Category Archives: New Jersey Jewish News

TSTI in the News- Granddad’s story earns audience in Israel

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From the New Jersey Jewish News: Read Original

July 10, 2013

Jessie Rievman’s grandfather Henry Freier died long before she was born, in fact while her mom was a teenager. But the 10-year-old from Short Hills has grown up hearing from her mother Randi about how playing soccer, as a little kid in what was then Czechoslovakia, helped him survive the Holocaust.

Some 70 years after that incident, his story helped his granddaughter reach her own goal: Jessie, who is passionate about both sports and art, created a display depicting his experiences, and it won her a trip to Israel — her first.

Jessie’s project was one of 35 finalists in the annual My Family Story-Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf International Competition organized by Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv. On June 13, Jessie and her grandmother Judy Freier joined a group of participants from around the world — most of them two or three years older than Jessie — at all-day celebrations held at the museum in Tel Aviv.

Around 80 fourth-graders in her religious school class at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange took part in the My Family Story program.

With the help of her parents, Randi and Josh, who helped her assemble information and get art supplies, and from her mother’s sister Ilene Brookler, who had done extensive research into the family history, Jessie put together a display giving their background and relating her grandfather’s story. She told how five-year-old Henry and his brothers, in what was then Czechoslovakia, got soldiers guarding a bridge to play soccer with them for three days — and then managed to cross that bridge to reach at least temporary safety.

“Jessie’s very creative and she’s competitive and goal-oriented,” her mother said. “She won’t settle for anything that isn’t perfection.”

Rabbi Ellie Miller, Senior Rabbi Daniel Cohen, and Mindy Schreff, the director of Linda and Rudy Slucker Religious School at the temple, ultimately chose two of the class’s entries to send to the museum — Jessie’s and a project by fellow fourth-grader Abbey Wish. Jessie’s was chosen as one of the 20 winners from abroad, and with that came a round-trip ticket to Israel, sponsored by the Grosskopf family.

“It was an amazing journey for all of our families,” said Miller. “We had so many outstanding and moving projects, it was hard to select just two that would be entered in the competition.”

The winners’ displays will be exhibited in the museum through July and are expected to be seen by thousands of visitors.

“To say we are excited is an understatement,” Miller said. “The museum expressed its admiration for the passion exhibited by our community in bringing this program to fruition. Our temple family was blessed to utilize the ‘My Family Story’ curriculum to connect our students to their personal stories, to their family stories, and to the greater story of the Jewish people.”

Jessie is away at camp and wasn’t available for an interview, but through her mother she summed up the whole experience: “My Family Story is a great program, and it gave me an incredible opportunity to visit Israel.”

Her grandmother had more to say. “In Israel and many of the Latin American countries, the students spend the better part of their school year working on this heritage project,” said Judy Freier. “Jessie’s class was introduced to the assignment two weeks before it was submitted to the international committee. It was an honor to be one of the 35 winners.”

Although Jessie’s project wasn’t among the top two winners, “It was highly emotional for me to see Jessie presenting her grandfather’s story and to know that through her project, my husband’s story will be on display at Beit Hatfutsot, for the world to see,” said Freier. “She, who has never met her grandfather, is keeping him alive. I get choked up every time I think about the whole experience. It was a very special day for me on many levels.”

by Elaine Durbach
NJJN Staff Writer

In the News: Passover 5773: Why these apps are different from all other apps

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.36.34 AMFrom the New Jersey Jewish News

by Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen, March 20, 2013

Passover is upon us and, as with all things Jewish, preparation is a key part of observing the festival.

If you use an iOS or Android tablet or phone, your mobile device can help you get ready to mark the retelling of our people’s seminal tale. Here are a few apps worth checking out.

Haggadah for Passover( Since the very word “Seder” means “order,” it is great to review the order of the Passover meal. This app lets you do just that. Better still, it is simple, accurate, and it doesn’t look like a kid’s app. In fact, this eHaggadah is good enough that one could easily use it as the framework of their seder, adding to it with readings and songs. If you use Android, then you might want to try one of the Haggadot in the Google Play Android store (

Can you name all ten plagues? In order? In Hebrew and English? If you answered “no,” then you’ll want to downloadPassover—The Ten Plagues(, a simple and fun app. It helps you learn (or relearn) the plagues that are said to have struck Egypt as a precursor to yitziat mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt. Instead of being dry and heavy-handed in its approach, this app uses colorful drawings and funny sounds to make learning enjoyable.

According to tradition, the Israelites left Egypt on the 15th of Nissan (the first day of Passover), and arrived at Mount Sinai on the sixth of Sivan. It is now Jewish practice to verbally keep track of the 49 days between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot by “Counting the Omer.” This period of ritual counting was intended to prepare our ancestors, and us, to receive the Torah. If you are anything like me, then you need daily reminders of actions that take place at a specific time each day; that’s whereSefirat HaOmer ( comes in handy. You can set a daily reminder, and when the alarm goes off you’ll even have the appropriate blessing in hand.

It is now tradition to study one chapter of the short Talmudic Text each Shabbat from Pesach to Shavuot. This short work of Pirkei Avot — Ethical Teachings — contains a great deal of wisdom from the early rabbis of our tradition. It is there we learn, “Do not say ‘I will study when I have the time,’ for perhaps you will never have time.”

