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Touro Med to set up shop in Hasbrouck Heights, not Hackensack

 
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Plans to convert a shuttered Westwood hospital into Touro University’s new medical school have been scrapped and the university will instead set up shop in Hasbrouck Heights.

Administrators at Touro University College of Medicine hope to open the school at 377 Route 17 south in Hasbrouck Heights sometime in 2010, with a student body of 40 that is expected to grow to more than 100. Hackensack University Medical Center recently reopened emergency services at the Pascack Valley Medical Center, which the two organizations bought in June to convert into a school. The Pascack Valley area has been without a hospital since PVMC closed last year.

Hackensack University Medical Center North at Pascack Valley PHOTO COURTESY HUMC

HUMC plans to turn the facility, now known as Hackensack University Medical Center North at Pascack Valley, into a 128-bed acute care community hospital. HUMC will buy out Touro’s interest in the site. According to Sharon Dilling, a Touro spokeswoman, specifics are being worked out.

“We are going back to Hasbrouck Heights to free up space for Hackensack University Medical Center to have a bigger hospital in the former Pascack Valley site,” said Dilling. HUMC “wanted to broaden services for the community,” she added.

The move will not affect Touro’s relationship with HUMC, which partnered with Touro last year to create the state’s first private medical school.

“HUMC is our primary affiliate,” Dilling said. “That relationship remains intact.”

Touro bought the building in Hasbrouck Heights in 2007 with the intention of turning it into the new school. Dr. Paul Wallach, vice president for allopathic medicine and dean of the planned school, previously told The Jewish Standard that Touro’s leadership wanted a pre-existing building that could be retrofitted for their needs. Officials said at the time that the 100,000-square-foot six-story building would be renovated to include classrooms, clinical skill centers, and faculty offices.

Touro’s leaders turned toward the former Pascack Valley Medical Center after the school partnered with HUMC. As Touro prepared to open in Westwood, the Hasbrouck Heights plan was pushed aside, although Touro still owned the building.

“We are going back to our original plan,” Dilling said.

She added that Touro wants to complete renovations by June.

Touro administrators had hoped to open the school sometime in 2009 but hit a roadblock in June when the school failed to win needed accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

LCME had scheduled a site visit to the former PVMC in March, shortly after Touro and Hackensack announced they had won the bidding on the shuttered hospital. However, the medical school did not close on the property until April 30. Under LCME regulations, accreditation applicants must own the proposed property before accreditation can be granted.

The accreditation process is a form of quality control that assures that a program meets certain requirements in structure and performance. Accreditation by the LCME is required for schools to receive federal grants and participate in federal loan programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, LCME is charged with the accreditation of medical education programs in the United States.

The New Jersey state board of medical examiners approved Touro’s application in 2006 to open in Florham Park in a building donated by real estate developer and philanthropist Charles Kushner, a member of Touro’s board of directors. The school began using offices in Hasbrouck Heights in 2007 and soon after decided to locate the school in Bergen County.

Touro has 33 campuses across the United States and eight other countries. It is named for Judah Touro, a 19th-century entrepreneur and philanthropist who was a major benefactor of Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. Touro University’s president, Dr. Bernard Lander, founded the medical school in 1970 in New York.

 
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Praying while female at the Kotel

Women of the Wall representative to speak locally

What’s going on with the Women of the Wall now?

What’s happening with gender equality and pluralism in Israel, now that the Israeli election is over?

Women of the Wall, made up of women from across the Jewish spectrum, has fought for the right to pray at the Kotel — Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the symbolic center of Jewish life, the magnet that draws observant and non-observant Jews, non-Jews, poets, and often even skeptics, close to it, as if they were pure iron filings.

The group, which was formed in the late 1980s, has been bolstered by legal wins. Its most important recent victory was the April 2013 decision by Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court, who ruled that the city police were wrong when they arrested five women for the crime of wearing tallitot at the women’s section of the Kotel.

 

‘Oy vey, my child is gay’

Orthodox parents seek shared connection in upcoming retreat

Eshel, a group that works to bridge the divide that often separates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews from their Orthodox communities, is holding its third annual retreat for Orthodox parents of those LGBT Jews next month.

Although most of its work is done with Orthodox LGBT Jews — who may or may not be the children of the parents at the retreat — the retreat offers parents community, immediate understanding, the freedom to speak that comes with that understanding, the chance to learn, and the opportunity to model healthy acceptance.

“There are particular issues to being Orthodox and having a gay child, although it varies a lot from community to community,” Naomi Oppenheim of Teaneck said. “You worry about what the community is thinking about you. Someone — I don’t remember who — said, ‘When my kid came out, I went into the closet.’”

 

Twenty years later

Stephen Flatow remembers his murdered daughter Alisa

When you ask attorney Stephen Flatow of West Orange how many children he has, his answer is immediate.

“I have five children,” he says.

Not surprising. What father doesn’t know how many children he has?

And how are they doing?

Four of them are flourishing; they are all married and all parents. Mr. Flatow and his wife, Rosalyn, have 13 grandchildren, and another one’s on the way. (And three of the Flatows’ children live in Bergen County.)

But the fifth, his oldest, Alisa, was murdered by terrorists when she was 20; her 20th yahrzeit was last week. She has been dead as long as she was alive.

“Just because she isn’t there now, that doesn’t mean I’m not her father,” he said. “I just don’t have any recent pictures of her to show.”

 

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Standing together with Israel

Local groups join for evening of unity as they discuss ways to protect Israel

Lee Lasher of Englewood has a deep interest in ensuring that different parts of the local Jewish community come to trust, respect, and even like each other.

To that end, Mr. Lasher, an alumnus of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Berrie Fellows Leadership program, and fellow alums — and now friends — Ian Zimmerman of Glen Rock and Ari Hirt of Teaneck, formed a group called Unite4Unity, which until now has explored the bridges that actually do span the community.

Now, the three friends have decided to multitask. Another cause dear to all of them is Israel. What could be better, they thought, than to bring the community together around the Jewish state? And given their own orientation toward action, what would be best would be to give people information they can use to present Israel positively, to combat such threats as BDS with knowledge, insight, and passion.

 

Considering German Jews

Spätzle, weiner schnitzel, stuffed cabbage, and German chocolate cake are on the menu for Shabbat dinner on May 1 at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake. It’s all part of the shul’s weekend exploration of German Jewish heritage.

German Jews are known not only for their signature cuisine, however. They tend to have a reputation as “yekkes” — obsessively punctual, punctilious, and a touch pompous.

The shul’s Rabbi Benjamin Shull admits he bought into that stereotype — he is the descendant of Lithuanian Jews — until he discovered through genealogical research that he, too, has German-Jewish ancestors. So do about a third of his regular congregants.

 

Balancing attraction and halachic law

Local Orthodox rabbis meet with therapists and LGBT Jews

On Sunday, some leading Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood and Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Netivot Shalom in Teaneck, met with mental-health professionals and members of the Orthodox gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community for a conference on “sexual orientation and gender identity in the Orthodox and chasidic world,” as a press release put it.

The conference, about 150-strong, held at the Kraft House on Columbia University’s campus, was organized by the modern Orthodox, Upper West Side Lincoln Square Synagogue; the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology; and JQY, a nonprofit that provides support to young LGBT Orthodox and chasidic Jews.

 
 
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