NEW JERSEY JEWISH NEWS
G R E AT E R M E T ROW E S T E D I T I O N A P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E J E W I S H W E E K M E D I A G R O U P Vol. LXX IV No. 30 | July 23, 2020 | 2 AV 5780 njj ew is hnews . c o m
New rabbis take reins of reimagined congregations Hired before the pandemic, fresh spiritual leaders prioritize meeting members, uniting community
Rep. John Robert Lewis (1940-2020) Opinion Page 11 ➞
Shira Vickar-Fox NJJN Managing Editor
Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz heads west State & Local 4
A Polish shtetl lost in time
A new novel imagines a Jewish village that somehow survived the Holocaust Andrew Silow-Carroll Special to NJJN
Hidden past of beloved Poppy revealed Exit Ramp 23
State & Local 4 Opinion 11 Calendar/Community 14 LifeCycle 15 Touch of Torah 20 Exit Ramp 23
hen I worked at the Forward almost 20 years ago, the office manager/ cub reporter was Max Gross, a 20-something Seth Rogen-lookalike who had a knack for finding offbeat stories when he wasn’t
answering the phone. (Everything I am going to say here is going to sound condescending — but trust me, this takes a turn.) His desk sat outside my office, and I could listen in while he soothed and sparred with the various kvetches and sad sacks who were still telephoning a Jewish newspaper with old but
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e would like to take this opportunity to share a significant development in the long
history of the New Jersey Jewish News. Starting in August, the weekly print edition of The New York Jewish Week, our sister publication, will go on hiatus while it concentrates on developing an all-digital model. As a result, NJJN’s print edition will also go on hiatus, as it and Jewish Federation of Greater Me-
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he first Friday after Rabbi Erin Glazer moved into her Maplewood home with her young family, several members of her congregation, Temple Sinai in Summit, welcomed her while socially distanced on her front lawn. Someone brought homemade challah, another a bouquet of flowers cut from her garden, and another held a makeshift sign with “Happy Birthday” written on one side, “Welcome Rabbi Glazer” on the other. “Who would have imagined that my first welcome would be outside in my front yard, all of us wearing masks? But OK, that’s what it was and it was beautiful,” said Glazer, 42, who spoke with NJJN in early July after one week on the job. The Reform temple’s membership is comprised of some 430 families. Unprecedented is a word often applied to the current times, when our daily routines and Jewish communal rituals have been upended by the effects of a global pandemic. But the word can also be applied to the experience of new rabbis taking the helm of congregations this summer when sanctuary pews are empty, there’s no socializing in the halls, and personal interactions take place behind masks or in front of screens. Two young rabbis, Glazer and Rabbi Ari Isenberg, are replacing senior clergy who led their congregations for decades. Isenberg follows Rabbi Steven Bayar, who retired in 2019 after 30 years as spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI) in Millburn; Glazer succeeds Rabbi Stuart Gershon, who also retired in 2019 after serving 25 years at Temple Sinai. Both Bayar and Gershon now serve in the position of rabbi emeritus at their respective synagogues. While admitting to challenges and tweaking some first-year goals, the new senior rabbis see silver linings in taking the helm during a pandemic.
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3 NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
Laying the groundwork for construction
The Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha congregation in Pittsburgh has taken more steps toward rebuilding. The synagogue has hired a consultant to create a plan and one to come up with a fund-raising campaign to pay for renovating the site of the October 2018 attack that left 11 worshippers dead, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle reported. A Jewish emergency crew and police of“We have a desire to make someficers at the Tree Of Life synagogue in thing new — we’re not erasing anyPittsburgh, Oct. 28, 2018. thing but we need to look forward,” Barb Feige, the congregation’s executive director, told the newspaper. “This is about renewal and remembrance and reflection.” The consultants’ fees will be covered by grants for rebuilding. The congregation has not returned to the site since the attack. Two congregations that rented space in the Tree of Life building, Congregation Dor Hadash and New Light Congregation, were taken in by area synagogues and decided to remain in their new locations. No funds donated to help the victims recover from the shooting will be used for the rebuilding campaign unless they were designated for it, Feige told the newspaper. — JTA JEFF SWENSEN/GETTY IMAGES
Austrian award honors Wiesenthal
In a sign of a shifting political tide in Austria, a parliamentary committee has paved the way for the creation of an annual prize to encourage the fight against anti-Semitism. An amendment passed July 14 would create an award named for Simon Wiesenthal, the late Austrian Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter. The winner would receive about $17,000 annually. Two additional awards of about $8,500 each would go to those who have made a Nazi-hunter Simon “special civil society commitment against anti-Semitism and for education about the Holocaust,” according to a Wiesenthal in the late 1990s. parliamentary statement. The amendment is expected to be formally adopted this week. The goal is “to encourage others to raise their voices,” said Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the National Council, Austria’s lower house of parliament. Sobotka, a member of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (led by Sebastian Kurz, who has close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), said he came up with the idea for the prize while on a trip to Israel two years ago. Wiesenthal died in 2005 at the age of 95. Wiesenthal’s daughter, Paulinka Kreisberg-Wiesenthal, said in a written statement that the prize sends an important signal “at a time of rising racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.” Statistics released in May show a gradual rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents and crimes in Austria in recent years. Austria’s far-right Freedom Party was the only party that did not support the prize because it objected to the name, suggesting instead former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, a left-wing politician of Jewish background with whom Wiesenthal had clashed. — JTA
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Vol. LXXIV No. 30 July 23, 2020 2 Av 5780 EDITORIAL Gabe Kahn, Editor Shira Vickar-Fox, Managing Editor Lori Silberman Brauner, Deputy Managing Editor Johanna Ginsberg, Senior Staff Writer Jed Weisberger, Staff Writer Abby Meth Kanter, Editorial Adviser CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Michele Alperin, Jennifer Altmann, Max L. Kleinman, Martin J. Raffel, Merri Ukraincik, Stephen M. Flatow, Jonathan Tobin BUSINESS Nancy Greenblatt, Manager Sales/ Administration and Circulation Nancy Karpf, Senior Account Executive Steven Weisman, Account Executive Lauri Sirois, Classified Sales Supervisor/ Office Manager GRAPHIC DESIGN/DIGITAL/PRODUCTION Clarissa Hamilton, Janice Hwang, Dani Shetrit EXECUTIVE STAFF Rich Waloff, Publisher Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor in Chief Gary Rosenblatt, Editor at Large Rob Goldblum, Managing Editor Ruth Rothseid, Sales Manager Thea Wieseltier, Director of Strategic Projects Dan Bocchino, Art Director Arielle Sheinwald, Operations Manager Gershon Fastow, Advertising Coordinator
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Rabbi leaves Temple B’nai Abraham for California Activist, teacher, chaplain reflects on decades of ‘sacred’ work in NJ
Johanna Ginsberg NJJN Senior Writer
abbi Faith Joy Dantowitz’s last sermon at Temple B’nai Abraham (TBA) on June 19 focused, fittingly, on gay pride and Juneteenth, a celebration of June 19, 1865, the date slaves were emancipated. Dantowitz, 55, has been a consummate advocate and public voice in the community for issues such as gay marriage, assisted suicide, gun violence prevention, ending genocide in Darfur, immigrants’ rights, and other causes of which she cares deeply, even when it’s controversial or gets her into trouble. To wit, she was among a group of rabbis arrested in 2018 while protesting on behalf of the children of illegal immigrants. “As a rabbi you are a leader,” she told NJJN in a telephone interview. “Part of what that means is showing people what moral courage is.” More quietly, she embraced her role
A fixture in the local Jewish community for decades, Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz bade farewell to the Garden State and moved to California last month. in providing pastoral care to congregants and creating opportunities for life-long Jewish learning. For the past 10 years she was TBA’s associate rabbi, first with the now-retired Rabbi Cliff Kulwin and more
recently with Rabbi David Vaisberg. Dantowitz has been a fixture in the suburbs of Essex County, especially Millburn, Short Hills, and Livingston, for, well, her entire life. She grew up in
Livingston, attended Temple B’nai Jeshurun (TBJ) in Short Hills (where she had her first pulpit job), graduated from Livingston High School, and raised four sons with husband David. She could be seen at school board meetings in Millburn or walking her dog, Lilly Rose, on Wyoming Avenue or in the South Mountain Reservation. On June 31, after a lifetime in Essex County, the rabbi left to join David in California, where she will lead Congregation Emeth, a small Reform synagogue in Morgan Hill, half an hour from Cupertino, California’s garlic capital. Her exit would not go unnoticed, and the mayor of Livingston declared June 20, 2020, Faith Joy Dantowitz Day, the same day that TBA honored her with its first virtual gala. “Wow, this is making me sad just talking to you,” she told NJJN the day before her departure. The pandemic made leaving more difficult because, though she was
Despite niche market, Jewish bookstores vulnerable to online alternatives
Jed Weisberger NJJN Staff Writer
hen New Jersey began to relax its restrictions on businesses during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rabbi Sam Shimoni recently reopened Judaica Gallery in Highland Park, a local store for 30 years for customers searching for a swath of Judaic items. Shimoni knows what most of his customers are looking for, and it’s not what you’d expect from the classic Jewish bookshop. “It’s hardly ever books,” he said. “They come in and look at everything else. If we just carried books, we’d never stay in business. Things have changed with Jewish bookstores in the years we have been in business. Even Manhattan’s J. Levine Books & Judaica, which I used to go to all
