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News: Local

Policies are the best policy

Teaneck synagogue forum addresses child sexual abuse

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Does your synagogue have policies in place to protect children from sexual abuse? Do your children’s schools and camps?

Such policies, Dr. Shira Berkovits told a meeting in Teaneck on Sunday night, can make a difference to children’s safety.

Dr. Berkovits is a consultant for the Department of Synagogue Services at the Orthodox Union, and she is developing a guide to preventing child sexual abuse in synagogues. She was speaking at Teaneck’s Congregation Rinat Yisrael, as part of a panel on preventing child sexual abuse co-sponsored by three other Teaneck Orthodox congregations: Netivot Shalom, Keter Torah, and Lubavitch of Bergen County.

 
 

Yavneh celebrates upgrade

New wing is first stage in renovations

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One down. Two to go.

The Yavneh Academy in Paramus celebrated the completion of the first phase of its $5 million project to renovate and expand its school building and grounds on Sunday.

Founded in Paterson in 1942, Yavneh moved to Bergen County and the building it now occupies in 1981. It has about 800 students from nursery school through eighth grade.

On Sunday, it inaugurated a new middle school wing that was built this summer, along with a new parking lot. Next on the agenda: renovating the school’s entrance with an atrium and an enhanced security center. And after that — well, the school’s leaders have begun investigating the possibility of building a new gym.

“It’s not about growing the school, but meeting the needs of the students we have,” school president Pamela Scheininger said. “This project was narrowly tailored.”

 
 

Gross Foundation gives grant to Ramapo

Longtime Hillsdale family gives $250,000 challenge grant for Holocaust studies

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Former longtime Hillsdale residents Paul and Gayle Gross awarded a five-year, $250,000 challenge grant to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey through the Gayle and Paul Gross Foundation, which supports Jewish organizations and causes in the arts, human services, and education.

The center, established in 1990 and part of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies, will be renamed the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“Gayle and I have been associated with the center for a long time and are firm believers in the ongoing need to ensure that all people, especially schoolchildren, know about the Holocaust and the impact of hatred and bigotry in our societies,” Mr. Gross said.

 
 

Ordination in Wroclaw

Two Ridgewood rabbis go to Polish ceremonies for German seminary

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History reverberated, ironies abounded, and hope fluttered its wings at the annual ordination exercise at Abraham Geiger College, held this year in Wroclaw, Poland.

Dr. David J. Fine, the rabbi of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center, and Rabbi Daniel Freelander, the new president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, both live in Ridgewood. They are casual friends, but Rabbi Fine is Conservative, Rabbi Freelander is Reform, they both have busy professional and personal lives, and they rarely have time to meet.

But there they both were in Wroclaw, celebrating the ordination of Reform and Progressive rabbinical students from Geiger, which is based in Potsdam, Germany.

In order for this story to make sense, you have to know that European universities and seminaries are not structured in the same way as many are here, as independent institutions. In Europe, aspiring Protestant clerics receive some of their education — the general part — at universities, where they study together with peers from other parts of the Protestant world. Their denomination-specific education comes from seminaries, and they graduate from both.

 
 

‘We don’t live in a shtetl any more’

Paramus mom relocated to Australia gives hi-tech stay-connected advice

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FaceTime, VOIP, WhatsApp, Glide, Skype, Slingbox — if all these words are familiar to you, it’s likely that you use one or more of these high-tech tools for staying in touch with a loved one living far away.

Even if such apps and gadgets had existed when Allison Weiss was growing up in Paramus, she would not have predicted her need for them. “I was never the going-away-from-home type. It’s funny how things worked out,” she said, several days before the September 7 debut of her free enewsletter for long-distance families, “Closer To The Kids” (http://www.closertothekids.com).

Ms. Weiss, now 32, met a man from Australia 11 years ago. They married and moved to his native Sydney four years ago. “When we left, I didn’t have a child,” she said. “Things definitely change when you have a child.”

 
 

Having a brain storm

Local doctor works on Israeli stem-cell project to fight ALS

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While people across the world raised huge sums for ALS research this summer by dousing themselves in the Ice Bucket Challenge, Teaneck physician Dr. Tony Fiorino has become chief executive officer of an Israeli company whose revolutionary stem-cell therapy technology could be an answer for neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS.

The progressive neuromuscular disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a death warrant. There is no known cure. Victims gradually lose the ability to move, swallow, and breathe. According to the ALS Association, every year two in 100,000 people are diagnosed in the United States. They usually are between 55 and 65 years old.

 
 

Unity first

Groups from across the Jewish spectrum make solidarity missions to Israel

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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.

 
 

Cookin’ it up!

Tales of a Teaneck kitchen prodigy

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How did 12-year-old Eitan Bernath of Teaneck come to be on the Food Network’s popular cooking show “Chopped”?

“He’s always been curious and he likes science,” said his mother, Sabrina Bernath. “He thinks it’s cool to mix flavors and watch things rise. He also likes to make people happy,” she added, pointing out that he had just brought his friends a freshly baked batch of cinnabuns.

For Eitan, a student at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, cooking is more than just a hobby. Struggling for the right word, the fledgling chef — whose website, cookwithchefeitan.com, will launch this week — described his relationship with the culinary arts as a “passion.”

 
 
 
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Laughing with Joan

I made Joan Rivers laugh.

Of course she made me laugh, like she did to millions of others through her decades-long, often unfiltered, and ever-funny career, but yes, I made Joan Rivers laugh.

At the time, I was working at the celebrity-obsessed New York Post, and as the features writer for its women’s section, I had reason to ring up the raspy-voiced, Brooklyn-born blonde for a quickie. I had to grab a quote for some story that I was writing. As I recall, the conversation had turned to food, a favorite subject of the Jewish woman on my end of the phone, and, apparently, of that Jewish woman on the other end as well. Joan told me that she just adored the creamed spinach served at the legendary Brooklyn restaurant, Peter Luger’s — a must-have accompaniment to its famous and robust steaks. Joan told me she would dine there with a hairdresser-to-the-stars, the late Kenneth Battelle. (She kept her physique petite with this practice: She never ate anything after 3 p.m. If she did find herself dining with someone, she popped Altoids to keep her mouth busy.)

 

Cookin’ it up!

Tales of a Teaneck kitchen prodigy

How did 12-year-old Eitan Bernath of Teaneck come to be on the Food Network’s popular cooking show “Chopped”?

“He’s always been curious and he likes science,” said his mother, Sabrina Bernath. “He thinks it’s cool to mix flavors and watch things rise. He also likes to make people happy,” she added, pointing out that he had just brought his friends a freshly baked batch of cinnabuns.

For Eitan, a student at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, cooking is more than just a hobby. Struggling for the right word, the fledgling chef — whose website, cookwithchefeitan.com, will launch this week — described his relationship with the culinary arts as a “passion.”

 

Killed in the name of God

Fair Lawn scholar studies medieval Jewish child martyrs

“Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago,” read the headline in ads signed by Elie Wiesel and placed in newspapers around the world by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Our World organization. “Now it’s Hamas’ turn.”

But that may be stretching the truth.

In the 12th century — not even a thousand years ago, making it recent by the standards of Jewish history — Jews boasted of making martyrs of their children, deliberately killing them rather than allowing them to be converted to Christianity.

It was an era in which Jews were besieged by Christian mobs demanding their conversion or death, a horror recalled by the radical jihadist army of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and its massacres of non-Muslims.

 

 

 
 
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