Tales from the Dark Net

Like most Internet users, you probably share a concern about online privacy, and the intrusion of private sector and government information gathering.

The remedy may come from the “dark net,” currently a den of illicit and highly secretive activities that may be pointing the way for the future of digital communications and commerce.

Learn more about the mysterious dark net from this informative and amusing TED talk: http://www.ted.com/…/jamie_bartlett_how_the_mysterious_dark…


The Value of Humor

In case anyone still questions the benefits of personality and humor in the business world, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream offers one more example of its tongue-in-cheek approach to marketing.

Visitors who explore the property surrounding B&J’s Stowe, Vt., headquarters will discover a small, fenced-in hill with a sign identifying it as the “Flavors Graveyard.” Inside are a series of headstones with clever epitaphs about ice cream flavors that have met their demise over the years.

What better way to admit your mistakes than to bury them with praise and a smile? And what better way to win over your clients than good-natured, self-deprecating humor?


Trump Demonstrates His Brand’s Power

Say what you will about Donald Trump. He certainly is one of America’s great communicators. His continuing popularity in the Republican presidential polls is a credit to years of careful grooming of the Trump brand, as well as his ability to project absolute self confidence.

In the current Infotainment Era — when the news media is equally dedicated to current events and celebrity coverage — Trump is the ultimate product. After years of starring in CBS Television’s “The Apprentice,” he has convinced millions of viewers that he is the world’s leading entrepreneur. Although it is positioned as a reality show, Apprentice positions Trump as the premiere business genius, a role that the Donald plays with a great relish.

Simultaneously, Trump has parlayed his business successes into personal triumphs, while minimizing awareness of his business failures, including bankruptcies, massive layoffs and huge investor losses connected to significant companies in his empire. His message is one of self empowerment. “If I can do it, so can you,” is the implied message of his public persona. Never mind that his fortune was built on inherited family money. Donald Trump wants you to see him as every man, just a straight-talking commoner who is constantly enriched by street smarts, business acumen and toughness.

The power of the Trump brand has been evident throughout the initial months of his presidential campaign. He advocates policies without substance, like building a border wall that Mexico will finance and forcing China to send factory jobs back to the United States.  Even though these Trump platforms have no underpinnings, most of his fans need no justifications to believe in him.

Meanwhile, Trump survives objectionable statements that already would have sunk candidates with lesser brands. When the Donald says something outrageous, his fans roar with appreciation because such “honest” comments are part of his image. They perceive that he speaks to them with a wink and a nod. So they will tolerate much more from their hero than they would from conventional political candidates.

Without predicting whether Donald Trump will ultimately prevail in his presidential bid, one has to tip a hat to him for building such an enduring brand image. The coming months certainly will test whether his carefully crafted image will survive the many coming storms along the campaign trail.



Miami Jewish Film Festival Embraced by Large Audiences and Media

The 18th Annual Miami Jewish Film Festival opened on January 15 to a sold-out audience at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center and is on track to attract a record number of patrons to its 74 screenings at nine venues throughout Miami-Dade County. The Festival also has received unprecedented coverage in national and local media outlets, drawing broad attention to its expanded format and growing success.

Great Communicators is proud to serve as MJFF’s public relations agency of record and has been actively involved in its media coverage campaign. The Festival has received major coverage in a wide range of major media, including the New York Times, Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Diario Las Americas WTVJ’s Six in the Mix, WPLG’s Good Morning South FloridaNew Times Miami, Miami Jewish Journal and Jewish Daily Forwardas well as dozens of Internet publications and arts blogs.

While tickets for many of the most popular MJFF screenings are sold out, there are a limited number of tickets still available for sale through the Festival’s closing night on January 29. For more information, visit the Miami Jewish Film Festival website or call 305-573-7304.


18th Annual Miami Jewish Film Festival Opens January 15 with Array of 74 Films from 20 Countries

The best of international cinema will return to Miami when the Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) enlightens the community for its 18th year, bringing 74 films from 20 countries, and hosting 50 filmmakers and special guests, including film industry innovators Nancy Spielberg, Bill Morrison, and Lacey Schwartz.

