Religion & Jewish Life

A stranger at synagogue told me to take my son ‘somewhere else’

It finally happened. My son is almost 9 months old, and this week, for the first time, a stranger came up to me and asked me to “take him somewhere else.” Even worse, it happened at synagogue. The woman who approached me was quite obviously not a member of… Read more »

Jewish ex-major leaguer trying to get back to baseball’s big show

Nate Freiman at bat for the Portland Sea Dogs in a game against the Harrisburg Senators in Pennsylvania, May 2016. (Hillel Kuttler)Nate Freiman at bat for the Portland Sea Dogs in a game against the Harrisburg Senators in Pennsylvania, May 2016. (Hillel Kuttler)

  HARRISBURG, Pa. (JTA) – Taking a seat on the dugout bench of the Portland Sea Dogs, Nate Freiman politely dismisses the premise that he pines to return to the major leagues. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism now that he’s two seasons and three organizations removed from his last… Read more »

Local Jewish cemetery, once derelict, gains national attention

Volunteers recruited by Peace Corps volunteer Brooke Nagle start cleanup work on the Bisbee-Douglas Jewish Cemetery on March 17. (Courtesy Brooke Nagle)Volunteers recruited by Peace Corps volunteer Brooke Nagle start cleanup work on the Bisbee-Douglas Jewish Cemetery on March 17. (Courtesy Brooke Nagle)

Every graveyard tells its own story, says Tucsonan Richard Rosen, former owner of the Bisbee-Douglas Jewish Cemetery, located about 100 yards from the U.S.-Mexico border. Regardless of its current condition, the land still radiates a strong spiritual energy, says Rosen. “There’s something right about it, and there’s also something… Read more »

Meet the Orthodox ‘American Ninja Warrior’ training to be a rabbi

Akiva Neuman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, competes in the Philadelphia qualifying round of “American Ninja Warrior.” (Mitchell Leff/NBC)Akiva Neuman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, competes in the Philadelphia qualifying round of “American Ninja Warrior.” (Mitchell Leff/NBC)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Like his fellow competitors on “American Ninja Warrior,” 25-year-old Akiva Neuman pushed himself to his physical limits — climbing, jumping and running through an intense obstacle course — in the hopes of making it to the national finals in Las Vegas. But unlike the dozens… Read more »

Why a small word change is a big deal for Reform women rabbis

Members of the 2016 rabbinical class of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion reading their class prayer at an ordination ceremony at the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 2016. (HUC-JIR via Facebook)Members of the 2016 rabbinical class of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion reading their class prayer at an ordination ceremony at the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 2016. (HUC-JIR via Facebook)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Since 1972, when the Reform movement ordained its first female rabbi, more than 700 others have joined her ranks in that denomination alone. But a surprise awaited them, though few seemed to notice: The language on their ordination certificates was markedly different than that of their… Read more »

How to make perfect cheesecake five ways

Ronnie FeinRonnie Fein

You know Shavuot is coming when you begin to see cheesecakes everywhere. Countless variations in the bakeries and supermarkets. Endless numbers of recipes in the media. Cheesecake is the iconic Shavuot dessert, as sacrosanct as a Hanukkah latke or Passover matzah ball. Unfortunately, cheesecake is one of those deceptively simple recipes,… Read more »

Kids’ soccer leagues aim to bridge Israel’s religious divide

Members of the Tzav Pius 13-year-olds' team in the Israeli city of Pardes Hanna participating before practice in an educational exercise meant to teach teamwork.Members of the Tzav Pius 13-year-olds' team in the Israeli city of Pardes Hanna participating before practice in an educational exercise meant to teach teamwork.

PARDES HANNA, Israel (JTA) — When Yoel decided, at age 8, to begin observing Shabbat, there was one problem: It meant he couldn’t join most of Israel’s youth soccer teams, which played games on Saturday. Yoel, now 12, has always lived in the increasingly large gray area between Israel’s… Read more »

Synagogue condos: If you lived here, you could be praying by now

The penthouse at 415 E. Sixth St., which will sit atop the historic Anshei Meseritz synagogue. (Courtesy of East River Partners)The penthouse at 415 E. Sixth St., which will sit atop the historic Anshei Meseritz synagogue. (Courtesy of East River Partners)

  NEW YORK (JTA) — If there’s one story that sums up the changes afoot on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a once heavily Jewish neighborhood, it’s the saga surrounding the Anshei Meseritz synagogue. The Orthodox shul at 415 E. Sixth St. is a relic of a time… Read more »

