Standardizing the TimesIn which we announce and describe our new online partnership with the Times of Israel
Vaccinate your kid!Local Jewish leaders talk about their policies
‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’
Who stood at Sinai?Conference to look at 25 years of Jewish feminism, examine what might come next
How do you staff a Birthright trip?Local 10-tour veteran talks about training, tips, and tachlis
Honoring an escapeeAustria celebrates Nobel laureate Martin Karplus’ amateur photography
Inclusion by designSinai Schools honors Holy Name Medical Center for community partnership
‘Build me a sanctuary’ranklin Lakes shul to examine the Tabernacle’s specs from many directions
‘Above and Beyond’
One bullet at a timeFrench priest finds graves, unearths stories from Europe’s killing fields
Ironically, what should be a unifying topic for Jews often spurs such heated discussion that rabbis tend to avoid it, said Ora Horn Prouser, executive vice president and dean of the Academy for Jewish Religion.
Dr. Prouser, who lives in Franklin Lakes and is married to Temple Emanuel of North Jersey’s Rabbi Joseph Prouser, said that she heard a lot over the summer from rabbis and other spiritual leaders. They said that they were “unable or not comfortable talking about Israel in their synagogues,” she reported.
“It didn’t come from a lack of love,” Dr. Horn said. “They’re deeply invested in Israel, and yet they felt they could not get into a conversation without deeply offending other parts of their community.”
Forty years ago, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the head of Yeshiva University’s rabbinical seminary, made a rare trip to Philadelphia to speak at the University of Pennsylvania.
That began a chain of events that will culminate on Sunday night in a book launch for the second volume of a Torah commentary collecting Rabbi Soloveitchik’s teachings.
The author and editor of the commentary, Dr. Arnold Lustiger, was a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1975. Intrigued by the chance to hear the famous rabbi, he attended the lecture.
“It was a tour de force,” he remembered this week, “I had never heard anything remotely like this in my life. Here was someone who speaks the language of halacha” — of Jewish law — “but at the same time has the ability to place it in a philosophical and homiletical context.”
Why can’t we all just get along?
The rabbis have been asking that question for years, particularly in late summer, around the time of Tisha B’Av, when sermons inevitably wrap around the themes of baseless hatred and intolerance.
But our secular community — especially as political discourse turns ever more hostile and bullying pervades both our schools and our social media — has been asking that as well, and at least one town has decided to do something about it.
According to Ridgewood’s Mayor Paul Aronsohn, the town began its civility initiative last year. With a core group including Rabbi David Fine of the town’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center, Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck, the Rev. Jan Phillips of the Religious Society of Friends, and Mr. Aronsohn, the town already has held two roundtable discussions on the issue, seeking to identify the problem and locate the line between disagreement and incivility.
Since January 4, Noah Stein and Adi Haruni of Tenafly and Charlie Spiegel of Paramus have been volunteering in the Yemin Orde Youth Village in the picturesque Carmel mountains near Haifa.
The 19-year-olds chose this option from among several offered to participants in the Young Judaea Year Course, a gap year program that combines classroom studies for college credit, traveling, and volunteering across Israel.
“I felt I could have the greatest impact at Yemin Orde,” said Noah, who graduated from Tenafly High School in 2014. “I’ve never had the opportunity to interact with so many people from different cultures and backgrounds: Ethiopian, Russian, and French kids. I thought I could really learn from them, and I could offer them something to learn as well.”
For the past five years, 20-year-old Adam Berzin of Ramsey has spent his summers at Camp Ramah Wisconsin, at the camp’s Tikvah program.
Created more than 40 years ago and offered at nine Ramah camps in the United States and Canada, Tikvah welcomes children, teens, and young adults with a wide range of learning, developmental, cognitive, and social disabilities, “enhancing Jewish identity and teaching Jewish values in a supportive, inclusive, fun environment,” according to its website.
Parents Rita and Mitch Berzin clearly believe that the program more than fulfills this commitment.
“We make the effort to send Adam to this program, which is so far away, because the effects on his self-esteem, independence, and identification with the Jewish community have been so powerful,” Ms. Berzin said. While other Ramah camps have programs of this kind, “what made this one unique for us was that it was more inclusive.”
In the wake of the terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office and the Hyper Cacher grocery store — a kosher market — I participated in a Jewish Agency mission to Paris.
Our delegation of Americans and Israelis arrived last week to show solidarity with the French Jewish community. We also sought to better understand the threat of heightened anti-Semitism in France (and, indirectly, elsewhere in Europe). We met with more than 40 French Jewish community leaders and activists, all of them open to sharing their concerns.
On January 7, Islamist terrorists murdered a dozen Charlie Hebdo staffers as retribution for the magazine’s cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed. Two days later, another terrorist held a bunch of Jewish grocery shoppers hostage, killing four, which French President Francois Hollande acknowledged as an “appalling anti-Semitic act.”
Award-winning documentary producer-director Gloria Greenfield will be in Teaneck on February 24 for the screening of her newest work, “Body and Soul —The State of the Jewish Nation,” at 7:45 p.m. at the Teaneck Cinemas on Cedar Lane.
The film examines the profound connections between the Jewish people and the land of Israel over the past three millennia, through interviews with historians, archaeologists, political scientists, religious leaders, and international law and media experts.
Among the 16 interviewees in the film are Harvard professors Ruth Wisse and Alan Dershowitz; the UK’s former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Israeli archeologists Israel Finkelstein and Aren Maeir; Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law, and Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch.