Efforts to repeal the county’s blue laws are gaining steam, said Rosemary Shashoua of Westwood, who launched a petition drive earlier this year to overturn these rules.
So far, she has collected some 1,500 signatures. That’s just 1,000 short of the number needed to place a referendum on the November ballot.
Shashoua, who calls herself a “civic activist,” turned her attention to the blue laws in November, after reading about stores that were allowed to open on Sundays for two weekends after Hurricane Sandy, despite opposition by Paramus’s Mayor Richard LaBarbiera. When store owners tried to win an extension, however, they were rebuffed.
In response, Shashoua — founder of the campaign “Modernize Bergen County” — wrote the Bergen Record a detailed letter outlining her opposition to the blue laws.
Eighth-grader Benjamin Barth of Teaneck used to think that all Jews affected by the Holocaust were in either ghettos or concentration camps.
Now, as a result of his participation in the oral history film project “Names, Not Numbers,” he understands much more about the Shoah.
“It’s not just a single story of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps,” said Benjamin, who is a student at the Moriah School in Englewood. “There are other aspects, like people resisting all over Europe.”
That realization, and many others, came after an intensive three-month program of study, research, and hands-on video production.
Guided by a professional filmmaker — and following a curriculum designed by Jewish educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg for middle and high school students — Benjamin and 42 classmates interviewed eight Holocaust survivors, using questions they wrote themselves and employing their newly acquired skills in documentary filmmaking and editing.
This past year was particularly good for David Feder of Englewood. Dr. David Feder, that is.
Not only did he marry an “amazing” woman, but he earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from NYU Poly.
But Feder is older than the average student, and the road he traveled to his doctorate was a long and hard one. So hard, in fact, that had he not believed that “our prayers are heard and God is with us,” he might not have been able to continue.
A self-described “Englewoodian” — he lived there most of his life and attended the Moriah School there — Feder moved to Israel in 1984, studying at Har Etzion and serving in the Israel Defense Forces for several years.
When disaster strikes, as it so often does — just think of last week’s tornados in Oklahoma and last year’s superstorm Sandy — people come from all over the country to help.
But some groups help all the time, not just when nature wreaks havoc but when lives are shattered by something as daily as poverty.
One such group is the American Jewish Society for Service, founded in 1950 to realize the vision of social justice activists Rabbis Arthur Lelyveld, Isidor Hoffman, and Ferdinand Isserman. Created by New York attorney Henry Kohn, AJSS sought “to take kids out of the bubble of the New York Jewish world and put them in communities where they would see things differently,” said Rena Convissor, executive director of the organization, now national in scope and based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El of Closter cares about wellness — both his own and that of his congregants.
Kirshner, who attends spinning classes three times a week, also cares about Jewish learning and making the synagogue an exciting place to be.
“We’re doing things here that are fun and different, creative and dynamic,” said Kirshner, who last week coordinated a study session/exercise program for the shul’s women’s study group. “While Judaism is an ancient religion, it has modern things to say about looking after our health,” he added, calling the combined session “out of the box.”
Nellie Harris has traveled a long way — from Morocco to Israel to the United States; from doctoral studies in Yiddish to doctoral work in Jewish education; from heading the Solomon Schechter Day School in Westchester to leading a new school in Rockland County.
“Education was always in my blood,” said Harris, the incoming principal of the Rockland Jewish Academy, a pluralistic community day school founded in West Nyack last year. “It was a part of who I was and how I defined myself.”
Most recently the curriculum and instruction director of the Solomon Schechter Upper School in Hartsdale, N.Y. , Harris will take up her new role in August.
Dr. Tamara Freeman of Saddle River is a Holocaust music recitalist and educator.
She shares that job description with only a few people worldwide.
“There are only a few Holocaust ethnomusicologists in the world,” said Freeman, who first entered the field by researching the music of the Jews interned in ghettos and concentration camps during World War II.
For the last 13 years, Rabbi Ron Hoffberg has been on a journey that was meant to last a week.
“There was an emergency situation,” he said. “They needed someone in Prague in a hurry, just for a week. That week turned into a year, and that year into 13.”
Hoffberg, spiritual leader of the Masorti (Conservative) community in the Czech Republic, has found that time both exciting and challenging. He will speak about his experiences — and the area he serves — when he visits the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel this weekend as scholar in residence.