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On Wednesday night, young adults, Birthright alumni and Hillel students, public officials, rabbis, agency leaders, synagogue presidents, the affiliated and the unaffiliated, long-time federation supporters and new friends all came together at Temple Emanu-El in Closter to honor Bob and Maxine Peckar at our Community Solidarity Gala. More than 300 people filled the room—including an array of public officials: US Senator Frank Lautenberg, US Congressman Steve Rothman, NJ Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney and Bergen County Freeholder John S. Hogan. The night was special for many reasons. Pictured here: Ilan Bruhim, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Peckar.

It is always special to honor accomplished, inspirational leaders in our community. Maxine has been a member of the Board of Women's Philanthropy and is a Ruby Lion of Judah. Bob has been a member of the Board of UJA Federation, has led a Men's Mission to Israel, has been an active supporter of the Commerce & Professionals Division and has spoken on behalf of UJA on many occasions. More recently, in addition to his support of UJA, Bob is President of a new initiative at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, (a UJA NNJ beneficiary agency) called "Jewish Home at Home", which provides geriatric care management for seniors wishing to remain in their homes despite their need for medical and other support (Maxine is Vice President of Jewish Home at Home).

Bob and Maxine were joined by their family and a room full of admirers who heard Bob share his thoughts about the meaning of federation in sustaining community and of the need for solidarity. He also described his and Maxine’s upbringing in Bergenfield and all the experiences that brought them to their deep commitment to the Jewish community.

In his keynote address, Bob expressed the following convictions:

"Each of these (community service) endeavors stands on its own; however in combination they define the goodness, the values and great privilege we all have to live in such a wonderful Jewish Community.

This very special combination of services, programs and meaning has one home and, ladies and gentlemen, you are in that home tonight; it is our UJA Federation.

Federation is that home because it is where all the parts come together both in terms of financial support and in terms of being the place where the diverse needs of our community are defined and addressed. Therefore, this first UJA Federation Community Solidarity Dinner is the place where we have gathered to celebrate the fullness of our community in all its individual parts and through that its combined strength of character and resolve."

Pictured here (L to R), event co-chairs, Howard and Anita Blatt, presented Maxine and Bob with a UJA NNJ bowl by renowned glass artist Steve Resnick. The bowl represents the highest honor UJA NNJ bestows on those who have shown exemplary leadership and commitment to our community.

See the virtual journal that was prepared for the Gala.

We are also pleased to announce that the Gala added to the momentum of our 2011 Annual Campaign, generating $200,000 in additional contributions.

Finally, we also want to thank everyone on the event committee who, along with Anita and Howard Blatt, worked so hard to make the evening a great success: Virtual Journal co-chairs Betty Hershan, Chuck Ludmer, and Dan Silna:  Silent Auction co-chairs Eileen Greenspan and Judi Reisman; and Young Leader co-chairs Lindsey and Marc Blatt, Simara and Ilan Bruhim, and Tiffany and Steven Kaplan. 


Many in our community have been following the issue that arose in the aftermath of a same sex wedding announcement running in the Jewish Standard. The series of events has received wide media coverage, not only here in NNJ, but also nationally and even internationally.

This is a challenging issue, one about which people can—and do—disagree. However, what is clear and indisputable is our responsibility as this community’s federation, to do everything we can to serve as the convener and to help foster an open, candid, respectful and productive dialogue.

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive community. However, when disagreement arises about an issue of deep importance to many people, our responsibility is heightened.   Key parties need to come together, share views, air disagreements and search for common ground. An open discussion also could mean recognizing, with respect, that there might not be an easy resolution and, as a result, that our shared task is to focus on ways to keep our community intact and united around the many critical issues and values we share.

I was a participant at an initial meeting that took place at Temple Emanu-El of Closter last Thursday, October 7th, to begin discussions about the announcement in the Jewish Standard and what occurred in the weeks after the announcement ran. To follow up, UJA NNJ and the Jewish Community Relations Council are convening a working group next week, under the auspices of the Jewish Leadership Forum of JCRC, to discuss next steps in the formulation of a community-wide program to foster greater intra-Jewish dialogue and understanding.

