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There’s an image from his trip to Israel last week that Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, cannot get out of his head.
Shames was with a delegation of 125 administrative and fundraising executives from the Jewish Federations of North America. They traveled together to Greece and Israel to assess overseas needs.
“Obviously there has been a lot of change in itinerary due to what’s been going on,” Mr. Shames said on Sunday, referring to Operation Protective Edge and the constant salvos from Gaza.
“Since we landed in Israel on Thursday, when things started escalating, we spent time devising what an emergency campaign should look like, and we decided to take a small group to show support in Sderot and Beersheva.”
Rabbi Ira Kronenberg of Passaic clearly has staying power.
He also has a strong sense of responsibility and a deep concern for the people he serves.
Director of religious services at the Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute in Clifton for some 39 years, the rabbi also enjoyed a long association — from 1972 to 2008 — with the United States Army. In both arenas, he played many roles and touched the lives of countless people.
At Daughters of Miriam, Rabbi Kronenberg conducted religious services, paid pastoral visits, supervised the kitchens, mentored social work students during their internships, and served as staff coordinator for the ethics committee and the residents’ council.
Today, the shoes that Itamar Carmi of Teaneck designs with his wife, Rachel, are found in 1,200 stores around the world.
But his adventures in the shoe trade started with a bad loan in New York City.
Mr. Carmi had grown up in Tel Aviv. After the army, he studied at university for a year before deciding it wasn’t for him. So he came to New York to seek his fortune. The year was 1985.
He wasn’t penniless. He had enough money to lend a not insignificant amount to a friend who owned a shoe store on Fifth Avenue.
Rather than being repaid, he was brought on as a partner and an employee.
Just a glance at the web page created in memory of Gabby Reuveni of Paramus gives some indication of the number of people she touched and — through the ongoing efforts of her family — she continues to touch.
Killed two years ago in Pennsylvania by a driver who swerved onto the shoulder of the road, where she was running, Gabby, who was 20, was “an extremely aware and kind person,” her mother, Jacqueline Reuveni, said. “We’re continuing her legacy.”
The family has undertaken both public and private “acts of kindness,” she said, from endowing scholarships to meeting local families’ medical bills.
According to her father, Michael Reuveni, Gabby — then a student at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the school’s track team — was a victim of vehicular homicide.
When Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey’s budget last month, approving $32.5 billion in revenue and expenses for the new fiscal year, the big news was the $1.6 billion he cut from the Democratic Assembly’s budget — he used the line item veto to slash expenditures, including pension payments, and block tax increases on million-dollar earners.
Jewish advocates were able to exhale, however. The increased funding Jewish organizations had sought for Jewish education and for Holocaust survivors were left untouched by the governor’s veto pen.
“We are delighted by the support we received this year from the governor and legislature,” said Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
On July 3, 5 Tammuz, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi died. He was 89.
He inspired tens of thousands of people directly — and indirectly he inspired millions more, people who have yet to discover that the spiritual approaches they hold dear were invented and graciously shared by him.
Reb Zalman was prodigiously influential over many decades, but he was not proportionately famous. He was not always given credit for his vast learning or for his astonishing array of contributions. And he was okay with that.
The first time I saw Reb Zalman, he was on the bimah of an auditorium that held 2,000 people. His face beamed love at the congregation. I had been leading another High Holiday service, and I was able to join his congregation for the last few minutes of Rosh Hashanah morning.
Nothing can compare to being in Israel right now.
Nothing can compare to being in Israel over the last two and a half weeks since the news of the kidnappings of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali first came out. I would like to share a snapshot of my experience of this moment.
When I heard the terrible news, the first thing that came to mind was this verse from the book of Lamentations: “The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.”
What was supposed to be a night of joy turned quickly into a night of mourning.
With a heavy heart I can’t help but think of the following verse from this week’s Torah portion, Balak:
“How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!
As for me, O God abounding in grace,
I enter your house to worship with awe in Your sacred place.
To You, Eternal One, goes my prayer: may this be a time of your favor.
In Your great love, O God, answer me with Your saving truth.”
I find myself often thinking about this verse when I see the countless acts of chesed, or kindness, and tzedekah, charity, that our community does day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out. And this happens in Jewish community after Jewish community around the world.