New Maps from NYNJ Trail Conference Arrived!

YAY: The two new maps (which come as a set) i ordered from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference arrived in my mailbox yesterday. They’re the brand-new (2012) edition of “North Jersey Trails,” and they include some places on my Bucket List, such as Mount Defiance in Ringwood State Park. There’s one Defiance hike, i see already, that involves passing right through the grounds of the New Jersey State Botanical Gardens. On the NYNJTC website the hike’s listed as “5 miles, moderate,” which should be a piece of cake for me and Tim, but there are a few tricky parts, I could tell from the online description by my impeccably accurate hero, Daniel Chazin. And there’s a comment by someone who did that hike using his directions last fall, and she confirms that it gets confusing just where i suspected it might: right in the parking lot of the Botanical Gardens!

Ah, well: i still look forward to this; it’ll be a new adventure. Too bad it’s such a shlep from Newburgh: it’s in the northeasternmost part of Passaic County, N.J., adjacent to Rockland County, N.Y., where to get there, you have to head west on Rt. 287 ’til everyone’s sick. But i still can’t wait to give it a try, and am hoping i’ll be able to talk Tim into a “side trip” through the Gardens. How bad could that be during, let’s say, the week after Easter, in the Garden State?

Newburgh’s “March of the Torahs” an Historic Event

Friday evening, Jan. 20, was a momentous night in the City of Newburgh: Some 300 congregants of Temple Beth Jacob, from Sunday-School youths to great-grandparents, marched with Rabbi Larry Freedman out of the Gidney Avenue home the synagogue has used for 53 years, carefully carrying their seven Torahs, or holy scrolls, with them. One of the Torahs was especially historic: Rescued from the Holocaust, it was obtained by TBJ several decades ago.
In the cold night air, the group passed the scrolls from person to person. Led by Cantor Anna Zhar, the procession was accompanied by spirited singing and the playing of drums, brass, woodwind and stringed instruments. And carrying their Torahs,  TBJ’s congregants bade farewell to their old house of worship and walked to 290 North St., just a block away.
TBJ, the oldest Jewish congregation in the city and one of the oldest in upstate New York, was founded in 1854 and had been housed in only three locations in all that time. The Gidney Avenue facility was built for them in 1958. Now TBJ, a Reform congregation, will be sharing 290 North St. with Agudas Israel, the Conservative congregation that serves the city and surrounding areas. The headquarters of the Jewish Community Center also plans to join both congregations at 290 North St., creating a single location for all of the area’s Jewish spiritual and social activities.
And so, in this unique moment, the TBJ congregants began their Sabbath worship service in one synagogue and ended it at another.

The marchers were warmly greeted at the door of their new home by Agudas Israel Rabbi Philip Weintraub; by many Agudas Israel members; by representatives of Jewish Family Services, the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County; and by Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy, among other dignitaries.
Congregation Agudas Israel and the Jewish Community Center sponsored a celebratory party for TBJ at 290 North St. as soon as TBJ’s worship service concluded.
The sharing of facilities by synagogues, thereby generating synergy as well as economies of scale, is happening more and more in liberal American Judaism, according to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Rabbi David Fine.

I spoke with Fine, senior consultant for congregational systems for the URJ, on Jan. 25, five days after the event.

“This is a time for great creativity for American Jewish congregations. We’re seeing new models of co-existence and collaboration,” he told me.
Fine came to Newburgh last year to help TBJ plan for the move and anticipate its implications. He describes his specialty as “mergers and alternatives to mergers.”
Of the TBJ move, he said, “I think it’s great.”

To view Michael Goldin’s video, click HERE. Further pictures and a slideshow can be seen HERE on the TBJ Facebook page.


It Was an Idea …

From the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” files comes this headline tonight from a story datelined Stockholm, Sweden: “Youth Hostel Catches Fire after Attempt to Delouse Mattresses Using Sauna.”

I was completely satisfied with the headline, but a few people gathered around my computer insisted on my opening the story, so i’ve copy-and-pasted the first graf here:

A youth hostel caught fire on Tuesday in central Stockholm after staff attempted to delouse mattresses by stowing them in a sauna and turning up the heat.

G-d, i HATE when that happens!

The Bivalves are Kvelling!

At long last, the dwarf wedgemussel has made it to Page One of the TH-Record! Yep, on Saturday, there it was, in all its shelly splendor. Quite a handsome fellow, i might add, compared to the Indiana bat whose photo ran beside it.

I guess a pipeline company is resisting relocation of one of its gas compressors, claiming that the proposed alternate location would
endanger — and here i quote from the actual Page One caption — “a
mammal, a mollusk, a flower and a reptile.”  Sounds like a line from Karnak the Magnificent, doesn’t it?

(For the sake of thoroughness, I’ll add here that the other two Page One endangered species, besides Our Hero and the bat, were the small-whorled pogonia and the bog turtle.)

I wonder if Andy Warhol, when he predicted that “everyone” will at some point get 15 minutes of fame, meant to include bivalves.

Sad Prediction

Sad Prediction: Peyton Manning doesn’t play pro football again. It will turn out that he has cervical spinal stenosis, like his older brother Cooper. Here’s an excerpt from a review of the literature on this disease, from a German journal that i read in a version that was translated into English:

“The course is highly variable and even spontaneous remissions are
possible. However, the literature indicates that most patients’
symptoms deteriorate over the years. Deterioration can occur rapidly
and is then mostly irreversible. 75% of patients suffer phases of
neurological deterioration (6). There is evidence that about 5% of all
patients with asymptomatic spinal cord compression become symptomatic
each year (7). There are also patients with an acute clinical course.
These are mostly patients with significant but asymptomatic stenosis
who suffer acute spinal cord compression after a trivial injury,
sometimes leading to high-grade tetraparesis.” [Meaning, paralysis.]

Gevalt! i hope he doesn’t even try to play again. He still has many years to live (if he doesn’t hurt his neck).