Lee Lasher of Englewood has a deep interest in ensuring that different parts of the local Jewish community come to trust, respect, and even like each other.
To that end, Mr. Lasher, an alumnus of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Berrie Fellows Leadership program, and fellow alums — and now friends — Ian Zimmerman of Glen Rock and Ari Hirt of Teaneck, formed a group called Unite4Unity, which until now has explored the bridges that actually do span the community.
Now, the three friends have decided to multitask. Another cause dear to all of them is Israel. What could be better, they thought, than to bring the community together around the Jewish state? And given their own orientation toward action, what would be best would be to give people information they can use to present Israel positively, to combat such threats as BDS with knowledge, insight, and passion.
“We are always looking for topics that will unite the community and allow for a common conversation,” Mr. Lasher said. “And with everything going on in the world, we thought that support for Israel is something that can bring everyone together, regardless of their denomination or religious background.
Why do synagogue members stop paying their dues?
It’s an important question for all synagogues to ask.
But it is a particularly important question for the non-Orthodox synagogues of Rockland County, where changing community demographics have led to shrinking memberships and synagogue mergers.
That’s why the Rockland Jewish Initiative, a project of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, commissioned a survey of attitudes of synagogue leaders, members, and former members.
The results of the survey were released in March, and published at http://jewishrockland.org/rockland-jewish-initiative. In coming weeks, Cantor Barry Kanarek, the initiative director, said he will meet with synagogue leaders to discuss the report and what actions to take based on it.
Before the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington or the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, there was the Holocaust Museum and Study Center in Spring Valley. With its roots in the Rockland County Legislature, which launched the Rockland County Commission on the Holocaust in 1979, in 1988 the museum opened in a building belonging to Spring Valley’s public library.
Now, more than a quarter century later, the museum has a new home and a new name, and it is about to start building a larger exhibition with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits.
The new home is less than four miles away, at Rockland Community College. There the center will occupy a 6,000-square-foot floor of a library building. Last week, a hundred museum supporters took a tour of the soon-to-be-renovated space, before joining an audience of 500 for a Yom Hashoah lecture.
For the Holocaust Museum, the new home is about more than space.
Women’s Philanthropy, a division of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, will host a spring outreach and fundraising event featuring comedian Carol Leifer at the Rockleigh Country Club in Rockleigh on Thursday, May 14.
Ms. Leifer, a comedian, writer, and actress whose career began in the 1970s, is a three-time Emmy Award nominee and a writer/producer known for her work on Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, the Larry Sanders Show, and the Academy Awards. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, the Howard Stern show, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross to promote her bestselling book “When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win.” Last year, she released her second book, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying.”
The evening with Leifer begins with a private meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., where attendees can have their picture taken with her. Buffet dinner, the auction, and the program begin at 7.
For information or to buy tickets, go to http://www.jewishrockland.org/spring-gala before May 7, the registration deadline. Leifer’s appearance is made possible by the generosity of local sponsors, including Riviera Produce Corporation, TD Bank, and Harrington Press.
The Jewish Federation of Rockland leads efforts that strengthen Jewish life and meet the critical needs of the Jewish community in Rockland County, Israel, and around the world. As a member of Jewish Federations of North America, the federation is part of a network of 157 such organizations across the continent. The Jewish Federation of Rockland County is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with offices at 450 West Nyack Road, West Nyack. Check www.jewishrockland.org.
“A pinch of this, a dash of that…” is the theme for a cooking demonstration and a chance to taste delicacies to benefit the Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance and Education in Suffern May 20 at 7 p.m.
To stay updated on Holocaust and Tolerance Education Programs and other events, text 22828 and enter HMSC.
The Jewish Preschool of the Nyacks was accredited by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in February. The action enables the preschool, housed at Congregation Sons of Israel in Upper Nyack, to accommodate 34 preschoolers and 12 toddlers for full-day programs.
Founded three years ago, the preschool began with three children and one teacher, and has grown to three classrooms, five teachers, and 17 students.
The school was praised by Rebecca Stiles, a preschool parent. “Our son has thrived at the Jewish Preschool of the Nyacks,” she said. “He loves going to school every day, interacting with his friends, and learning with his wonderful teachers. As parents, we love the small class sizes, the patient and talented teachers, and the opportunity to get to know other families in the community.”
Now a part-time program, the preschool plans to expand the number of students and instructional hours.
The program focuses on socialization, fine and gross motor skills, awareness of society, Jewish values, and academics. It includes music, yoga, Torah, occupational therapy, and Hebrew.
Congregation Sons of Israel is an egalitarian Conservative congregation of 200 families in the heart of the Nyack area, along the Hudson River.
To celebrate long-time congregants, Temple Beth Sholom of New City will hold a Milestone Membership service on Friday, May 29. Thirty-six synagogue members who have been members for 36 years or longer will be honored with a gift from the congregation.
“Membership in a synagogue represents a commitment to ensuring that Judaism will continue to flourish,” Rabbi Brian Leiken said. “Over the years, synagogues have been losing members due to challenges in financial constraints, the prioritization of other memberships and beyond. The commitment of Jews to retain membership in a synagogue represents a commitment to the future of Judaism itself. Long-term members are not only remaining for themselves but also for the future generations.
“There are many synagogue leaders who feel that the synagogues’ priority should be gaining new members,” he continued. “While new members are important, we must do our job in educating members about the importance of staying. The synagogue is the one place where Judaism is communal, where life is seen through the lens of the community”
“The synagogue is about much more than personal relationships with God. It is ultimately about the relationships we have b’nei Adam l’chaveiro, between a person and his/her fellow,” Rabbi Leiken concluded.