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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

 
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WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

“There are very few instances in which those who disseminate libels retract their libel. This happened in the case of the Goldstone Report,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Goldstone himself said that all of the things that we have been saying all along are correct -- that Israel never intentionally fired at civilians and that our inquiries operated according to the highest international standards.

“Of course, this is in complete contrast to Hamas, which intentionally attacked and murdered civilians and, naturally, never carried out any sort of inquiry. This leads us to call for the immediate cancellation of the Goldstone Report.”

Goldstone wrote in Saturday’s Washington Post that “We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

Goldstone withdrew what perhaps was his most damaging conclusion: That there was evidence suggesting Israel had deliberately targeted civilians during its war with Hamas.

Referring to a U.N. committee’s recent independent assessment of his report, Goldstone wrote in his Op-Ed that “While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

Goldstone said he may have drawn different conclusions had Israel cooperated with his inquiry; Israel refused to do so, seeing the U.N. Human Rights Council as irredeemably biased.

He also said that it “goes without saying” that Hamas intentionally targeted civilians and noted that unlike Israel, the group did not investigate its own actions.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Saturday that Goldstone’s “retreat does not change the fact war crimes had been committed against 1.5 million people in Gaza.” Abu Zuhri said that Hamas cooperated with the Goldstone commission.

Senior Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Shaath said Sunday that Goldstone retracted his committee’s report due to pressure.

Netanyahu on Saturday night called on the United Nations to “cancel” the report in light of Goldstone’s article, although he did not make clear what this would involve.

The American Jewish Committee said Goldstone should ask the United Nations to “revise and update” the report.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to “retract” the report, which it had adopted.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that “What is so distressing is the fact that Goldstone rushed to judgment in the first instance as to Israel’s alleged intention to target civilians without any convincing evidence.” He added that Goldstone’s “specious conclusion caused Israel untold damage in the international community and played a key role in fostering the campaigns of delegitimization of Israel.”

Foxman called Goldstone’s renunciation of his own report “A story of the continuing bias of the United Nations against Israel, a story of the unwillingness of the international community to take seriously the extremism and violence of Hamas, and a story of how a renowned jurist and member of the Jewish community allowed himself to be used by enemies of the Jewish state.”

Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, said Goldstone “was misled by an orchestrated campaign led by powerful NGOs” and that the so-called ‘evidence’ provided by these groups was at the core of the political war against Israel. Goldstone was taken in by crude manipulation.”

World Jewish Congress Chair Evelyn Sommer called on the United Nations to recognize Goldstone’s retraction and “to revise the report issued by the U.N. that did immeasurable harm and damage to the State of Israel.”

“It is high time that the United Nations, which gives much lip service to the concept of reform of the world body, re-evaluate its methods of reporting and documentation of investigations such as that of Israel’s Operation in Gaza of 2

JTA Wire Service

 

More on: Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

 
 
 

ADL statement on Richard Goldstone’s retraction of Goldstone report

New York, NY, April 2, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to an opinion article by Richard Goldstone in which he retracts the central findings of the Goldstone Commission Report, the product of a United Nations Human Rights Council-mandated investigation he led into Israel’s 2009 Operation in Gaza.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

Richard Goldstone’s astonishing article in The Washington Post saying he is now rescinding his charge in the UN report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war is both gratifying and distressing.

 
 
 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

 
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Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

“As recently demonstrated, social networks can be used to overthrow governments, for good or bad, and even destabilize entire regions. Prominent social networks like Facebook can no longer afford to remain neutral as it relates to Israel’s right to exist. Therefore I appreciate their stand against violent and growing anti-Semitism,” Dave McQuade, founder of MediaReallyMatters.com, said.

Abraham Foxman, National Director for the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement, “Facebook’s decision to remove the cause page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada” is a welcome development. We applaud Facebook’s willingness to continue to engage and consider this important question and we deeply appreciate their responsiveness.

By taking this action, Facebook has now recognized an important standard to be applied when evaluating issues of non-compliance with its terms of service involving distinctions between incitement to violence and legitimate calls for collective expressions of opinion and action. As it continues to monitor its pages, Facebook should be able to apply this standard in response to complaints about other pages with similar content. We hope that they will continue to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel.”

Foxman had earlier filed an official complaint against Facebook for allowing the page to remain up. Foxman said last week, “We should not be so naïve to believe that a campaign for a ‘Third Intifada’ does not portend renewed violence, especially in the current climate that has seen a dramatic increase in rocket attacks from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank, and a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.” Foxman had called upon Facebook to drop the controversial page on March 25, but got no response. In a statement, the ADL declared then “We are disappointed that Facebook has rejected our request to remove this site, which is in clear violation of their terms of service.”

In addition, Israeli Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli-Yoel Edelstein wrote a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, warning that the page includes calls to kill Jews and to liberate Jerusalem through violence. According to Edelstein’s letter, the Facebook page in question violates Facebook content regulations. Facebook has not released an official response to the Israeli government’s request or the ADL statement.

However, a Facebook spokesperson did respond last week to criticism. According to Bloomberg News Service, Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said in an emailed response, “While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone -  criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example—that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion.” Reportedly, Frost added, “We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas.” Much attention was focused on Facebook in the run-up to dictator Hosni Mubarak’s fall from grace in Egypt, as Net-savvy young activists spread the word on the website announcing protests and posting news, photos, and video. A declaration on the Facebook page calling for mass murder on May 15 stated that if Facebook dared block the page, “all Muslims will boycott Facebook forever.”

A Washington, DC, based constitutional advocacy group the American Center for Law and Justice, issued a statement syaing, “We applaud Facebook’s decision to remove the ‘Third Intifada’ group.”  Jordan Sekulow, Director of International Operations for the ACLJ, continued, “While the access to freedom of speech, association, and political organization that Facebook provides to many who live under oppressive regimes has already proven to be world-changing, there is no need to accommodate those who actively seek to organize terrorist acts.”

In acknowledging the power of the Internet today, Sekulow said, “We know that terrorists have recognized the power of Facebook, and now we know that Facebook will work aggressively to prevent its platform from being used for these purposes while simultaneous protecting the rights so fundamental to mankind.”

Cutting Edge Correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com.

 

More on: Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

 
 
 

ADL welcomes facebook decision to remove anti-Israel ‘third Intifada’ group

New York, NY, March 29, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the decision by Facebook to remove an anti-Israel cause page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada” against the state of Israel and urged the social networking site to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel.

 
 
 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Breaking News

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

 
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WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months,” Giffords told MSNBC after the middle-of-the-night attack, which left a window shattered. “Our democracy is a light — really a beacon — around the world because we effect change at the ballot box and not because of these outbursts of violence and the yelling.”

She called on all leaders — of both parties and in the community — to consider how they cast their arguments. Giffords, who last week took the oath of office for her third term, noted how her re-election bid was being treated by 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.

“The way she has it depicted is that she has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district,” Giffords said. “When people do that they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

Palin removed the chart from her Facebook page after news of the Jan. 8 shootings of 17 at a Tucson shopping center that left Giffords in critical condition and extended her prayers to the Arizona lawmaker and the other victims. Six people were killed in the attack.

Such gestures were not likely to tamp down suggestions that the fevered rhetoric from some right-wing precincts helped create the atmosphere that led to the shooting allegedly by Jared Lee Loughner, who was said to be “mentally unstable.”

“You have a vice-presidential candidate for a major party who runs ads with targets saying ‘remove Gabby Giffords’ and a young man with issues,” Mark Rubin, a Tucson-area lawyer and a Democratic Party activist, told JTA. “You’re going to spend a long time convincing me it doesn’t have something to do with it.”

Spencer Giffords, the congresswoman’s father, wept when the New York Post asked him if his daughter had enemies.

“The Tea Party,” he said, referring to the conservative insurgency that targeted her, resulting in one of last November’s closest elections.

Local Tea Party leaders condemned the attack, but also reportedly rejected the notion that they needed to tone down their rhetoric.

Giffords supported gun rights, but it didn’t stop opponents from identifying her with her party’s efforts to increase restrictions on possession. Police in 2009 removed a man carrying a gun from Giffords’ meet-the-voters event in 2009, and her opponent, Jesse Kelly, hosted a campaign event inviting supporters to shoot with him titled “Get on Target for Victory in November.”

Loughner, who is being held by the FBI, may have been influenced by American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic group, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo distributed to law enforcement and obtained by Fox News Channel.

Loughner, 22, listed Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” as a favorite book on one of his social media sites. Police were seeking a white middle-aged man as a possible accomplice.

“One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement. “But it is fair to say — in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric — that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.”

Conservatives were quick to say that drawing lines between the attack and heated rhetoric was premature.

“Fair?” Jennifer Rubin said on her Washington Post blog. “How so, and on what evidence is this string of flimsy assumptions based?”

It wasn’t just Democrats, however — the Reform movement and the JCPA, a public policy umbrella body bringing together Jewish groups across the religious and political spectrum, also made the connection.

“While we do not know the motives for today’s attack, we do know that it cannot be viewed apart from the climate of violence and the degradation of civil society that are anathema to democracy,” the JCPA said Saturday.

Jonathan Rothschild, Giffords’ longtime friend, said he wanted to know more before he made a final judgment.

Giffords during her campaign “suffered vitriolic hate rhetoric,” he said, “but you don’t know how much this enters into it.”

JTA Wire Service

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Memo notes Giffords’ Judaism in motives of alleged attacker

 
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JTA Staff World
Published: 10 January 2011
 

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant.

The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings.

“The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona.

Loughner was arrested after Giffords and at least 16 others were shot Saturday at a meet-your-lawmaker event at a Tucson shopping mall. Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, John Roll. Loughner was tackled and arrested. Giffords, a Democrat in her third term, remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Loughner, who is being held by the FBI and has been described by authorities as “unstable,” reportedly listed “Mein Kampf” and the “Communist Manifesto” as two of his favorite books on his MySpace page. Several hours before the shooting he reportedly left a “Goodbye friends” message, which also said “Please don’t be mad at me.”

Giffords was outside one of her signature “Congress at your corner” events outside a Safeway in Tucson, part of her congressional district, when the gunman approached and shot her. A Giffords staff member, Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the organizer of the event, was among the six casualties.

A suspected accomplice whose image was captured on a surveillance video camera outside the shopping center also is being sought, according to reports.

Dr. Michael Lemole a surgeon at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. said Sunday morning at a news conference that Giffords was responding to doctors’ commands. During a two-hour surgery on Saturday, doctors removed bone fragments from her brain in order to help reduce swelling. The bullet went through the left side of her head, he said.

Giffords was elected to Congress in the Democratic sweep in 2006. She made her Jewish identity part of her campaign.

“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” Giffords, a former state senator, said at the time. “Jewish women -- by our tradition and by the way we were raised -- have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done, and pull people together to be successful.”

Giffords, 40, was raised “mixed” by a Christian Scientist mother and Jewish father, but said she decided she was Jewish only following a visit to Israel in 2001. She attended services at a local Reform synagogue.

In a recent photo, she posed with the new U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), at her swearing-in with her hand on the Five Books of Moses.

Giffords fought a hard re-election battle last year against the national anti-incumbent, anti-Democratic mood. She tacked to the right of her party on immigration, saying border security was of primary consideration.

The election was called in her favor weeks after the vote.

Giffords’ office had been vandalized in March after she voted for health care reform. Friends said she had received threats for her positions on health care and for opposing her state’s new law allowing police to arrest undocumented immigrants during routine stops.

The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the heated rhetoric of the last year contributed to the climate that led to the attack.

“One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime,” the group said in a statement. “But it is fair to say -- in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric -- that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.”

JTA Wire Service

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Breaking News

Giffords known for her openness and Judaism

 
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Ron Kampeas World
Published: 10 January 2011
 

WASHINGTON – The event was typical Gabrielle Giffords: no barriers, all comers — Democrats, Republicans and independents welcome to talk about what was on their minds and in their hearts.

While she was deep in a conversation with an older couple about health care — the issue for which she was willing to risk her career — a gunman strode up to the Arizona congresswoman and shot her point blank in the head.

The critical wounding Jan. 8 of Giffords and the slaughter of six people standing near her — including a federal judge, her chief of community outreach and a 9-year-old girl interested in politics — brought to a screeching halt the easy, open ambience that typified Giffords’ politics, friends and associates said.

“She’s a warm person,” Stuart Mellan, the president of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, said as he walked away from a prayer service Saturday night at Temple Emanuel in Tucson, one of the southeastern Arizona cities that Giffords represents in Congress. “Everyone called her Gabby, and she would give a hug and remember your name.”

Giffords was the president of the tire company founded by her grandfather when she was propelled into state politics in part because of her concerns about the availability of health care. She switched her registration from Republican to Democrat and in 2001, at 30, she was elected to the Arizona Legislature.

She gained prominence quickly in that body and in 2006, at 36, she became the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from her state.

At the same time, her Judaism was becoming more central to her identity. The turning point came in 2001 following a tour of Israel with the American Jewish Committee, she told The Arizona Star in 2007.

“It just cemented the fact that I wanted to spend more time with my own personal, spiritual growth. I felt very committed to Judaism,” she said. “Religion means different things to different people. It provides me with grounding, a better understanding of who I came from.”

Her wedding to Cmdr. Mark Kelly, an astronaut, was written up in The New York Times. The item noted that a mariachi band played Jewish music and there were two canopies — a chupah and one of swords held up by Kelly’s Navy buddies.

“That was Gabby,” Jonathan Rothschild, a longtime friend who served on her campaign’s executive committee, recalled to JTA. “The real irony of this thing is her Judaism is central to her, but she is the kind of person who reaches out to everybody.”

Giffords’ father is Jewish and her mother is a Christian Scientist, and she was raised in both faiths. Her grandfather, Akiba Hornstein, changed his name to Giffords after moving from New York to Arizona, in part because he did not want his Jewishness to be an issue in unfamiliar territory.

The women on her father’s side of the family seemed to guide her toward identifying with Judaism.

“In my family, if you want to get something done you take it to the Jewish women relatives,” she told JTA in 2006. “Jewish women, by and large, know how to get things done.”

Giffords, who last week took the oath of office for her third term in Congress, has pushed Jewish and pro-Israel issues to the forefront at the state and federal levels. She initiated an Arizona law facilitating Holocaust-era insurance claims for survivors, and in Congress she led an effort to keep Iran from obtaining parts for combat aircraft.

She didn’t stint in seeking Jewish and pro-Israel funding. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), the premier pro-Israel lawmaker in Congress, fundraised for her, as did Steve Rabinowitz, the Washington public relations maven whose shop represents a slate of Jewish groups.

“She was so heimishe, so down to earth,” Rabinowitz, himself from Tucson, recalled of his fundraiser last spring.

Almost as soon as she was elected to the state Legislature, Giffords was enmeshed in Arizona’s signature issue — rights for undocumented immigrants — according to Josh Protas, who directed the Tucson-area Jewish Community Relations Council for years before moving to Washington in 2009 to direct the D.C. office of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Protas recalled meeting with Giffords as part of the area faith coalition promoting immigrant rights.

“We met with her around immigration issues and she was sensitive to the faith community’s concerns,” he said.

Her approach to the issue was typical for the moderate Democrat, Protas said: She attempted to synthesize what she regarded as the valid viewpoints of both sides on the divisive issue.

“Understanding the complexities of the immigration situation was something important to her,” he said. It came from “a sense of the Jewish value around how we treat the stranger, a history of the Jewish community — but she had recognition of the strong need for security.”

It was a posture that led Giffords to hit both the state and federal governments last year: She blasted the Obama administration for not doing enough to secure the border, but also slammed as repressive a new Arizona law that allowed police to arrest undocumented immigrants during routine stops.

“She was very moderate in her views and willing to meet with folks on all sides,” Protas said. “She took a lot of heat particularly the last couple of years from both the far right and the far left.”

In the end, her greatest vulnerability might have been her openness.

The day Jim Kolbe said he was not seeking re-election to Congress, Giffords told Rothschild that she would run for the seat. Rothschild had one bit of advice for her: Come back every weekend to meet constituents. Not hanging out with the locals had led to the defeat of Kolbe’s Democratic predecessor.

He didn’t need to convince her; she was back virtually every weekend.

And her open, engaging approach appeared to pay off.

Despite representing a swing district, she survived the Republican wave in November. And just three days before the shooting she was back in Washington — with one hand up and one hand on the Jewish Bible, grinning at her swearing-in at the Capitol.

On Saturday she was back in Tucson, at a parking lot smiling at all comers.

JTA Wire Service

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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ADL Condemns Attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Calls for Thorough Investigation into Motives of Shooter

 
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World
Published: 10 January 2011
 

Phoenix, AZ, January 9, 2011 – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the tragic shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed and wounded more than a dozen innocent bystanders in Tucson, with reports of six dead and 14 wounded.

Miriam Weisman, ADL Arizona Regional Board Chair, and Bill Straus, ADL Arizona Regional Director, issued the following statement:

We are shocked by this unconscionable and horrific act of violence against one of our highly respected public servants. We agree with President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that this was more than an attack on one member of Congress - it is an attack on all public servants and the very fabric of our democracy.

