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Lois Goldrich
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A new haven for abused seniors

Jewish Home to offer short-term shelter, community education

LocalPublished: 03 July 2015

It is common, when discussing abuse, to think of victimized children, or mistreated spouses. The abuse of seniors is less publicized, but it is equally horrific.

According to Carol Elliott, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, “the national estimate is between 3 1/2 and 5 million [elderly] victims each year,” and some studies indicate that 1 in 10 seniors have suffered some form of abuse.

To address this problem, in mid-July the Jewish Home will unveil SeniorHaven Elder Abuse Shelter. It will be the first such facility in New Jersey and the 12th such shelter in the United States. SeniorHaven will offer community education as well as emergency short-term shelter for victims.

Abuse takes many forms, including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and financial, Ms. Elliott said. It may also take the form of neglect. With elder abuse on the rise, SeniorHaven is sorely needed.


A new home for Bonim

‘Builders’ moving to Rockleigh

LocalPublished: 26 June 2015

When Bonim was created in 2002, it brought together volunteers of all skill levels to fix, renovate, and refurbish homes for Jewish families and individuals who could not afford to do it themselves.

Over the years, the group’s mission has not changed, though the number of individuals, families, and groups it helps has grown each year, surpassing 100 at last count. What has changed, however, is Bonim’s official home.

As of July 1, Bonim — formally called Bonim Builders, though “bonim,” in fact, means builders — will become part of the Jewish Home Family, based in Rockleigh, moving from its longtime home at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

Carol Silver Elliott, president and CEO of Jewish Home Family, sees the new placement as “ideal.”


Musical mitzvah raises money for AIDS organization

Local teen (and friends) perform for a good cause

LocalPublished: 26 June 2015

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.”


Korean Christians reach out to Jewish neighbors

Cultural festival will be an ‘extravaganza,’ says local rabbi

LocalPublished: 19 June 2015

Several years ago, a group of Korean Christians in New Jersey sought a concrete way to show their love for Israel and the Jewish people. Inspired by the words of Isaiah 40:1 — “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” — they came up with a plan.

“We were praying for Israel, our minds and hearts were toward the Jewish people, but we didn’t know what to do except for just praying,” said Changene Danny Song of Tenafly, director of strategic planning for Korean Christians for Shalom Jerusalem. The nonprofit organization is based in Englewood Cliffs.

“So we said, why don’t we do a cultural festival? It’s a way of comforting Jewish people by inviting them, and for that moment, they can have fun watching the show.”

The festival, which includes traditional Korean costumes, music, drama, and dance, already has attracted large audiences at synagogues in New York City and Washington, D.C. On June 24, it will take place at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center.


Jacob, Rebecca to be charged with conspiracy

Mock trial in Mahwah will offer new perspectives on a biblical story

LocalPublished: 05 June 2015

There are many ways to teach Torah. And, happily, people learn in many different ways.

With that in mind, Mahwah’s Beth Haverim Shir Shalom plans to teach an old story in a new way. On Sunday, June 7, the congregation will put some very prominent biblical figures on trial.

During that trial — the Jewish People v. Rebecca and Jacob — a jury of congregants, chosen by lottery before the hearing begins, will determine whether mother and son were guilty of conspiracy.

Did Jacob and Rebecca conspire to deceive Isaac? Did Isaac really bless the wrong son? Is Esau totally innocent in all of this? Opposing attorneys Barry Cassell and Jack Schulman, members of the congregation, will tackle those questions. Another congregant, attorney Amy Littman — who has, in her professional life, run mock trials for law students — will serve as presiding judge.


Yvette Tekel, 1925-2015

Community mourns loss of beloved leader ‘active in anything Jewish’

LocalPublished: 29 May 2015

The loss of Yvette Tekel will be keenly felt throughout our community and beyond its borders.

