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Friday, February 1, 2013 THE JEWISH PRESS  Page 31

Community Currents

Rav Naftuli Horowitz, the Krula Rebbe, at the recent wedding of his son. (Photo credit: JDN)

Shopping for Tu B’Shevat.

The Satmar kehillah in Monsey recently showed appreciation to community members who assisted in the preparations for the wedding of the daughter of Rav Chaim Halberstam, rav of the Satmar shul in Rockland. (Photo credit: JDN)

(Photo credit: Dee Voch)

The Chess Club at the Philadelphia Russian Kollel, designed to bring children into the shul.

Rav Chaim Shulem Isaacson, Nodvorne Rebbe of Philadelphia, preparing for Tu B’Shevat.


Page 32 THE JEWISH PRESS  Friday, February 1, 2013

Community Currents In recent news…

New Partnership Formed

A new partnership between the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Teach-NYS, and a group of New York Jewish day schools representing more than 5,000 students will consolidate community resources, conserve money, and expand advocacy efforts. Schools participating in the new venture include Manhattan Day School, SAR, Westchester Day School, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, Schechter School of Long Island, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Barkai Yeshiva, Yeshivat Darche Eretz, and Yeshiva of Flatbush. The partnership was forged under the leadership of communal leaders Jack Bendheim and Sam Sutton, who will serve as co-chairs of the joint initiative. The OU’s New York State Director of Political Affairs Jeff Leb will

serve as political director. “We have ambitious goals for this merger which go beyond what Jewish education has seen in New York, home of the majority of Jewish day school families in the United States,” said Dr. Simcha Katz, president of the Orthodox Union. “This partnership is designed to not just symbolically unify Jewish day schools and major Jewish organizations such as the OU, but to pursue a comprehensive policy to deliver resources to children, relief to parents, and funding to Jewish day schools.”

Trial For Drunk Driver Begins Anel Kolenovic has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and jury selection for his trial began this week. On November 29, 2010, Kolenovic, driving drunk, killed 25-year-old Moshe Berkowitz. A dear friend to many, and a beloved teacher to his students, Berkowitz’s sudden and untimely

passing left a huge hole in the hearts of those who knew him. In his day-to-day life Berkowitz was always smiling, trying to help others, and striving to be a better person. He wasn’t born into a privileged family and had to struggle to overcome many obstacles in his life. But overcome them he did, and he was an inspiration to his friends and students alike. Moshe felt a sense of gratitude to Yeshivas Ohr Yitzchok, where he was a student, and decided to give back by teaching in that same school. His students said they felt very close to their teacher. He understood them and encouraged them to make something of themselves. In his spare time, he was an NCSY advisor, inspiring other teens and bringing them closer to their roots. Moshe’s family and friends strongly the support the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office to effect justice in this case.

A Special Trip Yael (Yvette) Jeidel of Brooklyn, NY participated in the recent Taglit-Birthright Israel Orthodox Union Israel Free Spirit (Birthright) Yachad 10-day trip to Israel. Yael, who has cerebral palsy and mental retardation, and uses a communication board to communicate with others, was accompanied by a staff member. She was permitted to take the trip despite being older than the usual 26-yearold maximum age for Taglit-Birthright Israel. Upon the group’s return, Yael’s mother, Vardi Jeidel, sent the following letter to Nicole Bodner, director of New York Yachad. The letter is reprinted with Mrs. Jeidel’s permission. The letter has not been edited: Dear Nicole and All, I wanted to take a few moments before Shabbat to put my thoughts down and thank you and

Yael with counselor Chaya Suri Klein on Masada.

your wonderful organization for giving my daughter Yael the trip of her lifetime. I cannot even say that it was a dream come true, because, quite honestly we never even could have dreamed that such a trip was even a possibility for her. Many in our family have been to Israel; as you may know Yael has two siblings currently living there. But it was too much of a stretch of our imagination to even think of Yael maneuvering around the country. And yet she went to Israel. Every evening during her trip, we would look at the Snapfish photos you so thoughtfully sent, and found it hard to digest what we were seeing: Yael is in a shul in Tzfat! Yael is in the old city of Jerusalem! Yael is on top of Masada! If someone would have told me that you photoshopped her into the photos, I could have believed them. Yael and others like her, spend their lives trapped within the limitations of their bodies. These past days, if only for a short while, she was released from her confines. There was nothing that she couldn’t do and no place she couldn’t go. She was free. Today I spoke with her counselor, Chaya Suri, who described the care and devotion of all the staff, whether it was you, Nicole, and your devotion; Asaf and his costumes; other counselors; the soldiers; bus driver; and Rachel from Tampa. Everyone had time and love to give to the others to help out.

