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86 2017
86 2017


FEBRUARY 10, 2017


NO. 19 $1.00




How Sinai Schools helps children with disabilities develop to their full potential

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gathered along Israel’s coastline, in the warm water churned out by the Hadera power station. The gather- ing of dusky and sandbar sharks is an annual phenomenon, but the Israel Nature and Parks Authority says that this year’s swarm is the biggest yet. Some eager Israelis have set out to snap a selfie-with-a-shark. But the Parks Authority and the Israel Diving Authority are warning divers to stay away. “Encounters with sharks are uncontrollable and can endanger both the divers and the sharks,” the Parks Authority told the Algemeiner. “This means it is forbidden to harm, disturb, feed or do anything else to them without risking criminal pros- ecution.” The authority said that while nei- ther dusky sharks nor their sandbar cousins usually attack people, you

Drone enthusiasts also have been crowding along the beachfront, fly- ing quadcopters — drones with four propellers — equipped with cameras to film this unique sight. Meanwhile, marine ecologists are trying to figure out why the sharks are even there. Shark populations have been decreasing in the Mediter- ranean Sea but every winter brings even bigger frenzies to Israel’s shores. Some scientists theorize that the warm water serves up more prey, or that this is a mating juncture. “We know they like being in the warm waters, but we don’t know ex- actly why,” marine ecologist Ruth Ya- hel said. “You can see they’re drawn to the warm water — they enter its stream and perform a rondo-like dance, fly out with the stream, circle around and do it again.”


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On the cover: Friends graduate — From the top, counterclockwise, Moshe Stuart, Yitzi Rothschild, Jonathan Seidel, Yoni Greenberg, and Jacob Adler. All graduat- ed from Bergen County day schools this spring, including Jacob, a Sinai student.


Palestinian caught attempting to smuggle 40 birds into Israel in his pants

With a headline like that, what more is there to say? Except this, according to the Haaretz report on this

foiled international crime:

The bird-brained smuggler was returning to Nablus from Jordan across the Allenby Bridge. He was pulled over for a body search after attracting

the attention of custom officials. (Could his cargo had been guilty of excessive tweeting?) He was discovered with 40 goldfinches on his person. Wild goldfinches sell for up to $130 a bird. This was the third foiled goldfinch smuggling attempt this year.


2017’s first break-out bagel

This never would have happened if Local 338 were still running the bak- ery. But the bagel bakers union, which once had the power to cause a “bagel famine” by going on strike, is no more. Anarchy reigns. And so the Bagel Nook in Freehold has introduced the Flaming Hot Chee- to bagel. That’s right: A Hot Cheeto

bagel, hot pepper cream cheese, and Flaming Hot Cheetos in the middle. A horror? Anti-Semitism, as was suggested on Twitter? We welcome firsthand reports from intrepid readers willing to trek to Freehold for important bagel research that frankly we can’t quite stomach.


readers willing to trek to Freehold for important bagel research that frankly we can’t quite stomach.
that frankly we can’t quite stomach. LARRY YUDELSON Photo of the failed bird smuggler released by

Photo of the failed bird smuggler released by Israel Tax Authority

Page 3 The first rule of Israel’s The first rule of Israel’s shark shark club:
Page 3
The first rule of Israel’s
The first rule of Israel’s
shark shark club: club: No No selfies selfies
Candlelighting: Friday, February 10, 5:07 p.m.
Candlelighting: Friday, February 10, 5:07 p.m.
Shabbat Shabbat ends: ends: Saturday, Saturday, February February 11, 11, 6:08 6:08 p.m. p.m.
● A frenzy of some 150 sharks is
A frenzy of some 150 sharks is
never never can can tell tell with with sharks. sharks.


“I applaud the Orthodox Union for their new bros before yos policy. ‘New.’ #MaharatToBeKiddingMe”

— Facebook post by Gavriel Bellino of Teaneck in response to the OU statement on female clergy. He later added: “All this time I’ve been calling senators, I’ve forgotten to call my local mashgiach. #OUguys”

I’ve forgotten to call my local mashgiach. #OUguys” DRAKE’S CAKE: Singer up for eight Grammy awards


Singer up for eight Grammy awards

The Grammys, for excellence in music, are an odd awards ceremony. Last year, only 10
The Grammys, for
excellence in
music, are an odd
awards ceremony. Last
year, only 10 of the more
than 100 Grammy
awards were presented
on TV, but virtually all
Grammy winners are
made public during the
telecast via a brief
announcement or
through a list of winners
scrolled onscreen. Most
of the Grammys are
given at the “Premiere
Ceremony,” which is
live-streamed, starting at
3:30 p.m. on February 12,
at grammy.com. It stays
up for months after the
The main ceremony,
hosted by James Corden,
is on CBS on Sunday, Feb-
ruary 12, starting at 8 p.m.
The stage performers will
include Adele and rocker
ADAM LEVINE. The first
part of this article lists
Jewish nominees (in
caps) nominated for a
Grammy that is likely to
be presented on TV. The
second part notes Jewish
nominees in non-main-
ceremony categories.
DRAKE (aka Aubrey
Drake Graham), 30, is
nominated for eight
awards this year, sec-
ond only to Beyoncé’s
nine. Appropriately, one
of the nominations is
for “Work,” a record-
of-the-year nominee
featuring Beyoncé and
Drake. His other nomina-
tions include album of
the year (“Views”); best
rap performance (“Pop
Style”); best rap/sung
performance (“Hotline
Bling”); best rap song
(“Hotline…”); best rap al-
bum (“Views”); and best
r&b song (“Come and
See Me”). Surprisingly,
Drake has won only one
Grammy to date. He’s
been nominated 27 times
(excluding this year’s
Adele’s “Hello” is
competing for record
of the year. It was co-
written and produced
by (co-nominee) GREG
KURSTIN, 47. Kurstin’s up
for three more Grammys:
Adam Levine
Mike Posner
song of the year (“Hel-
lo”); album of the year
(producing Adele’s “25”);
and a biggie, producer of
the year (non-classical).
relative newcomer, also
David Draiman
Michael Spiro
David Cross
nominated for song
of the year (for “I Took
ten songs for huge acts
Pill in Ibiza”). Posner,
who’s secular, has a Jew-
ish father and a Catholic
“Love Yourself” also is
up for song of the year.
Sung by Justin Bieber, it
was co-written by Bieber,
and Ed Sheeran. Levin
chose to use his real
name for this songwrit-
ing credit, but he’s better
known as Benny Blanco,
and under that name he
has won a raft of awards.
like Sheeran, Rihanna,
and Maroon 5. This year,
he’s up for four Gram-
mys, including producer
of the year (non-classi-
cal) and for producing
Bieber’s “Purpose,” up
for album of the year.
BOB DYLAN, 75, is up
for best traditional pop
vocal album (“Fallen An-
gels”). He competes with
(“Encore: Movie Part-
ners Sing Broadway”).
They both vie with Willie
for singing the songs of
PINK, 37, whose moth-
er is Jewish, is nominated
for best country duo
performance (“Setting
the World on Fire,” with
Kenny Chesney).
A new version of “The
Sound of Silence,” the
PAUL SIMON classic, is
nominated for best rock
performance. It was per-
formed by heavy metal
band “Disturbed,” and
featured its lead vocal-
ticing, Draiman grew
up very Orthodox. His
brother, a folk rock musi-
cian, lives in Israel, as
does his grandmother.
Grammy nominees/
categories not on the TV
The current revival of
“Fiddler on the Roof” is
nominated for best musi-
cal theater album.
the son of an African-
American father and a
Jewish mother, and a
summa cum laude Har-
He’s produced and writ-
Nelson, who’s nominated
While no longer prac-
vard grad, is nominated

for best jazz instrumental album (“Nearness”). Red- man is a great sax player, as is BOB MINTZER, 63. Mintzer’s album (“All L.A. Band”; he led the band) is a nominee in the best large jazz ensemble al- bum category. Mintzer, a native New Yorker, now is a professor of music at USC. MICHAEL SPIRO, 60ish, who isn’t Latino but does have a degree in Latin American studies and is known as a conga virtuoso, is nominated for best Latin jazz al- bum (“Canto America”). Over in folk, there’s ARI HEST, 37, whose album (“Silver Skies Blue”) of duets with Judy Collins is up for best folk album. Hest’s father is a music professor and his mother is a synagogue cantor. The last musician is

the legendary HERB

ALPERT, who is still tour- ing at 81. He’s nominated for best contemporary instrumental album (“Hu- man Nature”). Over in the best spoken word album category, there’s AMY SCHUMER, 35. She’s nominated for the CD of her memoir, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.” Schumer’s also up for best com- edy album (“Live at the Apollo”), and vies for that honor with DAVID CROSS, 52 (“America



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Local Speaking the same language Joint conference brings Reform, Conservative synagogue executives together LOIS GOLDRICH

Speaking the same language

Joint conference brings Reform, Conservative synagogue executives together


In 2008, NATA — the Reform movement’s National Association of Temple Adminis- tration — and NAASE — the Conservative movement’s North American Association of Synagogue Executives — held a joint conference. Richard Tannenbaum, exec- utive director of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lakes, helped organize the event. The conference went off smoothly, but something was missing. “It was more like two conferences that

overlapped for a day without real integra- tion,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. “We wanted

a truly joint conference.”

That goal finally has been realized. Last month, the two groups came together in Nashville and it modeled true coopera- tion, Mr. Tannenbaum said. “We formed

a joint task force to look at things we

could collaborate on since so much of what we do is similar.” With each orga- nization bringing some 150 people, “we knew we could have a great conference, with great speakers, and create a greater dynamic and a sense of community, since we’d be doing sacred work together. “We created total equality between both organizations,” he continued. To

that end, name tags didn’t indicate which group delegates came from. “We wanted people to have to sit down and engage in conversation, finding similarities before they saw differences.” Temple Emanuel is Conservative; Mr. Tannenbaum, a member of NAASE, is that group’s vice president for profes- sional development. The task force planning the conference met weekly through Zoom video confer- encing. “There were two co-chairs from each organization, and we were from all four corners of the U.S.,” Mr. Tannen- baum said. It met for a full year. “It gave us a chance to get to know each other and understand each other, so we were all on the same page,” he added. Not coincidentally, the conference theme was “Coming Together — Kulanu b’Yachad.” The 270 participants, including syna- gogue executives from northern New Jersey, came from all over the United States, Canada, London, Israel, and even Australia. Feedback has been “really sen- sational,” Mr. Tannenbaum said, and a large number of people asked that such conferences be held on a more regular basis. Plans for a similar meeting are already in the works.

“NAASE goes to Israel every fifth year,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. While the two groups are not always there at the same time, an effort will be made to coordi- nate their trips. In addition, NAASE has invited NATA to attend the Conservative

addition, NAASE has invited NATA to attend the Conservative We formed a joint task force to

We formed a joint task force to look at things we could collaborate on since so much of what we do is similar.

group’s conference in Israel next year. “It won’t be a joint conference, but it will have the flavor of camaraderie.” On the whole, he added, “we’re really more similar than dissimilar.” Any dif- ferences be o groups were ironed out in advance. For example, it was decided that all food would be kosher — a requirement

for NAASE but not for NATA — so that everyone would feel comfortable. “Everyone was so open-minded and accepting,” he said. “No one felt that they had to bend or give up anything.” Even in the distribution of aliyot at Shabbat services, people were called up in pairs:

for example, the presidents of both orga- nizations went up together, and the four conference co-chairs had a joint aliyah. Nashville was chosen as the conference site because “we wanted to find a city that has collaboration, and at the open- ing evening’s musical performance, the three artists that performed talked about how songwriting and collaboration go together,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. Conference sessions were both for- mal and informal, addressing topics that ranged from making synagogues more organized to enhancing security, from software, crisis management, dues col- lection, to “moving congregations to the leading edge,” improving both focus and operational effectiveness. Local participants included Vicki Farhi, the executive director of Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes; Rochelle Rudnick, the temple administrator at Teaneck’s Tem- ple Emeth; and Joe Slade, the executive director of Temple Sinai in Tenafly.



Ms. Farhi said that she always has enjoyed NATA conferences “because they provide a chance to get together with colleagues and friends across the country, share best practices and learn new ideas,” and get a sense of where syn- agogues are headed. “Collaboration is beneficial to everyone,” she said, adding that “it puts us in a position for respectful conversation — which is direly needed in the Jewish world.” She also enjoys the workshops for syn- agogue executive directors held locally by Lisa Glass, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s chief planning officer. The Nashville conference, she said, extended this idea. Still, she added, she knew what to expect “because we have a model here in northern New Jer- sey.” Indeed, Ms. Glass was one of the speakers in Nashville. While “it did take a while to break down some of the barriers of people who didn’t know each other,” the con- ference was helpful, Ms. Farhi said. Not only did she enjoy most of the speakers, but “I met an executive director from Wayland, Mass., who gave me benefi- cial advice on development and finan- cial transparency. That will probably

be a continuing conversation.” She also picked up “some practical tips on how to manage both big stuff and small stuff. Like the way [UAHC president] Rabbi Rick Jacobs and [USCJ president] Rabbi Steven Wernick had a conversation, how they framed it. It was nice modeling.” The conference, she said, was a “won- derful opportunity for a synagogue pro- fessional to have the time to focus on professional development with other professionals. That benefits the work she does and the synagogue she works for.” Ms. Glass — who had been a synagogue executive director for some 14 years — offered three sessions at the conference:

How to Think Like a Pro: Tools & Meth- odologies; Investor Model: Doing Tradi- tional Dues Right; and Death as a Spiri- tual and Philanthropic Opportunity. In the first session, she said, she sug- gested that “what often separates good professionals from great professionals is the ability to reason through a problem, crisis, or challenge in a thoughtful and complete manner.” Her goal was to help participants become effective thought leaders in their community. “You have to train yourself to allow for different think- ers at the table,” she said.

Collaboration is beneficial to everyone, it puts us in a position for respectful conversation — which is direly needed in the Jewish world.

In her second session, Ms. Glass talked about a model of the dues/funding struc- ture that stresses relationships with con- gregants, offering “a practical, detailed discussion of the investor model and its applicability to all synagogues, irre- spective of size, location, denomination, or demographics.” Her third session pointed out that “losing a loved one is a traumatic event, and it can become a critical time in the relationship of a con- gregant with his or her synagogue.” Her presentation explored the spiritual and financial opportunities that go hand in hand with this life-cycle event. “I was impressed by the level of collab- oration between NAASE and NATA, and how each part of the conference had two leaders, one from each,” Ms. Glass said. “Also, being with a group of that size made it feel substantial and powerful.”

Attendees could see what each group brought to the table and “benefit from best practices. As a synagogue director, our work is so similar. We even had a speaker who was a church administrator. It’s the same — running the infrastructure of a sacred community.” And then, she said, “the fact that we were able to work together to achieve this” is the most important benefit. “We were providing an example of the types of collaboration that are possible.” Such events “are a clarion call on how we can be working together in many areas in the future, whether in multidenominational synagogues or in sharing space.” Mr. Tannenbaum said he intends to remain active in organizing joint con- ferences. “It was exciting and inspira- tional,” he said. “We were speaking the same language.”




FEBRUARY 25, 2017


8:00 PM






Guests of Honor


DEBBIE & STEVEN SIEGLER Guests of Honor HONORING LINDSAY & DANIEL (‘99) SETTON Young Alumni Leadership


Young Alumni Leadership Award

& DANIEL (‘99) SETTON Young Alumni Leadership Award BARBARA ROTENBERG NURSE TOBY EIZIK Rabbi J. Shelley



SETTON Young Alumni Leadership Award BARBARA ROTENBERG NURSE TOBY EIZIK Rabbi J. Shelley Applbaum, Z”L Service



Rabbi J. Shelley Applbaum, Z”L Service Award

TOBY EIZIK Rabbi J. Shelley Applbaum, Z”L Service Award Wish special recognition to RABBI SHMUEL GOLDIN

Wish special recognition to


for years of service to the community


MANAGER AT 201-567-0208 EXT.393 OR ALEWIS@MORIAHSCHOOL.ORG | 53 South Woodland Street | Englewood, New Jersey 07631
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| 53 South Woodland Street | Englewood, New Jersey 07631 | 201-567-0208 | www.moriahschool.org



Debating a ban

Orthodox Union ruling that women rabbis are treif is defended and challenged


rabbis are treif is defended and challenged LARRY YUDELSON Rabbi Shmuel Goldin Rabbi Nathaniel Pamela Helfgot

Rabbi Shmuel


Rabbi Nathaniel Pamela Helfgot Scheininger
Rabbi Nathaniel

After the Orthodox Union issued a statement last week, saying that women rabbis aren’t kosher, Orthodox advocates for women’s ordination insist that they will continue to answer to a higher authority. “It’s not going to eliminate the need or desire by people in our community to serve Hashem in the best way possible,” said Pamela Scheininger of Teaneck, a vice president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

But Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Ahavath Torah in Englewood said he was “very comfortable” with the statement. “It is in line with the thinking that many of us have been working with, which is that every effort should be made to encourage and enfranchise women within the community who are interested in higher levels of learning and com- munal participation,” he said. “However, there is a red line when it comes to ordination of women.” The OU’s statement was issued by an ad hoc panel of rabbis the OU set up to answer two questions: Is it accept- able for a synagogue to employ a woman in a clergy func- tion? And what is the broadest spectrum of professional roles within a synagogue that may be performed by a woman? The panel was composed of seven male rabbis, most of

feminist for more than three decades, at times lik- ening feminism to Christianity, Sadduceeism, and other heresies. The ruling therefore broke no new halachic ground. Five OU member synagogues have women serving as clergy; none said they would change their practice. (See related story.) “This feels as if it has added very little to the con- versation,” Ms. Scheininger said. “To those of us who feel it personally, it was hard. It was disappoint- ing. It felt very divisive in a way that no one needs.” “There’s definitely room to take a much more permis- sive attitude than the OU panel did,” Rabbi Nathaniel Helf- got said. Rabbi Helfgot leads Teaneck’s Netivot Shalom, an Orthodox synagogue not affiliated with the OU, and he is a leader of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, which includes male and female members. The fellowship issued a statement reiterating its previ- ous support for women in positions of religious leader- ship. Saying that it did not find the OU arguments “compel- ling,” it affirmed that “women can serve as clergy within our communities. The broader Orthodox community will be similarly enriched by welcoming talented women to serve as spiritual leaders and clergy in its synagogues and communal life, including as clergy.” The statement concluded with a reminder of the

whom teach Talmud at Yeshiva University. Three of them are from northern New Jersey: Rabbi Daniel Feldman of Congregation Ohr Saadya in Teaneck, Rabbi Yaakov Neu- berger of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, and Rabbi Benjamin Yudin of Congregation Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn. The panel included two of the most prominent legal authorities affiliated with the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America: Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva University’s seminary, and Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, head of the Rabbinical Council’s beit din, or court. The Rabbinical Council announced its objections to women as rabbis in 2015. Rabbi Schachter has been argu- ing against changes to Orthodox practice that he calls

Facing OU directive, Orthodox women clergy say they’ll keep working


Rabba Ramie Smith of the Hebrew Insti- tute of Riverdale, an Orthodox congrega- tion, said last week that she didn’t have time to protest the Orthodox Union deci- sion banning its synagogues from hiring women clergy like her. She was busy organizing a Shabbat con- ference with Yachad, a group supporting Jews with disabilities. Then she had classes to plan, congregants to meet, and a pod- cast to host.

hold professional leader- ship positions, and advise on certain Jewish legal mat- ters, Jewish law prohibits women from filling the role of a pulpit rabbi, however that might be defined. “The formal structure

of synagogue leadership should more closely reflect the halakhic ethos,” the decision read. “For the reasons stated above we believe that a woman should not be appointed to serve in a clergy position.” Five OU synagogues now employ Yeshi- vat Maharat graduates — they all hold the title of “rabba” or “maharat” — and the rul- ing could discourage others from following suit. But graduates of the school said they were not surprised by the ruling, and that

school said they were not surprised by the ruling, and that The way I’m reacting is

The way I’m reacting is showing up to work and continuing to do my job.


by the Orthodox Union, an umbrella Orthodox Jewish group, barring its mem- ber synagogues from hiring female clergy. The decision, made by a committee of

seven Orthodox rabbis, follows a 2015 deci- sion by the Rabbinical Council of America

— an umbrella group of Orthodox rabbis

— that also barred women clergy. The OU

decision says that while there is a place for women at synagogues to teach Torah,

“The way I’m reacting is show- ing up to work and continuing to do my job,” Rabba Smith, who received ordination in 2016, said. “It might make some people nervous, but the more we continue doing our jobs, having people see who we are and what we do, the work speaks for itself.” Rabba Smith is one of 14 graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, which trains and ordains Orthodox women clergy mem- bers. The New York school was one of the main targets of a decision issued Thursday

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burning halachic debate a century ago: Should women be allowed to vote? Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the chief rabbi of Palestine, was among the many Orthodox voices opposing women’s suffrage in the 1920s. The fellowship recommended instead the counsel of Rabbi Yechiel Yaa- kov Weinberg, who wrote: “Let us allow history to pass and make the decision.” The OU statement did not directly address any of the responsa that have permitted women as rabbis. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel is among the statement’s critics. He wrote that its approach to juris- prudence reflects a charedi, or ultra-Orthodox, approach to Jewish law, rather than a religious Zionist approach. Religious Zionists — the Israeli equivalent of America’s modern Orthodox movement — has, despite Rabbi Kook’s objections, long accepted women in leadership positions, he argued. He also accused the OU statement of misquot- ing sources. Rabbi Goldin rejected the claim that the OU statement was divisive. Instead, he said, it was feminists who threatened to divide the Orthodox community. While charedi Judaism argues that modern Orthodox Judaism is illegitimate, “the fact is that charedi individu- als come and daven at my synagogue,” he said. “They may not agree with everything I say, but nothing I do has crossed a line that makes them uncomfortable in my com- munity. Unfortunately, individuals in the Open Orthodox community take positions that mean I can’t go into their services, things like partnership minyans.” Partnership minyans allow women to lead certain parts of the syna- gogue service that do not require a minyan, and they allow women to read from the Torah. Rabbi Schachter condemned those minyans in a 2014 statement that the RCA published.

