A1 A1
Lightning storm knocks out power at Atlantic City casinos early Sunday morning

ATLANTIC CITY — A widespread electrical outage that hit the city early Sunday morning left several casinos with only partial power, leaving some guests stranded in elevators and players staring at blank slot machines.

Atlantic City Electric said 9,400 customers in Atlantic City experienced a momentary outage after lightning struck a power line shortly before 1 a.m.

A spokesperson for the electric company noted that a number of the casinos lost power for a period of time, with an average restoration of 41/2 hours.

Atlantic City Fire Chief Scott Evans said the department responded to four casino properties — Bally’s Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Ocean Casino Resort and Resorts Casino Hotel — for elevator extractions, in addition to 17 activated alarm calls.

“Our resources were spread thin,” Evans said.

One person was reported trapped in an elevator at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, but on-site facilities staff was able to safely remove the individual before emergency crews had to respond.

From the Boardwalk, it appeared Ocean Casino was directly hit by a lightning strike shortly before 1:30 a.m. Evans said three ACFD crews responded to the property Sunday morning.

New Jersey State Police, which has jurisdiction on casino gaming floors in Atlantic City, said no calls for emergency service were received during the power outage.

On social media, people shared stories about their experiences inside the casinos during Sunday morning’s outage.

“(I) was playing poker at Ocean with just the table overhead lights. Was really cool playing without the bright lights. Watched the slot machines go dark. Was sort of creepy walking thru a dark casino,” said Facebook user Vicki Lynne on the Everything AC Casinos (Atlantic City) page.

Noelle D., from Brigantine and who did not provide her last name, was also at Ocean when the power went out. She said the experience “wasn’t bad, just different” and added that people seemed to “make the most of it.”

Jackie Mahoney, of Staten Island, New York, was at Tropicana Atlantic City when the slot machines went black.

“No panic,” she replied to a post on the EAC Facebook page. “Everyone just sat and waited patiently.”

Casino patrons were unlikely to lose any money in slot machines during Sunday’s outage. Casino slot machines are equipped with battery operated uninterruptible power supplies, or UPS, to quickly restore electricity.

The machines and loyalty program cards also record all play on the machine up to the moment the power is lost.

Deb Halpin, of Gibbsboro, said the slot machine she was playing at Golden Nugget Atlantic City went out during the outage but an attendant wrote her a credit slip and she was able to cash it before leaving.

An additional 3,495 customers in Atlantic City Electric’s coverage area lost power momentarily Sunday morning.

The biggest jackpots scored at Atlantic City casinos in August

The biggest jackpots scored at Atlantic City casinos in August

Stockton’s continuous expansion on Jewish history connects people to local heritage

With three cultural sites dedicated to bringing awareness to and preserving Jewish heritage, Stockton University’s ongoing focus on the religion’s history in South Jersey has no plans of slowing its reach.

Last week, Stockton announced its third site and its partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties to maintain a chapel/museum at Alliance Cemetery in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County.

The site highlights the Alliance Colony, which was the first successful Jewish farming colony in America, established in 1882 just outside Vineland. Photos, documents and letters from the colony are displayed along the walls of the chapel. Artifacts, like an original arch from an old synagogue nearby, are also on display in the museum.

The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center was established in 1990 on Stockton’s main campus in Galloway Township. The Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage in Woodbine, established in 2003, highlights Jewish history in the area, as well as the community’s connections to World War II.

The university’s reach into multiple counties is not by accident, rather it’s to expand its research and education and to connect people in more ways than one.

“When we established our Holocaust Resource Center back in the ’90s, it was a major initiative to provide the area and beyond with an opportunity to hear the oral histories of survivors and to see the artifacts associated with the Holocaust,” said Harvey Kesselman, president of Stockton. “This speaks to the issue of not only the Jewish communities that were in this area, but also areas that housed survivors after World War II. That’s important history for all of us so we don’t forget history.”

Another space to commemorate local Jewish heritage is scheduled to open at Stockton in late October.

The Schimmel and Hoogenboom Righteous Remembrance Room will be dedicated to children who were hidden during World War II, particularly in the Netherlands, according to Gail Rosenthal, director of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center.

“The link to our area is the man who is one of the former owners of the Shore Mall, Leo Ullman, was a hidden child near Anne Frank,” Rosenthal said. “The difference is that he survived and Frank didn’t. So this will be not only his story, but the story of all the people that helped him and his family to be rescued.”

Stockton, Kesselman said, wants to be a repository for “everything South Jersey,” which includes information on Jewish heritage as well as other cultures that were prominent in the area.

“Any opportunity where we can enhance our footprint that provides scholarship opportunities for our students, research opportunities for our faculty and provides a place of familiarity for people who want to know more about their history is a good thing” Rosenthal said. “A college or university ought to be a place where you feel connected to it. That’s what we try to do, is connect folks in our region to their history.”

Adding the museum at Alliance Cemetery to Stockton’s umbrella simply expands on work that the school already does to build up communities and bring awareness of their own history, said Michelle McDonald, chief academic officer for Stockton’s Atlantic City campus and associate vice president for academic affairs.

In Woodbine, the heritage museum offers a detailed story of the Jewish colony that settled in that area, but the space also houses an instructional site where Stockton classes are held.

The museum is a maze of standing displays with literature and photos of prominent Jewish figures and events in Woodbine, as well as historical happenings, like the borough’s first murder. It also includes photos of the 19th century synagogue where the museum is housed and a map of Woodbine on the museum’s floor.