The meeting will take place next Wednesday at UJA Federation headquarters. An invitation was sent by Rabbi Neal Borovitz, JCRC Chair, and Joy Kurland, Regional JCRC Director, to a diverse group of rabbis, local agency executives and other prominent communal leaders.

We look forward to continuing the dialogue and to working together on behalf of our community. The meeting will not be open. However, I recognize my responsibility to keep you—the leadership of our community—informed about our progress and will do so in future Updates.


As we look back on this week, on the excitement and enthusiasm of the Community Solidarity Gala and on the challenging issues we face as a community, we are optimistic, engaged…and ready to act. We thank you for your support, involvement, interest and leadership.

Shabbat Shalom,




Economic Crisis—How to Get Help—and Give Help:

UJA NNJ remains focused on addressing the ongoing impact of the economic crisis. If you need help—or know someone who needs help—click here. We welcome information on any job openings and, of course, generous support of UJA NNJ’s Economic Crisis Fund.

Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson Community Conference this Sunday in Teaneck

  • Join JFS of Bergen and North Hudson at a “Community Conference” entitled “Thriving in Today’s Economy—Developing Your Plan” this Sunday, October 17 from 12:45-4:45 PM at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

The conference will provide strategies on managing financial and career challenges. Keynote speakers include Eli Amdur, Senior Coach and Advisor, Amdur Coaching and Advisory Group; and Bergen Record columnist David Giller, Esq., Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense Attorney.

To see the conference flyer click here; for a brochure, click here and for the program schedule, click here.

UJA NNJ is proud to join many local organizations as a co-sponsor. 



  • UJA NNJ’s Lion of Judah Donors are invited to the annual Lion of Judah Luncheon on Thursday, October 21 at 11:00 AM at the Jewish Museum of New York City.  Lunch will be preceded by a Curator’s viewing of the museum’s newest special exhibit, Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, which the New York Times called “…a puckish, punchy look at the women’s art movement…”  For further information or to make a reservation, visit or get in touch with Barbara Joyce, Women’s Philanthropy Assistant Director, at or 201-820-3953.
  • Super Sunday is December 12th!  Please sign up today to join the team making calls on Super Sunday at UJA NNJ Headquarters. Community Division Chair, Dave Smith, Honorary Chair, George Hantgan, and Co-chairs Howard Chernin and Jonathan Rochlin are excited about this incredibly important day for our entire community.  To register, help recruit or to get more information, please visit or get in touch with Allison Halpern at or (201) 820-3955.

Synagogue Leadership Initiative

  • Imagine the intriguing ideas that can emerge when 25 rabbis meet for a community night of learning, education and fun—and more than 25 classes! Presented by the North Jersey Board of Rabbis and co-sponsored by UJA NNJ and a number of local synagogues, Sweet Tastes of Torah will be held Saturday evening, November 20, at Temple Israel & Jewish Community Center, Ridgewood. After the studying, enjoy dessert and schmoozing. The program and registration information are available online at

Shalom Baby

  • Shalom Baby, an outreach program of UJA NNJ’s Synagogue Leadership Initiative, caters to our diverse community. Ten families, including moms, dads, grandparents, and children, attended a recent Shalom Baby playgroup held at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge.
  • Shalom Baby is planning a November 23rd Pizza Pajama Party in collaboration with The PJ Library, which will be hosted by Temple Emanu-El in Closter. The price of admission is a new pair of pajamas to be donated to The Pajama Program. Pre-registration is required. Please email Cheryl Averta, Shalom Baby Coordinator, at for more information.

