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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As our secular year closes and 2015 begins, it is natural to look back a little at this past calendar year that has changed us in so many ways. There were headlines written this year that will forever stay in our memories.

The year was filled with incredible events that occurred around the world, as well as numerous challenges for the Jewish nation. Some days were marked by incredible tragedy and heartbreak, while others were uplifting and joyful. The earth is a different place now than it was a year ago; and as we embark on the journey of a new year, the Jewish Link of New Jersey is proud to bring you our international, national and local year 2014 in review.

January 2014

• Islamic militants belonging to a group called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) take control of Falluja, Iraq. • Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who served Israel for almost a half-century as a military and political leader, dies at the age of 85. • The Chief Rabbinate of Israel reaches an agreement with the Rabbinical Council of America to automatically accept letters from RCA members vouching for the Jewish status of Israeli immigrants.

• The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect. • The Senate votes to confirm Janet Yellen as the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. • The Taglit-Birthright Israel program expands eligibility for its 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26. • The Modern Language Association (MLA) condemns Israel and demands a boycott. • Actress Scarlett Johansson resigns as a global ambassador for the British-based charity Oxfam because of her involvement with Israeli company SodaStream.

• A federal judge tosses out a $380 million sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Yeshiva University by 34 former students of its high school for boys, MTA, stating that the statute of limitations has expired.

February 2014

• The Olympic Games begin in Sochi, Russia. • The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, in eastern Ukraine is firebombed. • Denmark’s government bans the religious slaughter of animals for the production of kosher and halal meat.

• Abraham Foxman announces his resignation as national director of the Anti-Defamation League after 27 years, effective July 2015.

• Yeshiva University ends the contract of men’s basketball coach Jonathan Halpert, who served the school for more than four decades. • The South Side Mikvah in Teaneck opens its doors for Friday night and Yom Tov immersion. • Paramus’ eruv is expanded to include Van Saun Park. • Two Teaneck students take top honors at the first ever Super Torah Bowl, a d’var Torah competition.

March 2014

• Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappears from radar in airspace over the Gulf of Thailand. Despite the largest and most expensive search in history, the plane is never found. • Close to half a million members of Israel’s Haredi population rally in Jerusalem to protest a proposed bill that would mandate them to participate in the Israel Defense Forces and would criminalize those that refuse conscription. • In one of many low-level skirmishes over the course of months, Palestinians fire rockets into Israel, sending Israelis into bomb shelters. Israel retaliates by sending aircraft strikes over several targets in the Gaza Strip. • Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is found guilty of accepting bribes in a corruption case.

• The CDC issues its initial announcement on an Ebola outbreak in Guinea. • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases a report on climate change, warning of its dangers to humanity.

• Yeshiva University is at risk of running out of unrestricted cash in the near-term future, warns Moody’s Investors Service. • YU-RIETS ordains 225 new rabbinic leaders; more than 40 hail from the greater Teaneck community. • Lawyers investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal (Bridgegate) release their findings, saying there is no evidence that Republican Governor Chris Christie knew about or had a hand in the lane closures that snarled local traffic for days. • Rabbi Yossi Stern, the founder and executive director of Project Ezrah, passes away at age 64.

April 2014

• NATO announces that it is suspending “all practical civilian and military cooperation” with Russia. This is in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces that Israel is suspending peace talks with the Palestinians after rival factions Fatah and Hamas announce a unity deal. • Gennady Kernes, the Jewish mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is shot in a suspected assassination attempt, leaving him in critical condition. • In Northern Nigeria, terrorists kidnap more than 250 young girls from a boarding school. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is blamed; more than 50 escape, while others are said to have been sold into slavery.

• The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations rejects J Street’s bid for membership. • Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million after being caught on tape making racist comments to his girlfriend. • An arm of the private equity firm Bain Capital purchases the Manischewitz Company. • A white supremacist kills a man and his grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then shoots and kills a woman at a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away. None of the victims are Jewish. • The Supreme Court upholds a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions.