“The original plan was to offer Stockton students the ability to take courses here rather than have to travel all the way to main campus,” said Jane Stark, executive director for the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage. “In many ways it has enhanced our image and our ability for outreach for educational purposes.”

Each of the centers hold lectures and different programs about Jewish history, as well as the Holocaust, she said. The centers also host Holocaust survivors on a regular basis.

“I recognize, all the time, Stockton’s commitment to the greater community,” she said. “A lot of universities will swallow up the area and just stay within their own world, but here it’s a constant expansion of the greater community.”

Stockton’s newest partnership with the Jewish Federation also came right before Rosh Hashanah, that started on Sunday, which university dignitaries simply described as perfect timing.

“It’s a beautiful way to bring awareness and for people who are not of the Jewish faith to have a better understanding of what it means,” Stark said of the holiday. “We’re beginning a new year with a whole new chapter on the history of people who have contributed greatly to our southern New Jersey communities.”

With more sites comes more education, and Stark believes the more people educate themselves the less hate and prejudice the world will have.

South Jersey celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Congregants of Beth Israel in Northfield joined together for a Rosh Hashanah service Sunday night.

The holy day celebrating the Jewish New Year began at sundown and will continue through Tuesday.

This year, Rosh Hashanah celebrates the beginning of the year 5780.

The holiday also begins the 10 Days of Awes, leading into Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Rabbi David M. Weis opened the services saying the evening Rosh Hashanah service is the “most beautiful” service of the holy days.

Sunday night’s service at Beth Israel focused on the message of gratitude and renewal of faith.

“We must have gratitude. ... If we live our lives only seeing what we’re missing, we will only be disappointed,” Weis said in his message during the service.

On Monday, the Congregation of Beth Israel will also observe a 10 a.m. service at the temple and 3 p.m., Tashlich prayer on the Huntington Avenue Beach in Margate.

GALLERY: South Jersey celebrates Rosh Hashanah

GALLERY: South Jersey celebrates Rosh Hashanah

How improving food access will begin to address health issues in the city

ATLANTIC CITY — On a sunny morning in September, Laura Engelmann and her staff at AtlantiCare’s Health Plex on Atlantic Avenue prepared a slew of fruits and vegetables to be given out as part of a regular “pop-up market.”

These markets, which last year served nearly 7,000 patients and community members, have a dual purpose: providing fresh fruits and vegetables to an population that has limited access to them and helping to increase the health of the residents here.

“I don’t think that there are many patients that we encounter that don’t want to not be healthy,” said Engelmann, community health and wellness manager for AtlantiCare.

Atlantic City’s residents suffer from high rates of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, and they also live in what is considered a “food desert.” Because what you eat matters, creating avenues to healthy food options is a critical part of increasing access to food in general, experts said.

Inside Atlantic City’s 48 blocks, health organizations like AtlantiCare and Southern Jersey Family Medical Center are offering programs that go beyond treatment to educate patients.

“Would you make a lifestyle adjustment if you thought that what you were doing was OK every day? Would you even think to consider looking at alternative options if you thought that what you consume every day was already healthy?” said Destiny Wood, director of women’s health services for Southern Jersey Family Medical Center (SJFMC).

The nonprofit health organization, which has two offices in Atlantic City, offers services for anyone regardless of income or insurance coverage.

Wood said that 37% of their patients in the city are considered obese — having a body mass index of 50 or higher. In addition, they have 579 patients who are diabetic and 1,163 who have hypertension.

To combat those conditions, Wood said SJFMC has care coordination teams that help meet patients “where they are,” not just physically, but both mentally and economically, too.

“Then from there we help the patients in getting the appropriate resources they need,” she said, whether that be a meal plan, follow up visits, referrals to Atlantic City Women, Infant, Children Program or the county department of family and community development, cooking classes or fresh food through a partnership with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

“You can’t just focus on the disease process. When we talk about healthier living and a healthier lifestyle, food is the No. 1 source of that, so if you’re not able to access the right things, I just feel like the health of our city will always be on the decline,” Wood said. “A lot of the patients who come in, they don’t realize that the things they are eating are unhealthy. I feel like when you know better you do better.”

Solutions to the problem can be found in many places, but education is paramount. Take Jersey City, where Mayor Steve Fulop said that his city faces a lot of issues regarding food access and health, similar to Atlantic City.

“If you think about obesity issues, if you think about diabetes, if you think about life expectancy, it all has to down with what you put into your body. And a lot of communities in places like Jersey City just don’t have access to the same quality foods, so trying our best to solve that and educate the public is important,” Fulop said.

He said residents need to understand not only what they are eating, but how to best shop for the healthier items, which can sometimes seem more costly.

“You’ve got to educate people on what makes sense to buy. Those things are all education and we’ve tried to push that,” he said.

At AtlantiCare, the food access programs extend beyond the pop-up markets. The hospital also has a pantry where patients can pick up bags of healthy ingredients, as well as a summer meal program for families with children under the age of 18 to eat and learn. More than 613 individuals visited the pantry in 2018, and AtlantiCare served 2,412 meals (1,538 to children and 875 to adults) to members of the 183 families who registered for the summer lunch program.

“I think that when you’re faced with not knowing what a product is you’re not going to use it, you’re not going to buy it,” Engelmann said. “Sometimes education is going to be what leads them to trying it when they get home.”