Kesher, the premier independent Jewish Day School serving children with learning disabilities and developmental delays, hosted its 26th annual Chai Society Scholarship Journal Dinner. It was a beautiful outdoor event at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in Aventura. The evening also served to showcase the school’s re-dedication as the Kloda Whitebook Kesher Academy (KWKA), in honor of Cheryl and Ruben Kloda’s and Hedy and Danny Whitebook’s magnanimous and enduring contributions to the school over the last 25 years.
Rabbi Dr. Ezra Levy, Kesher’s esteemed Head of School, stated, “The rededication is just one way to recognize the selfless determination of Cheryl and Ruben and Hedy and Danny, whose son Adam is a proud Kesher Alumnus. Together this family have helped shape a generation of our students.”
Levy added, “While the name Kesher has been synonymous with special education in South Florida since 1995, the Kloda and Whitebook names are synonymous with community leadership, thoughtfulness and caring for others.”
Dr. Diane Wander, Kesher’s Board Chair “I feel so very proud to be at Kesher’s helm at this very significant moment in our school’s history. Once Kesher opened its doors on the Samuel Scheck Hillel campus in 1997 where I was then serving as Elementary General Studies Principal, I worked closely with Kesher staff to ensure that Kesher students were mainstreamed as much as possible into Hillel classes and activities. Twenty-five years later, Kesher has become an institution of learning that serves as a model for Jewish day schools nationwide seeking to provide for the academic, social, and emotional needs of every Jewish child.’
Following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, Ilene Weinkle, Director of Development and Admissions Coordinator, assembled an amazing and dedicated dinner committee. The annual dinner therefore returned with a packed house and an extra dash of elegance. In addition to the rededication, Romi Artzy was honored with the 2022 Student Volunteer Award. She, along with other current and former Kesher students, publicly expressed their gratitude to Kesher for the opportunities afforded them to learn, grow and thrive in a unique environment.
The largest program of its kind in the United States. KWKA offers the finest quality Judaic and secular education within a day school environment. The school is fully accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and AISF (Association of Independent Schools in Florida). Students, in grades 1-12, learn in self-contained classrooms and, where appropriate, are mainstreamed into traditional day school classes and campus life at Scheck Hillel Community School, where KWKA is hosted.
As part of KWKA’s mission, the school also aims to guide other schools in providing an education in both Jewish and secular studies to meet the needs of the individual student and empower each student to reach his/her highest level of independent and interdependent functioning. The school will soon be launching a vocational initiative for graduates who cannot continue to traditional college or university.
A large percentage of KWKA, students, receive financial aid through the generous support of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation as well as foundations and private donors. The annual dinner provides much needed additional scholarship funds.
Hedy Whitebook, offered, “Our family only hopes to continue to provide children with special needs with a program of this caliber and devotion to its student population.”
For more information on Kloda Whitebook Kesher Academy, please call (305)792-7060 or visit https://kesherld.com/
Appeals Court Says Florida Tech Law Violates First Amendment
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Dealing a major setback to Gov. Ron DeSantis, a three-judge appellate panel on Monday ruled that a 2021 Florida law targeting social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter unconstitutionally restricts the companies’ First Amendment rights.
Monday’s decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of a preliminary injunction imposed in June by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.
“Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it,” appellate Judge Kevin Newsom wrote in a 67-page unanimous opinion joined by Judges Gerald Tjoflat and Ed Carnes.
DeSantis made the tech-targeting measure one of his top 2021 legislative priorities, accusing tech companies of having a liberal bias and censoring speech by Republicans.
The law, in part, sought to prevent large social-media platforms from banning political candidates from their sites and to require companies to publish — and apply consistently — standards about issues such as banning users or blocking content.
NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, groups that represent tech titans such as Twitter, Facebook and Google, filed the lawsuit.
The industry groups argued the measure violated the First Amendment rights of companies and would harm their ability to moderate content on the platforms.
Lawyers for the state maintained that the social-media companies are quashing users’ speech rights.
But in Monday’s decision, Newsom repeatedly swatted down the state’s arguments.
“Not in their wildest dreams could anyone in the Founding generation have imagined Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or TikTok. But ‘whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to ever-advancing technology, the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary when a new and different medium for communication appears,’” Newsom, who was appointed to the Atlanta-based appeals court by former President Donald Trump, wrote. “One of those ‘basic principles’ — indeed, the most basic of the basic — is that ‘(t)he Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment constrains governmental actors and protects private actors.’”
Even the largest social-media companies “are ‘private actors’ whose rights the First Amendment protects,” the judge added.
The panel found that “it is substantially likely” that social-media companies’ content-moderation decisions “constitute protected exercises of editorial judgment, and that the provisions of the new Florida law that restrict large platforms’ ability to engage in content moderation unconstitutionally burden that prerogative.”
The appeals-court decision left intact much of Hinkle’s preliminary injunction blocking the law. But it vacated the injunction on provisions requiring social-media platforms to publish their standards for determining how they censor, deplatform and “shadow ban” users. The panel also lifted the injunction on a provision prohibiting companies from changing their standards more than once every 30 days.