Chai Judaica in Millburn is “more of a gift shop than a bookstore,” according to the store’s manager Rivkie Bogomilsky. PHOTO BY SHIRA VICKAR-FOX
the time, closed. There is no future in Jewish bookstores.” It’s no secret that bookstores — even colossal big-box stores
like Barnes & Noble — have been flailing ever since online vendors like Amazon, and others, cornered the market on their signature prod-
ucts. Even local Judaica shops, which specialize in niche tomes and collections, are feeling the squeeze. “On-line sales are what hurt the old bookstores more than anything,” said Shimoni, who noted that multiple editions of the Talmud — as well as other esoteric texts — can be purchased online at lower prices than he could possibly offer given normal retail markups. “It’s just too easy to search, click, and have what you want delivered to your house or wherever. We’re proud to be the only independent Judaica store in central New Jersey, but our business is much more Judaica and gifts than books at this point.” Rivkie Bogomilsky, who, as part of Chai Center Chabad in Millburn, operates Chai Judaica, agrees with Shimoni’s assessment.
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grateful for the formal TBA sendoff, there were no goodbye dinners or farewell parties with friends and family, and she has no idea when she will see them again. She traces her passion for social justice straight to the example set by her parents, Fred and Sara Smith, along with her growing up at TBJ, and serving as a rabbi there from 1993 until 2004. When TBJ welcomed Soviet refugees in the 1980s, her family hosted a Russian family in their own home. “I remember the family coming to our house and getting to know them.” The pull to speak out seems to come from some essential place deep within her, but she’s matter of fact about it. “It’s just a desire to keep moving the needle, to push forward to justice,” she said. Her involvement in social activism began almost as soon as she left home. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, Dantowitz chaired the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry group on campus and then worked in Boston with Action for Soviet Jewry. She attended marches for Women’s Rights in Washington, D.C., testified at the Trenton State House for marriage equality, was the sole rabbi to
speak at Governor Phil Murphy’s press conference on gun violence prevention in March 2019 when the state launched the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, and more recently, she has stood up for racial justice in sermons, videos, and at rallies. She served on the board of Faith in New Jersey, part of the national organization Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO, and she organized meetings for Do Not Stand Idly By. And she took her interests globally as an American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellow, traveling with a rabbinic cohort to Guatemala in 2015. Dantowitz was also selected as a JOIN (Jewish Organizing Institute & Network) for Justice Clergy Fellow from 2017-2019. Often, the issues she chooses are personal. Her sister was the first person she knew who came out as gay, she said, and later, a colleague’s father was murdered in the course of a robbery, stirring a passion in her to fight for gun violence prevention. It’s telling that she was assigned Parashat Shoftim for her senior sermon in rabbinical school, which contains the famous passage, “tzedek, tzedek, tirdof,” justice, justice you shall pur-
sue. And a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a former rabbi of TBA, hung outside her office. It was, she said, “my daily dose of inspiration.” Serving as a rabbi, of course, is more than providing leadership in social justice. In fact, she refers to pastoral work as a “sacred encounter.” “In one day, I can be teaching, doing social justice work, leading prayers, and visiting someone in a hospital,” she said. “And I love that I can be part of people’s Jewish journeys in so many ways.” Dantowitz earned a degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania before deciding to pursue the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC), where she was ordained in 2003. After serving at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, she was regional director of admissions and recruitment at HUC and spent nine summers, from 20032011, on the faculty of URJ Camp Harlam in the Poconos. She chaired what was then known as the Millburn Short Hills Clergy Association in the 1990s, and more recently was active with the Livingston Clergy
Association. She served two stints on the board of the Women’s Rabbinic Network of the Reform movement, was chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Committee on Women in the Rabbinate, and served as a board member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. She was also part of the fourth rabbinic cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and continues to participate in its alumni program, Hevraya. She acknowledged that she never envisioned leaving New Jersey, but, her husband, a software designer, found an “amazing” job in California that he started about a year ago. She remained stateside so their youngest son, 18, could finish high school in Millburn. (They have three other sons, ages 27, 24, and 22.) Although there are plenty of challenges ahead, particularly starting at a new congregation where she won’t be able to meet or lead the congregation in person, and where High Holiday services are likely to be held remotely, Dantowitz is grateful and excited for the opportunity. “I’m in for the ride.” ■ firstname.lastname@example.org
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NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
Continued from page 1 fading Yiddish roots. One of his frequent callers was the widow of the legendary Yiddish novelist and poet Chaim Grade. In a page out of a Cynthia Ozick short story, she would call to complain that the Forward wasn’t giving her late husband the respect he deserved, especially when compared to (feh — his name should be blotted out) the Nobelist Isaac Bashevis Singer. Max was always gentle and patient with Mrs. Grade, much more so than I. I lost touch with Max over the years, although I knew he worked for a commercial real estate publication and wrote a charming memoir/dating how-to book called “From Schlub to Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City.” So I was blown away when I read Max’s first novel, out soon from HarperVia, called “The Lost Shtetl.” Relatively late for a first novelist, Max has written a book so accomplished, and pulled off with such authority, that I suspected there was a shelf of Max Gross novels that I had somehow overlooked. “The Lost Shtetl” is a Jewish fantasy in the vein of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” and Steve Stern’s Jewish magical realism novels. There are even echoes of Simon Rich’s New Yorker story, “Sell Out,” about a time-travelling Orthodox Jewish immigrant, soon to be a major motion picture
(“An American Pickle”) starring, yes, Seth Rogen. Set in contemporary Poland, “The Lost Shtetl” imagines the discovery of an isolated village that somehow escaped both the Holocaust and the attention of Polish and Soviet authorities in the decades
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since the war. When the bastard son of a disgraced townswoman is sent on a mission to the outside world, it sets off a serio-comic “first contact” plot in which the pious Jews of Kreskol learn about helicopters, television, and smartphones, and the rest of the world puzzles over the unlikely disappearance and reappearance of this Jewish Brigadoon. The novel is a high-wire act, daring you to take seriously an implausible scenario. Max pulls it off by grounding the fantasy in stark realism: An extended section on integrating the shtetl’s economy with that of the wider world, for example, seems highly researched (and is a lot more fun than it sounds). Sections on the media’s fascination with the lost (or is it last?) shtetl are written with a journalist’s insider knowledge, and the ways in which Polish politicians exploit the discovery and eventually turn on the villagers is all too believable. So too are the relationships among the residents of Kreskol, who are forced to encounter the privations and shocks of a vicious, miraculous century — the Shoah, the birth of Israel, communism, the digital age — in a matter of days. Some are eager to embrace this strange new world, others want to hold it at arm’s length — not unlike their charedi Orthodox kinspeople in Israel and Borough Park, Brooklyn, about whom they have no knowledge. Predictably, since this is a Jewish book, Kreskol splits into factions, a split made more tragic by the knowledge that both sides are essentially right. And while the author takes delight and care in solving all the “problems” — social, economic, political — implied in the premise, the novel retains a human, beating heart, grounded in a love story between two young shtetl natives whose encounter with the modern world is brutal and tragic. Max appears to have learned more than patience from his calls with Chaim Grade’s widow and his time at the Forvertz: The novel’s narrator, a kind of first-person collective, sounds both contemporary and folkloric, as if one of the great Yiddish writers had somehow survived, like Kreskol, to tell its story. Explaining the rich agriculture that allows the town to flourish without outside contact, the narrator shrugs, “In short, if loneliness was to be our lot, we could survive it well enough, thank you very much.” The various strategies for survival — an individual’s and a culture’s — are the great themes of the novel, which is haunted by an unimaginable loss. The only survivor as we understand the word is the aptly named Leonid Spektor, a teacher who can only describe what he experienced on the outside by turning real-life Nazi atrocities into the stuff of ghost stories. “The Lost Shtetl” stands on its own, but, like nearly everything else these days, my experience reading it was eerily informed by the pandemic. Isolation has become our moment’s essential survival strategy; the more we invite contact, the more perilous life seems. Kreskol is both an ideal Jewish community, but an impossible one. There are dangers in opening up to the outside world: Language, customs, and faith are all imperiled. The book’s sad conclusion suggests the trade-off may not be worth it. If loneliness is to be our lot, we might survive it well enough. ■ Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor in chief of The New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication. He served as NJJN editor for 13 years.
