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Revival hopes to revive Peninsula Hospital Page 2 Bedbugs? Who ya gonna call? Page 3 French fries, cheese and gravy? Sure it’s kosher! Page 7 Cedarhurst 9/11 commemoration Page 10



VOL 10, NO 36 ■ SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 / 17 ELUL, 5771


Goldfeder wins handily in race for Assembly By Sergey Kadinsky Unhappiness with President Obama may have swayed voters in a nearby congressional race, but it had little impact on Democrat Yeruchem Philip Goldfeder’s bid to succeed Audrey Pheffer in the 23rd State Assembly district. “In the precinct around Young Israel of Far Rockaway, of the 1200 votes, only 12 went for Jane Deacy. That’s the story,” said Far Rockaway supporter Eli Shapiro. “The Jewish community proved itself tonight.” With 57 of 90 precincts counted, Goldfeder won by 61 percent to Deacy’s 39 percent. In the week approaching the Sept. 13 special Photo by Sergey Kadinsky Y. Phil Goldfeder and wife election, Turncampaign Esther celebrate their win. er’s was infused with energy, boosted by poll numbers and key crossover endorsements. Outspent and outmanned by his opponent David Weprin, Turner’s party waged a massive get out the vote effort, but it failed to help Deacy in her bid for office. Former Yeshiva Darchei Torah principal Richard Altabe wrote letters of support in local publications, describing his former student’s run as a historic opportunity for the Far Rockaway Continued on page 4

Photo by Sergey Kadinsky

Winner Bob Turner, flanked by top supporters Ed Koch, Rep. Peter King, his wife Peggy, and State Assemblyman Dov Hikind on election night. The race was widely viewed as a local referendum on President Obama’s policies.

Republican Turner wins big in disgruntled Dems’ district By Sergey Kadinsky The “referendum on Obama” delivered a historic defeat for the president’s party, with Republican Bob Turner upsetting Democrat David Weprin in a special election on Tuesday, Sept. 13 to fill the seat of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner. Outmanned and outspent, Turner’s

team faced an opponent armed with experience in elected office, endorsements from former President Bill Clinton and Senator Chuck Schumer, and an army of union organizers. The scene at Roma View Restaurant in Howard Beach was euphoric as a mixed crowd of disaffected Democrats, Republican stalwarts, and local political stars

spoke of the historic victory. “The beauty of this district is that people vote for their interests,” said Brooklyn State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who crossed party lines to support Turner. “There is no question that the people of this district were speaking for the rest of America.” With 87 percent of precincts counted, Continued on page 4

Shabbat Candlelighting: 6:44 p.m. Shabbat ends 7:42 p.m. 72 minute zman 8:13 p.m. Torah Reading Parshat Ki Tavo

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‘Revival’ hopes to give new life to hospital By Jeff Bessen Though he says that the reorganization of Peninsula Hospital Center has just begun, Todd Miller, who is serving as the chief restructuring officer, has two main goals: improving the hospital’s technology, and providing programs that will motivate more area residents to turn to the 200-bed facility for hospital services. Miller, 48, has worked in health care in the New York area for the past dozen years, the last four with Brooklyn-based Revival Home Health Care, where he is the chief operating officer. Revival acquired the financially troubled hospital on Sept. 2, saving it from imminent closure. “We are an entrepreneurially run company, and the hospital should be able to survive with the services it is providing,” Miller said, adding that the hospital will be run as a notfor-profit facility. “We are very focused that the expenses don’t exceed revenues.” Revival was in negotiations with Peninsula officials for nearly two weeks before the agreement became official. The 104-year-old Far Rockaway facility was on the verge of closure amid its $60 million debt, a third of which is owed to SEIU Local 1199, the union that represents many of its 1,000 workers. Peninsula is expected to restructure financially by filing for bankruptcy this week, Miller said. The hospital acquisition includes Peninsula’s nursing home facility. “The hospital needed an infusion of cash and someone with the wherewithal to make that kind of commitment to keep it a thriving community hospital,” said attorney Howard Fensterman, who helped structure the agreement. Revival has already invested $1.5 million in the facility, and a larger investment is anticipated, as computerized medical and laboratory equipment will receive substantial upgrades, Miller said. He said he expects to hire additional staff, bringing back former employees, and Revival’s own network of doctors who want to work with the hospital. The hospital’s board will also be reconstituted, with four new voting members and a community representative. “We intend to accommodate all groups currently accessing the hospital, including the Orthodox,” said Miller, noting that while Revival is best known for serving the Orthodox Jewish community, it also has 3,500 clients coming “from all walks of life.” The hospital serves an estimated 100,000 Far Rockaway and Five Towns residents. “It is a great community hospital, and we look to provide quality care, improving the technology and increasing the community health-related programs,” Miller said. Despite being owed $20 million, Local 1199 union spokeswoman Leah Gonzalez expressed support for the acquisition by Revival. “It has always been the union’s position that closure was an unacceptable outcome for the community and seriously diminishes access to vital health care services in a borough that has already endured multiple closures,” Gonzalez said. After Peninsula announced its possible closure and just before Revival’s acquisition, the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Hospital presented its own plan to expand overall services, including its emergency department. The plan, approved by the state Department of Health, has not changed and is moving forward, according to Nelson Toebbe, chief executive officer of St. John’s.





September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR


By Sergey Kadinsky

Photo by Sergey Kadinsky

Rabbi Pelcovitz will be honored by the White Shul this Shabbat on his 60th year in the community.

When Rabbi Raphael (Ralph) Pelcovitz moved into Far Rockaway in 1951, the Congregation Kneseth Israel (the White Shul) that he attends was a white structure, a single day school served the community, and the Long Island Railroad rattled above endless rows of summer bungalows. Much has changed since then. This Shabbat, the congregation honors Rabbi Pelcovitz, its Rabbi Emeritus, for his 60 years of service to the community. “My father arrived when I was born, he took an active role in HILI, which became HAFTR,” said his son, renowned psychologist Dr. David Pelcovitz, describing his alma mater, the Hebrew Academy of Long Island. “He worked closely with rabbis at the time in holding yeshivas to a higher standard.” Born in Canton, Ohio, Rabbi Pelcovitz initially studied in local public schools, before studying at the Hevron Yeshiva in Jerusalem. In choosing Far Rockaway as his home, Rabbi Pelcovitz spoke of his two sons, seeking to enroll them in a yeshiva rather than a public school. Speaking on the values of yesteryear’s public schools, he recalled, “Back

then society was more attuned to the basic beliefs of bein adam l’chaveiro, authority of parents and derech eretz,” Rabbi Pelcovitz said. “Jews and non-Jews alike followed an accepted moral authority.” Taking an active role in his new home, he took up the pulpit at the White Shul while teaching at Torah Vodaath and writing books on the Sforno’s commentaries. While Rabbi Pelcovitz is a son of a rabbi, he encouraged his sons to seek their own professions, arguing that a semikha should be a full-time vocation rather than a title. “There is never the expectation that the son will be everything that the father is; our emphasis is on transmission of values, not vocations,” Rabbi Pelcovitz said in an interview with Mishpacha magazine. David went on to become the chair of psychology and education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Education, while Nachum practices podiatry in Lawrence. “My brother and I treat the opposite ends of the body,” David Pelcovitz quipped. But he credits his father’s values in his psychology practice, “Psychology is like secular clergy. I am in the family business of helping people. That’s what attracted me to this profession”

Jeff Eisenberg: the bedbug expert

Dr. Pelcovitz personifies the connection between psychology and clergy in his classrooms, where he teaches pastoral counseling to YU’s semikha candidates. Together with his father, Dr. Pelcovitz coauthored Balanced Parenting, published by Artscroll/Mesorah, on achieving the Talmudic balance between the “left hand pushing away while the right hand draws closer.” Rabbi Eytan Feiner shares the pulpit seat with Rabbi Pelcovitz, who continues to keep an active presence around the community. Rabbi Feiner described his senior colleague as a “brilliant role model, the quintessential Rav who personifies Torah, chesed, and avodas Hashem in everything that he does.” As his birthday approaches, Dr. Pelcovitz related the Pirkei Avot description of a nonagenarian as “bein tishen lashuach,” or stooped over. “But you can also read it as lasuach, which means to talk and put into perspective.” For those attending the White Shul on this special Shabbat, Rabbi Pelcovitz will provide the perspective after mussaf services. The community’s tribute includes cantors Joel Kaplan and Avi Katz, and an afternoon shiur by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, the rosh yeshiva of the seminary at YU.


