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TABC graduate a nominee for L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Award

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On top of the world are, from left, club president Eliyahu Friedman; Arthur Poleyeff, TABC’s principal; club members Asher Radensky, Chanan Schnaidman, and Dan Friedman; and club adviser Howard E. Friedman. Courtesy Howard Friedman

Eliyahu (Eli) Friedman, a June graduate of Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, is one of 10 finalists for the L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Award. Of the 10, five will become L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes.

Eli was nominated for his role as the founding president of TABC’s Outdoors Club. A two-minute video interview will be posted on the L.L. Bean website and Eli’s picture will appear in thousands of L.L. Bean catalogues. People from across the country will have the opportunity to vote for the winners at Should Eli be voted a winner, TABC will be awarded a $5,000 grant and will receive a gift card from L.L. Bean.

Eli founded the Outdoors Club in January 2010, with support from the school’s administration as well as his father, Howard Friedman, the club’s adviser. The club, he told The Jewish Standard, was designed to “open up people to a whole new world.”

“There is a wide world that’s open and people shouldn’t have to be cooped up in their homes and cities,” he said.

The club’s first hike took place in the Ramapo State Forest in Bergen County in 19-degree, icy weather. The club hikes as well in Ramapo Reservation in Passaic County, and in the Palisades State Park and Harriman State Park in New York. It has also made trips to the Gravity Vault, an indoor climbing gym in Upper Saddle River, for certification in climbing and in belaying, a general term for a variety of techniques using ropes. One hike in March 2010 included post-holing through two to three feet of snow. The club plans to expand its activities to include overnight trips and snowshoeing in the winter.

In his interview for the L.L. Bean website, Eli praised TABC’s administration for supporting the formation of the Outdoors Club.

“I think starting the club has made me more confident in myself,” Eli said in that interview. “Standing up in front of the student body to announce hikes was uncomfortable at first, but now it’s routine. Now I’m known around school as the ‘outdoor club’ guy.”

Eli was determined to get the Outdoors Club established before he graduated in June 2011. He has been accepted to The Cooper Union’s electrical engineering program and hopes to establish an outdoors club there as well.

Eli came to his appreciation for the outdoors through years of family hiking, camping, and backpacking trips in New York and New Jersey State Parks, including the Catskills and the Adirondacks. “It’s nice to go outside and breathe fresh air and see the amazing scenery,” Eli told the Standard.

Over the years, he has taught himself necessary skills such as starting a fire from tinder, pitching tents and tarps, cooking with a lightweight alcohol stove, and leave-no-trace practices. He has tried to impart these lessons to the club members. Eli also has volunteered his time on many occasions to accompany his father to perform trail maintenance for the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference.

Noam Safier contributed to this report.

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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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