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News: Local

‘Build me a sanctuary’

ranklin Lakes shul to examine the Tabernacle’s specs from many directions

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Planks of acacia, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high, formed into an ark.

Gold overlay on the planks, on both sides.

Gold molding around them.

Gold rings, one for each side.

Acacia poles.

Instructions for inserting the poles into the rings, and the rings into the ark.

 
 

Where no rabbi has gone before

Interfaith activist to speak at brotherhood breakfast

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Rabbi David Rosen brings a unique perspective when it comes to evaluating Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah.

Abdullah’s supporters note that in the 20 years that he led his kingdom, he sided with America against Al Qaeda, proposed a peace plan that would recognize Israel, and let women serve as supermarket cashiers.

Detractors note that women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive, Christianity is banned, and the kingdom flogs wayward bloggers.

Count Rabbi David Rosen among those praising the Saudi glass as half full.

As the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, he was among the Jews — and the sole Israeli — invited to the unprecedented interfaith meeting Abdullah convened in Madrid in 2008.

 
 

Fighting for the rights of survivors — and their heirs

Cresskill couple gets SSA to clarify statute on exemptions

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Barbara and Michael Lissner have a mission.

“It’s who we are — what we do,” said Mr. Lissner, who has spent practically his entire life witnessing — and furthering — efforts to help Holocaust survivors get the benefits to which they are entitled.

The couple, partners in the New York law firm Lissner & Lissner LLP, are both children of survivors.

Michael Lissner’s father, Jerry, started the firm, which soon came to win the trust of the “tightknit community of German Jews living in Manhattan and Queens,” the son said. “He was an incredible man, able to help people in a very knowledgeable and calming way. He became a tall pillar in the community.”

Mr. Lissner, who formally started working with the firm in 1983 but “had been around the firm my whole life,” was able to maintain the trust of that community.

Ms. Lissner was no stranger to survivors’ unique needs. Her parents were from Poland — her father was on Schindler’s list, while her mother survived in Eastern Russia. Both lost many relatives.

 
 

At night of learning, NJBR revisits Sinai

Community rabbis will take us back to the mountaintop

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Now in its sixth year, Sweet Tastes of Torah — a project of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis — remains committed to its original goal.

“The Bergen County Jewish community is siloed in many ways,” said Rabbi Steven Sirbu, religious leader of Teaneck’s Temple Emeth and president of the NJBR. “We’re attached to our synagogues. We identify with our municipalities. It’s difficult to realize we’re part of a greater Jewish community.”

One reason to sponsor the annual night of learning, he said, is “to emphasize that we are much more when we connect with other communities.”

Apparently, this message resonates with its intended audience.

“Every year the community shows up and participates,” Rabbi Sirbu said. “The feedback has been one of gratitude.”

This year’s program — Sinai Revisited: Views from the Mountaintop — will bring together 20 rabbis from Bergen and Passaic counties, who will explore the topic from a variety of perspectives.

 
 

Transformative learning

Local YU students learn about service from the Joint

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“People think Jews only give to Jewish causes, so it’s important to immerse ourselves in different cultures to learn about them and to show that Jews are there to help everybody,” said Yoni Mintz of Fair Lawn.

Mr. Mintz, 20, is a second-year psychology and business student at Yeshiva University. He had just returned from a winter-break American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee program, the Insider Service Trip to Haiti. On that trip, 15 Y.U. students collaborated on several humanitarian projects and met with JDC partner organizations. They learned about the ongoing difficulties Haiti has faced as a result of the massive earthquake there five years ago.

Mr. Mintz said that he was proud to learn that the Israel Defense Forces sent one of the first delegations that reached Haiti to provide disaster relief. Galila Shapiro, an Englewood senior at Y.U.’s Stern College for Women, was taken aback to see how much the Haitians appreciate help they continue to receive from Israeli and American Jews.

 
 

Are you a good Berrie Fellow?

Federation’s leadership program is recruiting a new class

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Do you have what it takes to step up to the plate and help lead the Jewish community of northern New Jersey? Are you between the ages of 32 and 52? Are you now a volunteer with a synagogue, school, or other Jewish organization in Bergen County?