By Sergey Kadinsky He once worked as a CPA and flirted with law school, and his business is very detailoriented. Jeff Eisenberg’s trained staff pokes into the cracks between walls, gaps behind furniture and underneath mattresses, in search of bedbugs. “They’re not just found in beds, bedbugs have been around since the beginning of life,” Eisenberg said. “The ancient Egyptians, the Gemara, and Shakespeare wrote about them.” Nearly eliminated by the 1950s by the DDT insecticide, the household critter was nearly forgotten as homes and offices focused their attention on cockroaches. Although the bugs do not carry diseases, the swells and itching caused by their bites merit the public’s call to wipe them out this second wave, caused by the ban on DDT and an increase in international travel, the bedbug invaded an unprepared New York, crawling around hotels, apartments and office suites. “It’s not about hygiene. It’s about who has the money to travel. I get as many calls coming from people of means as any household,” Eisenberg said. The resurgence of bedbugs caught New Yorkers unprepared, as the pests were often associated with nursery rhymes and flophouses. In reality, bedbugs appeared in five-star hotels, first-class venues and investment banking offices. By 2009, the National Pest Management Association estimated that American companies expended $258 million to combat bedbugs. “Globalization brought them back to first world countries,” Eisenberg said. “We rang the alarm bells on bedbugs and found ourselves doing bedbug work for other companies.” Looking at the landscape of the exterminator profession, Eisenberg entered the trade, promising a different approach in his company, Pest Away, Inc. “I found technology that is eco-friendly and came up with treating the underlying causes of the problem- caulking, ceiling and cement,” Eisenberg said. While many of Eisenberg’s A-list clients would not publicly reveal their bedbug problem, Eisenberg’s office features a photograph with former President Bill Clinton, whose Harlem office was treated by Pest

Letter to the editor Trained to report abuse

Photo by Sergey Kadinsky

Pest Away CEO Jeff Eisenberg keeps a tightly organized list of clients on his wall, ranging from Midtown offices to private residences. Away in 2009. Using his business for philanthropy, Eisenberg connected Clinton to Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman of Migdal Or, which works with wayward youths in Israel. Likewise, his book, The Bedbug Survival Guide, published earlier this year, donates royalties from sales towards Migdal Or, alongside other Jewish charities. Having cleaned out the Fox News Channel newsroom, Eisenberg established connections in the media, becoming the go-to expert on bedbugs. In turn, this led to consulting for governments and organizations around the world that were unfamiliar with bedbugs. In New York, law mandates the awareness of bedbugs, with landlords notifying new tenants of recent exterminator visits. In March, the city’s Department of Health published an online guide to bedbugs, which includes sections on myths and facts, preven-

tion, and recommendations in seeking an exterminator. Among the more difficult assignments, Eisenberg spoke of Manhattan office buildings, where his EnviroGuard pest control program ensures that only the bugs will be affected. “In an office of 200 people, you can’t go around asking each employee about health concerns. Our materials are made of food grade products.” Relying on referrals and a guarantee of free service if the bugs return, Eisenberg said that like any business, showing up on time, carefully explaining the problem and going to its root, are the cornerstones of Pest Away’s reputation. “We’ve all had experiences of exterminators not coming in on time and spraying just about anywhere.” Eisenberg said. “We brought a white collar approach to a blue collar industry. “

To the Editor: Dr. Neustein provides us with a fascinating insight in her editorial [Training rabbis to identify abuse, Aug. 26] on dealing with sexual abuses in the Jewish community. As meritorious as it may be to seek counsel from a local rabbi about potential sexual abuses, this may still fall short of solving specific problems, and may even turn out to be unintentionally counterproductive. Dr. Neustein proposes a coordinated and thought-out plan on how to respond to a parent whose child may have been abused. A possible first step might be the formation of a Board or various Boards consisting of rabbis trained in relevant psychological areas and some psychologists and other appropriate professionals, to be consulted by rabbis or even by the confidential informants directly. Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq. Kew Gardens

E-mail letters to letters@ or fax to (516) 569-4942.


The article “New Breezy’s bakes for a cause,” [Sept. 9] erroneously describes Ilan Tocker as a Forest hills resident. He was raised there and presently resides in Woodmere. The Breezy’s store is a kitchen supply store and while it features challah-baking classes, no cooking is performed on premises. We regret the error.

THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771

White Shul honors its beloved Rabbi Emeritus


September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR


Goldfeder victory, a win for Opinion Far Rock community The inside truth about “journalistic Continued from page 1 community. “The big news was the overwhelming turnout of Orthodox voters, but his strength outside his home base was also evident,” Altabe said. At 30 years of age, he is among the younger elected officials in Albany, but his predecessor Audrey Pheffer, who now serves as Queens County Clerk, remembers her first encounter with Goldfeder as a teen who wrote letters and participated in campaigns. “He was this kid who loves politics. He knew his base and he then came to Howard Beach and won over solid Democrats,” Pheffer said. “Once they met him, they saw the energy that he has.” Speaking to supporters at Old Mill Yacht Club in Howard Beach, Goldfeder thanked his wife Esther and the community for their support. “This is a victory for the community because we have great ideas. This is going to be a quality accessible government,” Goldfeder said. Rabbi Pinchos Hecht said that Goldfeder’s passion for public service stems from his parents. “His father

is active in Hatzalah and his mother supports Torah Academy for Girls. It’s an active family that cares about others,” Rabbi Hecht said. Knowing Goldfeder since his childhood, Altabe recalled how his fifth grade class was invited by then-councilwoman Juanita Watkins to attend a City Council session. “His class watched the scene and it really interested him. His career in politics began at Darchei,” Altabe said. Since then, Goldfeder’s political experience included serving as community liaison to Councilman James Sanders Jr., as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Community Assistance Unit’s director for Queens, and most recently as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Goldfeder was not the only Orthodox figure to celebrate on Tuesday, with Democrat Michael Simanowitz, 43, easily trounced Republican opponent Marco DeSena for the 27th State Assembly district in central Queens. Simanowitz served as a longtime chief of staff to his predecessor Nettie Mayerson.