During her years in the statehouse, Rep. Giffords served on the ADL Arizona Regional Board. Her affiliation with ADL, which monitors and exposes hate and extremist groups, contributed to her awareness of the nexus between hate ideology and violence. It is a testament to her dedication to her constituents that despite past threats against her, Rep. Giffords has always been so accessible to the people she represents. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims and their families.

ADL remains in contact with law enforcement as investigators endeavor to establish a motive for the attack. It is critical to determine whether the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, acted alone or with others, and whether he was influenced by extremist literature, propaganda or hate speech. While it is still not clear whether the attack was motivated by political ideology, the tragedy has already led to, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik put it, “soul searching” about the connection between incivility and violence. We applaud Sheriff Dupnik’s statements condemning the volatile nature of political discourse in America and for taking this investigation seriously.

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Robert Yudin statement In response to the shooting In Arizona involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

 
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World
Published: 09 January 2011
 

“The events yesterday in Arizona are a shocking wake up call for all Americans, especially those involved in politics and government.

“While do not know the motives of the individual accused of shooting Rep. Giffords and killing six others, this atrocity is an alarm that we all must wake up to.

“Inflammatory rhetoric coming from both sides of the political aisle has come to dominate our political discourse. It cannot continue. It is time to ratchet down the intensity of our rhetoric both during campaigns and in the course of governing debates.

“Demonizing your political adversary; questioning your opponent’s loyalty to this nation or to a particular group; or statements calling for the torture of your opponent or his or her physical demise belong in the Nazi Party or World War II – not in political parties of the United States in 2011.

As a political leader, I ask the members of my party to think carefully about the words and images they use in their political fliers; in their television and radio commercials and on the Internet. I ask the political consultants to use better judgment in guiding their candidates and I would hope the candidates will reject the over-the-top suggestions of the people they hire to run their campaigns.

Political disputes in America are settled at the ballot box, not with the business end of an M-16 rifle. As citizens, we live under the rule of law; we place ourselves under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution, and we accept the will of the voters on Election Day.

I encourage citizens to work for change if that is what they want, but to do so respectfully

The political parties and candidates who square off in elections and who battle on the floors of the legislatures in county administration buildings, or town halls are not enemies, they are merely political opponents. We are all Americans.

We can be proud of our right to free speech, but we cannot abuse it without consequence.

Robert Yudin is the Bergen County Republican Party Chairman.

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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The Jewish Federations of North America reacts to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

 
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World
Published: 09 January 2011
 

WASHINGTON – In response to the tragic shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson today, Kathy Manning, the chair of the board of The Jewish Federations of North America, released the following statement on behalf of the Federation movement:

“We are shocked and saddened by the savage attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords today. Rep. Giffords is an active member of the Tucson Jewish community, and a leader in promoting Jewish communal concerns on Capitol Hill. We mourn the loss of life, and pray for a speedy recovery for all of the injured. Our hearts and prayers are extended to Rep. Giffords’ family and the entire community during this difficult time.”

The Jewish Federation movement is the largest Jewish philanthropy collective in the world and The Jewish Federations of North America is dedicated to promoting awareness and involvement among the Jewish community in the United States and Canada.

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Gabrielle Giffords critical after being shot in the head

 
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JTA Staff World
Published: 09 January 2011
 

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Giffords was outside one of her signature “Congress at your corner” events outside a Safeway in Tucson, the district she represented, when a gunman approached and shot her in the head.

The gunman, identified by media as Jared Lee Loughner, shot 17 people, killing six of them, including a 9-year old boy and a federal judge, John Roll. The gunman was tackled and arrested.

Doctors said Giffords was expected to survive, although it was not yet known what her condition would be.

Giffords was elected to Congress in the Democratic sweep in 2006. The first Jewish woman elected to Congress from the state, she made her Jewish identity part of her campaign.

“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” said Giffords, a former state senator, said at the time. “Jewish women — by our tradition and by the way we were raised — have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done and pull people together to be successful.”

Giffords, 40, was raised “mixed” by a Christian Scientist mother and Jewish father, but said that after a visit to Israel in 2001, she had decided she was Jewish only. She attended services at a local Reform synagogue.

In one of her last photos, she posed with the new U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) at her swearing in; her hand is on the “Five Books of Moses.”

Giffords fought a hard election this year, against the national anti-incumbent, anti-Democratic mood. She tacked to the right of her party on immigration, saying border security was of primary consideration.

The election was called in her favor weeks after the vote.

Giffords’ office had been vandalized in March, after she voted for health care reform. Friends said she had received threats for her positions on health care and for opposing her state’s new law allowing police to arrest undocumented immigrants during routine stops.

The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the heated rhetoric of the last year contributed to the climate that led to the attack.

“One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime,” the group said in a statement. “But it is fair to say -- in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric -- that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.”

JTA Wire Service

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Deadly Attack Against Rep. Giffords and Others Leaves Reform Movement Pained

 
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World
Published: 09 January 2011
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. December 9, 2010 – In response today’s attack against Representative Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and residents at a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a remarkable public servant shot while meeting with constituents today. Rep. Giffords is a member of Reform Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, and our entire community shares her family’s concern and pain.

We send our condolences to the families of those killed in this horrible act of violence, including U.S. District Judge John Roll, and pray for those who were wounded. As dark a day as this is for our nation, we know that it is immeasurably more painful for those whose family members were killed or injured.

We have had a close and fruitful relationship with Rep. Giffords and her staff throughout her time in Congress. She is a leading advocate for sensible immigration reform, a strong and thoughtful voice on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is willing to cast difficult votes on issues she believes in, including health care reform. (It was her support for health care reform, which led to an earlier attack on her office in Tucson.)

We do not yet know the specific motive behind this despicable act. But there can be no ignoring the increasing culture of violence in our nation and particularly in our political discourse. Dehumanizing language and images of violence are regularly used to express differences of opinion on political issues. Such language is too often heard by others, including those who may be mentally ill or ideologically extreme, to justify the actual use of violence. It continues to be far too easy to acquire guns, including the weapon used in today’s shootings. Americans must be able to have robust and healthy differences of opinion while respecting the humanity and patriotism of those with whom they disagree.

We, together with so many others, have supported and developed programs to address the disintegration of our political culture. As we can see from today’s bloodshed, to call for “civility,” only begins to scratch the surface of what

is needed. We are committed to working with America’s religious leaders of all faiths, and others, to elevate aggressively the state of our political discourse.

But today, of course, we stand stunned and deeply saddened. And we pray that Rep. Giffords’ husband Mark and her entire family find support comfort and strength among their friends and family, as we join them in praying for her full recovery.

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Beck attack on Soros outrages Jewish leaders

 
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Ron Kampeas World
Published: 12 November 2010
 

WASHINGTON – Jewish leaders expressed outrage at an attack by Glenn Beck on George Soros’ World War II childhood.

Beck, the Fox News Channel provocateur, is running a series this week on his radio and TV shows portraying Soros, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, as attempting to control the U.S. economy.

In his radio show Wednesday, Beck revived an unfounded claim that Soros as a child in Hungary helped ship Jews to death camps.

“And George Soros used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off,” Beck said. “And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening.

“Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice. I mean, he’s 14 years old. He was surviving. So I’m not making a judgment. That’s between him and God. As a 14-year-old boy, I don’t know what you would do.”

In fact Soros, then 13 and living under the protection of a non-Jewish Hungarian, on one occasion joined the older man when he was ordered by Nazis to inventory the estate of a Hungarian Jew who had fled.

On another occasion, the local Jewish council had ordered Soros to deliver letters to local lawyers. Soros’ father, Tivadar, realized the letters were to Jewish lawyers and meant to expedite their deportation. He told his son to warn the targets to flee and ended the boy’s work with the council.

Soros, 80, has been slammed in some Jewish circles over his calls for increased U.S. engagement in the Middle East peace process and his strong criticism of Israeli policies. In recent months, some pro-Israel advocates and pundits have ripped J Street for accepting his money and lying about it. But the loudest Jewish voices in this case have belonged to those defending Soros from Beck’s attacks.

“This is the height of ignorance or insensitivity, or both,” said Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, who noted that as a child, he was protected by non-Jews who had not revealed his background to him.

“As a kid, at 6, I spit at Jews -- does that make me part of the Nazi machine?” Foxman said. “There’s an arrogance here for Glenn Beck, a non-Jew, to set the standards of what makes a good Jew.”

Elan Steinberg, the vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, called Beck’s attack “improper.”

“When you make a particularly monstrous accusation such as this, you have to have proof,” he said. “I have seen no proof.”

Simon Greer, the director of Jewish Funds for Justice, was one of several Jewish leaders who had confronted Beck after he said during the recent election season that terms like “social justice” lead to death camps.

Greer and other Jewish leaders met with senior Fox News Channel officials, and subsequently Beck sent Greer a note saying he understood “the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in human history.”

Greer said Wednesday that Beck and Fox had made a “mockery of their professed understanding.”

“No one who truly understands ‘the sensitivity and sacred nature’ of the Holocaust would deliberately and grotesquely mischaracterize the experience of a 13-year-old Jew in Nazi-occupied Hungary whose father hid him with a non-Jewish family to keep him alive,” Greer said. “Many other Jews survived the attempted extermination of the Jewish people by changing their identities and hiding with Righteous Gentiles. With today’s falsehoods, Beck has engaged in a form of Holocaust revisionism.”

A number of commentators have described Beck’s series this week as employing anti-Semitic tropes.

“Beck went beyond demonizing him; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ “ Michelle Goldberg wrote on the Daily Beast. “He described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a ‘shadow government’ that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his ‘puppet,’ Beck says. Soros has even ‘infiltrated the churches.’ He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain.”

Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog, noted that Beck in one instance extracted a quote about Soros’ alleged abuses in Malaysia from a longer speech in which former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad makes an issue of Soros being a Jew.

JTA

 
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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Senior singles meet in Old Tappan

 
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Food | Seniors | Singles
Published: 22 July 2015
 
 
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Religious
Published: 18 July 2015
 
 
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Religious
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Dance
Published: 16 July 2015
 
 
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Published: 15 July 2015
 
 
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Published: 15 July 2015
 
 
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Guess Whose First Cousin (Once Removed) is a Rabbi

 
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Warren Boroson
Published: 13 July 2015
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capers_Funnye

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Film in Franklin Lakes

 
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Tale of the Jewish Dog

 
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Warren Boroson
Published: 10 July 2015
 

Author unknown

 

Morty visits Dr. Saul, the veterinarian, and says, “My dog has a problem. ”
 

  Dr. Saul says, “So, tell me about the dog and the problem. ”


  “It’s a Jewish dog. His name is Seth and he can talk,” says Morty.


  “He can talk?” the doubting doctor asks.

 

  “Watch this!” Morty points to the dog and commands: ” Seth, Fetch!”


  Seth the dog, begins to walk toward the door, then turns around and

says,

  “So why are you talking to me like that? You always order me around like


I’m nothing.

 
And you only call me when you want something.


  And then you make me sleep on the floor, with my arthritis.

  You give me this fahkahkta food with all the salt and fat, and you tell

me it’s a special diet.


  It tastes like dreck!  YOU should eat it yourself!
 

And do you ever take me for a decent walk?

  NO, it’s out of the house, a short pish, and right back home.

  Maybe if I could stretch out a little, the sciatica wouldn’t kill me so


much!

 

  I should roll over and play dead for real for all you care!”


      Dr. Saul is amazed, “This is remarkable!  So, what’s the problem?”

   
  Morty says, “He has a hearing problem!  I said ‘Fetch,’ not


‘Kvetch.”

 

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Rabbi Neal Borovitz • Editorial
Published: 07 July 2015
 

Interfaith work at the Episcopal church’s triennial

Last week I spent three days in Salt Lake City, Utah, attending the Episcopal church’s triennial convention, as a representative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, where I am honored to sit as a national board member.

While visiting Salt Lake City I also had the opportunity to attend Shabbat morning services at Kol Ami, the local synagogue, and interact with members of the local Jewish community. My “View from the Pew” at both the convention itself, and from Kol Ami, left me inspired by both the challenges and opportunities that we have, in both the areas of intra-Jewish and interfaith relationships.

At the Episcopal church convention, I was welcomed with warmth and appreciation. This church has a strong and sincere commitment to interfaith dialogue and cooperation. The JCPA and the office of the presiding bishop have a longstanding and strong working relationship in confronting issues of social justice, nationally and internationally, as well as a strong commitment to mutual respect. One of the many moving moments for me at this convention was seeing an exhibit of a U.N. refugee tent along with a 3D video of a young Syrian girl who lives in such a tent in a refugee camp in Jordan. My suggestion to church leaders that the Episcopal and Jewish communities, hopefully with other faith community partners, could jointly sponsor the display of this tent this fall at the U.N. was met with enthusiasm. This church is deeply committed to both social justice and the interfaith partnership.

The Episcopal church, whose roots in America go back to colonial days, is part of the worldwide Anglican Church Federation. It is facing many of the same challenges that our Jewish community is confronting in the rapidly changing ways that 21st century Americans relate to and interact with one another. In my three days in Salt Lake City I experienced some truly transformative worship and listened as priests and laity wrestled with issues of liturgical change and questioned their church’s ability to reach their next generation. Their debates sounded strikingly familiar to me, similar to our own internal Jewish struggles.

I also witnessed and shared with them sorrow over Charleston and joy over the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. I was privileged to be a dinner guest at a gathering of 16 religious leaders on Friday night of the church’s presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. She began the dinner by saying Shabbat shalom to the assembled interfaith representatives from across America and around the world, and then turned to me and asked me to recite the Sabbath kiddush. During her nine-year tenure, Bishop Katherine has been a strong opponent of using BDS to express concern over Israeli policy, and she has led multiple Episcopal and interfaith missions to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Her election was a breakthrough for Episcopalians, whose leaders had been white males for more than two centuries. Last Saturday afternoon, I was present when Bishop Michael Curry, an African American, was elected as the next presiding bishop. After centuries of white male leadership, this church is re-creating itself to reflect the diversity of Christian America.

In addition to its deliberation on internal issues, and its welcoming of interfaith guests, the weeklong convocation was dealing with a large agenda of social concerns, both domestic and international. Irrespective of the warmth and respect with which the representative of the American Jewish Committee and I — and also an amazing young Israeli social entrepreneur — were received, there definitely was a full spectrum of views on the Middle East. Among the seven resolutions that dealt with Israel and Palestine that were up for consideration, one included language calling for divestment from companies that do business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Along with two young men who lead a program called Shades, which has undertaken a unique dialogue program between Israeli and Palestinian foreign service personal, I had the chance to participate in the church’s social justice and international concerns committee debate on Israel Palestine issue.

This is what I shared with our friends in the church:

“Thank you for the opportunity to sit in on your committee’s discussions this afternoon.

“I want to commend members of this for the civility of your discussion. I also was most impressed by the depth of understanding of the complexity of the Israel-Palestinian conflict that your multiple resolutions under consideration reflect. The contemporary Middle East lives under the clouds of intra-Islamic struggles as well as conflicts between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, that date to the Middle Ages, as well political conflict between Israel and her Arab nation-state neighbors that are a result of the still unsettled issues of WWI.

“As your committee heard from the young Palestinian and Israeli leaders of Shades, a new initiative that promotes dialogue among Israeli and Palestinian young diplomats, there are some very positive though not yet fully illuminated, sparks of hope for intergroup dialogue cooperation, and ultimately mutual acceptance, that is arising among a new generation of Israelis and Palestinians.

“Coupled with the very positive report I heard today, regarding your community’s investment in the Bank of Palestine over the past few years, I would hope that the resolution(s) that ultimately emerge from your deliberations will be positive and proactive and not include divestment language.

“Both from listening to your deliberations today, and to the many one-on-one conversations I have had with delegates, in the hallways, I know that the Episcopal Church community, similar to the majority of the Jewish community believes that ‘two States for two Peoples’ is the only workable solution to the century-long conflict. I want to thank the Episcopal Church for its continuing constructive role in working toward this goal.”

As I write this column the convention is still in session and the committee was in closed session, seeking to rewrite a resolution. Therefore I cannot tell you what resolutions on the Middle East, if any, ultimately will emerge before the conference ends on July 2. I can say that I heard true expressions of support for Israel and for concern for the plight of Palestinians.

I cannot end this column without a word about my Shabbat morning experience.

In my last column I wrote of the need for us to rethink our communal delivery system. In Salt Lake City, Kol Ami is a synagogue that is both Reform and Conservative, and holds parallel services every Shabbat, where both communities come together for the conclusion of the service,  including their rabbi’s sermon, Kaddish, and a kiddish lunch. The synagogue is led by a dynamic young rabbi, who is the daughter of a contemporary of mine, an inspirational cantor, and a large cadre of dedicated and liturgically skilled lay leaders. Last Saturday, like many colleagues across the country, the rabbi spoke about Charleston and its implications. She made the challenging claim that Americans must not use the issue of the Confederate flag as a diversion from facing the real issue of racism that permeates our society and our own communities. She called upon her congregants to join her in outreach to the African American, Native American, and Muslim communities in Salt Lake City.