Through such innovations as partnership minyans and women’s ordination, Open Orthodox halachic rulings “are dividing the community irrevocably,” Rabbi Goldin said. “That’s unfortunate. I don’t think it’s necessary.” He praised the OU for encouraging women “who are interested in higher levels of learning and communal participation.” The OU statement gave a divided message on the posi- tion of yoetzet halacha, saying that those women, who are

tion of yoetzet halacha, saying that those women, who are Rabbi Goldin rejected the claim that

Rabbi Goldin rejected the claim that the OU statement was divisive.

certified to answer halachic questions about menstrual issues and other questions about the Orthodox approach to sexuality, “provide a valuable service,” but indicating that some members of the panel feel “halakhic and meta- halakhic concerns outweigh the benefits.” Rabbi Goldin said he is proud that his community was one of the first to employ a yoetzet. “I think this is a per- fect example of where a communal need is being met in a wonderful way and at the same time we’re making use of talented women to meet that need,” he said. “In a commu- nity like mine, there are many women who might not feel comfortable coming to a rabbi with the intimate questions that might surround observance of taharat mishpacha,” or family purity. “Having a woman has been very helpful,” he added.

He accused Yeshivat Maharat, which began ordaining women in 2013, of splitting the Orthodox community, “which was moving in a very positive direction with the yoatzot and women serving as scholars on the staff of syn- agogues. This was an evolving process. “The OU and the RCA have a responsibility to our con- stituent rabbis and synagogues to assist them in creating standards that are uniform and help them respond to chal- lenges they may receive in their communities concerning their standards. It is very helpful if they have the backup of the organization and the roshei yeshiva” — the YU Talmud faculty members — “who are saying that this is the line.” He cautioned that envelope-pushing changes to Ortho- dox practice, such as partnership minyans, may not be sustainable. “Let’s assume for a moment that a partnership minyan enables women to lead the service at particular points that in their halachic estimation is acceptable,” he said. “Sooner or later those women are going to turn around and say you’re only letting me lead the parts of the service that aren’t that important. You’re not going to satisfy those demands.” He said that the demands of Orthodox feminists have moved beyond what he and some congregants can support. “I used to be comfortable going to JOFA conferences and speaking,” he said. “When I saw that they were becoming not a forum where these issues were being discussed, but rather advocacy for a particular point of view I couldn’t agree with, I couldn’t go any more. I would ask those who would accuse the OU statement as dividing community to take a look and see who is dividing the community.” (Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin of Teaneck, a member of the RCA’s executive committee, has written an op ed on this question. It’s on page 42.)

it would not affect their work. They said they have received overwhelmingly posi- tive responses from their congregants. “It’s jarring for the OU to be coming out and condemning this when so many communities are moving ahead with this,” said Maharat Ruth Friedman, who works at Ohev Sholom — The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C. “In our communities we have found that women’s leadership has become accepted much more quickly than we thought.” Rabbi Avi Weiss, rabbi emeritus of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, founded Yeshivat Maharat in 2009, soon after he ordained Sara Hurwitz, the first rabba. After working at HIR for some time, Rabba Hurwitz became the school’s dean. Yeshivat Maharat now has 28 students. Of its 14 graduates, nine are employed as clergy in synagogues. The school, and Rabba Hurwitz person- ally, have faced backlash from Orthodox leaders. But Rabba Hurwitz says the OU decision hasn’t led her to question her commitment to Orthodoxy. “I think that what we’re seeing is that Orthodox Judaism is a big tent,” she said. “I feel very strong and committed in my Orthodox practice, and so do my stu- dents, and they particularly want to serve in Orthodox communities and be part of Orthodox communities.” The OU decision did emphasize that

Orthodox communities.” The OU decision did emphasize that Rabba Ramie Smith was ordained in 2016 and

Rabba Ramie Smith was ordained in 2016 and is now a clergy member at the He- brew Institute of Riverdale, an Orthodox synagogue in New York.


women could fill a range of non-clergy roles in the synagogue, from teaching to lay leadership. And it approved of women serving as “halachic advisers” who give Jewish legal advice to women on topics such as family purity and sexuality. Rabbi Marc Dratch, executive vice president of the RCA, who supports the decision, said it shows that the OU recog- nizes that women need to have a role in the synagogue.

“I think it was an important step for the OU in setting standards for congregations that are part of the umbrella,” he said. “What you have here is a nuanced state- ment that sets certain limits but encour- ages advancement in other areas.” Leah Sarna, who is due to graduate from Yeshivat Maharat next year, said that while she disagrees with the OU’s decision, she understands the wariness that some Ortho- dox Jews have toward ordaining women as

that some Ortho- dox Jews have toward ordaining women as Leah Sarna, due to receive ordination

Leah Sarna, due to receive ordination in 2018, opposes the OU decision but appreciates the Jewish legal process

that guided



rabbis after thousands of years of a male- only rabbinate. Like them, she says, she appreciates the weight of tradition. “Figuring out what Hashem wants from us is heavy and difficult work,” she said. “In our generation, this is our question, and this is what we’re trying to figure out. “On one hand, it hurts. On the other hand, I’m not sure I would want it to be any other way.


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So many Hods!

Second generation of YU powerhouse basketball family takes to the court


T hree brothers from Teaneck made college basketball his- tory on January 25, 2017, when they played simultaneously

during the Yeshiva University Macca- bees’ victorious 73-43 game against Sarah Lawrence College on YU’s home court in Manhattan. Jordan, Justin, and Tyler Hod (pro- nounced Hode) were the first trio of sib- lings ever to play in the same NCAA Divi- sion III college basketball game. It was only the fourth such occurrence in NCAA history. Jordan, a 22-year-old senior starting point guard and team co-captain, fin- ished the historic game with six points, eight assists, and two rebounds. (His mid- dle name, not coincidentally, is Michael.) His younger siblings joined the action in the fourth quarter. Justin, 21, a 6-foot-3

the action in the fourth quarter. Justin, 21, a 6-foot-3 When they all finally came onto

When they all finally came onto the court in the same game I couldn’t believe it. I was screaming. It was something so rare and so magical.

shooting guard and small forward, scored two points. Tyler, a 6-foot-1 freshman point guard and shooting guard, made two assists and grabbed a rebound. And there’s more. The Hod family’s record-breaking history at the Jewish university made the moment even more remarkable. The boys’ father, Lior, and their uncle, Ayal, were known as the “Twin Towers” or the “Hod Towers” when they played for the Macs in the 1980s. During that decade, they each broke scoring records — Lior first, with 1,541 career points, and then Ayal, with 1,807 points. Ayal’s record stood until 2002. Later, their younger brother, Asaf, also joined the Macs bas- ketball squad. Lior’s sons got their start with the Macs very early, serving as water boys for the team they later would join on their own merit. “Our kids have been coming to YU

join on their own merit. “Our kids have been coming to YU Two generations of Hod

Two generations of Hod stars — from left, Justin, Asaf, Jordan, Lior, Tyler, and Ayal


Lior, Tyler, and Ayal PHOTOS COURTESY YESHIVA UNIVERSITY From left, Tyler, Jordan, and Justin Hod suited

From left, Tyler, Jordan, and Justin Hod suited up for the YU basketball team.

games since they were born,” said Mr. Hod, who became an American citi- zen in May 1996. “When they all finally came onto the court in the same game I couldn’t believe it. I was screaming. It was something so rare and so magical.” Lior and Janet Hod also have a daugh- ter, Samantha Hod Locke, who like

her brothers had a distinguished high- school basketball career at the Frisch School in Paramus. Now 25, Ms. Locke works in her father’s Teaneck-based healthcare information technology busi- ness, Ellkay. To fully appreciate the Hod family basketball legacy, you have to go back

to 1980, when Dov and Rivi Hod moved their fam- ily from the working-class Israeli coastal city of Holon to Atlanta, Georgia. Dov Hod opened a Middle East- ern-style restaurant there; it failed within a year. Lior and Ayal, then 15 and 14, respectively, refused to go back to Israel with their parents and younger brother and sister. The tall youths were well on their way to basketball stardom at Cross Keys High School by then. “For seven years, we and our parents didn’t see one another,” Mr. Hod said. Living in their family’s Atlanta apartment and working lots of odd jobs to make ends meet while skirting immigration authorities, the brothers somehow got by. Lior gradu- ated from high school in 1984 and was offered a two-year scholarship to a Bap- tist college. But that summer, a YU alumnus saw him play ball at the local JCC and got in touch with the legendary Jonathan



Local I love being able to prove others wrong and show that Jews aren’t just great

I love being able to prove others wrong and show that Jews aren’t just great people, but also great athletes.

Halpert, the longtime YU basketball coach for whom the Macs’ court is now named. Mr. Halpert got in touch with the teenager, who

came from a secular background and had never heard of Yeshiva University. A full scholarship was pieced together by YU and a prominent Atlanta rabbi, Emanuel Feldman, approached donors on their behalf. “Jonny picked me up at LaGuardia Airport, and the Halperts became like my parents. Because of him I am religious now,” Lior Hod said. The family belongs to the Young Israel of Teaneck.

A year later, Ayal followed his brother to YU.

Every summer, the brothers returned to Atlanta to hone their game in summer leagues that included NBA players. Not long after Lior and Janet wed in 1989, the

Israeli branch of the Hod family started moving in with the newlyweds. “My wife is an angel,” Mr. Hod said. The Hod children played basketball and soccer while growing up in Teaneck. “I used to go to every one of my kids’ practices at Frisch, both JV and var- sity,” Mr. Hod continued. “I’ve been taping their games for the past 10 years and taught them from an early age how to improve by studying their mis- takes. I taught them that losing is an opportunity to learn how to get better the next time.” Mr. Hod, now 51, uses sports as a motivator in life. “Sports teach you how to think and how to respect others’ feelings,” he said. “In order to be a good athlete — or good in anything — you have to prepare and you have to treat everyone with respect. On the court it’s not about the score; it’s about making sure that when people look at you they respect you for who you are. You have to have good values, and that’s what we gave our children. Really, all the credit goes to my wife.” Last December, 5-foot–10 Jordan Hod was cho- sen the male student athlete of the month at YU. In an interview with a university publication, he talked about what it means to him to play on a team whose heads are topped with yarmulkes.

“I love the fact that when I step on the court I

represent more than myself,” he said. “I repre- sent all the Jewish people both as an athlete and as a Jew. For many of the athletes and fans that we compete against, it is their first time encountering a Jew. “I love being able to prove others wrong and show that Jews aren’t just great people, but also great athletes.”

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Pooling tips and tzedakah

Closter couple waits tables to benefit Jewish Family and Children’s Services


I t’s not unusual for married cou-

ples to dine at a favorite restaurant

on their weekly date night. It is

unusual, however, for the couple

to wait tables at their favorite restaurant, turning date night into an opportunity for chesed — an act of kindness. This out-of-the-box idea was dreamed up by Assaf Sibony and Einat Aviraz- Sibony of Closter. On social media, they urged their friends to come for dinner to Tavlin, a Mediterranean kosher restaurant

at 7 W. Railroad Ave. in Tenafly on Janu - ary 24. They pledged to donate all tips they earned to Jewish Family & Children’s Ser- vices of Northern New Jersey in Teaneck. “My wife and I have a busy schedule and three kids, so we thought, ‘What can we do together?’ After considering a lot of ideas we decided to do something that other people can benefit from,” Mr. Sibony, CEO of a high-tech firm called Uptime NYC, said. “And this is how the idea of being waiters came up, so we could donate the money to

a good cause. JFCS, being an organization

that provides food for people who are hun- gry, is the natural choice for what we do here, and we’re happy to do it.” In addition to its many other services — including individual and group coun- seling, support groups, aid and advocacy, and afterschool programs — JFCS runs an emergency food pantry Mr. Sibony learned of the agency through a friend in Alpine, whose son had requested donations to JFCS in lieu of bar mitzvah gifts. Since then, Mr. Sibony has ridden in the 50-mile JFCS Wheels-for- Meals Ride to Fight Hunger held every

June. He’s done it three times — “Last time

I even did it with a broken hand on a tan-

dem bike,” he said. The first evening at Tavlin earned the couple $350 in tips for JFCS. The following Tuesday they did it again, raking in $1,250. “And one of our friends, Guy Tanne, matched it to bring the total to $2,500 that we will donate to the JFCS today,” Mr. Sibony reported on February 1. “The Sibonys’ act of chesed and finan- cial contribution to JFCS speaks volumes about the type of individuals they are,” Ellen Finkelstein, JFCS’s marketing direc- tor, said. “They truly understand the work being done at JFCS to help those in need throughout northern New Jersey. “This was such a creative way to not only raise funds, but to raise awareness about the agency. As they greeted each table at Tavlin, they explained what they were doing, and why. One of our staff members happened to be seated at their table in the

restaurant and was blown away by their

at their table in the restaurant and was blown away by their Assaf Sibony, left, and

Assaf Sibony, left, and Einat Aviraz-Sibony of Closter raised $2,500 for JFCS by waiting tables at Tavlin, a kosher restaurant in Tenafly. Here, they are at home, in front of a drawing Ms. Aviraz-Sibony made of the couple on their wedding night.

incredible kindness. Wouldn’t it be great if this started a trend?” Waiting tables is no easy task, but both Sibonys have some experience from their native Israel. Mr. Sibony was a waiter at a Jerusalem restaurant for several years, and Ms. Aviraz-Sibony waited tables at an eat- ery in Tel Aviv. “It’s like riding a bicycle; you never forget how,” Mr. Sibony said. “We like to entertain, so serving peo- ple is natural for us.,” Ms. Aviraz-Sibony added. “We try to have a very open house for our friends, especially not having family here.” The couple has lived in the Unites States for 12 years, the last five of them in Clo- ster. Their daughters, who are 8, 5, and 3 years old, go to Hillside Elementary School there. So it’s not surprising that when the couple put out the word over various WhatsApp groups, a nice crowd of mostly Israeli patrons showed up at the restau- rant, which is under the kosher supervi- sion of Chabad of Monsey. “I think we had 65 or 70 people on January 24,” says Cresskill resident Eric (Arik) Erlich, Tavlin’s Israeli-born owner. The four-year-old restaurant can seat about 100 diners.

We like to entertain, so serving people is natural for us. We try to have a very open house for our friends, especially not having family here.

“It was very successful. I thought it was spectacular,” Mr. Erlich added. “Assaf and

Einat are good friends and great customers of mine. They are amazing people, who do

a lot of things for the community.”

Ms. Aviraz-Sibony is the co-chair of Bere- isheet, a local nonprofit Israeli afterschool language and culture program for children from preschool to bar/bat mitzvah age. “We’re always interested in trying to bring the Israeli community together, and food

is a great way to do that while having fun,”

she said. “It’s a bit more than just reaching into your pocket and giving money to char- ity. It’s working and gathering the rest of the community to help this cause.” On the nights they waited tables, the

Sibonys invited amateur chefs in the com- munity to come to Tavlin and cook up a

special Israeli dish for patrons. (With Mr. Erlich’s permission, of course.) On the first Tuesday, Maya Burshtein Yaari made beet kubbeh, and on January 31 she prepared Moroccan fish. Both proved very popular. The couple isn’t sure how often they might repeat their waiter gig. “We’ll do it as long as it continues to attract crowds and is successful, and then we’ll find a different approach,” Mr. Sibony said. “It means every Tuesday night we don’t see our kids, so it won’t go on forever.” Meanwhile, he is staying in shape not only for the next Wheels for Meals but also for his sixth year of participation in the Century for the Cure 100-mile bike ride in the fall to benefit the Rutgers Cancer Insti- tute of New Jersey.




Honoring the community

Faced with a dilemma, Emanu-El finds a creative way to celebrate


W hat do you do when you are

faced with great sadness?