Continued from page 4 “Books probably make 30 to 40 percent of our business,” she told NJJN. Chai Center Judaica has been in Millburn since 1995. “Really, we’re more of a gift shop than a bookstore. We have a little bit of everything, but books are not our major thing.” “Let me put it this way,” said Rabbi Boruch Klar, who operates the Lubavitch Center in West Orange. “This store could not exist selling books alone.” Like Judaica Gallery and Chai Judaica, the Lubavitch Center has always sold books — along with housewares, jewelry, ritual objects, and more. Klar told NJJN that a books-only business model is not sustainable for Judaica retail. “The only places that still work like the old days are Brooklyn or Lakewood, because many Jews are looking for books for study,” he said. “Otherwise, I can’t see a stand-alone Jewish bookstore succeeding these days.” That said, Joe Adler, an East Hanover resident who operates Jewish Book Maven, which combines online sales with a brick-and-mortar store in Englewood, believes his hybrid approach could be the next chapter of Jewish book shops. The online portion of Adler’s business is associated with internet retailers Biblio.com and Alibris.com, and he sees “a strong demand for both new and old titles.” He keeps several hundred books in stock, along with a limited amount of Judaica, in his home store in East Hanover, as well as a small stock in his Englewood location, which is open by appointment. “I’ve found a lot are interested in antiquarian Jewish literature and books that were saved from the Holocaust,” said Adler. “I get private collections people want me to sell for them and put out feelers to acquire other collections I can sell from both the United States and abroad.” Adler, 75, moved to Morris County in 2018 to be closer to his family, after a career as a teacher and then a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Albany, N.Y. He began collecting used Jewish books in 1993 while still working
Joe Adler, proprietor of the Jewish Book Maven in East Hanover, with his in-home stock.
PHOTO COURTESY JOE ADLER
as a counselor; he had always been interested in Jewish books and was hoping to work in the industry after he retired. He began by acquiring used Jewish books and circulating book lists to various synagogues in the Albany area before becoming an early proponent of internet commerce just before 2000. Now he specializes in the purchasing of used Jewish books, markets his online inventory to scholars and others in the community, repairs damaged books, helps with online book searches, and manages his home store. “I can get any book anyone wants,” he said. Such a hybrid approach incorporates a personal touch not available to online shoppers, which Adler said brings the feel of an old-time Jewish bookstore to his customers. “Many are still looking for that, and I want to be more than just an online bookseller.” ■ email@example.com
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NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
State&Local Dear Readers
Continued from page 1
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troWest New Jersey examine a viable business model that maintains the high standards of Jewish journalism our readers have come to expect. The staggering economic effects of the coronavirus epidemic have forced our hand; however, we are committed to seeking partnerships and supporters that will allow NJJN to return as a publication and as an online presence that will provide the news and information our Jewish community deserves. We will be in touch with subscribers as these discussions progress, but in the meantime we ask you to continue to read and submit material to our website, njjewishnews.timesofisrael.com. Thank you for your years of support of NJJN, and may we look forward to a brighter future for this newspaper, our community, and all who are feeling the effects of this widereaching crisis.
“This year is really going to lend itself to being a great opportunity to build relationships with congregants on a deep level,” said Isenberg, 39. Other opportunities expressed by both rabbis include the chance to innovate and build a strong institutional foundation. “I think that this time of changing everything by necessity is actually an opportunity,” said Glazer. “I do have a lot of ideas for how I think we can add to the vibrancy and the vitality of the congregation. And I think there will come a point where we are taking a look at everything that we’re doing and all that we’re offering and asking, ‘How can we do this even better?’” Both rabbis are fortunate in that the hiring process was complete before the March shutdowns and they were able to meet and interact with members on several occasions. Most recently, Glazer was assistant rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, and Isenberg was rabbi for five years at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. While retaining their commitment to getting to know members — for Isenberg, a night out with a group of young professionals when visiting CBI was “so positively overwhelming” — the pandemic has forced a change in how that’s being done. Isenberg told NJJN in a mid-July telephone interview
Gabe Kahn Editor Kai Falkenberg President, Board of Directors Jewish Week Media Group
Rabbi Ari Isenberg will assume on Aug. 1 spiritual leadership of Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn. PHOTO COURTESY RABBI ARI ISENBERG
that he is trying to call as many members as possible during the weeks before his Aug. 1 start date. “This is the year as a spiritual leader to be very attuned with immense compassion and generosity of spirit to what people are enduring, what people are going through, whether it’s anxiety or loneliness or other sorts of struggles, and just to be a presence for them in their lives,” he said. Isenberg grew up in Montreal and served for
The Temple Sinai family is proud to welcome Rabbi Erin R. Glazer!
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Marilynn Schneider retires from WAE Center
Rabbi Erin Glazer wants to get to know Temple Sinai members so that “together we can do all of that important, exciting, joyful work of being Jewish.” PHOTO COURTESY RABBI ERIN GLAZER
gaged,” she said. Regarding the decision to host a Zoom gathering on Shabbat, Isenberg said, “we’re going to balance tradition with ingenuity. We’re going to embrace technology as a sacred vessel in a sense through which we connect with community in moments of worship and sanctity.” While synagogue buildings were closed over the past several months, members have become accustomed to worshipping and practicing Jewish rituals from the comforts of their homes. Glazer sees a positive takeaway. “It’s an opportunity to reinforce the notion that being Jewish doesn’t just happen when we’re at synagogue,” she said. “That being Jewish is something that can be part of our life at home and at school, wherever we are.” For Isenberg, this extended time at home means a renewed focus on “the holy work of chesed.” “This is a great time to check in on neighbors, to consider the well-being of others, to put the Jewish values and lessons that we learn and that we talk about in the synagogue, to put them in practice in your homes, in our neighborhoods, in your communities, and in that way to strengthen identity.” Perhaps unprecedented can be applied to the joy of welcoming of new spiritual leadership during an exceptionally challenging time. “There’s a lot of excitement for a congregation to welcome a new rabbi,” said Glazer. She said the times in which we live require “an acknowledgement for all of us that it’s not what we imagined, but it’s still something worth celebrating, especially when things are hard.” n firstname.lastname@example.org
MARILYNN SCHNEIDER, director of Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled’s (JSDD) WAE Center, announced her retirement last month after over 20 years of s e r v i c e . U n d e r M a r i l y n n ’s leadership, the WAE (Wellness, Arts, Enrichment) Center has become known throughout the state of New Jersey as a model program for engaging people with developmental disabilities in continuing education and creative endeavors with respectful appreciation for their abilities and talents. Schneider began her affiliation with JSDD as a chaplain, then moved on to become director of residential services. She served as director of the WAE Center for the past 16 years. As a staunch advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities, Schneider focused on providing the resources and support each individual needed to find joy and a sense of meaningful participation in society. Her personal mission was to assure that those who reside in a JSDD home (and others) could have the same choices and access to opportunities available to anyone. “To say that she has left her mark on JSDD does not nearly express how important she has been to the growth and reputa-
tion of this agency,” said Linda Press, JSDD executive director. “The WAE Center is a legacy and will always be tied to Marilynn, her tenacity, and her dedication to finding the spark within every person.” She added gratitude for Schneider’s “unwavering commitment and support through the many challenges presented along the way.” Schneider developed a team of professionals dedicated to the WAE Center ’s mission. “We will continue on with her voice inside our heads inspiring us all to see the potential, appreciate the talent, and never underestimate the ability of anyone to achieve extraordinary things,” said Press. “She has left JSDD better today than when she arrived.”
