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Joanne Palmer
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From four Hillels to Israel

Rabbi Ely Allen pulls up his deep local stakes to make aliyah

LocalPublished: 05 June 2015

Here are some possibly obscure riddles, along with their answers.

When is a Hillel director not a Hillel director?

When he works for the local federation and directs Hillels on four separate colleges.

When does a Hillel director get to interweave four local colleges and the community into a real network?

When he works for the local federation and directs Hillels on four separate colleges.

Who is that Hillel director and what Hillels does he direct?


Master of disguise

Unmistakable Tuvia Tenenbom, journalist discusses his sad findings about Israel, Europe, Germany, and anti-Semitism

Cover Story Published: 29 May 2015

When you try to imagine a crusading journalist, someone who would go undercover, assume false identities, pretend to be someone other than who he is, you probably would imagine someone who does not look like Tuvia Tenenbom.

You might expect a master of disguise, able to change his appearance at will, or maybe someone nondescript, mousy, too boring to describe.

That’s not Tuvia.

Tuvia — who will speak at Temple Emanu-el of Closter this Shabbat morning — is not tall, but he is broad; when I met him, he wore a white billowy button-down shirt, open enough to display the thick gold chain around his neck, wild-and-crazy-guy style. His thicket of hair is an unlikely yellow, his glasses a lovely pink. A near-visible fog of cigarette smoke surrounds him at all times, even when he is not smoking.

Tuvia not only loves to smoke, he loves to eat; even more than that, it seems, he loves to explore, to ask questions, to ask forbidden questions, to follow paths that intrigue him, and to explore them even more avidly once they are marked as off limits to him.


Should we toughen or baby our kids?

Panel at Emanuel at Franklin Lakes to look at innocence, experience, expectations

LocalPublished: 29 May 2015

Say you begin with the assumption that just about everything in life demands a balance — between work and pleasure, home and office, family and friends, saving and spending, responsibility and heedlessness, tradition and change. That’s just part of being an adult. Maybe you can call it the balance between pleasure and pain.

But what about children? What about adolescents? What do they have to balance? What do we as their parents have to balance for them?

That’s what Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser’s latest panel, “Preserving Youthful Innocence…or Teaching Adult Responsibilities… What Do We Owe Our Children?” will explore.

Rabbi Prouser, who heads Temple Emanuel of North Jersey in Franklin Lakes, said that we — parents, educators, leaders, and the community in general — have two very different sets of responsibilities toward our children. “One is to teach them adult responsibilities, to help them grow up,” he said. “The other is the critical responsibility to protect and preserve their innocence, to keep them as children so they can have a full, wholesome experience of childhood.


The North, the South, the Civil War, and us

In Teaneck, Princeton rabbi to examine the war’s roots, its results, and its effects on the Jews

LocalPublished: 22 May 2015

Maybe you think that we fought the Civil War to stop slavery.

Maybe you think that the causes of the war were entirely economic, and had nothing to do with slavery.

Maybe you think that good and evil were clear in the Civil War, and that the North — that would be us — represented unsullied virtue.

Well, you’d be wrong, according to Rabbi Eric Wisnia of Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction. The North was as morally culpable as the South in the great vice of slavery. There were no angels. He will discuss his understanding of American history at length and in detail during Kabbalat Shabbat services at Temple Emeth in Teaneck on Friday, May 29, at 8 p.m., in a talk he’s called “An Impartial Jewish View of the War of Yankee Aggression.” The talk coincides with the 150th anniversary of the war’s end.


How to become a liberal Europe rabbi

Russian rabbinical student, intern at Temple Israel in Ridgewood, tells his story

LocalPublished: 22 May 2015

It’s a neat trick, but Alexander Grodensky pulls it off.

At just 32, he manages to be an entirely singular person, with a life that has taken a number of unpredictable turns, and at the same time a walking, breathing symbol of Jewish life in Europe today.

