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2011-02-25 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


February 25, 2011  RSS feed
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2011 Tikkun Olam Award winner is Steve Specter

Krauthammer: We need to be aggressive defending Israel’s legitimacy
By ROBERT GREEN Jewish Press

Nearly 700 guests turned out for the Federation’s 2011 President’s Dinner; the second largest number in the event’s history. Nearly 700 guests turned out for the Federation’s 2011 President’s Dinner; the second largest number in the event’s history. Dr. Steve Specter is the winner of the Tampa Jewish Community Center and Federation’s 2011 Tikkun Olam Award for outstanding service to the community, presented at the annual President’s Dinner on Feb. 20 at the A La Carte Pavillion.

Tikkun Olam means repair the world in Hebrew and winners are selected for their outstanding volunteer performance, deeds of loving kindness, excellence in fundraising, strong leadership and financial support for the community.

Federation Chief Executive Officer Gary Gould announced the award and said of Specter, “He’s worked tirelessly for four decades for different Jewish and non- Jewish organizations. He’s truly a volunteer super-star.”

Specter was president of the Federation from 2002 to 2004. He is also a past president of Tampa Jewish Family Services and Congregation Kol Ami. Gould said Specter was also an outstanding fundraiser and an expert at helping groups reach a consensus on difficult issues.

(L-R) Federation President Ellis, Steve Specter and Federation CEO Gary Gould. (L-R) Federation President Ellis, Steve Specter and Federation CEO Gary Gould. Gould said Specter had been nominated separately by three Jewish organizations for the award. One nomination said, “If you look up mensch in the dictionary, you’ll see his picture.”

Specter is associate dean for student affairs and a professor of molecular medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

“It’s a little stunning to be standing here,” Specter said when he accepted the award. “In truth, I can’t figure out why I am. I do ordinary things that in some ways other people find extraordinary.”

Event Co-chairs Steve Marx and Alice Rosenthal with keynote speaker Charles Krauthammer Event Co-chairs Steve Marx and Alice Rosenthal with keynote speaker Charles Krauthammer Previous winners have been George Karpay in 2006, Jack Roth in 2007, Doug and Maureen Cohn in 2008, Jeff Wuliger in 2009 and Blossom Leibowitz in 2010.

President Jonathan Ellis told the nearly 700 guests at the dinner that the Federation is in sound financial shape because of the sale last year of the Jewish Center Towers, which helped to substantially reduce the organization’s debt.

“The role of our Federation has never been more important. Our beneficiary agencies are all doing excellent work,” he said. Those agencies include the JCC, Weinberg Village, Hillels of the Florida Suncoast and Hillel School of Tampa.

Ellis said the Federation’s Share the Wealth program will provide support to almost every major Jewish organization and synagogue in the Tampa area. In addition, the Federation will continue to help Jews in need around the world and be a strong advocate for Israel.

In presenting the community appeal, Rabbi Ed Rosenthal of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast said donations to the Federation are the best way to help Jews in need locally and elsewhere.

“All Israel is responsible for each other,” Rabbi Rosenthal said. “Together through our Federation, we can strengthen our community. The needs are greater than ever. The Federation does so much. We need you.”

Krauthammer slams UN

Keynote speaker Charles Krauthammer told the guests that supporters of Israel should strongly attack efforts in the United Nations and elsewhere to undermine the Jewish state’s legitimacy.

“What we ought to be saying is, ‘How dare you!’ We need to be aggressive about this,” the conservative columnist said.

He compared the attacks against Israel to efforts by the Nazis to dehumanize Jews as a prelude to the Holocaust. ”It’s racist. It’s anti-Semitic. It’s a campaign to turn Israel into a pariah state,” he said.

“On this issue, Europe is lost,” Krauthammer said. “What we’re seeing in Europe is a return to the norm. The good news is that America is on our side.”

Krauthammer said he was cautiously optimistic that uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Muslim world will improve Israel’s security in the long run if they led to stable democracies.

“Democracies are less war-like than dictatorships. The question is are the Arabs capable of democracy and how long will it take?”

He said he was fairly optimistic that Egypt would not go to war against Israel because the Egyptian Army was a stabilizing influence in the country and did not want to fight.

“Iran is the key. In time, the regime will fall. I have great faith Israel will come out in the end,” he said.

Some 700 people attended the dinner, making it the second largest President’s Dinner in its six-year history.

Only former Secretary of State Colin Powell outdrew Krauthammer, according to Alissa Fischel, Federation Director of Development. Guests at the dinner included U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, candidates for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, Rose Ferlita, Tom Scott and Ed Turanchik, USF President Judy Genshaft and Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010.

Alice Rosenthal and Steve Marx were co-chairs of the dinner. Debbie Taub chairs the Federation fundraising campaign.

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