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many years as rabbi and cantor at Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Part of the draw to Essex County, he said, is the “richness and vibrancy” of the Jewish community. In addition, his wife Gila is from Livingston and she grew up attending the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center. She is the daughter of Rosie and Arie Wilensky. Glazer has dedicated hours during the week to meet with members virtually or in-person with masks and social distancing in place. “My role as a rabbi is to get to know as many people in the community as I can and to foster that connection with the congregation and me, n Aug. 1 spiri- and with each other, so that together n B’nai Israel we can do all of that important, exciting, joyful work of being Jewish,” she said. Temple Sinai is Glazer’s second clergy position in New Jersey: She served at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield for five years, first as assistant and then associate rabbi. Her husband, Rabbi Joseph Skloot, is a professor of history and modern Jewish thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and they’re parents of Maya, 7, and Solomon, 2. From a conversation with Temple Sinai’s president, Ian Singer, it seems that Glazer’s priorities are in sync with those of the lay leadership. “What we’re expecting from the rabbi is to do the very best she can during these wacky times to build her own personal relationships with the members in her own ways,” said Singer, president since July 2019 and a member since 2003. “She’s hit the ground running,” said Singer. “I can’t imagine doing it better.” The start of Isenberg’s tenure at CBI, a traditional, Conservative congregation, will be marked by a significant milestone: a Zoom gathering on Shabbat morning, or a “virtual community gathering,” as Isenberg refers to it. The search committee at CBI sought a rabbi who could be a “bridge” between “honoring the traditions but also helping us move toward the future,” according to cochair Debra Nevas, whose family has been members of CBI for 17 years; and Isenberg fit the bill. “He is just a very warm, down-toearth person who is very caring but has that combination of being traditional but also being innovative and very creative, and invested, and en-
NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
The right question, The wrong answer
eter Beinart is neither a politician nor a “Jewish leader,” a title usually reserved for major philanthropists and lay and professional heads of Jewish organizations. People pay attention to — and often revile — the journalist and college professor because he reliably articulates liberal Zionist attitudes o n I s r a e l . H e i s a n u n o ff i c i a l spokesman for Jews who describe themselves as pro-Israel, who support the two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, and who tend to disapprove of many of the policies of Israel’s current right-wing government. That category represents the majority of American Jews, according to many surveys, including a recent one by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). The JCPA noted, with a hint of disbelief, that most liberal Jewish Americans would vote for a sometimes-harsh critic of Israel like Sen. Bernie Sanders while still considering themselves “pro-Israel.” JCPA also found among the Jewish majority a “preference for ‘pro-Israel’ candidates in local elections, but not at the expense of other issues.” Asked if they support the annexation of territories held by Israel, 40 percent of American Jews opposed it outright, while only about 12 percent support it. (The remainder either did not know enough about the issue or agreed only the Israeli government has the right to make a decision in this matter.) Beinart tapped into this vein of discontent in two recent pieces, one in Jewish Currents magazine, the other in The New York Times. He wrote that dimming prospects for a two-state solution have led him to support a binational solu-
tion: that is, a single state or confederation that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem, and that extends equality to all the Jews and Arabs therein. Because annexation would leave millions of disenfranchised Palestinians under Israeli control, he writes, “It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.” As a spokesman for the Jewish left, Beinart is hardly representative of his putative followers; few American Jews support one state, in either its right-wing or leftwing conceptions. Beinart’s prescription alarmed Jews on the left and the right, as it should: He is endorsing nothing less than the end of the Zionist dream of Jewish sovereignty in their historical homeland. His formula threatens Jewish lives and their own hardwon right to selfdetermination. But if his solution is fantastical, B e i n a r t ’s f r u s t r a tion is real and representative. American Jews who oppose annexation are wondering how Israel can remain Jewish and democratic if it doesn’t extend full rights to the Palestinians, or if it doesn’t negotiate for a Palestinian state whose residents also have autonomy and selfdetermination. Beinart’s is an immodest proposal, presumptuous in its aims and dangerous in its prescriptions. But sometimes immodest proposals have a way of focusing a conversation. Nearly three decades after Oslo, a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still far away, while the basic dilemmas remain unchanged. Beinart is asking the right questions, even if he proposes a disastrous answer. ■
Peter Beinart’s immodest,
and dangerous, proposal.
Letters to the Editor Black Lives Matter is toxic
Michael Koplow argues in his op-ed that Zionists should support Black Lives Matter (“Why Zionists should stand with Black Lives Matter,” June 18). He is mistaken. He, like too many others, have fallen prey to the concept that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism and that is the type of “big lie” worthy of the Nazi’s propaganda machine. It has become a mantra so often touted by anti-Semitic groups that it has become widely accepted as genuine by liberal politicians, academics, and far too many Jews. Pre-1948 anti-Zionism was opposition to the creation (actually, reestablishment) of the Jewish state in its original borders. Anti-Zionism now opposes the very existence of the Jewish State of Israel. Does Black Lives Matter’s platform address the existence of any other sovereign state? The Jewish community has always, and should always, stand for justice for all. “My Life Matters” would be a much better concept for the entire world. It is inherent in our religion and teaching. There are many organizations, movements, and agencies combating racism, discrimination, and religious intolerance that are deserving of our support. However, a movement that brands Israel as genocidal and an apartheid state is a movement born of hatred and undeniable anti-Semitism. Koplow’s borscht belt logic misses the mark. It is not whether Black Lives Matter should be considered kosher, it is whether it should be considered poisonous. Marc I. Malberg Princeton
Don’t forget NJ governor
Gabe Kahn’s “Time cannot heal this wound” (Garden State of Mind, July 9) was a touching perspective on the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic as it pertains to our Jewish faith, albeit for approximately two-thirds of his article. Touching of course until it lurched, almost predictably, into an anti-Trump diatribe. Kahn’s string of “Don’t Forgets” was no doubt hard-hitting, yet his biases allowed him to forget, or more likely, conveniently ignore, that right here in New Jersey thousands of our family members, friends, and neighbors perished in nursing homes as a direct result of our governor’s edict requiring Covid-positive patients not to be turned away from these vulner-
able facilities. So while the editor of NJJN concludes his piece with “Don’t forget that there’s something we can do about it this fall,” as it pertains to Pres. Donald Trump, we, once again predictably, failed to see any admonition to not forget that there is also something we can do in the fall of 2021 about the man who is complicit in the deaths of thousands of New Jerseyans. And finally, let us not forget that Kahn is a liberal first and above all else, and this continually taints the perspective of NJJN’s op-eds and, unfortunately, its news presentation. Martin Marks Cranford
For those who have written in NJJN about their commitment to address racial inequality, I have what I think is a real solution. Those committed to the cause of equality who live in a privileged community, such as Millburn, can switch homes with a low-income, under-served family in a predominantly minority community such as Irvington. Each family would continue to pay the taxes, mortgage obligations, insurance, etc., of their respective legal residences. This exchange would provide a minority family with access to the advantages of living in a wealthy community and the privileged family could make a tangible contribution to a more equitable society. Progressive Jewish temples could facilitate this exchange by working with churches to find congregants willing to participate. I implore our progressive temples to take on this challenge and make real change. Keith Firestone Westfield Send letters to the editor to email@example.com without Send letters to the editor“letter” to editorial@ attachments. Indicate in the njjewishnews.com attachsubject line of the without e-mail. Include ments. Indicate in residence, the subject your full name,“letter” place of line the e-mail. Include your full andofdaytime telephone number. If name, placereferring of residence, daytime you are to anand article in telephone number. If youthe areheadline referring NJJN, please include edition in and date of the paper in toand an article NJJN, please include it appeared. thewhich headline and edition and date of the also can be mailed to LetpaperLetters in which it appeared. ters to thealso Editor, JerseytoJewish Letters can New be mailed Letters News, 1719 Route 10, Parsippany, to the Editor, New Jersey Jewish News, NJRoute 07054;10, orWhippany, faxed to 973-887-5999. 901 NJ 07981; or reserves the right to edit faxedNJJN to 973-887-5999. letters for length, NJJN reserves theclarity, right tocontent, edit letand accuracy. ters for clarity, content, and accuracy.
