Tornadoes reach the postseason, fall in Class 5A regional semifinal

Posted on 16 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The Pompano Beach High School girls softball team made a return to the postseason with a dramatic 5-0 win over Cardinal Gibbons in the district semifinals that pushed the team into the postseason.

The Tornadoes finished the season 13-7 after it lost to Coral Springs Charter in the Class 5A regional semifinals. Coral Springs Charter (26-1), ranked No. 4 in the state by MaxPreps and No. 8 in the nation by Xcellent 25, won for the 25th straight game. The lone blemish was a 5-4 loss to Western in the second game of the season.

“They are a great hitting team,” said Pompano Beach coach John McGuire, whose team downed Lincoln Park Academy, 10-3, in the regional quarters to advance. “Coral Springs Charter are nationally ranked, so the bloop hits were even harder to defend and it was deflating. You just try to work through it.”

With the game out of reach in the second inning, McGuire called time and emptied his bench replacing his six seniors on the diamond for one last curtain call for their families.

“I wanted to give one last hurrah,” McGuire said. “It has been four long years and they deserve it. I try and do it every year if the game allows it for the parents to say goodbye.”

McGuire said the win over Cardinal Gibbons was the highlight of the season since it helped them reach their goal of the postseason.

“Every year, we seem to finish second in the district and our challenging game is Cardinal Gibbons,” McGuire said. “We win that game and we make it back to here (regional competition). It was a good feeling. It was 0-0 for a long time and then we scored one in the fifth and four in the sixth inning to win.”

“I am going to miss this quite a bit,” said Jeritza Montero, 18, of Ft. Lauderdale, who played all four seasons for the Tornadoes and was one of six seniors on the squad. “They are my family. They grew up being my family and friends.”

“Beating Cardinal Gibbons this year was probably the highlight of my career at the school,” added Montero, who is headed to the College of Central Florida.

“They are our rival and we wound up coming out on top. Last year, they knocked us out of the district tournament, and we came back for revenge and we got it.”

Teammate Sophia Akrouk, 18, of Coral Springs will miss the camaraderie of her friends.

“When I was 8, I started playing with Jeritza and now we are graduating together,” said Akrouk, who was taken back when McGuire emptied the bench. “I really didn’t think I would be so emotional, but it was a thing to remember. It was shocking, but I felt great giving the baton down to the next generation of players.”

Deerfield Beach’s Claire Finzel, 18, will continue her career at Keiser University and said she will always remember the emotion of beating Cardinal Gibbons to qualify for the postseason.

“I have never seen us act like that before after we won,” Finzel said. “This was probably my best year because there was never any drama this year. Usually, there is a little bit of drama each year; but, this year, we were all best friends and we have all just come together. This is my life basically, every day.

“I will miss the friendships I guess,” she continued. “These are my best friends. These are the people I hang out with. It is my softball family.”

McGuire said the team enjoyed being around each other.

“They played hard,” McGuire said. “Attitude and effort is what I preach. We are not a state champion caliber team. In those four years, we only have two going to college to play softball. We want them to have fun and enjoy high school ball.

“Our school only produces a couple of college players a year, but our GPA is probably higher than anyone else’s,” he said. “We have a 100 percent graduation rate. We will outsmart anybody. We are student-athletes in the truest sense.”

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FLICKS: Trial by Fire — a death row drama

Posted on 16 May 2019 by LeslieM


By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It was 45 years ago that my parents and I sat on the porch and watched Susan Hayward’s Oscar-winning performance in I Want to Live, which featured Barbara Graham’s final days before visiting the gas chamber. As an 11-year-old, I kept waiting for somebody to clear Graham’s name and she would be spared the execution. Albeit to say, there was never a sequel produced.

Released in 1995 and directed by Tim Robbins, Dead Man Walking earned Susan Sarandon an Oscar for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean, a spiritual adviser to inmates on death row. Like I Want to Live, Dead Man Walking is based on a true story with artistic license.

