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  • Working for smart guns
    Mahwah rabbi forms coalition to help cut back on gun violence
  • A new home for Bonim
    ‘Builders’ moving to Rockleigh
  • ‘A Borrowed Identity’
  • A very busy 92 years
    Al Burstein of Tenafly talks about his life, from Jersey City childhood, WWII horrors, and adventures in legislation to now
  • ‘2 by Wolf’
    New Yiddish Rep introduces old British playwright
  • Welcome WIZO
    Women’s International Zionist Organization opens local branch
  • Movies at KulturefestNYC
  • Remembering Rochelle Shoretz
    Sharsheret founder, dead of breast cancer at 42, recalled, through tears, with great love
  • Yiddish in the city
    Folksbiene Theater, as it turns 100, makes everything old new again. (And its artistic director lives in Teaneck!)
  • ‘Tosca,’ ‘Carmina Burana’ take Masada
    Fifth opera festival presents two masterpieces in the desert


Burning questions

Rabbi Lawrence Troster reflects on papal environmental letter

On Sunday, Rabbi Lawrence Troster of Teaneck will march through downtown Rome to Vatican City.

The march is being organized to support Pope Francis’ call for action on the environment embodied in the papal letter, or encyclical, he released last week, called Laudato Si (“Blessed Be”). An international interfaith coalition, Our Voices, whose goal is “bringing faith to the climate talks,” is organizing the march. Among the coalition’s members are the American interfaith group GreenFaith, where Rabbi Troster is scholar-in-residence.

This is a period of increased activity for Rabbi Troster and the broader Jewish environmental movement, jumpstarted by the papal letter that Rabbi Troster called “amazing” and leading up to global talks on a new treaty to fight global warming scheduled for November in Paris.

These next few months, Rabbi Troster said, will see the environmental issues taking a higher profile on the Jewish communal agenda, as it becomes a priority for the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center in Washington, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and a group he is organizing of rabbis and cantors called Shomrei Breishit. He hopes it will surface in high holiday sermons, and in interfaith actions during Sukkot.


Musical mitzvah raises money for AIDS organization

Local teen (and friends) perform for a good cause

Haworth teen and stage performer Jeremy Shinder had his first gig when he was 2. It was when his grandfather, Rabbi Frederic Pomerantz, called him up to the bimah to play drums at Temple Beth-El of Northern Valley in Closter.

It is fitting, then, that his recent bar mitzvah celebration — which included a benefit concert for Equity Fights AIDS — took place at that same synagogue.

In fact, his bar mitzvah spanned two synagogues, said his mother, Rabbi Rebecca Shinder, religious leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Florida, N.Y., and associate rabbi at Tenafly’s Temple Sinai for many years.

“My shul is small, so we did Friday night there,” said Rabbi Shinder, who also is the congregation’s cantor and educational director. “It was packed. My father had done a jazz service [at Beth-El, where he is now rabbi emeritus] and Jeremy wanted that to be part of his bar mitzvah celebration. He played the drums for it. We brought in musicians through former congregants at Beth-El.”


An education conference for parents

Dozens of Orthodox educators to speak in Teaneck on Sunday

Rabbi Reuven Taragin has seen Jewish education from all directions on two continents.

He grew up in New York, attending yeshiva and Yeshiva University’s MTA high school before going to Israel to study and returning to New York to earn an undergraduate degree at Yeshiva College.

He studied for the rabbinate in Israel, where he made a career teaching in yeshiva. He is dean of the overseas program for Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, overseeing the American high school graduates who come for a year or two of study, and teaching them Talmud.

He even has a hand in informal education: He and his wife, Shani, lead the beit midrash program at Camp Moshava in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, each summer.

But his most important educational role, he says, is that of parent to six children, who range in age from 7 to 22.


France suggests peace plan

Israel objects unequivocally

TEL AVIV — For months, France has considered taking a more active role in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel wants no part of it.

The French peace proposal reportedly would have three components: a return to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, a committee of representatives from world and regional powers to facilitate the negotiations, and a United Nations Security Council resolution that would set a timetable for the process.

“We don’t want to replace the role of the sides,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France said, according to Israeli reports, adding that the U.N. resolution is “a means, not an end.”

But for Israel, the resolution is a poison pill. The Israeli government sees U.N. actions regarding Israel as irredeemably biased and has opposed Palestinian initiatives to gain statehood through U.N. recognition.


Invading London’s Jewish heart

Planned neo-Nazi rally provokes outrage

LONDON — Like many European Jews, Stephen Lever has mostly stopped wearing his kippah on the street in recent years.

A Londoner, Lever said he fears joining the hundreds of Jews accosted annually in his native United Kingdom, often by Muslim or Arab extremists seeking to exact retribution for Israel’s actions. More than 1,000 anti-Semitic attacks were recorded in Great Britain last year. That’s an all-time high, and it’s even more attacks than reported in France, which has roughly double the Jewish population.

The exception, however, is in Golders Green, the heavily Jewish neighborhood in northwest London that is considered the epicenter of British Jewry. Approximately one-fifth of Britain’s 250,000 Jews live in the surrounding northern borough of Barnet.

Along the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Golders Green Road, dozens of shops feature signs in Hebrew.


His place in Jerusalem

Bergenfield’s Rabbi Steven Burg to lead Aish HaTorah

Rabbi Steven Burg is headed back to Jerusalem next month.

Rabbi Burg, 43, spent two years there after high school; he spent another year there during his rabbinic studies, and he returned many times during the time he worked for the Orthodox Union.

Now though, he will have a more prestigious address: 1 Kotel Plaza.

That’s how Aish HaTorah jokingly refers to its headquarters in Jerusalem’s Old City, which opens to the plaza of the Western Wall, and whose rooftop looks down over the Temple Mount.

That’s quite a draw for the fundraising events that Rabbi Burg will oversee beginning July 1, as he assumes the post of Aish’s director general — the Israeli term for chief executive officer.


Music and money

Local music teacher/philanthropist helps students perform at food-rescue fundraiser

Buy a $25 concert ticket and feed Israel’s needy.

That’s the win-win deal on offer at Mexicali Live in Teaneck on Monday, June 22. Two shows that night will spotlight 21 young music students of Ben Hyman of Fort Lee at the same time that it raises money for Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank and largest food-rescue network.

Mr. Hyman — who is a musician, a music teacher, and the owner of — explains that this will be the fifth benefit concert he has staged with pupils, most of whom are yeshiva day-school students.

“I try to find a charity that has some type of relevance to the children,” Mr. Hyman said. “We’re fortunate to live in a comfortable place, never worrying about how to get food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothing on our backs. I want my students to be able to connect to children of the same age who have a completely different kind of life without that kind of security.”


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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