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  • Coming to America
    Senator Robert Menendez tells his family’s immigration story
  • Ordination in Wroclaw
    Two Ridgewood rabbis go to Polish ceremonies for German seminary
  • Hoaxacaust
  • ‘Stop at the Red Apple’
    Founder’s daughter talks about her childhood at the Route 17 landmark
  • Unity first
    Groups from across the Jewish spectrum make solidarity missions to Israel
  • Cookin’ it up!
    Tales of a Teaneck kitchen prodigy
  • ‘This Is Our Youth’
  • From the Union to the Union
    Rabbi Daniel Freelander of Ridgewood moves from one Reform institution to head another
  • Are you listening?
    The case for Israeli music
  • Passage to India
    Local academic finds Jewish parallels in Hindu university


Policies are the best policy

Teaneck synagogue forum addresses child sexual abuse

Does your synagogue have policies in place to protect children from sexual abuse? Do your children’s schools and camps?

Such policies, Dr. Shira Berkovits told a meeting in Teaneck on Sunday night, can make a difference to children’s safety.

Dr. Berkovits is a consultant for the Department of Synagogue Services at the Orthodox Union, and she is developing a guide to preventing child sexual abuse in synagogues. She was speaking at Teaneck’s Congregation Rinat Yisrael, as part of a panel on preventing child sexual abuse co-sponsored by three other Teaneck Orthodox congregations: Netivot Shalom, Keter Torah, and Lubavitch of Bergen County.


Yavneh celebrates upgrade

New wing is first stage in renovations

One down. Two to go.

The Yavneh Academy in Paramus celebrated the completion of the first phase of its $5 million project to renovate and expand its school building and grounds on Sunday.

Founded in Paterson in 1942, Yavneh moved to Bergen County and the building it now occupies in 1981. It has about 800 students from nursery school through eighth grade.

On Sunday, it inaugurated a new middle school wing that was built this summer, along with a new parking lot. Next on the agenda: renovating the school’s entrance with an atrium and an enhanced security center. And after that — well, the school’s leaders have begun investigating the possibility of building a new gym.

“It’s not about growing the school, but meeting the needs of the students we have,” school president Pamela Scheininger said. “This project was narrowly tailored.”


Gross Foundation gives grant to Ramapo

Longtime Hillsdale family gives $250,000 challenge grant for Holocaust studies

Former longtime Hillsdale residents Paul and Gayle Gross awarded a five-year, $250,000 challenge grant to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey through the Gayle and Paul Gross Foundation, which supports Jewish organizations and causes in the arts, human services, and education.

The center, established in 1990 and part of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies, will be renamed the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“Gayle and I have been associated with the center for a long time and are firm believers in the ongoing need to ensure that all people, especially schoolchildren, know about the Holocaust and the impact of hatred and bigotry in our societies,” Mr. Gross said.


‘We don’t live in a shtetl any more’

Paramus mom relocated to Australia gives hi-tech stay-connected advice

FaceTime, VOIP, WhatsApp, Glide, Skype, Slingbox — if all these words are familiar to you, it’s likely that you use one or more of these high-tech tools for staying in touch with a loved one living far away.

Even if such apps and gadgets had existed when Allison Weiss was growing up in Paramus, she would not have predicted her need for them. “I was never the going-away-from-home type. It’s funny how things worked out,” she said, several days before the September 7 debut of her free enewsletter for long-distance families, “Closer To The Kids” (

Ms. Weiss, now 32, met a man from Australia 11 years ago. They married and moved to his native Sydney four years ago. “When we left, I didn’t have a child,” she said. “Things definitely change when you have a child.”


What if?

Playwright tells the sort-of-familiar story of the four matriarchs in the garden

One of our frequently told stories is of the four sages who enter Paradise. Of the four, one dies, one is struck mad, one becomes a heretic, and one leaves unscathed. It is a powerful, mysterious, and unsettling tale.

Sigal Samuel of Brooklyn, a writer and editor for the Jewish Forward, thought a great deal about that midrash. “I remember studying it in school” — a modern Orthodox day school in Montreal — “and with my father,” a former professor of Jewish mysticism in that city’s Concordia University, she said. “I’ve been sitting with it for many years.”

Last year, Ms. Samuel was a fellow at the Laba program sponsored by the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Laba, which its founders called a laboratory for Jewish culture, uses classic Jewish texts “as a springboard to artistic creation,” Ms. Samuel said. The year’s theme was mothers. So when the idea of Jewish texts in general, the idea of mothers in general, and this text, which had floated around in her subconscious practically forever, came together, they were catalyzed by another realization.


‘A blaze of light in every word’

Leonard Cohen’s songs to ring in the High Holy Days in Bayonne

In 1974, Leonard Cohen borrowed from the High Holy Day liturgy for his song “Who By Fire.”

This year, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is returning the favor. He will bring Leonard Cohen songs into the High Holy Day services at Temple Beth Am in Bayonne — and chant Unetaneh Tokef to the melody of the song it inspired.

“So much of his music is rooted in Jewish thought and Jewish images,” said Rabbi Salkin of Mr. Cohen, who will turn 80 on Sunday. Two days later, on Tuesday, Mr. Cohen’s 13th studio album will be released. Rabbi Salkin believes that Mr. Cohen’s continuing relevance as he reaches what Pirkei Avot calls “the age of strength” provides an important role model for his congregation.


Turn, turn, stop turning

Slichot in River Edge focuses on music by Mahler, Mendelssohn

One of the main themes of the High Holy Days is teshuva.

The word literally means return; it is about repentance, the desire to return to God, to the community, to life as you really meant to have lived it. To try again.

“Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it,” we are told; that lesson is applied particularly to the holidays, with its focus on turning toward redemption.

We usually think of turning as making a circle, a full 360 degrees. What if it’s only 180, and you end up facing away from where you began?

And what if that direction points away from Judaism?

That’s the idea that the pre-Slichot program at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge will examine.


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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