First, let’s start with some

definitions. You, in this

case, are not a person but an institution. You are Temple Emanu-El of Closter. And the great sadness is the sudden death of a much- beloved community member — a man who was so genuinely beloved that he was slated to be honored at the shul’s dinner dance, its gala annual fund-raiser, that year. Ken Schindler of Englewood died during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in 2016, just as 5777 began. He was just 56. What could the community do? It would be insulting to confer the honor on some- one else, someone sure to feel second-best. It would be grim to honor a memory rather than a person. The point of the evening, after all, is to celebrate the community, per- sonified in the honoree. That’s when the community had

a brainstorm. For its dinner dance, set for this Saturday night at the shul, the community will honor the community. It’s not exactly like what Time magazine did in 2006, when its Person of the Year famously was “you.” Instead, the shul will honor six local institutions — Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Jewish Children and Family Services of Northern New Jersey, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jer- sey, the Jewish Home Family, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, and the Solomon Schech- ter Day School of Bergen County. “We’re reveling in what it is that we do as

a community,” the shul’s Rabbi David-Seth

Kirshner said. And although this was not the plan, it turns out that Emanu-El has ties to each of those institutions. “The president of the Schechter School, Adi Rabinowitz, is a member,” Rabbi Kirsh- ner said. “So is Shira Feuerstein, the presi- dent of JFS. And so is Stephanie Pittel, the incoming president of the federation, and the president of the JCC, JoJo Rubach, and

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the president and CEO of Englewood Hospital, War- ren Geller.” So what about the Jew- ish Home Family? Well, not quite a president of the whole organization, but Emanu-El member Dr. Sandra Gold is on the board, and she is a past president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh (which is part of the Jewish Home Family) and still sits on its board. Another member, Wilson Aboudi, is a past president of another Jew- ish Home Family body, Jewish Home Assisted Living, and still sits on its board. And Arie Freilich, who has moved to Man- hattan but is a former Emanu-El member and the son-in-law of the late Cantor Kurt Silberman, whose voice and good- ness animated the shul for decades, is a former presi-

dent of the Jewish Home Family. So yes, that’s well connected too. The auction that traditionally accom- panies the dinner will offer experiences as well as objects, according to Lisa Jesner of Demarest, who is working with Jeanine Corrubia of the synagogue’s staff, to put it together. (“She does magic,” Ms. Jesner said of Ms. Corrubia.) The auction — which will be online, then silent, and then vocal on Satur- day night — will include such seductive delights as eight tickets to see the Red Sox play in Fenway Park in Boston and dinner that evening. The trip there and back? Taken care of! By private plane, natch. Two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl, which include a three-night stay in a hotel in Minneapolis and two tickets to a Hall-of-Fame brunch, and to Game Two of the next World Series also are up for bid. Other experiences for bid are more intimate. “The cantor will come to your house to sing your children a lullaby,” Rabbi Kirshner said. The shul’s other rabbi, Alex Friedman, lives across the street from it; another goodie to be auc- tioned off is the opportunity to park at his house on the High Holy Days rather than deal with the parking lot. Rabbi Friedman also will invite the highest bid- der to a seder at his house. Rabbi Kirshner is auctioning off his own services, not as a rabbi but as a chef. He loves to cook; present the winning

a rabbi but as a chef. He loves to cook; present the winning Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

bid (or maybe one of the winning bids, because Rabbi Kirshner loves presiding in the kitchen far more than he cares for turning people and their pledges away) and he will show up in your home and prepare dinner for up to 10 people. Local business also are participating, including the ones that have just opened in the newly renovated Closter Plaza. The range of items is by design. Yes, of course it’s exciting to have big ticket items, but they can be intimidating for people who cannot afford them. “It is important that everyone can access the auction and support it,” Ms. Jesner said. “I have invited some of the younger fami- lies, who are first-time attendees, and I want them to feel comfortable.” There are drawbacks as well as ben- efits to not honoring someone, she said. “Much more effort has to go into bring- ing in attendees and journal ads. But on the flip side, it is an amazing opportu- nity, because there are no speeches. “That’s a great opportunity to appeal to a younger crowd,” she said, overlooking the fact that impatience with hours of speeches seems to be truly intergenerational. “I wish we hadn’t had to do it this way,” Ms. Jesner said. “I wish there was no reason to do this. But we honor Ken by honoring the community, and trying to bring some awareness of these incred- ible institutions to our members.”


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www.sinaidinner.org • 201-833-1134 x105
upcoming at
upcoming at
upcoming at

upcoming at

Kaplen JCC on the Palisades

upcoming at Kaplen JCC on the Palisades NEW! Mommy and Baby Playgroup Being a mommy to
NEW! Mommy and Baby Playgroup Being a mommy to a new baby is exciting–and overwhelming.
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Wednesdays, 10-11:30 am, $15 drop-in fee, $60
5 session pass
Visit jccotp.org/infant-toddler
Project Cares & NEW! Shadow
Counselor Training
Project Cares (GR. 6-8) Learn babysitting 101, working
with special needs youth, handling emergency situations
and more!
Summer Shadow Counselor Training Program (GR. 9-12)
Upon satisfactory completion, this program could lead
to meaningful work opportunities at the Neil Klatskin
Summer Camp!
For more information contact Shelley Levy at
Programs made possible with the generous support of the
EGL Foundation.
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Become a lifeguard and learn the skills you need
to work in water safety as a lifeguard this summer.
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Course: Sundays, Mar 5, 19 & 26 & Apr 2, 1-4 pm &
Tuesdays, Mar 7 & 14, 7-9 pm
$399/$499, plus $35 fee paid directly to Red Cross




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Sundays, Feb 19, Magic Man; Mar 5, Farewell Baghdad; & May 28, Is That You?

$12/$14 per movie. English subtitles.

Visit jccotp.org/israeli-center-special-events

the leonard & syril rubin nursery school

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Top professors and experts present on a variety of subjects. Feb 23: First Ladies Up Close/How Gratitude Can Transform Your Life Mar 9: A Day Which Will Live in Infamy/Bernini in Rome

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to register or for more info, visit jccotp.org or call 201.569.7900.

Briefly Local

JFCS chosen to receive grant for Holocaust survivor care

The Jewish Family & Children’s Ser- vices of Northern New Jersey was selected to receive a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America through the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. When com- bined with matching funds, this award will provide $92,400 in new program- ming for survivors. The Jewish Federations of North America launched the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care in 2015, using an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for up to $12 million over five years to advance innovations in per- son-centered trauma-informed ser- vices for Holocaust survivors in the United States. PCTI care is a holistic approach to service provision that promotes the dignity, strength, and empowerment

of trauma victims by incorporating knowledge about the role of trauma in victims’ lives into agency programs, policies, and procedures. Nearly a quarter of the more than 100,000 Holocaust survivors in United States are 85 or older, and one in four lives in poverty. Many live alone and are at risk for social isola- tion, depression, and other physical and mental health conditions stem- ming from periods of starvation, dis- ease, and torture. The programming JFCS now pro- vides for Holocaust survivors includes a monthly luncheon, with the oppor- tunities to socialize that come along with it; kosher meals on wheels; indi- vidual and group therapy, and care management. The extra funding will help secure in-home care for local Holocaust survivors.


Runners cross the finish line at the Yachad marathon in Miami.

Yachad marathon raises $300,000

Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, which is an agency of the Orthodox Union, raised $300,000 at its 8th annual marathon in Miami on Janu- ary 29. The marathon brings together run- ners of all kinds, with and without dis- abilities, as partners. Gideon Black of Englewood; Noa Her- man of Fair Lawn; Simmi Sausen of New Milford; Raizy Neugarten and Chani Rubin of Passaic; Abigail Rosenfeld, Chani, Gabriella, and Daniel Herrmann, Abigail Rosenfeld, Mitchell Gronowitz, Eitan and Tzippy Hiller, and Eli Picker of Teaneck; Chana Schapir of Hobo- ken; Mendy Perl, Sammy Petlin, and

Nechama Rabold of Spring Valley, N.Y., and Miri and Ari Taub of Suffern, N.Y., were among the participants. The marathon drew 150 runners from Israel, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Canada, California, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and beyond. They ranged from 12 to 65 years old. Yachad’s IVDU schools, based in Brooklyn, brought 25 students in addi- tion to staff to participate. The Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus partnered with Team Yachad, with 15 runners from three universities. Saw You At Sinai, the leading Orthodox dating website, offered singles program- ming over the weekend as well.

Orthodox dating website, offered singles program- ming over the weekend as well. JEWISH STANDARD FEBRUARY 10,
Orthodox dating website, offered singles program- ming over the weekend as well. JEWISH STANDARD FEBRUARY 10,
Cover Story
Cover Story

Jacob Adler and his Sinai classmates sit together in a classroom at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy.

‘Jacob’s Footprints’

Sinai Schools’ dinner looks at a student who faces many challenges with realism and joy


Y ou have a baby who’s born prematurely. You worry and you worry and then you worry some more; you know that out- comes vary widely, and you don’t know what to expect. By six months, you know that what-

ever the percentages are, you haven’t beaten them. Your child — say your son, let’s say his name is Jacob — has cerebral palsy. You already know that you love this child as deeply, as thoroughly, as fiercely, as you love your older son, who does not face Jacob’s challenges, and as much as you later love your two younger sons. You know that you have to do everything possible to protect him, prepare him for the world, and integrate him into the community. To understate, it’s not easy. Not only are there

emotional and character-testing issues, there are logisti- cal and financial ones as well. But without trying to gloss away any of those issues — without turning this into a fairy tale, which it is not — there is love and hope and growth and possibility and community and friendship and life in the story of Jacob Adler, and in his relation- ship with Sinai Schools. On Sunday, February 26, at Sinai’s annual dinner, the school will present a film created by its managing director, Sam Fishman, and Abigail Hepner Gross, its communica- tions director. As it does most years, the film will showcase the school’s accomplishments by focusing on one student; this year, “Jacob’s Footprints” will focus on 18-year-old Jacob Adler and his parents, Debbie and Hillel. As it does every year, this year’s film will evoke strong emotion — often you can hear sniffles over the soundtrack — but it is unlikely to be sad, or at least only or even mainly sad. Instead, the films are moving because the stories they tell

are real; they inspire but they do not sugar coat. Jacob Adler has a host of medical issues that he, his fam- ily, and his school have to negotiate. He has some cog- nitive problems. His muscles are weak; he cannot walk or move easily; he does, however, have a sophisticated, high-tech wheelchair that allows him to get around rapidly and independently. He cannot use his hands very effec- tively, and because the muscles in his throat and mouth that produce sound also are weak, he has had problems making himself understood. After many years of work, he is much better at speaking, though, and his many friends can understand him now. Many friends? That’s because one of the things about Jacob is that he has so many of them. “His smile is con- tagious,” his father said. And that’s what everyone says about him. When he smiles, he radiates, and he almost always smiles. It’s one of those on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand

and he almost always smiles. It’s one of those on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand 20 JEWISH STANDARD FEBRUARY 10,


Cover Story

Cover Story Jacob at occupational therapy with Darbie Rabinowitz. Jacob is helped onto the school bus

Jacob at occupational therapy with Darbie Rabinowitz.

Story Jacob at occupational therapy with Darbie Rabinowitz. Jacob is helped onto the school bus that

Jacob is helped onto the school bus that takes him to Livingston.

things. It would be unrealistic to downplay the hur- dles Jacob and his family have faced and continue to face; it also would be unrealistic not to marvel at how far he’s come, at how his family’s determination propelled him forward, and at how the Sinai Schools worked with him, and with them, to get him to where he is today. Hillel and Debbie Adler always pushed for Jacob to have everything he could have that would help him be whatever he could be. That included a wheel- chair. “He got his first wheelchair when he was 6 or 7,” Hillel said. “He was really little. Until then, he

7,” Hillel said. “He was really little. Until then, he His wheelchair has a USB port,

His wheelchair has a USB port, so he can charge his phone; it has a light, so he can be seen at night, and a horn, for when he’s in traffic.

was just crawling on the floor. It was a power wheel- chair, and he drove it to the window, and sat there, staring out.” He was seeing the world from that new perspective for the first time, and he drank it in. “I remember him sitting for hours, staring out the win- dow,” his father said. The window that most drew him looked out on the front yard, the street, and cars and people going by. There was another wonderful thing about the view from the window. “He could get to it by himself,” Hil- lel said. The Adlers had to remodel their house, to accom- modate both Jacob and his wheelchair. Halls and door- ways had to be widened, and a room on the ground floor became Jacob’s bedroom, with a wheelchair- accessible bathroom. The Adlers also added an eleva- tor to the staircase; “Jacob doesn’t go upstairs often,

but he can go upstairs,” his father said. It didn’t seem appropriate to have any of the house off limits to him. Wheelchair technology keeps evolving; “in Jacob’s first year in Sinai, he got a wheelchair that could be lowered all the way down to the floor,” Hillel said. “They are specifically for little kids, for when there is circle time, and everyone is sitting on the floor.” Jacob was able to sit on the floor too. Jacob gets a new wheelchair every five years or so. Ask Hillel Adler if that’s because he outgrew the ear- lier one each time, and Hillel very politely will set you straight. It’s nowhere near that simple. “They are very customized,” he said. “It’s not just the size of the chair. Every child is different. Some need more support for their trunk, or their arms, or other parts of their body. Every part is separate.” Jacob recently got a new chair; the list of parts his parents received had more than 100 entries. His wheelchair has a USB port, so he can charge his phone; it has a light, so he can be seen at night, and a horn, for when he’s in traffic. It’s made to go both inside and outside, and Jacob drives it all over. Of course, paying for it always is an issue; the Adlers constantly have to fight with their insurance company. What the company defines as a luxury — and therefore something for which it does not have to pay — the Adlers know to be a necessity. “Having a child with special needs is stressful,” Hil- lel Adler said. “It adds a layer that most people don’t have to deal with.” But they, like Sinai, are guided by the goal of helping Jacob to live as ordinary a life as possible, shaped by a realistic understanding of his abilities, desires, and limitations. “We try to let him lead as normal a life as we can,” he said. “We try to let him test the waters, to see what he can and can’t do. We never say no to anything he wants to do, even though at first it might look like he doesn’t belong. Once you get to know him, you see that he can be like anybody else.” As a young child, Jacob “bounced around from school to school” until the Adlers discovered Sinai, Hillel said. “He never had a sense of community, of having friends, of having things in common with other people.” That changed at Sinai.

in common with other people.” That changed at Sinai. Jacob holds a sefer Torah at TABC;

Jacob holds a sefer Torah at TABC; the friend at the left is Yitzi Rothschild.

a sefer Torah at TABC; the friend at the left is Yitzi Rothschild. The Adler brothers

The Adler brothers — Zach, Elie, Sam, and Jacob.

Cover Story

Cover Story Jacob and his TABC friends are together for tefillot at school. Jacob and his

Jacob and his TABC friends are together for tefillot at school.

and his TABC friends are together for tefillot at school. Jacob and his brother Elie celebrate

Jacob and his brother Elie celebrate at Jacob’s bar mitzvah party.

his brother Elie celebrate at Jacob’s bar mitzvah party. Jacob, right, and another Sinai student benefit

Jacob, right, and another Sinai student benefit from music therapy.

right, and another Sinai student benefit from music therapy. Jacob’s parents, Hillel and Debbie, beam as

Jacob’s parents, Hillel and Debbie, beam as he graduates from Shalem at TABC.

“Not only was it able to meet his educational needs, it met his social needs,” Hillel said. “Of course, every child — for that matter, every human being — has social needs, but they are almost even more important for a child like Jacob. “When you are different, when you are used to having people look at you like an outsider — and that’s natural, when you see someone in a wheelchair you shy away — but now everybody knows Jacob, gives him a high five. He has lunch with his typically developing peers at Sinai. And now that goes beyond Sinai, to the weekends and the evenings, and for someone like Jacob that’s tremendously important. “The self-confidence he gets from Sinai allows him to extend himself.” When Jacob first started at Sinai, he went to the pro- gram in Livingston. “I have known Jacob this entire time, from when he was 8,” Sam Fishman said. “I have learned so much from his family and from Jacob. What I learn from Jacob — what I think the whole world learns from Jacob — is that each of us has challenges and each of us also has gifts. With Jacob, his challenges are immediately and obvi- ously visible. So are some of his gifts. “Jacob has a beautiful, magnetic smile, sparkling eyes, and a sweet, pleasing disposition. He has a radiance, the ability to make you fall in love with him. And we saw that.” Sinai accepts each student it feels it can help; its pro- fessionals study each child, assess strengths and weak- nesses, and figure out what the school can do before it offers admission. “We have to be sure we can tailor a pro- gram to give the child what he or she needs in order to progress and develop,” Mr. Fishman said. “We thought that if we put together a program with the right teachers and the right therapies and the right aides, we could bring out what we hope is the best of Jacob.” He did not overlook the scope of Jacob’s physical and mental problems, a combination that made him among the most challenging of Sinai’s students. “It took a tremendous amount of vision on the part of our educators,” he added. “And because I have known him all this time, it is remarkable for me to see how right the educators were.” He told a story. “When he started, the elementary school we were at then was a wonderful, nurturing envi- ronment, but the building was not accessible. Jacob was getting bigger, and he was getting around in a motorized chair, which also was bigger.” The job of carrying Jacob and the wheelchair grew harder. But that wasn’t the real problem. “Our dean at the time, our founding dean, Laurette Rothwachs, said to me, ‘We really need to move Jacob to the other elementary school, at Kushner, in Livingston.’ It’s a supermodern building, with wide hallways.” But he still worried about finding people to get Jacob up and down stairs. “Laurette said, ‘It’s not about that at all. There always will be educators with strong backs and big hearts, who will feel privileged to carry Jacob up and down the stairs. That’s not what this is about. “‘It’s about what Jacob needs — the ability to be inde- pendent, to get around like any other child, to get the independence he needs in his life.’” So Jacob went to Sinai Elementary at the Joseph Kush- ner Hebrew Academy in Livingston. “His parents, natu- rally, were concerned about how to get him there,” Mr. Fishman said. “His mother, Debbie, said to me, ‘How are you going to get him to Livingston? The school might as well be in China.’ “But the other remarkable thing about Jacob and com- munity was the philanthropy he has inspired,” Mr. Fish- man continued. “It has been breathtaking. When we decided that Jacob would do best in our elementary school in Livingston, we decided that sending him there wasn’t just about getting him there. We wanted him to have a


Cover Story

normal inclusive experience getting there. We decided that what we needed was a wheelchair-accessible school bus, so he and his friends could go together. “Remarkably, there was a donor — an anonymous donor

— who stepped up. The bus cost $100,000. “It was a beautiful new bus. We have pictures of Jacob surrounded by his friends. This kid was so happy. This smile I was telling you about — it radiated. “I remember saying to Debbie that in Kushner, with those wide hallways, Jacob was going to be the coolest, most popular kid in school, in his motorized chair. Every- one is going to want to play with him. And it turned out to

be true, and the positive social experience, the feeling of being surrounded by all these people, encouraged him. It helped bring out his strengths.” After elementary school, Jacob went to Karasick Shalem High School — one of Sinai’s four high school programs

— at the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck.

Esther Klavan directs Shalem at TABC. Many of the situations Jacob faced in high school were similar to those faced by typically developing students — it’s easy for adults to forget how intimidating the world is when you are a freshman in high school — although the challenges were deepened by his disabilities, she

explained. “His limitations involve the physical, academic, and social realms — the social area is his strength, but even there he also requires help,” she said. “Some were chal- lenges shared by typically developing high school students as they move to high school, in terms of navigating a new building, a new schedule, new expectations, and others were unique to him. “What is similar to other high school students but even more typical of our population are the challenges asso- ciated with advocating for oneself, developing effective problem solving and communications skills in order to get your meaning across. Everyone has those challenges

— but the difference between the Sinai students’ experi-

ence and others’ experience is that we teach them the soft and interpersonal skills to empower them to become more capable adults.” Other kids have to pick those skills up on their own. “My experience with my own teenagers, and with TABC stu- dents, is that they can do that,” she said. “They don’t have to sit in a class where they are taught things like street safety. Our kids are vulnerable in the world around them. All students share these challenges, but our kids need them directly addressed.” Because TABC is in Teaneck, and because its head, Rabbi Yosef Adler (who is distantly and coincidentally related to Jacob and his family), also leads Congregation Rinat Yisrael, the Adler family’s shul, Jacob was entirely at home at Shalem. “Jacob’s bar mitzvah was remarkable,” Mr. Fishman said. “This is part of what Sinai does for all of our boys and

girls as they approach bar and bat mitzvah age. We work with them to make that experience meaningful and mem- orable, to help them get the experience that you want any child approaching that milestone to get. “Because Jacob’s physical challenges make it difficult to understand him, we worked for two years to get him to the point where he could not only learn the material — he read a little from the Torah, and led the service — but also to get him to the point where he had the confidence and the ability to articulate. “In the film, Rabbi Adler talks about Jacob going up the ramp and holding the Torah and leading, and when he said the Shema Yisrael, you could hear a pin drop. He talks about how the shul stood in awe and reverence. It was a very moving thing, and something that people never forget.” Jacob became part of the fabric of life in Teaneck. “If you hang around town, it is hard to avoid seeing Jacob

“If you hang around town, it is hard to avoid seeing Jacob Fearless Jacob’s many activities

Fearless Jacob’s many activities include horseback riding.

