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News: Local

Initiative brings student nurses together with Holocaust survivors

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Nursing is changing, according to Kathy Burke, the assistant dean in charge of nursing at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah.

“Nurses need to be prepared to move into the community, away from the hospital,” she said. “The community is the most important care-giving site.”

To ensure that their nurses receive this training, Ramapo provides its students with a variety of clinical experiences which “will redefine the health care of the future,” Ms. Burke said.

A new initiative — conceived by Dr. Michael Riff, director of Ramapo College’s Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Leah Kaufman, director of JFS of North Jersey — brings Burke’s students together with Holocaust survivors.

“Taking care of the elderly, especially those with such a unique history, will double the impact of this experience” for her students, Ms. Burke said. “It’s [important] for this newer generation of nurses to talk with individuals who have experienced the Holocaust.”

 
 

‘You are not numbers. You have a name’

Tenafly JCC Holocaust commemoration highlights survivor from Tappan

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When the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades marks Yom Hashoah this year, its ceremony will combine words from the past with the voices of youth. Indeed — in a twist of fate Holocaust survivors could not have foreseen — Jewish children will sing the same opera performed by children at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

In 1942, Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger, who lives in Tappan, N.Y., performed the role of the cat in the children’s opera “Brundibar.” The show was staged in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, as part of an effort to convince Red Cross inspectors, visiting delegations, and the world at large that nothing improper was taking place there.

“They took them to a staged area,” Ms. Weissberger said. “They were really fooled.”

On April 16, Ms. Weissberger — the last surviving member of the original cast — will share her memories as part of the JCC’s annual Yom Hashoah commemoration.

 
 

Evil, hope onstage in Teaneck

Yavneh students tell the story of Berga slave camp in annual Holocaust play

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Glen Rock eighth-grader Shmuel Berman took on the role of murderous SS Sgt. Erwin Metz in Yavneh Academy’s recent Holocaust play about the little-known slave-labor camp at Berga in eastern Germany, where hundreds of American prisoners of war were interned along with Holocaust victims.

What was it like to portray a real-life Nazi?

“It was hard,” Shmuel said. “I had to try to get into the character of someone who was not a good person and did terrible things to people.

“I was hoping the audience saw that Erwin Metz considered himself a ‘normal’ person, yet he lied during the court scenes, claiming that he didn’t mistreat anyone. We can learn that evil could happen anywhere; it doesn’t require an evil person.”

 
 

‘Oy vey, my child is gay’

Orthodox parents seek shared connection in upcoming retreat

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Eshel, a group that works to bridge the divide that often separates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews from their Orthodox communities, is holding its third annual retreat for Orthodox parents of those LGBT Jews next month.

Although most of its work is done with Orthodox LGBT Jews — who may or may not be the children of the parents at the retreat — the retreat offers parents community, immediate understanding, the freedom to speak that comes with that understanding, the chance to learn, and the opportunity to model healthy acceptance.

“There are particular issues to being Orthodox and having a gay child, although it varies a lot from community to community,” Naomi Oppenheim of Teaneck said. “You worry about what the community is thinking about you. Someone — I don’t remember who — said, ‘When my kid came out, I went into the closet.’”

 
 

Exodus — the final frontier?

Franklin Lakes father-and-son team look at the seder and ‘Interstellar’ at Emanuel

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Unnatural dark.

Feelings of dread.

Nothing good coming. Nothing bad holding back.

Have to leave. Gotta go. Need a new world. This one’s no good. Have to follow hope, follow destiny, follow God. Fight through hardship. Persevere. Face despair. Suffer many losses And then, finally, make it to a new home.

Light.

That’s a paradigmatic story. We know it best as the story of the Exodus from Egypt, one of our people’s most basic narratives, the story of how we left bondage and journeyed through a generation toward freedom.

 
 

Teaneck school budget highlights town’s fissures

Hundreds turn out to protest mooted cuts in day school busing

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Call it the trial balloon that filled the room.

A proposal to trim $116,457 from the Teaneck Board of Education budget by consolidating bus stops for private schools drew a record crowd of hundreds of Jewish day school parents to a board meeting last week.