Turner wins in Dem district Continued from page 1 Turner took 54 percent of the vote to Weprin’s 46 percent. Once it became clear that the lead was insurmountable, Long Island Congressman Peter King introduced his new colleague. “Tonight we sent a message,” Turner said. “I am delighted we rejected the political rhetoric we heard in this campaign. I think Washington better listen to us.” Behind Turner, an American flag shared the stage with an Israeli flag, reflecting on the Orthodox community’s anger over president Barack Obama’s policy towards the Jewish state. Early on in the campaign, mayor Ed Koch made it clear that Israel was a leading issue. “President Obama threw Israel under the bus and I took a stand on that issue. With this election, we sent a message,” Koch said. In contrast the national Jewish vote, the district, which stretches from southern Brooklyn to central Queens, has a sizable population of Orthodox and Russian-speaking Jews, who have been more receptive to the Republican platform on gay marriage and Israel. “Without question, Obama’s policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party,” said Republican Jewish Coalition chair Matt Brooks. Turner would be the first Republican to represent the district since 1923. It all began 18 months ago when longtime Breezy Point resident Bob Turner stopped by the office of the state’s Conservative Party chairman Mike Long, ex-

pressing frustration with then-Congressman Anthony Weiner’s handling of the economy. “I told him that we needed a candidate, so he went home and spoke with his wife about it,” Long said. A retired cable company executive, Turner ran for public office only once before, losing last year to Weiner, but commanding a respectable 41 percent in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one. Less than a year later, with Weiner out of office as a result of his inappropriate behavior, Turner faced Weprin, a scion of a political dynasty where his brother Mark serves as City Councilman and his late father Saul was the State Assembly Speaker. Weprin previously served two terms in the city Council before advancing to the State assembly. Using Medicare and Social Security as his top issues, Weprin attacked Turner as a Tea Party extremist for his opposition to tax hikes for billionaires. “Throughout this campaign, Bob Turner has pushed a radical agenda that protects corporate tax loopholes while slashing Medicare and Social Security,” Weprin said in the week before the election. “Bob Turner is a Tea Party extremist who is out of step with the values of the middle-class families of Brooklyn and Queens.” Apparently not expecting Turner’s victory, Weprin held off his congratulatory call to Turner until the morning after election, initially demanding for a full count of the votes. The future of the district however remains in doubt, as New York stands to lose two Congressional seats in next year’s redistricting.



Independent and original reporting from the Orthodox communities of Long Island and New York City All opinions expressed are solely those of The Jewish Star’s editorial staff or contributing writers Publisher and Editor Assistant Editor Account Executives Contributors

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David F. Nesenoff Sergey Kadinsky Helene Parsons Hy Spitz Sandi Stanger Rabbi Avi Billet Jeff Dunetz Rabbi Binny Freedman Brigitte Fixler Rabbi Noam Himelstein Alan Jay Gerber Zechariah Mehler Aviva Rizel Ariel Rosenbloom Alyson Goodman Christina Daly

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integrity” during a political season


large chunk of my career (16 years) was spent in the world of advertising. I worked for various advertising agencies planning, negotiating and recommending the placement of media for many top advertisers. Once I explained my job as spending money, but since it was other people’s money I had to make sure my clients were getting the best possible deal. That “best possible deal” involved more than getting the best costs, but also getting the best editorial coverage. Magazine editors and Television news people who talk about journalistic or editorial integrity make me laugh because in most cases there is no such thing. One of my first projects in adPOLITICO vertising was TO GO working for a pet food company. We negotiated with CNN to create pet care news segments just to create a compatible environment for our advertising. Years later working for a Jeff Dunetz major toy advertiser, I negotiated with magazines to run stories on toys to run next to my clients ads, though their readers expected a different editorial selection. When Bayer Aspirin started its campaign about aspirin and heart attacks, to get our ads, magazines ran stories about heart care to run opposite our advertising. Why is any of this important? Because you need to keep this in mind as we enter the 2012 political season. After 16 years in the ad trade, I switched to the media selling side and was able to see the process from their perspective. There is supposed to be a wall of separation between the advertising and editorial staff of the business, in most cases that wall does not exist. When I was marketing director for a magazine group, once a year I would take the projected ad schedule for the following year and sit down with the editor’s to negotiate what kind of editorial we would need to run as to make those advertisers happy the next year. As publisher of a different magazine, I directed my marketing staff to write articles about advertisers we would run them in the book next to their ads, with a little slug at the top saying advertisement (in the ad business it they are called advertorials). The trick was to make the advertorials look just like the regular articles in the magazine so the readers would not notice the slug at the top. There are two reasons why this is

important information in today’s political world. First, if the advertising sales part of a media company, even with its traditional strict separation from the editorial side, can influence the stories a magazine will publish, just imagine what the influence of a bias that originates from the editorial department. Editors who toss off their “journalistic integrity” the ad department can make money; will easily toss it off to accommodate their own political bias. The other reason behind this stories importance has to do with the argument some on the left or the right will make about research coming from the other side. In many cases when a study is published which refutes a stance supported by the other side, the usual counter attack ignores the facts or methodology of the study. What they don’t tell you is that those same magazines or television shows that publish their counter attack, are usually running advertising from sponsors who are demanding those types of stories be published, just as I did as a media director sometimes from those same “evil corporations” who provided the grants for the study. In most situations, those “evil” corporations are actually supporting both sides of the argument. For example, recently the progressive media watch dog Media Matters (MMFA) criticized a study by the Heartland Institute which cast doubt on the theory that global warming is man-made. Instead of criticizing the facts of the study, they argued that Heartland received $676,500 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006, including $90,000 specifically for “General Operating Support — Climate Change.” But consider this: You can’t read the science journal Nature which publishes studies supporting the theory of anthropogenic global warming without being bombarded by ads by from oil companies (including ExxonMobil). Is Nature bought and paid for by “Big Oil?” Why not? (That’s a rhetorical question. We all know the answer.) Truth be told, journalist ethics is an oxymoron not just for MMFA but for most of the sources we approach for information. Whether it is AARP articles supporting Obamacare because they stand to make millions of dollars from sales of its licensed insurance products, or Al Gore’s potential billions from his “green” investments should the of anthropogenic global warming theory receive universal acceptance.” The only thing you should trust implicitly in political writing is the advice given during each episode of the “X-Files” Trust No One. Read everything (especially the Jewish Star) but in the end make your own decisions.


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THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771

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Parsha Ki Tavo

It’ll drive you crazy S

ome of the curses in the tokhacha are meant to hit so close to home. Verses 28:29-33 describe how some things we might take for granted could easily be unequivocally stripped from us. The most poetically chilling is verse 30 in which a betrothed woman, a new house and a new vineyard will all be enjoyed by someone else. These recall the three individuals (other than the coward) who are recalled from the battlefield before going out to fight “lest another man enjoy” the beginning fruits of these new projects before the one meant to benefit has a chance to see them through their fruition. As a result of these terrible losses, the Torah says, “You will go Rabbi Avi Billet insane from what you will have to witness.” Some of the commentaries express tremendous creativity in their attempt to explain what the insanity will be or where it will come from. Ibn Ezra says the “insanity” will come from the Egyptian boils coming upon the people in verse 27. The Sha”kh says the “overabundant joy” will come from all the happy occasions one will have shared with others. Whether he is being serious or speaking tongue-in-cheek

is open to anyone’s interpretation. The Netziv is a little more practical in his explanation as he says “You’ll be dumbstruck over how much damage so few instigators can cause you. The overwhelming feeling will cause you to lose your reason.” In essence, these commentaries look at the afflictions which precede this statement of insanity and attach a direct connection – cause and effect. One can also look at this statement with a contemporary eye and, when looked at by itself, out of the context of the verses surrounding it, a significantly modern lesson can be taken away. The translation of the verse I provided before is from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s “Living Torah.” However, it can also be translated, “You will go crazy on account of the things you see.” Israeli motivational speaker Rabbi Avner Kavas suggested that we live in a world in which the sights we see can literally drive a person crazy. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand exactly what he’s talking about. Think about the controversy over the billboard on Rockaway Turnpike that was significantly covered by this newspaper two years ago. Think about our own feelings of the “Arab Spring” that is rising now, with the discussion over the state that might be declared by the United Nations. Consider the climbing rate of divorce in our communities.