Opening tomorrow, Trial by Fire falls into similar “death row drama” and may be more haunting than the previous two Oscar winning movies. Itopens with simplicity. In one sustained shot, we see a girl playing in her front yard while a house in the background bursts into flames. A man runs out the smoky front door, runs to his car, then runs to a window screaming a child’s name. The fire department arrives. The fire claimed the children of Todd (Jack O’Connell) and Stacy Willingham (Emily Mead), a couple with domestic problems. Based on circumstantial evidence and his nonchalant behavior, Todd is sentenced to death row. Labeled a “baby killer,” Todd is placed on the lowest rung of inmate hierarchy.

During his final years, Todd develops a relationship with a prison guard (played by local actor Todd Allen Durkin) and develops a pen pal relationship with Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), a recent widow raising two children. With her legal experience, Elizabeth investigates Todd’s case and sees a reasonable doubt.

Director Edward Zwick has created his own unique “death row” drama. The dark elements of the story naturally permeate the story, but the sunny cinematography provides an interesting contrast. Clocking in slightly over two hours, this film meanders, yet provides many “little moments” of character development. In particular, the relationship between Todd and his security guard grows and blossoms like the relationship between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.

Trial by Fire is a good movie, but a serious movie filled with darkness of the human soul. It is a definite contrast to most films on the big screen. If you need a “feel good” movie, go see Superpower Dogs 3D at the IMAX at the Museum of Discovery & Science in Ft. Lauderdale.

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CLERGY CORNER: For such a time as this

Posted on 16 May 2019 by LeslieM

My wife and I love to spend Saturday mornings drinking coffee at the beach, as we watch the boats going out through the inlet for a day of deep sea recreation. When the coffee is gone, we usually take a leisurely stroll down to the Deerfield Beach Pier, as we enjoy the beautiful beach, the early morning sun and the surf. One morning, we were blessed to see sea turtles hatching; another day, we watched the pelicans repeatedly diving to catch fish; and, some days, the best entertainment comes in watching people.

Recently, we were enjoying an early morning walk and noticed the surf was a little more rough than normal. The tide was in, the waves were breaking closer to shore, and there was a large amount of seaweed. The clear path of firm sand along the shoreline was more narrow than normal and we were cautiously watching so as not to step on any man o’ war. We fixed our gaze on the ground in front of us.

I began to notice the footprints in the sand. I observed the small footprints of children, the large footprints of adults, footprints revealing those who were pigeon-toed, those with crooked toes and so on. Regardless of the size and shape of the footprint, they all had something in common – they were only there for a few moments and then washed away by the waves. I was reminded of James 4:14“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

I mentioned my observation to my wife and soon we had both stood still to watch the footprints being formed and then the waves washing them away. It was one of those “aha!” moments in my life. It dawned on me how short life really is. I realized that the impression I make in this world is here only for a moment. Others will come behind me and never realize that I had walked before them. I was walking where others walked previously. I found myself asking the question, “What is my life? Will my effort really make any difference or does it simply fade away never to be noticed by those who come after me?” I must admit that I found myself slightly discouraged for a moment, since I pour my heart and soul into everything I do.

In those moments, it was as though God was teaching me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. I immediately thought of Mordecai’s words to Queen Esther, “…who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Mordecai knew that God had prepared Esther for what needed to be done in that exact time – not in the past and not in the future; but for that exact moment in time. Matthew instructed us not to worry about tomorrow. Solomon stated “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up”

As I stood there on the shoreline gazing at those footprints, I realized that God only wants me to consider the work He has trusted me with today — not the past, nor the future. He placed me here “for such a time as this.” We cannot change the past, nor can we dictate the future, as it applies to family, ministry, work or any other area of life. Be encouraged, realizing that God only asks us to be faithful to the task He has entrusted us with today.