How my grandmother’s chutzpah helped Sugihara rescue thousands of Jews

The endorsements of Chiune Sugihara and Jan Zwartendijk, the Japanese and Dutch consuls, respectively, in Kovno, Lithuania, appear on the Leidimas, or travel document, that allowed Isaac Lewin and his family to escape Lithuania in 1940. Nathan Lewin, now a prominent attorney, is the 4-year-old boy in the arms of his mother, Peppy Sternheim Lewin.  (Photo courtesy Alyza D. Lewin)The endorsements of Chiune Sugihara and Jan Zwartendijk, the Japanese and Dutch consuls, respectively, in Kovno, Lithuania, appear on the Leidimas, or travel document, that allowed Isaac Lewin and his family to escape Lithuania in 1940. Nathan Lewin, now a prominent attorney, is the 4-year-old boy in the arms of his mother, Peppy Sternheim Lewin. (Photo courtesy Alyza D. Lewin)

Editor’s note: In honor of Yom HaShoah, which will be commemorated in Tucson on Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, the AJP offers this commentary. See also “In Remembrance.”  In May 1998, the AJP published an interview with Jan Zwartendijk, the son of… Read more »

7 reasons to try this ancient Jewish counting ritual

(Kveller via JTA) — Every year it happens in just about the same way: I pledge to stick to it. I create reminders and support systems. I beg my husband to join me in the daily routine. And then at some point, I fail. No, I’m not talking about… Read more »

Baseball’s back: Here’s a look at 8 Jewish major leaguers and a manager

Joc Pederson taking a swing against the Washington Nationals, Aug. 12, 2015. (Hillel Kuttler)Joc Pederson taking a swing against the Washington Nationals, Aug. 12, 2015. (Hillel Kuttler)

(JTA) – Will Joc Pederson rebound from his second-half struggles of last season? Can Kevin Pillar build on his strong 2015 campaign? Will injuries derail one-time MVP Ryan Braun? These are some of the questions to be answered as these Jewish players and others get set for the Major… Read more »

This new Jewish deli is the coolest restaurant in New York City

Rapper Action Bronson, left, chowing down on some Frankel's fare with the Frankel brothers, Zach, right, and Alex. (Screenshot from Instagram)Rapper Action Bronson, left, chowing down on some Frankel's fare with the Frankel brothers, Zach, right, and Alex. (Screenshot from Instagram)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The scene could easily have been mistaken for a rock concert at one of Brooklyn’s countless music halls.Smartly dressed 20- and 30-somethings crammed into a small corner building. The overflow crowd, clad in skinny jeans and black beanies, spilled onto the sidewalk, where they drank coffee… Read more »

These may be America’s proudest Shabbos goys

Samir Patel, left, with an associate and his father, right, says he gets about five requests each Saturday to act as a Shabbos goy for Orthodox Jews. (Uriel Heilman)Samir Patel, left, with an associate and his father, right, says he gets about five requests each Saturday to act as a Shabbos goy for Orthodox Jews. (Uriel Heilman)

NEW YORK (JTA) – For Samir Patel, the term “goy” is no slur. It’s a point of pride. Patel is a manager of Suhag Wine & Liquors, a family-owned business in the heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills, in Queens. He’s a Hindu immigrant from India, but the vast majority… Read more »

For Jewish Mormons, hybrid identity seen as no contradiction

The Salt Lake Temple at the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Uriel Heilman)The Salt Lake Temple at the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Uriel Heilman)

SALT LAKE CITY (JTA) – Phyllis Miller’s experience growing up in Southern California wasn’t much different from that of many American Jews. The product of an intermarriage — her mother wasn’t Jewish but later converted — Miller’s family attended synagogue occasionally, kept the kids home from school on the High… Read more »

Nevada Jewish vote in question due to Shabbat date, caucus confusion

Volunteers working the phones at a suburban Las Vegas office of the Hillary Clinton campaign while watching a debate between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Feb. 11, 2016. (Ron Kampeas)Volunteers working the phones at a suburban Las Vegas office of the Hillary Clinton campaign while watching a debate between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Feb. 11, 2016. (Ron Kampeas)

LAS VEGAS (JTA) – Jewish voters in Nevada suffer the same affliction as anyone else ahead of caucuses in the presidential race: No one is quite sure how the damn system works. “A big part of what we do is to educate people about what a caucus is,” said… Read more »