Wonder about the “singles scene,” and if the challenge so many face in finding a mate will be overcome in the near future. Take note of the drug abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse which sometimes make it to the newspapers. Particularly physical abuse between spouses, once unheard of in the Jewish community, is now flickering on a radar screen. The endless addiction that comes from using electronics, the internet, etc. Even if all of these uses are good or pareve, the inability to communicate normally with another person is becoming a lost art, and the amount of time spent online versus in other intellectual

and spiritual pursuits can drive the objective observer mad. Our eyes are our portal to the world, and it is through them that we see the things that can literally drive us crazy. There is no room to preach filtering, because only the true ascetic can filter out the images and the madness that challenges us on a daily basis in our world and contemporary society. May we not only pray that the world change in a manner that will make us see a different light, but may we also merit to see a world in which even this kind of fulfillment of the tokhacha turns into a figment of only our wildest imagination.

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Dr. Alan Kadish and Touro College would like to congratulate Dean Lawrence Raful and Touro Law Center on an enormously successful conference that brought together the leading Alfred Dreyfus and Leo Frank scholars to discuss, question, theorize and learn from one another.


Prof. Rodger Citron with Theo Klein, President of the Jewish Museum of Art and History.

Steven Erlanger, Paris Bureau Chief, New York Times, speaks about the role of the media.

Samuel Pisar, survivor, author, attorney and intellectual addresses the conference at the Quai d’Orsay.

On behalf of the Touro Law Center community I want to publicly thank all who were a part of our historic conference in Paris, France. Nearly 200 participants took part in an intellectual journey that brought us to fabulous venues and expanded our minds. The conference was a great success on many levels. The speakers provided new insights, examined the legacy of the trials, and taught us much about a subject that has relevance for today – persecution through prosecution. I want to also publicly thank our organizing committee and our partners in France American Jewish Committee (AJC Paris) and CRIF. To our partners thank you for your support, hard work and dedication to the concept and ideals of the Conference. You helped open our eyes to the comprehensive significance of the Dreyfus Affair and you opened doors that, without your help, would never have been available to an American Law School. To our Co-chairs Judge Sol Wachtler and Dean Emeritus Howard Glickstein thank you for your inspiration and keeping us to our vision. We are proud of the quality of speakers and variety of important historic venues. To our speakers – thank you for your participation – it truly was a remarkable experience because of the quality of the presentations. And finally, to our sponsors – it is not an exaggeration to say that this conference could not have happened without your support. And finally to our participants - thank you for being such an integral part of the conference. It is my sincere hope and true belief that everyone came away enriched by the experience. Sincerely,

Professor Rodger Citron with Charles Dreyfus

Hon. Charles J. Hynes, Prof. Samuel Levine, Hon. Sol Wachter, Hon. Joseph Bellacosa, and Conference Sponsor Rodger Tilles.

Lawrence Raful Dean

TOURO LAW Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Underwriting provided by the SNCF (French National Railway Corporation). For a complete list of sponsors, speakers and photos please visit

July 5 - July 7, 2011 PARIS, FRANCE The Conference was honored to have the high-patronage of Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic. Speakers Included: Shlomo Avineri, Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Maya Balakirsky-Katz, Associate Professor of Art History, Touro College Pierre Birnbaum, Professor Emeritus of Political Sociology, University of Paris David Cole, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center Bishop Francis Deniau, Bishop of Nevers Vincent Duclert, Associate Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto Steve Oney, Journalist and Author of And the Dead Shall Rise: the Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank Yaël Perl Ruiz, Great-granddaughter of Alfred Dreyfus Richard Weisberg, Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law, Cardozo Law School of yeshiva University of New York Martine Le Blond Zola, Great-granddaughter of Emile Zola

Message from our Conference Co-Chairs: "We compliment our colleagues at Touro Law Center for assembling an extraordinary collection of scholars, journalists, and advocates to explore the Alfred Dreyfus affair and Leo Frank case. In revisiting these fascinating historical episodes at the conference, we were reminded of the importance of using the legal system to combat rather than perpetuate injustice and discrimination." Howard Glickstein, Dean Emeritus The Hon. Sol Wachtler, Former Chief Judge, New York State Court of Appeals


September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR



ally like their choice of using thick cut fries. It allows for the flavor of the potato to stand its own against the cheese and gravy. My one complaint is that the gravy is a little watery and doesn’t adhere to the fries as well as I would like. Central Perk’s fries are crispier than those at Moca Bleu, though I am unaware of how, exactly, they are prepared — due in large part to having been distracted by a gaggle of boisterous tweens whose inane conversation pierced my eardrums and caused my soul to die a little. The finished product, however, was quite good. The fries remained relatively crisply despite being coated in a layer of melted cheese and mushroom gravy. I particularly liked the use of the mushroom gravy as it gave an extra level of depth to the Poutine. The little bits of mushroom also gave the dish a pleasantly meaty texture. Personally, though I like both of these restaurants’ adaptation of the Poutine, I enjoy making my own fleishig version. I make my own thick French fries, retaining the potato skins, but you can pretty much use any frozen fries available. I cut up and sautĂŠ the cheapest cut of meat I can find with spices, shallots and mushrooms and I add it to a mixture of packaged beef broth mixed with a simple roux made from margarine and flower. Then in a food processor I add a cup of pepper jack Daiya, a tapioca based cheese substitute, and half a cup of flavorless silken tofu. I blend until smooth, add a few heavy dashes of hot sauce and crack two eggs into this “cheeseâ€? mixture and blend once more. Imperative to getting this right is making

Photo by Zechariah Mehler

A French-Canadian concoction, the kosher adaptation of the poutine is available in two local restaurants, substituting mushrooms for meat. sure that the fries are hot as blazes when you add the “cheese.� Because of the eggs, the mixture will curdle when it hits the heat of the fries and make your “cheese� sauce act like actual cheese. Once you have added your “cheese� to your fries ladle a healthy dose of your meat gravy over the dish. What you will

have is a dish that works as a snack, a meal or even a side. I like mine with a good India Pale Ale but feel free to enjoy yours alcohol free. Zechariah Mehler is a widely published food writer and expert in social marketing. Follow him on Twitter @thekoshercritic














here is no better bar food on earth than poutine. First made in 1950s Quebec, poutine is a dish comprised of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Sadly, the fact that Poutine is traditionally made with cheese and meat gravy means that it’s not readily available to kosher consumers. Luckily Poutine has recently breached THE KOSHER the American kosher CRITIC market thanks in part to the sheer culinary absurdity inherent in drenching fries with cheese and meat sauce. Let’s face it, Poutine (pronounced Poo-TeaNe) is an exceptionally funny name for a food. Currently there are two kosher locations in the New York metro area that serve Poutine. The first is at Moca Zechariah Mehler Bleu in Teaneck and the second is at Central Perk in Cedarhurst. Moca Bleu which serves as Teaneck’s only passable sit down dairy restaurant, serves its Poutine as either a single serving or family size offering. It uses a deep almost bowl like dish which is filled with thick cut fries ladled on a brown gravy cover it with mozzarella and put it in their cherry wood burning oven until the cheese has melted. The effect is a fry that requires a fork but is well worth it. It is gooey, crispy and delicious. I person-

THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771

Poutine’s ‘Perk’

Mensch on the street

By Ariel Rosenbloom

Who would you publicly apologize to? “My old third grade teacher. My friends and I used to hide under the desk and she didn’t know where we were. We used to play tricks on her.”

“My grandparents, for not spending enough time with them while they were alive.”