The lessons I learned in three days in Salt Lake City were that that we are blessed to live in a time and place where Jews and Judaism are far more accepted by our Christian neighbors and their churches than ever before in American history. Interfaith understanding that leads to mutual respect and interfaith action that can lead us to real social change are, as the events in Charleston reminded us all, challenged by the fear of the stranger. In conversation with one of my new Christian friends, a bishop from Maryland, we agreed that our mutual responsibility is to teach and model for others. We realized that the command in Leviticus 19, “love your neighbor as yourself,” must be taken as a serious challenge, not a platitude.

As I look back on last weekend and look forward to July 4th, our American Independence Day , when we coincidentally will read Parshat Balak, where curses are turned into blessings, I see a challenge to both appreciate our blessings as American Jews in the 21st century, and to work together with our fellow Jews, and with our fellow Americans of other faiths, to continue to repair the tears in the fabric of our world.

Rabbi Neal Borovitz
Rabbi Neal Borovitz is rabbi emeritus of Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge and past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.
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Toward an end to gun violence

It is not entirely foreign to Jews to imagine being massacred at prayer.

This is not even a question of historical memory, although our story overflows with such murderous episodes. No, we just have to think back to last November, when assassins burst into a synagogue at Har Nof, in Jerusalem, and butchered four men there as they stood lost in the Amidah, the silent prayer at the heart of the service.

Then the killers slaughtered a Druze policeman who tried to protect the daveners.

Last week, a crazed, racist 21-year-old, a loser with a bowl haircut, dead eyes, and a gun, went into the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston, like Jerusalem, is an old city (although of course here in the New World we measure age in centuries; in Israel it’s in millennia). It’s been at the heart of the slave trade, and so represented evil, but it is also beautiful, graceful, quirky, and a bustling tourist destination.

 

 

Thoughts on identity

 
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Turning point

Local man rises above injury to start home health aide venture

 
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Joanne Palmer Cover Story
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Ronald Gold displays a poster for his LeanOnWe venture.

Ronald Gold’s life is so dramatic that it’s hard to resist the temptation to start with a cliché.

The story of his life is about the moment when everything changed, the second that split it inexorably into before and after. The time when he almost died, when his understanding of himself in the physical world ended, when through great pain he was reborn.

But really, the person Mr. Gold became after the terrible accident that rendered him paraplegic was a logical outgrowth of the person he was before. His integrity, athleticism, ambition, courage, tenacity, brains, competitiveness, and strength — as well as, yes, his deep Jewish connections — not only saved his life but allowed him to embark on this next part of it.

Here’s what happened.

Ron Gold, who is 55, grew up in West Orange, going all the way through school at what was then the Solomon Schechter School of Union County and now has become the Golda Och Academy. “I grew up in the Conservative movement, but my parents were serial shul switchers,” he said, so the family belonged to three of them. He was active in Young Judaea, becoming regional president, and spent his gap year in Israel with that group.

During that year, he met Betsy August, who grew up first in Douglaston, Queens, and then in Florida. They got married in 1987, moved to Hillsdale, and had three daughters, Stephanie, Jacqueline, and Alexandra. Ms. Gold, a journalist, spent many years as the business editor of the Record of Hackensack.

“I grew up in a very Zionist household,” he said. “My mother, Sherry — she was Shifra then — was born in Lithuania in 1926, and came here in 1937. All her relatives who stayed died in the Shoah, so she felt that it was on her to carry on what they couldn’t.”

Next, he went on to the University of Pennsylvania, earning a double major — an undergraduate business degree at the Wharton School, and a bachelor’s degree in oriental studies (which since has been smoothed into Asian studies).

Back in this country, Mr. Gold went to work on Wall Street, and soon went back to college for an MBA from Columbia. Armed with that degree, he began to work selling Asian equities.

His father, Melvin, who died last year, “was brilliant in math,” Mr. Gold said. In fact, his father was a top actuary, very well-known in his field, with one of those minds that reveled in the dense mysteries that numbers pose to the rest of us. “He passed his actuarial exams on the first try,” his son boasted; that is a very difficult feat.

“I was good at math,” Ron Gold said. “Not like my father, but I was strong at it. It came easily to me. And I always wanted to work on Wall Street. It seemed very exciting. So what I did combined a lot of my knowledge, my skill in mathematics, my interests in history and geopolitics — it all came together. And I’ve always been personable, and I had no problem on the phone.

“It was a good fit.”

During his Wall Street career, Mr. Gold worked for Lehman Brothers, and then at Barclay’s.

“I liked the intensity,” he said. “I was at my desk at 6:30 in the morning. I’d sometimes get home at 6 or 7, but sometimes I’d go out at night for dinner with clients. I traveled a lot, both in the U.S. and in Asia.

“It was a very full day.”

Not only were the days full, so was the family’s life. All three daughters went to Solomon Schechter of Bergen County; the two older ones have been through the Young Judaea Year Course in Israel, and the third is about to begin it this school year. The family belongs to Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, where Mr. Gold was on the board, and to the Washington Township YJCC, on whose board he still sits.

The family went to Israel often; they hosted Israelis through the YJCC’s Open Hearts Open Homes program, and then visited them in their own homes on the other side of the world. Mr. Gold also kept up with some of the Israeli friends he had made through Young Judaea.

“I was a big athlete,” Mr. Gold said. “A very good skier. I cycled, I ran, I did yoga. I worked out at the Y or outside. It was a very big part of my life.”

He and a group of friends were serious cyclists; just about every weekend, three or four of them would ride for hours on the scenic, hilly, curving roads of northern Jersey and Rockland County.

It was a good life.

Still, before his own nightmare, when things were still good, Mr. Gold had a close-up of a national trauma.

“I was at the World Financial Center on 9/11,” he said. “I saw the wing drop off the first plane. I was next to the window, on the third or fourth floor. I heard it, and I looked up and saw that the building was on fire.

“I went out, and I saw people jumping. I will never forget how shocking it was, how long it takes for someone to fall.

“I saw a piece of the wing fall on the ground, on fire, and then I saw a person on fire. I saw him rolling on the ground, trying to put the fire out.

“They told everyone to stay in the building, because in 1993,” when the World Trade Center was bombed, “they did the opposite thing. But after the second plane hit, they told everyone to leave. That’s when we walked out, and saw people jumping.

“I usually got home by ferry to Hoboken, but I couldn’t leave, because the towers were on fire. Everything was all covered with smoke, a cloud of smoke, but then I heard a loud noise. I knew that something had fallen but I didn’t know what, I didn’t know it was the tower because I couldn’t see it because of the smoke.

“And then when the second tower fell, I had a clear view of that, looking south.

“I kept walking north. At that point, I knew that it was a terrorist attack. And it was such a beautiful day.”

When he finally got a boat from the Chelsea Piers and arrived in Hoboken, “they hosed us all down, and they took everybody’s blood pressure,” he said.

Still, he recovered from that; for some time he twitched whenever a plane flew overhead, and because his house was under a flight path to Newark, that happened not infrequently. But he was a frequent and nerveless flier. Life returned to normal.

And then, just about 10 years later, on Thanksgiving weekend in 2011, “I wasn’t going to go riding, but it was a gorgeous day,” Mr. Gold remembered. “It was so hot that we took our vests off, and left them at a 7-Eleven on the way.

“We were coming back from our ride. Perry,” one of the four men on the ride, “lived in Upper Saddle River, and he had just turned off to go home, and Marvin,” another rider, “stopped at a bike shop.

“I was right behind Zach” — Dr. Zachary Orden of Hillsdale, Mr. Gold’s next-door neighbor and the third rider. “I was right on his wheel, my eyes were on his wheel so that I wouldn’t ride into him. And then all of a sudden I see this SUV go into Zach in the road, Upper Saddle River Road. She,” the driver, “had fallen asleep. She was just a couple of miles from home, and she thought that she could make it, but she blacked out on the curve.

“She hit Zach, and he went flying. And then she hit me head on.

“I saw it all in a flash, and all I could think of was ‘Keep your head above the hood.’ I know that if I had tried to make a sharp turn to avoid her, I wouldn’t have made it, and if I had fallen, I would have been dead.

“That’s the last thing I remembered for several weeks.”

Dr. Orden, a dentist, remembers more of the accident.

Unlike Mr. Gold, who remembers the day as glorious, the way 9/11 had been, he says that it was “crummy.” But he was a serious rider — he had been a good rider as a teenager, dropped it for some time, was inspired by Mr. Gold, and took it up in great earnest, riding in races and endurance events, loving it.

“Initially, Ron was the stronger rider, but as time went by I had more time to ride” — unlike Mr. Gold, who had to commute to work, Dr. Orden’s practice is local — “and so eventually I became the stronger rider.

“That’s probably why I was in front of Ron when it happened. I was pulling.

“Generally, the stronger rider pulls. It’s a real effect, and you can feel it — you are literally being sucked along by the other person, who is breaking through the wind. As soon as you get close enough to someone, you don’t have to pedal as hard.

“We were coming around a turn on East Saddle River Road, just north of the post office,” he said. “If you are headed north, the road makes a right turn, and then a left turn. And then, around the second turn, headed south, I see a vehicle headed toward us, a dark SUV. I didn’t remember that I screamed out to the driver, but later the prosecutor said that the passenger heard me scream, ‘What the f••• are you doing?’

“The next thing I know, I am staring at the sky, and people are hanging over me, asking me what is my name.

“I think that as I was traveling through the air, I might have heard a loud bang.

“When I came to, there was a nice red-haired female EMT hovering over me. I knew right away that Ron was in worse shape than I was, because she wanted us to both go into helicopters, but she had only one available. She said okay, he — Ron — had to go into the helicopter, and told me that they were going to throw me into an ambulance.

“I think I remember the ambulance making the right around the entrance ramp onto Route 17, but the rest of the time I was knocked out. I think I remember arriving at Hackensack Medical Center.”

Dr. Orden’s pelvis was shattered, and his left hand was damaged. Given everything, though, he was lucky. The surgical team that took care of him was very good and he had been in prime physical condition; his hip replacement took, his hand was repaired, and after a stay at Kessler and a great deal of physical therapy, he was able to go back to dentistry. “I count my blessings,” he said.

Mr. Gold’s injuries were much more severe; had he not been in such good physical shape, it is unlikely that he could have survived them.

He was in an induced coma in the hospital in Hackensack for about three weeks — “when I came out, all I could remember was the neurosurgeon coming in to tell me that I would never walk again, and he had to come back several times before it sank in” — in intensive care for two months, in the hospital for three months, and in Kessler for physical therapy for five months. “I would cry myself to sleep, and think that when I woke up, the bad dream would be over,” he said. “But it never was.

“The spinal cord is very complicated. With all the medical advances, they still haven’t been able to figure out how to get above the level of the injury.”

Eventually, Mr. Gold was discharged. “Now I was supposed to be able to re-engage with society, but I was nowhere close to that,” he said.

“They send you home, and leave you there. I had some physical therapy at home, covered by insurance, and I had some nurses from Visiting Nurse Services who came because I was getting antibiotic infusions and wound care.

“The antibiotics went on for several years. It ended last fall, when I developed an infection from them. I almost got sepsis and died. After that, they stopped with the infusions, and I have been able to keep the infections away. I have found that standing is good for my circulation and my bones.”

Soon after his discharge, the Golds moved to a townhouse in Saddle River, which is much more convenient for him. He can drive a specially equipped car, and he can walk, leaning on a walker, with what looks like superhuman determination and upper body strength.

But how to pay for all of this? How can it possibly work?

“After maybe eight weeks, caregiving stops. Insurance stops covering it, and so you are on your own. I had to decide what to do.

“I could continue with the agency that supplied the caregivers, but pay it out of my own pocket. It costs $25 an hour, but the caregiver is only making $10 or $11. And I will need it indefinitely. So I started thinking, well, why don’t I hire a caregiver privately? And as I start speaking to people, I realize that they hire a caregiver privately because it is cheaper, and because you get to choose who cares for you, and you can control the care without the middleman stepping in.

“I need care only two hours a day, and the usual minimum for an agency is four hours.” Agencies tend to be rigid about such things, he added.

On the other hand, “the advantage to an agency is that it screens people and provides backup.”

As Mr. Gold considered his situation, he also thought about his parents; his mother and his father needed assistance as they aged. (His mother still lives in Five Star in Teaneck.) Most people who need such care, he realized, are more like his parents than they are like him.

“So Betsy and I thought that this doesn’t make sense. All these people want to hire care privately, and the estimates are that many people do it privately, but the probability is that generally they do it in an underground market.

“It’s a neighbor’s uncle’s friend, say, someone at least two degrees removed from whoever gave you the recommendation. That seemed crazy. We are in the 21st century, and I am supposed to take a recommendation from someone who is two or three degrees removed? And that person may not be available, may not be appropriate, may have a criminal record, probably will have no backup, and probably is not paying taxes.

“People love doing that, though. They feel more comfortable with the word of mouth recommendations than they do going through an agency. It’s not just the cost, although the expense is a large part of it — it’s also the idea of a personal reference, even if it is so removed. Even if it is that you finally get someone on the phone, and that person says ‘I’m not available, but my cousin is.’

“It’s like a kid’s game of telephone.”

So the Golds ran focus groups, and “the message that came through loud and clear is that people will bend over backwards not to go through an agency if they are paying out of pocket. So much so that if they have caregivers who they found through word of mouth and they knew were stealing from them, they’d put their stuff out of reach rather than switch caregivers.

“Once people are in that situation, inertia keeps them going. They don’t know what else to do.”

And sometimes, he said, real relationships develop. Sometimes patients and caregivers feel great loyalty toward one another; sometimes that is wise, sometimes it is not.

So here was Ron Gold. He could no longer work at the job that had sustained him, but he had energy, drive, a fierce need to change things, to do things, to move forward. Here was Betsy, supporting him, ready to work too.

What to do?

“We figured that if so many people prefer to hire through word of mouth, but there is no clearinghouse or forum or network to find people, there really should be.” There were such sites for childcare, he added, but none for the kinds of services that interested him.

“So we said, why don’t we address this?

“Why don’t we meet each caregiver, and create a network of caregivers? We will meet each one, spend time with them, vet them.

“Can they work legally? Are they over 21? Are they experienced? Do they have at least two references from people we can hear from, not just from agencies? We wanted to create a network that would offer the same peace of mind we would have if these people were caring for my parents.”

That’s how LeanOnWe was created.

LeanOnWe, at http://www.leanonwe.com, is an exchange where people in need of care and caregivers are matched. It’s a business, but it’s also a passion, and a place where Mr. Gold pours a great deal of himself.

“I want to speak to every caregiver and the family they cared for,” he said. “I want to hear in their own words how they know each other, and I want to vet them. I want a real background check. We started off with an Internet check, but we realized that it leaves a lot of holes. That’s not good enough. We need a fingerprint check — that’s the highest level that you can do.

“And then we want to sit down with them and get to know them, understand their history, and help them create a bio and an online resume. And then we shoot a video.

“If someone goes online, they can see the actual references, dictated to us, they can get a summary of work history, and an idea of the skills people have and the work they’ve done.

“It’s amazing how much you can tell about somebody in a 60-second video,” he said.

LeanOnWe charges prospective patients and their families a one-time $395 fee. The website explains the fee and much more in clear detail.

LeanOnWe started in the fall; since then, Mr. Gold has gone to hospital, rehabilitation centers, and independent living facilities to discuss it. “We are now recommended on the private pay list at hospitals like Hackensack, Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Jersey City Medical Center, Kessler, and Helen Hays,” he said; he plans to call on local medical centers, including Englewood and Holy Name, soon. “We also have met with a lot of geriatric care managers,” he said. The group’s coverage area includes New York City’s five boroughs, northern and central New Jersey, Rockland and parts of Orange, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the legal system that should have dealt with the accident that crippled Mr. Gold and left Dr. Orden with a regrown pelvis and implanted hip seems to have failed them.

The woman who hit them, Darshana Gandhi, is a real estate agent in her late 50s, who lived in Upper Saddle River and had been driving a late-model Lexus. She was coming back from a shopping trip at Riverside Square when she hit and nearly killed the two men.

“She had crappy insurance coverage, and didn’t even have a umbrella policy,” Dr. Orden said. “Everybody should have that — it’s also known as an excess liability policy. It is considered one of the greatest bargains in the insurance agency.

“We did an asset search, which determined that she didn’t have a lot of assets,” he continued. “People can live flashy lives but on their last nickel.” On the other hand, they also can hide those assets.

At first, he said, the prosecutor’s office seemed eager to prosecute the case — Ms. Gandhi was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault. Not surprisingly, he said, she said nothing either to him or to Mr. Gold, although both of them showed up in court.

“When we were in court for the hearing, she would stay in the hallway until right before the session,” Mr. Gold said. “She didn’t want to be in the courtroom where she would have to look at me.

“She never apologized. She never reached out.”

Dr. Orden agreed. He has two brothers who are criminal defense attorneys, and both assured him that she could not possibly say anything until all the legal matters were over, and that she reasonably might not want to put anything in writing even after that, but she made no attempt to get in touch with either of them ever.

If she is sorry, if she has nightmares, if her equanimity is at all disturbed by what she has done, the two men she harmed, one of them grievously, do not know it.

