Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: In 2015, what can we do to end the violence overtaking our nation?

Well, here we are on the last Sunday of 2014. It’s been a turbulent year — with so much unrest and violence. Yet, here we are; we’ve made it thus far. Still, I can’t help but think of all those who didn’t make it to this point and the violence that took them out. It’s enough to make you cry. And some of us have cried a lot. We have cried for the loss of life and we have cried out against the violence that took the lives.

We have cried for the families and loved ones of the victims of the violence. But crying is not enough. We must do something to combat this virus of violence that seems to be overtaking our nation.

But what? What can we do to bring this evil trend to an end?

Recently I wrote a column about the benefits of having the kind of inner peace that can “spill over” to someone else. I believe that each of us can achieve that level of peace. And because I believe that, I can have hope.

I can have hope that my little great-grandsons will be able to live in a community where they can safely play a game of basketball on the court at the neighborhood park, and grow up to be contributing citizens to our community.

I can have hope that not another little girl or boy, playing on their front porch, or a little child sitting in his parents’ car, will be gunned down by in a drive-by shooting.

And I can have hope for this community to come together peacefully to work out our issues and problems peacefully.

This is my hope, not only for Miami, but for our entire nation. I don’t believe that it is too much to hope for. After all, our lives and the lives of our children and our children’s children are at stake.

Youth music program in Haiti

Speaking of hope, I’d like to thank 1308 Productions , a nonprofit music education advocacy and public service organization, for giving hope to a lot of children in poverty stricken Haitian towns.

The organization, run by siblings Allison and Jason Novack, recently established a youth music program in Tabarre, Haiti, and also in several other Haitian communities. And they did it with your help of donated musical instruments and sheet music.

The Novacks need your help again. They have a holiday drive for more instruments and sheet music. They want to make the delivery early in January.

New and used instruments in good condition are needed for the organization to take its work into other Haitian towns, to children and youths who otherwise would never have the opportunity to learn music and how to play instruments.

The donated instruments and sheet music, monetary donations and all that is needed to start a beginners’ class, is needed for the project.

The Novacks have also provided instruments to music education programs at local public schools in South Florida.

If you want to help, you may visit 1308 Productions on the web at, or you may call 305-947-3000 to arrange pick up or drop off instruments for the cause. Monetary donations may be sent to 1308 Productions, 13899 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 400. Please make checks payable to 1308 Productions.

New Neighbors Club meeting

Members of the New Neighbors Club of South Dade invite you to “ring in the New Year with music” at their Jan. 14 monthly luncheon meeting. The program will feature The Nightingales, a group within New Neighbors, who will present familiar music highlighting well-known American songs.

The Nightingales have combined their talents as singers and dancers to create a variety show for the members and guests. The group is led by Sharon Abramson, a graduate of Florida International University’s School of Music. She is also a local piano instructor and will accompany the Nightingales on the piano.

The club meets at the Killian Palms Country Club, 9950 SW 104th St. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the luncheon and program starts at 11:30 a.m. The cost of lunch is $26 per person. Reservations are required and must be made by 6 p.m. on Jan. 8. To make your reservations, send an email to or call 305-595-0213.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

It’s time again for the nominations for the annual “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” award nominations.

The awards are presented each year by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, to women who have broken the proverbial glass ceiling in professional fields that are normally dominated by men. Nominees are also judged based upon activities in the Jewish and civic communities, and serving as role models for other women. The deadline for nominations is at 5 p.m. on Jan 16.

“While there have been outstanding strides made by Jewish professional women throughout the state, it is important that we continue to recognize these women as an inspiration to others to aim for the stars. We encourage the Florida community to nominate women who they feel are worthy of this honor,” museum director Jo Ann Arnowitz said.

The award was established by the museum in 1995. Since then, more than 80 outstanding winners have been honored with the distinction from a a wide variety of fields such as medicine, banking, accounting, academia, politics, law, aviation, journalism, marketing, sports and entertainment.

To download a nomination form, go to, or contact the museum’s membership department at 786-972-3164.

Returning to Judaism

Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forced to become Catholic during the Inquisition, are now returning to Judaism, according to Professor Abe Lavender of Florida International University.

Lavender, a professor of sociology, is president of the Miami Beach Historical Association and editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews.” He has written seven books and more han 50 academic articles, most of them about ethnicity, Sephardic Jews and other topics.

He will lecture on “Descendants of the Secret Jews of Iberia,” 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.

In his talk, Lavender will examine the reasons for this return to Jewry, as well as the issues they may face and the hopes they hold.

The museum is at 301 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach. Lavender’s lecture is a part of the Mondays at the Museum Series. Admission is $10 for the public, $5 for museum members and free for students with ID.

For tickets and more information, email the museum at: or call 786-972-3175.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.