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Larry Yudelson
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Beyond Conference offers Jersey City a taste of Israel

Israeli consulate and Mana Contemporary are cosponsors

LocalPublished: 06 March 2015

Nimrod Elmish is going back to Jersey City.

Twenty years ago, he lived there while he worked as a foreman for Moishe’s Moving, one of the myriad of Israelis who financed their post-Army world trips in the New York City moving business.

Today Mr. Elmish is a symbol of Israeli innovation. He is CEO of Cardboard Technologies, which uses recycled cardboard, plastic, and tires to create sturdy and cheap bicycles.

On Tuesday, he will be speaking at Mana Contemporary, a million-square-foot arts hub in Jersey City. And as it happens — not that Mr. Elmish knew this when he accepted the invitation — Mana Contemporary is a brother company to Moishe’s Moving, named for its founder and owner, Moishe Mana.


Who’s the boss of the Bible?

Rutgers professor an expert on the interpretations of Rabbi Akiva and Bruce Springsteen

LocalPublished: 27 February 2015

Dr. Azzan Yadin-Israel, arguably New Jersey’s foremost expert on the teachings of Rabbi Akiva, is coming to Teaneck Saturday night — to speak about Bruce Springsteen.

Dr. Yadin-Israel is an associate professor at Rutgers, where he teaches Jewish studies and classics. Late last year, Princeton University Press published his second book, “Scripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash.”

But it is a 10-week freshman seminar on God in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen that put him on the synagogue speaking circuit.

Rutgers asked Dr. Yadin-Israel for a topic that would engage freshman, and he remembered the good response he had received for an article in the Jewish Review of Books on biblical and talmudic references in the lyrics of Hadag Hanachash, an Israeli hip hop group. A fan of Mr. Springsteen’s music since his high school days in suburban Cleveland, Dr. Yadin-Israel had been struck by how often the New Jersey rocker “mobilized biblical images and discussed biblical themes.” So he printed out the lyrics and started going over them with a highlighter, noting every biblical and theological reference.


All you need’s the Rav

New Soloveitchik Torah commentary to launch in Teaneck

LocalPublished: 20 February 2015

Forty years ago, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the head of Yeshiva University’s rabbinical seminary, made a rare trip to Philadelphia to speak at the University of Pennsylvania.

That began a chain of events that will culminate on Sunday night in a book launch for the second volume of a Torah commentary collecting Rabbi Soloveitchik’s teachings.

The author and editor of the commentary, Dr. Arnold Lustiger, was a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1975. Intrigued by the chance to hear the famous rabbi, he attended the lecture.

“It was a tour de force,” he remembered this week, “I had never heard anything remotely like this in my life. Here was someone who speaks the language of halacha” — of Jewish law — “but at the same time has the ability to place it in a philosophical and homiletical context.”


Take the Shab-bus

‘Horizontal Shabbat elevator’ picks up congregants in North Bergen and Cliffside Park

LocalPublished: 13 February 2015

You’ve been walking to synagogue every Shabbat for years. For decades.

Now your shul is closing. Well, “merging.” But all the services are taking place in the other partner in the merger, the synagogue that’s just a bit stronger than yours, that has been able to keep a rabbi on its payroll.

But that synagogue is five miles away.

Five miles is too far for a comfortable Shabbat morning stroll.

What are you to do?


Parents and teachers together

Yachad to present Teaneck workshop on inclusive classrooms

LocalPublished: 06 February 2015

Back when Batya Jacob was in school, “either you figured out how to follow the teacher or you didn’t do well,” she said.

Now, that’s much less the case. “We are learning that you need to educate the children based on what their needs are and what their strengths are,” she added.

Ms. Jacob is the director of educational support services for Yachad: The National Jewish Council for Disabilities. She has organized a conference for parents and educators, “Toward Successful Inclusive Classroom Environments,” this Sunday and Monday in Teaneck at Congregation Keter Torah.

While Yachad is a program of the Orthodox Union, Ms. Jacob said her organization “wants the Jewish schooling that’s appropriate for every child, Orthodox or otherwise.”


Advocates of Teaneck Holocaust memorial launch petition drive in fresh bid

LocalPublished: 06 February 2015

When advocates for a Holocaust memorial in a Teaneck township park return to the city council later this month, they will bring a list of local supporters of the plan with them.

“The council needs to see there’s strong community support for this,” said Steve Fox, noting that previous discussions have featured a “loud vocal minority against” the memorial, which would be funded by private donors.

The petition, at, calls for part of Brett Park to be set aside to “memorialize those who perished in the Holocaust and establish a place for the community to use for reflection and education about the tragedy of genocide and the lessons of tolerance.”

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 150 signatures.

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First-class coach

A rabbi to the rabbis leans heavily on his mediation skills

LocalPublished: 06 February 2015

Have you ever thought about a career as a congregational rabbi?

No, not for your own career. Have you considered what it must be like for your rabbi to manage her or his career? To deal with the sort of concerns you worry about in managing your own job? How to grow professionally, and how to get along with the boss — which, if you’re a congregant, means you?

Rabbi David Wolfman has thought about these issues.

He’s a rabbinic coach — a certified executive coach with a specialty in helping his fellow rabbis.

A native of Englewood Cliffs, Rabbi Wolfman plans to return to Bergen County next month at the behest of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which is bringing him for the institute’s annual retreat for the area’s rabbis.

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Where no rabbi has gone before

Interfaith activist to speak at brotherhood breakfast

Local | WorldPublished: 30 January 2015

Rabbi David Rosen brings a unique perspective when it comes to evaluating Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah.

Abdullah’s supporters note that in the 20 years that he led his kingdom, he sided with America against Al Qaeda, proposed a peace plan that would recognize Israel, and let women serve as supermarket cashiers.

Detractors note that women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive, Christianity is banned, and the kingdom flogs wayward bloggers.

Count Rabbi David Rosen among those praising the Saudi glass as half full.

As the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, he was among the Jews — and the sole Israeli — invited to the unprecedented interfaith meeting Abdullah convened in Madrid in 2008.

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Are you a good Berrie Fellow?

Federation’s leadership program is recruiting a new class

LocalPublished: 30 January 2015

Do you have what it takes to step up to the plate and help lead the Jewish community of northern New Jersey? Are you between the ages of 32 and 52? Are you now a volunteer with a synagogue, school, or other Jewish organization in Bergen County?

The Berrie Fellows Leadership Program is accepting applications for its next set of fellows.

Since its founding by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Russell Berrie Foundation back in 2004, the program has trained three groups of 20 people. Participants have gone on to head the Jewish federation, area synagogues, and day schools.

Now, there’s one week left to apply to join the fourth cohort.

“We need to continue this stream of leaders into our community to keep it vibrant,” said Laura Freeman, the program’s director.

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One bullet at a time

French priest finds graves, unearths stories from Europe’s killing fields

Cover Story Published: 23 January 2015

Father Patrick Desbois keeps all expression off his face when people tell him the most horrible things.

If he let his feelings show, the people wouldn’t talk. And he wants them to talk: He asks them questions again and again, pinning down details. Where did this happen? What window were you watching from? Who was there?

Listening without reacting is a core competency for a Catholic priest like Father Desbois. But in a confession booth, the priest’s face is shielded. Father Desbois interviews people in their homes, speaking face to face, if often through a translator.

“You have a choice,” he said last week. “You can express yourself or you can know the truth.”

The truth he seeks to uncover is a horrible one: the story of how more than two million people were murdered, one at a time, by Nazis and their Eastern European collaborators.

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