Four lessons we can learn from John Lewis Mark Pelavin Special to NJJN
t. Michaels, Md. — The day is one of my most vivid and treasured memories. I was associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and we were in the middle of our flagship public policy conference. One of my responsibilities was to assign Reform movement leaders to introduce each of our speakers. The power went right to my head, and I began by assigning myself to introduce John Lewis, the congressman from Georgia who was an icon of the civil rights movement. Somehow the many higher-ups who reviewed the list either did not see what I had done or were focused elsewhere. And so I had the opportunity, the privilege, the honor, to stand on the stage that day and tell Rep. Lewis, face to face, exactly why he was my hero. That feeling has only deepened in the decades since. Now, with a little more perspective, and in honor of one of the most remarkable, most American, lives ever lived, I want to suggest four key lessons (among hundreds) that we can all learn from John Lewis’ life and work. First, Lewis was never patient. (In fact, in his draft remarks for the 1963 March on Washington, he wrote, “‘Patience’ is a dirty and nasty word.”) He worked closely with more established leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, but he demanded — and earned — a seat at the table; he knew that it was critical that the movement always hear the voice of younger leaders. He was 21 when he became one of the original Freedom Riders, 23 when he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, and 25 when he led the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. I think we can all ask ourselves what our institutions would be like if we had 23-year-olds in key decision-making roles. How much talent are we missing out on while we wait for it to develop? Second, Lewis did not quit. As I look at Lewis’ life I wonder how often others (including myself) would have walked away from the battle. Would I have continued after being beaten the way Lewis was? Would I have walked away after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and thought I had earned some rest? Would I have given up on public service after losing my first bid for Congress? Would I have retired when political opponents began to dismantle what I had sacrificed so much for? Would the election of the first AfricanAmerican president have been a signal that the nation had turned a corner? John Lewis never gave up, never stopped working to make this country the place he knew it could be. His voice was powerful to the end. Third, Lewis used his hard-earned moral authority widely. Lewis understood that the struggle for equality needed to include equality for all. He was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, for example, and was always a great friend and ally to the Jewish community. Lewis believed that peace and safety were key elements of King’s “Beloved Community,” which led him to be a
Rep. John Lewis at a news conference on the Voting Rights Amendment Act in December 2019. TOM WILLIAMS/CQ-ROLL CALL, INC VIA GETTY IMAGES
leading opponent of the Iraq war and — as recently as 2016 — to lead a sit-in on the House floor in support of anti-gun-violence legislation. He simply refused to take a narrow view of his responsibility. Finally, it’s impossible to talk about John Lewis without talking about his faith. Lewis was a civil rights leader, a legislator, an author, and a mentor to many. But he was always a preacher. The day he and
I shared the stage, he gave a version of a speech he must have given thousands of times — about growing up in a two-room “shotgun shack” and practicing his preaching with chickens as his audience. It was more than his style or his cadence that marked Lewis as a preacher — he preached, he taught, with his entire life. Perhaps there is someone in our lifetimes who better met our challenge, set out in the Torah, to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” than John Lewis, but I have no idea who it would be. Each of us finds strength in different places, but for Lewis that place was in his church and in his faith. That, I’m confident, is no small part of what gave him the confidence and conviction he needed to help us usher in a better time. And how we will miss his leadership. I hope and pray there is a remarkable 23-year-old out there today, ready to step forward, and that we will have the wisdom to listen. Or even teenagers preaching to chickens, or perhaps, delivering their b’nei mitzvah talks by Zoom, and getting ready for lives of service. ■ Mark Pelavin, the former director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, is a writer and consultant living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This op-ed was distributed by JTA.
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11 NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
Black anti-Semitism and the Farrakhan factor
Jonathan S. Tobin NJJN Contributing Writer
ike NBA Hall-ofFamer Charles B a r k l e y, a l o t of people are “disappointed” with the fact that a number of African-American celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment have engaged in antiSemitism recently. Barkley’s comments reflected the frustration felt by many people of goodwill — Jewish and Black — about the way NFL star DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, host of “The Masked Singer,” chose to reintroduce slurs against Jews into the public square at a moment when the nation was engaged in a debate about racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Much of the discussion about these incidents has focused on two elements. One is the largely tepid response to antiSemitism from other athletes or celebrities who would almost certainly have reacted more strongly to hate speech directed at African Americans or Hispanics. The other asks if Jackson and Cannon should be “canceled” — that is, shunned to the point where their livelihoods would be in jeopardy as a punishment for their hateful remarks. Yet lost amid what outrage does exist about these incidents is the question of what is motivating such people to not only speak so disparagingly of Jews but to put forward some of the tropes of traditional anti-Semitism. The same question
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often went unasked at the end of 2019, when African-American perpetrators attacked Orthodox Jews in the greater New York area. The usual cant about poverty or the inevitable clashes between very different neighboring communities in places like Brooklyn doesn’t suffice to explain the problem. Instead, we should look at the fact that a major figure in the AfricanAmerican community is one of the nation’s leading hate-mongers, and continues to be treated by many as not merely respectable but also as a symbol of racial empowerment. The Nation of Islam (NOI)’s Louis Farrakhan is a walking, talking absurdity. Farrakhan’s spewing of hatred at all whites and especially Jews has rendered him the moral equivalent of the white supremacist David Duke. Much of the NOI’s theology is nothing less than crackpot conspiracy theories rooted in hatred of whites and especially Jews. But unlike Duke, who has a miniscule following and is a pariah among mainstream politicians of the right, Farrakhan continues to exist on the margins of respectability largely because of the widespread support he gets from other African Americans. As Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted, after a conversation with Cannon aimed at educating him, while it is possible to educate people who engage in anti-Semitism about the history and the consequences of such behavior, convincing blacks to abandon Farrakhan isn’t easy. For many in the African-American community, his blood libels against Jews are not as important as what they think is his message of black empowerment. His defiance of the white establishment is applauded in and of its own sake. And Farrakhan is very much in tune with the mindset that has driven the Black Lives Matter movement, in that he is intent on convincing African Americans that they are victims. The fact that he believes the cause of their plight to be a monstrous white and Jewish conspiracy — rather than the very real problems they face — doesn’t undermine a popularity that goes far
beyond the mere tens of thousands who belong to NOI mosques. His seeming respectability is shocking. The fact that he was given a place of honor alongside Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (both deeply problematic figures when it comes to anti-Semitism but models of rectitude in comparison to Farrakhan) and former President Bill Clinton at Aretha Franklin’s 2018 televised funeral should have alerted the country to the bizarre hold he has on the imaginations of many African Americans. And it is equally unsurprising that when important figures in the black community do speak up against him — as basketball legend Kareem AbdulJabbar did last week — they are denounced for siding with the Jews against their own. The same is true for many African-American politicians who otherwise consider themselves allies of the Jewish community but refuse to confront Farrakhan out of fear that doing so will cause them to be accused of being manipulated by whites. You don’t have to dig too deep under the surface of any of the recent anti-Semitic instances to find Farrakhan’s influence. Farrakhan’s influence within the African-American community has helped legitimize hateful attitudes toward Jews. Nor is there enough attention paid to the way Farrakhan’s hate dovetails with intersectional smears of Israel and Jews that are promoted by many on the left. The problem shouldn’t be shunted aside out of a misguided desire to keep the focus solely on police brutality or claims of institutionalized racism. It’s up to black religious leaders and politicians to unequivocally condemn the Nation of Islam leader. So long as Farrakhan is treated as a defensible figure whose allegedly positive messages outbalance his hate speech, it won’t be possible to truly address questions about anti-Semitism among African Americans. ■ Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org and a columnist for the New York Post.