“His name is Rabbi Gilkarov, my 10th grade rebbe. I feel I gave him a hard time.”

RENA CHILL teacher at HAFTR Elementary School Far Rockaway

MICHELLE MENDEL computer programmer Cedarhurst

DOV FIRESTONE accountant Chicago


“My parents, because I never thanked them enough.”

“To Albert, the owner of the store [where I work] because sometimes I am not so polite. But never often.”

MOSHE FINK owner Chateau de Vin Cedarhurst

MICHAEL KRIS Customer relations Wok Tov Cedarhurst

ELLA GORDIN manager Elzee Cedarhurst

Irving Place Minyan is excited to announce the appointment of Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky as our Rabbi.We invite the entire Five Towns Community to a two-part Yamim Noraim Lecture Series given by Rabbi Rackovsky. Part I: Monday, September 19, 8:00pm

The Lectures will be open to Men and Women and will take place at Irving Place Minyan, 111 Irving Place, Woodmere.

KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? INSIGHTS AND INTERPRETATIONS FOR ROSH HASHANAH'S POEMS AND PRAYERS. Part II: Tuesday, October 4, 8:00pm DOES G-D REPENT? Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky graduated Yeshiva College in 2002 with a Bachelors degree in Biology. A native of Rochester, New York, he studied for two years in Yeshivat Kerem BeYavneh prior to attending Yeshiva College. In March 2006, he received his Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary while serving as Rabbinic Intern at the Riverdale Jewish Center and on the Chaplaincy staff of the UJA/Zicklin Residence of the Metropolitan Jewish Hospice of New York. In the fall of 2006, he was appointed Senior Rabbinic Intern at the RJC, and joined the Rabbinical staff of the Beth Din of America, where he served until July of 2007, when he was named Assistant Rabbi at The Jewish Center. In conjunction with Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future, Rabbi Rackovsky has taught in cities across the US and Canada, and served as the director of the 2006 Yeshiva University Atlanta Summer Kollel. Additionally, Rabbi Rackovsky is completing a Masters in Counseling at Pace University.


September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR



Learning the new Koren Mishnah for Rosh Hashana


oren Publishers have once again blazed a new trail in translation and commentary with the Koren Rosh Hashana Mahzor, an all-new English translation and commentary by British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Following up on its highly acclaimed siddur for year round use, this new high holiday work features an translation and commentary of the four chapters of Mishnah Rosh Hashana that deal with the very foundation of the observance, as well as purpose, of this sacred holiday. There is a very strong custom among many to learn this mishna the week before and on Rosh Hashana itself. Thus, the publishers chose to include Alan Jay Gerber this mishna into the mahzor text, something that until recently was novel to mahzor publishing. What is really unique in this effort is that instead of adopting someone else’s work and commentaries, Koren set out to establish an all new in-house translation and extensive commentary of the mishna text. The translation was written by Jessica Sacks and the commentary was developed and written by Rabbi David Fuchs. Jessica Sacks studied English literature at Cambridge University, Hebrew literature

and Agadda at the Hebrew University, and Jewish Studies at Midreshet Ein Hanatziv and Beth Morasha. London born, she has been living in Jerusalem for the past seven years, and translating for Koren since 2008. Rabbi David Fuchs was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 2005. From 1994 to 2007, he studied at the famed Yeshivat Har Etzion. He previously studied physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University. Since completing his studies at Har Etzion, Rabbi Fuchs became editor of Hebrew liturgical texts at Koren, working full time on the development of The Koren Sacks Siddur, The Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, and the new Israeli Koren Siddur. He lives in Alon Shevut together with his wife and five children. In his introduction to this commentary Rabbi Fuchs goes into great detail in explaining the intricacies that constitute a quality translation involving the works of the Jerusalem Talmud, the Rif, the Tur, the entire Shulchan Aruch, the Tosefta, and other related commentaries and poskim. A close study of this section prior to the holiday will give you a deeper appreciation in the purpose and significance of this most holy of days. In commenting on the overall importance of this work, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states that, “The prayers of Rosh Hashana draw their power from the way they combine themes that are cosmic and at the same time deeply personal. Nowhere is this more evident than in the great Unetaneh Tokef prayer with its scenes of angels trembling and a

great shofar sounding. The world has become a courtroom. We are on trial for our lives. Just as we think fate is sealed comes the great and distinctively Jewish ‘but’ – but penitence, prayer and charity can avert the evil of the decree. No verdict is final. To be a Jew is never to lose hope.� Such theological imagery is but a hint of the theological thinking that goes into the literary work of Rabbi Sacks. Taken together with the work on the Koren Mishna, this new mahzor should go a long way in further enhancing the spirituality of your Rosh Hashana davening experience. Other related works that you should be on the lookout for at your local book stores are the following: In His Mercy: Understanding The Thirteen Middot, [Maggid Books, Yeshivat Har Etzion

2011] a detailed commentary by Rabbi Ezra Bick of Yeshivat Har Etzion. This work brings together into one comprehensive commentary the various mishnah and Talmud teachings of these divine attributes that are at the very heart of the Selicot services that are soon to be recited from the week prior to Rosh Hashana, through Yom Kippur. Another work that will surely help you to better appreciate the mahzor liturgy is Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s “Twerski on Machzor,� [Artscroll, 2011]. Those parts dealing directly with the mahzor text itself are the most practical section of this little yet well thought out work. This will certainly serve as the basis for an as yet unpublished full commentary on the mahzor by Rabbi Twerski.


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THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771

The Kosher Bookworm

September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR


Opinion F

Tzedaka wars — let the giver beware

ew industries are as low-risk and highreward as the tzedaka industry. After all, there is little overhead, no merchandise to stock, a steady supply of customers, and customers pay cash without expecting anything in return. It’s sure come a long way from the days when one of the more sophisticated strategies involved having a tag team of men with long peyos going to shul together to collect. Rather than entering together, they IN MY VIEW would enter moments apart and start from different ends of the shul, maximizing their chances of double dipping. One could observe them together outside the shul before and after. Primitive, but surprisingly effective back in the day. At some point people realized there was much more income to be had, and investing Rabbi Chananya in partners could more Weissman than pay for itself. We started to see groups of collectors being driven around by “professional” drivers who knew the davening times in all the shuls and where to find the best profits. The driver took a hefty percentage, but the collectors profited as well from the

arrangement. Collectors from Israel — traveling to other countries to collect — hired these drivers to shuttle them to the private homes of those with a history of giving generously. It’s easier to buy with privacy on the Internet than it is to give tzedaka without having your name and address sold to mailing lists and questionable characters. The tzedaka industry has become a lot more sophisticated and competitive in recent years thanks to new media and marketing techniques. Kupat Ha’ir has been the most successful in using rabbis as celebrity spokesmen. These marketing elements have always been present here and there, but Kupat Ha’ir brought it to a new level. Even with the added cost of marketing, the overhead remains extremely low, and the customer still really receives nothing tangible beyond a tax deduction, and maybe a raffle ticket. Va’ad Harabbanim L’inyanei Tzeduka, Inc. has emerged as the main competitor to Kupat Ha’ir. (And yes, they are an actual corporation.) They offer a range of prayers for sale and sold an autographed letter from their rabbonim. Western Wall Prayers has made a successful business out of Western Wall prayers. As a friend observed, the more you pay to support their Torah scholars, the more they promise to increase their “level of gratitude” and “increase our efforts to elicit divine assistance for you”. The tzedaka marketplace is becoming

