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Joanne Palmer
 
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It’s never too late

Miriam Allenson publishes her first novel

LocalPublished: 02 January 2015

Miriam Shulman Allenson of Clifton always knew that one day she’d write a book.

It’s a fantasy shared by many bookish children, the ones who wander around with books held out in front of them, tripping over chairs, walking into walls, seeing the stories in their heads more clearly than the world in front of them.

If every single one of those children wrote books, there would be no room for anything else in this world. Most forget those dreams.

But Ms. Allenson did write a book. It took her decades, but now not only is she the director of marketing services for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, she is also the author of “For the Love of the Dame,” a hefty paperback romance available through Amazon.

 
 

So many Israelis!

N.J. branch of Israeli-American Council opens Paramus headquarters

Local | WorldPublished: 02 January 2015

There are a lot of Israelis in New Jersey.

Although there are no definitive numbers, estimates range from 30,000 to 50,000. Even if there are exactly 30,000, not a person more — still, that’s a lot of ex-pat Israelis.

Until now, that community has not had a center; it’s been more a set of small free-floating clusters than anything more cohesive or formal.

Now, the Israeli-American Council has opened a branch in New Jersey, headquartered in an office in Paramus. Its goal is to form a nucleus around which the community can attach itself and grow.

 
 

Face-to-face dialogue

Jewish, Muslim teens meet for a semester in River Edge

LocalPublished: 19 December 2014

It seems like such a reasonable, obvious idea.

Have Jewish and Muslim teenagers talk to each other. Let them listen to each other. Let them compare traditions and experiences; let them figure out what makes them similar and what differentiates their own tradition and makes it special.

Let them see the humanity in each other.

Right now, though, the world is not a place where such conversations flourish — in fact, the world right now seems to be a place where hatred and willful misunderstanding are valued. That’s why the program bringing together Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge and the Peace Island Institute, a national organization with local headquarters in Hasbrouck Heights, is unusual.

 
 

David Zvi and Josh’s excellent bentscher adventure

How two friends came to craft Seder Oneg Shabbos, a book of Grace and beauty

Local | WorldPublished: 12 December 2014

Much of our aesthetic today is reflected in Apple.

It’s clean, sleek, and spare. It understands the elegance of white space and the rapture of restraint. It implies but does not promise. It does not hector, it does not natter at us.

It is cool, and it also is cold.

So maybe you’re finishing Shabbat dinner. It’s winter outside but warm in the dining room, full of family and friends and wine and challah and chocolate and song. Or maybe it’s a wedding of good friends, and you’ve eaten well if not wisely, and danced every calorie away.

It’s time to bentsh, to say the Birchat Hamazon — the long blessings after a meal that observant Jews often say to themselves quickly after ordinary meals but might sing loudly together at the end of more festive ones.

 
 

What did he know? When did he know it?

State Senate majority leader Loretta Weinberg discusses GWB scandal interim report

LocalPublished: 12 December 2014

On Monday, the New Jersey state legislative committee investigating Bridgegate submitted an interim report.

Anyone expecting a final answer to the question of what did he know and when did he know it — or to be more specific, how much did Governor Chris Christie know about the closure of the three local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, creating potentially lethal havoc in Fort Lee, and when did he learn that his aides had been responsible for it — would be disappointed.

Still, there are nuggets there about the scandal, lying ready for gleaning.

This is very much an interim report, Loretta Weinberg stressed. Ms. Weinberg, a Democrat, is the state Senate’s majority leader. She lives in Teaneck, and Fort Lee is in her district.

 
 

Transplanting the heart of the world

IDF war vets speak in Englewood for Panim el Panim

Local | WorldPublished: 12 December 2014

What does it feel like to be 18, or 20, or 22, and to go to war?

Most of us, thankfully, do not know. It is one of those things that we can imagine — but we know that we are imagining it wrong.

On Monday, a group of Israeli men, most young, some Israeli-born and some olim, all veterans of Israeli wars, talked about what it felt like. They spoke haltingly and sparingly; there were no details, no heartrending stories, just ellipses where the bad stuff would have been.

The talk — at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, sponsored by that shul and Kehilat Kesher and organized by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey — featured IDF veterans from the organization Panim el Panim.

 
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A time to mourn

Remembering Rabbi David Feldman

Cover Story Published: 05 December 2014

There were about 1,000 people at Rabbi David Feldman’s funeral.

There are many things to say about Rabbi Feldman, who died last Friday at 85, but that statistic is a good place to start.

David Michael Feldman was a pastoral rabbi, a scholar, a medical ethicist, a serious and authentic Jew, a formal and generous and devoted family man, and the rabbi emeritus of the Jewish Center of Teaneck.

And he was beloved.

 
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Going out of Egypt — yes or no?

LocalPublished: 05 December 2014

So — the Exodus.

It’s one of our founding stories, the crucible in which the people of Israel took form. Right?

After Moses and Aaron showed Pharaoh, through signs and wonders, through the plagues, up until the devastation of the deaths of their first-borns, that God wanted them out of Egypt, the people left. In one night they celebrated Pesach, crossed the Red Sea, and began their 40-year journey through the wilderness toward the land God promised to them.

So is this a true story? What does “true” mean in this context? And for that matter, what does “story” mean?

Did it really happen?

 
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Pruzansky to work with editors

Controversial Teaneck rabbi agrees to allow ‘another set of eyes’ to check his blog posts

LocalPublished: 05 December 2014

During the last few weeks, as we have chronicled in the newspaper, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky’s blog comments — first on Rabbi Barry Freundel’s mikvah-peeking scandal, then about the Jewish Week and its possible resemblance to the Nazi propaganda sheet Der Sturmer, and most recently on responses to terrorism in the wake of the Har Nof nightmare — have drawn both outrage and approval from readers.

Because they are strongly written and Rabbi Pruzansky’s deeply held opinions are highly controversial, they evoke strong reactions from a wide range of people.

Last week, the Orthodox Union — to which Rabbi Pruzansky’s Teaneck synagogue, Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, belongs — put out a press release headlined “Orthodox Union Rejects Incendiary Rhetoric.” It does not mention Rabbi Pruzansky — or anyone else — by name, but after deploring the bloody Har Nof massacre and supporting forceful measures in response, it deplores what seem to be his suggestions.

 
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From Assyria to Iberia

Even in prophetic period, Israelites were part of the larger world, local Assyriologist says

Cover Story Published: 28 November 2014

We Jews are used to thinking of the ancient land of Israel as set in the middle of vast stretches of desert, and of the Israelites as living more or less alone there, relatively unaffected by their neighbors.

Yes, there were skirmishes with neighbors, occasional raids down from the hill country, some fights over borders, but on the whole Israel was separate, the undisputed center of its world.

Well, that’s not really true, according to Dr. Ira Spar of Suffern, N.Y. Dr. Spar, who is a professor of ancient studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, is also the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s research Assyriologist. (Isn’t that the most wonderful job title?) In that capacity, he is part of a team that put together “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age,” an exhibit on display at the Met until January 4.

 
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