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Area shops for Israeli goods in response to calls for boycotts

 
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On Tuesday, Nov. 30, StandWithUs, in partnership with the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, declared BIG (Buy Israel Goods) Day to counter anti-Israel activists in New York City who planned to demonstrate and call for boycotts of Israeli products. Schools, synagogues, and organizations around the tri-state area and across the country mobilized and participated in this day. People bought a range of Israeli goods, from Ahava beauty products to Wissotzky tea, from Israeli wines to Dorot Herbs. “The idea of this day was to show those who call to boycott Israel that there will be a larger call to buy Israeli products and invest in Israel,” said Avi Posnick, East Coast regional coordinator for StandWithUs.

target='_blank'>www.BuyIsraelGoods.org includes a locator of stores that carry Israeli products.

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Gale Bindelglass buys Israeli products at her local supermarket. standwithus

The Jewish Community Relations Council of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey mobilized the community. Gale S. Bindelglass, co-president of Women’s Philanthropy of UJA-NNJ, said, “Our family loves Wissotzky Tea, made in Tel Aviv. It was a pleasure to buy my tea on BIG Day, I made the purchase at our local Shoprite of Oakland; they carry a variety of Israeli products, including produce.”

Joy Kurland, the director of the JCRC, added, “Clearly, the success of the BIG campaign demonstrates the importance of community mobilization and its effectiveness in countering efforts aimed at the delegitimization of Israel. Our regional JCRC looks forward to continued collaboration with StandWithUs in the implementation of future proactive Israel advocacy initiatives.”

The Frisch High School in Paramus organized a BIG day at school. Students sold Israeli snacks during breakfast and lunch and in a few classes. They sold Elite chocolate bars (the first to sell out), Klik chocolate bars, Chanukah gelt, and Bissli. According to Frisch student Eric Tepper, “The main point was to educate.” Students and administrators also wore “Buy Israel Goods” buttons provided by StandWithUs.

Throughout New Jersey, communities and organizations helped to mobilize their communities to take part in BIG Day.

Stores reportedly sold out Ahava products wherever they were protested in Maryland, Denver, Arizona, Philadelphia, and other sites. BIG even stretched across the miles to London, with Jews and non-Jews participating.

“This was a huge success,” said Posnick, “and it will happen again. This day was part of a larger BIG Campaign that StandWithUs is launching. The BDS movement planned Nov. 30 to target Israel, forgetting that this day coincides with the beginning of Chanukah when the Maccabees triumphed over those who wanted to destroy Israel.” (BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.) He added, “We must remember that the BDS movement advocates destructive rather than productive measures and undermines hope for peaceful co-existence. Its only goal is to defame, cripple, and damage Israel.”

More information about this campaign can be found at http://www.standwithus.com. The website

 
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Praying while female at the Kotel

Women of the Wall representative to speak locally

What’s going on with the Women of the Wall now?

What’s happening with gender equality and pluralism in Israel, now that the Israeli election is over?

Women of the Wall, made up of women from across the Jewish spectrum, has fought for the right to pray at the Kotel — Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the symbolic center of Jewish life, the magnet that draws observant and non-observant Jews, non-Jews, poets, and often even skeptics, close to it, as if they were pure iron filings.

The group, which was formed in the late 1980s, has been bolstered by legal wins. Its most important recent victory was the April 2013 decision by Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court, who ruled that the city police were wrong when they arrested five women for the crime of wearing tallitot at the women’s section of the Kotel.

 

‘Oy vey, my child is gay’

Orthodox parents seek shared connection in upcoming retreat

Eshel, a group that works to bridge the divide that often separates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews from their Orthodox communities, is holding its third annual retreat for Orthodox parents of those LGBT Jews next month.

Although most of its work is done with Orthodox LGBT Jews — who may or may not be the children of the parents at the retreat — the retreat offers parents community, immediate understanding, the freedom to speak that comes with that understanding, the chance to learn, and the opportunity to model healthy acceptance.

“There are particular issues to being Orthodox and having a gay child, although it varies a lot from community to community,” Naomi Oppenheim of Teaneck said. “You worry about what the community is thinking about you. Someone — I don’t remember who — said, ‘When my kid came out, I went into the closet.’”

 

Twenty years later

Stephen Flatow remembers his murdered daughter Alisa

When you ask attorney Stephen Flatow of West Orange how many children he has, his answer is immediate.

“I have five children,” he says.

Not surprising. What father doesn’t know how many children he has?

And how are they doing?

Four of them are flourishing; they are all married and all parents. Mr. Flatow and his wife, Rosalyn, have 13 grandchildren, and another one’s on the way. (And three of the Flatows’ children live in Bergen County.)

But the fifth, his oldest, Alisa, was murdered by terrorists when she was 20; her 20th yahrzeit was last week. She has been dead as long as she was alive.

“Just because she isn’t there now, that doesn’t mean I’m not her father,” he said. “I just don’t have any recent pictures of her to show.”

 

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Standing together with Israel

Local groups join for evening of unity as they discuss ways to protect Israel

Lee Lasher of Englewood has a deep interest in ensuring that different parts of the local Jewish community come to trust, respect, and even like each other.

To that end, Mr. Lasher, an alumnus of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Berrie Fellows Leadership program, and fellow alums — and now friends — Ian Zimmerman of Glen Rock and Ari Hirt of Teaneck, formed a group called Unite4Unity, which until now has explored the bridges that actually do span the community.

Now, the three friends have decided to multitask. Another cause dear to all of them is Israel. What could be better, they thought, than to bring the community together around the Jewish state? And given their own orientation toward action, what would be best would be to give people information they can use to present Israel positively, to combat such threats as BDS with knowledge, insight, and passion.

 

Considering German Jews

Spätzle, weiner schnitzel, stuffed cabbage, and German chocolate cake are on the menu for Shabbat dinner on May 1 at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake. It’s all part of the shul’s weekend exploration of German Jewish heritage.

German Jews are known not only for their signature cuisine, however. They tend to have a reputation as “yekkes” — obsessively punctual, punctilious, and a touch pompous.

The shul’s Rabbi Benjamin Shull admits he bought into that stereotype — he is the descendant of Lithuanian Jews — until he discovered through genealogical research that he, too, has German-Jewish ancestors. So do about a third of his regular congregants.

 

Balancing attraction and halachic law

Local Orthodox rabbis meet with therapists and LGBT Jews

On Sunday, some leading Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood and Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Netivot Shalom in Teaneck, met with mental-health professionals and members of the Orthodox gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community for a conference on “sexual orientation and gender identity in the Orthodox and chasidic world,” as a press release put it.

The conference, about 150-strong, held at the Kraft House on Columbia University’s campus, was organized by the modern Orthodox, Upper West Side Lincoln Square Synagogue; the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology; and JQY, a nonprofit that provides support to young LGBT Orthodox and chasidic Jews.

 
 
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