It was a trip to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic in the early 1980s that sent Rabbi David Berkman on a road he never quite set out to take. But it is one that led him to become a rabbi, and to a Shabbat fete held by the New City Jewish Center, the Conservative congregation he has served for more than two decades. The special Shabbat celebration will be held on Friday, April 26.
Berkman and his friend, Larry Diamond, with whom he shared a blacktop business in Glencoe, Ill., were sent by the Chicago Action Committee for Soviet Jewry on a mission to visit Soviet refusniks — those Jews who sought to leave their country, but whom were denied exit by the government. They brought with them some siddurim, copies of the 1939 novel, “A Driven Leaf” by Milton Steinberg, and expensive cameras they could “lose,” and which were clearly valuable to those who “found” them.
They may not know the Sermon on the Mount by heart, or even how to turn the other cheek, but the “Rockin’ Rabbis,” will hold their own on this season of “The American Bible Challenge.”
“I’m not allowed to reveal the questions,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of the Conservative Sons of Israel in Nyack, as he danced lightly around the specifics of the show. “But it was a fair split between” the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach) and its Christian counterpart.
The show’s second season debuts on Thursday, March 21, at 9 p.m. on the Game Show Network. The rabbis are the first Jewish team to tackle Bible thumping study groups from the south and Midwest on the program. This episode will air on Thursday, March 28 at 9 p.m.
JCC Rockland, looking for ways to ensure its future stability, is exploring the possibility of offering a full-day child care. The move has drawn mixed reactions among other Jewish organizations currently offering preschool programs.
The JCC distributed a survey to its membership through email in late January aimed at gauging interest in such a program, which would run from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. There would be an educational component, and it would reflect Jewish values, yet would be open to all, according to Josh Krakoff, JCC Rockland’s chief operating officer.
I was half listening to the announcements at the end of the Saturday morning service when something the rabbi was saying broke through the noise in my head. I was pretty sure I heard him announce that we could sell our chametz online.
Immediately, I pictured a sort of eBay marketplace, where I could auction off boxes of Ronzoni penne, Cheerios and unopened bags of chickpeas after frenzied bidding to a winner offering big bucks for the privilege. Of course, since I’m not supposed to receive benefit from my chametz, perhaps I’d have to donate the funds to some worthy charity, but hey, so much the better. Doing good and ridding my kitchen of the things I’m not supposed to eat during Pesach all at the same time? Does it get any better?
Most students at Rockland Community College have not had successful singing careers before they decide to get their associate degree.
But Lipa Schmeltzer is definitely not most students.
A bona fide superstar in the niche world of chasidic singers, Schmeltzer came to RCC as a bit of a renegade. A product of the insular enclave of New Square, he defies easy pigeonholing — as an observant Jew, as a performer, and, yes, even as a student.
At 34, with a wife and four children, Schmeltzer is an older student at a different stage in life. He came to RCC without the type of secular education most college students have and take for granted. Now in his second semester of a two-year liberal and performing arts program, Schmeltzer is grateful for an opportunity that few Skver chasidim have.
Rabbi Shalom Baum of Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck assumed the presidency of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County a little more than 18 months ago. During that time, he has built on efforts of his predecessors, especially in working with the more liberally observant rabbis of the community.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Observers who are familiar with the organization, which provides kashrut supervision to more than 60 area restaurants, say that Baum’s understated professionalism and willingness to listen has allowed him to further the relatively recent moves toward rapprochement between the Orthodox RCBC and the New Jersey Board of Rabbis, which includes 35 members from the area’s Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Renewal streams.
Rabbi Louis Frishman, who came to Spring Valley in 1951 and built a small 150-member Reform congregation focused on social action and community involvement into a 900-member synagogue with a waiting list, died on Feb. 6 after a long illness. He was 89.
He inspired his congregants to get involved in the community. He ruled Temple Beth El in a firm, but loving style, making certain that the work he thought needed to be done — whether educational, philanthropic, artistic, or activist — happened. A man of action, he believed in leading by example, even if that meant waking up to serve breakfast to the poor at 6 a.m.
I purchased a pair of boots from Zappos.com, the online retailer, but they just weren’t right. I wanted to return them, but I also wanted to check out another pair of boots. Complicating what could have been a straightforward exchange was that I had initially paid through Paypal, which charged my American Express card, and I now wanted to apply a $50 gift certificate to the new pair of boots.
When I finally got around to dealing with this at 10 p.m., I was greeted by one of Zappos employers, whom I’ll call Tiffany.
“Hi. How are you today, Marla! What can I do for you!”
For two years, Joe Allen was privy to the unfolding story of how one small organization dreamed it could make a difference in the world — and did.
His film, “20 Million Minutes,” tells of the decision by JCC Rockland in 2010 to dedicate its 2012 JCC Maccabi Games to the 11 Israeli Olympians murdered by terrorists in Munich in 1972, and then pressing ahead with a campaign to obtain a minute of silence at the 2012 London Olympics in their memory. The movie premiers at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 — a harbinger of the organization’s annual film festival in April.
The screening will take place at Rockland Community College’s Cultural Arts Center, 145 College Rd., Suffern. Tickets cost $18 and are available at www.jccrockland.org.
Purim, the raucous holiday that urges us to eat, drink, and be merry enough so that we cannot differentiate between the names of Haman, the villain, and Mordechai, the hero, often arrives in the calendar at around the same time as the Indian holiday of Holi.
Holi, also known as the Holiday of Colors, resembles Purim in spirit, permeating the streets of India with joyous exuberance. People smear one another with bright paints, or squirt colored powders at one another in celebration. The stories that accompany each holiday share some similarities, including a righteous hero who refuses to bow down to a wicked king and a plot to kill the hero and his followers.