Buy Ethics of the Sages (, $16.99) and set a fixed time between Passover and Shavuot to study. You’ll be amazed at how relevant these teaching are, even 2,000 years later.

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Our ancestors left Egypt and made their way to the land of Israel. Their 40 years of wandering helped insure they would not take their freedom, or their land, for granted. Millennia later we are once again free in the land of our ancestors. Here are two apps for 5773.

The 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference is over, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t learn about the U.S.-Israel relationship! The AIPAC Policy Conference 2013 app (, free) includes photos from the conference as well as videos of many of the talks and demonstrations. Among the speeches you’ll see and hear are Vice President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And because AIPAC is committed to working with any and all Israeli and American administrations, speeches from Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are found back to back.

If you want to learn to speak Hebrew, there are two main approaches you might take. First, you can move to Israel, register for an ulpan, and study for nine hours a day, six days a week, for ten weeks (give or take). It is intense, overwhelming, and a challenge — but it really works. Trust me on all counts!

The second way is through Rosetta Stone. The company’s offerings are pricey, but their approach really works. And with their TOTALe Studio HD system (, you can now access Rosetta Stone’s language acquisition courses on your iPad. I’m planning a congregational trip to Israel next December; I found myself needing a refresher course, so I recently became a subscriber.

Rabbi Cohen Leads A Group Of Congregants To Cuba

In Miami getting ready to board the flight to Cuba. Rabbi Cohen (not pictured here) along with Debi and Ross Miller, Vicki Moosen, Jill Bloom, Carla and Mitch Boden, Adam Leight, Cheryl Schneider, Alison Klein, Stephen Okinow, Brett Harwood, Elaine Cohen and Barbara Glickman are headed to Havana for the week. Each of them is bringing 15+ pounds of medical supplies to give to the Jewish community of Cuba.

2nd Grade Family Mitzvot Program

Second Grade Families spent time engaged in various activities designed to help them identify ways in which they can “partner” with God to help repair the world.  The students created a mural of their feet walking along the “yellow brick road” of mitzvot entitled “I can walk with God.”  We concluded the day with the families participating in two service projects: Tying blankets for Project Linus and tying packs of silverware for use at the Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen.

New From the New Jersey Jewish News… Responsive Reading – The week’s best arguments


Here is a great new feature from the New Jersey Jewish News. Article of interest and debate brought together in one place…


Judaism loves a good argument, but not just any argument. As the Mishnah teaches, “Every argument for the sake of heaven will in the end be of permanent value, but every argument not for the sake of heaven will not endure.” Bad arguments blossom on the web like weeds, choking out useful dialogue.

That’s where we come in – pointing you towards illuminating debates and away from the ugly gripes and personal attacks.

In each edition of “Responsive Reading,” we’ll scour the Web for provocative essays on Jewish life, Israel, spirituality, culture, and politics, and match them with equally provocative responses.

Think of it as a way to hone your own arguments, or as a chance to enjoy the tussle. Either way, we think “Responsive Reading” will be of permanent value.


Israel Turning Into Theocracy

It’s Drifting Away From the Liberal Ethos of World Jewry
By Eric Alterman (The Forward)
Alterman, a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College, argues that Israeli politics are increasingly dominated by ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular nationalists. The result is an assault on free speech, minority political rights, and civil liberties that could spell doom for Israel’s secular democracy. Read More

Spreading the myth of “Israel’s theocracy”

By Shmuel Rosner (Rosner’s Domain)
The former Chief US Correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz says Alterman doesn’t have his facts right. While unease toward some Israeli actions and policies “can be easily justified,” Alterman exaggerates the influence of Russian immigrants, the power of the ultra-Orthodox, and the chances that some troubling legislation will ever pass the Knesset. Read More

Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir

By Thomas L. Friedman (The New York Times)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist worries that Israel is alienating its supporters in the United States – with the possible exception of members of Congress, whose loyalty is “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Read More

Tom Friedman’s weird throwaway ‘lobby’ line

By Ron Kampeas (JTA)
Pro-Israel feelings come naturally to Congress, writes a veteran journalist. If anything, the pro-Israel lobby has lost influence over legislators who actually are more hawkish on Israel than some Jewish groups. Read More

Please, Mr. President

Impassioned plea for civil debate
By Leon G. Cooperman (New York Post)
In an “open letter” to Barack Obama, Short Hills hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman accuses the president of “setting the tenor of the rancorous debate” and engaging in “what so many have characterized as ‘class warfare.’” Read More

Billionaire Leon Cooperman Writes “Open Letter to President Obama”

By Joseph A. Palermo (The Huffington Post)
Stop “kvetching,” writes a historian. Big business has made billions of dollars by crashing the nation’s housing market, earned a hefty federal bail-out, and control much of the corporate media. Read More

The Linda & Rudy Slucker Religious School Registration/Payment for 2011/2012 school year

The Linda & Rudy Slucker Religious School is going GREEN!

Registration & payment for the 2011/2012 school year is a two step process.

1.) Complete online registration & payment.

Click this link: Religious School Registration

2.) Attached are other vital forms which need to be completed & returned to the

Religious School office as soon as possible.

Click this link: Supplemental Forms

Please be patient as we transition to this new system.

Feel free to call the religious school office with questions, 973-763-3793.