May 2014

• An antisemitism survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League finds “deeply antisemitic views” are held by 26% of 53,000 people polled in 102 countries and territories covering approximately 86% of the world’s population. • Far right parties make gains in European Parliament elections. • The European Union bans the import of poultry and eggs produced in West Bank settlements. • A French national of Algerian origin kills four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, is charged with “murder in a terrorist context” and jailed. • Pope Francis travels to Israel and the West Bank, visiting the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and the West Bank security fence, among other sites. • The president of India names an Israel-friendly Narendra Modi as the country’s new prime minister.

• Hundreds gather at the fifth annual Yom HaShoah Rally, organized by the Yom Hashoah Mobilization Committee, at the Iranian UN Mission in Manhattan. • California’s Rialto school district apologizes after it assigns eighth-graders to write a research essay about whether the Holocaust actually occurred or if it was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

• Moriah School of Englewood’s Board of Trustees announces that Rabbi Daniel Alter, Head of School at the Denver (CO) Academy of Torah (DAT), will serve as Moriah’s next Head of School, beginning September 2015. • Two RYNJ students win the Jewish Agency’s U.S. Chidon Ha-Tanach competition. • Teaneck’s Temple Emeth’s Board of Trustees informs parents that its 20+ year old Early Childhood Center will close.

June 2014

• Hamas and Fatah swear in a unity government with Rami Hamdallah as prime minister. • Abdel Fattah el-Sisi officially wins Egypt’s presidential election with more than 96% of the vote. • Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin of the Likud party is elected president of Israel defeating Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua in a runoff vote. • Three Israeli teenagers, identified as Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, are kidnapped in the West Bank. An international campaign entitled “Bring Back Our Boys,” unites Jews all over the world. Three weeks later, Israeli authorities find the teens’ bodies and announce that the boys were believed to have been killed the night they were kidnapped. This incident is followed by the killing of an Arab teen, and subsequent riots and a surge of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

• The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) votes 310-303 to divest from three American companies that do business with Israeli security services in the West Bank. • Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, is upset in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. He resigns from Congress and immediately thereafter accepts a position as vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company at a compensation of $3.4 million.

July 2014

• A bill to naturalize Jewish descendants of expelled Jews unanimously passes in the Portuguese parliament making Portugal the only country besides Israel with a Jewish law of return. • Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes in eastern Ukraine after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile, according to the U.S. All 298 people aboard are killed. • ISIS captures a major Syrian oil field, and puts several parts of Syria under its control. • Israel launches its third major Gaza operation in six years, Operation Protective Edge. The campaign begins with 10 days of intensive airstrikes in Gaza. After several failed cease-fire attempts, a ground invasion of Gaza follows, yielding the exposure of a network of terror tunnels into Israel. • A riot by Palestinian sympathizers outside the Synagogue de la Roquette in central Paris traps some 200 people inside the building. A street brawl ensues between the rioters and dozens of Jewish men who arrive to defend the synagogue. • Most foreign airlines suspend flights for two to three days to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv after a Hamas-fired missile strikes nearby. • Iran and the major powers, led by the United States, agree to extend negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

• Bergen County synagogues and Jewish organizations hold memorial services for Israeli teens Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. • Six hundred people attend the Teaneck Community Collaborative Conference, a day dedicated to learning about educating and inspiring children, at Congregation B’nai Yeshurun. • Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute appoints Rabbi Moshe Mirsky to the position of Director of Religious Services. Mirsky succeeds long-time Center Rabbi Ira Kronenberg, who retires. • SINAI Schools and Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey (RYNJ) enter into a long-term lease-renewal agreement, ensuring that elementary school students with significant or complex special needs will continue to be educated in a Bergen County yeshiva.

August 2014

• Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins the first ever direct presidential election in Turkey. • The IDF releases the information that Hussam al-Qawasme, thought to be the ringleader of the Hamas cell that executed the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers June 9, was arrested. • Hamas and Israel agree to a cease-fire that ends their 50-day war. • ISIS continues its persecution and assassination of Christians in Iraq and Syria.

• Joseph Raksin, an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, is shot and killed on his way to shul in North Miami Beach. • A Jewish couple is accosted by pro-Palestinian assailants on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The incident prompts Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the head of Ramaz, to consider instructing students not to wear kippahs in public. • African American teen Michael Brown, 18, is shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death leads to days of unrest between residents of Ferguson and police.

