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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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Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Shabbat in the White City

Fair Lawn man aims for Guinness-record dinner in Tel Aviv

Jay Shultz is determined to set a new world record while promoting Tel Aviv — usually cited for its nightlife and startup culture — as a great place to spend Shabbat.

The 37-year-old Fair Lawn native, who has lived in Israel since 2006, has earned a reputation as the “International Mayor of Tel Aviv” after a series of grand-scale initiatives geared at positioning his adopted city as welcoming haven for young professional immigrants.

His latest exploit: Through his popular White City Shabbat program, which offers communal meals for young Israelis and immigrants at local synagogues, Mr. Shultz launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to sponsor the world’s largest Shabbat dinner.

 

Testing for genetic diseases

JScreen provides easy, low-cost screening for people of Jewish lineage

Looking for a novel engagement or bridal shower gift? “Forget a blender or another place setting. Give a JGift and help them ensure the best future for their family,” advises the website JScreen.org.

For $99 you can “give the gift of screening,” said Hillary Kener, JScreen’s outreach coordinator. Ms. Kener was referring to the online genetic screening program that is coordinated through the department of human genetics at Atlanta’s Emory University. With this unique program it is possible to be screened for up to 80 genetic mutations. Along with screening, the site provides education and access to genetic counseling related to the screening tests. And all of this can take place in the comfort of your own home or dormitory room.

 

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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.

 

Welcome to Radzyn

Local man finds a new way to tell sort-of old stories

It is 1896 in Radzyn, a small town hidden deep in a Polish forest. There, Mottel the musician tries to find a few zlotys for Shabbat.

It is 1933 in Radzyn, a small town hidden deep in a Polish forest. There, the rebbe warns about lost children for whom nobody will hunt and who never will be found.

Radzyn, as it unfolds in 1896, is home to a collection of chasidim who at first glance embody the timeless archetypes who seem to replace real people in such mythic towns.

But it is also 2014 in the United States. The story of Radzyn, which will jump from era to era, from character to character, and eventually from the web and mobile devices to other media as well, has just begun to unfold. It will follow the form and conventions of Jewish folktales, but it is being devised to speak most clearly to its own generation.

 

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.

 
 
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