Fearless Jacob’s many activities include horseback riding. Jacob at the Kotel. going up and down the

Jacob at the Kotel.

going up and down the streets, to the places where kids hang out. Part of what we meant by calling the film ‘Jacob’s Footprints’ is that Jacob really has taught the community that this is normal. This is the way it should be. You see Jacob surrounded by his friends, doing what the other kids are doing. It wasn’t always this way. Jacob has taught us a lot.” “Because his older brother was at TABC for a year, when Jacob started at Shalem, and because there were a host of local community kids who Jacob grew up with in shul and around town there, the whole experience was like com- ing home,” Ms. Klavan said. “That created the feeling of belonging in him, but there were challenges that came along with it. ‘Here I am — but where am I?’ His friends were in other classrooms. Socially he belonged with them, but academically he did not. We were able to craft the right delicate balance for him. “For example, our students all are matched up with the TABC students as lunch buddies, in the school and out- side. We set Jacob up with lunch buddies, and he went out with them for lunch many times a week. “Any experience going on at TABC, whether it was dur- ing the school day or after school, was open to him if it was not academic — Shabbatons and sports events. Jacob was successful on his own in part because he already had the relationships he had built long before coming here.” Part of the high school program at Sinai is vocational training; students need transportation to get to their jobs. Because Jacob travels with his wheelchair, once again he needed a specialized van, and once again the community stepped up to the challenge of providing him one. Anony- mous donors bought a van — a significant financial com- mitment — so Jacob could get wherever he had to go. Part of Sinai’s art is “to balance promoting indepen- dence within a world where students forever will need to be dependent,” Ms. Klavan said. “The balance is something

dependent,” Ms. Klavan said. “The balance is something Early on, Jacob learned to use a walker.

Early on, Jacob learned to use a walker.

is something Early on, Jacob learned to use a walker. Jacob learns with a friend at

Jacob learns with a friend at TABC.

we work hard on with our students; to help to find their inner strength.” They learn to advocate for themselves, to learn “coping tools and frustration-tolerating strategies.” Jacob developed strong friendships at TABC. Yitzi Roth- schild, who graduated from TABC in the spring and now is spending his gap year in Israel, was among them. “I’d known Jacob my entire life, from around town and in shul and because our mothers went to school together, but I’d never been in school with him until ninth grade,” Yitzi said. Soon, Jacob became part of Yit- zi’s group of friends. It’s not that the differences between them weren’t real, and it’s not that they never got in the way, but it’s that in many ways that didn’t matter. Friendships would start slowly. Part of it is that TABC kids take seriously what they’re taught, and so “there are so many kids who always wanted an opportunity to work with kids with special needs but didn’t have the oppor- tunity before, so when they had the opportunity, they jumped on it,” Yitzi said. That meant, for example, that they would be glad to “buddy up,” as he put it, with Sinai students at lunch. “It’s not always easy,” he said. “But you ask them questions, and you figure it out.”

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Cover Story

And then sometimes friendships develop the way friendships often develop, he added. “You see people day in and day out, and then because you see them every day, you say hi and wave, and it’s easy, and it makes them feel like a million bucks. And every day they see you and say hi, how’re you doing, long time no see, stuff like that, and you are forging more of a rela- tionship. And then conversation will start.” And it grows from there. Sometimes, he continued, a Sinai student will be doing something, going someplace, that interests you, so why not? You go together. “Jacob is always looking for fun, for new activities, and he knows how to have fun,” Yitzi said. He loves play- ing basketball, dodge ball, whatever it is that’s going on. “It won’t always be easy, and sometimes you need to bend the rules a little bit, but we do it because we can do it, and it’s more fun for all of us, so why not?” Yitzi said. And you can talk to Jacob, he added. “He’s not always the most clear, but as soon as you get used to it, you can understand him.” Just as friendships between Sinai students and stu- dents in the schools where Sinai is housed are normal friendships, so too are the relationships between sib- lings. (That is not to deny that enormous additional unavoidable complexities are present as well. The rela- tionships certainly are complicated.)

Hillel Adler remembers that when Jacob was a fresh- man at Sinai, his older brother, Elie, was a senior at TABC. “One day, Jacob was rolling down the hallway in his wheelchair, and Elie walked by and gave him a punch in the stomach,” Hillel said. “A playful punch,” he added. It’s a brother thing. It was the beginning of the school year, and “people didn’t know yet that they were brothers. And a lot of them said to Elie, ‘Did you just punch that kid in the wheelchair in the stomach?’” This fall, Sinai added a new program, for 18- to 21-year- old men, called Karasick Shalem High School at Heichal HaTorah, also in Teaneck. (Until it opened, young men stayed at TABC until they were 21; then and now, young women stay at the Karasick Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot.) The program helps students gain the skills they’ll need as they continue to mature, and eventually to age out of the programs that schools and state aid can provide them. “The school at Heichal was very much created with Jacob in mind,” Ms. Gross said. “At the beginning of his 12th-grade year, Jacob asked when he would be graduating. So Heichal is allowing that older cohort to go through high school with their peers, grad- uate with their peers, and then go on, like their peers, to another school. Yes, it is still high school, and there are still academics, but the goal has shifted for these older students into life skills, preparing them to become inde- pendent adults, giving them vocational training.”

The cookie cutter got lost

T here is no typical stu- dent at Sinai,” Sam Fish- man said. There is no cookie cutter that pro-

duces them. Instead, there is a wide range; if Jacob Adler is at one end of that range, Menashe Shershow, who grew up in Tenafly, where his father still lives, and went to private school until ninth grade, when he began Meor High School at the Rae Kushner

Yeshiva High School in Livingston, is at the other. Menashe will be one of the speak- ers at Sinai’s dinner. Unlike the Shalem high schools in Teaneck, Meor is aimed at students who in general can benefit from more rigorous academics; often Meor

general can benefit from more rigorous academics; often Meor Menashe Shershow, in blue, learned to wrestle

Menashe Shershow, in blue, learned to wrestle at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston.

students take Kushner classes. As in all Sinai programs, each student’s program is tai- lored to his or her own highly specific needs. Menashe’s middle school education was at a pri- vate school but his learning disabilities made his career there rocky and unpleasant. He went to Meor because “my parents were concerned that I would be jumping around from school to school,” he said. It was the right decision. Because of his “very individualized program, I was able to have teachers teach me skills, including study skills, writing skills, academic skills, that helped me succeed,” he said. “They taught me how to study, as opposed to what to study. I learned how to study for hours on end, taking short 10-minute breaks, and I learned other exercises to retain attention and focus.” Menashe also started to wrestle, and that, as much as the academics, changed his life. The wres- tling team includes both Sinai and Kushner students. “Dave Celio is the wrestling coach, and because of

Sinai and the coach I began sort of turning my life around,” Menashe said. “I learned discipline, and started taking an interest in academia. “I applied to college and got into all the schools I applied to,” he said. “I am now in the honors pro- gram at the University of Hartford, studying psychol- ogy and doing research with Dr. Matthew Costello, assisting him in research about embodiment, aging, and what happens as we age. It is really intriguing. “I hope one day to get a Ph.D. in psychology and practice psychotherapy.” He is struck by an irony about Sinai. “Instead of the way it is with regular schools, with one teacher and a bunch of students, it is the opposite. You have a bunch of teachers whose collective efforts are to allow one student to achieve. “I often have thought of what a better world it would be if every student got that opportunity — the opportunity that I got,” he concluded.

Cover Story

Once again, Jacob inspired philan- thropy, Mr. Fishman said. Just as an anon- ymous donor spent $100,000 on the bus

that took him and his friends to Livingston

— that bus remained on the Bergen-to-Liv-

ingston run — and another donor bought

a van that took him and his peers to their

jobs from TABC — that bus still plies that route — now “we needed a vehicle to take him around, and once again the commu- nity stepped up,” he continued. “The van at Heichal came from a donor who is new to us, and wrote us a $47,000 check. “These are good people we live among.” Jordan Silvestri directs Sinai at Heichal Hatorah. “Jacob is a very lovable guy,” Mr. Silves- tri said. Students like Jacob, in fact, are the reason that he chose to work in “the world of individuals with disabilities, 10- plus years ago,” he said. “One of the things that pushed me most is that I wanted to do something that was important on a per- sonal level, not to do something for money but to change lives. I want to be able to instill in my kids that people come in all shapes and sizes; they look different and sound different. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same quality, the same dignity, the same ability to accomplish.

“Jacob personifies that ideal. “For his entire life, he has been affected by his limitations, by what he can and can’t do. But I am in awe of how much joy he has; how much excitement and laughter and fun he exudes, even though under the surface there is a feeling of deep loss, deep emotional feelings. He deals with that on a daily basis, seeing his peers do things that he can’t do and thinking ‘Why not me?’ “We cannot sugarcoat the fact that people have real lives and real disabili- ties that they deal with. But then every- one has disabilities — they just don’t nec- essarily see them as disabilities. If I have an anger problem, if I don’t have the abil- ity to lose weight — they are real flaws, disabilities that affect our ability to be more complete, more able, more accom- plished human beings. Jacob’s struggle can be my struggle, although the details will be different.” That is not to say that Mr. Silvestri is downplaying the extent of his students’ challenges. “But I never look at myself as being more able or more capable than my students,” he said. “I was gifted with a dif- ferent story than they were, and they have to deal with far more than the rest of us.” Hillel Adler, Jordan Silvestri, and Sam

Fishman all mention that one of Jacob’s chief frustrations is that he cannot drive a car, although by now most of his friends can. “He feels that he can drive his wheel- chair so well, why not a car?” his father

said. But as Mr. Silvestri points out, “with the advent of self-driving cars, he will have

a vastly different life.” Jacob has worked in a nursing home,

a food pantry, and a pizza store so far,

his father said; “he is trying to figure out where his skills are best met. I think that we all are figuring it out.” He now works in the cafeteria at Yeshiva University, where Elie is a student. “It always has been a goal of his to follow in his brother’s footsteps and go to YU,” Hillel said. For now, at any rate, he cannot, and working there helps him feel that he’s living at least part of his dream. In the future, who knows? In general, the question of Jacob’s future is a big question mark. “We don’t know,” his father said. “But we are starting to look into it now. He has great social skills, and a great desire to do things, so if he could fit into something vocationally that would be great. If he will live at home or in a group home — we don’t know that yet. “But we do know that Sinai will help.” Sinai’s approach — personalizing a

student’s school experiences, tailoring it for the ways each learns best, setting high but realistic standards, and doing all of it with care and love — works so well for stu- dents with special needs that it is hard for parents of typically developing students not to look at it with some envy. “We have Sinai parents who have children in other schools, and they say to us, ‘Why can’t you teach this to the other schools?’” Ms. Gross reported. Sinai’s administrators and staff, though, keep their eyes on their goals. “One of our missions is to change hearts and minds and attitudes, and work on dispelling the stigma,” Mr. Fishman said. “There are peo- ple who over the years might have looked at Jacob and said ‘Why bother with him?’ “But now you look at Jacob, and you see who he is; you hear his friends talk about him as a friend, as someone who is not at all judgmental, who can listen to his friends talk about their problems with girls, or about social issues, and always knows what to say. “They are genuine, deep friendships.” So yes, Sinai can change the world, one person, one student, one amazing wired mechanized wheelchair, one wheelchair- accessible school bus at a time.

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Reform movement’s challenge — Protesting Trump, remaining inclusive

Ben SaleS

R eform Jewish leaders largely oppose President Donald Trump’s policies — and they haven’t been shy about saying so since his election. They’ve marched in the streets by the thou-

sands. They’ve protested at airports. And this week, some were arrested in front of a Trump hotel in Manhattan. “If there are areas where this new administration actu- ally advocates and enacts policies that are reflective of our enduring Jewish values and our policy positions, then we’ll work with them,” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the

Religious Action Center, the Reform movement’s legislative advocacy arm, said. “But if they don’t, if they’re consistent with the kind of rhetoric we heard during the campaign, we’ll oppose it with every strength of our being.” Advocating for liberal policy is nothing new for the Reform movement, which founded the RAC in 1959 and pushed for civil rights in that era and since. With the surge in liberal activism that has accompanied Trump’s election, the movement senses a chance to become the leading Jew- ish voice resisting what it sees as his administration’s dis- criminatory or unjust policies. “The urgency of what we care deeply about has become

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front and center for tens of millions of people,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “It’s not that social justice might be good for us as an opportunity,” he added. “This is what we care about.” In the days following Trump’s refugee ban, Jacobs flew to a Reform movement conference in Dallas. He was among several rabbis who arrived at the airport and walked directly to a protest there. One week ear- lier, the movement drew more than 1,000 people to a Shabbat prayer service before the Women’s March on Washington. Am Shalom, a Chicago-area Reform syna- gogue, made headlines when it took in a Syrian family of four in the hours before Trump’s travel order went into effect. And this week, two Reform rabbis were among the 19 arrested protesting the refugee ban in front of a the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan. All major American Jewish movements put out occa- sional statements on public policy, especially about Israel. The Orthodox Union also has a Washington, D.C., advocacy center like the RAC that generally takes conservative positions. There was a rare moment of unity last week when all four major American Jewish denominations issued statements criticizing Trump’s executive order on travel in some form. But the Reform movement has made opposing the president’s policies part of its agenda, even when they don’t relate directly to Jewish parochial concerns. The RAC is prioritizing refugee rights and increasing Muslim-Jewish cooperation through dialogue and legislative policy, but it’s also focused on protecting voting rights, opposing the confirmation of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, and protecting undocu- mented immigrants. “The idea of Jewish spiritual community being about feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, caring for the stranger — these are fundamental core pieces,” Jacobs said. “If we don’t talk about those things in our religious communities, we’re irrelevant.” But that agenda could create tension for the move- ment, which in addition to advocating for liberal policy also is the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of American Jews self-identified as Reform in 2013. And at least one of them does not agree with the movement’s political agenda: Matt Brooks, execu- tive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is a Reform Jew. “The politics that the Reform movement engages in is disenfranchising a significant part of their own con- gregation,” Brooks said. “It is creating a false choice no one should have to make between their political views and their spiritual views.” Reform rabbis acknowledge that being simultane- ously ecumenical and activist can be challenging, especially now. But those JTA spoke to denied that the movement is partisan, and said that rabbis ground their statements in values, not politics. “For American Jews and their fellow clergy, I know it’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” Andy Bachman, the former rabbi of Reform Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, said about the refugee ban. “There’s a long history of Jewish leaders speaking truth to power, using a moral voice in government. Rabbis who step into the breach to decry Trump’s

26 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017

Jewish World

Jewish World Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, leads services at the

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, leads services at the movement’s biennial conference in Orlando in 2015.


laws as immoral are standing on very solid ground.” Jacobs also noted that the move- ment has opposed policies of Demo- cratic presidents, too. In December, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic arm of the move- ment, chided President Barack Obama

for abstaining on a United Nations Secu- rity Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. “The United Nations is not the arena in which to address these complex issues,” the CCAR declared. Pesner said that disagree- ment is natural at a syna- gogue, and that the key for rabbis is to create space for their congregants to voice alternate views. “We have some number

of Reform Jews who voted for this president,” he said. “I will never know why they did, but we will never assume any evil motive.” The Reform movement

inculcates the idea that political activism is part and parcel of Jewish practice in its teens. At an upcoming convention of its youth group, NFTY, attendees can participate in a social jus- tice track that includes programming on racial justice, economic injustice, LGBT and gender equality, the environment, and pluralism in Israel. “Judaism is primarily a central set of values about the way we treat people in our world,” said NFTY member Lauren Stock, 17, of Dallas. “To me, that seems directly linked to social justice and ‘tik- kun olam,’ making the world a better place. Ignoring social justice in Judaism is simply just ignoring a huge piece of our religion.” To Brooks, justifying liberal activ- ism by invoking the idea of tikkun

olam is a “bastardization” of the con- cept. Brooks said synagogues should

stick to the nonpolitical aspects of reli- gion, such as prayer, community and self-improvement. Perhaps ironically, Trump himself wants houses of worship to be more polit- ical. He has repeatedly proposed undoing

a law that prohibits houses of worship

from endorsing or opposing political can- didates. (Brooks told JTA he was speaking as an individual, not for RJC.) “A synagogue should be a place of worship,” Brooks said. “I think it should

be a place of worship,” Brooks said. “I think it should We have some number of

We have some number of Reform

Jews who voted for

this president. I will never know

why they did, but we

will never assume any evil motive.

be about having a stronger relationship

with God, and being better people and about those kinds of things, without get- ting into all the other policy stuff.” Pesner and Jacobs agree that the bulk of the Reform movement’s work is apo- litical in nature. But they said it’s impos- sible to divorce what happens in the syn- agogue from the decisions being made outside of it. “If you add up the total activism of the Reform Jewish movement, the over- whelming majority of what we do is the study of Torah and the worship of God,” Pesner said. “The political stuff is

a tiny part of what we do, but that’s what everyone notices.” JTa Wire Service

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Jewish World


Bannon and the Jews: A conditional kind of love


the Jews: A conditional kind of love ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL distinction if we are to understand the

distinction if we are to understand the ways public dis- course is changing in the age of Trump. Anti-Semitism is alive and well on the fringes of the movements that helped elect Trump, but it remains taboo the closer you get to the inner circle, which includes Trump’s Orthodox daughter and son-in-law. Where Jews might have cause to worry, how- ever, is in the tendency of Trump’s insiders to cleave the

R eports that White House Svengali Steve Bannon once referred to the American Jewish commu- nity as enablers of Islamist jihad revived accusa- tions that the former Breitbart News publisher

is an anti-Semite. On its face, the accusation, like the oft-repeated charge

that Breitbart itself is an anti-Semitic news site, is weak. Ban- non’s point about jihad’s “enablers” is not that Jews share an ideology with the jihadists, but the opposite: As a largely liberal community, American Jews support civil liberties and immigrants’ rights. That creates a climate, according to the argument, that even with the best intentions supposedly allows terrorists to thrive. Breitbart is a reliably pro-Israel site, well to the right of most American Jewish publications. In the rare instance where one of its correspondents has slipped into explicit anti-Jewish territory — as when an article declared about

a Washington Post reporter that “hell hath no fury like a

Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned” — “Jewish” is syn- onymous with “liberal.” Spend some time on Breitbart and what emerges is contempt for the Secular American Jew- ish Liberal and admiration for the Religious Nationalist Jew- ish Conservative. I don’t know if that makes the average Jew feel any bet- ter — that if you’re the right (and I do mean right) kind of Jew, then you’re OK. But it’s essential to acknowledge the

President Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon huddle at the swearing-in of senior staff at the White House on January 22.



