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Ari Teman’s laughing matters

Teaneck native’s Rocket Shelter Comedy entertains Israelis under fire

What’s the toughest part of working for the Hamas Propaganda Unit? You need equipment to stage films and you can’t go to B&H Photo.

Teaneck-bred standup comic Ari Teman brought a suitcase of jokes like this one when he flew to Israel late last week to headline a series of comedy shows in regular venues as well as bomb shelters and army bases.

With fellow American standup Danny Cohen and Texan-Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt, Mr. Teman’s Rocket Shelter Comedy ( shows took place from this week in cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheva, and Modi’in. All proceeds are to be donated to the Friends of the IDF Lone Soldier Fund.

When asked how he got the idea for the comedy mission, Mr. Teman — a graduate of the Torah Academy of Bergen County — explained that it resulted from a memo from his attorneys at the Israeli law firm GKH.


‘Every call jolts’

RAMLE, Israel — In her living room in the Israeli town of Ramle, Sarah says she wants a peaceful life. At 79, she deserves one.

A Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, Sarah was sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Serbia as a child, arriving in Israel at age 17. Her entire family perished in the Holocaust.

Now she watches from her armchair as her family is threatened once again. Sarah — not her real name — is now a Muslim, and her daughter lives in Gaza City.

“The whole city is in ruins,” Sarah says. “Everyone is just trying to find a piece of bread.”

Sarah arrived in Israel in 1950, one of the tens of thousands of Jewish survivors who found refuge in the young Jewish state. From there, her story departs from the conventional narrative.


People over politics

Sharing a message under Muslim-Jewish hashtag


To some, it’s just a hashtag. To others, it’s a way of life.

When Israeli Abraham Gutman and Syrian Dania Darwish, students at Hunter College in New York City, recently posted a photo of themselves holding signs with the above hashtag on Facebook, they didn’t know it would create a worldwide sensation.

“We are not politicians, not PR people,” Gutman told “We are students. We know a hashtag won’t solve this long conflict, but we wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”


On the U.S.-Israel front

Amid uncertainty of an open-ended war, tensions rise and fall

The dramatic developments in the war between Hamas and Israel have been accompanied by sharp ups and downs in U.S.-Israel relations.

On Monday, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, made nice with the U.S. national security adviser, Susan Rice, before an audience of anxious U.S. Jewish leaders. But immediately before that, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly vowed to continue Israel’s military campaign against Hamas, notwithstanding President Obama’s unequivocal demand for a cease-fire.

And within a day of Israeli and American pledges not to afflict one another with damaging leaks, Israeli television was running the transcript of what it said was a fraught Obama-Netanyahu telephone conversation.


‘A way to thwart their funding’

On May 18, 2003, Steve Averbach boarded a Jerusalem commuter bus and noticed an Arab man aboard dressed like a haredi Jew. When Mr. Averbach, an Israeli immigrant from West Long Branch, approached, the man detonated his explosives, killing seven people and wounding 20, including Mr. Averbach.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. Mr. Averbach, left paralyzed from the neck down, was hailed as a hero for scaring the bomber into prematurely detonating his suicide vest and reducing the death toll.

Eleven years later, the Averbach family is taking part in a massive lawsuit against Jordan-based Arab Bank, alleging that the bank facilitated fundraising for Hamas and other terror groups, as well as payments to dead terrorists’ families, and thus bears responsibility for Hamas terrorism. The case is set for an August 11 trial in federal court in Brooklyn.


Comics demand equal time for Jewish fathers

Diverse threesome to launch tour at Wayne synagogue

If Jewish mothers are the butt of so many jokes, that’s because so many comedians are Jewish fathers, quips Rockland County comedian Adam Oliensis.

To help address that gender imbalance, Mr. Oliensis is teaming up with fellow comics Rabbi Bob Alper and Alex Barnett in The Jewish Fathers Comedy Tour, which will launch in Wayne on August 10.

Asked how the three-man collaboration came about, Barnett replied, “Have you heard us sing? If you had, you would quickly understand why we’re doing standup together and not forming a rock band.”

But seriously… “Also, I’ve known Adam for a long time. We’ve worked together many times and then I met Bob at a show of mine. We all then got on a call together and hit it off, and during that call we came up with the idea for the tour.”

Letter from Israel

Standing together

Love on a plate

You probably know about Dror Khenin, the 37-year-old father of three and volunteer fireman cut down by mortar fire on July 15 while bringing food to IDF soldiers patrolling the border. He has the tragic distinction of being the first Israeli civilian death of Operation Protective Edge, begun on July 8.

You may not know about Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, founder of the Halacha Education Center and of JobKatif, a nonprofit that helps former Gush Katif residents re-integrate into the workplace. Last week, he led several volunteers — including Rabbi Zev Reichman of Englewood’s East Hill Synagogue — bringing food and encouragement to soldiers on the frontlines. Rather than collecting donated food, Rabbi Rimon paid for hundreds of meals from a southern caterer with a calendar full of cancelled events, and hundreds of snacks from markets and bakeries in Sderot, where customers are scant these days.

Israelis everywhere are collecting and packing food, underwear, socks and personal-care items and distributing them to the front, sometimes on their own initiative and sometimes through soldier-welfare organizations.


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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