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Lead Pastor at Grace Church (501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach). 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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Calvet in a ‘league of her own’

Posted on 09 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Janelle Calvet could be considered a Swiss army knife for the Somerset Keys High School baseball team. The 14-year-old freshman, who plays in the Deerfield Beach Little League Senior League team, recently completed her first year on the high school program as one of their bright spots. She played shortstop, catcher and even pitched some games to help the Lions finish 4-5 in their inaugural season.

“It was fun,” Calvet said. “I was very accepted (by the boys). Everybody treated me the same and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed playing.”

She said there wasn’t much of an adjustment because she played with players that also play Little League with her. There were a couple of girls that we played against.

“It was everything I expected and I am definitely going to do it again,” added Calvet, who also plays for the GTB (Girls Travel Baseball) program that plays in tournaments throughout the country. Their last event was an International Tournament in West Palm Beach last November.

Two years ago, she was among a group of girls from South Florida who were flown out to California to compete in the inaugural ‘Trailblazer Series,’ a first-of-its-kind girls baseball tournament.

The event at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton, CA took place in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day. It attracted a total of approximately 100 girls, ages 16 and under, representing 20 states across the country as well as Washington D.C. and Canada.

Calvet still has aspirations of playing Major League Baseball. In March, she was a part of MLB Grit, an inaugural high school invitational event designed specifically for 60 girls who play baseball.

It was held in Dallas, Texas. Calvert said she was able to meet members of the United States Women’s National Baseball Team and some professional players.”

“I absolutely want to play in the MLB,” she said. “It is going to take a lot of hard work.”

Calvet, who is the lone girl playing in the Senior Division of the Deerfield Beach Little League, said the ‘A League of Their Own’ movie inspired her to play baseball. When she went to California, two of the original members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1949-51) were in attendance and Calvet got to meet them.

“The most memorable thing going out there was meeting Maybelle Blair and Shirley Burkovich because it all started with them,” said Calvet following her trip at the time.

“I had her pitching and playing shortstop for us,” said Somerset Keys baseball coach Joe Silvia. “She was a force to be reckoned with. I’ll be honest. I had her batting second and she would get on (base), steal second and third and score.”

“She was one of my heavy hitters,” he added. “It’s great having her on the team. It’s different having a girl on the team. You worry about her not hurting her arm. We do long toss, quick hands, and all of these drills.”

Calvet finished the season with a batting average of .444 and Silvia said she averaged at least two walks per game this season. She had 10 RBIs to go along with her 8 runs scored. She pitched, played shortstop and also caught the last few games of the season. Every practice, he would talk to her.

“I always went up to her and said, ‘how’s the arm? Are you good?’” Silvia said. “I pitched her in some of our games. She is the real deal. We started to practice, and she was running with the guys…taking batting practice and throwing and I was like, ‘ok, what’s going on here?’” If I had nine of her, we’d be undefeated.”

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FLICKS: “Ask Dr. Ruth”

Posted on 09 May 2019 by LeslieM


By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

When adjusted for inflation, Avengers: Endgame has already joined the ranks of Gone with the Wind, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Sound of Music in a mere 11 days. It is the No. 1 box office flick for 2019 and is not likely to be topped, even with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker scheduled to debut in December.

With calmer fanfare, Ask Dr. Ruth also opened last weekend. It is a documentary about Ruth Westheimer, Ph.D, who burst into the public spotlight as the sex therapist to the nation in 1981. Everyone knows the kind little lady who could speak frankly about the intimacy of sex. Yet, much like a member of the Avengers, Dr. Ruth is part superhero.

The documentary begins and ends in Dr. Ruth’s Washington Heights apartment in New York City. Approaching her 90th birthday, we see this busy woman going about her daily routine in the spotlight of public speaking engagements.She appears to be never alone.

With the dawning of the AIDS crisis, Dr. Ruth’s candid, but cute, discussions about sexuality helped remove social stigmas. Given her sense of humor, she was a regular guest on the late night talk shows and chatted with Johnny Carson, David Letterman and NBC radio announcers. But, behind the laughs was a darker story.