Jews into two irreconcilable communities — blues and reds, Republicans and Democrats, doves and hawks, Hillary supporters and Trump voters. The White House tapes revealed Richard Nixon as an unrepentant anti-Semite who whispered with aide Bob Haldeman about the Jewish “bastards” who can’t be trusted and “turn on you.” But his apologists long have argued that his animus wasn’t aroused by Jews per se but by their politics. They point to the Jews in his inner circle — Henry Kissinger, William Safire, and Leonard Garment, to name a few (although there’s a long conversation in which Nixon and Haldeman dis- cuss Kissinger’s Jewish “insecurity”). The tapes also suggest that Nixon thought better of Israeli Jews than of American Jews. In one sense, Nixon was right: Then, as now, Jews tended to vote Democratic and were overrepresented among the politicians, activists, and academics who opposed him. But there is already a name for such people: liberals. “Jew” doesn’t add much to the for- mula except to tar a people — a historically persecuted people to boot — with the brush of bigotry. (And the argument that it was liberals, not Jews, who raised Nixon’s hackles is undermined by Nix- onisms like this one: “The Jews are just a very aggres- sive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”) Breitbart, a sort of farm team for the White House staff, never dips into that kind of invective (even if its readers often do). But its writers also imagine two very different kinds of Jews. Israeli Jews and their support- ers on the right are the good kind, strong and stal- wart when they aren’t the innocent and nearly help- less victims of a fierce Arab enemy and their Western enablers. They have a lot to teach the West about secu- rity and standing up to Islamist terror. American Jews, especially the Democratic-voting majority and the organizations that represent them,

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tend to show up in Breitbart only when they occasion- ally agree with a conservative position or are criticized by right-leaning Jews for disagreeing with a right-wing position. That was the point of the article by right-wing activist David Horowitz, titled “Bill Kristol: Repub- lican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” that is usually labeled Exhibit A in describing Breitbart as anti-Semitic. As Horowitz himself explained in a follow-up, he called Kristol a “renegade Jew” because he felt the conser- vative pundit, in opposing Trump, had “betrayed the Jews.” Horowitz’s overheated article was a defense of right-wing Jewish interests and an attack on a Jew who would undermine them. Trump bought into the good Jews-bad Jews view of the world in picking David Friedman as his ambassa- dor to Israel. Most American Jews weren’t surprised that Trump would pick an envoy (and personal law- yer) who shared his and Bannon’s (and, in most ways, Benjamin Netanyahu’s) right-leaning, nationalist ver- sion of pro-Israel politics. But after getting over Fried- man’s dearth of diplomatic credentials, they were shocked by his stated disdain for Jews on the other side of the argument. Writing for the pro-settler Arutz Sheva news site, Friedman labeled the left-wing pro- Israel group J Street as “not Jewish” and “worse than” the Jewish “kapos” who collaborated with the Nazis. As my colleague Ron Kampeas pointed out, one tra- ditional job of the U.S. ambassador to Israel is to serve as an envoy between and among American Jews — if not to agree with them, at least to assure them that they will be heard. Dan Shapiro, Obama’s ambassa- dor to Israel from 2011 to 2017, was highly regarded on both sides for performing this function: Repre- senting an administration that often was unpopular with much of the activist class, Shapiro respected, and earned the respect of, the other side. Jews have done a good job all by themselves in divid- ing up their community into warring camps — and, perhaps worse, camps that barely talk with each other. The right-left divide, the schism between Orthodox and non-Orthodox — Jews didn’t need any help in creating these categories. But they also understood that Jewish influence would be diminished and Jew- ish security compromised if those on the outside were able to splinter an already splintered and tiny com- munity into smaller and smaller pieces. That was the mantra of pro-Israel advocacy going back to the era of Max Fisher, a Jewish Republican who enjoyed good relations with Nixon. In drawing up his enemies list, Nixon could barely distinguish between liberals and Jews, and decided he despised both. In drawing up its own list of friends, Bannon and Breitbart are happy to distinguish between the right sort of Jews and the wrong sort of Jews. Trump isn’t one to reach out to those who disagree with him, to say the least. Divide and conquer was pretty much his campaign strategy. And so far his efforts at Jewish inclusion — like the polarizing Interna- tional Holocaust Remembrance Day statement — have been dead on arrival. The evidence is weak that Breitbart or Bannon are anti-Semitic. And Breitbart’s eager pro-Israel stance, like Trump’s, is unmistakable. But what troubles so many Jews, including some Jewish Republicans, is the deeply conditional nature of a support that says “If you’re with me, I’m with you.” It’s the flip side of Nixonian mania. It’s also the ideo- logical version of two of the weakest defenses in the accused bigot’s arsenal: “Some of my best friends are Jewish” and “I have Jewish grandchildren.”


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Jewish World

Jewish World Donald Trump, then a candidate for president, meets with Israeli Prime Minis- ter Benjamin

Donald Trump, then a candidate for president, meets with Israeli Prime Minis- ter Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on September 25, 2016.

Trump meets Netanyahu:

Where it can go right (and possibly wrong)


WASHINGTON — Benjamin Netanyahu is going to stride in through the White House front door. Donald Trump is not going to grimace while Netanyahu lectures. The talk in Washington this week, at least in Israel-obsessive circles, is about how the Bibi-Donald bromance, tak- ing center stage February 15 at a White House summit, is going to be easy like a Sunday morning (even though it’s on a Wednesday). Never mind that the story about the Israeli prime minister slipping in through the back door in 2010, when Barack Obama was president, was an urban leg- end. The two leaders definitely had their ups and downs — Obama’s grimace dur- ing Netanyahu’s Oval Office Middle East history lecture was real enough. And now, it’s going to be all good. What did President Trump say last month on Fox News Channel about the U.S.-Israel relationship? “It got repaired as soon as I took the oath of office” is what he said. And what was it Netanyahu said on Inauguration Day? “Congrats to my friend President Trump,” the prime minister said on Twitter. “Look fwd to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel&USA stronger than ever.” Certainly there is greater agreement between Netanyahu and Trump in areas that dogged the Obama-Netan- yahu relationship. Both Trump and Netanyahu have said the Iran nuclear deal is a bad one, and Trump’s White House upended U.S. policy last week by saying settlements are not an

impediment to peace. But there are enough areas where agreement is tentative and vague — and enough history of leaders of both coun- tries creating crises by stepping on each others’ vagueness — that plenty could go wrong. So where are Netanyahu and Trump likely to agree and where could it go wrong? Here are four areas:


Where they agree: Trump and Netan- yahu both think the 2015 deal exchang- ing sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback gave away too much to Iran. Trump has called it the worst deal he has ever seen — at least until last week, when he called the deal to absorb 1,200 or so refugees from Australia the worst. Where they may not agree: Trump’s top officials — most prominently James Mattis, the defense secretary — also don’t like the deal, but say dismantling it now that it is in place would do more harm than good. The argument is that the sanctions relief — removing the main means of pressuring Iran — came at the outset of the deal, and that rebuilding the international sanctions regime now is all but impossible. Republicans in Con- gress, the last redoubt of plans to kill the deal, are shifting toward that point of view as well. That also, reportedly, is the posture of the Israeli defense establishment — to extract what good they can from the deal for the time being. But Netanyahu consistently has spo- ken about scrapping the deal, and said not long after Trump was elected that he would present those options to the new


Jewish World

president when they meet. “There are ways, various ways of undoing it,” Netan- yahu said in an interview on “60 Minutes” in Decem- ber. “I have about five things in my mind.” Where they could compromise: After Iran tested a ballistic missile last week, Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, put Iran “on notice” and the Trump administration slapped new non-nuclear sanc- tions on Iran. Novel? Not so much — the Obama administration smacked Iran with similar sanctions the last time it tested missiles, a year ago. But the tough talk and the threat of additional sanctions could provide a space for Netanyahu and Trump to appear, for now, to be on the same page. After weeks of talking up the undoing of the deal, Netanyahu, meeting with British Prime Minister The- resa May in London on Monday, seemed ready instead to emphasize new non-nuclear related sanctions. “I welcome President Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran,” he said, addressing May. “I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations, and I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.” Privately, in exchange for tamping down the kill- the-deal talk, Netanyahu might seek reassurances from Trump that Iran is considered the region’s worst

from Trump that Iran is considered the region’s worst There are ways, various ways of undoing

There are ways, various ways of undoing [the Iran deal]. I have about five things in my mind.

actor, said Shoshana Bryen, the senior director of the conservative Jewish Policy Center. “Netanyahu will want to know how much reassur- ance can [Trump] give Israel that he sees Iran as the locus of evil in the region,” she said.


Where they agree: The Trump administration, releas- ing a statement last week on Israel’s announcement of new settlement building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, said that while new settlement announce- ments “may not be helpful in achieving “ peace, they are also not an impediment to peace. That upends decades of policy, through presidents Democratic and Republican, declaring settlements were indeed an impediment to peace. And it dovetails perfectly with Netanyahu’s overarching argument throughout the Obama presidency: The Palestinian refusal to re-engage in direct talks without precondi- tions is the main factor obstructing peace. Where they may not agree: As much the Netan- yahu government welcomed the reversal of decades of policy of settlements as an impediment to peace, the thrust of the White House statement was to cau- tion Israel: “The construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.” Translation: Don’t get ahead of yourselves. No more surprises. Surprise! On Monday, the Knesset passed a bill that would retroactively legalize settlements on

Palestinian-owned land. Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesman, declined on Tuesday to comment on the measure, except to tell reporters at the daily briefing that “it will be a topic of discussion” when the leaders meet. Trump is likely getting pushback on settlement expansion from Arab allies in the region like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, said Ilan Goldenberg, the director of the Middle East Secu- rity Program at the Center for a New American Security. Russia, too, whom Trump would like to cultivate as an ally, is likely relaying messages that Israeli settlement expansion could undermine efforts to rally other Arabs to help crush the Islamic State terrorist group. “The expectation going in with Trump was that the

Israelis would be free to do whatever they want,” said Gold- enberg, who helped lead the State Department team in the last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Obama’s sec- ond term. “That could create some constraints against giv- ing the Israelis carte blanche.” Where they could compromise: Netanyahu, still commit- ted to the two-state solution, is said not to be overly thrilled with the legislation. If there is one thing he misses about Obama, it’s using him as a foil to put the brakes on the ambi- tions of the settlement movement. Being able to say he was “forced” by Washington to limit settlement building could be just what Netanyahu wants.


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32 JEWISH STANDARD FEBRUARY 10, 2017 Jewish World Trump, Netanyahu FROM PAGE 31 Syria Where


Jewish World

Trump, Netanyahu



Where they agree: Trump sees Syria as a theater to crush the Islamic State. Israel is all for crushing the Islamic State. Where they may disagree: This could be the knottiest problem afflict- ing Trump-Netanyahu comity. Trump wants to work with Russia in crush- ing the Islamic State. Russia is formally allied with the Assad regime in Syria, which means it is informally allied with Israel’s deadliest enemy, Iran, and with Iran’s Lebanese proxy. The last thing Israel wants is Iran and Hezbollah loom- ing over its northern border. Where they could compromise:

Netanyahu will likely make the case to Trump that any lasting deal in Syria’s southwest — bordering the Golan Heights — needs to keep Iran and Hezbollah far away. That could mean an arrangement in which moderate opposition forces, backed by the United States and Jordan, maintain control — although that would be a hard sell to the Russians, who have been pounding moderates. The other compromise — and less to Israel’s liking — would be to have Assad forces, and only Assad forces, move into the region. Israel once favored the Assads as the best of the worst: a dangerous enemy, but at least able to keep the northern border quiet. The civil war, and Bashar Assad becoming beholden to Iran and Hezbollah, have shattered that outlook. Now those three actors — Assad, Iran and Hezbollah — are inextricably intertwined

in Israel’s view, said Daniel Shapiro, until last month the U.S. ambassador to Israel. “Assad has talked about retaking all of Syria,” he said. “Anywhere that hap- pens, you have to believe that Hezbol- lah and Iran gain some kind of strategic advantage.”

The Holocaust

Where they agree: Um. Where they may disagree: Trump’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement omitted the salient fact that the victims of the Holocaust were Jewish. Netanyahu is all about protect- ing Jews. He told Tal Shalev, a journalist for Walla who was accompanying him to London, “I think that question will be addressed fully during the visit [to Wash- ington] and will be answered fully.” Where they may compromise: There’s no compromise on who the victims of the Holocaust were — and Trump’s team, if anything, is doubling down on its claim that the statement was appropriate and its critics misguided (or “pathetic” and “asinine,” as Trump aides variously said). A way out, though, may be Netanyahu not lecturing Trump on history, as he did six years ago with Obama, but gently explaining why getting the history right is in the U.S. interest, Bryen said. “If you say, ‘Donald you screwed it up,’ what have you accomplished?” she asked. “If you share some thoughts about how [omitting Jews from mentions of the Holocaust] impacts American Jews, how it impacts Israel — you have a reason for raising it.” JTA WIRE SERVICE


U.S. mum on retroactive outpost bill as international community condemns it

The United States has remained silent on the controversial passage of an Israeli bill that retroactively legalizes settlement outposts in the West Bank. Rather than issuing a new state- ment, the White House referred to its statement from last week, which said “we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace” but that construction of new settlements “may not be helpful” in the peace process. Late Monday, the Knesset passed the bill 60-52, retroactively legaliz- ing 4,000 settlement outposts that sit on private Palestinian land, while providing compensation to the land- owners. The State Department said that “at this point, indications are that this legislation is likely to be reviewed by the relevant Israeli courts, and the Trump administration will withhold comment on the legislation until the

relevant court ruling,” AFP reported. The international community and Arab leaders slammed the legislation on outposts. “This is an escalation that would only lead to more instability and chaos. It is unacceptable. It is denounced and the international com- munity should act immediately,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mah- moud Abbas. The Arab League said the law “is only cover for stealing the land.” Just a day after Israeli Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Brit- ish Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said the bill “damages Israel’s standing with international partners.” French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault said the measure “constitutes a blow to the two-state solution.” JNS.ORG

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Jewish World

Dramatic upsets in French elections change top choice for many Jews

Cnaan Liphshiz

With old favorites knocked out of France’s presidential race and the far-right National Front party making worry- ing gains, many Jews are joining fellow voters in supporting

Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old independent politician and surprising front-runner. A banker who is 18 years younger than the average age of past presidents in France, Macron’s candidacy was widely regarded as doomed only two weeks ago. No one coming

widely regarded as doomed only two weeks ago. No one coming from outside one of the

from outside one of the country’s main parties has ever been elected president there. But fears over growing radicalization in society and recent upsets within the political establishment have made Macron the best bet among centrists, including

many Jews. “Macron is becoming a very strong candidate with the potential of occupying a very large electorate, and his popularity is considerable among French Jews,” said Richard Prasquier, chairman of the France branch of a Zionist group, Keren Hayesod, and a former leader of the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities. “It’s astounding.” From fourth and fifth place in the polls, Macron has swept past former Prime Minister Francois Fillon of the center-right Republicans party, as well as Ben- oit Hamon of the ruling Socialists. Macron never has held elected office, but he served as a Cabinet minis- ter under Francois Hollande, a Socialist. He also was

a senior finance official under the conservative Nico-

las Sarkozy. Macron’s good looks, profound understanding of the economy, social media skills, and unassum- ing style have not hurt his campaign. He has won over many voters who worry about radical Islam by vowing to act tough whenever radical Islam con- flicts with French laws — but he has courted liberals by promising not to harass Muslims who abide by those laws. His bipartisan agenda against polarization really has struck a chord. “Left wing, right wing — it no longer means any- thing,” Macron declared in a campaign speech on Sat- urday in Lyon. “Do you need to be left wing to be moved by Fran- cois Mitterrand’s great speeches on Europe? Do you need to be right wing to feel pride at Jacques Chirac’s speech at Vel D’Hiv?” — a reference to a famous 1995 address in which the then-president accepted the

French state’s responsibility for the fate of thousands

of Jews during World War II.

Pundits attribute Macron’s meteoric rise in no small part to his rivals’ problems, including the radical poli- cies of Hamon and the alleged corruption of Fillon. On the left, the Socialists chose Hamon, who objects to suggestions that radical Islam poses a problem in France. He has also promised to pay each citizen a basic salary of $800 without explaining how to pay for it and not increase the country’s approximately $2 trillion debt. A former mayor of the predominantly Muslim Paris suburb of Trappes, Hamon handily defeated Prime Minister Manuel Valls in the primaries, which ended last month.

Manuel Valls in the primaries, which ended last month. French independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

French independent presidential candidate

Emmanuel Macron.

sean GaLLup/Getty imaGes

34 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017

Jewish World

Valls, a hard-liner whose passionate defense of Jews and French secular values endeared him to some vot- ers, was detested by many others for supporting a ban on the full-body burkini bathing suit favored by devout Muslim women, as well as for his association with Hol- lande’s deeply unpopular presidency. “Valls appealed to the Jewish electorate in a way no other candidate did,” Gilbert Werndorfer, a French- Jewish writer and editor from Paris, said. Valls is married to a Jewish woman and is the only French prime minister known to have publicly called anti-Zionism a form of Jew-hatred. “I would’ve voted Valls, but I will most certainly not vote for the Social- ists now because I cannot vote for Hamon,” Werndor- fer said. In addition to many centrists’ concerns about Ham- on’s economic policies and his “ambiguity on jihad,” as Valls termed it, Jewish voters specifically were shocked when Hamon said the Socialist Party should criticize Israel and make pro-Palestinian gestures to appeal to Muslim votes. Supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians was the Socialist Party’s “best way to recoup our electorate in the suburbs and the neigh- borhoods” — code for Muslim voters — “who did not support the pro-Israeli position taken by President Francois Hollande,” Hamon told Le Parisien in 2014. No candidate is expected to obtain a majority in the first round of balloting. In the February 4 compilation of major polls by BFM TV, Hamon was seen as win- ning 16.5 percent of the vote. He is not expected to make the second and final round on May 8. “Much like the leader of Labour in Britain, Hamon is practically unelectable,” Prasquier said. Hamon’s rival on the right, Fillon of the Republi- cans, is doing only slightly better with 19.5 percent, trailing Macron by 3 points. But Fillon’s candidacy is in jeopardy amid reports that his wife drew a salary for a no-show job as a parliamentary aide. The claims have prompted a criminal investigation to determine whether she was paid without actu- ally working. While his vows to act tough on radical Islam have earned Fillon a certain following, he antagonized Mus- lims and Jews when he said in November that Muslims must be forced to integrate the same way that Jews were, suggesting that Jews were disloyal to the state after gaining their emancipation in the 18th century. His words, which Fillon has not retracted, deeply offended members of the deeply patriotic Jewish com- munity of France, where a daily prayer is recited in synagogues for the well-being of the republic. Even before Fillon’s controversial remark on Jews and Muslims, he was unpopular among many French liberal Jews. Whereas Sarkozy appealed to many French Jews with a pro-Israel agenda, most still feel at home left of the Republicans, Werndorfer said. “I don’t think anyone from my family votes for the right,” he added. But a growing number of French citizens, includ- ing Jews, nonetheless are voting right wing — including for Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front party founded by her father, the Holocaust denier and anti- Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen. National Front is ahead in most polls with more than 25 percent, and for the first time under Marine Le Pen may make it to the second round. Still, Marine Le Pen’s presidential prospects appear slim, as left- and right-wing voters likely will put aside their differences and vote en masse for whomever is running against her in a pattern known in France as a “Republican front.” Part of National Front’s success can be attributed

to Le Pen’s efforts to soften her party’s image by expelling anti-Semites — including her father last year — and refocus- ing its opposition messaging on the effects of immigration, especially from Muslim countries. She repeatedly has called for banning both Muslim garb and the Jewish kippah from certain public spaces, explain- ing that while only Muslim garb represents a threat to France’s values, Jews must be ready to “make a sacrifice” in the interest of equality. She has called for Jews to vote for her, promising to be their “shield” against radical Islam. Many Jews find her ideas outrageous, but a growing

number are willing to go along. A 2015 survey showed that since she took over the National Front in 2011, support for the party among Jewish voters went from being negligible to reaching 13.5 percent. Some believe it has since risen even further. To Michael Amsellem, a 35-year-old French Jewish entre- preneur who will vote for Macron, both Le Pen’s popularity and Hamon’s primaries victory “are signs of despair,” he said. “This is why Macron gives me and so many others what we most need now: hope,” he added.

