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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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A rabbi hasn’t walked into the bar ... yet

It’s not every day that a liquor license comes up for sale in Teaneck. (State licensing laws limit the number of licenses in a formula based on a town’s population.)

So when Jonathan Gellis heard that the owner of Vinny O’s in Teaneck was looking to sell the establishment, including the license, after 28 years behind the bar, he realized that only one of the more than 20 kosher restaurants in Teaneck could sell alcohol.

That seemed to be an opportunity.

Mr. Gellis is a stockbroker by day. He’s used to working in a regulated business — and the alcohol business in New Jersey is highly regulated.

Mr. Gellis grew up in Teaneck; his parents moved the family here from Brooklyn in 1975, back when the town had only one kosher restaurant. His four children attend Yeshivat Noam and the Frisch School, and he serves on the board of both institutions. He also is president of Congregation Keter Torah.

 

Where greatness lies

A memorial to Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

On July 3, 5 Tammuz, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi died. He was 89.

He inspired tens of thousands of people directly — and indirectly he inspired millions more, people who have yet to discover that the spiritual approaches they hold dear were invented and graciously shared by him.

Reb Zalman was prodigiously influential over many decades, but he was not proportionately famous. He was not always given credit for his vast learning or for his astonishing array of contributions. And he was okay with that.

The first time I saw Reb Zalman, he was on the bimah of an auditorium that held 2,000 people. His face beamed love at the congregation. I had been leading another High Holiday service, and I was able to join his congregation for the last few minutes of Rosh Hashanah morning.

 

Paying it forward

Remembering Gabby Reuveni’s generous spirit

Just a glance at the web page created in memory of Gabby Reuveni of Paramus gives some indication of the number of people she touched and — through the ongoing efforts of her family — she continues to touch.

Killed two years ago in Pennsylvania by a driver who swerved onto the shoulder of the road, where she was running, Gabby, who was 20, was “an extremely aware and kind person,” her mother, Jacqueline Reuveni, said. “We’re continuing her legacy.”

The family has undertaken both public and private “acts of kindness,” she said, from endowing scholarships to meeting local families’ medical bills.

According to her father, Michael Reuveni, Gabby — then a student at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the school’s track team — was a victim of vehicular homicide.

 

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Lessons from the Shoah

Interactive program uses testimonies to give Schechter students a new understanding

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Is there any way to turn that around? To make any miniscule amount of good come out of great evil?

The Holocaust as living memory soon will flicker out. Survivors who can tell their stories are growing old. Soon it will be just images, photographs, videos, written and spoken words.

The Holocaust was pure evil, the unleashing of the worst human fears and instincts. There was nothing at all good about it. But in a soul-affirming act of reversal, it now is possible, almost 70 years after it ended, to use it to teach students how to become better people.

The first steps in that process are never to forget it, to honor its victims, and to listen to its survivors.

 

Hands-on learning for local rabbis

Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute teaches about war as rockets fall

If local rabbis attend the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem to take advantage of what Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner calls “great learning and great people,” this year they got more than they bargained for.

Rabbi Kirshner, religious leader of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, who this year spent his fifth summer at Hartman, said that “ironically, the topic was war and peace in Jewish texts. Little did we know it would be so relevant.

“A lot of rabbis in the diaspora talk about Israel from a distance,” he said. “But to be there, to attend the funerals of the three boys” — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, whose abduction and murder were the catalyst for the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza — “to be familiar with bomb shelters,” makes a big difference.

 

‘It’s a communal responsibility’

The sages say that before a Jewish community builds a synagogue or buys a Torah, it should build a mikvah, the ritual bath used to observe laws of family purity and complete conversions.

The Teaneck mikvah on Windsor Road, next to Temple Emeth, was built in the 1970s, and the township’s mikvah association opened a second ritual bath this spring. Set across the street from the Jewish Center of Teaneck, it is positioned to better serve families on the south side of town. The two mikvaot serve about 1,000 people each month, but rely solely on donations to cover operating costs. Now, many of Teaneck’s Orthodox synagogues are creating a new kehilla fund fee in their membership dues to help support the mikvah.

“Certain things are communal responsibilities,” said Michael Rogovin, president of Teaneck’s Netivot Shalom. “The eruv and the mivkah are really critical to our functioning as an Orthodox community.”

 
 
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