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Lois Goldrich
 
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NCJW immigration panel decries “broken system”

Participants praise President Obama’s executive action

Local | WorldPublished: 28 November 2014

President Obama’s recent speech on immigration — and his decision not to deport some 5 million people — most likely was driven, at least in part, by the advocacy efforts of groups such as the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Bergen County section, which held a forum on immigration reform last Tuesday, was in the process of sending a letter to the president when his formal statement was issued.

“It was a packed house,” Bea Podorefsky of Teaneck said of the forum, which drew 300 attendees. She and fellow NCJW member Joyce Kalman chaired the event.

“We prepared a letter for attendees to sign urging the president to take some action,” she said, joking that one of the program’s panelists, Rabbi Greg Litcovsky, said she must have had a “connection” to a higher power, given the president’s subsequent action.

Ms. Podorefsky said that the forum’s goals were “to educate ourselves, to educate the community at large, and to work together with our coalition partners.” The coalition, created around last year’s NCJW forum on human trafficking, consists of 24 organizations, ranging from Project Sarah to the Palisades Park Senior Center.

 
 

‘Anything is possible’

LocalPublished: 21 November 2014

Avi Golden doesn’t sit still.

When he is not educating the medical and lay community about aphasia, he can be found on a ski slope, or on horseback, or scuba diving (zip-lining, kayaking, sailing, rock-climbing, etc.).

The 40-year-old, who is practicing EMT and former critical care and flight paramedic with Long Island Jewish Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital EMS — and a paramedic with Magen David Adom in Israel as well — is founder, and cheerleader-in-chief, of NYC Outdoors Disability, a sports group for people with a variety of physical disabilities.

“I tell them anything is possible,” he said. That philosophy might help explain how — after suffering a stroke during a medical procedure some 7 l/2 years ago — he was able to graduate from wheelchair to cane to unassisted walking. And if his arm is not back to normal yet, it’s not for lack of trying.

 
 

Remembering Bernie Weinflash

Community mourns visionary leader and founding patron of Shirah chorus

LocalPublished: 14 November 2014

Some people are irreplaceable, said Matthew (Mati) Lazar, founding director and conductor of Shirah, the Community Chorus at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly.

“Bernie Weinflash was one of them.”

Mr. Weinflash, founding patron of the choral group now celebrating its 21st year, died on November 9 at 94.

Mr. Weinflash was born on the Lower East Side and was a veteran of World War II. Trained as an accountant and lawyer, he was a stockbroker for Oppenheimer and Co.

Shirah was one of Mr Weinflash’s proudest achievements. In a video of his talk at the choral concert that marked his 90th birthday — “Bernie always spoke at our concerts,” Mr. Lazar said — the founder mused that “by creating Shirah, I will have helped perpetuate Jewish survival.”

 
 

Pies for Prevention mixes dough with donations

Sisters honor mother, grandmother through baking project for Sharsheret

LocalPublished: 14 November 2014

It’s a win-win venture.

Wonderful pies for Thanksgiving and a built-in donation to a worthy cause. And, say sisters Sharon Wieder and Adeena Sussman, an appropriate way to honor their late mother and grandmother.

“We do all the baking in my kitchen in Teaneck,” said Ms. Wieder, co-founder with her sister of Pies for Prevention. Now coordinating 18 bake sales in communities around the country and in Jerusalem, Ms. Wieder said the six-year-old project began with two sales, her own, and one run by a woman in Long Island who wanted to help Sharsheret. All the proceeds benefit that organization’s ovarian cancer support and education program.

Sharsheret is a Teaneck-based group founded in 2001 that assists and provides resources for young Jewish women who face breast cancer, and their families as well. With help from Ms. Wieder and Ms. Sussman, they also have been expanding their resources for ovarian cancer.

 
 

Mentalist coming to Teaneck

Evening will benefit P’TACH scholarship fund

LocalPublished: 07 November 2014

Learning differences are not always obvious.

But to children who have them — especially those attending yeshivas with a challenging dual curriculum — it quickly becomes obvious that something is not working for them. They need a different approach.

“These are normal, everyday kids,” said Steve Fox of Teaneck, a board member and volunteer for P’TACH, a nonprofit organization, created in 1976, that creates programs for those children. “But they may have something like ADD or dyslexia that prevents them from succeeding in a regular classroom.”