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Jewish World

Jewish World Two students at Mechinat Lapidot, one of two Israeli pre-army preparatory programs for Orthodox

Two students at Mechinat Lapidot, one of two Israeli pre-army preparatory programs for Orthodox girls.

Women’s pre-army program reflects the religious debate in Israel



I t’s hard to believe that 27 female

recent high school graduates liv-

ing in a few modest prefab build-

ings on a hilltop northeast of

Jerusalem are the cause of an intense debate within Israel’s national-reli- gious population. The young women are students at Mechinat Lapidot, one of only two pre-army preparatory programs in Israel for girls who come from reli- giously observant homes. The com- munity where their mechina (prepa- ratory academy) has been located for two years, Ma’ale Michmas, recently voted to ask the program to leave. The decision to ask the program to move reflects a split in Israel’s national-religious sector. Some Ortho- dox families prefer that their daugh- ters pursue the traditional national service option after high school, rather than sign up for army service. Young women in national service often work with schools, hospitals, or nonprofit groups, and can live at home. But a growing number of Orthodox girls are opting for the opportunity to take on more challenging and rigor- ous roles in the Israel Defense Forces, where they might serve in an intelli- gence unit, as soldier-teachers, in a combat unit, or in cybersecurity. Mechinat Lapidot enrolled 27 stu- dents this year, but applications for

next year are already at 230, accord- ing to the program’s founder, Nitza- nit Rikhlin. Some community leaders are con- cerned that the IDF is an “immodest place,” where young women will be put into close contact with male sol- diers, or will mix with non-religious soldiers who could lead them to aban- don their religious observance. One organization, Hotam, has pro- duced a two-minute scare tactic video titled “Lonely Battle: The Story of a Religious Female Soldier,” which insinuates that religious women in the IDF will face any number of chal- lenges to their faith. A hotline num- ber flashes on the screen for those “wavering between national service and IDF service.” Nir Yehuda, the Orthodox rabbi who is director of Mechinat Lapi- dot, admits that he has encountered opposition to both the mechina and the idea of religious women serv- ing in the IDF. “I went around from rabbi to rabbi to get recognition for the need for the mechina,” he said, adding, “Many now understand, but there are still some who object to the whole idea.” According to one longtime resident of Ma’ale Michmas, who requested to remain anonymous, the vote over the continued presence of Mechinat Lapi- dot was close, and reflects “the two camps within Michmas: one is clearly

Jewish World

more strict, and they have a very strong mindset about maintaining the separation between boys and girls. “That faction follows the interpretation of the late Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook” — a leading figure in religious Zionism — “that women should not go to the army,” the resident said. “These people feel there’s an actual halachic prohibition against it, and therefore having the mechina program here reflects badly on the community, and they feel it could influence the girls living here to go in the army direction.” Emunah, a leading Jewish religious social action organization that aims to advance the sta- tus of women, has thrown its support behind the mechina, providing both funding and public sup- port. During the recent Emunah World Convention, the group paid a visit to the mechina to hear from the students and faculty and to lend moral support. They listened carefully as Shani from Beit Shem- esh described how the program had helped her succeed in being accepted as an IDF medical instructor when she enlists in the summer. Pninit, a classmate from Nechusha, explained how the mechina course of study had strengthened her reli- gious outlook and “taught us how to live in a group for the first time we’re out of the house.” Ronit Tal, one of the mechina instructors, told the visitors that a typical day includes morning prayers, sports, classes in social issues, Talmud, Mishnah, psychology, ethics, art and culture. Dur- ing the year, students also take part in three or four field trips that focus on different aspects of Israeli society. “We take the study outside the beit midrash” — the study hall — she said. “Our mission here is to expose the girls to many opinions so they come to the IDF ready to stand up for their point of view,” Tal added.

IDF ready to stand up for their point of view,” Tal added. Our mission here is

Our mission here is to expose the girls to many opinions so they come to the IDF ready to stand up for their point of view.

Almog, a Mechinat Lapidot graduate who showed up in her IDF uniform to visit her teach- ers and friends, told the Emunah visitors, “At the mechina you get a good basis to meet the rest of the world. I know where I come from and where I’m going.” World Emunah Chairperson Dina Hahn noted that her group would continue to support Mechinat Lapidot because “with more and more observant girls opting for IDF service, Emunah is committed to providing answers in religious society.” At the end of this academic year, Mechinat Lapi- dot will move into its new home, a short distance away in a small community called Mitzpe Danny. The 40 younger families who make up the village — which was founded in 1998 and named after Danny Frei, a Ma’ale Michmas resident who was killed in a terror attack — ”believe in our goals and are looking for a project that will help the community expand,” Rikhlin said.


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See something? Say something

T his is not a particularly secure time for any of us. The world seems to be a threatening place for many of

us just now — for us as Americans, for us as Jews, for us as sentient beings. As American Jews, we have been safe for many decades; in fact, one of the biggest threats we face comes from interfaith marriages that produce non- Jewish children, as well as from the lack of interest that keeps many Jews not only unaffiliated formally but also emo- tionally. And the fact that so many Jews marry non-Jews is testament to how welcome — or at least part of the land- scape — we have become. But recently there were bomb scares phoned in to JCCs around the country, as well as to centers in England. There were three waves of calls, all more or less spontaneous; the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly received threats on two of those three days. There thank- fully has been no damage and no harm — there were no bombs, just scares. We cannot be sure that this will con- tinue to be the case, but certainly it is far easier to call to say that there is a bomb in a building than actually to make a bomb, transport it, and deposit it. We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to realize that one day one threat will turn out to be real. On the other hand, we cannot afford to live our lives in constant fear, or even constantly on edge. We have to find the right bal- ance between vigilance and paranoia. Because the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey has been receiving more and more calls from Jewish insti- tutions looking for advice on protecting themselves, it decided to hold a confer- ence on the subject. On Tuesday, Febru- ary 7, about 65 people — including rep- resentatives of synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish institutions — came together under the auspices of the fed- eration’s Kehillah Cooperative to learn about what they can do to help them- selves. They were joined by members of

many local police departments, Bergen County institutions, including its Office of Emergency Management, sheriff’s office, and prosecutor’s office, and by

a representative of the Secure Commu-

nity Alert Network. (SCN is the national

homeland security initiative of the Jew- ish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as its website, www.scnus.org, tells us.) There are very specific things that institutions and organizations can do to keep themselves safe, Debbie Got- tlieb, who directs the Kehillah Coop- erative, said. And the meeting offered

a chance to learn about them. Anyone

who represents a local Jewish organiza- tion and wants to find out more should email her at debbieg@jfnnj.org. But the most basic things are the most obvious. Remember “See something, say something”? That was the mantra we all heard in the aftermath of 9/11. It remains true. See something? Say something.

And Jewish leaders should reach out to the local law enforcement agencies, Ms. Gottlieb said. “Do it pre-emptively. Don’t wait until something happens. You should have a security contact person, and that person should get in touch with the police, so that if there

is an incident, God forbid, it’s not ‘Hey,

who are you? Where are you? And how do I get into the building?’” Be vigilant. If you see something, say something. But do not be afraid. Pre- paring for the worst does not mean that the worst will happen; it just means that should something bad happen, you might be able to keep it as just bad, not worse. If you see something, say something,

but look for the good as well as the bad.

If you see someone helping someone

else, say so. If you see a beautiful color or fantastic light or a sharp shadow that makes you gasp with joy, say that too.

Keep an eye out for the bad, but always also look for the light. —JP


For the love of trees

N ext Tuesday, February 14, is Val- entine’s Day — Saint Valentine’s Day, to be completely accurate. Tomorrow — Shabbat — on the

other hand, is Tu b’Shvat, the New Year for Trees, Judaism’s millennia-old annual Earth Day. It is a safe — and sad — bet that more Jews will celebrate the former than the latter. As one person pointedly explained to me some years ago, Valentine’s Day “is an American holiday that celebrates love.” The inference,

of course, is that Judaism has no such glorious day of love on its calendar. Well, Judaism does have Tu b’Shvat, which celebrates our love for the world around us (a love we observe in the breach — including the one in the ozone layer). It has Shabbat as well, which comes once a week, not once a year, and which very much is about celebrating love — of our spouses and our children

specifically, and all of creation generally. These, alas, are “Jew- ish” observances of love, and so

are dismissed because “Jewish” all too often is interpreted as ancient, arcane, and irrelevant to modernity. Please. Let us first address the “American” holiday that falls every February 14. It was established by Pope Gelasius back in 496 C.E. to celebrate the martyrdom of three people, each named Valentinus, about whom precious little to almost nothing is known. For equally unclear reasons, the three were conjoined into the patron saint(s) of engaged couples, happy marriages, love, and lovers. They also were jointly designated as “patron saint” for plague, epilepsy, fainting, bee keep- ers, travelers, and young people, although these seem quite unrelated to love. “Valentine” also is considered to be the patron saint of greetings, something the greeting card indus- try should celebrate each year all the way to the bank.

As for the saint’s day becoming Lover’s Day, credit that to a belief prevalent in England and France in medieval times that birds begin to mate on February 14. As Geoffrey Chaucer, a poor speller but otherwise excellent source for such things, noted, “on Seynt Valentyne’s day… every foul cometh…to choose his mate.” (See his 1382 poem, “Parlement of Foules.”) Clearly, Valentine’s Day is as much an

“American day” as Yorkshire pudding or bub- ble and squeak are American dishes. It also is no longer an official saint’s day; it was stricken from the Catholic calendar in 1969. Tu b’Shvat, on the other hand, not only is not American, if the powers that be in Washington right now understood what it stands for, it would be labeled un-American and subversive. That is because the 15th day of Shevat (15 is what the “Tu” stands for) epitomizes how ancient, arcane, and irrelevant to modernity Judaism is not, and specifically in this case in environmental and ecological

areas. For the record, anyone who takes time to study the Torah, both the written and oral versions, will discover that Jewish law is not outdated; it has enduring relevance to our lives today in virtually every area. I know that I am repeating myself, but what could be more ecologically sound, for exam- ple, than letting the land lie fallow for one year out of every seven? What could be more humane than giving beasts of burden one day off each week? What could be more personally consequent than spending one-seventh of our lives taking a rest from the mundane? What could be more socially, morally, and ethically consequent than giving everyone else that same day of rest? Shabbat does not belong to another era, when life was far simpler. It belongs to a time when life is complex and demanding. It forces us to slow down and get back in touch with what is really important. If more relevance is needed, then consider this: By forcing us to conserve ourselves and all we control, Shabbat makes conservation a part of our lives in the most profound ways.

Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer




Shammai Engelmayer is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel of the Palisades in Cliffside Park.



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Opinion Tu b’Shvat and the fruit of the Tree of Life So seriously does Judaism
Tu b’Shvat and the fruit
of the Tree of Life
So seriously does
Judaism take its
concerns that there
is even a blessing to
be recited when you
see the first trees bud
and the first flowers
blossom in the spring.
T u b’Shvat, which
begins this year on
Saturday, Febru-
ary 10, and ends at
nightfall on Sunday, appears
in a mishnah in Tractate Rosh
Hashanah (2a) as one of the
four new years in the Jewish
calendar. Over the centuries,
this holiday has engendered
Rabbi Ilan
Based on a verse in Deuteronomy prohibiting the
destruction of the fruit-bearing trees of an enemy in
wartime, a principle of law was established. It’s “bal
tashchit.” As readers of this column know well, the
phrase literally means, “you may not destroy.”
In the Babylonian Talmud tractate Shabbat 67b, a sage
named Rav Zutra uses this verse to prohibit the waste-
ful use of fossil fuels or their derivatives. “He who cov-
ers an oil lamp or uncovers a kerosene [lamp] infringes
the prohibition of wanton destruction,” he said, because
these are techniques used to speed up the burning of
those fossil fuels.
There are laws that protect air quality and water quality.
Thus, for example, in BT Bava Batra 18a, we are told: “A
man may not open a bakery or a dyer’s workshop under
another person’s storehouse [because of the smoke], nor
make a cowshed there [because of the smell]
Further on (24b), a mishnah tells us: “A fixed thresh-
ing-floor must be kept 50 cubits from a town [because
of the harm from airborne pollutants, in this case fly-
ing chaff. For the same reason, a man should not fix a
threshing-floor on his own estate unless there is a clear
space all round of 50 cubits, and he must keep it at a suf-
ficient distance away from the plantation of his neigh-
many customs and traditions.
In the 17th century, Rabbi
Yitzchak Luria (1534-1572) of
Safed and his disciples created a Tu b’Shvat seder that
celebrated the Tree of Life.
The earliest published version of this seder is the
Peri Etz Hadar , meaning “The Fruit of the Beautiful
Tree.” The seder evokes kabbalistic themes of restor-
ing cosmic blessings by repairing and strengthening
the Tree of Life, and elucidates the Four Worlds of
Emanation metaphorically as a tree with roots, trunk,
branches, and leaves.
During the seder, many Sephardim eat etrogim.
That’s because many commentators say that the Tree
of Life was an etrog. The traditional Tu b’Shvat seder
ended with a prayer that says, in part, “May all the
sparks, scattered by our hands, or by the hands of our
ancestors, or by the sin of the first human regarding
the fruit of the tree, be returned and included in the
majestic might of the Tree of Life.” While the kabbalis-
tic interpretation of this Tree thus is quite specific, the
image of the Tree of Life has proven amenable to new
Kabballah teaches us that the fruits we eat can be
divided progressively from lower to higher; that is, from
material to spiritual. Fruits and nuts with inedible exte-
bor…so as to prevent damage being caused.”
And on the very next page (25a), another mishnah
adds: “Carrion, graves, and tanyards must be kept 50
cubits from a town” because of odor pollution.
There are laws that protect against noise pollution, as
well. (See BT Bava Batra 21a.)
These are not laws created today. They are laws cre-
ated 2,000 and 3,000 years ago.
So seriously does Judaism take its environmental con-
cerns that there is even a blessing to be recited when
you see the first trees bud and the first flowers blos-
som in the spring: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God,
who omitted nothing from His world, but Who created
within it good creatures and beautiful trees for people
to enjoy.”
It is something for us to consider tonight and tomor-
row, Tu b’Shvat, the “New Year for Trees,” and specifi-
cally fruit trees, the very trees that gave us the laws of
bal tashchit in the first place.
Considering the
deliberate journey that
the seder represents, we
come to understand that
through the seder we are
not just fortifying our
physical bodies. Instead,
we are transforming
our material beings into
spiritual ones in the
service of God.
The opinions expressed in this section are those of
the authors, not necessarily those
of the newspaper’s editors, publishers, or other
staffers. We welcome letters to the editor.
Send them to jstandardletters@gmail.com.
riors and edible insides, such as bananas, walnuts, and
pistachios; fruits and nuts with edible exteriors but with
a pit inside, such as dates, apricots, and olives; and fruit
that is eaten whole, such as figs and berries.
Kabalistic tradition teaches that eating fruits in this
order creates a connection with the Tree of Life that
God placed in the Garden of Eden. In effect, we are
traveling from the most external, manifest dimension
of reality, symbolized by the fruits with a shell, to the
most inner, spiritual dimension, symbolized not even
by the completely edible fruits but by a fourth level,
which may be likened to smell.
Considering the deliberate journey that the seder
represents, we come to understand that through the
seder we are not just fortifying our physical bodies.
Instead, we are transforming our material beings into
spiritual ones in the service of God.
Thinking about these concepts brings to mind a
story of the first Karliner rebbe (1736-1772) and a chas-
sid. The chassid asked the rebbe, “You have an apple,
and I have an apple. You make a bracha and eat a slice,
and I make a bracha and eat a slice. After you eat a
bit, your chassidim come running to eat the remains of
your apple” — a chassidic custom known as shirayim —
“but no one is interested in the remnants of my apple!
“What’s the difference?”
The rebbe smiled warmly and replied, “You make a
bracha in order to eat, whereas I eat in order to make
a bracha!”
As we celebrate Tu B’Shevat, a time of special energy
in our calendar year, let us resolve to cultivate within
ourselves a greater appreciation of the world God has
created, as well as our responsibilities for that world.
Ilan Acoca is the rabbi of the Sephardic Congregation
of Fort Lee, rav mechanech —rabbi in residence — of Ben
Porat Yosef in Paramus, and the author of the recently
released “The Sephardic Book of Why.”


‘A good Arab….’

A highly nuanced

and provocative


“What I Saw in

Rabbi Dr. Michael Chernick

Rabbi Dr.



that community has been fraught with serious vio- lence on both the Jewish and Palestinian sides — so much so that a huge num- ber of IDF soldiers patrol this city of 200,000 Pal- estinians and 800 Jews, trying to keep the peace between these volatile populations. And yet the descendants of the Arab rescuers would welcome the return of the descendants of the Hebron Jews they knew. No Israeli has been allowed to for- get what happened in Hevron in 1929. The only part of the story that is never allowed to enter the Israeli narrative is the role of the good Arabs in it.

Israeli anti-Arab incitement

Willfully forgetful that there are and have been good Arabs, incendiary state- ments by Knesset and cabinet members. nationalist rabbis, some school teachers and university professors, prominent thought leaders, and the “Israeli street” often qualify as outright incitement. There is a plethora of Hebrew graffiti in

Israel that reads “Death to the Arabs” or “Kahane was right!” No doubt there are some readers of this article who agree with these statements.

I, for one, do not. But as I have writ-

ten before, I think I understand why some Israeli and American Jews feel that way. Truthfully, sometimes, when some particularly violent and gruesome act is perpetrated against one of “mine,” even I feel that way.

I empathize with Jews born in Arab

countries where they were regularly mistreated, both before and after the State of Israel came into existence. They

finally were thrust out of their historic homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. So why should they feel kindly toward Arabs in general, and toward Palestinians who threaten their existence in particular?

I empathize even more with Holo-

caust survivors who see in the Arab rejection of Israel’s right to exist and in Palestinian terrorism the continu- ation of Hitler’s attempt to extermi- nate them. How can we say that their animus toward those who would carry on Hitler’s unfinished business is not understandable? What is disheartening is that there are Israelis, many of them new olim or members of the younger generation of sabras, who have virtually no relation- ship with Palestinians or Israeli Arabs but hate them anyway. That is simple xenophobia, which usually is the product of a mixture of fear, prejudice, and the internalizing of

Hebron” tells the story of the 1829 Hevron massacre, the story of the survivors, and the less known story of how 435 out of the 700 Jewish residents of Hevron survived the pogrom. The

documentary’s backstory is important because the phrase that begins “a good Arab….” has many possible endings. Some are posi- tive, many are negative. The documentary will be shown under the auspices of Shaarei Orah—The Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, and Teaneck’s mayor, Mohammed Hameeduddin, will respond to the film and do a Q&A about it after the show- ing. For more information, see the box below

Non-recognition of the good Arab: The untold story of the 1929 Hebron massacre

In 1929, mobs of Hebron Arabs and their supporters from nearby villages ran a pogrom in Hebron. On August 24 of that year 67 Jews were killed, and scores were maimed for life. Jewish homes, syna- gogues, and yeshivot were ransacked, and sacred books and other holy items were desecrated, all over a false rumor that the Jews had taken over the Temple Mount. Out of approximately 700 Jews who made up the Jewish community of Hebron, 435 were saved by Arab fami- lies. Those were the good Arabs, who knew that their neighbors and friends needed to be rescued, even at the risk of losing their own lives for protecting them. Despite their efforts, the 1929 Hebron massacre put an end to the historical Jewish community of Hebron. Then in 1967 Hebron, better known today as Hevron, came under Israel’s con- trol, and a Jewish community was re- established there. The presence of

What: The documentary “What I Saw In Hebron” will be screened, through the auspices of Shaarei Orah—The Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck

Where: At Congregation Beth Sholom, 354 Maitland Ave. in Teaneck,

When: On Saturday night, February 25, at 8 p.m.

