The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County Holds Hanukkah Coloring Contest
To spread the Hanukkah holiday spirit, the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County partnered up with local artists for its first annual Hanukkah coloring contest. Choosing first place was rather difficult, but the winner is Viktoria F. Second place goes to Autumn H. Finally, third place goes to Andrew P. The Jewish Heritage Museum is pleased to share a couple of coloring sheets that deserve an honorable mention from Ghana! The museum would like to thank those who participated, and are looking forward to next year’s contest!
For more information please visit https://www.jhmomc.org.
Aberdeen Celebrates Hanukkah
The third night of Hanukkah was the occasion for a township-wide celebration in Aberdeen. Organized by Sar Aaron and Devora Ross of Congregation Bet Tefilah and jointly sponsored by Temple Beth Ahm, Temple Shalom, Congregation Bet Tefilah and the Aberdeen Township Recreation Department, the evening’s festivities kicked off with a menorah lighting on the grounds of Township Hall. Keyboard accompaniment was supplied by Asher Tesser, over 100 participants enjoyed jelly doughnuts brought specially from Lakewood by Township Event Coordinator Brittany Shea, while the fire department staged a gelt drop from a fire truck bucket to fuel the games of dreidel played under the marquee set up for the purpose. Fire pots and good spirits kept the chill at bay.
Workshop Trains Houses of Worship Security Leaders to Develop and Improve
Emergency Operations Plans
Forty lay leaders, clergy, and other professionals from 20 houses of worship representing many faiths gathered at Rutgers Hillel, Dec. 8, for an Emergency Operations Planning Workshop organized by Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey and co-presented with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP).
The workshop emphasized an all-hazards approach encompassing planning for security incidents plus a wide range of other emergencies. FEMA’s Race A. Hodges, faith-based capacity building specialist, walked the group through how to develop and improve emergency operations plans. Attendees and trainers shared lessons learned from real-life experience.
“Jewish Federation’s Security Initiatives enable houses of worship to continually improve awareness and preparedness for emergencies—whether from violence, cyber threats, or natural disaster,” said Susan Antman, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ Executive Director.
During an incident, when things can be chaotic, is not the time to identify roles, responsibilities, and actions,” added Amy Keller, Federation’s Director of Security Initiatives. “This workshop helps organizations move emergency planning off their “to-do-as-soon-as-possible” list and make it happen now.”
Barbara L Bascom, Security Committee Chair at Temple Beth Miriam of Elberon, said, “This Workshop came at the right time. We looked at the task of creating a plan as a major hurdle. We gathered ‘too much’ information from online sources, which made the task more intimidating. Then we received the invitation to Federation’s workshop. Now, I am sure we are ready for the job.”
Keller explained Governor Murphy recently signed legislation requiring places of worship capable of seating more than 500 people to prepare and maintain emergency operations plans in coordination with local fire, law enforcement, and emergency response agencies.
For more information, including on future sessions, contact email@example.com.
Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick Announces Events
Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick has announced its calendar of upcoming events for the first half of 2023.
Upcoming Events for 2023
02/12 Shabbat Dinner & Services
03/05 Trivia Night
03/25 Dueling Pianos
04/30 Community-wide celebration of Israel at 75, including a PJ Library event for the kids followed by a L’dor V’dor concert for everyone. Details to follow.
05/12 Lag B’Omer Shabbat Dinner & Services
05/21 Family Fun Day
06/03 Night at the Races
06/09 Summer Sendoff Shabbat Dinner & Services
Be on the Lookout
Mah Jongg Madness
Bike Rides and Hikes
Trip to Sourlands Mountain Distillery
For more information about the temple please visit https://bnaitikvah.org.
Learning Through Names, Not Numbers
Twenty-three 8th-12th grade students across Monmouth and Ocean Counties are participating in the nationally recognized and award-winning Names, Not Numbers© program, created by Tova Rosenberg, at Congregation Torat El, in Ocean, New Jersey.
Through generous support by a prominent national foundation, funding from Congregation Torat El, the B’nai Sholom/Beth El Foundation, and private donors, CTE brought this unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our community.