MJFF, the largest Jewish cultural event in Florida, has announced a line-up of films to be screened and events to be celebrated from January 15-29, 2015, featuring 11 North American Premieres, 18 Florida Premieres, 13 Miami Premieres, and 2 Academy Award entries.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s Festival program,” said Igor Shteyrenberg, Director of the Miami Jewish Film Festival. “Its diversity and artistic vision will delight, surprise and reward those who share our passion for exploring cinema in all its forms.”

The Festival will open with the Florida Premiere of the black comedy, Mr. Kaplan, Uruguay’s official entry to the Oscars’ best foreign-language film category, and will close with the Florida Premiere of The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films. The film is an affectionate and dazzling tribute to Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus, and their famous filmmaking empire that changed the face of Hollywood and film world forever.

In an effort to expand its focus and to remain challenging and provocative, MJFF will host acclaimed experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison, who will discuss and present a selection of films from his collaboration with composer Michael Gordon. Included are City Walk, Light Is Calling, East River, Who By Water, Every Stop on the F Train, and Gene Takes a Drink, culminating with the Florida premiere of their new film, All Vows. Musical performances by the New World Symphony will accompany several of the short films.

MJFF has also announced the launch of New Voices in Jewish Cinema, a new program created this year featuring films created by some of the best emerging talents in the industry. Among are Talya Lavie’s highly acclaimed Zero Motivation, the Berlin Film Festival winner Anywhere Else, the North American Premiere of A Match Made in Heaven, and Mad Men scribe Victor Levin’s debut film, 5 To 7.

A curated Spotlight on German Cinema highlights The Decent One, winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and the North American Premieres of The Grüninger File, a spellbinding true story about “the Oscar Schindler of the Swiss-German border region,” and Radical Evil, from Oscar-winning filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters). Also featured are the Florida Premieres of The Last Mentsch, Farewell Herr Schwarz, Hanna’s Journey, the East Coast Premiere of Brundibár, and the Miami Premiere of Run Boy Run.

This year’s Festival will debut a special A Night at the Drive-In event, which will present the Florida Premiere of Another World, the first action sci-fi movie ever filmed in Israel. The Festival will also screen a showcase of some of the best international short films in a free outdoor screening under the stars.

Among the special guests who will be attending is Nancy Spielberg, who will premiere her new film, Above & Beyond, about a ragtag band of World War II pilots who volunteer to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. Also attending will be filmmaker Lacey Schwartz, who will present the Florida Premiere of her debut film, Little White Lie, and participate in a panel discussion focusing on issues of race and identity.

Other notable films at this year’s Festival include Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Israel’s official entry to the Oscar’s best foreign-language film category), the North American Premiere of In Silence, a visually stunning and emotionally devastating film that celebrates the musicians whose lives were lost in the Holocaust, Florida Premieres of Night Will Fall, In Hiding, and the North American Premiere of Metamorphosis of a Melody, which will be complemented by a live Chorale performance.



Ticket sales have begun and continue throughout the Festival. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets online. In addition to a price of $13 per single ticket, MJFF will offer full Festival passes for $220 per patron. More information is available at www.miamijewishfilmfestival.org and by calling 305-573-7304.



Follow the Miami Jewish Film Festival on Facebook (www.facebook.org/miamijewishfilmfestival) or Twitter (@MiamiJFF) for updates with the latest information about the Festival and attending filmmakers. Join the conversation, using the hashtag #mjff18 on social media.


Widow of Holocaust Hero to Accept Award during November 9 Kristallnacht Commemoration

A Jewish widow now residing in South Florida, whose gentile employer took great risks to rescue her during the Holocaust and later married her, will accept a posthumous “Righteous Among the Nations Award” on his behalf from the Israeli government and Yad Vashem during the 76th Annual Commemoration of Kristallnacht on Sunday, November 9, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach.

The Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, a Committee of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, is located at 1933-1945 Meridian Avenue. The Kristallnacht ceremony also will feature inspirational addresses, poetry readings, musical performances and remembrances.