What else: Teaneck’s mayor, Mohammed Hameeduddin, will respond to the film and do a Q&A about it after the showing.

For information or to buy tickets: Email Rabbi Chernick at


Email Rabbi Chernick at michaelchernick4@gmail.com. The interior of a ransacked synagogue after the 1929 Hebron

The interior of a ransacked synagogue after the 1929 Hebron massacre.

other people’s negative experiences as

if they were your own. Morally unjustifi-

able; sadly human. Such people tend to tell you without shame, “A good Arab is a dead Arab.”

Two Jerusalem Arabs

I had one trip to Israel that did not start out very well. My wife and I had rented

a quaint apartment in a lovely Jeru-

salem neighborhood called Musrara. The neighborhood lay on the borders between Jewish West Jerusalem and Pal- estinian Arab East Jerusalem. We arrived to an empty refrigerator, so we asked our landlady where the nearest minimarket was so we could stock up on the basics. She kindly gave us directions. Since we were unfamiliar with the neighborhood we had to watch the street signs closely. Now, in Israel many sidewalks have cement blocks placed at intervals near the curb to prevent Israelis from doing a very Israeli thing:

parking on the sidewalk. Unfortunately for me, one of these blocks was not near the curb, but rather in the middle of the sidewalk. Not noticing the stum- bling block at my feet, I tripped over it, went flying into the street, landed on my chin, which started gushing (let’s not talk about what), and then spat out four teeth. Who came running with a pail of cold water and towels? Two Arab workers, East Jerusalemites, who stanched the bleeding, cleaned me up, and helped me get to my feet. I wear a kippah, although when I fell it flew a few feet away. These men could have dealt with me as the ulti- mate “other,” “the Jew,” “the enemy.” But they did not. To them I simply was a severely injured human being, in pain, who needed someone’s help, and they helped. I was in such shock I didn’t ask their names or say thanks. So today, I say to those good Palestinian workers, “Shukran lakum. Salla Allah yu’etikum



assi h ta.” “Thank you, and may God grant you health.”

A Bedouin’s sacrifice

As a kibbutz volunteer I had interac- tions with the Bedouins who grazed their sheep and goats in the kibbutz’s date palm grove. The animals weeded the grove and the Bedouins got free food for them. The Bedouins often ate in the kibbutz communal dining room, and the kibbutznikim frequently were invited for Bedouin tea and a taste of Bedouin culture. Eventually ties of friendship developed. One of these Bedouins, a man named Yousef, whose home was in the Sinai, was being threatened by Hamas. They wanted him to perpe- trate a massacre in the kibbutz and threatened to kill his oldest son if he did not. In response, he asked the IDF to destroy his home and farm, and the IDF willingly agreed. He did this so that Hamas’s men would know beyond a doubt that the Israeli army knew that they were in the area. They also would think that the IDF blew up Yousef’s house because they sus- pected him of being a Hamas opera- tive. That ensured that Yousef would not be viewed as a collaborator, which could lead to his death. This Arab, caught between the rock and the hard place, willingly chose not only not to sacrifice his son, but also not to harm his kibbutznik friends. Rather, he sacrificed his farm and home to save both. He refused to accept the kibbutznikim’s sympathy, saying, “My home was made of some tin siding and camel hair blankets. It can easily be rebuilt, and my basic living comes from my sheep and goats. I can always replant the farm when Hamas finds someone else to harass. I thank Allah for sparing my son and you.” So, sometimes the phrase “a good Arab” should be completed with the phrase “is my protector and friend.”

Good and bad Arabs and Jews and people-to-people initiatives

Perhaps I am being naïve. After all, his- torically, how many times did Arabs in the Holy Land and elsewhere, who ostensibly were the friends of Jews and whose “friendship” was reciprocated by their Jewish compatriots, climb through their neighbors’ windows with scimitars and knives, killing them in their beds? Those Arabs are still with us, and there is no denying that. After two intifadas, regular celebrations of Naqba Day, when Israelis celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut and some Arabs celebrate the Gaza wars, car-rammings, stabbings, and drive-by shootings by “martyrs,” reminding your- self that there are good Arabs is not easy. Unfortunately, we also need to remind ourselves that we have among

we also need to remind ourselves that we have among This Arab, caught between the rock

This Arab, caught between the rock and the hard place, willingly chose not only not to sacrifice his son, but also not to harm his kibbutznik friends.

us the Jewish ideological descendants of those who perpetrated the massa- cres of Arabs at Deir Yassin and Kafr Qassem, too. These Jews are respon- sible for the recent torching of the Arab-Israeli binational school, Yad b’Yad, in Jerusalem, and worse, the torture and burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir by one adult and two teenage Jewish “nationalists” in the Jerusalem Forest. What is good or Jewish about Amiram Uliel, a young man in his early twenties, and his col- laborator, an unnamed minor, torch- ing the Darwabshe family’s home in Duma, wiping out the entire family minus one orphaned toddler? Yet even as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict rages on, there are a surprising number of people-to-people initiatives taking place that put a human face on the Israeli and Palestinian “others,” transforming one-time adversaries into partners working toward a hoped for, even if distant, peace. If you want a surprise, go to Wikipedia and look under “Arab-Israeli peace projects” to find out how many good Jewish Israe- lis and good Palestinian and Israeli Arabs have found each other, and are working toward a future that does not mirror their blood-soaked past. I, for one, pray that we all may see the day when Arabs and Jews will proclaim together, “Good Arabs and good Jews are those who recognize and respect each other’s humanity. May there only be shalom and salaam between us.” And if this sounds like it’s reserved for the time of the Messiah, don’t we await his coming daily?

Professor Michael Chernick of Teaneck holds the Deutsch Family Chair in Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Justice at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York; his area of expertise is the Talmud. He received his doctorate from the Bernard Revel Graduate School and rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

‘For you were strangers in the land of Egypt’

I n the national debate over immigration, it is worthwhile to remem- ber that the status of

immigrant residents is not peripheral to the Torah, but central to it.

In his just published book,

Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz

Rabbi Barry

L. Schwartz

After all, memory can lead to vengeance. It can lead to the oppressed becoming the oppres- sors. That is a very natu- ral tendency, and history is replete with such exam- ples. The Torah goes out of its way to argue the oppo- site. Our historical expe-

rience should make us more empathic, not less, to the refugees who seek asylum on our shores. Perhaps this is why so many Jews have felt so aggrieved and outraged at the recent presidential executive order halting the admission of some refugees to our country. We know so well what it is like to flee oppression and persecu- tion. We know what it is like when the gates close. We know that our heritage demands that we act otherwise. We were strangers in the land of Egypt. We know that applies to a time and place in the formative period of our history, but

“Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics,” biblical scholar Jer- emiah Unterman writes that

“… it is startling that the legal portions of the Torah contain more than fifty refer- ences to the resident stranger….” Unter- man examines the multitude of general admonitions not to harm the stranger, along with the positive exhortations to provide the stranger with basic food and clothing, with prompt payment of wages, and with legal justice. He points out that quite a few of these verses about the treatment of the stranger are juxtaposed with statements about God. The Torah understands the care of the stranger as imitatio dei, the imitation of God through the observance of the commandments. Unterman see this as part of the ethical revolution of the Bible and notes that “nowhere in the ancient world is such a divine concern for the alien evinced.” He concludes with a most timely reminder that these laws should serve “to eliminate any shred of xenophobia.”

should serve “to eliminate any shred of xenophobia.” We are part of a people that refuses

We are part of a people that refuses to forget. What is more, we are bidden to create a moral memory.

that it also applies to so many times and places throughout our history. That this executive order was handed down on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a painful irony. As of this writing, the presidential executive order has been halted tempo- rarily by a federal judge. Whatever its ultimate verdict in the court of public law, this order should be struck down in the court of public opinion. As Jews, we are responsible for the “Judeo” in the Judeo-Christian values we herald in guiding our country. Our history and our heritage summon us to lead the way.

Barry L. Schwartz, the director of the Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and the rabbi of Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, is the author, most recently, of “Judaism’s Great Debates.”

A striking phrase courses through the

laws of the stranger that provides another powerful motivation for fulfilling these commandments — one that appeals to

believers and unbelievers alike:

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”(Ex.22:20). “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”


“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”


“You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut.10:19). “You shall not hate an Egyptian, for you were strangers in his land” (Deut.23:8). “Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this command- ment” (Deut. 24:22). I call this the argument from “histori- cal empathy.” Time and again, the Torah reminds us to remember. We are part of a people that refuses to forget. What is more, we are bidden to create a moral memory.


Justice justice shall you pursue

J ared Kushner is under the media microscope these days, but last week the criticism

Dr. Alan Kadish

Dr. Alan


those in need and our need for security is well-founded. However, in his far-reaching criticism of Kushner and the Jewish community, he appeared to be selective in which principles require strict adherence. In discussing Kushner’s delicate and complicated role, I believe it is necessary to re-introduce some cardi- nal principles of Jewish justice.

And you will search and investigate carefully before rushing to judgment. Kushner was not accused

previously for having drafted or supported the immigration rules. Indeed, it is not clear who within the Trump administration knew or approved of these rules, and at what points in time. Should Kushner, on little notice, and with- out a chance to investigate the answer to these ques- tions, have withdrawn the

invitation to dinner? Perhaps debating the issue and determining that such seri- ous errors were made might be consid- ered an alternative approach? Must we rush to criticize Kushner for not cancel- ing dinner before we really know the answers to these questions?

Each man will die from his own sins.

Beinart attached guilt to Kushner’s schools, synagogues, and community for his actions. Even if you agree that Kushner acted improperly, no evidence was provided showing that these groups

actually promulgated the world view Beinart opposes. It is simply Kushner’s actions that prompt a priori assumption of guilt on the part of these institutions. Should everyone at Harvard be criticized because some students and graduates occasionally have committed crimes or become racists? Should no one read the New York Times because some of its writ- ers have fabricated stories?

You shall judge the large and the small the same.

It is hard to know how Jared Kushner should best approach the excesses of

went beyond taking him to task as an individual for one action — hosting members of the Trump administration for Shabbat dinner. Instead, the entire modern Orthodox

community was rebuked for having “raised” Kushner. In a column in the Forward, Peter Bein- art asserted that Jared Kushner’s failure to speak out against President Trump’s immigration ban is a failure of the com- munity as a whole. Beinart goes so far as to say, “Every synagogue where Kush- ner prayed regularly should ask itself whether it bears some of the blame for having failed to instill in him the obliga- tions of Jewish memory.” While being silent on the role of Jew- ish ritual, Beinart clearly embraced prin- ciples of Jewish justice. His contention that Trump’s policy announcement on immigration lacked the proper balance between our moral imperative to support

It is hard to know how Jared Kushner should best approach the excesses of his father-in-law’s administration. Would resigning be the best approach? Public criticism? Or working within the system to do the best he can behind the scenes to moderate those policies that seem ill advised?

Closing the door on open Orthodoxy

Why the OU and the RAC rightly exclude women from the pulpit

T he Orthodox Union just did something extraordinary. Modern Ortho-

Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin




question remained: Would Orthodox Union synagogues tolerate divisions on this issue? After all, Jewish history is replete with disagreements over legal and theological issues. Could the question of women rabbis be just another one of these common disputes within our camp? The OU responded in the negative. There is, after all, a type of dissent that Jews his- torically have not tolerated: arguments that would irreparably divide our community. Small groups of Jews are not free to adopt reli- gious practices that disrupt the community’s ability to function. One historical example is the canon- ization of scripture. The Talmud records debates about which books should be con- sidered part of the Bible. Yet while there was debate and discussion about the mat- ter, the rabbis and the Jewish people agreed upon a resolution. Similarly, the rabbis of the Mishnah refused to allow a dissenting rabbi to fol- low his view concerning the dates of the Hebrew calendar. The same was true in the Middle Ages, during a dispute between the

dox organizations seldom establish binding policies on their members. Yet last week, the OU, the umbrella body for Modern Orthodox synagogues in the United States and Can- ada, formally banned its mem-

ber synagogues from employ- ing women rabbis. In its statement, the OU pointed out that it turned to a panel of respected rabbis from Yeshiva University, the flagship institution of modern Orthodoxy. These rabbis affirmed what every respected Orthodox religious authority has made clear: That Orthodox Judaism, unlike other streams of Judaism, does not allow for female clergy. The Rabbini- cal Council of America, the umbrella organi- zation of American Orthodox rabbis, already had clarified that American modern Ortho- dox rabbis are prohibited from supporting the hiring of women rabbis. Yet this was not enough. Some rabbis from the “open Orthodox” movement, which promotes and trains women rabbis at Yeshi- vat Maharat, quit the RCA in protest. The

Jews of the land of Israel and eastern Jews over the calendar. All Jews agreed to follow one uniform calendar, so that they all would observe Jewish holidays together. In modern times, the OU and the RCA played important roles in requiring that Orthodox synagogues maintain a mechitzah and separate seating for men and women in their sanctuaries. Then, as with last week’s OU decision, Orthodoxy’s leading rabbis established a standard that all observant Jews are required to meet, regardless of whatever theoretical debates might take place on the matter. Modern Orthodox Jews who are cogni- zant of our history should realize that dis- allowing female clergy is not the vestige of an ancient patriarchal code that continues, based on inertia. On the contrary, Jews did not copy separate synagogue seating or the institution of exclusively male clergy from other religions. The synagogue par- tition was a Jewish innovation. The insis- tence on male clergy also was unique, and carried over to the synagogue, which the prophet Ezekiel and the Rabbis understood as constituting a “small temple.” Judaism, like other religions, had prophetesses. In opposing female clergy, however, Judaism stood in opposition to foreign and locally

bred religious practices, including those of the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, as well as Zoroastrianism and Christi- anity. Adopting female clergy, an institution pointedly excluded by Judaism despite its prevalence in other religions from ancient to modern times, runs counter to the bib- lical prohibition of following the religious paths of other nations. We do indeed change our practices over time, as the Talmud itself notes. But with- out a respect for the Jewish legal tradi- tion, which includes everything from laws concerning what we eat to laws concern- ing how we pray, it is impossible to live as a confident Jew. This is why we ought to embrace change only when it is based on internal considerations that respond to new challenges or realizations, and not when it results from external ideological pressures that seek to undermine our fundamental principles. Traditional change sometimes happens organically, with Jews gradually adjusting their customs in ways that are not significantly controversial. At other times Jews change inorganically, turning to acclaimed religious leaders who approve changes that are necessary in order to pre- serve first principles in the face of new chal- lenges. The adoption of women’s education


Opinion /Letter

his father-in-law’s administration. Would resign- ing be the best approach? Public criticism? Or working within the system to do the best he can behind the scenes to moderate those policies that seem ill advised? Jewish Democrats, when disagreeing with the Obama administration’s policy on Israel, often were faced with a similar dilemma. In most cases, prominent Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, chose not to disagree publicly with the Obama administration but rather to work behind the scenes to influence policy. Perhaps that was Kushner’s legitimate choice. I firmly disagree with Mr. Trump’s immigra- tion policy. I also find his style uncomfortable. However, there are other aspects of his policies with which I do agree. Supporting or opposing

a politician in the United States is a complicated issue. We never agree with every position that

a party or individual takes. However, rushing

to judgment in the absence of all relevant facts, condemning hundreds of thousands of individ- uals for the actions of one, failing to consider

what might be a justifiable reason for actions, violates two of the most essential principles of Jewish justice: Judge your brother with the ben- efit of the doubt and do not judge your friend until you are standing in his place.

Dr. Alan Kadish of Teaneck is the president of the Touro College and University System.


Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner leave the presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on January 20.

and the birth of religious Zionism are good examples of these changes, which involve new practical steps but no new religious principles. The adoption of women rabbis is not a traditional change. It is highly controver- sial and has not gained the adherence of any posek (Jewish legal authority). Appar- ently aware of this conundrum, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, which ordains male open Orthodox rabbis from its rooms in the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, announced that it has Jewish authorities who support the ordination of female clergy. Only it failed to name any of these supposed authorities, except of course for its own leader. In splitting from the Orthodox com- munity on religious matters, open Ortho- doxy has displayed its aloofness to the actual problems that modern Orthodoxy faces. The modern Orthodox community has been struggling with tuition costs, the atmospheres of secular colleges, high costs of living, helicopter parenting, and lack of knowledge when it comes to spo- ken Hebrew, biblical scriptures, and Jew- ish history. Open Orthodoxy’s greatest mission has been to spend millions of non- Orthodox dollars, given to it by people

who have no qualms with altering Ortho- doxy from the outside, paying enormous fellowships to male and female rabbinical students in order to subsidize a product for which there is almost no organic demand. Yeshivat Maharat, which produces open Orthodox women rabbis, does a dis- service to its own graduates by bestowing a title manufactured from whole cloth on its heavily subsidized graduates, most of whom cannot find work in Orthodox con- gregations. If the school had offered doc- torates instead, it might have produced proud leaders who could pursue serious scholarship and enjoy broad respect, all without violating traditional and uniquely Jewish understandings of ritual leader- ship obligations. All the OU and RCA are looking to do is to preserve Orthodoxy. As the Pew Report recently demonstrated, Ortho- doxy is the only growing Jewish denomi- nation, and the more traditional elements of Orthodoxy are growing at much faster rates than the more modern elements, which actually may be stagnating when we consider that modern Orthodox day school enrollments essentially are frozen. We should not try to fix a relatively suc- cessful denomination with the failed tools

of those in steep demographic decline. We certainly ought to be sympathetic with those who do not feel comfortable in the Orthodox tradition. I have proudly served and worked with Reform, Conser- vative, and Reconstructionist Jewish clergy for over 10 years in the pulpit rabbinate and military chaplaincy. I have made great friends, whom I deeply respect. But we have profound differences of opinion, and just as I do not expect them to adopt my views, I know that they do not expect me to adopt theirs. Similarly, open Orthodox advocates cannot expect Orthodox Jews to call them “Orthodox” if they do not wish to follow Orthodox guidelines. As the Pew Report demonstrated, the other Jewish denominations could use reinforcements. Supporters of women rabbis can help their egalitarian co-religionists in other denomi- nations, but they cannot alter Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin of Teaneck is a resident research fellow at the Tikvah Fund, a chaplain with the rank of captain in the New Jersey Army National Guard, a doctoral candidate in U.S. history at the City University of New York, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.


Rabbi Boteach and the Muslim ban

In your February 3 issue Rabbi Boteach attempts to put a “Moral light on Trump’s tem- porary immigration ban.” In the op ed, the rabbi blames certain countries and policies for the number of refugees as justification for the executive order. Unfortunately, he omits mentioning the key reasons that millions of people here in the U.S. and around the world are so angered by the order. The rabbi misses the point that section 5 paragraph (e) of the order allows exceptions to minority religions in the seven Muslim coun- tries. Thus, it is really a Muslim ban. He also neglects to point out that none of the seven countries had any individuals involved in any terrorist activity in the U.S. These are the key moral points that make the order un-Amer- ican and most likely unconstitutional. One can speculate that Rabbi Boteach has left out the key points in his anxiety to defend the action of his friend Steve Bannon, the chief architect of the order.