Karola (Dr. Ruth’s first name) was born into a Jewish family in Germany during WWII. At the age of 9 1/2, her parents were taken to a labor camp. She, and the neighborhood children of her age, were put on a train and sent to Switzerland.

On May 8, 1945, when the orphanage announces the end of World War II, Karola comes to the realization that she won’t see her family again. These scenes featuring Karola’s youth are presented with animation that is simple and haunting.

Much like Dr. Ruth’s public persona, overall, Ask Dr. Ruth is lighthearted and humorous. Her pain, much like her politics, is not for public consumption. However, Ask Dr. Ruth provides answers for one who wishes to achieve an authentic life.

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Planned mobility in Boca Raton

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

The Separation model

The suburbs were for residential; the urban core for commercial/industrial. Historically, urban planning was based on this separation of functions model. It became a great model for commuter traffic. As the suburbs grew, so did clogging main roads and highways, and the rise of “rush hour” that increased in time by number of vehicles on the road.

The City of Boca Raton was no exception to the separate functions planning model. For example, the once forward-looking Arvida Park of Commerce built in the 1970s was based on an industrial and business park model, no residential. One-third is office space and two-thirds warehouses. The model was to provide minimal impact of traffic on surrounding roadways.

“If you’re warehousing a lot, you don’t have many employees,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth.

The original IBM/T-Rex campus (now Boca Raton Innovation Campus), also fits the old model.

The Planned Mobility model

With the additional pressures on commuting and land development, Boca Raton approved the model for urban planning called “planned mobility” in 2010. It is based on the premise of rather than two separate areas — one developed for a business district (industry and retail) and the other for residential — they are merged into a single area zoned for mixed-use.

“The Boca Raton City Council made the decision several years ago to infill the all-business Arvida Park of Commerce with residential units now under construction,” said Commissioner Weinroth.

It is being developed and re-branded by the Crocker Group as The Park at Broken Sound, a 700-acre planned mobility commercial/residential hub optimized to fulfill the popular work/live/play concept.

“Planned mobility has been in place for 10-15 years but hadn’t been implemented until 2012 because of the financial downturn,” the commissioner explained. “Housing values dropped dramatically so the tax base went down and the influx of dollars dropped. It was a painful time for the city. When the CRA originally planned out the downtown, they envisioned it as mostly businesses. With the financial downturn in the early 2000s, all that stopped.”

Downtown Redevelopment

The redevelopment of downtown Boca Raton was originally contemplated as a business concentric urban core.

“But government officials decided they needed to change that dynamic,” said Weinroth. “Our downtown is a redevelopment area now. When the CRA was created, they set up a matrix with so many square feet of office and they had equivalents — hotels, condos, apartments — based on impact on the area such as traffic, sewage, miles of lanes.”

By the time the economy picked up, the move was toward residential and mixed-use development.

“That’s why now we are seeing Tower 155 and Alina luxury condos, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences,” said the commissioner. “So it has evolved into a more residential downtown verses a business downtown.”

This is good for traffic, he said, explaining, “When we look at traffic, we look at not only how many trips per day; we look at peak trips — how many in the a.m. and p.m. commute — because that’s where you get the most pressure.”

Peak trips tend to be reduced when an area includes residential properties.

At the time Weinroth became a county commissioner, projects that had been moth balled were finally being constructed.

“The Hyatt Place downtown, developed by the Kolter Group, went back and forth about being commercial or residential before making the hotel decision. The same indecision was about the property on Military and Spanish River, which became apartments. So you see a lot of movement toward residential and much-needed hotel space,” he said. “With the Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental, they are going to have enough of a synergy to attract bigger groups and give West Palm Beach a run for its money.”

The residential development under planned mobility had a cap of 2500 units, which has now been met. Zoning attorney Bonnie Miskel secured city approval of approximately 65 percent of those residential units, either free standing or added into office parks.