The students interviewed and filmed Holocaust survivors, creating an oral history documentary after learning about filmmaking, interviewing, and the historical context of the Holocaust. The students learned about interviewing skills from CTE’s Robert Solomon, an experienced journalist and educator. Chaya Friedmann, Ed.D., a local Jewish educator and coordinator of the Names, Not Numbers© program, taught Holocaust history. Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun, CTE’s spiritual leader, Dr. Shira Meyer, CTE’s volunteer Co-Coordinator, and Rachel Weitzenkorn, LCSW, the Director of Youth Education and Engagement work with the students to create a rich, collaborative experience.
As part of the program, students visited Chhange, Monmouth County’s Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education. They received an immersive experience with Dale Daniels, Susan Yellin, and Mimi Werbler, who guided them through exhibits, stories, and first-hand interviews of survivors. The philosophy of Chhange is to view the Holocaust from a resilient, survivor-focus rather than a perpetrator’s perspective. The visit to Chhange was meaningful and enriching.
Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making©, an unforgettable film of the survivors’ stories and the students’ experience during the process, will be screened on March 26, 2023 at Congregation Torat El. The film will highlight students interviewing three Holocaust survivors, Arthur Spielman, Eva Wiener and Hannah Wechsler, who have unique and life-changing stories.
To learn more, visit https://chhange.org.
Congregation Torat El’s Popular “Meet the Author” Series
The 2nd event of the series’ 6th season will be held over Zoom on Sunday January 15th. The author, Jonathan Dunsky, will be speaking from Israel about his book, A Death in Jerusalem—a historical mystery set in Jerusalem in 1952, when barricades and walls divided the eastern and western parts of the city.
The book deals with one of the most contentious political issues in Israel’s history: whether Israel should negotiate directly with Germany for reparations for the Holocaust—which reached a boiling point, when protestors stormed the Knesset.
Author, Jonathan Dunsky, is a student of history and avid reader of crime fiction. He combined these passions to create his protagonist, Adam Lapid, a Holocaust survivor who works as a private detective in the fledgling State of Israel.
There is no charge for this event but registration is required. Register and learn more about the “Meet the Author” series, which continues into the spring at https://www.torat-el.org/get-involved/upcoming-events/.
This ongoing series has been made possible by a grant from the B’nai Sholom/Beth El Foundation.
Makhelat HaMercaz Choir to Hold
Makhelat Hamercaz Jewish Choir of Central NJ is holding a Tu B’Shvat Kumsitz (sing along) on Sunday, February 5, 2023, 7:00 pm.at the Highland Park Community Center, 220 South Sixth Avenue, Highland Park. This is a free program with everyone singing favorite Israel songs to help celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday. It is not a concert and there is no admission fee.
Created in 2003, Makhelat HaMercaz Jewish Choir of Central New Jersey is the brainchild of two local cantors, Anna West Ott of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick and Sheldon Levin of Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen. Under their direction, the group has attracted over 50 singers from Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer and Somerset Counties. Dedicated to nurturing appreciation of and building community through Jewish music, Makhelat HaMercaz continues to broaden its musical repertoire spanning centuries and continents—religious, secular, classical, jazz, pop and folk tunes sung in Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Ladino. For more information please visit https://www.mercazchoir.org/about_us.
Echoes of The Holocaust: Survivors and Their Children and Grandchildren Speak Out
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg of Edison shared news that his book, Echoes of The Holocaust: Survivors and Their Children and Grandchildren Speak Out, has been adapted for the stage and will have its world premiere at the Legacy Theatre, Minneapolis, Jan. 26-29. The rabbi’s book has been described as a potent depiction of personal strength and courage, and a testament to the power of the human spirit. Reviews on Amazon when the book was first published, included, “The stories are infused with aspirations, defiance, will to live, survival, search for survivors and occasional reconnections, uncanny tenacity and perseverance, not without a struggle, to move on… and build/re-build family lives.” Rosenberg served as rabbi at Congregation Beth-El, Edison, until 2015.
For more information please visit https://bernhardrosenberg.com.
Temple Shalom Debuts Torah Tots
Temple Shalom, Aberdeen, is introducing a new Torah Tots program. It is a free program for parents and their children from ages 2 1/2 to pre-K. The program is open to the community.