• Rinat Yisrael names its new assistant, Rabbi Ezra Wiener, teacher and mashgiach ruchani of Torah Academy of Bergen County. • The Young Israel of Teaneck announces that Rabbi Beni Krohn will serve as its new spiritual leader.

September 2014

• ISIS dominates discourse at the UN General Assembly. • ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of American-Jewish journalist Steven Sotloff. It is revealed that while Sotloff was held captive in Syria, a network of more than 150 of his friends and acquaintances raced to delete information from the Internet and media reports that discussed his connection to Judaism and Israel. • Kiev’s oldest synagogue is the target of a firebomb that burst into flames outside the building on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. • The IDF nabs a group of Palestinian terrorists, thwarting a planned terror attack set for Rosh Hashanah. • Scotland’s bid for independence from the United Kingdom is defeated. • A coalition of military forces from the United States, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan launch air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

• The U.S. has its first confirmed cases of Ebola, which dominates news in West Africa and the world.

October 2014

• At the Canadian National War Memorial on Parliament Hill, radical Muslim Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shoots Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial sentry duty. He is shot dead by Parliament security personnel. • Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick is shot in the head in an assassination attempt, surviving to seek the number 33 candidate spot on the Likud slate in the Knesset. • A 3-month-old baby is killed and seven other people injured in a terrorist attack at a Jerusalem light rail station, when a Palestinian plows his car into a crowd of people waiting for the train.

• An Obama administration official calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” prompting worldwide headlines. • The Met Opera’s The Death of Klinghoffer opens in NYC, prompting nationwide protests. • Rabbi Barry Freundel of Washington, DC, is arrested pending an investigation for having videotaped women in the National Capital Mikvah. • The Rabbinical Council of America announces the formation of a committee to review conversion processes, to be headed by Englewood’s Rabbi Shmuel Goldin.

• Teaneck’s Rabbi Steven Pruzansky resigns as head of the Bergen County Beit Din. • Robert Hoenig is named executive director of Project Ezrah. • The Shabbos Project kicks off a worldwide kiruv event focusing on the observance of Shabbos. • Jewish Center of Teaneck announces reorganization. • RYNJ dedicates Aliza Flatow Girls Middle School Wing.

November 2014

• Two Palestinian terrorists enter Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue during shacharis services in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, attacking the praying congregants with axes, knives, and a gun. They kill four Jews and a responding Druze Israeli police officer. They also injure seven other worshippers. The two attackers are shot dead by the police. • Scholars, artists, rabbis and authors from around the world participate in the world’s first global Jewish learning webcast event, the Global Day of Jewish Learning, broadcast free of charge via Google Hangouts On Air. • New International Beit Din forms to assist with the plight of Agunot.

• In midterm elections, the Republican Party wins a majority of seats in the House and the Senate to take control of Congress.

• Moriah dedicates the Yocheved Orbach Campus. • Bergen County’s Yeshivat He’Atid enters into a contract to purchase a property to build a yeshiva in Teaneck.

December 2014

• Taliban gunmen attack the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan. 145 people are killed, most of them children. • Israeli government disbands; new elections are set for March 2015. • The United States and France arrive at a $60 million lump sum agreement to settle claims by survivors deported to Nazi camps via the French rail system. • The Pope’s Christmas message focuses on the persecution of those under threat from ISIS. • Vienna becomes the home of the world’s first permanent museum dedicated to the story of the Kindertransport.

• President Obama issues an executive order on illegal immigration and renews diplomatic relations with Cuba; Alan Gross is released from prison as part of an exchange. • After five years of review, the Senate Intelligence Committee releases a report on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era. It reveals that “CIA detainees were tortured.” • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden marks the beginning of the Chanukah holiday by taking part in a candle-lighting ceremony on the White House lawn. “Jewish heritage is American heritage,” Biden says.

• Longtime rabbi of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, Rabbi David Feldman, passes away. • The Jewish Link of Bergen County renames itself the Jewish Link of New Jersey, expanding coverage into Essex and Union counties. • The Jewish Center of Teaneck enters into an agreement with Heichal Hatorah, a boys yeshiva, to continue operations.

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