The Kristallnacht commemoration is free of charge and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the municipal parking lot directly to the south of the Holocaust Memorial. In case of rain, the program will be held at Temple Emanu-El, 1701 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.

“Righteous Among the Nations” awards are presented to the Holocaust-era rescuers or their next of kin through Israel’s diplomatic representatives. Israel’s Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem “to confer honorary citizenship of the State of Israel upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and commemorative citizenship if they have passed away, in recognition of their actions.”

Each person recognized as a “Righteous Among the Nations” is awarded a specially minted medal bearing his or her name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of having his/her name added to the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, the famed Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem.

Aurelia Klein (later Schwartz), currently a West Palm Beach resident, will receive a posthumous award for her late husband and rescuer, Rudolf Szanesi. Aurelia was born in Sighet, Hungary in 1923 and relocated to her uncle’s house in Budapest in 1943.  While seeking employment in Budapest, she was referred to the sewing workshop of Rudolf Szanesi, who immediately hired her.

In 1944, her uncle was taken away from his house by the Nazis, leaving behind his wife and two small children. Aurelia was afraid that if she continued to live in his apartment, she and her uncle’s family also might be at risk. So Szanesi moved her to an apartment he owned and made sure she was fed daily. A number of weeks later, Szanesi obtained forged papers for Aurelia and relocated her by train to his mother’s house in a small village on the outskirts of the city of Hatvan.

Even at his mother’s house, Szanesi continued to provide protection for Aurelia.  When the battlefront got closer to the village, there was a concern that the Germans would take over residents’ houses to board soldiers.  To prevent that, Szanesi posted a sign on the door of the house, announcing there was someone in the house with Scarlet fever. This way, Aurelia remained protected and safe for several weeks until the entire area was freed from Nazi forces.

Aurelia returned to Budapest several weeks later, but this time it was her turn to help her rescuer. Szanesi was afraid to leave his house because he thought he might be arrested by the Russians and sent to a labor camp.  He stayed home and Aurelia provided him groceries and other needs until it was determined that he was safe.

The couple’s relationship became a love story, and Aurelia and Rudolf married in 1948. They left Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian rebellion against the Soviets and settled in Vienna, where Rudolf passed away in 1973. Aurelia immigrated to the United States several years later, settling in New York before relocating to West Palm Beach.

Today, she is 91 years old, and will share her story with participants at the November 9 Kristallnacht commemoration program in Miami Beach. The Honorable Chaim Shacham, Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, will present Aurelia with Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations Award.”

Widely considered to be the event that foreshadowed Hitler’s campaign to annihilate the Jewish people, Kristallnacht was marked by a series of coordinated attacks in Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938, which caused the deaths of 91 Jews and the incarceration of 30,000 in concentration camps. The streets were covered with broken glass from the shattered windows of Jewish-owned buildings, stores and synagogues that were vandalized and looted during the attacks.

The Kristallnacht commemoration also will feature Andrew C. Hall, Esq., Chair of the Holocaust Memorial; Wendy Reis Rothfield, Event Chair; Barbara Black Goldfarb, a Past Chair of the Board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation; and Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, renowned Holocaust studies educator. The program will include memorial songs by cantors from various congregations throughout South Florida and participation by teenagers attending the 2015 March of the Living.

The Kristallnacht program is sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, a Committee of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. It is supported by the City of Miami Beach Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council, and the Florida Department of Education.

For more information, visit www.HolocaustMemorialMiamiBeach.org or call 305-538-1663.


New Miami Jewish Population Study Reveals Growing Diversity


The population of the Miami Jewish community has increased by 9 percent during the past decade, reversing about 30 years of decline, according to the 2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Study: A Portrait of the Miami Jewish Community released today by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

More than 123,000 Jews now live in Miami-Dade County, making Miami the eleventh largest Jewish community in the U.S.

“In the past decade, we have seen a flow of new Jewish residents, as well as an increase in the length of residency in Miami,” said Federation Chief Planning Officer Michelle Labgold. “This is significant news because Miami’s Jewish community experienced a steady decline in population between 1975 and 2004.”