In the end, the president of the board, Dr. Ardie Walser, rejected the proposal.

But in the course of the evening, fissures in the township came out in the open.

Teaneck has about 4,500 students in its public schools. Some of them take buses to school. About 2,400 students who live in Teaneck are bused to private schools — day schools and yeshivas, secular schools, and parochial schools.

 
 

Teaneck rabbi talks about slavery

New haggadah stresses both oppression and liberation

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T’ruah — The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights recently created a new haggadah, targeted to the issue of anti-trafficking.

“It’s really exciting,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster of Teaneck, the group’s program director.

“It’s a full-length haggadah, to be used as a full anti-trafficking seder,” she continued, and users also may “pick and choose pieces. We saw that people were starting to do public anti-trafficking seders, and we wanted to create a resource for people to use in their homes.”

The new haggadah, “The Other Side of the Sea: A Haggadah on Fighting Modern Slavery,” edited by Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson, T’ruah’s director of education, looks at the issue of modern slavery through classical and contemporary texts, exploring “how we blot it out; how we support its survivors, and how we understand it religiously and spiritually.”

 
 

Talking about liberation

New seder resources from Emerson tackle the issue of modern-day slavery

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Some two years ago, Rabbi Debra Orenstein, religious leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Emerson, got a call from the Rabbinical Assembly — the Conservative movement’s rabbis’ organization — asking her to write a sermon on human trafficking for the High Holidays.

“I wanted to do my duty and help the organization, so I agreed to do it,” she said, adding that she had no intention of giving such a sermon herself.

“I normally talk about personal issues, growth and development, on the High Holidays,” she said. But as she started reading “A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern-Day Slavery” by Benjamin Skinner, “it made such a profound impression that I was drawn into the issue.” In fact, she did give a sermon on the topic on Rosh Hashanah.

The issue became a central focus for her, and as she began to think about Pesach this year, she realized “the irony of sitting around the Passover table and talking about being lifted out of the house of bondage. We can go through a whole seder and not acknowledge that there are millions of people still in slavery in the world.”

 
 
 
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French Jews face uncertain future

A look at some stories from a local leader

In the wake of the terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office and the Hyper Cacher grocery store — a kosher market — I participated in a Jewish Agency mission to Paris.

Our delegation of Americans and Israelis arrived last week to show solidarity with the French Jewish community. We also sought to better understand the threat of heightened anti-Semitism in France (and, indirectly, elsewhere in Europe). We met with more than 40 French Jewish community leaders and activists, all of them open to sharing their concerns.

On January 7, Islamist terrorists murdered a dozen Charlie Hebdo staffers as retribution for the magazine’s cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed. Two days later, another terrorist held a bunch of Jewish grocery shoppers hostage, killing four, which French President Francois Hollande acknowledged as an “appalling anti-Semitic act.”

 

When rabbis won’t speak about Israel

AJR panel to offer tips for starting a conversation

Ironically, what should be a unifying topic for Jews often spurs such heated discussion that rabbis tend to avoid it, said Ora Horn Prouser, executive vice president and dean of the Academy for Jewish Religion.

Dr. Prouser, who lives in Franklin Lakes and is married to Temple Emanuel of North Jersey’s Rabbi Joseph Prouser, said that she heard a lot over the summer from rabbis and other spiritual leaders. They said that they were “unable or not comfortable talking about Israel in their synagogues,” she reported.

“It didn’t come from a lack of love,” Dr. Horn said. “They’re deeply invested in Israel, and yet they felt they could not get into a conversation without deeply offending other parts of their community.”

 

Take the Shab-bus

‘Horizontal Shabbat elevator’ picks up congregants in North Bergen and Cliffside Park

You’ve been walking to synagogue every Shabbat for years. For decades.

Now your shul is closing. Well, “merging.” But all the services are taking place in the other partner in the merger, the synagogue that’s just a bit stronger than yours, that has been able to keep a rabbi on its payroll.

But that synagogue is five miles away.

Five miles is too far for a comfortable Shabbat morning stroll.

What are you to do?

 

 

 
 
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