Gabe Schlisser, Tenafly


Opinion An Iranian ballistic missile is tested in October 2015. At last, a real threat I

An Iranian ballistic missile is tested in October 2015.

At last, a real threat

I will admit that this sounds per- verse, but Iran’s recent ballistic missile test was welcome in one important sense.

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

deal Iran signed with the Obama administra- tion and other Western governments, which urges Iran not to develop ballistic missiles until the eighth year of the deal. That firing was fol- lowed quickly by reports that Iran had test-fired a cruise missile, the Sumar, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and has a potential range of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles. That means that it is well within reach of Israel and the European continent. If we needed a salutary reminder that some threats should be ranked above others, then the Islamist regime in Tehran provided one. Dismiss- ing American concerns with a cheap swipe at Trump’s “Muslim travel ban”—whatever else it may be, it is not that—Iran deployed Defense Minister Hossein Deghan, who also holds the rank of brigadier-general in the ter- rorist Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, to present the missile activities as a routine defensive measure. “We have no other aim but to defend our interests and in this path we will neither seek permission nor allow anyone to interfere,” Deghan declared. Given that this is the very same Deghan who revealed, following a March

Let me explain. Just more than a fortnight into Presi- dent Donald J. Trump’s administration, America and the world have been bom- barded with all sorts of crises, to the extent that it feels as if two years of his-

tory has been packed into two weeks. Relations with Mexico are at their lowest ebb in more than a century. The administra- tion— most likely intentionally — continues to exasper- ate European heads of state with its on-again, off-again comments about the long-term health of the European Union and NATO. Trump even boasted of yelling at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the stalwart U.S. ally Australia, over an agreement Australia reached with the Obama administration about the fate of a hand- ful of refugees. And then along came Iran, firing a ballistic missile on January 29. That was in open defiance of the nuclear


defiance of the nuclear MOHAMMAD AGAH VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS If we needed a salutary reminder that

If we needed a salutary reminder that some threats should be ranked above others, then the Islamist regime in Tehran provided one.

2015 test of the very same Sumar cruise missile, that the regime’s goal is to boost the precision and destructive power of these weapons, it is reasonable to conclude that defense of Iran’s interests means having the ability to annihilate Iran’s neighbors. Away from the fervid rhetoric and intellectually insult- ing spin on all sides that has accompanied Trump’s first steps into the world of governing, Iran represents a marked contrast when it comes to the clarity of the



Whereas Obama would have done his utmost to play down its significance, Trump’s advisers accurately portrayed the test as a statement of Iran’s true intentions.

challenge it poses. By any standard, Iran’s regime stands out as a clear and present threat to the Western world. And even as we agonize over what is to become of that world, we need to recognize that the primary goal is to save it. Israel and the con- servative Sunni-Arab states may be

first in Iran’s firing line, but only a fool would conclude that they are last as well. In that sense, the Trump admin- istration’s response to the missile test was heartening in one very simple sense: It noticed. Whereas Obama would have done his utmost to play down its significance, Trump’s advisers accurately portrayed the test as

a statement of Iran’s true inten-

tions. If there really is an influen-

tial “moderate” wing of the regime, as Obama and his administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry, always insisted was the case, then

it now faces a different kind of test,

political and not military in nature:

Will it, or can it, restrain future missile firings? Does it grasp that the Trump administration’s lack of detail over the method of its coming response (all we know is that Tehran is “on notice”) actually makes its coun- try less secure, since in theory all options are on the table at a time when escalation could turn out to be very rapid? If there is a mod- erate leader in Iran who can turn the tide, then he — trust me on this, it’s invariably a “he” — should act quickly, or else confirm what we’ve known all along. Namely, that the IRGC, whose main pur- pose is to export the Islamic Rev- olution, is the real power broker behind Iran’s leaders. Indeed, if I were that moderate Iranian leader, I would find very little of comfort in what is being said in Washington these days. The chairman of the House For- eign Affairs Committee, Repre- sentative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), said this week that global banks should be prevented from conducting U.S. dollar transactions with their Iranian counterparts. The rank- ing Democrat on that committee,

Representative Eliot Engel of New York, asserted that in our deal- ings with the Iranians, we should “never, never trust them,” adding that designations against human rights abusers and sanctions target- ing the IRGC should be stepped up. Trump himself also indicated that he understands the nature of Iran’s grand strategy, remarking on Twit- ter that Tehran wields increasing control over neighboring Iraq. All of this supports the conclusion that the rose-tinted spectacles have been removed and that the gloves are off. The Iranians can glean more clues to the changing atmosphere in Washington in the current dis- cussion of the equally pressing

security threat posed by North Korea. Speaking to a Senate com- mittee hearing on North Korea last week, two leading experts, Nicholas Eberstadt of the Ameri- can Enterprise Institute and Scott

Snyder of the Council on For- eign Relations, gave a sobering account of what happens when a rogue regime successfully acquires nuclear weapons. Eberstadt explained that Ameri- cans now have to recognize “two highly unpleasant truths” about North Korea. First, that it will never voluntarily give up its nuclear option. Second, that engagement can never produce “a denuclear- ization of the real existing North Korea.” “Kim Jong Un has decided, based on lessons from Iraq, Iran and Libya, that North Korea must be too nuclear to fail,” Snyder added. Iran’s leaders want to be able to make the same determination. After four years of denying this reality, the American public again is in a posi- tion to understand its potency. That is the best place to start. JNS.ORG

Ben Cohen, senior editor of TheTower.org and the Tower magazine, writes a weekly column on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics. His work has been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

Hospice care: what and when

F undamental to Juda- ism is the belief in the infinite value of human life and the

obligation of each person to protect and preserve it. Life is viewed as a gift from God to be safeguarded and maintained. There is an obligation, as well, to alleviate pain and suffer- ing. At the same time, Judaism

recognizes the inevitability of death. Thus, end-of-life care is

Rabbi Joseph Siev


Joseph Siev

is also the recognition that life may become unbearably diffi- cult and painful. There are cir- cumstances, therefore, under which the withholding of life- sustaining or aggressive medi- cal treatment is permissible, and palliative or comfort care is appropriate. Since each per- son’s circumstance is unique, each situation has to be judged

on its own merits. But hospice presents an alternative to con- tinued intense suffering and an opportunity for a person to live out his or her remaining days in peace, and perhaps even to prepare spiritually for what is to come. The decision to elect hospice care is a very difficult and painful one for both the patient and the family, and should be made in close consultation with medical experts and the patient’s rabbi or religious/spiritual guide. Life and health being as precious as they are, the decision naturally should be made with great care and with the best information and advice available. My experience as a hospice chaplain at Villa Marie Claire, Holy Name Medical Cen- ter’s residential hospice center in Saddle

a reality with which most families eventu-

ally will have to deal . Hospice care is an approach to end-of-life care about which many people are unaware. It is an alternative to acute hospital care, which may not always be the best choice. There are times when the care that a hospital

can provide is of limited or no benefit, and may do little to alleviate a patient’s suffering while holding out no hope for improvement. What is hospice care? Hospice care is comfort care. It is not curative. It is not designed to cure any underlying medical condition, such as heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The goal of the hospice program is to keep the per- son who is reaching the end of his or her life as comfortable and pain-free as pos- sible, while preserving his or her dignity, as the terminal illness progresses and fol- lows its natural course to conclusion. This is accomplished by providing all medical interventions necessary to effectively man- age whatever symptoms exist, be they pain, respiratory distress, agitation, nausea and vomiting, and so on. Hospice care provides support to the family and the patients’ caregiver(s) as well. A multidisciplinary hos- pice team, which includes medical person- nel, home health aides, social workers, and spiritual counselors, manage the care. Hos- pice professionals function as partners with patients, their loved ones, and caregivers. Hospice care can be provided at home, in a nursing or assisted living setting, or in an inpatient hospice facility. In the inpa- tient environment, families are welcomed and encouraged to keep their loved ones company and even adorn their rooms in a manner that will make them feel as much at home as possible. Whatever the venue, care is managed by the same interdisciplin- ary team. When is hospice care appropriate under Jewish law? As in all areas of halacha, there is more than one opinion. In general, I believe

it can be said that when a person’s condi-

tion is terminal and irreversible, when there

is no hope for recovery and further treat- ment is futile, when there is severe pain and suffering, then hospice care may be an appropriate halachic alternative. While there is an obligation to prolong life, there

While there is an obligation to prolong life, there The goal of the hospice program is

The goal of the hospice program is to keep the person who is reaching the end of his or her life as comfortable and pain-free as possible, while preserving his or her dignity.

River, and in the community has taught me that hospice care providers are exception- ally compassionate and caring, and hence very successful at providing incomparable end-of-life care to patients and their fami- lies. Families regularly offer thanks and praise to hospice staff for the excellent care provided their loved one. And we often hear “We wish we had known about this place sooner” at the Villa.

Rabbi Joseph Siev is a full-time hospice chaplain/spiritual counselor for Holy Name Medical Center in the community and at Villa Marie Claire in Saddle River.



1 2 3 4 n 1 Children from Congregation Shomrei Torah’s Parent-Child Learning program and
n 1 Children from Congregation Shomrei
Torah’s Parent-Child Learning program
and the Leah Sokoloff Nursery School in
Fair Lawn joined for a musical Havdalah
pajama party. The program included
dinner making havdalah candles and
silly besamim (spice) holders, dancing,
story time, and the bedtime Shema.
The Cowbells, pictured, Shomrei Torah
members, entertained. COURTESY LSNS
n 2 Members of Glen Rock Jewish Center
served dinner at the Family Promise of
Bergen County’s walk-in dinner program
in Hackensack last month. Members, in-
cluding teens, worked behind the scenes
with food purchase and prep and addi-
tional volunteers helped serve the food.
More than 125 people were served.
n 3 Seniors at the Kaplen JCC on the
Palisades were treated to a lunar new
year celebration when the Palisades Park
Senior Center Dance Troupe visited them
to perform traditional Korean fan dances
and choral pieces. COURTESY JCCOTP
n 4 Third graders at Temple Eman-
uel of the Pascack Valley’s religious
school received their siddurim. Ri-
ley Ceslowitz, shown with her siddur,
is surrounded, from left, by Cantor
Alan Sokoloff, Sean Charnow, Rabbi
Shelley Kniaz, Charlie Loskant, and
Steve Shamash. COURTESY TEPV
by Rabbi Dov Drizin. Children made spice packs,
havdalah candles, and art projects, had photos
taken in a photo booth, and ate hot pretzels
and ice cream while learning about this Jewish
ritual. Eric and Jen Reimer and their son Andrew
of Woodcliff Lake are pictured. VALLEY CHABAD
n 5 Families and children of all ages cel-
n 6 The Friendship Circle recently held a series
of sports events for children with special needs
at the Chabad Center of Passaic County. The
children, helped by volunteers and two trained
coaches, had four days of fun. The focus was
on balance, team playing, ball sports, yoga, and
ebrated with Valley Chabad in Woodcliff
Lake at a family Havdalah ceremony led



Finance & Planned Giving

Finance & Planned Giving Financial education is the first step when it comes to successfully saving

Financial education is the first step when it comes to successfully saving money.

The case for financial education

CreatorS.Com Photo CourteSy of oliChel adamoviCh

Carrie SChwab-Pomerantz

I ’m a champion of financial literacy. And as I look at some of the recent research from FINRA, it only rein- forces my commitment. According

to their findings, fewer than 50 percent of Americans have tried to figure out how much they need for retirement, have an emergency fund, or are saving for their kids’ education. And according to econo- mist Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor at The Wharton School, and Annamaria Lusardi, director of the Global Financial Literacy Center at the George Washington School of Business, only 34 percent of partici- pants in a financial knowledge study they conducted could correctly answer three simple questions about interest, inflation, and investment risk. Certain studies have noted that taking a financial literacy course doesn’t necessar- ily change behaviors, that exposing kids to financial concepts early on doesn’t mean they’ll remember them when they need them later in life. OK, I can understand that. But then taking one Spanish course doesn’t make you fluent. A year of piano lessons doesn’t mean you can play well. Anything important or complex has to be learned over time — and practiced. So I’m

still a believer. And in the face of contrar- ian commentary, I’m ready to once again get on my financial literacy soapbox.

How it can change lives

Few people argue with the tremendous need for financial education. But to those who doubt the effectiveness of financial

education programs, I’d like to point to a couple that show just how life-changing financial education can be:

• A recent study of more than 1,600

teens that completed the Money Matters:

Make It Count program created by Schwab and the Boys and Girls Club of America showed an 82 percent improvement in

saving, a 33 percent improvement in bud- geting, and a 46 percent improvement in managing credit and debt.

• Key findings from the Finances 50+

program co-founded by Schwab and the AARP Foundation showed that partici- pants had a 25 percent increase in financial confidence. Results included an overall improvement in savings and debt manage- ment, with 33 percent fewer participants spending more than their income, and 47 percent of participants reducing debt. Of course, not every program is going to have dramatic results. But my point is that when the information is provided in a

relevant way, a certain percentage of peo- ple will learn and take steps to improve their financial lives. To me, that’s worth the effort. Financial education is most effective when you have some skin in the game. So since we all deal with money, I encourage everyone to help create financial educa- tion opportunities in their own lives and to take advantage of the ones that already exist. As a parent, give your kids financial responsibilities early on. Whether it’s through an allowance or a part-time job, make sure they have some money of their own to manage and are accountable for certain spending and saving decisions. Also reach out to your kids’ schools to see how you can get financial literacy classes added to the curriculum. As a teacher, even if it’s not part of your formal curriculum, incorporate financial ideas into your lessons as a way to bring math to life. Young kids often have a natu- ral interest in learning to save and spend so the numbers fit in naturally. You can talk to middle schoolers about wants ver- sus needs, and demonstrate the power of compound interest. Similarly, discus- sions about credit cards and the basics of investing will pique a high school student’s

interest — and provide valuable tools for success in real life. As an employer, explore ways to bring financial education into the workplace, especially around retirement saving deci- sions. As an employee, go to your HR department and make sure you know what your retirement plan options are. Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t under- stand; ask questions. Look to your community. Many banks

and other financial institutions have finan- cial education programs. And don’t hesi- tate to be your own advocate. There are

a number of online tools and calculators

that can help you. Before you make a financial decision or enter into a contract like a mortgage, do your research. Get the

facts. Again, ask questions — lots of them. Formal financial education programs are important, but I believe financial edu- cation can also be organic and we can all be part of the process. Whether with your family, your employer or your community,

if you help plant the seeds of financial edu-

cation awareness, you’ll reap the benefits.

And ultimately, so will everyone else.


Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com.

48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com. 48 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49
Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017 49

Finance & Planned Giving

Financial lessons for 20-somethings

Carrie SChwab— Pomerantz

Today I thought I’d ask my team to share some financial les- sons they’ve learned along the way. I asked them particularly what insights they would want to share with 20–year–olds. We’re a diverse group of people, ranging in age from the mid— 30s to late 60s, and are at different points in our lives

and our careers. We’re single and married, parents and grandparents, from different ethnic backgrounds and with different professional expertise. But what we do have in common is a shared understanding of how important it is to be on top of your finances from an early age. We’d like to share that understanding with you. Some of it’s based on what we did; some based on what we wished we’d

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Angela Farina
President & CEO
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Coming Soon to Fairfield!
First Commerce Bank’s Directors include:
Abraham Penzer
Eliezer Weinman
Aaron Sussman
Gershon Biegeleisen

50 Jewish standard FeBrUarY 10, 2017

done. Obviously, we don’t have all the answers. But in a world filled with uncertainty and questions about every- thing, here are some heartfelt recommendations based on real— life experiences that we would want our young friends, children, grandchildren — anyone — to consider as they begin their financial journey. “When you’re first starting out, get some reliable roommates who you can trust to share household expenses. You’ll not only save on rent, but also on util- ities and food, which can leave you with more money to start building a savings cushion. I lived with room- mates up until I got married, and saved a lot of money as a result.” — Kristine “Be relentless about learning to live within your means. It will pay off big time for the rest of your life.” — Tessa “At 20, I lived for the day and spent every last dollar on fun. I just wish I had saved some, too. There are a lot of years ahead of you. You’ll want to be able to afford these experiences throughout your life.” — Jen “When I migrated to the U.S. at 19, I quickly realized

that credit is a critical part of one’s financial life in the U.S. As a result, I worked diligently to establish a good credit rating, which allowed me to purchase my first car and home at lower interest rates in my 20s and 30s. Where I grew up, cash is king and use of credit is foreign, so I definitely had a steep learning curve.” — Elinore “Don’t rely on credit cards to finance a lifestyle you really can’t afford. Never, ever charge more than you can pay off in full when the bill comes due!” — Judith “Over the years, I adjusted my career and some- times my salary to try something new. Keeping over- head well below your income will allow flexibility in career decisions if you want to do something differ- ent one day. That perfect career at 22 might not be so appealing at 32.” — Doug “Establish a $1,000 emergency fund and plan to add to it as your monthly income and obligations grow. Once I figured that out in my mid— 20s, more things started snapping into place, and soon after that,

I started investing! That was an important thing to get

me out of trouble when I was making very little money back then.” — Christina “Start saving as soon as you have a job! A friend of mine put away 10 percent of her earnings every year from the get— go. When it came time for a down pay- ment on a house, she had it. I wish I’d done the same.

Also, contribute as much as you can to a 401(K) or IRA.

I didn’t start until my 40s. Another lesson learned the

hard way!” — Terry “Early on, I set up an automatic investment account and had monthly deductions transferred directly from my bank account. It became “automatic” so I got used to my budget and got motivated after seeing the invest- ment account grow without much effort.” — Melissa Now I’ll add my own: Educate yourself about money. There are lots of financial resources — from your parents to your local banker or financial adviser to a financial website. And never be afraid to ask ques- tions. The financial world is complicated and you shouldn’t be embarrassed that you don’t have all the answers. In fact, the first step in learning something may simply be forming the question. Of course, all the “advice” in the world means very little unless you actually do something with it. And that’s the hardest part. We all tend to learn first and foremost from our own experiences. But my hope is that by shar- ing some of ours, others may get at least a small head start on a more secure financial future. CreatorS.Com

Carrie Schwab— Pomerantz’s column, “Ask Carrie,” can be found at creators.com.

Finance & Planned Giving

Winning websites and apps

These six are free and will help you save time and money

mary hunt

365 GRATEFUL. Get on board with 365Grateful, a photographic project that’s all about the good things in life. Does it sound similar to keeping a gratitude

journal? Well, the idea here is to create a visual jour- nal by taking a photo every day of one thing for which you are grateful. So get our your smartphone, digital camera or even your DSLR, and get snapping! RECIPES THAT CROCK is a website created by the slow cooker-obsessed blogger Cris Goode. There are

a ton of fun tummy-warming recipes to fire up your

slow cooker this winter and beyond. Simply search for recipes on the site or sign up for the newsletter, which

arrives a few times per week. CHECKY. Technology can be a good thing, but when you’re spending too much of your valuable time

checking your smartphone every five minutes, it’s just downright distracting. Use the Checky app to get insight on how often you’re checking your phone. By discovering how extreme your actual checking habit

is you’ll become more mindful when it comes to your

smartphone. The app is available for iOS and Android. HOTPADS. Are you in the market to rent an apart- ment or purchase a home? The HotPads app and web- site can help you find your new abode. Punch in your intended city or town. Select the number of bedrooms you’ll need. And set up a pricing parameter. Available rentals or homes on the market will pop up. Simply hover over and click the icon on the map for details,

or select “list” if you prefer a listed format. You can save your searches and ask for search alerts as new pr