“We believe every child has a right to learn,” reads a statement on P’TACH’s website. “[Our] mission is to provide the best possible Jewish and secular education to children who have been disenfranchised because of learning differences.” Significantly, the group stresses that the students’ problems stem from “differences,” not “disabilities.”

 
 

Bergen County joins Shabbos Project

Locals participate in worldwide unity initiative

LocalPublished: 31 October 2014

It really was a bit audacious. With the catchphrase “Keeping it Together,” the Shabbos Project — building on a Jewish unity initiative launched in South Africa last year by the country’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein — cast its net worldwide last weekend.

And if Bergen County didn’t reach its goal of bringing together 3,000 women to bake challah, well, there’s always next year, local organizers say.

Unrealistic? Hardly. Johannesburg brought together 5,000 women, as did Buenos Aires, and Miami gathered a group of 4,900.

In all, the project — which in our community included not only a challah-bake but programs at various synagogues as well as a concert in Teaneck after Havdalah — was expected to involve “at least one million Jews observing the Sabbath, together in full, from sunset [on Friday] until nightfall [on Saturday],” according to project initiators in South Africa.

 
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Germany recognizes needs of child survivors

Special compensation fund created

Local | WorldPublished: 31 October 2014

Nearly 70 years after World War II, the German government has officially acknowledged the unique problems facing child survivors.

Last month, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany announced that Jews who were in concentration camps or ghettos when they were children, or spent at least six months in hiding from the Nazis during their childhoods, will receive financial assistance from the German government to help them cope with problems caused by the physical trauma and malnutrition those experiences caused them. The agreement provides for a one-time payment of 2,500 euros. That’s not quite $3,200 per person.

Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider acknowledged that “all of this is being driven by the fact that we’re in the final years. If there’s going to be any final message that the German government or the German people are going to give to survivors, these are literally the last years to do it.”

 
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Reality check

Author to discuss intergenerational ‘experiment’

LocalPublished: 24 October 2014

Katie Hafner began her professional career writing for a small newspaper in Lake Tahoe.

That didn’t last for long, though. “I worked my way up,” said Ms. Hafner, who now writes on health care for the New York Times.

A seasoned journalist, Ms. Hafner was exceptionally well prepared to chronicle an experience in her own life that she calls both an “experiment in intergenerational living” and a “disaster.” Inviting her 77-year-old mother to live with her and her teenage daughter, Zoe, in San Francisco, Ms. Hafner learned that fairy-tale imaginings are no match for emotional truths.

(In her book, Ms. Hafner calls her mother Helen. That is not her real name; her mother requested anonymity, and Ms. Hafner honored the request.)

 
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Teaching tolerance

Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s stepsister, to speak at Eternal Flame program

LocalPublished: 17 October 2014

The Eternal Flame Holocaust education program — a pilot project funded by the George and Martha Rich Foundation — got off to a good start this year, using interactive workshops to teach some 20 children about the human costs of intolerance.

The venture — now centered at Valley Chabad in Woodcliff Lake but slated to expand — “is about much more than just teaching,” said Michael Leob, son of George and Martha Rich and a trustee of the foundation, which George and Martha Rich established in 1992.

The nonprofit foundation, he said, was created not only for Holocaust education but also for using that education as a basis for learning to prevent genocide and intolerance at every level and toward any ethnic group.

 
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More than just a beauty contest

Mrs. N.J. from Mahwah stresses the value of community service

LocalPublished: 05 October 2014

Yes, the lovely woman crowned Mrs. Mahwah, and subsequently Mrs. New Jersey United States 2014, is Jewish.

And yes, the glamorous photo displayed here might easily explain her success in the national beauty pageant.

But, says titleholder Paige Lippe, she did not enter the contest to garner admirers but rather to publicize the work of her late father, Dr. Michael S. Lippe.

As the Jewish Standard reported in December 2010, Dr. Lippe, the longtime emergency room director at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, N.Y., was killed in a plane crash on the way to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. He was on his way to Geneva General Hospital in Geneva, N.Y., when his plane went down in a storm.

Looking for a way to showcase the memorial project created by her mother in memory of Dr. Lippe, his daughter learned that this particular beauty pageant circuit, Mrs. United States, requires that contestants represent a “platform,” or cause, with which they are closely associated. (There are many other circuits including Miss America, Mrs. America, Miss Universe, Mrs. Universe, and so on.)

 
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