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The dust is still settling from the 2014 midterm elections, but the race to 2016 is already on. Potential presidential candidates already have started lining up donors.
Norpac, the North Jersey pro-Israel political action committee, regularly holds fundraisers for incumbents. When there is no incumbent, as there will not be in the presidential race in 2016, it raises funds for candidates who have strong records on Israel. On Saturday night, the Englewood-based group held a fundraiser that drew about 35 people and collected at least $40,000 for Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and one-time Republican presidential hopeful who now is a commentator on Fox News.
But — Mr. Huckabee hasn’t declared himself a candidate for 2016 yet, so the fundraiser officially was for Mr. Huckabee’s 501(c)4 non-profit, America Takes Action.
Many candidates have issue-related organizations, such as Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative. Fundraising events for such organizations don’t contribute directly to a political campaign. They do allow the candidate to send a message about which issues are important to him or her, however, and they create opportunities for Norpac’s members to gain access to the potential candidate.
Teaneck’s oldest synagogue and its youngest yeshiva high school are getting ready to tie the knot.
The precise terms of the relationship between the Jewish Center of Teaneck and Yeshiva Heichal HaTorah remain to be hammered out.
But by a close vote on Sunday night, the Jewish Center board agreed to explore a proposal from the yeshiva in which the boy’s high school, which now rents space in the synagogue, would share responsibility for the synagogue’s building, while the congregation would maintain its independence. Under the proposed terms, the school will pay only a fraction of the estimated 5 million value of the building, which includes a gym and a swimming pool.
The vote was 15 to 14, with the synagogue’s president, Isaac Student, casting the deciding vote.
On Monday, the New Jersey state legislative committee investigating Bridgegate submitted an interim report.
Anyone expecting a final answer to the question of what did he know and when did he know it — or to be more specific, how much did Governor Chris Christie know about the closure of the three local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, creating potentially lethal havoc in Fort Lee, and when did he learn that his aides had been responsible for it — would be disappointed.
Still, there are nuggets there about the scandal, lying ready for gleaning.
This is very much an interim report, Loretta Weinberg stressed. Ms. Weinberg, a Democrat, is the state Senate’s majority leader. She lives in Teaneck, and Fort Lee is in her district.
What does it feel like to be 18, or 20, or 22, and to go to war?
Most of us, thankfully, do not know. It is one of those things that we can imagine — but we know that we are imagining it wrong.
On Monday, a group of Israeli men, most young, some Israeli-born and some olim, all veterans of Israeli wars, talked about what it felt like. They spoke haltingly and sparingly; there were no details, no heartrending stories, just ellipses where the bad stuff would have been.
The talk — at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, sponsored by that shul and Kehilat Kesher and organized by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey — featured IDF veterans from the organization Panim el Panim.
It’s no secret that despite the popularity of gap-year yeshiva programs in Israel, many Jewish 18-year-olds, newly graduated from high school, do not relish the idea of hours-long intensive Torah study six days a week. Seeking to fill the gap in the gap year, so to speak, several creative programs have sprung up in recent years to offer travel-and-study or volunteer-and-study alternatives.
The newest program in this category is unusual for its location. It is based in the southernmost Israeli city of Eilat, the beach resort better known for snorkeling than davening.
The El-Ami (“To the Nation”) Challenge Program is for Orthodox 18- to 23-year-olds seeking “a very different kind of year experience in Israel,” its founder, Rabbi Moshe Gottesman, said. Rabbi Gottesman was in Bergen County recently to spread the word about the nine-month program he hopes to launch next September. A summer option may be offered, depending on interest.
Common cranes make an uncommon racket.
I now know this because my husband and I took a three-hour hike around the Agamon-Hula Lake in the Upper Galilee a couple of Fridays ago, in the midst of the mighty bird migration.
The Hula is the largest of several Israeli pit stops for half a billion — that’s 500 million! — migratory birds making their way from Europe and Asia to Africa in the early winter and back again in the early spring. Some stay no longer than a day, while others linger.
According to the Israel Birding Portal, the Hula Valley is a migration flyway for tens of thousands of common cranes, as well as somewhere between 300 and 400 other species. That includes white pelicans, ducks, waders, passerines, eagles, pallid harriers, buzzards, and rare European birds of prey.
Two Teaneck rabbis — Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of programs for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, director of Rabbis Without Borders — took part in last week’s protest against police brutality in Manhattan.
Many Jews joined in the demonstration, at 96th Street and Broadway; it was organized at least in part by the Jewish community. Four rabbis —Sharon Kleinbaum, Jill Jacobs, Shai Held, and David Rosenn — were arrested there.
The protest last Thursday night followed a Staten Island grand jury’s decision the day before not to indict policeman Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner to death in July, in what the New York City medical examiner found to be a homicide.