“When the City of Boca Raton approved the planned mobility land use in 2010, the intention was to bring employment and housing closer in order to change the direction and type of traffic on the roads,” she said. “And it has worked.”

In addition, residential infill has revitalized dormant parts of the city.

“You see a lot of foot traffic, biking and life in corporate parks that were once dead when people left each night and weekends,” she said.

Another advantage, notes Miskel, is the interest in businesses wanting to open near the revitalized office parks, such as Fresh Market that opened next to the Park at Broken Sound.

“Planned mobility encourages commercial building as well,” she notes.

Live/Work/Play

“At the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, you see some residential on the periphery right now, and you’ll see more as they develop that property recently purchased by the Crocker Partners,” said the commissioner. The developer will be going before the City Council seeking permission for additional residential rights.

Planned mobility is something people are demanding, as well as demanding smaller units says Commissioner Weinroth. The 88-acre University Park was the last large parcel of undeveloped land in Boca Raton. The developer, Penn-Florida, will be creating a self-contained city of sorts, similar to Mizner Park only bigger, he added. “The hope is that traffic will be alleviated. People will stay close to home and live/work/play in the community rather than commute on Spanish River Boulevard and other major arterials.”

The plan is to have smaller residential units for people not looking for 3,000 sq. ft.

“They may be satisfied with 1,000 sq. ft. with the idea that they will go to a Starbucks, or to a business environment with an open workspace where they can meet and work on computers,” he said.

“You’re not going to live in your house anymore,” he continued. “They’ll live downstairs in the city. That’s the new model — walkable. We want walkable cities. If you can walk somewhere rather than getting into a car, that’s the way to go. Walkability is a companion to this concept. Urban planning and transportation planning are going in the same direction.”

“There’s still an interest and demand for added mixed-use and residential units, but the city needs to re-allocate them,” said Miskel. Ultimately, the Boca Raton City Council will have to make a decision whether the planned mobility model is successful, to continue it by adding in more residential areas which were heretofore only commercial.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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Deerfield 50/70 team holds on for 8-5 win

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Christian Osornio and Daniel Silveria collected multiple hits to lead the offensive charge, while Roman Odiernia blasted a two run home run to deep left field in the third inning as the Deerfield Beach Little League’s 50/70 team jumped out to an early lead and then held on for an 8-5 win over host Federal recently.

Osornio started on the mound for Deerfield Beach and tossed two innings of one-hit, one-run ball. He also struck out three and walked one as the local squad built an early 6-1 lead in the interleague contest.

Robert Odiernia and Alex Riveria pitched the middle of the game and gave way to closer Ryan Jarrett, who sealed the deal as he yielded no hits and no walks while striking out four and allowed 0 runs in 2.1 innings of work. 

Others contributing to the 10 hits for DBLL were Caleb Wahlers, Jarrett, both Odiernia boys, Donovan Campbell and Anthony Fronte. Federal was only able to manage three hits in the game.

Golf Course closes for reconstruction of new greens

The city of Pompano Beach has temporarily closed the Greg Norman Signature Golf Course for the renovation of their putting greens.

The Pines Course, located at 1101 N. Federal Hwy., is one of two courses located at the city’s public golf course. The second course, the Palms Course, will remain open during the reconstruction.

The re-grassing of the Pines Golf Course putting greens will provide a much-improved turf surface. Platinum Paspalm turf has been chosen based on the conditions at this facility. The city has been testing the Paspalm turf on four greens over the past year which has proven to be highly successful.

The process of re-grassing involves many steps, including applying herbicide in order to aid in the removal of the existing turf, applying soil amendments, frequent rolling of surfaces to develop a consistent turf stand, aerification, installation of the premium sod, etc.

The Greg Norman Design Pines Golf Course is tentatively scheduled to re-open by the end of June weather permitting.