New CEO named to national security body THE COMMUNITY SECURITY Service (CSS) — founded in 2007 to provide expert training to build security teams in the Jewish community nationwide — has announced the appointment of Evan Bernstein as chief executive officer. Bernstein has more than 20 years of experience fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, including a long tenure at the AntiDefamation League, where he served most recently as Northeast Division vice president. He has worked with local and state law enforcement, community leaders, and elected officials as a spokesperson for Jewish communities during and after anti-Semitic incidents across the country, including being on the ground in the aftermath of the shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City in 2019. He serves on the Interfaith Advisory Council of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the Governor of New York’s Interfaith Council. “I am honored to have been selected to lead a national organization whose singular, ever-critical mission is to protect Jewish life and the Jewish way of life,” Bernstein said.
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and a full track. Our program teaches students how to learn by challenging them to discover their strengths, expand their understanding of the world, and deepen their connection with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Our dedicated faculty is well-trained in differentiated instruction and through an appreciation of each student’s unique strengths guides our students to become critical thinkers and independent learners. We nurture our students’ academic and spiritual growth, challenging them to set goals and pursue their passions. Students find their voices while engaging in co-curricular opportunities and taking the initiative to make a difference. Contact us to learn more about the many opportunities we offer students to pursue their interests, explore their curiosity, find meaning in their learning, broaden their perspectives, and be at home at JKHA/RKYHS.
“CSS provides a proven, empowered volunteer on-the-ground model to tangibly address the rising security threats. I am tremendously excited to continue building on the organization’s history and invaluable presence at this critical time for the American-Jewish community.” Bernstein’s career “has been characterized by developing innovative, collaborative programs,” said Michael G. Masters, national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network (SCN), a program of Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “I look forward to working with Evan to develop a cooperative, complementary relationship between SCN and CSS….” With the recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents, CSS has secured major new funding sources. “We are ramping up our efforts to create a more robust operation…,” said CSS board chair Edward Sugar. “[W]e are now in a better position to push back against the rising tide of incidents singling out Jewish institutions and equip them with the critical tools needed to create secure environments.”
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13 NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
NJ Jewish News ■ njjewishnews.com ■ July 23, 2020
Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, most synagogues and organizations have cancelled all in-person activities for the time being. Some are offering online learning opportunities or plan to reschedule. Please email calendar@ njjewishnews.com with online events open to the community. MONDAY, July 27 “Joy, Fear, Resilience: Becoming A New Parent During Covid-19? Sponsored by Jewish Family Service of Central NJ (JFSCNJ) the 8 p.m. Zoom program will be held with Andrea LoPresti, LCSW, JFSCNJ director of social work and program planning. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom invitation. THURSDAY, July 30 Virtual Tisha B’Av Program. Sponsored by the Orthodox Union (OU), the daylong program will address the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the Jewish community and will feature talks by OU senior managing director Rabbi Steven Weil and OU executive vice president emeritus, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh. ASL interpreters will participate. To register, visit ou.org/tishabav. SATURDAY, Aug. 1 Outdoor Movie Night. Parking lot of JCC of Central NJ, Scotch Plains, 8:30 p.m. (rain date Aug. 2),
with designated areas per family. Bring lawn chairs and snacks and wear masks. Cost is $25/family. To register, go to tinyurl.com/y4gfanby and search “Movie Night” or contact email@example.com or 908-889-8800, ext. 236. Dementia caregivers support A free support group for those caring for loved ones with dementia will continue with Jewish Family Service of MetroWest and Alzheimer’s New Jersey via Zoom. Dates and times are: Monday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 20, 1 p.m. Email JFSGroups@jfsmetrowest.org to register and receive a Zoom link. The following national and international organizations are offering various online resources:
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) is launching a Monday night movie event online where each week it will air one of its award-winning documentaries highlighting Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The free films will premiere as Facebook “Watch Parties” on the JFR’s page, Mondays at 8 p.m., July 27-Aug. 24. They focus on the heroism of res-
cuers Melpomeni Gianopoulou (Greece); Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds (Knoxville, Tenn.); Krystyna Jakubowska (Poland); and Helena Weglowska (Poland). The page will also screen the documentary celebrating the life of Roman Kent, the Holocaust survivor and JFR president, on Aug. 24. Go to facebook.com/JewishFoundationForTheRighteous. Children’s speech/OT therapy JCC of Central NJ and Trinitas Children’s Therapy Services will offer a virtual therapeutic social skills and sensory motor group for elementary and middle school children and parents on Thursdays, July 30 and Aug. 6, 13, and 20, 3:45-4:30 p.m. The sessions will be held with an OT and speech pathologist and will address motor skills, encourage age-appropriate social skills, and promote sensory and emotional regulation; a 15-minute post-session parent support will be included. Each session costs $75, $50 members, with a $10 registration fee. Participants must register for all four sessions. To register, click on tinyurl.com/y4gfanby and search “Social Motor Fun” or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-889-8800, ext. 203.
Community Personal Mention
VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPH — Myron Sugerman, author of “The Last Jewish Gangster,” identifies a one-of-a-kind photograph of Newark’s Minutemen on July 17 as Warren Grover, author of “Nazis in Newark”; and Jewish Historical Society of NJ executive director Linda Forgosh look on. Organized by Newark and New Jersey’s notorious Jewish gangster Abner “Longie” Zwillman, the Minutemen broke up Nazi Bund meetings held in Newark and Irvington. Sugerman has offered to donate his personal photographs of what he called the “kosher nostra” to the JHS’ archives. Contact email@example.com.
Board-certified internal medicine physician and medical oncologist Seth D. Cohen, M.D., of East Brunswick, has been appointed to the newly created position of regional director of oncology services for the RWJBarnabas Health Southern Region. A member of the RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, Cohen specialists in breast, colorectal and lung cancers; lymphomas; and genitourinary and gynecologic malignancies. He serves as an attending physician and is a member of the multidisciplinary team at the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center Southern
Dr. Seth Cohen Campus. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology and is regularly recognized as a top doctor by New Jersey Monthly magazine.
Dr. George and Joyce Weinberger of Livingston celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Sunday, July 19. They met when she was 15 years old and he was 16 at White Meadow Lake, where their families both had summer homes, and were married five years later in 1970. Residents of Livingston for 38 years, they have three children and nine grandchildren.
Dr. Herman Berg, 88, a longtime Monmouth County resident, died July 11, 2020. He was born and raised in Newark. Dr. Berg worked as a large animal practitioner in New Hampshire for one year before moving to Glen Burnie, where he worked for seven years at a small animal practice. In 1962, Dr. Berg and his father, Sol, broke ground on Berg Animal Hospital in Matawan. He also worked with U.S. Customs K9 units for all the New Jersey/New York airports and treated the K9 unit for the Matawan Police Department. He provided veterinary care to the Middlesex and Monmouth county area for 54 years and practiced for a total of 61 years. He retired in 2017 at 85 as the oldest practicing veterinarian in the state. He graduated from Weequahic High School, Newark, and received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University (MSU) in 1956. He was an avid sportsman and ranked seventh in the nation for the MSU sharpshooters pistol team in 1954. He also won awards at antique car shows with his son for his 1941 Cadillac convertible. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Beverly (Kreiser); his daughter, Shelley (Harvey); his son, Stuart (Melody); five grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. Services were held July 15 with arrangements by BloomfieldCooper Jewish Funeral Chapels, Ocean.
