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Charles Zusman
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Fear, hope mingle in firebomb’s wake

Communal leaders, local officials meet over escalating incidents

LocalPublished: 14 January 2012
With the Jewish population of Bergen County on heightened alert, some 200 religious and community leaders gathered last night to discuss the recent string of anti-Semitic incidents in the county with law enforcement and government officials and communal leaders. The meeting was held at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ) under the joint auspices of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Synagogue Leadership Initiative (SLI).

Tension has mounted as the incidents have escalated. They began shortly before Chanukah, when vandals defaced a Maywood synagogue with Nazi symbols. Ten days later. a Hackensack synagogue was similarly vandalized.

Then the incidents moved up to a more dangerous level with the attempted arson at a Paramus synagogue in the early hours of Jan. 4. This was followed exactly one week later by a full-blown firebomb attack at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford one week later.

The attack nearly had tragic consequences because the congregation building also houses the home of Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his family. One firebomb was thrown through a window and ignited his bed. Schuman was able to put out flames and then he, his wife, five children, and his father escaped the building, avoiding serious physical injury. The attack, however,  left a residue of fear mingled with hope.

“I knew there were people who hated me,” the rabbi said at a press conference following the JCRC/SLI meeting, but he cited the outpouring of interfaith support. “What I see is the beauty of the American people,” he said.


Standard story sparks memories

Two friends discover their fathers played on the same Hakoah team

Local | WorldPublished: 30 December 2011

Thanks to the legacy of a Jewish soccer team, a trail of memory stretches from Vienna, to Bergen County, to Jerusalem, and around the world.

Earlier this month, The Jewish Standard published an article about Sport Club Hakoah, a Bergen County soccer team carrying on the name and tradition of the original Hakoah team that played in the Austrian capital in the early part of the last century, before the Nazis took power.

Miriam Braun, an Englewood native now living in Israel, chanced upon the article while reading The Jewish Standard online. It sparked warm memories for her. She recalled that her father, Yitzchak, played for the original team in the early 1930s.


Hakoah back in play — after 73 years

Local soccer team revives historic Viennese sport club

LocalPublished: 02 December 2011

On a recent Sunday night, with darkness all around, a rectangle of bright light illuminated a soccer field, and a small bit of Jewish sports history was replayed as Sport Club Hakoah of Bergen County trounced its opponents, 6-2.

The victory, at the Fairleigh Dickinson University field in Teaneck, was the second in a row for Hakoah, showing that the new team was beginning to gel, said its general manager, Ron Glickman.

More important, the new team honored its namesake, Sport Club Hakoah Wien, which formed in 1909 to give Jewish men in Vienna the chance to participate in high-level sports. The team was Austrian national champion in 1925-26.


Caring for those who serve

Helping GIs and vets

Cover Story Published: 04 November 2011
Local, national groups offer pathways to support

Back in 2003, Mary-Edna Krutchkoff of Fair Lawn was driving out of her company parking lot when her car was struck by another. She called her husband, Alan, who at first was angry at the other driver.

Don’t blame the other driver, Mary-Edna said, because the woman had a lot on her mind — her son-in-law, in the military, was going to Iraq.

Alan’s anger immediately mellowed, as he tells it, and he “adopted” the son-in-law, buying supplies for him to take along.

Out of that grew the volunteer organization Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon, a grass-roots organization that sends food and care items to service people overseas.


After-school program for children of Israeli ex-pats to open

Bereisheet to open with 65 students

LocalPublished: 26 August 2011

A group of Israeli ex-pats in the Tenafly area recently got to wondering — how to keep their children tied to their Israeli roots while living several thousand miles away in Bergen County?

An answer to their question came quickly, and within a few months an after-school program for Hebrew-speaking youngsters was born.

The program, for pupils in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, will begin next month in rented space at the Maugham School in Tenafly with an initial enrollment of some 65 students. The program will meet once a week for 35 weeks of two-hour sessions.


Parents slam new school bus routes

Teaneck consolidates stops in response to budget cutbacks

LocalPublished: 29 July 2011

A dispute is simmering in Teaneck over new school bus routes, which parents of Jewish day school students say in many cases are dangerous and at best difficult to work with.

The new system establishes new central pick-up and drop-off points for the students. In the past students were picked up and let off close to their homes. Under the new plan, in some cases students must walk long distances or be driven to the central points.

A meeting is scheduled for Monday evening at 7:30 at the Richard Rodda Community Center, Gym 2, called by the parents’ group “Safe Teaneck.” Board of education officials and police officials have been invited, said Elie Katz. Katz is a councilman but was speaking in his role as the parent of a youngster who will use the bus service.

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Wheelin’ around

Jewish bikers shatter some motorcycling myths

Cover Story Published: 15 July 2011

Ilan Mamber hears two kinds of music. One is in the synagogue, Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, where he is the cantor. The other is on the open road, where the 800cc engine in his Honda Pacific Coast hums as he cruises down the highway.

“The ultimate is a beautiful ride in the country,” said Mamber. “When the weather is perfect, and the road is perfect, you can see and feel everything much better than in a car; you become part of it,” he said in a telephone interview.

For Mamber, though, and other members of the Jewish motorcycle riding community, riding goes beyond a nice day in the country. There is a special camaraderie associated with riding with other Jews and doing good works.

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From Beth El to Beth-El

Rabbi takes new pulpit

LocalPublished: 30 June 2011

For Rabbi Debra Hachen, her next move is just some 17 miles and a hyphen away.

But despite the shared name, Hachen will encounter a new, urban flavor as she moves from Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, in suburban Bergen County, to Temple Beth-El of Jersey City, with that aforementioned hyphen.

Hachen’s career has been a progression from a new congregation to an older congregation to an old-new congregation. In 1980 she became the first rabbi at Cong. B’nai Shalom in Westborough, Mass., helping to guide it as it grew from some 80 families to more than 500, she said.

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Learning to see through a ‘Jewish Lens’

ArtsPublished: 17 June 2011

For millennia, students have pored over the written word to study and reflect on Jewish life and values. Now almost everyone seems to have a digital camera, so why not use imagery to add a vivid dimension to those studies?

That was the thinking of Zion Ozeri six years ago when he founded Jewish Lens, a program to use photography to enhance the awareness of Israel, the Jewish community, and the environment.

The result of Ozeri’s insight can be sampled in the lobby of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, where slices of Jewish life are depicted in photos by students in the Jewish Lens program at Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County and the Bergen County High School of Jewish studies.

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Hudson County’s Jewish community enjoys a growth spurt

Cover Story Published: 21 May 2011

If you live in Hudson County and are looking for a Jewish connection, HudsonJewish wants to hear from you. That’s the short name for Hudson Jewish Community, an umbrella group promoting Jewish life in the county.

Jewish life, which in the earlier decades of the last century flourished in Hudson, is seeing an infusion of new blood in the Hoboken and Jersey City area, said Adam Weiss, HudsonJewish chairman. At the same time, once-thriving Jewish communities on the edges of he county are in decline.

“Hudson County is undergoing a very significant change,” Weiss said, speaking of demographic shifts, and the area’s Jewish population reflects that.

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