Children will have fun learning about Jewish holidays with stories, crafts, music, time with Rabbi as well as meeting other families. The first session was December 18th for Hanukkah. Upcoming sessions are:
• February 5 for Tu B’Shevat
• March 5 for Purim
• April 2 for Passover
• May 7 for Shabbat.
For more information, contact David Gronlund-Jacob, the Religious School director by emailing Shalom@templeshalomnj.org or call 732-566-2621.
Temple Beth Ahm of Aberdeen Welcomes Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Edelstein
Recently, the members of Temple Beth Ahm of Aberdeen installed Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Edelstein, a 2021 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Rabbinical School. In conjunction with his rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Edelstein also completed a master’s degree in Jewish Thought, concentrating in Kabbalah and Hasidic literature
Rabbi Edelstein is an avid outdoorsman, having spent much of his youth as an active BSA participant and earning his Eagle Scout Award in 2007. Since moving to Aberdeen, Rabbi Edelstein has joined Monmouth Council, BSA as Council Chaplain and is active in promoting Jewish Scouting, including providing rabbinic guidance for the National Jewish Committee on Scouting’s Kosher and Shomer Shabbat trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
Rabbi Edelstein’s longtime friend, Cantor Jacob Greenberg, performed the installation ceremony and gave a touching tribute, praising Rabbi Edelstein for his unwavering commitment to Judaism. The event was well-attended by Temple Beth Ahm members, and the congregation enjoyed an extravagant dessert reception following the ceremony, with a performance from Jewish a cappella group Tizmoret. Aberdeen Mayor Fred Tagliarini was present at the event as well.
Rabbi Edelstein became Temple Beth Ahm’s Rabbi in 2021 and has been warmly welcomed by the community since arriving in Aberdeen. “We’re thrilled to have Rabbi Edelstein as our spiritual leader,” said Temple Beth Ahm Co-President Matthew Kaufman. “His love of Judaism shines through in all he does, and we’re grateful for the energy he brings to the community.”
Co-President Erin Klein concurred, “Rabbi Edelstein has been a wonderful addition to Temple Beth Ahm. We’re so happy he’s found his home here.” For more information please visit https://www.templebethahm.org.
Holocaust Education Bill Passes NJ Senate Committee
On December 1, 2022, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey testified in front of the NJ Senate Education Committee in support of bill, S3145 aimed at improving Holocaust and genocide education in NJ public schools.
The bill, which “requires Commissioner of Education to distribute survey to school districts regarding instruction on Holocaust and genocides”—an important first step in the process, was passed by the Committee.
Holocaust and genocide education is mandated in the state of NJ, however there is no uniform structure or set curriculum. Complying with the mandate ranges from assigning a book, offering an elective course, or teaching as part of the World War II history unit.
In July 2022, members of Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Governor’s Council met with NJ Senator Vin Gopal (NJ-11), NJ Senate Education Chair, to brief him on Federation’s work addressing antisemitism, including needs and opportunities to improve the NJ Holocaust education mandate.
As a result, NJ Senate bill (S3145) and Assembly bill (A4720) were introduced.
The JCRC continues to work with Sen. Gopal’s office on further steps, and coordinate with the NJ Commission of Holocaust Education to work on the survey as well as introduce a new Holocaust and genocide curriculum for students in elementary and high school.
For more information about the JCRC, visit jewishheartnj.org/jcrc.
Food Support Programs Meet Growing Demand
The Executive Director of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Monmouth County recently announced that the organization’s food support programs surpassed all expectations in meeting the needs of homebound elderly throughout Monmouth County and food insecure families in the city of Asbury Park.
“Our food support programs delivered a record number of meals and family food packs through our Kosher Meals on Wheels Program and our Nourish Asbury Food Pantry,” said Ms. Kornfeld, the agency’s Executive Director. Facing a challenging environment that included an economic downturn and the lingering effects of the pandemic, the organization still managed to deliver the equivalent of 4,000 meals each week for the past year, to over 175 seniors and an average of 275 families. The program’s census surpassed previous years and Nourish Asbury Food Pantry was recognized as the largest pantry in the county. Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Monmouth County is a 46-year-old, non-sectarian human service organization that is licensed by the state to provide mental health and addiction recovery services. Its food support services are just two of over a dozen programs the agency provides to both the Jewish community and the greater Monmouth County area. For more information please contact Leslie Kornfeld at 732-774-6886.