Also, the ruling removed a block on parts of the law requiring companies to allow users who have been deplatformed to access and retrieve all of their content for at least 60 days after they are stripped from a platform.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit hailed Monday’s ruling.
“The 11th Circuit makes clear that regardless of size, online companies are private actors whose rights the First Amendment protects, putting to bed the red herring assertions of common carrier or dominance,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, said in a prepared statement. “The First Amendment protects platforms and their right to moderate content as they see fit — and the government can’t force them to host content they don’t want.”
DeSantis’ office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Attorney General Ashley Moody focused on the parts of the law that the appeals court backed.
“We are pleased the court recognized the state’s authority to rein in social media companies and upheld major portions of Florida’s law leading the way in doing so. We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to demand accountability from Big Tech,” Moody said in a Twitter post.
But Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, disagreed.
“The opinion speaks for itself,” Schruers said. “It’s a 60-plus-page dress-down.”
During arguments in the state’s appeal last month, Brian Barnes, a private attorney who represents the DeSantis administration, told the panel that social-media platforms such as Twitter — which has roughly 300 million monthly users — should be regulated in the same way as “common carriers.” Common carriers can include such service providers as transportation and telecommunications businesses.
But the panel found that common-carrier limitations don’t apply to social-media companies, which “moderate and curate the content” disseminated on their platforms.
“Neither law nor logic recognizes government authority to strip an entity of its First Amendment rights merely by labeling it a common carrier,” Newsom wrote. “The problem, as we’ve explained, is that social-media platforms don’t serve the public indiscriminately but, rather, exercise editorial judgment to curate the content that they display and disseminate.”
DeSantis pushed the social-media crackdown (SB 7072) after Twitter and Facebook blocked Trump from their platforms after his supporters rampaged at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Day in and day out, our freedom of speech as conservatives is under attack by the ‘big tech’ oligarchs in Silicon Valley,” the governor said at a bill-signing ceremony in May 2021.
But Monday’s ruling said social-media platforms “exercise editorial judgment that is inherently expressive” and thus are protected by the Constitution.
“When platforms choose to remove users or posts, deprioritize content in viewers’ feeds or search results, or sanction breaches of their community standards, they engage in First-Amendment-protected activity,” Newsom wrote. “We conclude that social-media platforms’ content-moderation activities — permitting, removing, prioritizing, and deprioritizing users and posts — constitute ‘speech’ within the meaning of the First Amendment.”
The law’s restrictions on companies’ ability to moderate content “do not further any substantial governmental interest — much less a compelling one,” the panel found.
“Indeed, the State’s briefing doesn’t even argue that these provisions can survive heightened scrutiny. (The State seems to have wagered pretty much everything on the argument that S.B. 7072’s provisions don’t trigger First Amendment scrutiny at all.) Nor can we discern any substantial or compelling interest that would justify the act’s significant restrictions on platforms’ editorial judgment,” Newsom wrote. “Put simply, there’s no legitimate — let alone substantial — governmental interest in leveling the expressive playing field.”
Monday’s ruling is contrary to a recent decision by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about a similar Texas law.
A U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction last year against the Texas law. But a divided panel of the 5th Circuit this month issued a stay of that preliminary injunction — effectively allowing the Texas law to take effect while the overall case continues to play out.
(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam contributed to this report.)
Site Of Surfside Condo Collapse To Be Sold To Dubai Developer
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The land where the Champlain Towers South condo once stood in Surfside before its tragic collapse will be sold.
On Tuesday, there will be a hearing on the matter. There will be no auction since the only bid came from Dubai developer DAMAC Properties for $120 million.
The land on Collins Avenue will not be turned into a memorial for those who died, instead, it will be used for another ultra-luxury high rise condo.
The Champlain Towers South fell on June 24, 2021, killing 98 people.
Earlier this month, a settlement of nearly a billion dollars was reached. The money will be divided among the victims’ families and survivors.
Report: Three Americans Died Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Bahamas Resort
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three Americans who died at a resort in the Bahamas earlier this month were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Bahamian news reports.
Michael and Robbie Phillips from Tennessee and Vincent Chiarella from Florida were found dead inside their villas at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma Island on May 6th.
Chiarella’s wife, Donna, survived. She was flown to Kendall Regional Hospital for treatment.
The autopsy and toxicology reports are expected to be released soon, according to the newspapers.
The night before their deaths, the Phillips complained they were feeling ill and were treated at a local medical facility.
The next morning, police say Michael Phillips was found slumped against a wall in his villa. Robbie Phillips was on their bed. Both showed signs of convulsion.
Minutes earlier, police had found Vincent Chiarella dead on the floor of his villa. Donna Chiarella was experiencing severe swelling and paralysis.
Samples taken from the couples’ rooms were analyzed to determine what may have led to their deaths. A lab in Philadelphia assisted with toxicological examinations in conjunction with Bahamian pathologists.
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