Bonim Builders

  • Bonim Builders has announced its volunteer opportunities for October and November. To register for these projects or for more information, please call Stacey Orden, Bonim Coordinator, at 201-820-3903, or email For more information about Bonim, visit

Jewish Educational Services

  • Melton I and II classes start the week of October 18th – don’t miss this opportunity to explore how the texts of our tradition, both ancient and modern, speak to the realities of modern-day life.
  • Post-Melton classes will start the week of November 15th.  Courses include Beyond Borders: Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict, The Splendid Siddur, and Jewish Denominations: Addressing the Challenges of Modernity. Additional information and registration is available on-line:
  • JES helps Jewish teachers grow from good to great and empowers schools to transform their vision to reality!   Teachers can explore creative ways to make the prayer book, Bible, and other Jewish texts come alive for their students at the Fall Professional Development Day for Congregational School Educators (FPDD) on Sunday morning, November 7th.  Entitled Unlocking the Door to Jewish Texts, the FPDD will be part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning.  Workshops include Teaching Prayer Through Active Learning, Weaving the Arts into Text Study, Beyond the Textbook, and Israel as Text. Additional information and registration is available on-line at
  • Did attending a Jewish overnight camp make a difference in your life? Adults who attended Jewish overnight camp as children are more likely to be more Jewishly engaged.  Email your story how overnight Jewish camp affected you to
  • Northern New Jersey will be one of more than 250 communities world-wide hosting the Global Day of Jewish Learning event on Sunday, November 7th when Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz will complete his monumental translation and commentary on the Talmud. This Event in Northern New Jersey will occur at several sites: the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly; The Frisch School in Paramus; Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford; and the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne, and, as part of Jewish Educational Services’ Fall Professional Development Day, at UJANNJ Headquarters in Paramus.

Jewish Community Relations Council

  • With election year activities well underway, the JCRC and its Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee will co-sponsor two Candidates Forums on Sunday, October 24. A morning debate at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge will feature the Democratic and Republican candidates for Bergen County Executive. An afternoon debate at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley will feature the Democratic and Republican candidates for the 5th Congressional District.
  • The Regional JCRC Board will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00 PM at UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. Dan Kirsch will serve as Chair of the Regional Board which is comprised of 24 lay and professional representatives of the three participating federations (UJA NNJ, MetroWest and Central NJ.) Two other regional meetings are scheduled during the 2010-2011 program year. The Regional Board will be charged with the oversight and implementation of the operational work plan developed this past year by the Regional JCRC Strategic Planning Task Force.
  • The Israel and World Affairs Committee hosted the premiere of our new presentation called Hope for Peace in the Middle East: Understanding Israel on October 4th. Nearly 100 people viewed this multimedia presentation that offers a broad survey of contemporary Israel and provides a deeper understanding of the Middle East conflict.  It has been developed for general audiences, such as non-Jewish religious and civic groups. Training sessions for future presenters are scheduled for Wednesday, October 20 and November 10 at 7:30 PM at Federation. If you are interested in being trained to present this program in the community or would like to book this presentation for your synagogue, school, or other group, please call Sharon Rifkind at 201-820-3947 or email
  • JCRC, Hillel of Northern New Jersey, the Israel Programs Center, Stand With Us and the CRCs of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey will sponsor a forum on Monday, October 25 at 7:30 PM entitled Israel Under Siege: Anti-Semitism in a time of Apathy. The keynote speaker will be renowned scholar, Dr. Charles Small, Director and Founder of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA). Invitees include faculty from Northern New Jersey, MetroWest and Central NJ college campuses, area rabbis, and other interested parties.
  • The JCRC in cooperation with the CRC of UJC of MetroWest and JCRC of Jewish Federation of Central NJ, and other organizations and institutions, will sponsor a program entitled Focus on Iran: Insider Accounts of Human Rights Violations and the Threat of Nuclear Weapons - What We Can Do on Thursday, October 28, 7:30 PM at Kean University.
  • Intergroup Relations/Evangelical/Jewish Dialogue reconvened on October 5, facilitated by Rabbi Steven Sirbu and Rev. John Diomede. The topic was Social Justice. Future topics include Life After Death, Messiah and Messianic Teachings, Authority of Scriptures and Liturgy. Rabbi Sirbu and Rev. Keni Ashby will be featured speakers at the next JCRC Board meeting on November 15th and will present their experience as participants on this summer’s JCPA Jewish/African American Leadership Mission to Birmingham.
  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Task Force Meetings will take place on Sunday, October 31 and Monday, November 1 at UJA Federation of New York, 130 East 59th Street, New York. A featured speaker on Monday will be Rabbi Jack Bemporad, founder and Director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding (CIU), who will speak on Muslim-Jewish Relations and Muslims in America. The CIU works to bring people of all religious faiths together to promote open dialogue, mutual respect and theological understanding of the common foundations shared by the world's religions. Rabbi Bemporad recently led eight prominent American Imams and Muslim leaders on a study mission to Auschwitz and Dachau. As a result of their experiences, they issued a statement affirming the reality of the Holocaust and condemning Holocaust denial. Rabbi Bemporad also is a key liaison between the Vatican and the world Jewish community and has had numerous personal audiences with the Pope. He will be joined by Imam Mohamed Hagmagid, Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, VA.
    Other Sunday Task Force meetings will feature speakers on the Tea Party movement; the overall political landscape and issues resonating in the upcoming elections; President Obama's education "Blue Print" which sets out to repair many of the problems facing our nation's public schools; how the faith community is tackling the issue of education and controversial issues related to equity of funding, civil rights, teacher quality and community involvement; the Presbyterian Church and Israel; Iran and the Middle East Peace; Israel advocacy on campuses and countering the campaign to delegitimize Israel. For registration information, please click here to see the conference flyer or call Joy Kurland, JCRC Regional Director, at 201-820-3946.