The Country’s Most Diverse Jewish Population

The Federation’s study also found that Miami’s Jewish population has become increasingly diverse, with 33 percent of adults being foreign-born, the highest percentage of any American Jewish community. The number of Hispanic Jewish adults rose by 57 percent in the past 10 years, with the largest increases due to migration from Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru. The number of Israeli-born adults grew by 35 percent in the past decade.

While the percentage of Miami households identifying themselves as Orthodox grew from 9 to 11 percent over the past decade, the number of people residing in Orthodox Jewish households grew by 41 percent, mostly due to a significant increase in the average size of Orthodox households.

The study also reported that while the percentage of older adults in the Jewish community remained stable at 31%, there was an increase in the younger older adults as the Baby Boomers move into the 65- to 74-year-old age cohort. It also revealed that the largest growth (17%) occurred in the under-35 population with significant increases in the number of children and young adults.

The Miami Jewish community remains primarily concentrated in three main regions – North Dade, South Dade and The Beaches – with a new, emerging Jewish population center of 7,000, consisting mostly of young adults, in the Downtown Miami/Brickell/Midtown corridor. The Jewish population in North Dade increased by 19 percent in the past 10 years, while The Beaches’ Jewish population remained about the same, and South Dade decreased by 7 percent.

“There are so many exciting elements to this study,” said Amy Berger Chafetz, Chair of Federation’s Jewish Population Study Committee. “We are a growing, younger, stable Jewish community with longer periods of residency and a greater demographic distribution. We have new people coming here to stay and young people returning home, who contribute to the quality of Jewish life in Miami.”

Affinity to Jewish Identity and Israel

While the 2013 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews found that just 46 percent of American Jews said that “being Jewish is very important” to them, 74 percent of respondents to the 2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Study reported feeling this way. Only 16 percent of couples in the Jewish community are intermarried. The 16 percent has not changed since 2004. It is one of the lowest intermarriage rates of all American Jewish communities, and compares with the 61 percent figure in the Pew Study.

Jewish connectivity is strong in Miami, with 95 percent of households involved Jewishly in some way: either by home religious practice; synagogue attendance; membership in synagogues, JCCs and other Jewish organizations; or via donations to Jewish charities.

Study results also placed Miami among the nation’s top Jewish communities in rates of Jewish preschool, Jewish day school, and Jewish day and overnight camp participation. Eight in 10 children have participated in some type of formal Jewish education. However, the study also revealed that cost remains a significant barrier to enrollment in Jewish day schools, Jewish summer camps and organized trips to Israel.

Sixty-two percent of respondents reported they are “very” or “extremely” emotionally attached to Israel. Seventy-one percent of Miami Jewish households include a member who has visited Israel, the highest rate of any U.S. Jewish community. This increased from 62 percent in 2004.

“The Miami Jewish community is extraordinary in the depth of its attachments to Judaism and Israel,” said Robert G. Berrin, Chair of the Board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “We have much to learn from this study about increasing involvement in Jewish life and building a broader feeling of connection to the local Jewish community. The Population Study will help us find the necessary answers to a number of key issues, ultimately deepening affiliation and involvement, and enhancing services.”

Need for Social Services

Although a majority of the Miami Jewish community is relatively affluent, 29 percent report that they cannot make ends meet or are just managing financially. Fourteen percent of all Jewish households report incomes below $25,000 per year; many of these people are in need of community support.

Thirty-five percent of households indicated that they had a need for some type of social services in the past year, with the types of needs most often cited including coordinating services for seniors, job counseling, and help or screenings for children with disabilities or special needs.

“These components of the Study are extremely important because they provide us with strategic guidance about growing needs, and the importance of wisely and responsibly allocating charitable donations,” explained Federation President and CEO Jacob Solomon. “The final data will help us find the best possible ways to engage future generations in the important work of building community and meeting Jewish needs, as well as advancing Jewish life in Miami, in Israel and the more than 70 other countries served by Federation-funded agencies. Our Jewish community continues to evolve, and we must be prepared to meet needs today and into the future, as well as embrace the diversity that makes Miami such a special Jewish community.”