Red Bank Chapter of Hadassah Honors Lois Green
Recently, close to 40 people from Red Bank Chapter of Hadassah gathered at the Molly Pitcher Hotel to honor Lois Green. Lois, longtime Hadassah member and fierce supporter of Hadassah endeavors, has made a generous donation to Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah program—the two Youth Villages in Israel owned by Hadassah that nurture Israeli children at risk and children who have come to Israel without parents. Lois’ gift will change and improve the lives of thousands of children.
After schmoozing with friends, attendees enjoyed a lovely lunch. The chapter was honored to hear from Marcie Natan, National Youth Aliyah chair and past Hadassah National President, and Naomi Adler, CEO of Hadassah. Lois also spoke and received a standing ovation.
It was a memorable day. For more information please visit https://www.hadassah.org/chapter/red-bank.
Judy Tabak Memorial Mitzvah Day
Metuchen Edison Colonia Hadassah is thrilled to announce that the annual Judy Tabak Memorial Mitzvah Day will resume in person this year. On Monday January 16th, participants will gather to make sandwiches and prepare baked zitis for residents of local shelters. In addition, simple crafts for children in the hospital as well as for veterans in the NJ Veterans Home will be made. Platters of baked goods will also be assembled to deliver to local first responders. Finally, toiletries and personal hygiene items will be collected to donate to “I Support the Girls.”
Those interested in participating—whether in person or simply by providing donated items and/or money to offset the cost of ingredients—can fill out the form at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f44aaac2eaafb6-mitzvah1#/.
The event will take place between 10:30 AM and Noon at the First Presbyterian Church at 270 Woodbridge Ave in Metuchen. Please bring non-perishable food items to contribute to their food pantry. Contact Wendy Kushner at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Temple Shaari Emeth Announces Finalization of Merger Installs New Assistant Rabbi, Jonathan Falco
History was made in Central New Jersey last month as the state of New Jersey awarded final approval on the merger of two Reform Synagogues: Temple Shaari Emeth, Manalapan and Temple Rodeph Torah, Marlboro. The merged congregation has retained the name Temple Shaari Emeth and is housed in the Temple Shaari Emeth building located at 400 Craig Road in Manalapan.
Both congregations share a long, proud history and a deep commitment to Reform Judaism and Tikkun Olam. Between the two congregations, they now serve more than 700 family units.
With a goal to create a stronger presence for Reform Judaism in Central New Jersey, appointed committees, with the approval of the Boards of Trustees and congregations of both synagogues, began discussions about potentially joining together in January of 2021. The committees quickly identified several synergies between the two congregations, including a hearty embrace of creative and musical worship, a passion for adult learning and a commitment to social action projects. The groups continued working together over the next 18 months to address the multiple facets of an integration, such as the retention and placement of staff from both organizations, a combining of the religious schools and youth groups, creating plans for the incorporation of sacred and memorial objects, designing a more robust lifelong learning program, enhancing worship services and much more.
Rabbi Melinda Panken continues as Senior Rabbi of the combined Temple Shaari Emeth, and Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin remains in his position as Cantor. To better meet the needs of the larger congregation and expanded programming, Rabbi Jonathan Falco was added to the clergy team as Assistant Rabbi in July of this year.
For more information please visit https://www.shaariemeth.org.
Dueling Pianos Event Keeps Hadassah-JCC Collaboration Going
Judy Tabak (z’l) of Edison was passionate about Hadassah, having served many leadership roles in the Metuchen-Edison chapter. She was also devotedly immersed in activities at the JCC of Middlesex County. Back in 2015, Judy was working on programming for Hadassah when she and her Co-VP, Aimee Braverman, saw an opportunity to bring the two vibrant groups together for a JCC-Hadassah evening of dinner and fun. Since that first event in the spring of 2016, which featured Lincoln Richman’s presentation of “Jews in Rock & Roll,” a hardworking and enthusiastic committee from both organizations continues to sustain a successful annual fundraising project that keeps attracting Hadassah and JCC members and their friends. These events offer lively comedy, music or musical-comedy along with delicious food and camaraderie. The most recent program took place at the JCC on Saturday evening, November 19, where a “dueling pianos” act called The Flying Ivories filled the JCC with an audience of approximately 200 and a wonderful deli dinner catered by Deli King of Clark. The Flying Ivories rocked the house with a series of pieces requested by the audience, and attendees reveled in the chance to sing along, dance and see old acquaintances they may have missed during the pandemic.