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B.Ruth Soffen (Kerman), 105, of Livingston died March 22, 2020. She was born and raised in Brooklyn and had also resided in Queens, Cliffside Park, North Bergen, and South Orange. Mrs. Soffen graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1932. After working in the private sector, she attained a civilian position with the federal government in 1942 in Washington, D.C., and then in New York City, helping to support her family. Her top security clearance enabled her to win an office pool during World War II by coming closest to predicting when Japan would surrender after having taken dictation on the atom bomb. In 1958, she took the New York Unemployment Office to court after wrongfully being denied unemployment benefits. She won the arbitration, which included back pay, while representing herself. She and her husband Norman founded Soffen Furniture Company in Union City in 1958, relocating to West New York in 1972. They were among the first to extend credit, when banks would not, to arriving Cuban immigrants, and she studied Spanish to be able to converse with them. She was a member of Hadassah, AMIT, the former Yeshiva of Hudson County, former sisterhoods of Temple Beth Abraham and
Temple Beth El of North Bergen, and Oheb School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance. Shalom Congregation in South Orange. He was a member of the NJ National She was an avid duplicate bridge player Guard. and enjoyed theater, old movies, selling cosAn avid golfer since age eight, he won tume jewelry, crocheting, and playing word many club championships, and enjoyed sailgames. She enjoyed making friends through- ing and skiing. He and his wife each obtained out her life, and also wrote poems for family their pilot’s licenses and enjoyed traveling and friends on her Underwood manual type- around the world together; they also spent writer to commemorate all occasions. many summers at Martha’s Vineyard. She was included as one of the voters He is survived by his wife of 67 years; in the book “We the Resilient: Wisdom for three children, Quija, Bonny, and Nancy; five America from Women Born Before Suffrage” grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. published in 2017. The South Orange Village Private memorial services were held. President and State of New Jersey issued Memorial contributions may be made to proclamations for her 102nd birthday, and Chabad of SE Morris County, Madison; or April 17 was proclaimed B.Ruth Soffen Day West Orange High School Scholarship Fund in the Township of Livingston on her 104th (woboe.org/scholarshipfund). and 105th birthdays. Predeceased by her husband, whom she married in 1952, she is survived by Leone Kur her daughter, Nanette Soffen (Robin O. Leone Kur (Rosenblum) of King of Prussia, Winter); four grandchildren; and a great- Pa., formerly of Springfield, died July 12, 2020. granddaughter. Predeceased by her husband, Sam, Mrs. A private service was held March 24. Memorial contributions may be made to Kur is survived by two sons, Alan and Larry; Planned Parenthood, Jewish Guild for her daughter, Barbara (Mark) Berger; a sister, the Blind, Oheb Shalom Congregation, Jayne Schoss; six grandchildren; and eight Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Cure great-grandchildren. Arrangements were handled by BernheimAlzheimer’s Fund, Congregation Beth Israel, Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, or Community FoodBank of NJ. APTERCHAPELS.COM Livingston.
Charles A. Goldstein, 91, of West Orange died July 11, 2020. He was born and raised in Newark. Mr. Goldstein and his wife, Jeri, owned and operated Gertrude’s Dress Shop of Newark and South -Orange. Candle Lighting He graduated from Weequahic High School, Newark, in 1947, and in 1951 from New York University with a B.S. from the
Fred Yoskowitz, 86, of Wellington, Fla., died April 18, 2020. Born in Asbury Park, he lived in Livingston many years. Mr. Yoskowitz was the originator of -American Elgen Co. and Capital Hardware. He was a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston. He is survived by his wife, Beverly;
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his son, Jerome Yoskowitz; his daughter, Francine Abraham; three stepchildren, Scott Steingart, Mark Steingart, and Dacie Lang; two sisters, Evelyn Grossman and Linda Kohler; a brother, Joseph Yoskowitz; and nine grandchildren.
Walter Chazin, 87, of Scotch Plains died July 17, 2020. He was born in Brooklyn. Mr. Chazin worked as a printer for many years. He was a member of Typographical Union Number Six, which was part of the Communications Workers of America. He served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1954 in Germany. He enjoyed opera music, playing poker, and reading books by his favorite author, W.E.B. Griffin. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gloria; his daughter, Mindy (David) Koprowski of Scotch Plains; his son, Howard (Jacqueline) of Upper Mt. Bethel, Pa.; a sister; and two grandchildren. Private graveside services were held with arrangements by Higgins Home For Funerals, Inc., Watchung. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date.
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Marilyn Gross (Bilow), 88, of Cranford died July 10, 2020. She was born and raised in Newark and lived in Cranford for 61 years. She also spent 35 years living as a snowbird in Coconut Creek, Fla. Mrs. Gross was an elementary vocal music teacher. A lover of classical music, she taught vocal music in Metuchen for many years and also was the music director of the Temple Beth El choir in Cranford, which performed on Friday nights and at High Holiday services. She graduated from Weequahic High School in Newark and New York University with high honors. Among her interests were mahjong, knitting, and going on cruises to many parts of the world. She is survived by her husband of 63
years, Norman; two sons, Mark and Alan; her daughter, Marla (David); a sister, Lorraine Geltzeiler; and two grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to Jeffrey Heimann Memorial Fund, University of Delaware, 83 East Main St., 3rd Floor, Newark, DE 19716.
Obituaries must be received no later than four months after the funeral. Submit at www.njjewishnews.com/ lifecycle, by e-mail to email@example.com, or by mail to Obituaries Editor, New Jersey Jewish News, 1719 Route 10, Parsippany, NJ 07054-4515. There is no charge for obituary listings; NJJN reserves the right to edit for style and length. A photo (color or black and white) can be included with your listing for a $36 fee. For payment, please call editor Lori Brauner at 973-739-8116 with your credit card information or mail a check made payable to “JWMG LLC” to the address above.
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| SHABBAT CANDLELIGHTING | July 24: 8:01 p.m.
More than words Devarim Numbers 1:1-3:22 Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
have kept my time-worn copy of Roget’s Thesaurus in my personal library since I was in the seventh grade. It was given to me by my teacher who introduced me to the beauty of language and taught me to use this thesaurus in order to use language effectively and with precision. There are those who scoff at words, deeming them to be much weaker than concrete objects. Life has taught me, however, that these individuals are very wrong. Words are important not just in the social world, but have influence and impact upon the physical world as well. With this week’s Torah portion, Devarim (“Words”), we begin an entirely new book: Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Pentateuch. This book differs from the previous four in many ways. In the first four books, events take place, activities are performed, and stories happen. Deuteronomy is fundamentally one long speech — an exquisitely eloquent address, delivered over a period of 40 days and consisting of words of review, rebuke, instruction, and inspiration. Only the concluding eight verses describe the death of Moses. What is most astounding about this book-length address is that it is given by Moses, who, by his own admission, was not a man of words. You certainly will recall that it was in the Torah portion of Shemot
that Moses at first declined God’s mission to be the one to deliver the Jewish people from Egypt. He said, “Please, O Lord, I have never been a man of words ... I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) Our Torah portion begins, “These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel…” Our Sages in the Midrash find this phenomenon remarkable. Say the rabbis in the Midrash, “Yesterday he said, ‘I am not a man of words,’ and today he says, ‘These are the words?!’ ... Rabbi Elazar put it this way: ‘Yesterday he was a pasilus [a Greek word meaning a person with a severe speech defect], and now he proclaims, ‘These are the words!’” A contemporary rabbi, Yehuda Shaviv, whose work “MiSinai Ba” I so admire, makes the same point using different words: “This talent of Moses is a wondrous one. He, who began his leadership career so convinced that he was inarticulate that he depended upon his brother Aaron to be the spokesman able to convey his ideas to his audience, has now become, as his days are waning, a facile and persuasive speaker.” How are we to understand this transformation? Shaviv begins by pointing out that Moses led his people for 40 years but spoke to them more in the last 40 days of his life than he did for the entire duration of his leadership. He argues that we must postulate that Moses only now began to sense that the ears of the Israelites were at last receptive. Their hearts were now ready to open up and to understand both his words of faith and his words of rebuke.