Ms. Gandhi claimed to have fallen asleep, but then she was diagnosed with something called transient global amnesia, which would have mimicked drowsiness. Dr. Orden finds that odd, because the young man who was her passenger said that she had said she was feeling sleepy and they had put the radio on to keep her awake on the rest of the short trip home. But the prosecution agreed to have her examined by a doctor, and that doctor’s diagnosis agreed with Ms. Gandhi’s. The case was dropped — prosecutors told neither Mr. Gold nor Dr. Orden of that decision — and because Ms. Gandhi was not convicted, the two men decided not to bring a civil case against her. It was time to move on, Dr. Orden said. It would have cost them both too much, in both money and emotion, to pursue what might have been a losing case.

“My life has changed completely,” Mr. Gold said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the accident, and that I don’t wish that I could go back to life as it was before that, but at some point, if not embracing it, I have accepted what’s happened.

“I have friends who have dealt with much tzuris. I get that this stuff is supposed to happen to other people, but it happened to me. And I still think that I have a lot to offer. Not only does this business do good for other people, it has done good for me. It has allowed me to re-engage with society and find something with a purpose, something that excites me.”

 
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Turning point

Local man rises above injury to start home health aide venture

Ronald Gold’s life is so dramatic that it’s hard to resist the temptation to start with a cliché.

The story of his life is about the moment when everything changed, the second that split it inexorably into before and after. The time when he almost died, when his understanding of himself in the physical world ended, when through great pain he was reborn.

But really, the person Mr. Gold became after the terrible accident that rendered him paraplegic was a logical outgrowth of the person he was before. His integrity, athleticism, ambition, courage, tenacity, brains, competitiveness, and strength — as well as, yes, his deep Jewish connections — not only saved his life but allowed him to embark on this next part of it.

 

Working for smart guns

Mahwah rabbi forms coalition to help cut back on gun violence

It would have been entirely understandable if Rabbi Joel Mosbacher wanted to ban all guns. Just collect them all, melt them into a lump, and be done with it.

Rabbi Mosbacher’s father, Lester Mosbacher, was eulogized as a “gentle soul” in 1992; he died, at 52, after he was shot by a burglar who was holding up his store on Chicago’s South Side.

His murder was the textbook definition of pointless — Mr. Mosbacher was shot in the head and arm by a petty thief who got nothing from the robbery and was tried, convicted, and then released for retrial, which never happened. Nothing ever happened, except that Mr. Mosbacher remained dead.

For years, Rabbi Mosbacher, the spiritual leader of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, bottled his rage. And then, just a few years ago, he took its distilled essence, nourished by news stories of other shootings, equally senseless, like his father’s murder causing sudden, catastrophic, and lifelong pain to survivors as their own lives had to reweave themselves around a gaping hole, to lead a new campaign.

 

Working for smart guns

Rabbi Mosbacher reacts to the Charleston massacre Last week’s shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolin

Last week’s shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine people dead after their murderer, Dylann Roof, sat with them at Bible study for nearly an hour before spouting racists tropes as he gunned them down, has brought the issue, which always simmers just below the surface, to an angry boil.

“On the one hand, Charleston is another in a series of mass shootings that seem to happen almost weekly at this point,” Rabbi Mosbacher said. “That speaks to part of the core of this problem, which is access to guns. People will say all sorts of things. They say it is a question of mental health. Yes, it is — but it’s not fundamentally about mental health. I don’t think that we have significantly more mental health problems here than in Europe.” But laws controlling gun ownership are far more stringent in the rest of the Western world, and the numbers of shootings are correspondingly lower.

 
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Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

 
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Larry Yudelson Local
Published: 03 July 2015
 
image
In 1999, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin welcomed the first planeload of Birthright students at Ben Gurion Airport.

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

Today, he has a private consulting firm — Beilink — that connects Israelis with governments and companies abroad. And he works on two projects in the public arena. One is an effort to preserve Jewish cemeteries in Europe.

“It’s a big project,” Dr. Beilin said. “There are 10,000 of them. The idea is to try to save them from real estate people who want to grab land, from anti-Semitic vandalism, and from vegetation” that will overgrow the cemeteries now that there is no longer a Jewish community to maintain them.

Earlier this year, he helped shepherd a resolution through the Council of Europe’s congress of local and regional authorities calling on those authorities to safeguard Jewish cemeteries.

The other public project concerns the issue that stands out on his resume, a resolution of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. He was one of the lead organizers of the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial, nonbinding, 50-page proposed final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that was published, with endorsements from leading Israelis and Palestinians involved in the peace process, in 2003 but never was adopted officially by either side. Today the associated Geneva Institute, with offices in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, organizes seminars and meetings “about the feasibility of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

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Yossi Beilin

Is peace really feasible?

“Of course it is feasible,” Dr. Beilin said. “After all, we are all human beings. We demonize each other but that doesn’t mean that we are demons. There are prospects for creating a coalition of sanity against the lunatics and the extremists.

“It’s important to say that there is a model that carries the signatures of prominent Israelis and Palestinians. It is doable and we can solve all the outstanding issues, including Jerusalem and the refugees, if we wish to find the solutions and compromise on both sides.”

Dr. Beilin said that despite appearances, there has been good news on the peace front in recent years.

One piece of good news was the “unprecedented and very effective” security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “They are not happy to admit it, because it seems to some of them like collaborating with us, and we are not happy to admit that this is one of the reasons for the relatively quiet situation in the West Bank,” he said.

Another piece of good news was that even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “the staunch hawk, has been speaking about the Palestinian state.

“Even if he stipulated some very significant preconditions for such a state, it has become a kind of consensus in Israel, which is important,” Dr. Beilin said.

Dr. Beilin dismissed the significance of the prime minister’s election eve statement that it’s impossible to have a Palestinian state now. “This was part of his electoral campaign,” he said. “What in my view is significant is the fact that he is saying all the time that he is committed to a two-state solution. I think the mere fact that people like [former prime ministers] Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu, who were really perceived as staunch hawks who would never give up an inch of the West Bank, were speaking about a Palestinian state, is significant for the education of Israelis.

“They made the group in Israel that insists on Greater Israel a marginal one. There’s only one party in the government which openly opposes the idea of the two state solution, the Jewish Homeland party, and it only has two seats in the Knesset.”

Dr. Beilin sees good news even in last year’s abortive American-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. “I don’t think they were serious enough, but they show that we can get back to the negotiating table if we really want to,” he said.

That’s the good news.

“The worst news is the story of Gaza. That Gaza is under the rule of Hamas, and Hamas is not even thinking about peace with Israel — at the best case it’s talking about a long ceasefire — that is a real impediment. It makes any peace agreement between us and the Palestinians something to be implemented only with the West Bank,” he said.

The secret talks with the PLO that led to the Oslo accords was not the only controversial policy Dr. Beilin worked on during the Rabin government in the 1990s. The other, which led to the creation of Birthright, concerned the nature of the relationship between Israel and American Jews.

He told the American Jewish establishment in the mid 1990s, he recalled, that “‘We are not your poor nephew any more. My pseudo-uncle in America, who sent us packages in the ’50s, died already. The era of austerity is over, and you [the federations] continue to treat us as if we’re still in the ’50s. Israel is a relatively rich country. What you give us annually is very marginal.’ (Then it was $300 million; today it’s a little over $100 million.)

“‘But to collect money, you portray us as your poor nephew. That distances you and your children from us. You don’t want to visit your poor nephew. You want to visit your equal nephew.’”

This was long before Israel branded itself as Start Up Nation, however, and before missions to Israel included visits at the Google offices there.

Back in the ’90s, the leaders of the Jewish federations responded that they needed a connection with Israel, and that connection came from writing checks, Dr. Beilin said, and he responded that “your connection is to visit us.

“Take your money and put it in some kind of endowment that will enable them to come.”

In 1994, while serving as deputy foreign minister, he prepared the initial plan for what became Birthright Israel, a program that brings young Jews to Israel for a free 10-day visit.

“It was very controversial,” Dr. Beilin recalled. Israelis questioned “why you should finance the visits of rich American Jews when you have poor people in Sderot.” American Jewish leaders initially were opposed, but Dr. Beilin convinced them to support it — and leveraged that support to bring Israeli political leaders on board. Dr. Beilin credits Mr. Netanyahu with being one of the project’s first Israeli supporters. Dr. Beilin secured government funding for Birthright when he was a government minister during the Barak administration in the late 1990s.

In addition to the private American donors and the Israeli government, “now in Israel there’s a group of private donors who put money into it,” he said. “That’s something that’s new and encouraging.”

Looking back at his time in the foreign ministry, both as deputy minister and before that as director general, Dr. Beilin is particularly proud of two other achievements.

“One of my most important projects was the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Vatican. It was kind of an Oslo — there was a very important backchannel before official negotiations.

“Until two weeks before we signed, people said there was no chance to have an agreement with the Vatican. It seemed almost imaginary. For years and years the Vatican was not ready to officially recognize us. The negotiations were long and very unique. The ramifications were very important. Although it was important to insist that relations did not mean peace between Christianity and the Jewish people, but between two sovereign states, everyone knew what they represented.

“The other thing was the imposition of sanctions against South Africa. I did that when I was director general of the foreign ministry in 1987. This was a revolution, after years of silent collaboration between Israel and South Africa.”

So how does Dr. Beilin feel about sanctions against Israel?

“It is hypocritical and really crazy to think and talk about boycotting Israel, when — with all its flaws and problems — it is still the only democracy here,” he said. “You have countries that are so obviously high on the list that boycotting Israel is a sad joke that should be fought against.

“I can understand a campaign for peace, a campaign for the end of occupation. But not boycotting. That is something that is used as a last resort against regimes that do not have the ability to have an internal debate. In Israel today, you have a government that almost doesn’t have a coalition. Netanyahu has only 61 Knesset members in his coalition.

“Of course, any attempt to boycott Israel is uniting all of us against those who want to boycott us, rather than enabling us to have our democratic fight in Israel,” he said.

On Thursday night at the Tenafly JCC, Dr. Beilin will be speaking under the aegis of the Israeli-American Council, which brings together, and gives a profile to, Israelis in America who previously had been reviled by Israeli. Perhaps the most famous insult toward yordim — Israelis who left the country — was that of Yitzhak Rabin, who called them “nefolet shel nemushot,” a phrase difficult to translate literally but roughly equivalent to “contemptible wimps.”

“When someone says ‘I’m leaving Israel’ I’m far from happy,” Dr. Beilin said. “I would like to have every Israeli and every Jew live in Israel. But I will fight for his or her right to do that. It is their right to live wherever they want. We are talking about human beings in a democracy.”

If Israelis are going to live outside of Israel, “I believe it’s important for them to have contact with each other, to have their network,” he added. “This is part of Jewish continuity. If those groups have the chance to meet their peers, to share their views with each other, this is one of the contributions to Jewish continuity. If you don’t have the opportunity to meet other Jews, the prospects of assimilation are much higher. They should do what they want, but do it together.”

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Yossi Beilin, right, debates with Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party in a 2012 television appearance.

Who: Dr. Yossi Beilin

What: Talk on “The future of Israel in the Middle East,” sponsored by the Israeli-American Council (talk will be in English)

Where: Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton Ave., Tenafly

When: Thursday, July 9, 8 p.m.

How much: $15 presale through iacnj.org; $25 at the door

 
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Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

 

A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

 

Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

 
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A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

 
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Joanne Palmer Local
Published: 03 July 2015
 
imageRecently, members of both shuls gathered for a pre-Shabbat service at Temple Israel.

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

Rabbi Fine is Conservative; the movement’s theology and worldview are firmly his own. But now, under his leadership, Temple Israel will be merging — or perhaps more accurately entering a strategic partnership — with Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Israel, which sold its synagogue and parsonage building in Maywood to share space, resources, and governance, among other things, with Temple Israel.

RCBI hired a rabbi, Jacob Lieberman, who also will be the assistant rabbi at the Ridgewood shul.

“We have been operating as Temple Israel; now we are going to emphasize the Jewish Community Center piece of it,” the shul’s president, Joshua Holden of Ridgewood, said.

Temple Israel has slightly more than 200 membership units, and RCBI has about 30. The two congregations will hold their own religious services, using their own liturgies, and then come together for kiddush. They will share the religious school, which already is part of a local consortium, as well as adult education and other programs, and their social action committees, which are very important to both shuls, have begun to work together already.

RCBI will be structured as a group within the umbrella that is the Jewish Community Center. “It will be a subsidiary organization, structured similarly to our men’s club and sisterhood, with their own budgets and board,” Mr. Holden said. “They will have one member on Temple Israel’s executive committee, two on the main shul board, and a seat on the school board. Temple Israel will do all the management.”

“It is a provisional merger, in the sense that we understand that merger is a term that people get nervous about, but it doesn’t have to be irrevocable,” Rabbi Fine said. “We will work together; at the end of the five years, we will have to revisit it, to decide to renew it on the same terms, to make a complete merger, or to decide to separate. Or we could separate earlier. There is nothing irrevocably invested. We tried to structure it financially so there is minimal risk to either congregation, and that eliminates the emotional hesitancy that goes along with a synagogue merger discussion.”

The Temple Israel part of the Jewish Community Center is not dropping its affiliation with the Conservative movement’s United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and RCBI is not cutting off its relationship with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which is the movement’s umbrella organization. Because those organizations assess dues based on synagogue membership, “when new families join, they will check one of two boxes — one for each movement — just as you do when you register to vote,” Rabbi Fine said. It’s also analogous to the Center for Jewish History on 16th Street in Manhattan, an organization made up of autonomous but linked bodies. “In a sense, the landlord is renting space, but they are working together, with an overall organization.

“It’s a different approach,” he added. “It’s not letting go of the denominational ideologies, it’s an embrace of those ideologies, but still working together under the same organizational rubric — and under the same roof. It’s like what you see on college campuses, in the Hillel world. Separate services, and joint kiddushes and onegs. It allows us to maintain differences but still work together and pool resources.”

“It’s very exciting,” Mr. Holden said. “Our membership has been very enthusiastic about this. It’s about more than the financial aspect, and about keeping the numbers up. What’s much more exciting is how it’s enhancing the community.

“A few weeks ago, we had four simultaneous services. Tot Shabbat, Junior Congregation, the RCBI service, and the main service. They have helped us make minyans; we had an occasion recently where we had several members pass away, and it was hard to schedule all the shiva minyans. One of the RCBI members led one of the shiva minyans for one of our members.”

There are some theological differences, he conceded. “Anything they do religiously is according to their rules, in their designated space. They have their worship space and we have ours. We wouldn’t have an interfaith wedding, and we don’t recognize patrilineal descent, but if they were having a bar mitzvah for a patrilineal child and they were expecting a lot of guests, they would use the main sanctuary, and follow their rules.”

Kashrut is not an issue, he added; the congregation had kept kosher in its old building and would continue to do so in the new one.

Christine O’Donnell, the president of RCBI, said that although the model is new to this area, it is already working in other places, including Philadelphia’s Germantown Jewish Center. “We think it’s the best of both worlds,” she said. “Our Reconstructionist community has the benefit of our own clergy and services, but the benefit of being within a larger congregation for our social, education, and cultural needs. We will pay our own way, but there are economies of scale, and the maintenance of the physical plant has been taken off our plate.”

The congregation, which started out Conservative, had been in the Maywood building — which began its life as a church — since 1931, she said; it “transitioned over to Reconstructionist about 2000.” As the county’s only Reconstructionist shul, it drew from the entire area.

“Our goal is to grow Reconstructionism, and we feel that this gives us the best opportunity to do that,” Ms. O’Donnell said.

RCBI’s pulpit will be Jacob Lieberman’s first as a rabbi; he was ordained last month.

Rabbi Lieberman, who grew up in Irvine, California, and knew he wanted to be a rabbi since he was in his teens, has had connections to all of Judaism’s main liberal movements, so in many ways this arrangement is perfect for him.

“I grew up in a Reform congregation and then we moved to a Reconstructionist one, so I had both before I finished high school,” he said. “And then, as an undergraduate, I studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, so I had a lot of access to the thought there.

“There is a strong connection between the Reconstructionist and Conservative movements,” he continued. “Mordecai Kaplan, the founding figure of the Reconstructionist movement, had smicha from the seminary. A lot of Reconstructionist rabbis have served at Conservative synagogues, and there is a lot of cooperation between them, so it is a natural fit in a lot of ways.”

But the two movements are far from identical. “Reconstructionism is an invigorating look at Jewish identity, Jewish community, and bringing expansive ideas to bear on our traditional texts, so when I study texts with some of the lenses that I have learned, they come alive in a way that is very meaningful for me,” Rabbi Lieberman said. Those lenses mainly provide context — historical, social, economic, and philosophical undergirding. “If I am looking at a rabbinic text, and I understand what was happening in the Roman Empire at the time, I have a broader context to understand some of the polemics,” he said. “It helps me to see the animosity between people who are being ruled and the rulers.”

The two movements look at the function of a rabbi as decision-maker differently too. Rabbi Lieberman sees his role as a facilitator, helping guide the community toward a shared decision, as the Reconstructionist worldview suggests, while Rabbi Fine is more of a mara d’atra, the decisor whose decision might be based on community input but is his and is final.

Like RCBI’s president, Ms. O’Donnell, Rabbi Lieberman sees the arrangement with Temple Israel as more of a strategic partnership than a merger. “We are Reconstructionist, and that is a strong identity,” he said. “We are looking to retain our identity and build a bigger and broader community. We will have our own unique services, and they will have theirs, and we will come together around some programming. It is my hope that we will collaborate around some children’s programming, family and adult education, and social action.”