increasingly more crowded, as competitors jockey for position and attempt to carve a niche for themselves. One of the main difficulties they face is distinguishing themselves from one another. I frequent a bus stop at the Tzomet Shimshon highway intersection. There used to be two collection boxes at the bus stop. Now there are four collection boxes. Each one promises blessings and salvation. Kupat Ha’ir’s features a halachic ruling that your tzedaka money should go to them. Who would dare argue with that? Others promise miraculous salvations. Are you going to ignore that? One advertises with a picture of a crying baby. How can you ignore that baby and still live with yourself? So which one deserves more coinage? The tzedaka consumer has more choices than ever before, and a marketplace that is becoming increasingly crowded and confusing. My recommendation? Cut out the middlemen, tune out the bombastic promises, and do some homework to find truly needy families and individuals who deserve a helping hand. Give to them directly and dis-

creetly. You won’t win a raffle. You won’t get the approval of some saintly-looking rabbi. You won’t even get a tax deduction. But you will have no better assurance that 100 percent of your money c will go straight to w ssomeone who truly deserves it, and the d mitzvah will be fulm in the best posfilled l sible way. After all, si this IS supposed to th be a mitzvah, right? Not a purchase, not No a desperate attempt to wrangle a miracle out of heaven, but a ou pure mitzvah of charpu ity. Right? ity That’s what I do, and I don’t regret one shekel. And I have no she doubt that the One behind all blessings will not shortchange anyone who cuts out the middlemen, distributes his charity money with the greatest care and efficiency, doesn’t look for fringe benefits, and makes the world of giving just a little less commercialized. Rabbi Chananya Weissman is the founder of EndTheMadness, a volunteer effort to rehabilitate the culture of the shidduch world and HotKiddush, a revolutionary networking site for the Orthodox Jewish population. Originally from New York, he lives in Jerusalem. He can be contacted at

Cedarhurst remembers 9/11 By Sergey Kadinsky A crowd of a hundred gathered in Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park to reflect on the tenth anniversary of the September

Rabbi Kenneth Hain of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, gives the invocation at the Cedarhurst 9/11 commemoration

11 attack on the World Trade Center, hearing from local elected officials, clergy and survivors. “This is for the Jewish people a month of reflection and today we engage in this holy activity,” said Rabbi Kenneth Hain of Congregation Beth Sholom. “We ask for remembrance of a terrible tragedy, innocent lives of people who did nothing wrong but go to work on that Tuesday morning.” Among the spectators, Cedarhurst resident Gizella Elbaz remembers working for Verizon on the 12th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. Having witnessed the 1993 garage bombing of the complex, which killed six people, Elbaz immediately fled from the building. She returned a week later to survey the damage. “In that first week, I went from shiur to shiur, the shul and the support of my family helped me,” Elbaz said. “On that Rosh Hashana, I thought about why I survived.” As the towers burned, Bruce Blakeman looked up in disbelief as the north tower burned. “I could not imagine the incompetence of a pilot crashing into the city’s biggest building,” said Blakeman, who served as a commissioner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owned the property. “My fears were realized with the second airplane crashing into the south tower. We had to figure out how to get people home and lodging for people stuck at the airports.” The Lawrence Philharmonic Orchestra, a group comprised of local students and older residents, performed a mix of patri-

Photos by Isabel Slepoy

Members of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department attend the Cedarhurst 9/11 Memorial Ceremony & Concert otic compositions by John Philip Sousa and Broadway classics by George Gershwin. Trombonist Philip Kalban remembers that fateful morning in his Midtown law office with his partner Herman Badillo, watching the towers burn on television. “We were watching in horror, my daughter saw the building go own and it affected her tremendously,” Kalban said. Looking at the rebuilding, the Woodmere resident said that it was emblematic of the city. “New York has a tre-

mendous amount of life in it and it revitalizes itself constantly.” Harry Pfeffer worked at Prudential’s downtown office, escaping by foot across the Brooklyn Bridge. Returning a week later to his office, the sight of debris and uniformed troops brought the imagery of war to the city. Looking ahead, there is one name that Pfeffer wished to see retired. “We should stop calling it Ground Zero, that’s emptiness. It’s the World Trade Center.”

11 THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771

Hebrew only please! A Jewish newspaper should have a Hebrew column. So here it is. We will try to maintain a level of vocabulary so that it will be easy enough for students to read and interesting enough for those more fluent to enjoy.

Exceptional guidance, Reb Shalom Zalman style

By Rabbi Noam Himelstein Rabbi Noam Himelstein studied in Yeshivat Har Etzion and served in the Tank Corps of the IDF. He has taught in yeshiva high schools, post-high school women’s seminaries, and headed the Torah MiTzion Kollel in Melbourne, Australia. He currently teaches at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem, and lives with his wife and six children in Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion.

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Elul Kumsitz

YOUNG ISRAEL OF LAWRENCE-Cedarhurst, located at 8 Spruce Place in Cedarhurst, is holding a special Elul Kumzitz featuring divrei Torah from Rav Moshe Weinberger and the music of Yonatan Razel, composer of V’hi Sheh’amda. The kumzitz will take place on Motzai Shabbos, at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $15. The seating will be separate. For more information, contact 516-569-3324.

Honoring Rabbi Pelcovitz

CONGREGATION KNESETH ISRAEL-THE WHITE SHUL, located at 728 Empire Avenue in Far Rockaway, is honoring Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz for his 60 years of service for the community. Cantors Joel Kaplan and Avi Katz will deliver the Shabbat services. Rabbi Pelcovitz will deliver a special drasha after musaf, followed by a gala kiddush. Rabbi Hershel Schachter will give a shiur at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact 718-327-0500

Scholar in residence

AGUDATH ISRAEL OF THE FIVE TOWNS, located at 508 Peninsula Boulevard in Cedarhurst, is hosting Israeli political columnist Jonathan Rosenblum as its sholar in residence. A resident of Jerusalem, Rosenblum is the founder of Jewish Media Resources. His column appears in Jerusalem Post and Maariv. He is author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. Rosenblum will speak after the Torah reading on Shabbat morning, and at 5:30 p.m. There will be group activities for children whose parents wish to attend the lectures. For more information, contact 516-374-5364.

Strengthen the power of tefillah

GREAT NECK SYNAGOGUE, located at 26 Old Mill Road in Great Neck is hosting Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, author of the books Praying with Fire, and Power of Teshuvah. Rabbi Kleinman will be speaking after the musaf services and at a reservation-only lunch on the topic of “strengthening your connection with the Creator.” Rabbi Kleinman will also speak at seudat Shelishit. For reservaitonsn ad details, contact the shul’s office at 516-487-6100.

Sept. 18 YU Homecoming

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY, located at 500 W. 185




Project Child after-school

Submit your shul or organization’s events or shiurim to Deadline is Wednesday of the week prior to publication. Street in Manhattan, is holding its homecoming with a block party welcoming back students and alumni with live entertainment from Maccabeats, Blue Fringe and Y-Studs. President Richard Joel will speak at a town hall meeting highlighting new programs at YU. For more information, visit

lah baking class in conjunction with the grand opening of the Breezy’s kitchen supply store at 572 Central Avenue in Cedarhurst. 15 percent of proceeds from the sales will go towards Tziporah’s Nest. The minimum donation for the challah baking presentation is $36. The event runs from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, contact 516-374-1544

Self esteem & healthy eating

Sept. 24-25

CHAZAQ is hosting noted lecturer Dr. David Lieberman who will be speaking on the topic of “Self Esteem & Healthy Eating,” followed by questions and answers from the audience. The free public event begins at 8:30 p.m. The event will take palce at Beth Gavriel Community Center, located at 66-35 108 Street in Forest Hills. For more information, contact 917-617-3636.

