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  • The case of the family tree
    Local rabbi solves genealogical mystery
  • A man cut out to be an artist
    Oradell native making it big in Los Angeles
  • Tracing the 600-year odyssey of the Sarajevo Haggadah — in music
  • The little house in the big woods
    Artist’s family remembers growing up in Fort Lee
  • Debut CD showcases talents of newly ordained rabbi
    Educator takes on roles of songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist
  • Her own voice
    Neshama Carlebach talks about her father, her faith, her music, and kol isha
  • The essence is to wake us all up
    Ikar founder Rabbi Sharon Brous and local leaders talk about building a living Jewish community
  • One Book, many themes, and many readers
    ‘By Fire, By Water’ author will speak to One Community in Ridgewood
  • ‘Noah’ and the Jews
  • ‘And then here comes George’
    George Hantgan, institution-builder extraordinaire, looks back at the local community’s growth


Fighting for Israel’s kids

Nirim brings survival treks to tough neighborhoods

Shlomi Avni thanks his parents for keeping him on the straight and narrow.

He grew up in Or Akiva, a small city halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, just inland from Caesarea. His neighborhood was poor, with many of his peers tempted to drop out of school and turn to crime.

But his parents — his mother from Morocco, his father of Turkish descent — made sure he studied and took school seriously.

In high school in nearby Hadera, he was exposed to wider horizons and broader aspirations — in particular, the desire to be accepted into an elite combat unit in the army.

As someone who loved the sea, his choice was Flotilla 13 — the special forces unit of the Israeli navy — in other words, the Israeli version of the U.S. Navy SEALs.


Menendez on Iran: Keep up intense pressure

At JPost conference, senator reaffirms U.S. support for Israel

The West should continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, but that process should be reinforced by a continuous commitment to international sanctions against the Islamic republic, according to Senator Robert Mendendez.

“It is clear to me that only intense punishing economic pressure has influenced Iranian leaders to come to the table,” New Jersey’s senior senator said while addressing the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York on Sunday.

Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is one of the Senate’s prime supporters of sanctions against Iran. On Sunday, he also called for a credible military option to remain on the table in the Iranian negotiations. The threat of U.S. military action can be a force for attaining national security goals, he said, crediting his committee’s authorization of military force in Syria last September for convincing Syrian President Bashar Assad to give up control of his chemical weapons arsenal. The United States must reassure its regional allies that the military option will remain on the table with Iran, he added.


‘Shave for the Brave’

There is not much that anyone can do to comfort colleagues whose son has died of cancer.

Nor is it intuitive to think that if anything could help, it would be a line of rabbis getting their heads shaved.

But that is what 54 Reform rabbis did in Chicago on April 1. The so-called Shave for the Brave was in response to the December death of 8-year-old Samuel Sommers — Superman Sam, as he was called.

Sam’s short but joyous life was chronicled by his mother, Rabbi Phyllis Sommers, who blogged about his struggle; she and Sam’s father, Rabbi Michael Sommers, were the first to have their heads shaved onstage during the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ meeting last week.


She’s a Maccabee

You will never see this NCAA Division III tennis player on the court in a miniskirt and tank top.

Galila Shapiro of Englewood, a junior at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University, wears the regulation sleeved top and longish shorts — minus the optional knee-length skirt — of the Maccabee women’s tennis team.

Though YU’s reputation is based more on learning than on lobbing, Maccabee sports teams at the university have a long tradition. Varsity intercollegiate athletics are available for male undergrads in baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling; and for women in basketball, cross country, fencing, soccer, tennis, and volleyball, with softball to be added next year.


Tracking hate: ADL names new director for NJ region

The Anti-Defamation League has named Shayna Alexander director of its New Jersey region, filling a post that has remained vacant since Jeffrey Salkin resigned last October.

Ms. Alexander, 29, started working at the ADL even before she graduated from Rutgers University in January 2007. After spending three years at ADL’s national headquarters in New York researching white supremacists and neo-Nazis for its civil rights division, she headed west to Denver to become associate director of its Mountain States regional office.

The ADL is “the only place I’ve wanted to work,” she said.


‘Profiles in Faith’

Soli Yisrael Foger of Englewood fell in love with his wife, Tani, in 1973.

Just about everything good in his life since then — and there are many good things — can be traced back to that lightning strike.

Most recently, it has resulted in a series of YouTube videos that capture a conversation between him and a list of prominent Orthodox rabbis, plus the occasional rebbitzen or other nonclerical luminary.

It is a series that he plans to continue.

How did it happen? The idea grew organically.


U.S. tries to save talks

Kerry touts past progress, says ‘fight is over process’

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is sticking with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for now despite a crisis that has threatened to scuttle talks.

That’s the message U.S. officials were peddling as a top State Department team was in the region turning over the engine attempting to restart the talks.

“The bitter irony is that at this point the fight is over process, it’s not over the final status agreement,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

U.S. efforts to keep the talks alive were accompanied by warnings that the process was not open-ended. The willingness of the Palestinians and the Israelis to attend meetings aimed at reconvening the talks indicate that the sides either have too much invested in negotiations to walk away or at least do not want to be blamed for their collapse.


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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