Rabbi Lieberman, who graduated from Barnard College, is “to the best of my knowledge the first openly transgender graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College,” he said. That means that he knows about courage.

That courage will serve him well, he said.

“I am not afraid to go out into the community and meet all different kinds of people,” he said. “I will come with my Reconstructionist roots, and Rabbi Fine is a leader in the Conservative movement. We are all bringing a lot to the table, and I am excited about the synergy.”

image
Joshua Holden, left, Christine O’Donnell, Rabbi Jacob Lieberman, and Rabbi David Fine
 
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Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

 

A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

 

Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

 
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Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

 
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Abigail Klein Leichman Local
Published: 03 July 2015
 

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

Now known as NechamaComfort (on the Web at nechamacomfort.com), the organization came under the wing of Jewish Family Service of Bergen and Hudson County last February. It offers a support group every second Wednesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m., for men and women — grieving parents, grandparents, and extended family of a baby from pre-birth to one year old — at the JFS office at 1485 Teaneck Road in Teaneck.

Though NechamaComfort is geared to address the particular needs of Jewish families, Ms. Judas counsels anyone who approaches her, and counts several non-Jews and Jewish atheists in the support group.

“We have some people who’ve been coming for years, partly to help those newly bereaved, and we have people who come for six months or a year after a loss, have another baby, and come back for the yahrzeit,” she said. “I do a lot of phone support for those who aren’t able to come to the support group. I also make house calls, as a volunteer.”

Ms. Judas provides guidance for clergy, funeral directors, and medical personnel; Jewish burial support; assistance in finding meaningful ways to move beyond loss; assistance during subsequent pregnancies, and community awareness programs both locally and in Israel through the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s partnership with the city of Nahariya.

Ms. Judas said that “the main thing is I give choices” concerning how to deal with the immediate trauma and its aftermath. There are few Jewish laws governing pregnancy and infant loss, she points out, “so you can choose your own customs. It is your choice to make.”

Some families find great comfort in traveling to Israel to plant a tree in memory of the baby. Although the traditional seven-day shiva mourning period does not apply for miscarriage or stillbirth, she finds that more and more parents are choosing to sit shiva “informally,” and as a practicing Orthodox Jew she does not discourage this.

NechamaComfort was modeled on a pregnancy and infancy loss support group pioneered by Johanna Gorab, Holy Name’s parent-education coordinator. Ms. Judas incorporated some of Ms. Gorab’s ideas, such as memory boxes filled with photographs of the baby, his or her hospital bracelet, and other memorabilia. She assures parents that it’s fine to include Jewish prayers or psalms and even a lock of hair, as this does not violate Judaism’s guidelines on burying a body intact.

Often, people who experienced an infant’s death long ago are only now starting to feel comfortable acknowledging that child’s ongoing presence in their life.

“If you lost a baby 30 years ago, you can still name that baby now, or start lighting a Shabbos candle for that baby,” Ms. Judas said. “The main point is for people — mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings — to be able to deal with this publicly. Even a miscarriage will affect your life forever.”

The JFS affiliation gives NechamaComfort a solid home base; Ms. Judas is there 10 hours a week as of July 1. The pregnancy loss groups are part of the JFS’s larger menu of support groups coordinated by licensed clinical social worker Debbie Fox. “At JFS I have social workers on call and I can refer people to them,” Ms. Judas added.

Ms. Judas, a former Moriah School kindergarten teacher and now the part-time project coordinator for NJ Yachad and its vocational program, has trained additional pregnancy loss facilitators, “so when there’s a crisis we can send someone to the hospital and make sure everything is done properly. And we’ll go to obstetricians’ offices to explain what we do.”

A few weeks ago, she said, an OB-GYN sent a client to an abortion clinic in Englewood to have a dilation and evacuation procedure. The women’s fetus had died in the womb. “Doctors don’t realize it’s traumatic to send someone there,” Ms. Judas said. “They think only about the medical facilities available and not the woman’s feelings. They need to be educated.”

Another case in point is a recent first-person New York Times account of a 38-year-old orthodontist’s disappointment in how a New York hospital handled her son’s stillbirth. “Why aren’t hospitals better equipped in dealing with such a tough experience?” the grieving mother wrote, noting that one in 160 pregnancies in the United States end in stillbirth.

Ms. Judas, a member of the New Jersey Consortium of Infant and Pregnancy Loss, does community education as a scholar in residence at synagogues, and also is available to members of Yesh Tikvah, a new support group for Jewish couples — mainly modern Orthodox — suffering infertility.

The demand for NechamaComfort keeps growing, she said.

“I have calls from literally all over; three from Israel last week and four in Teaneck. I think we are seeing more cases for a few reasons. People are more open than they used to be, and they know they’re pregnant so much earlier these days. And because of 4D sonograms you become attached to the baby much sooner. Also, people get married later and more things can go wrong. So we have a lot more work to do.”

To reach Reva Judas and NechamaComfort, call (201) 724-4093 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 
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Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

 

A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

 

Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

 
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A new haven for abused seniors

Jewish Home to offer short-term shelter, community education

 
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Lois Goldrich Local
Published: 03 July 2015
 

It is common, when discussing abuse, to think of victimized children, or mistreated spouses. The abuse of seniors is less publicized, but it is equally horrific.

According to Carol Elliott, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, “the national estimate is between 3 1/2 and 5 million [elderly] victims each year,” and some studies indicate that 1 in 10 seniors have suffered some form of abuse.

To address this problem, in mid-July the Jewish Home will unveil SeniorHaven Elder Abuse Shelter. It will be the first such facility in New Jersey and the 12th such shelter in the United States. SeniorHaven will offer community education as well as emergency short-term shelter for victims.

Abuse takes many forms, including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and financial, Ms. Elliott said. It may also take the form of neglect. With elder abuse on the rise, SeniorHaven is sorely needed.

“Elder abuse is a societal problem,” she said. “Most of us have encountered it in our lives, professional or personal. It exists everywhere.”

It is “equal opportunity,” she continued. “It doesn’t matter what age or what religion. Socioeconomic status is also irrelevant,” she added, pointing to the case of actor Mickey Rooney, whose stepson took control of his life, effectively isolating him and stealing his assets.

image
Carol Silver Elliott

While many seniors are subject to mistreatment, “most shelters are not seeing large numbers of victims,” Ms. Elliott said, noting that fewer than 10 percent of abused elders reach out for help. “People are reluctant to come in,” she said. In some cases, they may not be willing or able to sever their relationship with the abuser. In others, they may be embarrassed because the abuser is their child or grandchild.

Referrals to SeniorHaven will come from adult protective services, hospitals, emergency rooms, or other arms of the professional community offering physical or social services.

“If someone calls and says he is a victim, we will recommend that he call adult protective services or we will call for him,” Ms. Elliott said. “If they are in immediate danger, we tell them to call the police.”

She explained that when victims are identified by an appropriate agency “and come to us, they are provided with crisis stabilization and may stay 90 to 120 days at no charge. They’re admitted as normal patients in whatever setting.” If the victim has Medicaid or other forms of insurance, “we will try to bill and get reimbursement. But that’s not the objective.”

“From the day of admission, we begin planning for discharge to the least restrictive alternative,” she continued. Perhaps there is another child, who lives out of the area and has no idea about what’s going on. Or the agency might put the victim in touch with a pro bono lawyer who can work to remove the abuser from the victim’s home.

“It makes sense to provide emergency shelter in an existing facility for the elderly,” Ms. Elliott said. “All the services older adults need are available within our walls, from medical to physical therapy, social work, and pastoral care, to nutritional services. Equally important to us is the opportunity to educate the community about this issue.”

Raising awareness of elder abuse is vital. Often seniors are not believed when they report abuse.

“They may go into an emergency room and an adult child may say [to the doctor], ‘she’s so clumsy,’” she said. “There’s a credibility factor, and the risk goes up with age. The highest risk is for people over 85, for women, and for people who have dementia.”

Warning signs — clues that something is amiss — do exist, Ms. Elliott said. For example, if an older adult who usually attends synagogue stops coming, that may indicate social isolation. Other changes may include appearance, where, say, someone who is usually well-groomed suddenly appears disheveled.

Another scenario — older adults who habitually withdraw the same amount at the bank suddenly withdraw different amounts. Or family members come in to do the withdrawals.

“We train bank tellers,” Ms. Elliott said, noting that people in such positions are often well-placed to notice changes. Pharmacists, too, may be trained to observe differences in a senior’s patterns.

Before coming to New Jersey, the Jewish Home head created an elder abuse program at the Cedar Village Retirement Community in Ohio. “In Ohio, a beautician noticed an elder woman wincing,” she said. “She had broken ribs.” Another senior — whose daughter held her power of attorney — suddenly stopped paying her rent. Apparently, her daughter had cleaned out her bank account.

According to a statement from the Jewish Home, “SeniorHaven is part of the SPRiNG Alliance, a network of regional elder abuse shelters and other similar service models …. Victims are offered a full range of healthcare and supportive services including an emergency residential shelter and a coordinated system of care that provides a safe harbor, emotional support, psychological counseling, healthcare, legal advocacy and representation for victims of elder abuse.”

Clients may be placed in different settings, depending on their needs and on available space. If space is not available at Jewish Home facilities, they might be housed at the Weinberg Center at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale.

The Jewish Home recently held a meeting to discuss the program with diverse community partners, including representatives of Jewish Family Service.

Leah Kaufman, executive director of JFS of North Jersey, said SeniorHaven “is an incredible resource for our clients.” Noting that the abuse she sees is primarily emotional and financial, she suggested that “Our clients might be more willing to leave abusive situations now because SeniorHaven is Jewish.”

Pointing out that many of her abused clients are hesitant to go to a shelter, she said, “We hope to work with the Jewish Home to help these clients find safe alternative living situations. It’s a win-win for the community.”

 
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Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

 

A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

 

Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

 
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JONAH loses

Jurors say ‘gay conversion’ group defrauded clients

 
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Robert Wiener • Local
Published: 03 July 2015
 
image
Plaintiff Michael Ferguson, right, and his husband, Seth Anderson, after Mr. Ferguson testified against JONAH during the Jersey City trial.

After deliberating for just two and a half hours, six Hudson County jurors awarded $72,400 on June 25 to three religiously observant men who claimed they were defrauded by a Jersey City-based organization that said it could “cure” them of their homosexuality.

Two of the men are Orthodox Jews, and the organization is called JONAH, which stands for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing.

The jury sided with the plaintiffs’ allegation that JONAH engaged in “unconscionable commercial practice” under New Jersey law by claiming that same-sex attractions can be reduced or eliminated through therapy.

Plaintiffs Chaim Levin and Benjamin Unger — both formerly Orthodox Jews — and Michael Ferguson, who is Mormon, along with Mr. Levin’s mother and the mother of another JONAH client, Sheldon Bruck, sued the group under a tough New Jersey consumer protection statute. (Because Mr. Bruck was only 17, he was not permitted to be a party to the suit.)

JONAH’s co-directors, Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk, and a consultant and fellow defendant, Alan Downing, argued that one-third of the clients with whom they worked since 1999 have overcome same-sex attractions. They argued that homosexuality was a “disorder” that could be overcome with an amalgam of religious and scientific techniques, although they acknowledged that none of their staff was a licensed psychiatrist, social worker, or therapist.

Their methods included such unusual therapies as screaming and hitting pillows used to symbolized their mothers; the assumption is that sons’ homosexuality grows from their mothers’ failures.

The jury heard testimony from a former president of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Carol Bernstein, who said that “generally, it is unethical to engage in gay conversion and reparative therapies because of the potential of harm to patients.”

During the trial, Mr. Goldberg, a disbarred lawyer who had been convicted of felony mail fraud more than 20 years ago, said that JONAH’s success rate was somewhere between 65 and 75 percent. Later, when he was cross-examined, he conceded that his statistics were anecdotal.

One juror who spoke with the media after the verdict said, “The defense just wasn’t there. [The type of therapy] just wasn’t right. It’s just not something that’s therapy.

“Mr. Goldberg was a salesman. He lured them in, and they were very weak and vulnerable, and he took them from there…. It was pretty cut and dried.”

Reacting to the verdict, Charles LiMandri, chief of the defense team, said that his group hopes “to be able to rectify this injustice on appeal.”

Mr. LiMandri is president and chief counsel of the California-based Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, a public interest group that takes cases consistent with its “family values” philosophy.

As the defeated party, the defense will be compelled to pay three times the amount for which the plaintiffs filed suit, and it will have to compensate the plaintiffs’ attorney for all legal fees associated with the case.

This story was first printed in the New Jersey Jewish News; it was prepared with the assistance of Hella Winston of the New York Jewish Week.

 
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RECENTLYADDED

Oslo, Birthright, and me

Yossi Beilin, to speak at Tenafly JCC, talks about his past

For a man who never served as Israel’s prime minister, Dr. Yossi Beilin had an outsized impact on Israeli history.

A journalist for the Labor party paper Davar who entered politics as a Labor Party spokesman before being appointed cabinet secretary by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1984, Dr. Beilin made his mark with two bold policies that were reluctantly but influentially adopted by the Israeli government: the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and the Birthright Israel program.

On Thursday, Dr. Beilin will address “The future of Israel in the Middle East” at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, in a program sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.

Dr. Beilin — he holds a doctorate in political science from Tel Aviv University — ended his political career in 2008, having served as a Knesset member for 20 years, and as deputy foreign minister, justice minister, and minister of religious affairs.

 

A new relationship in Ridgewood

Conservative, Reconstructionist shuls join forces, work together, retain differences

Last December, Rabbi David J. Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center of Ridgewood wrote a thoughtful and perceptive op ed in this newspaper about why the word merger, at least when applied to synagogues, seems somehow dirty, perhaps borderline pornographic. (It is, in fact, “a word that synagogue trustees often keep at a greater distance than fried pork chops,” he wrote.)

That automatic distaste is not only unhelpful, it’s also inaccurate, he continued then; in fact, some of our models, based on the last century’s understanding of affiliation, and also on post-World War II suburban demographics, simply are outdated.

If we are to flourish — perhaps to continue to flourish, perhaps to do so again — we are going to have to acknowledge change, accommodate it, and not see it as failure. Considering a merger does not mean that we’re not big enough alone, or strong enough, or interesting or compelling or affordable enough. Instead, it may present us with the chance to examine our assumptions, keep some, and discard others, he said.

 

Mourning possibilities

Local woman helps parents face trauma of stillbirth, infant mortality

Three decades ago, when Reva and Danny Judas’ newborn son died, just 12 hours after he was born, there was nowhere for the Teaneck couple to turn for emotional support.

Nobody wanted to talk about loss; it was believed best to get on with life and not dwell on the tragedy.

Reva Judas wasn’t willing to accept that approach, and she did not think anyone else should, either — especially after suffering six miscarriages between the births of her four healthy children.

She soon became a go-to person for others in similar situations, and eventually earned certification as a hospital chaplain. In January 2009, Ms. Judas founded the nonprofit infant and pregnancy loss support organization Nechama (the Hebrew word for “comfort”) initially at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and then at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

 
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A look at the legendary Jerry Lewis

 
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Robert Gluck • Film
Published: 03 July 2015
 
image
Jerry Lewis, left, in “At War with the Army.” Dean Martin, seated, watches him. www.doctormacro.com

The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis, 89, added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable philanthropic efforts that have bettered the lives of thousands of children.”

Previous recipients of the NAB award include Jorge Ramos, Bob Schieffer, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, President Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Osgood.

Born Jerome Levitch to Russian-Jewish parents in Newark, Lewis is best known for his entertainment career—including comedy, acting, singing, film production, screenwriting, and film directing, all infused with his slapstick humor. But he has made arguably as significant a mark in philanthropy, most notably as the longtime national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he raised more than $2 billion for MDA’s “Jerry’s Kids” initiative and hosted the organization’s annual Labor Day Telethon for more than 40 years.

“I think many people in later years associated him much more with the telethon than with his comedy,” Lawrence Epstein, author of the 2002 book “The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America,” said. “This work makes a perfect companion to his work as a comedian and shows that laughs by themselves are not enough in life,”

As a comedian, Lewis was matched with Dean Martin in 1946, and the two went on to fame as Martin and Lewis. The duo grew popular through nightclub work, then starred in a successful series of comedy films for Paramount Pictures.

Before the recent NAB honor, Lewis’s trophy shelves have included lifetime achievement awards from the American Comedy Awards, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Venice Film Festival. In 2005, he received the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors, and in 2009 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences honored him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Epstein said that Lewis was a crucial element in the transformation of American culture after World War II.

“Lewis played a major, largely forgotten role in helping Americans recover after 16 years of the Great Depression and the war,” Epstein said. “Americans had forgotten how to let go, how to have fun. Lewis let them release their inner child. He was perpetually a 9-year-old caught in an adult world. By showing that 9-year-old, he taught audiences that had engaged in tremendous self-deprivation and sacrifice for so long how to start again, as a child would, to have fun.”

What exactly made Lewis so funny?

“His ability, very rare in the [American] culture at the time, was to silence his adult censor and seemingly behave in any way he wanted,” Epstein said. “The children in the audience were delighted because he was in essence giving them permission to do what they wanted and telling them that doing so was funny and good. He was like Charlie Chaplin in being very clever by using whatever props happened to be around him.”