Population Study Methodology

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation commissions a Jewish Population Study of Miami-Dade County once every 10 years. Working under the guidance of widely respected demographer Ira M. Sheskin, Ph.D., of the University of Miami, a team of trained callers employed a random-digit-dialing system to contact 590 Jewish households in Miami-Dade County via telephone landlines and cellular numbers. In addition, another 1,430 interviews were completed with known Jewish households, including cellular telephone numbers of local residents with out-of-state area codes. Weighting factors were used to combine the two samples so that the results would properly represent Miami’s Jewish population.

Once a caller reached a Jewish household, he/she conducted a survey of about 20 minutes, using a questionnaire designed with the input of a Federation committee and more than 15 focus groups of Miami Jewish residents. All individual responses were kept completely confidential, no personally identifiable details were linked to the answers, and no financial solicitations were made.

To review a copy of the 2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Summary Report, click here. For further information about the study, contact Michelle Labgold at mlabgold@gmjf.org or 305.576.4000, ext. 492.


Seeking Knowledge? Ask TED

Ideas and imagination are the most powerful forces in the universe. That’s the philosophy of a rapidly expanding global organization known simply as TED and its impact is truly inspiring for those who value knowledge.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share a similar range of ideas in communities around the world.

By subscribing to the TED website, you can access hundreds of fascinating presentations on new developments in the broadest possible range of fields. Experts discuss everything from exploration of the human condition to the quest for life among the stars. While the original TED organization coordinates periodic conferences in destinations around the world, local TEDx groups gather in their own communities to showcase TED Talks.

The TED experience makes your brain itch with activity. You begin to see new possibilities and understand broader lessons from a diverse range of topics. These programs also impress you with a larger overriding fact — what we know defines who we are.

Last night, I attended a TEDxMiami presentation in Wynwood, along with several hundred other South Floridians. We watched nearly three hours of taped TED talks from a recent conference in Rio de Janeiro and the range of topics was incredible.

One speaker discussed a innovative marketing campaign that is convincing Colombian FARC guerrillas to disperse. Another led us on a quest for the mysterious boiling river of the Amazon. Each talk tackled a different topic from astronomy and geopolitics to human values and individual perceptions. The final speaker suggested a new definition of “beauty” by sharing magnificent photographs of ancient tribes and clans that he has taken in isolated locations and on different continents.

It is rare and exciting to be exposed to so many diverse ideas in so short a span of time. Last night’s TEDxMiami provided so much mental stimulation that my mind was filled with new perspectives on topics that I rarely consider. Now I can’t wait for the next TEDxMiami event to experience that feeling once again.

For more information about TEDxMiami, click here and share the excitement of knowledge.



Remembering the Birth of Modern Terrorism

As the threat posed by ISIS, Hamas, al Qaeda and other radical jihadi organizations becomes a mounting international concern, we mark the 42nd anniversary of an event that horrified television audiences around the world and set the stage for modern terrorist operations.

The massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, demonstrated the bloody audacity of terrorist plots, particularly when they are planned and executed to intimidate a global audience in the modern information age.  Click here to read more.


Lessons from the Father of Modern Public Relations

Nearly a century after the establishment of the public relations industry, many people often ask me to explain our field and its purpose. In an effort to answer those who still wish to understand the importance of public relations in today’s business world, please allow me to introduce the “Father of Modern Public Relations,” Edward Bernays, whose career truly blazed a trail for today’s practitioners.

Although Bernays’ career spanned from the 1920’s to the 1980’s, it laid the foundation for future public relations practices worldwide. Disciples, like my mentor Hank Meyer, advanced the ideas pioneered by Bernays and adapted them to the evolving Information Age. Today, those tactics and strategies remain as relevant and effective as ever in the current Internet/Social Media Age.

In his book, The Father of Spin, Larry Tye describes how Edward Bernays influenced modern business and communications. Click here to read a summary of four principles espoused by Bernays, which should be components of every business’s public relations playbook.