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Camps taking swine flu precautions

 
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As school ends the camp season begins and many area camps, citing increased precautions, remain unconcerned about the swine flu virus.

Many area camp officials reached by this newspaper reported that they have received guidelines from county and state health departments reinforcing sanitary practices. None of the directors interviewed said that fears of the flu were keeping parents from sending their children to camp.

At Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, which maintains an office in Englewood, only one parent has written to director Rabbi Paul Resnick about flu concerns. Even with 565 children registered, Resnick is not concerned about an outbreak in camp. He has received no advisories from local health departments warning of potential outbreaks and the camp is following hygiene guidelines. Campers and staff will be screened upon arrival and parents have been told to keep their children home if they have a fever within three days of the July 1 start date. With a doctor and four nurses on staff, Resnick is confident that the camp can handle “any eventuality.”

“Parents for the most part have full faith and trust in camp and that’s why they’re not calling or e-mailing in panic, because they feel secure in sending their kids to camp,” he said.

The Neil Klatskin Day Camp at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly receives weekly e-mails from the Center for Disease Control on best practices.

“We’re gathering information at this point,” said day camp director Stacy Budkofsky. “Hopefully we won’t have to deal with anything, [but] we are preparing for the circumstances if they arrive.”

Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan, director of Chabad of Franklin Lakes and its Gan Israel Day Camp of Oakland, said he had recently returned from Costco with commercial-size bottles of Purell hand sanitizer.

“We’re taking precautions,” he said. “We’re taking extra care to ensure children are constantly having their hands cleaned.”

Many camps are looking to local health departments for guidance. Instructions from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services include covering mouths and noses during coughs and sneezes and then immediately disposing of tissues; washing hands frequently with warm water and soap; and staying home if one is sick and avoiding sick people.

“They’re going to set up the policy for us,” said Rabbi Sam Vogel, director of Ma Tov Day Camp in Old Tappan. “Then we’ll formulate our own policy on top of that.”

At the day camps at the YM-YWHA of Greater Clifton-Passaic, counselors are prepared to reinforce hygiene techniques as well as to send home any child exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Children who are sent home will not be allowed back without a doctor’s note.

“The important thing is that the parents communicate with the camp and sick children stay home from the camp,” said Rosanne Mendelowitz, the Y’s assistant director.

Camp is set to begin at the Y on June 29 and its nurse is preparing an explanation of the policy to send home with children on the first day. The camp is being “very proactive,” Mendelowitz said.

The World Health Organization last week declared the spread of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, a pandemic that has struck almost 30 countries. Locally, Yeshivat Noam in Paramus closed for three days in late May because of concerns of flu-like symptoms among students. Ramaz in New York canceled its Grade 8 Advancement ceremony on Monday night and closed its middle school on Tuesday and Wednesday because of an increasing number of sick students and concern that they would attend the ceremony.

 
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Stay tuned for the return of comments

 

‘It’s valuable to hear both sides’

Ridgewood man discusses Israeli, Palestinian narratives

Jonathan Emont — a 2008 graduate of Ridgewood High School who celebrated his bar mitzvah at the town’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center — always has felt a deep attachment to the state of Israel.

Still, the 23-year-old said, he never expected that country to be at the center of his professional life.

Things changed, however, when the recent Swarthmore College graduate went to Israel on a tour the America-Israel Friendship League offered to young journalists.

“I did journalism in college,” he said, explaining that although he majored in history, he also was the editor of Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette.

 

Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Yet more Pew

Local rabbis talk more about implications of look at American Jews

The Pew Research Center’s study of American Jews, released last October, really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As much as the Jewish community deplores the study’s findings, it seems to exert a magnetic pull over us, as if it were the moon and we the obedient tides. We can’t seem to stop talking about it. (Of course, part of that appeal is the license it gives us to talk, once again, about ourselves. We fascinate ourselves endlessly.)

That is why we found ourselves at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly last Wednesday night, with the next in the seemingly endless series of snow-and-ice storms just a few hours away, discussing the Pew study yet again.

 

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Doing well, doing good

Israeli band full of New Jersey locals hopes to tour U.S.

If a crowd-funding appeal is successful, the Israeli band G-Nome Project is coming to the United States.

This is not the scientific kind of genome project having to do with decoding DNA, but a musical project launched by four young expatriates — two of them from Teaneck.

It’s also a kind of chesed project. The band’s proposed 10-city “Giving Tour” aims to combine nightly gigs with days of good deeds such as visiting nursing homes and working in a soup kitchen.

This unusual twist was inspired by drummer Chemy Soibelman’s volunteering with Israeli children suffering from cancer.

 

Less is more

Moriah to institute new tuition affordability program

Good news for the middle class — and for Jewish day school affordability.

The Moriah School in Englewood, which runs from prekindergarten through eighth grade, has announced a new tuition affordability program, which will cut tuition for parents making as much as $360,000 a year.

Full tuition at the school ranges from $12,000 for kindergarten to $15,425 for middle school. (The prekindergarten program is not eligible for the tuition breaks.)

“We’ve been talking, as a board and as a community, about tuition affordability and the tuition crisis for years,” said Evan Sohn, the school’s president. “We decided this was the year we were going to address that issue.”

 

Scrolling through Jewish art

Local exhibit looks at text and images in old and new ways

The English letters that Harriet Fincke of Ridgewood learned when she was young are straightforward symbols that combine to form words, just as they are for everyone else.

But Hebrew letters — ah, they are something else again. “They always seemed kind of solid,” she said. “They seemed more like things,” objects in their own right, opaque. “It’s both the meaning and the look, and the relationship between them,” she said.

Those letters were a foundation part of her childhood — she went all the way through school at the Yeshiva of Flatbush. “I’d always had a kind of richly ambivalent relationship with my religious upbringing, and with the text,” she said.

 
 
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