Fall Fair FIVE TOWNS COMMUNITY CHEST is holding its annual Fall Fair in Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park. A movie will be presented on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. with a full day of games, rides and entertainment for families from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Jewish Star is a cosponsor of this free public event. For more information, visit

SAMUEL FIELD YM-YWHA is offering Project Child, an after-school program for children ages 5-15 with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, learning disabilities, and high-functioning within the Autism Spectrum. This program operates during the school year at the Bay Terrace Center, located at 212-00 23rd Avenue in Bayside. Homework help and snack are provided daily, as well as educational and recreational activities. Events are held daily from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the school year. For fees, registration and more information, contact Meredith Zylberberg at 718-423-6111 ext. 228 or

Thursday night learning KEHILLAS BAIS YEHUDAH TZVI, located at 391 Oakland Avenue in Cedarhurst has a Thursday night learning program with video lectures by noted lecturers Rabbi Eli Mansour at 9 p.m. and Rabbi Yissocher Frand at 10:30 p.m. Following the lecture, there is independent learning, and halacha chabura with David Zilberberg on the topic “Ashkenaz or Sefard: When to Say Hodu and Why?” Hot chulent will be served, concluding with maariv services at 11:15 p.m. For more information, contact 516-374-9293

Sept. 20 Harry & Eddie: Birth of Israel

JCC OF THE GREATER FIVE TOWNS presents Harry & Eddie: The Birth of Israel, a play by Mark Weston on the relationship between President Harry S. Truman and his Jewish friend Eddie Jacobson, who was influential in Truman’s decision to recognize the state of Israel. The event will be at Temple Israel, located at 140 Central Avenue in Lawrence. Weston will answer questions from the audience after the play. The event begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $18. For reservations and information, call 516-569-6733.

Sept. 22

An assembly for teachers

Challah baking for a cause

TZIPORAH’S NEST, a campaign to promote chesed on behalf of sick individuals, is holding a chal-

The faculty at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County attended a professional development workshop at the their school in preparation for the fall semester. The workshop was theme as “HANC: ONE School, OUR School.” Richard M. Joel, President of Yeshiva University delivered the keynote speech before the faculty, support staff and administrators, describing educators as partners with parents in driving a Jewish vision and message for children. Photo by Max Kahn.

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Sept. 17


September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR



The purpose of joy portion, Ki Tavo, which begins with a rather strange ceremony, proscribed to all of us as a ritual, which occurs once a year, beginning on the festival of Shavuot. “And it shall be, when you come into the land, which Hashem your G-d has given you … And you shall take from all the first fruits … and place them in a basket, … And you shall come to the priest (Kohen) who will be in those days, and say to him …behold, I have brought the first of the fruits of the earth that you have given me, G-d, …And you shall rejoice in all the good Hashem your G-d has given you, and to your home (family), you, and the Levite, and the stranger amongst you.” (Devarim 26:1-11) It is interesting to note that the final line of this treatise, which usually alludes to the theme and the point of the entire exercise, is somewhat unclear. Is the Torah promising us that when we finally arrive in the land of Israel; and see the first fruits, (i.e. the fruits of our labors), that then, finally, we will rejoice? This does not seem to fit the meaning of the text. The Torah could have simply had Moshe promise the Jewish people that they will see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that there would come a day, when they would be able to harvest the first fruits of the land. However, the Torah gives us this ‘promise’ in the context of the speech every Jew was meant to make as they came up to Jerusalem, every year, with their first fruits. The idea is that when you reach that moment, then you must “…rejoice in all the good Hashem your G-d has given you….” In fact, the Torah here is introducing a special commandment to rejoice in all the good we have been given. But how can we be commanded to rejoice? Joy is a psychological state; you are either experiencing it, or you aren’t; but you certainly cannot be commanded to experience joy, can you? And further, why must we be commanded to rejoice in the first place? After long months of toil and hard work, plowing the land and sowing the seeds, not to mention protecting the growing crops from both animals and insects on the one hand, and the elements on the other, the crops take root and the day finally comes when you realize you made it. And you bring the first of your fruits up to the Temple in what Maimonides describes (based on the Mishnah in Bikkurim) as an awesome celebration of song and joy. You need a commandment to rejoice? Would anyone of sound mind and soul not be full of joy? True joy is experienced when the entire journey starts to make sense. When the Jewish people, after two thousand years of exile, of wandering the face of the globe, finally comes home to the land of Israel, we experience a deeply rooted joy, because joy is when it all starts to make sense. Joy is all about purpose. Just as a soldier must believe in his mission, we need to have a sense of purpose. And a Judaism devoid of purpose, and thus of joy, will not, indeed cannot last. Rav Kook, in his famous article “Zaro’nim” (seedlings) asks why the beginning of redemption, as suggested by the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, seems to have been brought about for the

most part, by people who profess so little connection to their Jewish identity. And he suggests that for so long, we have been focusing on the body of Judaism (the laws and rituals), and neglecting its soul. In the shtetls of Europe, and in the great Yeshivot, the emphasis was often on the obligations and the particulars, neglecting the purpose and the meaning. And make no mistake about it: a Judaism that is devoid of purpose cannot last. And if we do not find a way to fill our synagogues and our study halls with the sense of joy that comes with an imbuing of purpose, then all that we have built since the destruction of the Holocaust will, in the end, be for naught. Maimonides makes this point in the laws of Sukkot (and why that holiday carries the special mitzvah of “Ve’Samachtah Be’Chagecha’” “And you shall rejoice on your festivals”), because precisely on the festival of Sukkot, which occurs when the harvest is completed, do we finally see the purpose of all that hard labor; a grain house full of wheat. And the first fruits, which begin this period of recognition, are the opportunity to ignite this process. The Torah is not saying that because of the first fruits I am obligated to rejoice; rather it is suggesting that during this period of the year, when I have this opportunity to tap into the purpose of it all, I

should rejoice in my newfound sense of purpose. In other words, while it is true that when I discover a sense of purpose it causes me to experience joy, I can go one step further: I can rejoice in the joy of having a sense of purpose. Indeed, it is not accidental that this portion is always read in the weeks preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Because the real mitzvah, or challenge here, is to reconnect with our purpose, with why we are here, and how we are meant to make a difference in this world. Perhaps the idea of each Jew, with basket in hand, humbly coming up to Jerusalem, is meant to convey the idea, that, just like that fellow, exultant and in awe of the gift of sight that most of us take for granted, all of us have our own basket full of first fruits which we so often take for granted. May Hashem bless us all, with the coming of a new year, with the wisdom to re-connect with all the fruits that we have to be thankful for, and may we be blessed with a renewed sense of purpose and joy in the year that lies ahead. Rav Binny Freedman, Rosh Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem’s Old City is a Company Commander in the IDF reserves, and lives in Efrat with his wife Doreet and their four children.