Shawn Levy, the author of seven books, including New York Times bestsellers “Rat Pack Confidential,” “Robert Di Niro: A Life,” “Paul Newman: A Life” and “King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis said that although religious observance hasn’t been a major priority for Lewis, his Jewish background still made a mark on both his comedic and humanitarian work.

“His grandmother sent him for Hebrew lessons so he could be bar mitzvahed, but he didn’t have a strong religious life,” Levy said. “Philanthropy was part of the Jewish showbiz world, where he came of age. He was a professional entertainer from the time he left high school. Some of his comedy styles and showbiz idioms are very Jewish. ‘The Holy Fool’ is somewhere between Fanny Brice and Harpo Marx, the physical comedy and the characteristics of a man-child.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Lewis polished his entertainment skills in the resorts of New York’s Catskill Mountains.

“Lewis was a tummler at Brown’s Hotel,” Levy said. (Tummlers were comedians-in-residence at Jewish resorts.) “So many comics of his generation — Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen — all had that opportunity to break into show business by working at the Catskills hotels. Mainly it was a Jewish showbiz thing, so that’s a real strong part of his Jewish identity, that line of entertainment.”

Epstein sees another Jewish connection to Lewis and his work.

“It’s a stretch, but sometimes I see Lewis as a metaphor for Jews in the world, always an outsider, always needing to laugh,” he said.

Some of Lewis’s most popular films — showcasing his acting, directing, and writing — are “The Bellboy,” “The Ladies Man,” “The Errand Boy,” “The Patsy,” “The Family Jewels,” and “The Nutty Professor.”

“In the early 1960s, Lewis was the highest-paid film actor, and he was given the most lucrative contract at that time for a television series,” Levy said. “This was just a few years after being the number-one nightclub act with Dean [Martin] and the number-one film, television, and radio act with Dean. There was a period of time, 1949-63, where he was at the top of the charts in multiple media.”

“The Nutty Professor” is regarded as Lewis’s masterpiece, Levy said. “It’s one of these occasions where an artist of strong gifts somehow gets out of his own self and transcends it. Jerry’s movies are filled with multiple identities and he plays multiple characters frequently.”

Decades later, in 1996, Eddie Murphy would play seven characters in the remake of “The Nutty Professor.”

Levy said Lewis’s entertainment career and humanitarian work combine to give him a unique multifaceted legacy.

“He has a real legacy as a filmmaker and a comedian that is genuinely deserved, and he gets overlooked sometimes, but he gets rediscovered,” Levy said. “The muscular dystrophy work that he’s done, the concept of the telethon, and even being able to talk about muscular dystrophy. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for Jerry Lewis, we would not be able to have that conversation.”

JNS.org

 
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A look at the legendary Jerry Lewis

The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis, 89, added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable philanthropic efforts that have bettered the lives of thousands of children.”

Previous recipients of the NAB award include Jorge Ramos, Bob Schieffer, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, President Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Osgood.

 

Debut documentary on Polish Jewry

 

‘A Borrowed Identity’

In Israel, making films during the early years of the state was a difficult enterprise.

With no government funding, creative movie-makers got minimal investment monies and often knocked out low-budget films to a public generally not interested in seeing them. But by the 1980s funds had been created to assist filmmakers, and seed money to jump-start movie production has become more readily available during the last 15 years. The result has been a growth in the number of film schools in Israel, and increasingly in the production of world-class films that can compete on the world market with films from anywhere.

A few decades ago, a filmmaker often would wait seven or eight years before making the next film; today, many Israeli directors are making films every two or three years, and the movies are getting better and better. The result is that an increasing number of Israeli filmmakers now have a body of work that can be seen, studied, and analyzed. One of these filmmakers is Eran Riklis, whose latest film, “A Borrowed Identity,” opens today in New York.

 
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Iran deadline approaches

Skeptics on both sides draw dueling red lines

 
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Ron Kampeas World
Published: 03 July 2015
 

JTA Wire Service

imageIran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and AIPAC are seen as the must-convince skeptics for their respective sides in the talks about Iran’s nuclear program. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — It’s deadline time at the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers, and skeptics on both sides are laying out red lines in a bid to shape a final deal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who had been wary of the talks, last week outlined his own expectations for the deal — and where there would be no compromise.

On the American side, a five-point memo circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been influential in shaping how Congress and others are pressing the Obama administration.

Among the contentious issues are the period that restrictions must stay in place and how much Iran must reveal of its nuclear past.

Officials on both sides say that the talks being held in Vienna, Austria, will stretch for a week or so beyond Tuesday’s deadline.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose adamant rejection of the emerging deal informs the AIPAC talking points, said Sunday that his skepticism was only increasing. “This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.

Khamenei’s June 23 broadside to Iranian government officials and AIPAC’s memo, “Five Requirements for a Good Deal,” circulating for about a month, are being treated by experts on the talks as baselines for must-convince skeptics in both countries: the religious establishment in Iran and Congress in the United States. Under legislation passed in May, Congress gets an up or down vote on a deal.

“The AIPAC fact sheet is influential,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a think tank monitoring the talks. “It’s a nice, colorful, simple format — and AIPAC has tremendous reach.”

Congressional insiders say the AIPAC memo features prominently in conversations that lawmakers from both parties are having with administration officials.

It has also influenced other American groups seeking a say in the process. A letter last week organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy setting out concerns about the emerging deal and signed by 18 former government officials has a similar five-point format, as does a fact sheet by J Street that seeks to counter some of AIPAC’s points.

David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, said that the inclusion of former Obama Iran policy officials like Gary Samore, Dennis Ross, and Robert Einhorn among the Washington Institute letter signers signified increasing disquiet with the deal.

“We’re not talking about those who can be put in a corner and depicted as warmongers or neoconservatives,” he said. “This is a very balanced, moderate group of people, who believe, as AJC has long believed, that we can do better at the negotiating table.”

David Makovsky, the Washington Institute fellow who convened the group, said that it had met nine times and conveyed its concerns to government officials. He also noted that the letter, which endorses outcomes that the Obama administration has said in the past are its aims, includes such longtime Iran deal skeptics as George W. Bush administration officials Stephen Hadley, Robert Blackwill, and Paula Dobriansky, as well as former Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

“People should not miss the dual message,” Makovsky said. “A bad agreement can lose people from the center left. A good agreement can bring people from the center right.”

The memos, as well as Khamenei’s speech, cover the same territory and demonstrate the degree to which the skeptics on each side differ.

• AIPAC is demanding “short notice” nuclear inspections “anytime and anywhere,” “including all military locations.” Khamenei says he does not agree with “inspecting military centers” and says the International Atomic Energy Agency, the atomic watchdog of the United Nations, must not be the sole arbiter determining compliance with the deal.

• AIPAC says sanctions can be lifted only once the IAEA “provides ongoing verification that Iran is meeting the conditions of the deal.” Khamenei plainly says: “Lifting sanctions should not depend on the fulfillment of Iran’s commitments.”

• AIPAC says the 10- to 15-year sunset clause anticipated for some of the deal’s reported restrictions is too short. “A good deal must not expire until Iran has proved over time that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes only,” the group said. Khamenei says even the expected time limits amount to “bullying.” “They say that we should not do anything for 10, 12 years and that we can engage in production and development after that,” he said. “This is bullying and an exceedingly wrong statement.”

• AIPAC says “Iran must dismantle its nuclear infrastructure so that it has no path to a nuclear weapon.” Khamenei says that even during the restriction period that Iran would accept, “research, development and production should continue.”

• AIPAC wants Iran to “fully explain its prior weaponization efforts.” Iran denies that it has ever weaponized, saying its research has been peaceful all along. “I do not agree with extraordinary investigations” Khamenei said, “nor do I agree with questioning political personalities in any way nor with inspecting military centers.”

The Washington Institute letter elaborates on some of the demands sought by AIPAC and Israel in ways that could satisfy lawmakers in Congress who are skeptical but do not want to kill a deal at all costs, Makovsky said.

“We went for something we thought could get consensus,” he said.

Instead of requiring Iran to come clean about its weaponization, as Israel and AIPAC have sought, the letter calls for an investigative approach that stops short of requiring a confession from Iran. Inspectors must be able “to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents,” the letter said. It also asks for “timely” access for nuclear inspectors as opposed to AIPAC’s “anytime, anywhere” demand, it does not mention the need for “decades” of restrictions, as AIPAC’s does, and does not call for dismantling nuclear infrastructure.

Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group skeptical of the Iran deal that has consulted with Congress and the administration, said the AIPAC parameters provided the stronger reassurances.

“While there are strong elements to the parameters in the [Washington Institute] letter, the AIPAC parameters provide greater assurances that any Iran deal would provide a much more timely and intrusive regime of ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections, a deal of longer duration that would not provide Iran with a virtually instant breakout capability after 12 to 13 years,” he said.

In his speech, Khamenei made clear the trust he was placing in the Iranian negotiators. It was a warning to hard-liners who oppose the negotiations that may prove more significant than the red lines he outlined.

“They are not infallible and they may make a mistake in their decisions and actions, but the important point is that we believe in their trustworthiness, their piety, their zeal, and their courage,” Khamenei said.

Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the Rand Corp. think tank, says it would be unrealistic to expect the Iranians to capitulate outright to the demands outlined by AIPAC and Israel.

“If the goal is ‘anytime, anywhere’ access and unlimited inspections, it’s not realistic asking a sovereign country not defeated in war,” he said. Instead, Nader said, the question was, “How can a middle ground be reached in which the IAEA has access and Iran can be assured it won’t expose its conventional secrets to inspectors?”

 
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Will Israelis pay the price for a natural gas ‘monopoly’?

 
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Uriel Heilman World
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Demonstrators in Tel Aviv this week protest the Israeli government’s support for a deal that would give two energy companies control over development of most of Israel’s offshore gas deposits. Kelmer/Flash90

Israeli consumers are no strangers to high prices.

Basic household goods like food and toiletries cost more in Israel than in all but two countries in Europe, a recent Nielsen research study found. Israeli real estate prices are up nearly 60 percent since 2008. Tel Aviv is the world’s third-most expensive city in which to buy beer, and furniture prices at IKEA Israel are more than double those at IKEA Norway, recent surveys have shown.

Now Israeli consumers are worried about high natural gas prices.

At issue is a deal on which the Knesset is preparing to vote that would give a partnership between two companies — Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group — control over developing the two largest gas fields discovered off Israel’s Mediterranean coast in recent years.

Given the significant consequences energy prices have on the rest of the economy, each side in the debate over the deal is arguing that nothing less than the health of the Israeli economy and the welfare of Israeli consumers is at stake.

Last week, a government committee approved a plan to give the Noble-Delek partnership the green light. On Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet cited national security concerns in overriding a warning by the nation’s antitrust regulator last December that the Noble-Delek deal constituted an effective monopoly. Proponents, including the prime minister, say that the deal is the best way to develop the gas fields efficiently, and that controls will be put in place to protect Israeli consumers.

“We are promoting a realistic solution that will bring natural gas to the Israeli market and not a populist solution that will leave the gas in the depths of the earth,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week.

Opponents, including the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties, say that without competition the Noble-Delek endeavor will harm the Israeli economy, and that the government must offer more details about the safeguards it will put in place to protect Israeli consumers.

“Yesh Atid will not support a plan that does not contain a monitoring mechanism for gas prices,” party chairman Yair Lapid said on Saturday. “It cannot be done in the shadows, it must be transparent.”

One of the fields at issue, called Tamar, thought to hold 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, began production in 2013. The other, Leviathan, is the world’s largest offshore natural gas discovery of the past decade at 22 trillion cubic feet; it is expected to come online in another three years.

Together, the two fields will turn Israel into an energy exporter, and export deals backed by the U.S. State Department already have been signed with Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. Noble and Delek also hold stakes in two smaller gas discoveries, the Tanin and Karish fields, which together hold about 3 trillion cubic feet.

The whole enterprise was thrown into jeopardy last December after the warning by the antitrust authority that the Noble-Delek deal constituted a cartel that could undermine competition and put Israeli consumers at the companies’ mercy.

Noble Energy responded by halting investments in Israel and threatening legal action, jeopardizing speedy development of the Leviathan field. Netanyahu quickly signaled that he would try to speed up approval of the deal, prompting the anti-trust regulator to announce in February that he would resign in protest, effective in August.

On Saturday, hundreds of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv to protest the deal, whose precise details are still being negotiated as the Israeli government considers what restrictions it will impose.

Looming behind the public concern about the Noble-Delek partnership is deep frustration about what many Israelis say is the cartelization of the Israeli economy. They blame a small group of wealthy Israeli families that dominates large swaths of the economy for the high prices they pay on everything from clothing to bank fees.

The gas deal, many Israelis worry, will hand yet another victory to a cartel and come at the expense of ordinary Israelis.

“Only now is the magnitude of the monopolies beginning to be understood in Israel,” said Idan Leibs, a researcher at the University of Haifa’s Natural Resources and Environmental Research Center. “Between the state, the energy companies, and the citizens, the people are the weakest party here. They are supposed to benefit from the gas revenues, but they also have the incentive of having cheaper gas prices. The price of gas has an impact on the entire economy.”

With Israel’s neighbors mired in violence and instability, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at a stalemate, and Israeli price increases outpacing wage growth, Israelis increasingly have focused on socioeconomic issues rather than security concerns. In 2011, a jump in the price of cottage cheese, an Israeli staple, sparked the biggest social protest movement in Israel’s history and helped catapult a new category of political parties focused on socioeconomic issues into real Knesset power players.

The primary beneficiary of that change in the 2013 elections was Yesh Atid, a new political party focused on socioeconomic issues that captured 19 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. In this year’s elections, Yesh Atid lost some of that support to the Zionist Union, which includes Israel’s Labor Party, and Kulanu, a center-right party focused on socioeconomic issues and led by Moshe Kahlon.

Netanyahu’s own economic record includes deregulation and privatization.

On Tuesday, the Netanyahu government presented new details about how Israel would mitigate the Noble-Delek partnership’s control over the natural gas market. According to an outline provided by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and published in Haaretz, the Noble-Delek partnership would sell its stakes in the smaller Karish and Tanin gas fields within 14 months and reduce its holdings within six years in the Tamar gas field, but would retain much of its control over the development of Leviathan. The price of gas in Israel would be capped only temporarily.

The government’s proposal “is difficult for the companies because it places three restrictions upon them that are not there in any OECD country: an export restriction, price restriction and ownership restriction,” Steinitz said, using the acronym for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Netanyahu said the deal would speed up development of the Leviathan field and benefit the Israeli economy.

“This outline breaks up the gas monopoly and will bring hundreds of billions of shekels to the state coffers — for welfare, health, education and many other needs,” Netanyahu said. “I trust the good sense of the Israeli people and I expect responsibility from the public’s representatives. We will do everything to ensure that the gas is extracted from the water.”

JTA Wire Service

 
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According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

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Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
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Remembering Steven Sotloff

Honoring the slain journalist in his Florida hometown

 
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Dina Weinstein • World
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Steven Sotloff, center, wearing a black helmet, talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line, about 15 miles from Misrata, Libya, on June 2, 2011. Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images

It’s been eight months since Jewish freelance journalist Steven Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS.

Still shaken by the loss, his hometown, Pinecrest, Florida, an upscale community of some 20,000 people, just south of Miami, continues to find new ways to honor his memory.

The tributes to Sotloff range in scale from local tributes to programs that are global in reach.

“Temple Beth Am Day School wants you to know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten,” fifth-grader Zachary Marcus wrote in a dedication in the school’s yearbook. “It must have been too terrible to put into words what you went through leading to your death. You have more bravery and courage than anyone else we know. You are a true superhero, a real superman.”

Like Zachary, Sotloff had gone to the Reform Jewish day school as a boy, and his mother, Shirley, was a preschool teacher there. She retired this year.

“She told me she’s proud of what I wrote,” Zachary said of Sotloff’s mother.

“I took into consideration that she would see it,” he added, saying he wanted to convey both his sympathy for Sotloff’s family and his admiration for the young journalist.

After ISIS broadcast the beheading in a three-minute video on September 2, 2014 — Sotloff, who was 30, was killed in 2014, more than a year after he was kidnapped in Syria — the media shined a light on Pinecrest in general, as well as on the 1,300-member Temple Beth Am, where Sotloff’s family are members.

“It was incredibly challenging to find the words to explain this as a school, as a community, and as a family,” said Nicole Marcus, Zachary’s mother, who is a clinical psychologist.

Sotloff’s memorial service was held at Temple Beth Am two days after the video was released. Community members and elected officials, including Florida Governor Rick Scott and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, filled the 1,000-seat sanctuary.

image
Zachary Marcus, who attended the same Florida Jewish day school as Steven Sotloff, wrote in the school yearbook that the slain journalist was a “a true superhero, a real superman.” Niki Marcus

The Marcus family also was there — Zachary was one of the few students who attended.

“He was at a place of maturity where he could handle it,” his mother said. “He was affected by the powerful memorial service. He learned who Steven was, what this loss meant to his family and the community.”

The service made a strong impression on Zachary, who felt it was important that his school remember Sotloff. “His is a story of resilience and perseverance,” Zachary said.

