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  • The father of Jewish Home Family retires
    Charles Berkowitz, visionary creator of compassionate services for the elderly, looks back
  • Two opportunities to laugh
    Stand-up comic, Israeli theater troupe perform in Manhattan
  • Retelling Genesis
  • Thoroughly modern ‘Altina’
    Close-up of an accomplished life
  • A love story
    Cory Booker talks about growing up in Harrington Park, falling in love with Judaism
  • Pegging your sins
    Closter synagogue’s Slichot board offers semi-public apologies
  • A friend indeed
    Intergenerational program at JCC enriches seniors, children
  • The Jewish Slandered
    Bridgegate motives revealed
  • By the sea in Coney Island, it’s Tzyclonim vs. Lake Monsters
    Jewish Heritage Night at the Brooklyn Cyclone’s MCU Park brings out the kitsch


‘Because the Middle East is funny…’

He hates to say so, but American-Israeli comic Benji Lovitt must admit that last summer’s war was good for business.

It led to a 14-show cross-country tour that will include stops at Temple Emanu-El of Closter on October 30 and at the United Synagogue of Hoboken on November 11.

Since making aliyah from Texas eight years ago, Mr. Lovitt has come back to perform in the United States many times, using his immigrant experiences as fodder for his standup routine. But his daily helpings of humor during Operation Protective Edge in July and August splashed his name across the social-networking world like never before.

“People are looking for really positive Israel programming after the war,” he said. “I spent a lot of the war expressing how a lot of us in Israel were feeling, and many people told me that when everybody was depressed I was the one they looked to for a smile.


Project Ezra offers help to job seekers

Robert Hoenig of Teaneck takes over as its second director

This is a tough economy that we live in.

It can be hard to find a job, and hard to think straight when you lose one. It’s hard to figure out how to reorient yourself, how to present yourself, how to maintain at least the façade of confidence.

And it’s also hard to figure out how to pay your bills at the same time.

Project Ezra, founded in 2001, has provided help to local Jews ever since then. It was the brainchild — and really, by all accounts, the heartchild and soulchild too — of Rabbi Yossi Stern of Teaneck, who was its first director, and led it until he died unexpectedly in February. His work not only allowed many people to find work, but also helped support them and allowed them to maintain their dignity as they searched.


Roy Cho shows up

Democratic challenger in House race talks about Israel and more

What if the Jewish Community Relations Council held a candidates forum — and one of the candidates never came?

That was the situation in Temple Israel in Ridgewood on Monday night.

Joy Kurland, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, had invited both candidates for Congress from the 5th district.

Roy Cho, 33, the Democratic challenger was there.

Scott Garrett, 55, the Republican incumbent, was not.


Reality check

Author to discuss intergenerational ‘experiment’

Katie Hafner began her professional career writing for a small newspaper in Lake Tahoe.

That didn’t last for long, though. “I worked my way up,” said Ms. Hafner, who now writes on health care for the New York Times.

A seasoned journalist, Ms. Hafner was exceptionally well prepared to chronicle an experience in her own life that she calls both an “experiment in intergenerational living” and a “disaster.” Inviting her 77-year-old mother to live with her and her teenage daughter, Zoe, in San Francisco, Ms. Hafner learned that fairy-tale imaginings are no match for emotional truths.

(In her book, Ms. Hafner calls her mother Helen. That is not her real name; her mother requested anonymity, and Ms. Hafner honored the request.)


Original instructions

Local rabbi spins Torah using orthographic constraints

What happened to the world when God decided to put Noah, his family, and the paired menagerie on the ark, and then opened the heavens?

“On that singularly disastrous day, naturally occurring abyssal fountains burst forth … and an unforgiving sky was as if a gaping window, a flowing font, a colossal cosmic chasm. For forty days and forty nights, continuous global rainfall: downpour following driving squall; storm upon cascading storm, a primordial pluvious pounding!”

Wait. That sounds familiar. It sounds sort of like this: “On the same day were all the fountains of the deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Right? “And the rain was upon the earth 40 days and 40 nights”?

That’s what we’re told in Genesis 7:11-12 — part of this week’s Torah portion, parshat Noach — but what’s with the odd translation?


Converts talk about Freundel

Say abuse of power extended beyond mikvah peeping

When Rabbi Barry Freundel asked Bethany Mandel to take a “really long shower” before a “practice dunk” in the mikvah before her formal conversion to Judaism, the whole request seemed a bit odd, she said.

For one thing, Freundel instructed Mandel to skip the pre-mikvah checklist, which includes things like cleaning out your navel, trimming your nails, and getting rid of excess hair and skin. For another, she had never heard of practice dunking.

But Mandel eventually bought the rabbi’s explanation: that women performing the ritual for the first time at their actual conversions might, from an excess of nervousness and confusion, turn around and mistakenly expose themselves to the three rabbis present. Mandel said that she, like other women who took practice dunks, actually found the trial run helpful.


Where’s the money?

In Knesset, former protest leader Stav Shaffir follows the trail

TEL AVIV — Having coffee with Stav Shaffir is little different from meeting up with other 20-somethings in Tel Aviv.

She rushes into the cafe a few minutes late, glances repeatedly at her phone, and complains about high rents and an out-of-touch government. It’s hard, she says, being the youngest woman in a workplace full of older men.

The only difference: The workplace is the Knesset, and Shaffir, 29, is the youngest female lawmaker in Israel’s history.

“The problem in my generation is we were scared of politics,” Shaffir said. “We said that everyone is corrupt and we can’t talk and we can’t go into politics, but that’s what a corrupt system wants us to think. They want us to believe there’s no chance.”


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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