The Acute Need for Jewish Foster Parents By Chaya Surie Malek Hurricane Sandy left many people displaced from their homes. This displacement meant families needed to live in other homes – some with family or friends, some in their own community, and some in other communities. The foster care department at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services works with children who, in a sense, experience Sandy all the time. They are removed from their homes and separated from people they love and personal objects that have significant value to them. They may be forced to move to a different neighborhood. Daily life is no longer the same and they may lose their sense of normalcy and safety. When concerns about the safety of a child are brought to the attention of the city, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) investigates. If the investigators believe that a child is in imminent danger, ACS may decide to place that child in foster care. In New York, Ohel is the only Jewish foster care agency contracted with ACS. And contrary to common belief, there are many Jewish children in need of foster care. Ohel has provided over 2,500 Jewish children with safe and loving foster families. Once the child is placed with Ohel, Ohel is responsible to work with the parents to improve conditions so that the child can be returned home. If that is not possible, Ohel explores family or other resources. If the court determines that a child

cannot safely be returned home and there are no other appropriate resources, a child may be freed for adoption by a family court judge. The amount of time that children are in foster care is uncertain and varies from case to case. For children who have just lost their family and all they are familiar with, stability is an integral part of what they need to begin to adjust. While Ohel continues to work with dedicated foster parents and successful placements, the shortage of foster homes means that some children are not receiving the optimum care and stability they need. As such, Ohel Foster Care will be holding two community informational and recruitment meetings to raise awareness of this dire need. These will take place on February 2 at 8 p.m. at the home of Azriel and Sara Ganz, 991 South End, Woodmere, and on February 12 at 8 p.m. at the home of Lazer and Chana Calderon at 1120 Waterview Street, Far Rockaway. Those interested in meeting with an Ohel member, attending one of Ohel’s community meetings, or hosting an informational event should please contact Shulamis Marcus at 718-851-6300 or child@ohelfamily.org. More information is available at ohelfamily.org/foster. The suffering of foster children and the aftermath of their personal “Sandy” is devastating. Consider opening your home to a child in need. Become a foster parent. Rebuild a life. Rebuild a world.

Nothing was a hardship and everything was possible. Yael’s favorite activity is going on a roller coaster ride. She sits in a straight jacket and soars through the air and feels the rush of movement. For a few short giddy moments she is free, she flies. She is like anyone else who happens to like a roller coaster ride. For these past ten days, thanks to you at Birthright, she was freed of her limitations. Yael was free to enjoy all that Israel had to offer, and she loved it completely. We thank you so very much. Sincerely, Vardi Jeidel

Chicago Teacher Awards The Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago is now accepting nominations for the Hartman Family Foundation Educator of the Year Awards. The awards are designed to recognize excellence in teaching, dedication, commitment to lifelong learning, and creativity. At the ATT’s Annual Banquet, one award of $15,000 and two awards of $5,000 will be presented to three outstanding educators. An impartial panel consisting of educational consultants and community members will evaluate each nomination. Teachers submit responses to a questionnaire with information about their teaching beliefs and practices and ongoing education and commitment to the success of all students. The finalists will be observed in their classrooms and the winners will be announced in the fall of 2013. Last year’s Hartman awardees were Rabbi Michael Myers of Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Mrs. Pearl Gross of Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, and Ms. Ariela Haymberg of Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School. Nomination forms are available at the ATT office or online at www.att.org between February 4 and May 10. Nominations may also be submitted via mail to the Selection Committee of the Educator of the Year Awards, c/o Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago, 2828 W. Pratt Blvd., Chicago, IL, 60645.

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