Pinecrest’s tributes to Sotloff extend beyond the synagogue community. Mayor Cindy Lerner, a friend of the Sotloffs, is leading an effort to create a memorial site in the 20-acre Pinecrest Gardens, a lush municipal park with more than 1,000 exotic plants, a petting zoo, historic buildings, and extensive cultural programming.

Lerner said she only had “roughly drawn” details on what the Sotloff memorial will look like. It will include three small waterfalls fabricated of slate, with a gradual decline in elevation of perhaps a foot. That probably will be surrounded by bromeliads, ginger, and mixed tropical foliage.

The park’s horticulturalist made recommendations for the memorial’s location, according to the mayor. “It will be in a public area,” Lerner said. “It will be a contemplative area, in the shade of a banyan tree, by a walkway that leads to the splash and play [area] for children.”

She said it also will have a small plaque with Sotloff’s date of birth and death, as well as a quote read at his memorial service, taken from a letter he wrote to his family that was smuggled out while he was in captivity: “Everyone has two lives. The second one begins when you realize you only have one.”

The memorial is expected to be completed by September, the anniversary of Sotloff’s death, Lerner said.

In addition, the Sotloff family and friends have established the 2LIVES: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation, which was inspired by the same quote. Its aim is to provide support and assistance to journalists and their families who are affected by the realities of reporting from conflict-torn or disaster settings.

The 2LIVES Foundation also will provide scholarships for students who have the passion and skills to pursue careers in journalism — particularly those who want to tell the stories of people living in dangerous regions around the world.

Additionally, Sotloff’s alma mater, the University of Central Florida in Orlando, together with his parents, established a fund for the Nicholson School of Communications there. The Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund will provide scholarship support to UCF students majoring in journalism, as well as funding for symposia, lectures, and other programming to advance journalism education.

Sotloff’s father would not comment on these developments.

As for Zachary Marcus, he sees Sotloff as an inspiration — he wants to be a journalist when he grows up.

Zachary ended the yearbook dedication with these words: “Temple Beth Am Day School is representing America in saying that we thank you for everything you did ... Even though your death was a tragedy, it has made us stronger and more resilient than ever.”

Zachary added, “I just want to say that I hope the rest of the world and here in Miami we keep remembering Sotloff’s stories. It’s terrible what happened to him.

“The only way to overcome is to remember.”

JTA Wire Service

 
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According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

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Balak: Love and curses

 
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Rabbi Neil Fleischmann, Orthodox •
Published: 03 July 2015
 

“Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkenotechah Yisrael!” —

“How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel.”

These beautiful words of blessing stir up warm memories of growing up Jewish. They were among the first holy verses that I sang and chanted with peers in school and in camp. And yet, I wonder how these words of blessing — uttered by Bilam, who came to curse — got into our Torah in the first place.

When Bilam is hired to curse the Jewish People, God blocks his curse and turns it into a blessing. At the heart of this story is the question of why God, who runs the world, was concerned with Bilam’s curse. Bilam himself concedes that “there is no divination in Jacob and no sorcery in Israel” (Bamidbar 23:23). Why did this story unfold as it did? What lesson does it contain that makes it worthy of being in the Torah?

Nechama Leibowitz quotes the commentary of Rav Yosef Ibn Kaspi. He asserts a truth regarding relationships to explain why God turned Bilam’s curse into a blessing. As Kaspi puts it, “A true friend will save his colleague any pain, even if he knows that no danger will ensue. Similarly, the Almighty, out of the abundance of his love for Israel, prevented Bilam from cursing them.” When you really love someone, you care about that which matters to them, even if you know it to be insignificant. God knew that the Israelites were afraid of Bilam’s curse, so He not only prevented Bilam from saying his negative words but He flipped them into blessings, all because of His love for His people.

Ibn Kaspi’s take on Parshat Balak exposes the subconscious layer of the literal text, revealing God’s love of the Jewish People as the theme of this episode. God is modeling a loving relationship for us, and thus we must try to be like God, fulfilling the mandate of Imitatio Dei. We need to remember that what matters to others aren’t necessarily the things that we think are important. To truly care for another person means to be sensitive to what they care about. When those around us are concerned about something, even if we don’t understand why they care about it, true friendship and love dictates that we be supportive of their feelings.

When God took the Jews out of Egypt He took us the long way in order to avoid war. He could have told the Jews to buckle up and that He was with them and they didn’t have to be afraid. Instead, He respected and accommodated to people’s fears rather than challenging their feelings, which He knew were objectively unwarranted.

The Rabbis teach in Pirkei Avot that every human being is beloved by God. This love is made clear by the awareness we are granted of the fact that we were created in the image of God. Additionally, that love is evidenced by the giving of the Torah and by our being deemed children of God. Similarly, before we fulfill our obligation of reciting Shema in the day and the night, we reference God’s “abundant love” for us, highlighting this aspect of the relationship.

God turned Bilam’s curse into a blessing at a time of transition, right after the decree that Moshe would not enter the Land of Israel. The generation that left Egypt had died out; the new generation was feeling insecure as they prepared to finally enter the Promised Land and they needed and were given a reassurance of God’s love.

May this illustration of God’s great love for His people in the desert cause us to recall and be inspired by the immeasurable love that God has for each of us today. May we approach our spiritual lives with a sense of God’s love and reciprocate that love through joyous involvement in Torah life, rather than regarding our observance of mitzvot as a mandated burden. And may we all strive and succeed to follow His ways and to be there for each other in vulnerable times when we are needed most.

 
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Debut documentary on Polish Jewry

 
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Film
Published: 03 July 2015
 

After 70 years, the saga of Polish Jewry will be featured in an exclusive debut screening of an original documentary, “Once Upon a Family,” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park. The film, produced by Project Witness, will be screened on Tuesday, July 14. The evening, hosted by a group of second-generation Holocaust survivors, begins with a buffet dinner reception at 5:30 p.m. The program follows at 7 and will include reunions between survivors and their liberators and remarks from the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau — the “miracle child of Buchenwald” — who symbolizes the destruction and rebuilding of a world that was. His remarks will be followed by the film premiere.

Representatives of hundreds of New York’s most prominent Jewish families, including elected officials, survivors, liberators, and their children, are expected to attend.

“This is not a dry historical narration; it is an experience that will take you back in time,” Project Witness’s director, Ruth Lichtenstein, said. “It’s about living daily life through the eyes of a Jewish family in Poland — the joy, the holidays, the education, the experiences of rich urban Jewish life — and then the sheer horror.”

Ms. Lichtenstein, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and publisher of the daily newspaper Hamodia, has made Holocaust remembrance her life’s mission. Project Witness is the nonprofit New York-based Holocaust resource center she founded; it merges research and scholarship with media to provide materials for schools, communities, and lay readers.

Featuring live interviews from survivors conducted in Jewish communities in the United States, Israel, and Poland, “Once Upon a Family” is the latest in a series of documentaries from Project Witness covering little-known or grossly underrepresented facets of the Holocaust.

Seating is limited and pre-assigned. For information, call (718) 305-5244 or book online at premiere.projectwitness.org.

 
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A look at the legendary Jerry Lewis

The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis, 89, added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable philanthropic efforts that have bettered the lives of thousands of children.”

Previous recipients of the NAB award include Jorge Ramos, Bob Schieffer, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, President Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Osgood.

 

Debut documentary on Polish Jewry

 

‘A Borrowed Identity’

In Israel, making films during the early years of the state was a difficult enterprise.

With no government funding, creative movie-makers got minimal investment monies and often knocked out low-budget films to a public generally not interested in seeing them. But by the 1980s funds had been created to assist filmmakers, and seed money to jump-start movie production has become more readily available during the last 15 years. The result has been a growth in the number of film schools in Israel, and increasingly in the production of world-class films that can compete on the world market with films from anywhere.

A few decades ago, a filmmaker often would wait seven or eight years before making the next film; today, many Israeli directors are making films every two or three years, and the movies are getting better and better. The result is that an increasing number of Israeli filmmakers now have a body of work that can be seen, studied, and analyzed. One of these filmmakers is Eran Riklis, whose latest film, “A Borrowed Identity,” opens today in New York.

 
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Shabbat prayers on the Palisades

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 

Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter and Temple Emeth in Teaneck invite the community to a family-friendly outdoor “Welcome Summer” Shabbat service at the State Line Lookout off the Palisades Parkway on Friday, July 10, at 6:30 p.m.

Rabbis David Widzer and Steven Sirbu will lead songs and prayers with Cantors Rica Timman and Ellen Tilem. All are welcome; bring a lawn chair and bug spray. In case of inclement weather, services will be at Temple Beth El, 221 Schraalenburgh Road, in Closter.

The entrance to the lookout is on the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway, two miles north of Exit 2. Future dates for Prayers on the Palisades services are July 24 and August 14. For more information, call (201) 768-5112 or go to http://www.tbenv.org.

 
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Shabbat prayers on the Palisades

 

Networking for accountants

 

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Networking for accountants

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 

The OU Job Board will present Networking for Accountants, an opportunity to meet professional leaders in the industry, on Tuesday, July 14, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at the OU Job Board Headquarters, 11 Broadway in Manhattan.

“We welcome some of the ‘big four’ for the first time in OU Job Board’s events,” Michael Rosner, the international director of the OU Job Board, said. “This event will feature accountants who will be available to mentor and guide job seekers, as well as accounting head-hunters and representatives of firms that may have open positions. Featured firms and headhunters include Ernst & Young, Loeb & Troper, PricewaterhouseCooper, and Richard Hauptman.”

Registration is required. Admission is $25 with pre-registration; $35 at the door. There will be no refunds. For information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), call (212) 563-4000 and ask for the Job Board, or go to www.oujobs.org.

 
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Book launch in Teaneck this week

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Rabbi Hanoch Teller will discuss his new book, “Heroic Children: Untold Stories of the Unconquerable,” at a private home in Teaneck on July 7 at 7:45 p.m. The book chronicles the stories of nine child survivors of the Holocaust. The book has not yet been released but will be available that evening.

Rabbi Teller has been a guide in Yad Vashem for three decades and teaches about the Holocaust.

According to Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel and chair of Yad Vashem, “Rabbi Hanoch Teller’s ‘Heroic Children’ is unique in its uncanny ability to present the reader the terror and the valor, the torment and the benevolence, that were all part of the Holocaust.”

For information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 
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Art classes in Washington Township

 
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Arts
Published: 03 July 2015
 

The Bergen County YJCC in Washington Township offers summer painting classes taught by Paulette Cochet of Cochet Art Studio.

The “Joy of Watercolor” offers a combination of instruction, inspiration, and insight, with easy-to-follow demonstrations, practical and sensitive guidance, tips, and advice. It meets on Mondays, from July 13 through August 24 at 10 a.m.

“Finding and Expressing Your Visual Voice” invites students to create a series of watercolors on a topic with personal meaning while developing skills in a supportive instructional environment. The class runs from July 13 through August 24 at 1:30 p.m.

“The Art of Acrylic Painting” enables students to discover the freedom, simplicity, and ease of painting with a modern, permanent, non-toxic, and versatile medium. This class is on Thursdays, from July 9 to Aug. 27 at 10 a.m.

The YJCC is at 605 Pascack Road. For more information, call (201) 666-6610.

 
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Talk will view religion and its ties to democracy

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 

Rabbi Moshe Taragin, who teaches Talmud at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Gush Etzion, will discuss “Religious Challenges of Democracy: Bridging July 4, and 17 Tammuz,” on Sunday, July 5, at 7:05 p.m., at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck. The event is hosted by the shul’s adult education committee. Mincha will follow at 8:05. The shul is at 641 West Englewood Ave. For information, call (201) 836-8916.

 
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Arts
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Joseph Moretti

The Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood will display photography by Joseph Moretti in its Intermezzo Gallery on the second floor through July 30. The gallery is open to the public, free of charge, during box office hours. There will be a reception on Monday, July 6, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Joseph, a 9-year-old from Oradell, has been taking pictures since he was 4. Joseph’s photographs have been exhibited at Martin Hick’s Gallery/The Belskie Museum in Closter. For the last two years, he was awarded Bergen County honors from Reflections — the National PTA arts recognition program. For information, call (201) 227-1030, or go to www.bergenpac.org or www.ticketmaster.com.

 
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Remembering the Concord Hotel

 
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General
Published: 03 July 2015
 

John Conway, the historian for Sullivan County, N.Y., offers a presentation, “The Concord: Sullivan County’s Acropolis,” as part of the Sullivan County Historical Society’s new exhibit, “The Concord Remembered.” The lecture is on Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m. at the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville, N.Y.

A preview of the exhibit will be open on July 4 and 5. On July 5, from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a reunion of former Concord employees, suppliers, and contractors. Visitors are encouraged to bring memorabilia to share and refreshments will be served. For information, call (845) 434-8044 or go to www.scnyhistory.org.

 
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JEC celebrates academy’s 60 years

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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The Jewish Educational Center’s gala at the Venetian. Courtesy JEC

More than 450 parents, faculty, alumni, and friends of the Jewish Educational Center came together for the center’s annual gala at the Venetian in Garfield on June 17. Community rabbis and partner agency executives from the area that JEC serves, representing Elizabeth, Hillside, West Orange, Linden, Springfield, Livingston, Lakewood, Edison, Highland Park, Passiac/Clifton, Teaneck, Bergenfield, Monsey, and Staten Island were there as well.

The gala commemorated 60 years of Torah and excellence at JEC’s Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy, and recognized two distinguished alumni: Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, RTMA class of 1988, is the founder and national director of RAJE (Russian American Jewish Experience), a Brooklyn-based organization that helps immigrants from the former Soviet Union both acclimate to life in the United States and develop a strong Jewish identity, and Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, RTMA class of 1995, is a Rhodes Scholar (one of only two from the yeshiva day-school world — the second is also a JEC alumna — Miriam Rosenbaum, Bruriah class of 2007) and now the rabbi of Congregation Sha’arei Shomayim in Toronto.

The evening’s program included the live finale of “RTMA’s Got Talent,” a competition held in the RTMA division over last few months.

The three semi-finalist acts were invited to attend and perform at the dinner. A trio from the RTMA Middle School division, Yair Cantor, Yonatan Swissa, and Jake Goldberg, led the national anthems, accompanied on piano by RTMA junior Uri Veit, also a semi-finalist. The third semi-finalist was RTMA senior Jake Stern, whose delivery of divrei Torah and talent at the pulpit reflected the school’s core Torah values.

The competition’s finale was held at the dinner, with the final vote left up to the viewing audience, both at the dinner and watching via livestream.

The two finalists were outgoing RTMA senior SJ Tannenbaum, an impressionist, and Isaiah Rappaport, a sophomore who played guitar and sang — and won the competition.

The evening also honored Charlotte and Howard Block of Springfield, who received Lev Tov award for their legacy gift to the JEC, and Dr. Brian and Shoshana Allen of Edison, named Parents of the Year for their generous support of the new Bruriah STEM laboratories.

Nearly 3,000 people watched the program livestreamed at vimeo.com/131155169. A photo album is on the school’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/theJEC.

Next year’s gala will mark the entire Jewish Educational Center’s 75th anniversary.

 
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OU’s Rabbi Weil leading weekend in Long Branch

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 
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Rabbi Steven Weil

The Orthodox Union Department of Synagogue and Community Services will present an OU community weekend in Long Branch with Rabbi Steven Weil, OU’s senior managing director, at Congregation Brothers of Israel from Friday, July 10, to Saturday, July 11, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas.

Led by Rabbi Nasanayl Braun, the OU member synagogue is at 250 Park Ave. in Elberon.

On Friday night, Rabbi Weil will discuss “Brave Old World” during a special Shabbat family dinner at the synagogue. On Saturday morning, he will give a drasha, “The 7th Million Man,” at the synagogue’s 752 Ocean Ave. satellite location. At seudat shlishit at the synagogue’s Park Avenue location, Rabbi Weil will end the weekend with a talk, “Josiah the King; The One Man Who Could Have Prevented the Churban.”

 
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Seeking bicycles for mitzvah project

 
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Community
Published: 03 July 2015
 

Gil Zyndorf, a local bar mitzvah student, is collecting adult-sized bicycles to be sent to impoverished countries in South America and Africa. The bikes help families to become independent and achieve economic sustainability. His project supports the Fair Lawn Rotary Club and Pedals4Progress.

To donate a bike, arrange for a pick-up, or get more information, call (201) 773-8616.

 
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NCJW schedules Pittsburgh trip

 
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Travel
Published: 03 July 2015
 

A few seats remain on the bus that the Jersey Hills section of the National Council of Jewish Women has arranged for its “Pittsburgh Express” trip, set for July 17 to 19.

The three-day trip leaves from Fair Lawn early Friday. Lodging will be at the Comfort Inn & Suites, with dinners at Grand Concourse and Buca de Beppo. Breakfast will be provided.

In addition to a guided tour of Pittsburgh, the trip will include stops at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and the Flight 93 memorial. There will also be a Gateway Clipper Cruise, casino gambling, and a stop at the Harrisburg state capital on the way home.

The trip costs $425 for double occupancy and $500 for singles. Call Leona Sesholtz at (201) 391-9354 or Shelley Schneider at (201) 692-0167.