There is a very important lesson here. Language requires a relationship in order to be effective. Much depends upon the speaker, but the speaker must have a listener. Monologues do not communicate; dialogues do. A speaker’s eloquence depends upon his conviction that someone is listening. Shaviv proceeds to impart yet another creative teaching in his essay: Moses becomes able to deliver his impressive address not only because he finally senses that he had a receptive audience. He can do so also because he has finally overcome his mistrust of “mere words.” Remember the tragedy of Moses’ life, and remember the sin for which he was punished. The Almighty instructed him, when the people complained of thirst, to speak to the rock from which water would then flow. God instructed him to use “mere words.” But instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff. He only trusted a concrete object, a “real thing.” So serious was his choice of things over words that God considered it an unforgivable flaw. He, therefore, deprived Moses of achieving his most precious dream: entering the Promised Land. The entire Book of Deuteronomy is evidence that Moses learned his lesson well. He may have failed to use words to draw water from the rock, but he succeeded gloriously in using words to inspire his people, words that continue to reverberate eternally for all of us. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is executive vice president emeritus of the Orthodox Union.
State&Local Foundation awards $200,000 in grants, emergency pandemic support The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey (JWFNJ), a donor-advised fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, has awarded $160,000 in competitive grants to six local nonprofit organizations working to transform the lives of women and girls. In addition, JWFNJ donated $40,000 in one-time emergency dollars in unsolicited grants to organizations responding to the Covid-19 crisis. Since its formation in 2007, JWFNJ has awarded grants to approximately 78 organizations in New Jersey and Israel, totaling more than $1.1 million. “JWF has a long history of supporting organizations that benefit issues like women’s health, housing stability, and food insecurity,” said foundation director Cheryl Rosario. “This year, supporting projects that seek to address racial disparities and communities impacted by the pandemic are more important than ever.” The large grants awarded for 2020-2021 are as follows: Women’s health: College of American Pathologists Foundation, New Brunswick — $30,000 for the See
Test and Treat Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJ University Hospital, ensuring uninsured women have access to mammograms and other preventative tests. Menstrual equity: Community Food Bank of NJ, Hillside — $30,000 for the Period Initiative, a menstrual equity program that addresses period poverty by providing sustained distribution of monthly supplies to those in need. Civic engagement: Girl Scouts of Northern NJ, Riverdale — $10,000 for Voter Girl Civic Advocacy, a program that teaches Girl Scouts ages 7-18 about citizenship, voting, and leadership. Food insecurity: Newark Beth Israel, Newark — $30,000 for Women’s Wellness Pantry, a program that improves the health and well-being of pregnant and new moms by addressing food insecurity. Maternal health: Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern NJ, Newark — $30,000 for Trusted Links, a peer education program that engages community advocates to lead reproductive health discussions and empower Black women who are at the highest risk of experiencing maternal mortality and morbidity.
Housing stability: Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Newark — $30,000 for a program designed to increase housing stability for women in need by providing free legal assistance to tenants. Emergency dollars to organizations responding to the Covid-19 crisis include: Arad Cultural Center and Be’er Sheva Fund for Development, Israel: $10,000 to purchase laptops and tablets to girls in partner communities to continue their education. Community FoodBank of NJ, Hillside: $10,000 for food and hygiene products and the distribution of emergency meal kits. Jewish Family Service of Greater MetroWest, Florham Park: $10,000 to help women at-risk of experiencing increased domestic violence, isolated seniors, and others who require emergency assistance. Oasis-A Haven for Women and Children, Paterson: $10,000 to help fund the distribution of grab-and-go meals during the pandemic. For information, visit jwfnj.org.
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y maternal grandfather, Herman (Chaim) Morser — to us grandchildren, Poppy — was a family patriarch who fully earned the deep love and wide respect he received throughout his life. When I was growing up, though my American-born parents had largely left behind the “Old World” constraints of Jewish law, Poppy adhered resolutely to the mitzvot — he would have said “mitzvos” — and traditions of the faith. He davened daily, observed Shabbat and kashrut, and served as gabbai (for 65 years!) in an Orthodox synagogue in Passaic. He was esteemed as a devout Jew, a successful businessman — he was a jeweler who had supplied many a precious bauble to the young ﬁancees and grandes dames of the area — an unstinting benefactor of the Jewish community and Israel, and a loving and generous husband, father, and grandfather (later, great-grandfather). He was also perennially affable and gentle; we never saw a crack in the surface of his calm temperament. Poppy was not born in the United States. He left Czechoslovakia in 1910 at age 15, came alone to New York, then settled in Passaic. His father and
My great-grandmother Surah Hennah’s gravestone in Bardejov. PHOTO BY ERIC METH
two older sisters had preceded him. His mother was to have followed with Chaim, but there were obstacles, she became sick, and there was no way out. His father stayed in America, obtained a get, and remarried. Poppy told us with sad resignation that he never saw his mother again. When we understood the reality of this sorrowful piece of family lore — that our great-grandmother, Surah Hennah, had been left behind, alone, abandoned by her husband and children, we asked Poppy how he, as a young teen, had mustered the will to leave her and embark on the long voyage to America. He dismissed the question — “There
was no future for a Jewish boy there” — but the regret and even guilt he must have suffered was made evident later in his life. After my grandmother Esther died in 1976, he established a routine he carried on well into his 80s. Every spring, he would stay in Israel for several weeks, seeing the sights and visiting relatives, mostly survivors he had helped support after the war. But ﬁrst he would go to Europe, crossing the Iron Curtain to go to the Jewish cemetery in his Slovakian hometown of Bardejov, where he would stand and pray at his mother’s grave (worded sparsely, the headstone included little more than the day of her death, Yom Kippur 5692, with no mention that she had been a mother. Perhaps her only luck was dying in 1931, thus preventing a torturous end in the Nazi maelstrom.) In 1998, about 10 years after Poppy’s death, my brother, Eric, was preparing for a “roots” journey to Slovakia. He was put in touch with a distant relative, a rabbi in Brooklyn who had written a genealogical history of Poppy’s mother’s branch of the family, along with remembrances from aging family members, among them Poppy, right before his death. The rabbi offered to send my brother the manuscript, but not before alerting
him to a disturbing piece of information it contained, something one of the other elderly immigrants from Bardejov had related. It seems that one day, some gypsies were taunting Chaim. He picked up a stone and threw it as a scare. But it hit a baby one of them was holding, injuring, maybe even causing the death of, the child. The gypsies wanted to kill the Jewish boy in retaliation — and so he ﬂed. We can’t be sure the story is true — it was related after my grandfather’s death, so could not be conﬁrmed — but it made all the pieces of a tragic puzzle fall into place. Poppy had not abandoned his mother; he had left her to save himself and spare her the worse pain of losing him through an act of brutal vengeance. Perhaps it was harboring such a secret that led to his commitment to a life of chesed, tzedakah, and observance of the mitzvot. His life in America was a performance of teshuvah to atone for a childhood deed of reckless violence that may have cost a life. Only years later, when the episode had long been forgotten in Bardejov, was he able to complete his penance, reciting Kaddish at the grave of the mother he had last seen some seven decades before. ■
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ANS Antiques We come to you • Free Appraisals 201-861-7770 • 201-951-6224 Visit us at www.ANSAntiques.com email@example.com Sam Guidan Shommer Shabbas