Pompano Beach Men’s Golf Association results

The Pompano Beach Men’s Golf Association held a One Best Ball of a Foursome tournament at the Pines Course and the group of Henry Lesburt, Bill O’Brien, Robert Raser and Tom Breur (blind draw) carded a 51 to win top honors.

Tom Breur, Bob Mascatello, Lance Naiman and Dave Hall (blind draw) shot a 53 and won on a match of cards with the third place team of Richard Anderson, George Duarte, Carlo Spirito and Bart Valerio. Finishing in fourth was Jim DeCicco, Jim Dunn (blind draw), Gary Gill and Richard Plasky with a 55. Frank Cutrone, Bill McCormick, Paul Murphy and Gene Stoller shot a 56 to finish fifth.  The closest to the pin winner on the third hole was Pat McClain.

The Pompano Beach Men’s Golf Association followed that tournament up with another contest – Two Best Ball of Foursome at the Pines Course.

Paul Berning, Joe Patchen, Richard Plasky and Bob VanZandt carded a 117 to take first place. Placing second after a match of cards was Jim Blake, Frank Cutrone, Lee Hammer and Bill Sincavage, who shot 118. Andy Burt, Jim Dunn, Dave Hall and Harlan Tyler (blind draw) finished third with a 118.

Henry Lesburt, Bob Mascatello, Jay Thorn and Tom Joyce (blind draw) were fourth after shooting 120 and won on a match of cards. Jim Foster, Bill Hadersbeck, Mike Katawczik and Tim O’Brien finished fifth. Winning the closest to the pin contest on the seventh hole was Jerry Goodman.

Pompano Beach Women’s Golf Association results

The Pompano Beach Women’s Golf Association held a One Best Ball Even Holes, Two Best Balls Odd Holes tournament and the team of Sue Bardhi, Vonnie Okeefe, Nancy Oshea and Patti Matera (blind draw) won with an 86. Finishing second, just three shots back with an 89, was the team of Abby Ages, Deanne Baumann, Dianne Levanti and Anita Macmichael.

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Avengers: Endgame & new documentaries open

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Approximately one year ago, I signed an oath that when I was invited to the screening of Avengers: Infinity War, I would not spoil the film experience for my readers. Except for one problem, I never received notification about the critics’ screening. Those critics who went to an early screening for the recent Avengers movies posted the entire synopsis that appeared on Wikipedia two days before the public had a chance to see these movies.

It really did not matter. I saw the film at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX screen and had a wonderful experience with “true” fans. The IMAX with Laser created clear and concise visuals. Acoustically, the soaring score by Alan Silvestri taps some emotional beats, while classic rock and some big band tunes create emotional echoes of bygone days.

Capping off an 11 year, 22 film cycle now dubbed The Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgameis a leisurely three hour movie with many pleasing moments. Without spoiling the new movie, this columnist can say that Thanos (James Brolin) did a very bad thing and the Avengers, headed by Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), are trying to correct the problem.

The pre-credits sequence opens with a shock as the Avengers, both young and old, assemble the team. Despite the Avengers’ heroics, the world remains a dark and depressing place. When Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) suddenly appears, the Avengers create a unique solution to their problems.

Great writing provides Avengers: Endgame with many excellent payoffs. Given that we have known Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for many years, the audience is given many emotional payoffs. While there are some cameo moments that invite cheers, the scenes involving family members (father, mother, unrequited lover) generate tears. Along the way, there are thrills, battles, humor and general popcorn-eating Saturday matinee afternoon fun. Somewhere in Heaven, Marvel Comic creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are smiling. Avengers: Endgame is excelsior.

Besides starring in Avengers: Endgame, Chris Evans narrates Superpower Dogs 3D, which is also playing at the Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX screen. Shot on multiple continents on land, sea and air, Superpower Dogs 3D explains the protective nature of the canine.  

With a full review next week, Ask Dr. Ruthopens this Friday. While best known as the cute little sex therapist with a German accent, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a Holocaust survivor. This documentary will review the challenges the good doctor faced in the time of the AIDS crisis.

