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Religion & Jewish Life

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, left, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, meets with Jews who fled eastern Ukraine, July 2014. (Olivier Fitoussi)
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, left, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, meets with Jews who fled eastern Ukraine, July 2014. (Olivier Fitoussi)

For ‘hardcore’ Jews displaced by Ukrainian fighting, Israel beckons

(JTA) — Each time he dispatches a car into Lugansk, Rabbi Shalom Gopin readies himself for hours of anxious anticipation. The scene of brutal urban warfare between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists, this eastern Ukrainian city now has no regular power supply, running water or cell phone reception. Mortar rounds can fall without warning. Much […]

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Lacey Schwartz's film 'Little White Lie' tells of her discovery in adulthood that her father was black.
Lacey Schwartz's film 'Little White Lie' tells of her discovery in adulthood that her father was black.

Documentary reveals Jewish mother’s ‘Little White Lie’

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — When Lacey Schwartz celebrated her Bat Mitzvah more than two decades ago in her hometown of Woodstock, N.Y., a synagogue-goer turned to her and said, “It’s so nice to have an Ethiopian Jew in our midst.” Never mind that Schwartz, a striking 37-year-old with long black curls and a megawatt smile, […]

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The davening room at Havurat Shalom, virtually unchanged since the early 1970s. (Jesse Edsell-Vetter)
The davening room at Havurat Shalom, virtually unchanged since the early 1970s. (Jesse Edsell-Vetter)

Countercultural spirit lives on at iconic 1960s havurah

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (JTA) — To certain first-time visitors to Havurat Shalom, the congregation’s prayer room may look remarkably familiar. From the macrame Jewish star adorning the ark and the Middle Eastern-style lamp serving as a ner tamid to the pillows on a bare floor and the sparely decorated walls, the room looks exactly as it […]

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At a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles, the author began to find new meanings for why we mourn on Tisha b’Av. (Edmon J. Rodman)
At a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles, the author began to find new meanings for why we mourn on Tisha b’Av. (Edmon J. Rodman)

Tisha b’Av in a time of rockets, tunnels and death

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — After weeks of missiles falling on Israel and bombs dropping on Gaza, we land on Tisha b’Av. With the day-to-day images of explosions and tunnels so fresh, I wondered how they might connect to my mid-summer night’s struggle with the somber holiday’s relevance. Tisha b’Av, this year starting on the evening […]

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Jeff Idelson, director of the the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, holding a bat used by Jewish Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)
Jeff Idelson, director of the the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, holding a bat used by Jewish Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Shalom to the enshrined: Cooperstown’s Jewish mayor, Hall of Fame chief greeting baseball’s elite

BALTIMORE (JTA) – For Jeff Idelson, the director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., induction weekend is all about teamwork. “When you get to signature events [and] you’re in a small community, all the pieces have to come together effectively for it to be a grand slam,” Idelson said recently from […]

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The Saint Petersburg company Tzar Caviar used molecular engineering to produce a kosher caviar substitute now available in New York and Paris. (Courtesy Tzar Caviar)
The Saint Petersburg company Tzar Caviar used molecular engineering to produce a kosher caviar substitute now available in New York and Paris. (Courtesy Tzar Caviar)

Russian science brings ‘caviar’ to kosher table

PARIS (JTA) — In a penthouse office with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Olivier Kassabi uses a ceramic spoon to extract a small scoop from a jar labeled as Russian caviar. Placing a clutch of black globules on the base of his thumb, Kassabi licks it off, savoring every fishy drop of the salty […]

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Andrew Goldstein, a member of Israel’s national lacrosse team, says “the landscape has really changed” for gay athletes since he came out in 2005. (Larry Palumbo)
Andrew Goldstein, a member of Israel’s national lacrosse team, says “the landscape has really changed” for gay athletes since he came out in 2005. (Larry Palumbo)

For a trailblazing Israeli lacrosse squad, a pioneer in the nets

BALTIMORE (JTA) — In the years after coming out as gay, lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein recalls being asked on panel discussions whether major American professional sports leagues would include openly gay athletes. It’s a question, Goldstein said, that is no longer relevant with Jason Collins in the National Basketball Association and Michael Sam, who was […]

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A memorial display paying tribute to the three murdered Israeli teens at Camp Solomon Schechter in Olympia, Wash. (Josh Niehaus)
A memorial display paying tribute to the three murdered Israeli teens at Camp Solomon Schechter in Olympia, Wash. (Josh Niehaus)

Jewish summer camps grappling with murders of Israeli teens

(JTA) — On the morning of June 30, the children began arriving at Camp Solomon Schechter in Olympia, Wash., ready for a fun-filled summer. But shortly before the first little feet descended the bus steps, the sleepaway camp’s Israeli counselors learned from back home about the discovery of the bodies of three teens kidnapped in […]

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After coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to a European Championship, David Blatt appears headed to the NBA. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
After coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to a European Championship, David Blatt appears headed to the NBA. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

David Blatt riding Tel Aviv’s Euro title to NBA dream job

  LOS ANGELES (JTA) — In 1981, David Blatt moved to Israel in pursuit of a path of lifelong worship — to play professional basketball.Now, more than 30 years later, Blatt is leaving Israel to make a different, and totally unprecedented, form of aliyah — to leave the ranks of Israeli basketball to coach in the NBA. On June 20, […]

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Members of the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Glencoe, Ill., show U.S. and Israeli colors at the 2012 Fourth of July parade in nearby Highland Park. (Todd Jacobs)
Members of the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Glencoe, Ill., show U.S. and Israeli colors at the 2012 Fourth of July parade in nearby Highland Park. (Todd Jacobs)

Kabbalat Kaboom: Celebrating the Fourth on a Friday

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Part “God Bless America,” part “Shabbat Shalom,” the Fourth of July this year falls on a Friday. In this land of religious freedom, how do we plan to observe both? As the sun sets over the “fruited plain,” will we be lighting Shabbat candles and fireworks? How will the Sabbath Queen […]

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