Batman, the FBI and Torah

The rabbi to the FBI’s behavioral science unit — whatever that means — will speak Tuesday (April 27)  at Young Israel of New Rochelle.

Rabbi Cary Friedman’s 8 p.m. talk is called “Bringing Spirituality to the FBI.”

ltHolyTorahAuthorFriedman, an Orthodox rabbi from Jersey, is a chaplain and motivational speaker “specializing in law enforcement-related issues,” according to a bio.

He’s also a big fan of the top secret agent around. Batman.

According to a profile from the New Jersey Jewish News, Friedman finds universal messages in the stories of the Caped Crusader and incorporates them into his teachings. He’s written a book called “Wisdom from the Batcave: How to Live a Super, Heroic Life.”

imagesOne reviewer on Amazon calls it “possibly the most enjoyable self-help book ever.”

Friedman explains:


When I was growing up, my house was filled with survivors. My mother and her friends would talk about whatever. But there was a certain need to confront a world that’s uncertain and a little scary. They made a conscious, deliberate, decisive effort to make some order of the world…

…as a kid, I latched on to Batman. It’s taken years to work out, but he resonated with me, because he also tried to make sense of a scary world. He saw his parents murdered before his eyes and tried to inject a sense of justice. But he did so without superpowers. He was an ordinary person who offered universal lessons about dealing with adversity.


No word on whether Friedman will talk Batman in New Ro.

Or where Robin fits in.

Tonight’s subject in New Rochelle: The cost of Jewish day schools

Young Israel of New Rochelle will host a program tonight (Monday, June 8) on one of the most pressing issues in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism today: how families can afford the costs of day schools.

The program — “Day School Education in Challenging Times: Family, Institutional, and Communal Responsibility” — is being presented by the UJA-Federation of NY’s Westchester Region.

Start time: 8:30 p.m.

From a release, here’s the line-up:


Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week (that’s him), will moderate the panel discussion, which will feature experts in the field of Jewish education: Amy Katz, associate director for the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education; Scott Shay, past chair of UJA-Federation’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal and chair of the Task Force on Communal Jewish Education; and Dr. Jon Woocher, chief ideas officer at the Jewish Education Service of North America.


Also co-sponsoring are most of the region’s modern Orthodox congregations: Congregation Anshe Sholom in New Rochelle, Hebrew Institute of White Plains, Young Israel of Harrison, Young Israel of New Rochelle, Young Israel of Scarsdale, and Young Israel of White Plains.

A crash course in Judaism (for Jews)

I’ve written before about Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder of the National Jewish Outreach Program.

He’s basically dedicated his life to bringing lapsed Jews back into the fold. The NJOP has started programs like Shabbat Across America and Read Hebrew America that have been tremendously successful, especially given the great obstacles that all outreach programs face.

That’s him at the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation in 2007.

Tomorrow (March 18), Buchwald is beginning one of his “Crash Courses in Basic Judaism” at Young Israel of New Rochelle (1149 North Ave.).

It’s a FREE three-week program that will cover belief in God and prayer (tomorrow), the Sabbath and Jewish observance (March 25), and sexuality (April 1). All classes begin at 7:30 p.m.

New Rochelle is home to one of the fast-growing Jewish communities around, including a vibrant Orthodox community. But there are certainly plenty of unaffiliated or secular Jews around — and they are the folks that Buchwald hopes to reach.

The program is being offered in conjunction with the Westchester Jewish Connection, a new outreach program based at Young Israel of New Rochelle. I plan to write more about the Connection once I know more about it.

For info or to register: 646-871-4444.

15 years later, new synagogue will be dedicated

It’s been a long haul for Young Israel of New Rochelle.

tjndc5-5b3ghwc62ps14zxle6jt_layout.jpgThe Orthodox congregation announced back in 1993 that it had outgrown its home, a former church on North Avenue (that’s it), and that it would build a larger synagogue a short distance away on the road.

Then came lots of community opposition (“It’s too big and will cause too much traffic.”), lawsuits and daunting approval processes. There were charges of anti-Orthodoxism, even among Jews, and all sorts of nasty stuff.

But Young Israel persevered. The legal process ended in 2006. And the new synagogue was built (but not without squabbling with contractors).

I just got an email saying that Young Israel of New Rochelle will open and dedicate its new home this Sunday, with a procession and dancing in the street.