 
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Remembering an American suffragist

 
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Discussion, Lecture
Published: 01 July 2015
 
 
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Published: 30 June 2015
 
 
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Grill like a pro

 
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Beth Chananie Cooking with Beth
Published: 30 June 2015
 

Well here it is. July already. Sorry, no complaints with the warm weather, just remember the bitter cold winter and all that ice!

So it is an official barbecue weekend. First and foremost are some very important grilling rules. After the article, look for a delicious recipe for Shish Kabob. Enjoy the long weekend and if the mood strikes you, fire up the BBQ. My personal favorite is a really well done frankfurter with deli mustard and sauerkraut.

Of course, be safe and enjoy!

Grill like a pro courtesy USDA

This July 4th weekend, many Americans will be celebrating our nation with family gatherings and summer cookouts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding families to take extra care not to let foodborne bacteria, which grows more quickly in hot weather, ruin the fun.

One of the easiest ways to avoid foodborne illness is to use a food thermometer when cooking on the grill. You can’t see harmful bacteria on your burgers, chicken, and steak, so using a food thermometer is the only way to know that food is safe to eat. The USDA FSIS is encouraging Americans everywhere to protect you and your family from harmful bacteria by “Grilling Like a PRO” at your summer cookout.

“Grilling Like a PRO” is easy to do—just follow these three steps when cooking meat or poultry on the grill this summer:

P—Place the Thermometer!

When you think your food is cooked, check the internal temperature by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep). If you are cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side. Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.

R—Read the Temperature!

Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading. Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.

• Beef, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 degrees with a 3-minute rest time

• Ground meats: 160 degrees

• Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 degrees

O—Off the Grill!

Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

While it’s important to cook your food to a safe temperature, it is just as important to remember to keep your food at a safe temperature. Perishable food should not be left out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 degrees), food should never sit out for more than one hour.

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Shish Kabob

2 pounds of lean beef, lamb, or chicken chunks
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mushrooms
Onions cut in chunks
Cherry tomatoes
Pineapple chunks
Zucchini chunks
Green peppers in chunks

Create a marinade of lemon juice, oil, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic. Marinate meat (or chicken) overnight or at least for a few hours. When making the kabobs, make chicken ones separately from the meat or veal ones, as they have different cooking times. Arrange layers of meat (chicken), peppers, onions, tomatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms on skewers. Broil on the barbecue until the meat is tender. Do not overcook or burn. Enjoy!

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Understanding Tisha B’Av in Teaneck

 
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Event Location | New Jersey | Event Type | Discussion, Lecture
Published: 28 June 2015
 
 
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Working for smart guns

Mahwah rabbi forms coalition to help cut back on gun violence

 
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Joanne Palmer Cover Story
Published: 26 June 2015
 

It would have been entirely understandable if Rabbi Joel Mosbacher wanted to ban all guns. Just collect them all, melt them into a lump, and be done with it.

Rabbi Mosbacher’s father, Lester Mosbacher, was eulogized as a “gentle soul” in 1992; he died, at 52, after he was shot by a burglar who was holding up his store on Chicago’s South Side.

His murder was the textbook definition of pointless — Mr. Mosbacher was shot in the head and arm by a petty thief who got nothing from the robbery and was tried, convicted, and then released for retrial, which never happened. Nothing ever happened, except that Mr. Mosbacher remained dead.

For years, Rabbi Mosbacher, the spiritual leader of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, bottled his rage. And then, just a few years ago, he took its distilled essence, nourished by news stories of other shootings, equally senseless, like his father’s murder causing sudden, catastrophic, and lifelong pain to survivors as their own lives had to reweave themselves around a gaping hole, to lead a new campaign.

And it is a careful, moderate, deliberate campaign, aimed not at raising the emotional temperature but at lowering it.

He is working not to ban guns, or to work on gun control, but to control gun violence.

“Do Not Stand Idly By,” an inter-religious campaign against gun violence, takes its name from the biblical verse in chapter 19 of Leviticus, which demands that we not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor. Rabbi Mosbacher has taken that moral imperative seriously.

Metro IAF (which stands for Metropolitan Industrial Areas Foundation) is an organization that describes itself as “the nation’s first and largest network of multi-faith community organizations,” according to its website. “Drawing on the proven power of person-to-person organizing, our work transforms communities and builds the local power necessary to create national change,” the explanation continues.

Working with Metro IAF to create and fund “Do Not Stand Idly By,” Rabbi Mosbacher is spending this year working halftime at his shul and halftime on the campaign. (Beth Haverim Shir Shalom’s new assistant rabbi, Daniel Kirzane, has been overseeing the shul.)

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Rabbi Joel Mosbacher in his office at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah

Rabbi Mosbacher and his colleagues have talked with gun designers, visited gun shops, and most recently held a gun show. Their goal is to sidestep questions of gun control, replacing them with the less contentious promise of smart guns.

Smart guns, which do not yet exist in mass-producible form, can be fired only by their legal owners. Sophisticated devices now being created, tested, and in the most advanced cases prototyped by cutting-edge technologists and gun designers make that science-fiction-like premise possible. That technological step possibly could defang some of the critics who fear government control of their second-amendment-protected firearms but would like not to have to worry about those guns being stolen or otherwise turned on the wrong people.

If guns can be personalized so that only their owners could use them, then stolen guns would turn into hunks of metal; they could be used to bash other people, like short steel bats, but they could not shoot. If a police officer were carrying a personalized gun, he would not have to worry about that gun being turned on him during a struggle. It could be aimed but it would not shoot.

So there are two main goals for Rabbi Mosbacher and the campaign. One is to find or aid in the creation of the technology that makes the vision possible. The other is to convince the gun-buying public — and particularly the institutional gun-buying public, mainly local police and state and national armed forces — that the logic behind them is unassailable.

“We are trying to create an emerging market,” Rabbi Mosbacher said. Mostly, it is being done on a very local level; he tries to make his case with town mayors, each of whom oversees a fairly small police force, but little steps add up to large advances. And the campaign is taking place across the country. “It is important that we be geographically diverse,” he said. “We signed Atlanta and Durham for this effort. It will not be successful if it touches just the liberal Northeast. It will be too easy to write us off then.

“A lot of times, when we go to public meetings to talk about it, people think they are seeing another group of people who are going to try to roll back the Second Amendment,” he said. “We have to stay with them, stay in the conversation long enough for them to see that we are not saying that.

“There are places where you say the words ‘gun violence prevention’ and it is the end of the conversation.”

He thinks that there is much hope on both of his campaign fronts.

“Companies know how to innovate, and law enforcement can be convinced to change the weapons they carry if they are convinced that the weapons are safer and more reliable,” he said.

To that end, the group is holding gun shows, where they introduce gun buyers and enthusiasts to companies working on prototypes of smart guns. The first such show was held earlier this month in New Rochelle, N.Y.

“We know that there is a lot of skepticism in general, and among the police in particular, about reliability,” Rabbi Mosbacher said. “We are not asking cops to compromise on their own safety, and we don’t feel best placed to know if they are reliable. That’s why we want to make the introduction, and let gun people speak to gun people, and let the gun people decide if it is safe and reliable technology.”

In May, a group of clergy from northern New Jersey “visited 12 gun stores, including in Paramus and Mahwah and Ramsey,” he said. “We got a range of reactions, but part of the question is ‘What do you know, you members of the clergy, about guns? What do you know about the process of acquiring guns?’

“We are trying to understand. We are trying to be smart and strategic. It would be good for me to at least understand the process of acquiring a handgun license.

“One of the stores we went to had a Jewish owner — in fact, two of the stores we visited were owned by Jewish guys. Not all of us were rabbis, but when he realized that he was talking to a rabbi, it was like when I meet a Jewish person on a plane, and they realize that they’re talking to a rabbi. They talk. So he spent much of the time that we were in the store pulling out the reams of paperwork he has to fill out to sell a gun. He was trying show us how onerous it was, and we were there thinking that if only every state had all that paperwork…

“There are about 400 gun sellers in New Jersey, which is a little bit below the national average. We sent a letter to each one of them, asking them to consider smart-gun technology. We got a range of reactions that we could have predicted, from hostile to skeptical but open.

“We were at a gun store, talking to an owner, and he said that the technology couldn’t work, that it couldn’t be reliable, and that no one would want it. One of my colleagues asked him if he had ever fired one. The answer was no. Someone else asked if it would be morally objectionable to have the store carry it, and he said no, but no one would want it. We are just saying that if you could make it available, maybe no one would want it, but then we’d know.

“We were just trying to open the conversation,” Rabbi Mosbacher said.

The question of smart guns is even more complicated in New Jersey than in other states, he said. About 12 years ago, the state passed the New Jersey smart gun mandate, which said that “once a smart gun is sold anywhere in the country, a clock starts, and within three years that is the only kind of gun that can be sold in New Jersey.” (Police officers are exempt from it, he added.)

State senator Loretta Weinberg was instrumental in passing the law, which is unique to this state, and entirely well intentioned. “But now, in our view, it is a big obstacle, because we have examples, one in California, one in Maryland, where stores announced that they would put a smart gun on the market, and within 24 hours they had gotten so many death threats from gun supremacists that they had to withdraw it.” But had the sales gone through, the mandate’s wire would have been tripped, despite the clear physical dangers it posed to store owners.

“Most of the people I’ve met who are gun owners are gun enthusiasts,” he added. “That’s people who own guns for protection or for sport. They are like the 70 percent of NRA members who believe that it is okay to have background checks. They are reasonable folks. Unlike me, they want to own a gun, but it is possible to have a conversation with them.

“And then there is a whole other group of people, who I call gun supremacists. Like any other supremacists, there is no discussion to be had with them. They are the kind of people like the one who wrote on a blog about me that if my grandparents had had guns in Germany in 1938, the Nazis wouldn’t have succeeded.

“It’s the gun supremacists who are making threats to gun stores,” he said.

“There is a paranoia among a fringe percentage of gun supremacists that says that the introduction of technology in this regard is a slippery slope leading to the government coming to take your guns away,” he said.

His solution to the mandate? “We have approached the New Jersey attorney general and proposed an alternative. We would not like to see the mandate repealed, but replaced with one that says that we would like to see the state police test the technology. If the state police say that it’s safe, then the mandate would be replaced with one that says that every gun store in New Jersey has to carry one model. It’s not the only one that would be sold, but it must be made available should it be determined to be safe.”

Meanwhile, he added, because the governor, given his ambitions, would just as soon dodge questions about gun control during the upcoming presidential election season, and he has managed to dance around the mandate. His administration has determined that the smart guns now being developed will not trigger the mandate, Rabbi Mosbacher said.

It is important for rabbis and other clergy people to get involved in the push for smart guns, he said. “Victims and their families, people of faith, mayors and police chiefs and sheriffs and governors and presidents — we all have our responsibilities in regard to gun violence prevention.

“Some of us have to have the violence, some of us have to bury the victims and console the bereaved. We all are playing our roles.

“We think that gun manufacturers have been left out of the roles they can play. We want to make the problem of gun violence their problem too.”

In early June, Rabbi Mosbacher went to the first gun show that displayed prototypes of smart guns. “It was great,” he said. “We’re going to do it again. We had people from nine police departments and five smart gun designers and 80 or so faith leaders from different religious traditions.

“It was the first to bring together designers and police departments, and it was enlightening for the police to see that the technology is for real. Probably it was the first time that any of them saw it. I think they were intrigued.

“And it was great for the designers too. Some light bulbs went off for them too I think that the designers didn’t necessarily realize that the police would be interested. They started thinking that this would be only for home use. I think that when they saw genuine interest from police, it was heartening and exciting for them.”

The designers come from a range of backgrounds, Rabbi Mosbacher added; one of them, “an 18-year-old, who lives in Colorado, was inspired by the tragedy there.” (He was talking about the 2012 shooting that killed 12 people and injured 70 others; the alleged gunman, James Holmes, is on trial now. Prosecutors have asked for a death sentence.)

Donald Sebastian is the senior vice president for research and development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. He began to work on the problem of smart gun technology on July 1, 1999, “the first day of the fiscal year, and my first day in my position at NJIT,” he said.

The work came out of a grant from Jack Collins, the South Jersey Republican who then was president of the state’s General Assembly. He was against the smart gun mandate — “it was a politically fractious issue then as now,” Dr. Sebastian said — “so his dodge was to challenge the university. He gave us a million dollar grant to study whether the technology was real.

“Then, as today, you could hear opposing views. Is it science fiction, or is it possible? And if it didn’t exist, what would it take to get us there?

“None of the technologies were better than lock and key trigger locks, that I think already were required,” he said. Those were devices that a gun user had to carry if the gun was to work, but “if you left the key in the drawer, they were useless.

“Putting electronics in a gun is not simple,” he said. The gun manufacturer Colt had tried, but it “failed catastrophically in public” in the late 1990s. The gun overheated. It was a disaster, “and then they let it go.” The trouble, he said, was that the company tried to work with people who did not really know guns. “It was a shotgun marriage, and like most it didn’t really work,” he said.

When NJIT tackled the problem, its scientists decided that the way around “owner responsibility” was to use biometrics — to tie the gun to something on the user’s body, not something that can be lost or forgotten. “All that was available back then was fingerprint technology, and that was not reliable,” he said. He compared it to the fingerprint technology that unlocks today’s iPhones. It works most of the time, but if your finger is wet, forget it. “When water fills the grooves, you essentially have eradicated your fingerprints,” he said.

What to do? “Someone had a brilliant idea that has become our primary focus,” Dr. Sebastian said. “There is a whole new class of biometrics — behavioral biometrics. It’s not just fingerprints, but the way that you do things.

“It combines your physicality — say the size and length of the digits of your hand — and the way that you do a coordinated action. When you do something that is a learned behavior, it comes from a different part of the brain. When you pull on the trigger of a gun, the rest of your hand is performing too, and the pressure pattern that you create would be individual — it is yours and nobody else’s — and it is reproducible — you can do it over and over — and it is measureable.”

These patterns are learned when you first learn how to take the action, and because they are not conscious they are hard to change, Dr. Sebastian said.

“That was his premise — individual, reproducible, and measureable. His inspiration came out of handwriting analysis on the pads that just came into use in supermarkets. Its developers said they were not using the signature itself, but the dynamic character as it is signed — pressure and speed, how hard you are pushing on the pen and how fast you are moving it.”

It’s similar to the way voice recognition works, he continued. “It combines your vocal chords and breathing pattern, so it doesn’t matter if you muffle your voice or whisper or put on a fake accent. There is something about the way you’ve learned to speak when you were an infant that you retain.

“That’s the science we use. We put 32 pressure transducers — sensors — in the gun, and when you pull the trigger it analyzes the pressure pattern. We can make that measurement in the first tenth of a second,” so the gun’s response is immediate. There is no time delay if the shooter is matched properly with the gun.

The sensors now are part of the gun, he said; NJIT is working with researchers at the Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway to make the electronic component even smaller than it is now, and to increase its battery life. (When it comes to this, the problems of the smart gun and the smart phone sound remarkably similar.)

“Why do we do this?” Dr. Sebastian answered the rhetorical question. “It is the right thing to do. The solution ultimately will be something that will be acceptable to gun users and enthusiasts. This is not some hair-brained academic scheme that the government will force on them.

“It is gun safety, not gun control.”

William Laforet is the mayor of Mahwah. He approves of Rabbi Mosbacher’s work.

He grew up in Mahwah, “and when I was a kid, deer hunting was something you just did,” he said. “It was many families’ tradition to go upstate to a log cabin in the middle of nowhere.”

Nonetheless, he did not try to shoot a rifle until he was an adult.

“When I had the opportunity to shoot a rifle, I remember how deeply it affected me. When I shot it, I hadn’t realized the magnitude of the weapon, the impact of the weapon.

“I remember what it did to me, how it affected me. I handed the gun to my wife’s cousin — it was a brand new gun — and I said I would never use it again.

“It often is a novelty to get a gun. People buy guns but never get to a range to get the proper training in how to shoot it. Boys will be boys, men will be men — I know, I’m one of them -- so they go home, and say ‘Johnny has a gun, so I’ll go and get one too,’ and it nurtures this whole explosion in gun ownership.

“There is a whole segment of gun purchasers who keep them but don’t use them. God forbid they ever had a chance to shoot it. They would be devastated by it.”

So gun safety would not be Mr. Laforet’s personal issue, but he oversees a police department that has 51 officers. (“Mahwah is the size of Manhattan, 26 miles,” he said.)

“Joel Mosbacher is bringing a practical approach to the table,” he said. “These small accomplishments add to the sum total of the parts.

“When is enough enough? When a person sits in a church, contemplating what he will do — and then kills nine people? I can’t keep hearing that it’s some mental disorder or illness, because at what point do you not fix the problem? You would think that after Sandy Hook you would see a call to action.

“Unfortunately, we tend to want to forget something bad like that, but how many times can we as a society say well, it turned out to be a mental condition?

“If you can fix how guns are recycled, it would help. Protecting gun rights is important, but take a look at how we manage permits. You have to start to do something effective at some level.

“I can understand the notion of gun violence in the cities, but I never thought it would come to my town.” Last year, a SWAT team had to come to disarm a man “who was in his home, threatening to kill people,” Mr. Laforet said. “I never thought this would come to my door, but there