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Teaching in the old city of Jerusalem, one develops awareness for the different types of people that can wander in off the street. Many of the people who frequent the old alleyways of Jerusalem are incredible people with incredible stories. We once had a fellow wander in who was absolutely convinced that he was King David. In fact, there is a speFROM THE HEART cifi c mental disorder OF JERUSALEM which affects some people who visit Jerusalem and have an intense spiritual experience, resulting in the conviction that they are prophets or the like, known as Jerusalem Syndrome. One day, a few minutes after my class had begun, a fellow wandered in and sat down Rabbi Binny in the last remaining Freedman seat, right next to mine. Something about him seemed a bit off, so I kept my eye on him, obviously not wanting to react in any way that might embarrass him, yet aware of a responsibility to the rest of the participants in the program, and their right to remain focused on the study and exploration they were pursuing. I soon noticed he was staring at my coffee mug, bringing his face really close to it, with what seemed like a mad look in his eye. Not wanting to break the flow of the class, I stood up as I spoke and gradually moved towards the other side of the room, figuring this way people wouldn’t notice him. Then he did a really odd thing: he picked up my mug, half full of coffee, continuing to stare at it. Now that’s just not normal; you don’t pick up someone else’s cup of coffee, especially someone whom you’ve never met before…. And then he went too far, and, placing his lips over the edge of my mug, he took a sip of the coffee! By this time, of course, no one was paying attention to my class anymore, so there was nothing left but to make light of it. “Enjoy!” I said, “Feel free to help yourself to more coffee in the back!” Everyone laughed, and this fellow’s pleased look changed to one of embarrassment, as he seemed to come out of his reverie. “You don’t understand,” he said. “I just wanted to see if this was a coffee mug. I’ve never seen one before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an idiot, I know what a coffee mug is,” he continued, “but I was born blind, and three days ago, they did experimental laser surgery on my left eye, and now I can see. So I decided to take some time to ‘see’ all the things I have seen, but never really seen!” Can you imagine? Here I am thinking this fellow had completely lost it, but in truth, he was the sanest person in the room, because for that moment, he was in the process of appreciating the gift of sight. We are not really capable, most of us, of being in a constant state of appreciation for all the gifts we have in this world. In fact, if we really did succeed in maintaining that level of awe and joy, most probably no one else would be able to talk to us! That may well be the theme of this week’s

THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771


September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR


Ask Aviva

Mom opposes Facebook Dear Aviva,

My daughter just returned from sleepaway camp and B”H she had a fantastic time. Of course, she wants to keep in touch with all her new friends who live in various cities across America and even in Israel. However, she says all her friends keep in touch via Facebook rather than email. My husband and I have not been allowing our daughter to have a Facebook account because of the many drawbacks of social networking, such as wasting time, addiction, and living in an online vs. offline world. But now we feel that we might be hindering our daughter’s social life by prohibiting Facebook. What are your thoughts? -Fearful of Facebook

Dear Fearful of Facebook,

First, I am happy to hear that you understand your daughter’s social life is important. Second, I am happier to hear that you are putting her overall well-being ahead of her social life. Yes, it’s true that Facebook affords for much broader socializing with her camp buddies. And yes, it’s very true that there are major drawbacks and dangers, such as the ones that you mentioned. There are also some dangers that were not mentioned, such as the potential for online predators to reach out to her, G-d forbid, as well as online bullying and exposure to inappropriate material

that may be posted by friends or friends of friends. I don’t want to tell you what to do—I boss around enough people, such as my husband and my dad. But I will help lay out some options for you so that you can decide what is best for your happy camper. One option is to put your foot down and not allow her to have a Facebook account. She will tell you, “I am the only kid from my bunk who isn’t on Facebook! You’re ruining my life!” Fret not, “life” means “evening” and “only kid” means “one of five.” I’m sure that Facebook was all abuzz before school started, but now that the buses are running (Thank G-d!), kids are not sitting on Facebook all day, so there is not as much that she is missing. If she has email, she can still be very social. It’s not as cool, but she can have a mass email list with her friends, and they can all read each other’s comments by clicking “Reply All.” I know, not at all as cool, but practically speaking, she can totally keep up with her buddies. Another option is for you to get your own Facebook account and let her use it for her socializing. This is uber not cool, but it wards off any potential predators, inappropriate conduct by friends (but not friends of friends), and allows for total transparency. And, if you want her to really hate you, put your most loser-like pic up for your profile picture. But don’t blame it on me. Or, you can just make sure that you have

the password to her own account, but that would be more of a retroactive surveillance. Not as potent as a profile picture of a mom spoiling the party. Either way, limits are key. Limit the time that she is on (“After you study for your quiz” and “No more than 20 minutes a day”) A filter can limit how long she is on. But use your own timer every now and then just to make sure that your tech-savvy daughter didn’t take the liberty of recalibrating the filter. Make sure that the computer is in a public area where parents can loom over shoulders. (POS stands for the oft-typed “Parent Over Shoulder,” so look out for that ominous acronym.) But don’t assume that this is enough. There’s some great software out there to

help you spy, I mean, parent. E-blaster is one such program that will email you everything that is typed from the computer. This works as long as that computer is the only internet connection that she has access to. Regarding your concern about her online life overwhelming her offline life, just make sure that her offline life exists and flourishes. Remember, keeping up real face-time with her wards off any Facebook-foils. Gtg, ttyl!

27. Brooklyn ending 28. Sound that follows “Oops” 29. “Anything ___” (Woody Allen film) 31. Start of many commandments 34. Soviet Nobelist in physics (1962) 35. Letters on a screen? 36. Sorts 39. Reform rabbinical sch. 42. “Au revoir, les ___” (Holocaust movie of 1987) 46. Bigotry-fighting org. founded in 1913 by B’nai B’rith 48. Capital once called Philadelphia

49. Author Rachel (“Women in Jewish Law”) 50. Nail alternative 52. Aromas 53. Short-tailed rodent 55. Add to staff 56. Groucho’s smirk 57. Pulitzer-prizewinner Applebaum (“Gulag: a History”) 58. Reform teen grp. 61. Spielbergian creatures 62. Techelet, notably

-Aviva Aviva Rizel is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice that can be reached at 347-292-8482 or AvivaRizel.MFT@gmail. com.

The Jerusalem Post Crossword Puzzle By David Benkof


1. Schmooze 4. Another word for 25-Across 8. Band aide 14. Handel’s “Israel in Egypt,” for one 16. Appears onstage 17. Strange 18. Western Wall sights 19. He wrote, “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.” 21. Gather 23. Largest airport in OH 24. “Rain ___” (Dustin Hoffman film) 25. See 4-Across 26. Point of the sermon 30. “___ alone because of Thy hand” (Jer. 15:17) 32. Surfing need, for short 33. Former Jerusalem mayor Teddy 37. “If I were a ___ Man” (“Fiddler” song)

Last week’s answers

38. Second-largest Indian city 40. Automatic start? 41. Bounced off the walls 43. Vienna’s country: Abbr. 44. “Sex and the City” actor Handler 45. Open the door, perhaps 47. “Yid ___” (nickname for a yarmulke) 48. They’re worked on at the JCC 51. Ben Bernanke’s group, with “the” 52. Egg shapes 54. “Highway to Heaven” actor 59. Haifa sight 60. Wrapped up 63. These may be red 64. Supplication 65. Having the most currency 66. Hans and Margret, who created Curious George 67. Put into play


1. Arlen Specter’s party, once 2. “Where the Wild Things ___” (Maurice Sendak book) 3. Grammy-winner Burt 4. Colorado Congressman Jared 5. Where “Ulysses” is set 6. Makeup artist? 7. Bagels, mathematically 8. Talmudic commentator reputed for his great strength 9. Very active 10. Stub ___ (stumble) 11. Levi Strauss stock 12. “The Courageous Heart of ___ Sendler” (April 2009 TV film with Anna Paquin) 13. ___ fress 15. Wed. preceder 20. Also sends to, as an e-mail 21. “Hearts ___” (‘90s TV series with Ed Asner) 22. Leonard Bernstein’s field 26. Area from Libya to Afghanistan: 2 wds.

Answers will appear next week

15 THE JEWISH STAR September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771


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September 16, 2011 • 17 ELUL, 5771 THE JEWISH STAR


September 16, 2011 - The Jewish Star  
September 16, 2011 - The Jewish Star  

September 16, 2011 - The Jewish Star