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BREAKING NEWS

Second suspect arrested in synagogue attacks

 
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With the arrest of a second Lodi resident, the Bergen County Prosecutors Office has announced that they have resolved all the executed and planned attacks on area synagogues in December and January.

Nineteen-year-old Aakash Dalal is being charged as co-conspirator in the most dangerous attacks, in which firebombs were thrown into the rabbi’s residence at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford. According to Prosecutor John Molinelli, who announced the arrest at a Friday afternoon press conference, Dalal has been friends since middle school with Anthony Graziano, who was arrested in January and charged with nine counts of attempted murder for the Rutherford attack.

The prosecutor said Graziano was responsible for at all five anti-Semitic incidents, which began in December with anti-semitic graffiti spray-painted on synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack, and concluded with a planned but never executed attack on the Jewish Community Center of Paramus. Dalal, said the prosecutor, was with Graziano for the graffiti attacks, but only helped plan the firebombings.

Dalal was a “person of interest” in the investigation prior to Graziano’s arrest, according to Molinelli.

Molinelli said his office has obtained text messages between the two suspects communicating about the attacks.

Following Graziano’s arrest, a message fingering Dalal was anonymously posted in the comments of news reports about the arrest, including on The Jewish Standard’s web site:

“I have personally known anthony for a few years now. he is not mentally all there he needs help, he shouldn’t be serving his time in prison he should be placed in a psychiatric hospital. he has been influenced/taking under the wing by and individual named aakash dalal. this individual has put thoughts into his head that rich upper class people of the jewish community are going to take over the world. I believe that this individual made anthony commit these actions to aid in ‘the movement’ dalal is trying to create.”

The Jewish Standard forwarded this comment to the prosecutors office.

On the day of Graziano’s arrest, a letter to the editor signed by Aakash Dalal was published on the web site of the Ruters student newspaper, the Daily Targum, defending Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and attacking the Federal Reserve.

It identified Dalal as a sophomore majoring in chemistry and biological sciences.

--Jewish Standard staff

 
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Stay tuned for the return of comments

 

Not just blah-blah-blah and pizza

Mahwah shul develops programming for pre- and post-b’nai mitzvah kids

So now there’s a how-to-write-a-blessing class. “The parents are really appreciative,” Rabbi Mosbacher said.

“I used to meet with b’nai mitzvah kids and their families twice,” he added. “Now we meet seven times in the course of a year. The last one is right before the bar mitzvah. Now I’m thinking the last one should be after the bar mitzvah. It’s a lot of time on my part, but it’s time well spent in developing a relationship with the kids and with the families.”

While these efforts are designed to connect children and their families to the congregation before the bar or bat mitzvah, the synagogue also has changed its post-b’nai mitzvah connections to the children.

 

Reworded interdating rules sow confusion, controversy

United Synagogue Youth convention may have eased standard … or not

What’s in a name — or a word?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Take the word “refrain,” for example.

At its annual international convention in Atlanta this week, some 750 members of United Synagogue Youth voted to change some of the wording in the organization’s standards for international and regional leaders.

Most of the changes are clear, easily understood, and warmly welcomed. For example, the group added provisions relating to bullying and lashon hara — gossiping. Leaders should have “zero tolerance” for such behavior, the standards say.

 

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.”

 

RECENTLYADDED

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.”

 

All you need’s the Rav

New Soloveitchik Torah commentary to launch in Teaneck

Forty years ago, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the head of Yeshiva University’s rabbinical seminary, made a rare trip to Philadelphia to speak at the University of Pennsylvania.

That began a chain of events that will culminate on Sunday night in a book launch for the second volume of a Torah commentary collecting Rabbi Soloveitchik’s teachings.

The author and editor of the commentary, Dr. Arnold Lustiger, was a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1975. Intrigued by the chance to hear the famous rabbi, he attended the lecture.

“It was a tour de force,” he remembered this week, “I had never heard anything remotely like this in my life. Here was someone who speaks the language of halacha” — of Jewish law — “but at the same time has the ability to place it in a philosophical and homiletical context.”

 

Town tackles decline in civility

Upcoming meeting will explore ways to raise the tone of public discourse

Why can’t we all just get along?

The rabbis have been asking that question for years, particularly in late summer, around the time of Tisha B’Av, when sermons inevitably wrap around the themes of baseless hatred and intolerance.

But our secular community — especially as political discourse turns ever more hostile and bullying pervades both our schools and our social media — has been asking that as well, and at least one town has decided to do something about it.

According to Ridgewood’s Mayor Paul Aronsohn, the town began its civility initiative last year. With a core group including Rabbi David Fine of the town’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center, Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck, the Rev. Jan Phillips of the Religious Society of Friends, and Mr. Aronsohn, the town already has held two roundtable discussions on the issue, seeking to identify the problem and locate the line between disagreement and incivility.

 
 
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