I have such mixed feelings," my friend Karen whispered as she watched her oldest son add a distinctive pin to his uniform on the stage below. Shai, a ''-year-old gem of a young man, had just completed 15 months of training for Sayeret Duvdevan, a Special Forces paratrooper unit that conducts undercover anti-terror missions. (Names have been changed for security reasons.)
"Proud and scared?" I suggested.
"Yeah, that about sums it up," Karen replied with a sigh. "This is what we bring them up to do, and I'm really proud of him. But God should watch over him. He should watch over all of them."
This undated photo from the yeshiva's Website is of a Kassam rocket landing nearby.
TEANECK On Sunday night, a visitor from Israel told local residents about life in Sderot, the western Negev community that has been the target of more than 6,000 Kassam rockets launched from terrorist bases in neighboring Gaza over the past seven years.
Josh Hasten hoped that by describing and showing images of Kassams exploding in backyards and children running for their lives as the warning sirens sound, he could give residents here a deeper understanding of why a beleaguered educational institution in this hard-hit working-class town is seeking their help.
Eli Willner's office is in Fort Lee, but his employees are halfway around the globe. As a partner in Green Point Technology, Willner oversees a growing overseas business enterprise that capitalizes on the professional resources and lower wage scales in India and Israel.
"Green Point started about seven years ago as a traditional Indian outsourcing company for publishing," explained Willner, a Brooklyn resident whose background is in software development. "When I came aboard about four years ago, my task was to take it from data entry to a broad, commoditized service offering everything a publisher would want to do even content creation, indices, summarizing material from legal cases, and things like that."
From left are Leo and Toby Cooperman; Msgr. Robert Sheeran, president of Seton Hall University; Rabbi Dr. Alan Brill; and Eric and Lori Ross. The Coopermans and Rosses endowed the chair Brill occupies at Seton Hall.
TEANECK As township resident Alan Brill takes his post as Seton Hall University's new point man for the betterment of Jewish-Catholic relations, a question begs to be asked: But is it good for the Jews?
Of course, says Brill, a 46-year-old Orthodox rabbi with a doctorate in Jewish mysticism from another Catholic institution, the Jesuit-run Fordham University. "This is important because the definition of 'Jewish community' should not be just inwardly focused," he says, adding that interfaith outreach "is a major way to define Judaism in a broader, outwardly expansive way and show how we can contribute and what we can do."
The Leichman family, far right, stands with the welcome committee at Ben-Gurion Airport at their arrival in Israel on Aug. 7.
During the two weeks we were in Jerusalem, doing laundry involved randomly pushing buttons on our cousins' inscrutable German washer, waiting an hour or two for the cycle to finish, and then hanging our wet laundry in the brisk Jerusalem breeze high above the intersection of Herzog and Shimoni streets.
My mother gets a kick out of my description of this scene. For more than 50 years, she's been a member of the clothespin crew, while I've belonged to the Bounce brigade since my marriage '5 years ago. Yet I've now come full circle. Even now that we've moved to Ma'aleh Adumim, we remain dryer-less in our temporary apartment (our permanent "cottage" around the block is still under construction).
Siggy Berger (wearing a snood) and Leah Zimmerman unload the trailer of donated baby supplies with the help of Miriam Zimmerman, 11. photo by abigail leichman
PASSAIC Leah Zimmerman and Siggy Berger, two local moms with 17 children between them, have a successful matchmaking service. But this isn't about engagement rings; it's about cribs, high chairs, and strollers.
Zimmerman and Berger collect gently used baby equipment and distribute it to Jewish families here in need. They call it the Baby Gemoch. "Gemoch" is an acronym composed of the three Hebrew letters gimmel, mem, and chet, which stands for "gemillut chasadim" or "acts of kindness." A gemoch is commonly an organization that lends items for free or gives them outright.
PARAMUS Growing up in this borough with three brothers (and a sister), it was perhaps natural that Ayelet Wartelsky would have learned how to play tackle football in the backyard. But the Dallas Cowboys fan didn't have many other opportunities to play.
Fast forward to June, when Wartelsky joined her teammates in an emotional rendition of "Hatikvah" after the Israel Women's National Football Team won Europe's largest flag football tournament in Germany.
Getting the first look at their finished product are, from left, Ariella Yomtobian, Diba Yomtobian, and Leora Steinhart. Photo by Debbie Abramowitz
PARAMUS Kids and comic books: perfect together.
So went the thinking behind the decision by Elaine Weisfeld, associate principal for general studies at Yavneh Academy here, to bring in The Comic Book Project to augment the fourth grade's character-education curriculum.
Yavneh is one of some 500 schools nationwide to sample the six-year-old project, begun by Columbia Teachers' College graduate Michael Bitz as a creative alternative to traditional modes of instruction.
TEANECK On top of the frustration and despair shared by all couples struggling with infertility, those who are devoutly religious also may experience a crisis of faith.
That aspect will be addressed at an upcoming meeting of the North Jersey chapter of A TIME (A Torah Infertility Medium of Exchange), an organization that provides free services and support to observant Jewish couples.