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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

 

Pascrell, Paul face off

Dr. Dierdre Paul, a 49-year-old Montclair State University professor, faces an uphill battle against Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., the 77-year-old nine-term Democratic incumbent in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.

In a candidate’s forum Monday night at the Community Baptist Church in Englewood, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Bergen County chapter of the NAACP, Dr. Paul said that she has not been a Republican for very long.

In fact, in 2008 she had been the Englewood chair of the Obama campaign. “No one hoped more than me that the president would succeed,” she said. “Even as late as 2012 I tried to maintain that hope and faith in the Democratic party. Instead, it was the African American base masking the same old Democratic policies.

“We have a failed war on poverty, a failed war on drugs,” she continued. “Why does the Democratic establishment feel they only need to show up in election time? People are hurting now.”

Mr. Pascrell opened by saying that his “first objective in Congress is to keep us safe. I solemnly swear to each one of you that I will keep us safe against foreign enemies and any domestic enemies who want to take advantage of us.”

 

RCA responds to scandal

Englewood rabbi to head committee looking into conversion process

Shmuel Goldin, the senior rabbi at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, has agreed to chair a new committee the Rabbinical Council of America is convening to review its conversion process.

Rabbi Goldin also is the RCA’s immediate past president.

The committee includes 11 members; six are RCA-member rabbis and five are women. Two of the women are converts, one is a yoetzet halacha — an advisor in Jewish law — and one is a psychotherapist.

The committee has been established in response to the arrest of one of the RCA’s members, Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel of Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, in Washington, D.C. (Rabbi Freundel’s RCA membership has been suspended in response to the arrest, and he has been suspended from his job, without pay.) The shul arguably is the most prestigious Orthodox synagogue in the nation’s capital, and Rabbi Freundel’s arrest, for videoing some of his conversion candidates with a camera hidden inside a clock radio as they stripped for the mikvah, has been profoundly disturbing, both within the Kesher community and outside it.

 

Hearing, helping each other

Support groups for people with mood disorders to open in Paramus

A person who has a mood disorder has a chronic, manageable condition.

She is not lazy, not immoral, not self-indulgent. She is not suffering from some embarrassing unmentionable syndrome. She is just one of a large number of people whose body chemistry plunges her into the black hole of depression, or is one of the smaller but not insignificant group of people who swing between that hole and a fierce but unsustainable elation that takes them up into the blue sky until they crash again.

There is a stigma attached to having a mood disorder, though, that makes it hard to address, to attack, to subdue, to co-exist with.

Dena Cohen of Teaneck, a writer, editor, and social activist who writes under her maiden name, Dena Croog, knows this territory well. An op ed contributor to this newspaper, she introduced it to our readers on February 13, when her column, “I have bipolar disorder,” was printed and almost immediately went viral.

 

Bergen County joins Shabbos Project

Locals participate in worldwide unity initiative

It really was a bit audacious. With the catchphrase “Keeping it Together,” the Shabbos Project — building on a Jewish unity initiative launched in South Africa last year by the country’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein — cast its net worldwide last weekend.

And if Bergen County didn’t reach its goal of bringing together 3,000 women to bake challah, well, there’s always next year, local organizers say.

Unrealistic? Hardly. Johannesburg brought together 5,000 women, as did Buenos Aires, and Miami gathered a group of 4,900.

In all, the project — which in our community included not only a challah-bake but programs at various synagogues as well as a concert in Teaneck after Havdalah — was expected to involve “at least one million Jews observing the Sabbath, together in full, from sunset [on Friday] until nightfall [on Saturday],” according to project initiators in South Africa.

 

What’s in the box, kid?

Local woman’s story of loss, grief, fear, and Holocaust nightmare is screened

An orphaned 11-year-old Holocaust survivor, Daniel (played by Giorgio Poma), arrives at a Brooklyn yeshiva in 1946. He is to study and live there. He is befriended by Aaron (Leo Hojnowski), a boy with a stutter. Their classmates, who regularly mock Aaron, torment Daniel about the mysterious small box that he clutches all the time.

These two boys are the protagonists of “Greenhorn,” a children’s-book-turned-movie written by Anna Olswanger of Fair Lawn. “Greenhorn” premiered October 23 at the Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan for donors, cast, and family.

The story is a fictionalized version of a recollection Ms. Olswanger heard in the 1980s from Rabbi Rafael Grossman of Englewood, who was then the rabbi of Baron Hirsch Synagogue in Memphis, where she lived at the time. His story was so sad that she did not envision it as a children’s book until many years later.

Rabbi Grossman was the little boy with the stutter.

 

Germany recognizes needs of child survivors

Special compensation fund created

Nearly 70 years after World War II, the German government has officially acknowledged the unique problems facing child survivors.

Last month, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany announced that Jews who were in concentration camps or ghettos when they were children, or spent at least six months in hiding from the Nazis during their childhoods, will receive financial assistance from the German government to help them cope with problems caused by the physical trauma and malnutrition those experiences caused them. The agreement provides for a one-time payment of 2,500 euros. That’s not quite $3,200 per person.

Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider acknowledged that “all of this is being driven by the fact that we’re in the final years. If there’s going to be any final message that the German government or the German people are going to give to survivors, these are literally the last years to do it.”

 

A comic of biblical proportions

David Steinberg to appear at Gilda’s Club in Hackensack

Now David Steinberg said unto Gilda Radner: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the Not Ready For Prime Time Players that that Lorraine Michaels will show on Saturday nights, live, in New York City.”

Okay, that’s not exactly the language Mr. Steinberg used.

But Mr. Steinberg does take credit for advising Ms. Radner to quit his own comedy show on Canadian television to accept the offer for Saturday Night Live, which she got the week after Mr. Steinberg hired her.

“She was going to turn them down,” Mr. Steinberg said in a telephone interview last week. “I said ‘No! Take the opportunity to do a show that’s on in the States.’”

And he is prone to waxing biblical — whether in his 2007 memoir, “The Book of David,” or in his famous improvised sermons, which won him popularity and infamy in the 1960s.

 

Noshes: celebrity names in the news
 
 
 

 

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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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