Forward Thinking

Two Neulanders — Two Dead Wives

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Robert Neulander, a Syracuse, N.Y., physician active in his local Jewish community, was indicted this week in the murder of his wife.

Whether the 62-year-old Robert Neulander — who chaired his local federation’s campaign and has served on the board of his JCC — is found guilty or innocent in the Sept. 17, 2012 death of his wife, Leslie, he will be the second American Jewish leader named Neulander to face such charges.

In 1998, on the eve of the High Holidays, Rabbi Fred Neulander of Cherry Hill, N.J., was taken into police custody and accused of hiring a hit men to murder his wife, Carol, in their home four years earlier. The longtime spiritual leader of Congregation M’kor Shalom, a 1,000-member Reform temple he founded (he resigned before the indictment, after news leaked that he was under investigation), Rabbi Neulander is believed to have been the first American rabbi ever tried for murder. While his first trial resulted in a hung jury, Neulander was convicted in 2002. Now 72, he is serving a life sentence in New Jersey State Prison.

In addition to the shared indictment of wife murder and each man’s prominence in his local Jewish community — Dr. Neulander is still listed as a board member on the Jewish Federation of Central New York website — the two Neulander cases have a number of things in common. (It is not clear whether or not the two are related by blood.) Each was freed on bail after being arraigned ($400,000 for the rabbi, $100,000 for the doctor); each was indicted more than a year after his wife’s death and both had several adult children (three for the rabbi, four for the doctor). Each wife was found dead in the home she shared with her husband — Carol in the living room, Leslie in the bathroom.

As Rabbi Neulander’s trial neared a close, JTA attempted to ascertain “the impact of the Neulander trial on the Jewish community.” Kim Fendrick, a member of Neulander’s temple, told JTA that when Neulander “was a rabbi, he was a rabbi, and he did a very, very good job. When he didn’t assume the rabbi’s cloak, he was a very vulnerable person. This is not unusual in the world in general. I suspect that Hitler was very nice to Eva Braun.”

But the disconnect between the two was problematic: “This really touches our souls, because we trust our religious leaders, and we wonder whether we can trust anybody when something like this happens,” she said. “It certainly touches me as a Jew.

“So many people, especially young people, put such faith and trust and honor in this man, and they have been so disappointed,” she said, pointing to those for whom Fred Neulander was a teacher, a role model, a religious leader — the man who shaped their values and officiated at their life-cycle events.

How Dr. Neulander’s trial will affect his central New York community remains to be seen, although for now, the Forward reported this week, local leaders are calling his arrest “a major shock, especially given his activism in the Jewish community and in other humanitarian causes.”

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Meet Max Levin, Teenage Stock Pick King

By Anne Cohen

Max Levin makes more money sitting in his high school math class than most people do during a day at their office.

At 11, the Jewish boy from Voorhees, N.J., was making his first stock picks, guided by his grandfather, a day trader in New York City.

Two years later, he used his bar mitzvah money to move to the big leagues, buying and selling stocks daily in between classes on his phone.

It paid off. Big time.

When his grandfather died in 2012, Levin memorialized him by launching StockPick101.com, a website devoted to helping young people learn the ABCs of stocks, investing and trading. What started as Levin writing about topics he found interested has grown into a national network of college-age writers and readers, who weigh in and discuss financial strategy. Trending topics this week include “Hot Mutual Funds,” “Marijuana Stocks to Invest In,” and “Tips and Tricks for the Young Investor.

“What we’re trying to do is reach out to the younger generation of new investors,” Levin said in a phone interview with the Forward. “The younger you do it, the better it is [and] the more familiar you’ll be with the stock market and the economy.”

Now 16, Levin also writes weekly articles for MainStreet and TheStreet, online publications connected with Jim Cramer (host of CNBC’s “Mad Money”), under the name “StockPick Whiz Kid.”

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Today's Climate Shocker: Plains Blizzard (Sandy 2?)

By J.J. Goldberg

Still think the climate isn’t changing? Here’s one for the record books: an unusually fierce spring storm system on Tuesday brings record breaking blizzards to South Dakota, Nebraska, ice storms as far south as Oklahoma. Winter storm warnings stretched from Utah to Minnesota on Tuesday, said the Washington Post weather blog. NBC News reported temperature in Denver dropping 55 degrees in 24 hours. And:

On Tuesday, temperature differences across the Plains were more than 90 degrees. Highs ranged from 12 degrees in Cheyenne, Wyo., to 108 degrees in Laredo, Texas.

The culprit, AccuWeather.com explains, is an unusual blast of freezing Arctic air moving south, colliding with a low-pressure system moving eastward off the Rockies and a warm, moist air mass moving north from Texas. And this, dear readers, is almost exactly what caused Hurricane Sandy last fall to become the East Coast catastrophe it became.

The critical piece is that freezing Arctic air mass showing up where it doesn’t belong. You won’t be surprised to hear me suggest that it’s another nasty consequence of global warming. Here’s how it works:

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Reb Shmuley's Candidacy Challenges Jewish Voters

By Nathan Guttman

getty images
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman’s defeat in the Democratic primary on June 5 has presented the state’s 9th district Jewish voters with a choice, between a non-Jewish Democrat and his rival, a Jewish Republican.

Democrats consider the district safe, meaning they do not feel it is in danger of falling into Republican hands and most Jewish residents of the newly-drawn 9th district, which includes Bergen, Passaic and parts of Hudson counties, are also seen as leaning heavily toward the Democratic side.

For them, Steve Rothman was an ideal candidate. One of the top players on the pro-Israel scene, a moderate in his views, and well known to his fellow Jewish constituents.

His rival, and now the Democratic candidate, Bill Pascrell has less of a track record with the Jewish community. He previously represented a district with a more significant Muslim population and had less contact with Jewish voters and activists.

Pascrell will be facing in November Rabbi Shmuli Boteach, the winner of the Republican primary. Boteach, who aims to be the first rabbi elected to Congress, is well known both within the Jewish community and outside. A rabbi to the stars who has broadened his reach to write about sex, family life, and Jesus Christ, Boteach is hoping to win over Jewish voters who might have voted for Rothman but are now wary about Pascrell.

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