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  • Jews in the Garment Center
    Local documentary maker looks at Jewish garmentos, anarchists, musicians, and other unusual Americans
  • A mission of solidarity
    The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey visits Israel
  • Showbiz meets shtetl
  • Paddling the Mediterranean
    Local man navigates many-legged kayak trip from Spain to Cyprus
  • A friend indeed
    Intergenerational program at JCC enriches seniors, children
  • Recycling his roots
    Musician Billy Jonas talks about music, the environment, and Jewish life
  • Off-Broadway offers theatrical Yiddishkeit
  • Unity from tragedy
    Local group goes to Israel to show support, share grief and love
  • Local writer tarnishes the golden child syndrome
  • ‘The Law of Return’

 

Lessons from the Shoah

Interactive program uses testimonies to give Schechter students a new understanding

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Is there any way to turn that around? To make any miniscule amount of good come out of great evil?

The Holocaust as living memory soon will flicker out. Survivors who can tell their stories are growing old. Soon it will be just images, photographs, videos, written and spoken words.

The Holocaust was pure evil, the unleashing of the worst human fears and instincts. There was nothing at all good about it. But in a soul-affirming act of reversal, it now is possible, almost 70 years after it ended, to use it to teach students how to become better people.

The first steps in that process are never to forget it, to honor its victims, and to listen to its survivors.

 

Hands-on learning for local rabbis

Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute teaches about war as rockets fall

If local rabbis attend the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem to take advantage of what Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner calls “great learning and great people,” this year they got more than they bargained for.

Rabbi Kirshner, religious leader of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, who this year spent his fifth summer at Hartman, said that “ironically, the topic was war and peace in Jewish texts. Little did we know it would be so relevant.

“A lot of rabbis in the diaspora talk about Israel from a distance,” he said. “But to be there, to attend the funerals of the three boys” — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, whose abduction and murder were the catalyst for the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza — “to be familiar with bomb shelters,” makes a big difference.

 

‘It’s a communal responsibility’

The sages say that before a Jewish community builds a synagogue or buys a Torah, it should build a mikvah, the ritual bath used to observe laws of family purity and complete conversions.

The Teaneck mikvah on Windsor Road, next to Temple Emeth, was built in the 1970s, and the township’s mikvah association opened a second ritual bath this spring. Set across the street from the Jewish Center of Teaneck, it is positioned to better serve families on the south side of town. The two mikvaot serve about 1,000 people each month, but rely solely on donations to cover operating costs. Now, many of Teaneck’s Orthodox synagogues are creating a new kehilla fund fee in their membership dues to help support the mikvah.

“Certain things are communal responsibilities,” said Michael Rogovin, president of Teaneck’s Netivot Shalom. “The eruv and the mivkah are really critical to our functioning as an Orthodox community.”

 

A grandmother lives face to face with terrorism

The face of terrorism in the Middle East is a 60ish grandmother and her 9-year-old grandson.

Before I left on my first trip to Israel with the Washington Township YJCC in 2008, my son said, “You’ll be surprised at your response to the trip. It will change you.”

Many readers of this newspaper have grown up with an ingrained sense of responsibility to aid Israel, both financially and in spirit. We regularly read about the terror of the rockets and the suffering of the border cities. As a Jew, I feel that as long as Israel exists, we are safe here. That is the big picture.

But I am not a big-picture person. I am a microcosm person, most involved with my immediate family, than my larger family. My involvement ripples out from the family, like the ripples from a rock thrown into a pool of water. Eventually the ripples touch the entire pond. That’s where Roni and her 9-year-old grandson come in. They are now part of my small picture.

 

Alleging U.N. bias, Israel again keeping distance from Gaza probe

TEL AVIV — The United Nations probe into the Gaza conflict hasn’t even begun, but Israel already is convinced that it won’t end well.

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 29-1 with 17 abstentions, the U.N. Human Rights Council moved last month to establish a commission of inquiry “to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The United States cast the sole vote against it.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the council for choosing to investigate Israel rather than nearby crisis zones such as Iraq or Syria, and implied he would not cooperate with U.N. investigators.

“The report of this committee has already been written,” Mr. Netanyahu said, after a meeting with visiting New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The committee chairman has already decided that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Therefore, they have nothing to look for here. They should visit Damascus, Baghdad, and Tripoli. They should go see ISIS, the Syrian army, and Hamas. There they will find war crimes, not here.”

 

Sabras and slap shots

North Americans bring hockey know-how to Israel

BALTIMORE — Drew Koike knew a bit about Israel: its capital, location, climate and biblical roots. But it never dawned on the 14-year-old Washingtonian that hockey existed in the country.

That was until earlier this year, when the coach of his hometown hockey program invited Drew and two other young charges on a summer trip to Israel to play and teach the sport.

The quartet spent 11 days there, mostly at the ice rink inside Canada Centre, a sports facility in the northern town of Metulla.

Four Canadians joined them. They included Laurie Boschman, a former National Hockey League veteran, and Tessa Bonhomme, who played for the Canadian women’s gold medal-winning team at the 2010 Olympics, as well as two teenage goalies.

 

Where Jews of color go to ‘feel normal’ at summer camp

PETALUMA, Calif. — On a cool Sunday evening, Jewish campers with nervous smiles took to the stage one by one to perform poems they had composed on the theme of identity.

One girl riffed on being taunted for having “fuzzy eyebrows” and “bushy hair.” Another rhymed about being told “You don’t look Jewish” too many times to count.

If this doesn’t sound like your typical summer camp fare, it’s because Camp Be’chol Lashon has a markedly different mandate than most Jewish camps.

Nestled in the misty hills of Marin County, the northern California camp is the country’s only Jewish sleepaway camp geared to Jews of color.

“Part of the goal is to make these kids feel normal in a Jewish context,” said Diane Tobin, the founder and executive director of the camp’s parent organization, the San Francisco-based nonprofit Be’chol Lashon, which promotes racial, ethnic and cultural diversity in Jewish life.

 

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PODCASTS

25 February 2011
7 January 2011
20 February 2009
 

VIDEOPOSTS

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

PHOTOGALLERY

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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