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  • Book magic
    Federation hosting ‘Golem and Jinni’ author Helene Wecker
  • Moving from music to art
    But, says local cantor, leaving is hard
  • Q&A with Jorma Kaukonen on Jefferson Airplane and Judaism
  • Brains, luck, nerve, and true Grit
    Local man details his extraordinary life, from pre-war Germany through Asia to an honor from Holy Name Medical Center
  • Connecting through music
    Yemenite singer from Tenafly to take stage in Dumont
  • Felix and Meira
  • Dentistry in Africa
    Local father-daughter duo fix teeth in Jewish Ugandan village
  • Surviving ‘Monuments Man’ to speak in Teaneck, Paramus
  • A parent’s plea
    ‘Do This One Thing for Me’
  • Terrible journeys
    Irene and Manny Buchman talk about their Holocaust experiences


News from a Jersey girl

CNN’s Dana Bash talks at a benefit for the Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School

Dana Bash is CNN’s chief congressional correspondent.

At 43, she has more than a decade of high-visibility work for the network behind her, and she will provide its coverage of the almost ludicrously crowded Republican field, as more than two dozen candidates compete for camera time and voter approval.

Ms. Bash is also a graduate of Pascack Hills High School, a self-proclaimed Jersey girl, and a deeply committed Jew.

Ms. Bash will speak on Sunday, May 3, at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, to benefit the Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School in Oakland. Laurie Nahum and Rick Krieger will be honored that evening for their service to the school as well.


A Jewish day school with a difference

Shefa School helps students with language disabilities

It took “a giant leap of faith” for Gila Cohen and her husband to send their son from Teaneck to the Shefa School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for fifth grade.

The school, after all, was just opening its doors.

But her son, who had been diagnosed with dyslexia, was struggling at his Bergen County Jewish day school.

“They were helping him but not giving him the skills to read himself. They don’t have time to do that,” Ms. Cohen said.

She in fact had been looking for a non-Jewish school that could help with his disabilities. Then she heard about the Shefa School “and we decided to apply.” The Shefa School promised to be a Jewish school for children with language-based learning disabilities.


Press for marriage rights in Israel

North Jersey Board of Rabbis advocates for civil marriage, pluralistic possibilities in the Jewish state

Last week, the North Jersey Board of Rabbis, representing local non-Orthodox clergy, voted unanimously to endorse a resolution to “support a pluralistic approach to marriage in Israel.”

Beginning by saying, simply, clearly, and unequivocally, that “We love the State of Israel. We want it to succeed in every way possible,” the rabbis who signed the document put their names to the call for freedom of religion in Israel.

That would include the chance to have a civil rather than a religious wedding ceremony, or to have a Jewish couple’s wedding officiant belong to a stream of Judaism other than Orthodoxy.

“The North Jersey Board of Rabbis is transdenominational, and we have debated informally for a while if we should be taking stands on public issues,” Rabbi Steven Sirbu of Temple Emeth in Teaneck, its president, said. “This issue is one that non-Orthodox rabbis have grappled with for a long time.”


Gap year alternative

Teaneck native offers new gap year option for boys

At the end of the summer, hundreds of recently graduated yeshiva high school students from North Jersey will board planes bound for Israel, where they will spend a “gap year” of intensive Jewish studies before starting college.

Many of them will thrive and mature. But many others will skip classes and flirt dangerously with newfound freedom far from home, wasting their potential and the money their parents spent on tuition for a program that probably wasn’t a good fit for them from the start.

“On any Thursday night in Jerusalem, you can go to the center of town and see hundreds of young people involved in chaotic behavior — drinking, drugs, and violence. And the overwhelming majority of these kids are from America or England on one-year programs,” said Dr. Simcha Chesner, director of two Jerusalem high schools for boys with severe educational and emotional challenges: Yeshivat Bnei Chayil for Israelis and Matara Therapeutic Boarding School for English-speakers.


Kol HaNeshamah turns 18

Englewood shul offers participatory services, intimacy, and learning

Of course every synagogue has its own character, rhythm, history, and feel.

There are some things that just about every one of them shares — a dedication to Jewish tradition (it’s the definition of the tradition that varies widely), a feeling of connection to Jewish history (again, variously defined, with different episodes highlighted), and the demand to be recognized as warm and welcoming. (It is often the shuls that present as ice-cold and clique-ish that insist on that label.)

Kol HaNeshamah in Englewood is participatory, intimate, and intense; a place where it is hard to hide but easy to be seen.

Kol HaNeshamah is about to turn 18. If it were a person, it could vote, drive, and enlist in the armed forces. As a community, instead, it can celebrate the life force that has created it — 18, of course, is chai, or life, in Jewish tradition — as it looks both forward and back.


Sheldon Adelson looms large

Jewish kingmaker and casino magnate oversees Republican cattle call in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – “It’s so noisy,” Kenny says.

Yes, it’s noisy. This is Vegas. The Venetian. The casino floor.

The bikinis, the brides-to-be, the blonde with the “I’m 21, bitches” T-shirt. The whoops, the hissing, the groans, the bells.

This is Las Vegas, where Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian, is the unanointed king. It’s also where the Republican Jewish Coalition, the organization over which his largesse looms like a beloved, entitled uncle, holds its annual national four-day convention, attracting hundreds of party loyalists, including politicians seeking his blessing.

The melding of politics, Jewishness, and sin is confusing, and not just if you’re 85, like Kenneth Bialkin — that’s “Kenny,” according to his RJC name tag — a national Jewish leader and prominent New York City lawyer.


Why the Boston Marathon’s last-place runner earned his medal

BOSTON —Twenty hours after the start of Monday’s Boston Marathon, Venezuelan long-distance runner Maickel Melamed crossed the finish line, prompting an impromptu City Hall ceremony in his honor later that morning.

Melamed finished far behind the marathon’s winners, but nonetheless he received a medal.

That’s because Melamed, who is Jewish, has lived since birth with a medical condition similar to muscular dystrophy, and it severely restricts his mobility. Mayor Martin Walsh said he assembled the ceremony to recognize Melamed after learning about the Venezuelan’s inspiring last-place finish.

“For you. I run for you,” Melamed said at the ceremony, acknowledging the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left others with loss of limbs and other serious injuries. “I run to send a message, to rise the bar of expectation for your own self.


Noshes: celebrity names in the news


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25 February 2011
7 January 2011
20 February 2009


Temple Beth El Re-Dedication
4th Annual Kosherfest Culinary Competition 2011
Kehillah Partnership Pilot Program


Teens from Sha’ar Communities met with Jack Antonoff of the Band FUN, pictured back row, center, to talk about Jewish identity. Rabbi Adina Lewittes of Sha’ar facilitated the discussion as part of a series,  “Teens 2.0: Hitting the Refresh Button on Jewish Identity.” Courtesy Sha’ar

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