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CLERGY CORNER: Poway and the Struggle for America’s Soul

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM

A portion of text written By Tzvi Freeman for Chabad.org in memory of the tragic events at the Chabad in Poway. Submitted by Rabbi Tzvi Dechter

If you’re a Jew in America today, there’s a good chance you’re concerned. First, the largest hate-driven massacre of Jews in American history occurred in Pittsburgh. Then, precisely six months later, with an almost identical fingerprint of hatred, was a deadly attack on a synagogue in Poway, California.

Whose problem is this?

The Jewish people are no weaker for these attacks. Synagogues are not about to empty out because of a handful of disturbed, poisoned minds and much to the contrary. As for those whose lives were taken, all very special Jews, all missed terribly: Don’t call them victims. There’s an honored title in Jewish tradition for any Jew who lost his or her life simply for being a Jew: a Kadosh, a holy Jew. Jews don’t die as victims; we die with dignity. That is why we are still alive.

My contention is that this is not a Jewish problem. It’s the world’s problem. Both these attacks, along with many other violent crimes of hatred in recent years are symptoms of a malicious disease spreading unabated in America, in Europe, and in the world at large. But that’s a problem that we, as Jews, are going to have to assist in healing, for our own best interest, as well as for the interest of this country and for the entire world.

America is suffering. According to FBI figures, hate crimes rose 17 percent last year, with similar increases over the previous two years — all this while other forms of violent crime continue to decrease. Something’s wrong.

Jews are an obvious target. Like the canary in the coal mine, we tend to get hit the hardest. And, yes, these are acts of rabid Anti-Semitism. But, if we want to solve anything, we need to take a broader perspective. Muslims, Christians and others have been under siege as well. Just a few days before the Poway shooting, a young war veteran plowed into a crowd crossing the street in Sunnyvale, CA. He told police he thought they were Muslims. Is there a medicine for this plague?

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, violence was increasingly on the rampage in America in a way not seen since the days of the Wild West. Ideas for quick fixes and long-term solutions abounded. The Rebbe’s prescription, unique and counterintuitive, was this: Fix the education system. How? Introduce a moment of silence every day into the school curriculum and take it seriously.

Why do I think that’s a good fit for today’s plague of hate-driven violence?

Think about it: America is divided over gun law restrictions, yet there is one point that enjoys universal consensus: Gun restrictions alone are not enough because the problem is not the gun. The problem is the mind of the person that holds the gun.

What has the American school done for the mind of that criminal?

We taught him how human beings first appeared on the planet. Did we teach him to be a human being [or] to respect another human being?

We taught him to use his mind to solve problems with numbers. Did we teach him to apply his mind — rather than his fists to solve problems with people?

We taught him anatomy. Did we teach him that a human life is more than the sum of blood, guts and bones? Or did we, perhaps, inadvertently, teach him that the notion of a human soul has no place in the educated mind?

We taught him about laws and prisons. Did we teach him that even if you’re so smart that you don’t get caught, you’re still wrong? Did we give him a conscience?

Did we ever demonstrate to him that these are the things that really matter in life — more than math, more than science, even more than the niftiest technology? Did we ever give him a chance to stop and think about himself, about his life, about his family, about everything that bothers him in life? Is there a space and time for thinking about life in his school?

That’s all that a moment of silence in school is about. And, yes, it works wonders. Ask those who work in schools where it’s been implemented.

They will tell you that a moment of silence means that a child will go home and ask [parents] what he should think about. It means that a child will share with his teacher the troubles he’s going through. It means the school becomes a place not just for the child’s mind, but for his heart and his soul.

Jews have to adapt to the times. The knee-jerk reaction, reinforced through thousands of years of history, has been to huddle down and strengthen the internal steel grid when under attack. But America in 2019 is not Shushan, not Rome, not medieval Spain, not Poland.

