Public Opinions Toward Local Policing, Hanukkah’s Origins, 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'
A new survey examined the public's attitudes toward policing in Miami-Dade. Avi Hoffman discusses the cultural traditions and history behind Hanukkah. And a new virtual production of "The Man Who Invented Christmas."
On the Thursday, Dec. 10, episode of Sundial:
Public Opinions Toward Policing
Whether you’re walking through your neighborhood, or driving down the highway, how does the sight of a police car make you feel? When it comes to the trust that communities place in police officers and police departments, a new survey commissioned by the United Faculty of Miami-Dade College finds some gaps along racial, ethnic and generational lines.
We spoke with Dr. Minca Brantley, professor of psychology at Miami Dade College and Samantha Carlo, associate professor in the school’s department of criminal justice.
“[The survey] is called the Mirror Project. It's really a testament of looking at the community and the community and seeing how we could move forward and make change in Miami-Dade County,” Brantley said.
The survey found that people under the age of 30 were more likely than their older peers to believe that there is systemic racism in law enforcement.
“They [people under 30] are witnessing the world through their phones, There's evidence all around them — whether or not that evidence is biased or not. There are images coming in through their pockets on their phones, giving them information about what's happening in the world when it comes to community and police relations,” Brantley said.
The survey also delved into the terminology surrounding “defund the police" — 41% supported the term and 44% of the respondents opposed it. However, when asked about specific policy changes such as reallocation of funding towards mental health service, approval went up to “70, 80, 90 percent.”
“I don't know where it [defund the police] originated from, but I think it's misleading because a lot of people don't like that language, but like what reallocation of funding means. That's essentially what's at the basis of strategizing how we use our public dollars to prevent and reduce crime instead of just responding to it with boots on the ground,” Carlo said.
As the end of what has been a dark year for so many, the yearly “Festival of Lights” has begun. Like most other holidays throughout this year of COVID-19, the celebration of Hanukkah in many households may be a subdued affair compared to previous years. But many of South Florida’s Jewish organizations are finding ways to honor the holiday through food and toy drives and drive-thru extravaganzas.
We spoke with Avi Hoffman, the founder of the South Florida-based Yiddishkayt Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to promoting Jewish history, life, and culture.
“There was this big uprising where the Jews fought against the [Greeks] who were trying to kill them. It's the old story where they tried to kill the Jews and failed. Let's eat! That's how we look at many of our holidays. But, it never made it into the Bible because the Bible came before," Hoffman said. "So actually, Hanukkah does show up in the New Testament as the feast of dedication that Jesus attended, but it does not show up in the Jewish Orthodox traditions. So this was a holiday that was kind of added later on and became adopted."
He says that in fact, that as Jews became more Americanized in the “'20s, '30s, '40s” of the 20th century, there was the desire to turn the eight-day feast into a tradition around Christmas time.
Hoffman’s organization is planning a four-day, virtual Hanukkah festival this year. You can find more information by visiting their website.
Note: During the initial broadcast of this conversation Mr. Hoffman, while discussing the history of Hanukkah, incorrectly stated that it involved a conflict between the Maccabees and the Romans. The Maccabees actually revolted against the Seleucid Empire.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
The enduring holiday classic told in the 2008 novel, “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” by South Florida-based author Les Standiford, is now being put on as a play over Zoom.
“It's actually a staged reading, but it's been given a great deal of theatricalization. All the actors are remote. They are recorded separately because the pandemic arrived and this project was actually developed in May," said Phillip Church, the artistic director of What If Works and longtime theater professor at Florida International University. "That was the time when very few of us really had a handle on how to use Zoom as a performance medium.”
He said the production is raising funds for Feeding South Florida, which has been struggling as a result of the pandemic.
“You got virtual backgrounds behind the action, behind the actors that denote Manchester or London. Or, the dark, seamy streets and I think the audience will really enjoy the fact that even though it's a staged reading, it's highly theatrical, there are sound effects, there's music,” Church said.
More information can be found at the What If Works website.