Indeed, the words family, friends, and colleagues — across communities, across organizations — used to describe Ms. Tekel — who recently moved to Fort Lee from Haworth — paint a picture of a woman who brought joy and inspiration to all who knew her.

“She was a five-foot giant,” said her husband, Louis, singing the praises of his nearly 90-year-old wife to Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, who conducted Yvette’s funeral on May 20 at Temple Emanu-El of Closter. The couple had been married for 68 years.

Lou, who worked in the linen business and was a decorated hero of World War II, “was chairman of the Yvette fan club,” Rabbi Kirshner said. “He supported her and stood by her side” in all her many charitable endeavors.

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Everybody’s on the bus

Bergen, other local counties send 1,500 to lobby for Israel on Capitol Hill

LocalPublished: 22 May 2015

The relationship between Israel and the United States might be somewhat strained right now, so at least 1,500 concerned Jews from around the area traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to plead Israel’s case.

Many of the members of that Norpac delegation are from Bergen County.

“It was very gratifying,” said Norpac’s president, Dr. Ben Chouake of Englewood. Norpac brought 33 buses to the nation’s capital on May 13.

“We cut off registration on May 4, the deadline date,” he said, noting that while the organization has been known to extend the deadline, this year, as the number of would-be attendees steadily grew, that was not possible.

“The turnout was really impressive,” said Dr. Chouake, adding that the large number of legislators who cleared time in their calendar to meet with members of his group was impressive as well.

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A band of sisters

LocalPublished: 22 May 2015

It makes sense, really. There was music everywhere. They were a family immersed in music, four sisters who sang together for years, a talented songwriter, and dreams for the future that always included music.

What else could the Glaser sisters do?

“I always wanted to be a singer in a band,” said the eldest sister, Faige Glaser Drapkin, 34, who, with her sister Chaya, one year younger, helped make that dream come true.

Chaya, too, wanted music to be “a big part of my life.”

Much of it had to do with the link between music and family. “When I saw the Mamas and Papas on Ed Sullivan, I actually thought they were a family,” she said. “I loved their harmony, spirit, and colors, and it looked like they loved what they were doing! I knew that I wanted in on that beautiful fun too.

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Preserving identity, sharing traditions

American Israelis light up the sky on Lag B’Omer

LocalPublished: 15 May 2015

Israel is one big bonfire when it comes to celebrating Lag B’Omer, says Shai Nemesh, director of New Jersey’s Israeli-American Council, based in Paramus.

“The entire state is one big cloud of smoke,” he said. “For Israelis, it’s a big celebration for families, sitting around the fire drinking coffee and eating potatoes.”

Mr. Nemesh, whose group co-sponsored a Lag B’Omer celebration on Saturday night, said the program had two major goals — “For us, to keep the tradition and the culture we left at home and do as much to preserve it as possible, and, when we have something like this, to share it.”

With few exceptions, he said, Lag B’Omer does not receive the same attention here as it does in Israel.

“This is something new,” he said. “It’s not addressed at the level we do it. It’s important to introduce our traditions and to share them, working with the American Jewish community to tighten the bonds between these two communities that live among each other and break down the barriers.”

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‘A do-it-yourself disease’

Before Saddle Brook walk, families of ALS patients talk about the disease’s impact

LocalPublished: 15 May 2015

In early 2014, just shy of his 12th birthday, Eitan David Jacobi of Teaneck told his parents he was having trouble raising his arms. It was particularly hard for him to shoot basketballs.

This was a first for the youngster, said his mother, Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi, who described her son as an active, funny, and very social kid.

In fact, she said, he had spent the previous summer as a camper at Ramah Nyack. And when he fell off a horse in early November, “we told him to get back on.” Usually that’s good advice. But Eitan did not have the strength to stay on the horse.

“We didn’t have a clue,” Rabbi Forman-Jacobi, a past vice-principal of the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. “It took us until Thanksgiving to get to a neurologist.” By that time, Eitan was “unable to reach to get to the microwave or to open cabinets.”

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