verse from Talmud says you should not judge a person until you have stood in his or her shoes.  This series allows us to see aspects of modern Jewish life from a different perspective than we are used to. It will be enlightening in that sense.  New outlooks are the building blocks of growth.