For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.
A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.
On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.
Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.
Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)
That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.
If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.
Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.
Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.
Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.
She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.
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.
After deliberating for just two and a half hours, six Hudson County jurors awarded $72,400 on June 25 to three religiously observant men who claimed they were defrauded by a Jersey City-based organization that said it could “cure” them of their homosexuality.
Two of the men are Orthodox Jews, and the organization is called JONAH, which stands for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing.
The jury sided with the plaintiffs’ allegation that JONAH engaged in “unconscionable commercial practice” under New Jersey law by claiming that same-sex attractions can be reduced or eliminated through therapy.
Plaintiffs Chaim Levin and Benjamin Unger — both formerly Orthodox Jews — and Michael Ferguson, who is Mormon, along with Mr. Levin’s mother and the mother of another JONAH client, Sheldon Bruck, sued the group under a tough New Jersey consumer protection statute. (Because Mr. Bruck was only 17, he was not permitted to be a party to the suit.)
On Sunday, Rabbi Lawrence Troster of Teaneck will march through downtown Rome to Vatican City.
The march is being organized to support Pope Francis’ call for action on the environment embodied in the papal letter, or encyclical, he released last week, called Laudato Si (“Blessed Be”). An international interfaith coalition, Our Voices, whose goal is “bringing faith to the climate talks,” is organizing the march. Among the coalition’s members are the American interfaith group GreenFaith, where Rabbi Troster is scholar-in-residence.
This is a period of increased activity for Rabbi Troster and the broader Jewish environmental movement, jumpstarted by the papal letter that Rabbi Troster called “amazing” and leading up to global talks on a new treaty to fight global warming scheduled for November in Paris.
These next few months, Rabbi Troster said, will see the environmental issues taking a higher profile on the Jewish communal agenda, as it becomes a priority for the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center in Washington, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and a group he is organizing of rabbis and cantors called Shomrei Breishit. He hopes it will surface in high holiday sermons, and in interfaith actions during Sukkot.
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.”
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.”