Orlando’s Jewish History

Jews settled in Florida long before it became a destination for vacationers and retirees. In Orlando, the first recorded Jewish settlers arrived shortly after the Civil War. Sala Levin describes the community’s early days:

Henry Benedict, an immigrant from Germany, settled in Orlando around 1890 and got started in pineapple packing and eventually became a major player in the development of the downtown area. Other Jewish Floridians worked in the dairy and citrus industries. In the early part of the 20th century, Moses Levy—originally from Pittsburgh—bought 24 acres of groves in the area. In addition to producing oranges, the grove also served as a gathering place for prayer services. “On Friday, before Shabbat, they’d hitch up their horses and spend the night, and the small community would gather on that farm,” says local historian Roz Fuchs Schwartz. High holidays were also celebrated at the orange grove. Community members contributed in other ways, too; dairy farmer Peter Wittenstein, for example, moonlighted as the kosher butcher and mohel.

Read more at Moment

More about: American Civil War, American Jewish History, Florida, History & Ideas, Synagogues

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship