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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.


‘The kids are having a blast’

YU’s Counterpoint Israel ends 3 days early; kids still have fun

This is the ninth year of Counterpoint Israel, a service-learning initiative sponsored by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future.

But it’s the first time that Counterpoint counselors — several of them from North Jersey — have had to cut short their day camps for disadvantaged kids because of rocket fire.

The decision to pull out of the northern Negev development towns of Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi at 11 o’clock one night was not taken lightly, says Counterpoint Israel co-director Kiva Rabinsky. The schedule called for two weeks in these towns and then two weeks in Dimona and Arad, altogether serving about 300 children and teens.


Bergen County hearts, homes open a bit longer than usual

YJCC extends its program of summer respite for Israeli teens

While Israeli teens affected by terrorism can use a time-out every year, this summer — with the hostilities in Gaza — the need is especially great.

With that as a guiding principle, the Bergen County YJCC has extended its Open Hearts, Open Homes program not once but twice, keeping the 12 youngsters from its first session for five weeks instead of the usual three.

Gary Lipman, the YJCC’s chief executive officer, acknowledged that the extension has undoubtedly meant extra work, but, he said, “If I’m a little exhausted, that feeling is nothing compared to the mitzvah we’re doing.”

Mr. Lipman said that in past summers, program staff worked three weeks during the first session, took a week off, and then spent the next three weeks with a second group of Israeli teens. “Now we’re going straight through the seven weeks, 24/7.”


Sending socks to the IDF

Teaneck rabbi to bring much-needed supplies to soldiers in Israel

Rabbi Tomer Ronen, rosh yeshiva of Ben Porat Yosef in Paramus, and his wife, Deganit, are the proud parents of a son in the IDF.

Their son, a 20-year-old who went all the way through SAR in Riverdale and then went to Israel, where he studied at a yeshiva for a year and then joined the IDF exactly a year ago, is in a parachute unit. “For the last three weeks, they were training and training and training,” Rabbi Ronen said. Last Thursday, “he called and said, ‘Abba, Ima, we are out. We are giving away our cell phones.’ So we knew that it was happening that night.”

So now the Ronens are both proud and worried parents; worried enough, in fact, to decide that they could no longer sit at home in Teaneck and worry. “To be the parents of a lone soldier is hard,” Rabbi Ronen said. “To be the parent of a lone soldier and know that he is going in — that is even harder.”


Adding to Jewish life in Clifton

Rabbi Moshe Mirsky heads religious services department at Daughters of Miriam

Rabbi Moshe Mirsky thinks his new position as the director of religious services at the Daughters of Miriam Center/Gallen Institute in Clifton is a perfect shidduch.

Actually, it is not quite a new job. Rabbi Mirsky had already worked there with Rabbi Ira Kronenberg, who just retired from the home this month, in the late 1980s. Back then Rabbi Mirsky was studying for simicha — rabbinic ordination. He worked there once again in the 1990s, while he was teaching at various day schools.

“I would come on the weekends for Shabbat and on yom tov to assist Rabbi Kronenberg,” he said. “I would lead davening, give Torah classes, go to the Alzheimer’s unit, and try to engage the residents Jewishly. I had a special rapport with Rabbi Kronenberg and the residents.”

Indeed, then he already was doing many of the things he is doing now as director of religious affairs.


Poor assumptions = poor policy

ZOA’s congressional lobbyist talks about Israel, Oslo, and plans doomed to fail

The two-state solution is a chimera, Joshua London says. It is a lovely vision of something that never can be real, and chasing it — chasing the plan that would make Israel and Palestine two separate states, living next to each other in prickly but sustainable peace — is chasing the wind.

Mr. London, who lives in suburban Maryland, is the Zionist Organization of America’s co-director of government affairs. He will be taking a break from his daily routine — lobbying Congress to further the ZOA’s own understanding of the Middle East — to speak at a parlor meeting in Teaneck on Wednesday.

His goal, he said, “is to bring clarity and critical analysis to the longstanding U.S. policy for support of — and in fact to apply pressure toward — the creation of a Palestinian state from territory that otherwise belongs to Israel, and to do so under the notion that this will bring peace.”


Shalom Cooperstown!

The town’s Jewish mayor, Hall of Fame chief greet baseball’s elite

BALTIMORE — For Jeff Idelson, the director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., induction weekend is all about teamwork.

“When you get to signature events and you’re in a small community, all the pieces have to come together effectively for it to be a grand slam,” Idelson said recently from his office in the central New York village of 1,852.

The team includes Mayor Jeff Katz, like Idelson a passionate baseball fan. The two men will oversee this weekend’s festivities as the unofficial welcoming committee for the game’s elite and the tens of thousands of fans who come to pay them homage.

Former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine and ex-managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, and Bobby Cox will be inducted Sunday.

Calling Cooperstown home is heavenly for the two officials.


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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