It’s that attitude that prompted some Jews to believe that if Judaism were to be safe in America, G d had to be kicked out of public school. They failed to realize that, in the times we live in, the opposite is true. A moral society demands a notion of an objective, supreme judge, an “eye that sees and an ear that hears”—even if you don’t get caught by the police or the media. When that notion is lost, so is America’s soul, and that’s when the madness begins.

A moment of silence doesn’t impose prayer or belief in a Creator on anyone. But it opens the child’s mind to search for meaning, and, hopefully, for G d’s presence in the world. And there’s a good chance the child will talk to parents and grandparents, and discover that they once had faith in their lives.

True, Anti-Semitism never died, even in America, but here we have a voice, a well-respected voice, and, therefore, a responsibility to our host country. Isn’t this why we were given a Torah? Isn’t this the core mission of our people here in this world — to be a light to the nations, who will finally come to realize that the world has a Creator who cares about how we treat His world?

We can use our voices to heal America. Let America’s schools nurture the humanness of America’s children. Let children know the meaning of silence, just enough silence that they can hear their own hearts pounding inside. Let America have a soul again.

This Saturday, join us in solidarity with the call of the Chabbad emissary, R Yisroel Goldstein of Poway; Jewish communities are filling the synagogues with pride, strengh and joy!

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.


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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Whatever will be, will be

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM


By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I live frugally, though not inexpensively, in a 50 unit non-gated community in a perfect neighborhood for me where I feel safe and secure, almost like in the old days when people never bothered to lock their doors. I live where ducks and birds, and trees and grass, and flowers and water, and Walgreens are all within my sight. Daily, I walk maybe a couple of hundred feet or so to the mailbox from which about 95 percent of what I retrieve is requests for my money. And, truthfully, if I could, I would give to them all.

But here’s the thing. I have every chance of outliving my money — depending, of course, on a plethora of conditions that might or might not arise regarding the national economy and my own personal health which, for my age (it could be bad luck to mention) is remarkably and thankfully okay, so far.

So, I actually “saved” $24.83 on my Publix total bill of $78.34 this week. This is mostly an aberration but with careful attention to “BOGOs” it does happen occasionally. I mostly store-hop to save money — at the Dollar Store, Aldi’s, Walmart, etc. By most measurements, I am not poor. And, yet, I live in fear of becoming so.

I am also frantically frustrated by the “stop” button in my head which tells me that I cannot “give” (money) as I would like to — nor can I reasonably prioritize which “cause” is more worthy than another.

However, in consideration of the fact that May is Mental Health Month and, from my perspective, most every good cause rests on the assumption that emotional stability is the bottom line requisite for advocacy, this is and has always been my priority. (www.faulkcenterforcounseling.org)

No one in this world escapes from having bad things happen to them, and learning how to cope with the negative in a way that can enhance the positive elements to which all of us are privy in varying degrees is the greatest single gift we can hope for in life.

I can also list the mail I get that gives me pause as I weigh these other needs against my actuarial numbers, my assets, my chances of income and my willingness, or lack of — to live a lesser life.

I am in awe of Henry David Thoreau and Siddhartha, but not yet ready to live a Walden Pond life style.

On the other hand, I don’t have the slightest desire for a Park Avenue Penthouse, as a metaphor, and all the accouterments of that lifestyle.

And see? I just opened my mail and am told that my auxiliary health insurance premiums are being increased as of July. That’s enough for contributions to the several good causes represented by the letters in the “maybe” pile on my desk. Oh, I’m sure you noticed that gas prices have inched up again.

Of course, I am but one of the millions who go through life prioritizing expenditures and living with the realistic awareness that — poof — the world, our world, could end any minute.

And that’s why, having had my rant, I put that thought back into a locked pocket somewhere in my aura and begin to write checks with abandon, and look up at our Florida sun and get ready for a beach day tomorrow… and repeat the old saying “whatever will be, will be.”

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