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Josh Lipowsky
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Hot potato! Hot pa-tam-to!

Noah’s Ark hosts Teaneck’s annual latke-eating contest

LocalPublished: 26 December 2014

Sudden death almost meant just that.

There we were, two weary warriors on a battlefield of gastronomic proportions, called into sudden-death overtime to determine who is Teaneck’s supreme latke-eating champion. Summoning up our reserves of strength, we sloshed applesauce on the five latkes set before us and set forth on our delectable task.

How had it come to this?

The day was Sunday, the fifth day of the Festival of Lights, aka Chanukah, aka Hannukka, aka Channukka, aka…you get the point — there are a lot of ways to spell Chanukah.


Norpac hosts fundraiser for Huckabee

Norpac’s president Dr. Ben Chouake weighs in on the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship

Local | WorldPublished: 15 December 2014
It’s hard to sign on to social media these days without seeing a right-wing news article decrying President Obama’s relationship with Israel. Despite a plethora of stories of how the president is abandoning Israel, “the current status of the U.S.-Israel relationship is very strong,” Dr. Ben Chouake, Norpac’s president, said.

Norpac hosts fundraiser for Huckabee

Local | WorldPublished: 12 December 2014

The dust is still settling from the 2014 midterm elections, but the race to 2016 is already on. Potential presidential candidates already have started lining up donors.

Norpac, the North Jersey pro-Israel political action committee, regularly holds fundraisers for incumbents. When there is no incumbent, as there will not be in the presidential race in 2016, it raises funds for candidates who have strong records on Israel. On Saturday night, the Englewood-based group held a fundraiser that drew about 35 people and collected at least $40,000 for Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and one-time Republican presidential hopeful who now is a commentator on Fox News.

But — Mr. Huckabee hasn’t declared himself a candidate for 2016 yet, so the fundraiser officially was for Mr. Huckabee’s 501(c)4 non-profit, America Takes Action.

Many candidates have issue-related organizations, such as Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative. Fundraising events for such organizations don’t contribute directly to a political campaign. They do allow the candidate to send a message about which issues are important to him or her, however, and they create opportunities for Norpac’s members to gain access to the potential candidate.


Self-defense or unnecessary danger?

LocalPublished: 28 September 2014

Armed self-defense is a value strongly supported in Jewish law, according to a statement issued last week by a local Jewish gun club, which is urging two of the largest Orthodox organizations in the country to reconsider their positions on gun control.

On July 16, the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization representing Orthodox rabbis in the United States, issued a statement recognizing the rights of private citizens to own weapons and engage in violence for self-defense, but also calling for the restriction of “easy and unregulated access to weapons and ammunition,” and denounced “recreational activities that desensitize participants … or glorify war, killing, physical violence, and weapons….”

The RCA resolution came just over a year after the Orthodox Union issued a similar resolution citing its longtime commitment to “common sense gun safety legislation” and calling on U.S. senators to pass legislation to ensure “a safer and more secure American society.”


Unity first

Groups from across the Jewish spectrum make solidarity missions to Israel

LocalPublished: 12 September 2014

As rockets fell on Israel, the North Jersey Jewish community made a grand show of support through rallies and donations, but some local rabbis decided to show their support even more strongly, by putting boots on the ground.

Earlier in the summer, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin led a large group of congregants and friends to Israel, and the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey sent a mission as well. Local rabbis and laypeople, too, have been going on their own.

Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis jetted off to Israel in July and August, making a statement to their communities — and to Israelis — that the American Jewish community continues to support Israel, especially during times of war.


‘Overwhelming support for our emergency needs’

Teaneck councilman leading charge for new ambulance for Israel

LocalPublished: 05 September 2014

As rockets rained down on Israel during this summer’s conflict with Hamas, Israel’s emergency medical services were working overtime to help the almost 900 Israelis wounded during the fighting.

MDA has approximately 1,200 ambulances in service, running 24/7, according to American Friends of Magen David Adom. The typical lifespan of an MDA ambulance is seven to 10 years, according to Gary Perl, northeast regional director for American Friends of Magen David Adom. The ambulances have been overextended during the recent conflict and many will not last nearly that long.