The Berrie Fellows Leadership Program is accepting applications for its next set of fellows.

Since its founding by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Russell Berrie Foundation back in 2004, the program has trained three groups of 20 people. Participants have gone on to head the Jewish federation, area synagogues, and day schools.

Now, there’s one week left to apply to join the fourth cohort.

“We need to continue this stream of leaders into our community to keep it vibrant,” said Laura Freeman, the program’s director.

 
 

High tech, human passion, Israeli lifesaving

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Minutes matter. When it comes to saving lives, even seconds matter.

When they face a medical emergency, people call 911, and an ambulance is dispatched immediately. That system indisputably saves lives. But the EMT technicians inside those ambulances must negotiate snarled traffic, dangerous intersections, careless pedestrians, callous drivers, and other road hazards. Valuable minutes are lost.

What to do?

In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop has a solution — and it comes straight from Israel.

The city is joining forces with United Hatzalah and the Jersey City Medical Center — Barnabas Health to form Community Based Emergency Care. That is a bland name for a clever new program aimed at bridging the gap between the time that an emergency is called in and when the cavalry — the EMTs and their ambulance full of equipment — can show up. It will use a combination of human passion and goodwill and technology to meet that goal.

 
 

Don’t bogart that joint — at least not on Shabbat

Fair Lawn’s Shomrei Torah’s study session looks at medical ethics, medicinal cannabis, and other issues

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Just because 22 states have legalized medical marijuana, does that make it completely kosher in the eyes of Jewish law?

This timely topic will be one of the issues explored during “Torah, Text, and Tradition: An Evening of Learning and Sharing,” set to take place from 7 to 9:45 p.m. on January 31 at Fair Lawn’s Congregation Shomrei Torah, 19-10 Morlot Avenue.

Nine members of the Orthodox congregation are offering lectures grouped into three time slots. There are three choices in each slot, providing a smorgasbord of options free of charge to men, women, and teenagers from the greater community.

The idea for the evening came from Rabbi Dr. Wallace Greene, a retired Jewish educator and communal leader who joined Shomrei Torah in 1971. He will present “Medical Marijuana in Halakha,” a subject he has been writing and speaking about for the last two years as part of his greater interest in Jewish bioethics.

 
 
 
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What did he know? When did he know it?

State Senate majority leader Loretta Weinberg discusses GWB scandal interim report

On Monday, the New Jersey state legislative committee investigating Bridgegate submitted an interim report.

Anyone expecting a final answer to the question of what did he know and when did he know it — or to be more specific, how much did Governor Chris Christie know about the closure of the three local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, creating potentially lethal havoc in Fort Lee, and when did he learn that his aides had been responsible for it — would be disappointed.

Still, there are nuggets there about the scandal, lying ready for gleaning.

This is very much an interim report, Loretta Weinberg stressed. Ms. Weinberg, a Democrat, is the state Senate’s majority leader. She lives in Teaneck, and Fort Lee is in her district.

 

Not just blah-blah-blah and pizza

Mahwah shul develops programming for pre- and post-b’nai mitzvah kids

So now there’s a how-to-write-a-blessing class. “The parents are really appreciative,” Rabbi Mosbacher said.

“I used to meet with b’nai mitzvah kids and their families twice,” he added. “Now we meet seven times in the course of a year. The last one is right before the bar mitzvah. Now I’m thinking the last one should be after the bar mitzvah. It’s a lot of time on my part, but it’s time well spent in developing a relationship with the kids and with the families.”

While these efforts are designed to connect children and their families to the congregation before the bar or bat mitzvah, the synagogue also has changed its post-b’nai mitzvah connections to the children.

 

Reworded interdating rules sow confusion, controversy

United Synagogue Youth convention may have eased standard … or not

What’s in a name — or a word?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Take the word “refrain,” for example.

At its annual international convention in Atlanta this week, some 750 members of United Synagogue Youth voted to change some of the wording in the organization’s standards for international and regional leaders.

Most of the changes are clear, easily understood, and warmly welcomed. For example, the group added provisions relating to bullying and lashon hara — gossiping. Leaders should have “zero tolerance” for such behavior, the standards say.

 

 

 
 
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