How’d he do it? And what does he symbolize?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Mr. Grodensky — who will become Rabbi Grodensky in August, when he is ordained by the Abraham Geiger College, part of the University of Potsdam — is in Ridgewood through the end of May. He’s here for a six-week stint shadowing Rabbi David Fine of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center in Ridgewood. Rabbi Fine teaches at both Geiger and the new Zacharias Frankel College, also at the University of Potsdam.


We’ve got the horse right here…

Local Orthodox family wins the Kentucky Derby. Really!

Cover Story Published: 15 May 2015

It took American Pharoah barely more than two minutes and two seconds to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

For Joanne Zayat of Teaneck, whose husband, Ahmed, owns American Pharoah (and yes, that is how it is spelled), those two minutes and barely more than two seconds stretched out and then blurred and bore little relation to regular time as it usually passes.

There she was — really, there they were, Ahmed and Joanne Zayat, their four children — all Orthodox Jews — and a small crowd of friends and relatives, in one of the owners’ boxes at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky, on a glorious flowering spring Shabbat, watching as their horse won America’s most iconic horse race.

How did they get there?

read more

Nostra Aetate 50 years later

Local rabbi looks back at half-century of progress since ‘radical’ document was published

LocalPublished: 15 May 2015

Judaism and Christianity have shared the world for just about two millennia, and it seems fair to say that for most of that time, the relationship could have been better. Much, much better.

In the last half century, though, the relationship between Jews and Christians — and particularly between Jews and Roman Catholics — has changed radically, Rabbi Noam Marans of Teaneck says

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Our conversation with Rabbi Marans preceded the Vatican’s announcement this week that it would recognize the “state of Palestine.” The story is updated below.)

It was in 1965, 50 years ago, that Pope Paul VI promulgated Nostra Aetate, a surprisingly brief but thoroughly revolutionary Vatican II document that reworked the church’s relationship with non-Christian faiths.

read more

100 years in Hoboken

United Synagogue’s building celebrates its centennial

Cover Story Published: 08 May 2015

Hoboken is surprisingly small, given its outsize reputation.

It’s only got 50,000 residents, and its nickname, Mile Square City, is roughly accurate. (“It actually covers an area of two square miles when including the under-water parts in the Hudson River,” Wikipedia helpfully tells us. It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to count the underwater parts.)

It’s a city with a storied history — Frank Sinatra, “On the Waterfront” and therefore Marlon Brando, gangsters, music, angst, longshoremen, gritty local color. Its lack of parking, which makes finding a space in Manhattan seem relatively as easy as finding one in, say, Montana, is legendary.

For the last few decades, Hoboken’s been home to young people who work in Manhattan but don’t want or can’t afford to live there; it pulses with singles, who might make noises about staying but have tended to move once they’re married and certainly once they have kids.

Hoboken also has a more recent history of apparently being on the cusp, the verge, the very sharp tip of change, but somehow not quite making it.

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‘You know I believe — and how!’

Emerson shul sets the Friday night liturgy to the Beatles’ music

LocalPublished: 08 May 2015

The Sabbath Queen, the Shechina, the female emanation of God, a vision of sublime, radiant beauty, is said to live with us from the time Shabbat begins until we say goodbye to her at Havdalah, when we mark its end.

Many people see this as metaphor; others might understand it as a more literal truth. Either way, that image is part of our Friday night liturgy. That is why we bow toward the door as we welcome the queen in.

So — how about putting Lecha Dodi, the song we sing as she enters our sanctuaries (define that as you will), to the Beatles’ song “Something”?

You know the song.

“Something in the way she moves/Attracts me like no other lover.

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News from a Jersey girl

CNN’s Dana Bash talks at a benefit for the Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School

LocalPublished: 01 May 2015

Dana Bash is CNN’s chief congressional correspondent.

At 43, she has more than a decade of high-visibility work for the network behind her, and she will provide its coverage of the almost ludicrously crowded Republican field, as more than two dozen candidates compete for camera time and voter approval.

Ms. Bash is also a graduate of Pascack Hills High School, a self-proclaimed Jersey girl, and a deeply committed Jew.

Ms. Bash will speak on Sunday, May 3, at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, to benefit the Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School in Oakland. Laurie Nahum and Rick Krieger will be honored that evening for their service to the school as well.

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