Mitzvah Day

  • Less than a month until our 13th annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday, November 7th!  Choose from many different types of projects.  Families with young children can come to the Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford or Gerrard Berman Day School in Oakland for a mitzvah fair.  Volunteers will make gifts to benefit the immediate Jewish community, the broader community and children in Israel. Join an outdoor project at either New Bridge Landing Park in River Edge or Teaneck Creek Conservancy to help beautify those sites. And there’s also the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel where you can pack personal care packages for American soldiers overseas. 
  • Celebrating your bar or bat mitzvah this year? Find out how you can become a Junior Mitzvah Day Site Captain.

    No time on Mitzvah Day but want to help?  No problem!  Participate in any of the numerous drives taking place. 

    Visit\mitzvahday to view all the sites and to register. For questions, please email Alice Blass at or call 201-820-3948.

Israel Programs Center

  • The Israeli Shlichim (community Shaliach, Stuart Levy, and Youth Shlichot, Liron Karass and Hagar Nadel) are leading a core Israel engagement and education course at the Bergen Academy of Reform Judaism. The weekly course, entitled “The Israelis” for eighth grade BARJ students includes interactive dilemma style discussions and a first hand account from Israelis about its society and people. For other programming content, Liron can be contacted at and Hagar at
  • On Thursday November 4th at 7:30 pm, the Israel Programs Center will present the annual Yitzchak Rabin Memorial Lecture. This year’s speaker is Liel Leibowitz. His lecture is called, “The Way Out: Hope, Rage, Apathy, and the Future of the Jewish State”. Liel has just co-authored a book with Professor Todd Gitlin called, “The Chosen Peoples; America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election”. There will be a book signing and sale after the lecture. It is free and open to the community.
  • The Israel Programs Center Ulpan opened this week with nearly 90 participating students. Ulpan teaches Hebrew language skills including speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing. Courses are taught by experienced Israeli teachers from beginners to advanced levels in small, interactive classes. Day and evening classes are available at various locations throughout the community. It is not too late to begin! For more details call Galeet at (201) 820 3908 or register on-line.
  • Harel Skaat, one of Israel’s most popular singers of recent years will be performing at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades this Saturday evening October 16th at 8.30pm. Click here for more details.
  • Israel Line, the Israeli Consulate in New York’s email newsletter.

Partnership 2000

  • The Partnership 2000 program welcomed two new program coordinators this past week: Sarit Ron is the new P2K Community and Medical Task Force Coordinator and can be reached at or by calling 201-820-3907. Phyllis Miller is the P2K Education Task Force Coordinator, and can be reached at or by calling 201- 820-3919. We welcome them both to northern New Jersey and into the P2K family!
  • At the end of October the Education Task Force is sending New Milford Public High School social studies teacher Colleen Tambusko to Nahariya to formulate a joint Holocaust and social studies twinning program with Israeli educators. We look forward to reporting back to the community about Colleen’s visit to schools in Nahariya