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  • The Jewish people’s 911
    Local archivist collects a century of JDC photographs
  • When Jews were funny
  • 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


How the boys survived

Paramus-born filmmaker tells story of Buchenwald’s barrack 66

For Rob Cohen, the road to Buchenwald started at Paramus High School.

It was a high school English teacher who saw the hint of an interest in filmmaking in Mr. Cohen. “He encouraged me, made it possible for me to make a couple of small films with a Super Eight camera,” he said. His interest sparked, he crafted a film major at Yale, which was not yet formally offering one when he graduated in 1974.

A few years ago, Mr. Cohen, who now lives in New York, created two future-focused documentaries for CBS and the Discovery Channel: FutureCar and NextWorld.

But his project opening in two New Jersey theaters this week looks backward. “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald” tells the story of four boys who survived Buchenwald, and chronicles their return visit there in 2010, on the 65th anniversary of their liberation.


A Torah’s journey

Fair Lawn shul learns about the Holocaust scroll it houses

Housing a Holocaust memorial Torah in your own synagogue is a privilege and an honor.

Learning where that Torah came from — who touched its parchment and read its words — is a blessing. But it is not one that is gained easily.

Indeed, says Rabbi Ronald Roth, religious leader of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel, it is only after months of research that he now understands the journey his shul’s memorial Torah has taken, and the people it has reached.

The Torah has been with the Fair Lawn synagogue for several decades.

“Congregant Ed Davidson brought it here from London in 1978,” Rabbi Roth said of the Czechoslovakian Torah, now encased in a glass cabinet in the synagogue sanctuary.


The politics of recognition

Is Israel’s ‘Jewish state’ demand a dead end?

Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be solved without the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state?

Is it enough for a future state of Palestine to recognize the reality of Israel but not the Jewish character of Israel?

The issue of recognition has been a sticking point throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From the time of its creation in 1964, until Yasser Arafat’s 1988 declaration renouncing terrorism and calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the PLO refused to recognize Israel’s legitimacy. The declaration paved the way to mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO and 20 years of on-and-off negotiations. When the sides resumed negotiations last year, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a new demand: that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has steadfastly refused, arguing that the PLO already recognized the fact of Israel and it’s not up to the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s character.


Author Edwin Black to speak in Wayne

On April 27, author Edwin Black, about whom we wrote on March 21, just before his talk for United4Unity in Englewood, will be back in our area. He plans to keynote the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Yom HaShoah commemoration in Wayne.

Mr. Black, according to his website, has focused much of a long career on exploring and writing about “genocide and hate, corporate criminality and corruption, governmental misconduct, academic fraud, philanthropic abuse, oil addiction, alternative energy and historical investigation.” At the bottom of most of his reporting is the act of evil that has spurred all of his work — the Holocaust.

The investigative work uncovering the truth that some U.S. companies were at least in part responsible for financing and administering the Shoah underlies much of his work.


Brainstorming a future for Latin America’s smaller Jewish communities

PUERTO IGUAZU, Argentina — The youthful group of 60 drew their chairs around tables strewn with jars of markers and the occasional Rubik’s Cube, nearby chalkboards at the ready for jotting down big ideas.

The conference hall was suffused with a can-do vibe that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in Silicon Valley. But high tech was not on the agenda.

Instead, the crowd of social entrepreneurs and activists had come to a resort near the famous Iguazu Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border to brainstorm a future for Jewish life in small communities across Latin America.

“The decline of communities in smaller cities is our biggest problem,” said the event’s co-chair, Ariela Lijavetzky, director of informal education at Maccabi, a Jewish sports club in Buenos Aires.


After hunger strike, Gross’ backers ramp up calls for action

WASHINGTON — Alan Gross did not warn his family that he was launching a hunger strike, but hearing the news, they understood why: The U.S. government subcontractor languishing in a Cuban prison feels forgotten.

Mr. Gross, a 64-year-old Jewish father of two from Potomac, Md., is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba for “crimes against the state.” He was arrested in December 2009 while on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community with the Internet. The company he was working for had a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“We’re asking that the U.S. government do whatever it takes,” Jill Zuckman, a spokeswoman for the Gross family, said in an April 11 interview. That was the day when Gross ended his fast after eight days. “This situation is not going to be resolved unless President Obama takes a personal interest in it.”


Holocaust restitution moves slowly in Eastern Europe

When a 2009 Holocaust-era assets conference concluded with a landmark statement of principles on Holocaust restitution, many restitution advocates had high hopes that a corner had been turned in the struggle for survivor justice.

The Terezin Declaration, which had the support of 46 countries participating in the conference in the Czech Republic, outlined a set of goals for property restitution. It recognized the advancing age of Holocaust survivors and the imperative of delivering them aid and justice in their final years.

“Participating States urge that every effort be made to rectify the consequences of wrongful property seizures, such as confiscations, forced sales and sales under duress of property, which were part of the persecution of these innocent people and groups, the vast majority of whom died heirless,” the June 2009 declaration stated.

But five years on, progress on securing restitution has been painstakingly slow.


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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