The Metuchen-Edison chapter of Hadassah merged in 2019 with Colonia Hadassah to form “MENCH” chapter, but the friendly collaboration between the Hadassah chapter and the JCC continues, in a win-win for both organizations. The project also keeps alive fond memories of Judy Tabak, who passed away suddenly in 2020 after making an indelible mark on the larger Metuchen-Edison community through several decades of hands-on involvement with Neve Shalom and its Sisterhood as well as Hadassah and the JCC.
Learn more about MENCH Hadassah at hadassah.org/region/southern-new-jersey or by contacting Chapter President Sandy Wunder. For more information about the JCC of Middlesex County, visit https://jccmc.org/.
IDF Combat Veterans Visit Highland Park/Edison Community
Peace of mind, a program developed by Metiv, the Psychotrauma Center in Jerusalem, helps IDF combat veterans transition to civilian life. This is a nine-month program where one vital week is spent in a Jewish community in the diaspora.
Recently, a unit of 16-18 men and two Israeli therapists came to Edison/Highland Park for therapy and fun interaction with the members, such as a bowling night, Friday night Shabbat dinner and a Saturday night comedy event.
The model includes all members of the community, regardless of their religious affiliation. The committee represents Ahavas Achim, Highland Park minyan, Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth, Ohav Emet and Congregation Ohr Torah.
At the moment, there are 150 units waiting for Jewish communities to go to. If anyone would like to find out more about the program and what’s involved in hosting a unit, please contact email@example.com.
Congregation B’nai Tikvah Holds a Hanukkah Party
A good time was had by all at Congregation B’nai Tikvah on Sunday, December 18th to celebrate Hanukkah. The day began with a Religious School Hanukkah party attended by students and their families and ended with a PJ Library Hanukkah Celebration (in partnership with the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey) that was attended by young Jewish families from throughout the community. It was a day filled with lots of smiles, crafts, music, dancing and more. Watching all the children rejoice in the holiday fun was an experience that brought much joy to everyone. At press time, the congregation was looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah all together on December 21st at the temple’s Hanukkah gathering where they eat, schmooze, light the menorah and enjoy each other’s company. They were also looking forward to concluding the holiday with its annual Chesed for Hanukkah event on Sunday, December 25th when participants will pack home-baked and store-bought sweets and then deliver them to the community first responders and neighbors who work on Christmas to thank them for their service.
Congregation B’nai Tikvah, would like to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.
For more information about the temple please visit https://bnaitikvah.org.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27. How is this Different from Yom Hashoah?
Yom Hashoah was established in the 1950s as a day when “the Jewish family mourns,” according to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Each year, on the Hebrew anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the 27th day of Nisan (usually in April), we pay tribute to those lost in the Holocaust and the heroism of the European Jews.
In contrast, the resolution for International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), which was introduced by the Israeli delegation to the UN and unanimously passed by the General Assembly in 2005, designates January 27 every year, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, for international recognition of the Holocaust and all the forms of Nazi persecution and other genocides.
IHRD is meant for everyone to remember all victims of the Holocaust, encourages the development of educational programs to help prevent future genocides, and explicitly rejects Holocaust denial and revisionism.
This IHRD, local commemorations include:
• Jan. 26: Jewish Community Relations Councils and the African American Chamber of Commerce of NJ discuss antisemitism in NJ and lessons from the rise of the Nazi regime.
• Jan. 26: Chhange (the Center for Holocaust Human Rights and Genocide Education) conducts A Testament to Courage: International Holocaust Remembrance with John Withers II, whose book, Balm in Gilead, recounts the unique interaction of his father’s US Army company with former Dachau inmates during WWII.
• Jan. 29: Perrineville Jewish Center discusses Private Good Luck, a memoir of a teenage Jewish immigrant turned American infantryman in WWII.
For more information about IHRD please visit https://www.ushmm.org/remember/international-holocaust-remembrance-day.