Since early July, MDA has received donations of more than 30 ambulances from across the United States, Mr. Perl said, noting “there has been overwhelming support of our emergency needs.” Teaneck Councilman Elie Katz, who has volunteered with the township’s ambulance corps since he was a teenager and with MDA during his post-high school year in Israel, knows the importance of emergency services. In honor of his father-in-law Rabbi Joseph Feinstein’s 25th yartzeit, Mr. Katz and his wife, Esther, have launched a campaign throughout September to raise $100,000 to purchase a new ambulance for MDA.

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Sour smiles at Teaneck pickle competition

LocalPublished: 05 September 2014

Teaneck’s gastronomic gladiators met in the salty trenches on Monday for a sour showdown to claim the title of pickle-eating champion.

Contestants lined up outside of Pickle Licious on Cedar Lane for the store’s annual pickle-eating contest, facing down a half-gallon of pickles (20 in each bucket). They chose their weapons: sour, half-sour, or new pickles, and armed themselves with a quart of water as they chowed down to see who could eat the most within eight minutes. (This reporter claimed the title in 2011, downing 20 pickles in less than 10 minutes. This year, however, the Force was not with him. Read on.)

As the dust cleared, Joshua Deutsch, a 61-year-old mashgiach from Teaneck, stood triumphant. He had finished all 20 pickles in the bucket, but, he lamented, he did not have time to start on the second half-gallon before him. (This reporter finished 19 and was about to finish No. 20 when time was called. He blames the sweltering temperatures and promises to redeem himself next year.)

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‘It’s a communal responsibility’

LocalPublished: 22 August 2014

The sages say that before a Jewish community builds a synagogue or buys a Torah, it should build a mikvah, the ritual bath used to observe laws of family purity and complete conversions.

The Teaneck mikvah on Windsor Road, next to Temple Emeth, was built in the 1970s, and the township’s mikvah association opened a second ritual bath this spring. Set across the street from the Jewish Center of Teaneck, it is positioned to better serve families on the south side of town. The two mikvaot serve about 1,000 people each month, but rely solely on donations to cover operating costs. Now, many of Teaneck’s Orthodox synagogues are creating a new kehilla fund fee in their membership dues to help support the mikvah.

“Certain things are communal responsibilities,” said Michael Rogovin, president of Teaneck’s Netivot Shalom. “The eruv and the mivkah are really critical to our functioning as an Orthodox community.”

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‘A way to thwart their funding’

Local | WorldPublished: 01 August 2014

On May 18, 2003, Steve Averbach boarded a Jerusalem commuter bus and noticed an Arab man aboard dressed like a haredi Jew. When Mr. Averbach, an Israeli immigrant from West Long Branch, approached, the man detonated his explosives, killing seven people and wounding 20, including Mr. Averbach.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. Mr. Averbach, left paralyzed from the neck down, was hailed as a hero for scaring the bomber into prematurely detonating his suicide vest and reducing the death toll.

Eleven years later, the Averbach family is taking part in a massive lawsuit against Jordan-based Arab Bank, alleging that the bank facilitated fundraising for Hamas and other terror groups, as well as payments to dead terrorists’ families, and thus bears responsibility for Hamas terrorism. The case is set for an August 11 trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

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Gary Osen, the man giving victims an opportunity

LocalPublished: 01 August 2014

For attorney Gary Osen of Hackensack’s Osen LLC, the case against Arab Bank is the continuation of a career built on fighting for people who have been cast into the role of victims.

“It’s not who they want to be or how they want to be remembered,” he said. “This case provides them an opportunity to do something, to be proactive, and perhaps change the world just a little bit for the better and maybe salvage something from the circumstances that have been thrust on them.”

Inspired by his father, attorney Max Osen, Mr. Osen began his career in Holocaust restitution. Max Osen came to the United States at age 11, fleeing from Nazi Germany. He returned in 1945 as a U.S. soldier, and after the war he received his law degree and began taking on restitution cases.

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