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Religion & Jewish Life

The JCC building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park is one of two JCC buildings in the Detroit area; the other is in West Bloomfield. (Aaron Tobin)
The JCC building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park is one of two JCC buildings in the Detroit area; the other is in West Bloomfield. (Aaron Tobin)

Amid $6M deficit, Detroit-area JCC may close

(JTA) — Amid persistent budget deficits, the Jewish community center building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park may close this spring. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit announced Monday that a committee is going to recommend that the building shut down in light of annual losses of $1 million and a total deficit of […]

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Did Argentina's president really adopt a Jewish man to prevent him from beconing a werewolf?
Did Argentina's president really adopt a Jewish man to prevent him from beconing a werewolf?

Did Argentina’s president really adopt a Jewish man to prevent him from becoming a werewolf?

(JTA) — Last week, JTA published an unusual item about a werewolf legend that generated headlines worldwide. The item was about Yair Tawil, the first Jewish man adopted as a godson by Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The adoption took place under a longstanding custom that presidents adopt the seventh son (born to a […]

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Beb Ammi Ben-Israel, the leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, who died on Dec. 27, celebrating the festival of Shavuot in 2011. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Beb Ammi Ben-Israel, the leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, who died on Dec. 27, celebrating the festival of Shavuot in 2011. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

At memorial for African Hebrew leader, signs of integration and respect

DIMONA, Israel (JTA) — Yitzchok Elefant ascended the stage in his black hat and coat and turned to face an auditorium full of people in flowing white shirts and pants with matching scarves and caps. Standing beneath a banner reading “A tribute to his majesty, our spiritual leader, the prince of peace, Ben Ammi,” Elefant, […]

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Mario Cuomo, seated, was New York's governor when he waa a featured speaker at the 57th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations held in New Orleans, November 1988. Showing their appreciation of the governor's comments are CJF President Mandell Berman, right, and Daniel Shapiro of New York. (Robert A. Cumins)
Mario Cuomo, seated, was New York's governor when he waa a featured speaker at the 57th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations held in New Orleans, November 1988. Showing their appreciation of the governor's comments are CJF President Mandell Berman, right, and Daniel Shapiro of New York. (Robert A. Cumins)

Mario Cuomo married strident liberalism and sensitivity to the Orthodox

(JTA) — Mario Cuomo, a three-term New York governor, was the rare politician who appealed to the Jewish tent’s opposite poles. A strident liberal with a nuanced understanding of the sense of vulnerability among the deeply religious in a secular society, Cuomo died of heart failure on Thursday just hours after his son Andrew was […]

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Ari Engel on the European Poker Tour in Prague in 2013. (Thomas Stacha)
Ari Engel on the European Poker Tour in Prague in 2013. (Thomas Stacha)

For poker champ Ari Engel, kipah works to his advantage

NEW YORK (JTA) – Ari Engel is homeless. It’s been a decade since he last held a regular job and two years since he gave up his apartment. But don’t shed any tears for him. Over the last 10 years or so, Engel has grossed about $5 million playing poker. The son of an Orthodox […]

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Boris Smolkin, left, and his co-stars on the Moscow set of the hit television series "My Fair Nanny" in 2006. (STS Television)
Boris Smolkin, left, and his co-stars on the Moscow set of the hit television series "My Fair Nanny" in 2006. (STS Television)

Will Russia’s economic woes burst bubble for Jews?

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (JTA) — In the basement of one of Europe’s largest synagogues, 100 Jews are waiting to meet local film star Boris Smolkin. The crowd applauds enthusiastically as the 66-year-old funnyman, who gave his voice to Master Yoda in the Russian-language version of the “Star Wars” trilogy, sucks daintily on an electronic cigarette […]

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Sarabel Eisenfeld, the founder of Gan shalom, and her Portland Jewish preschoolers grating potatoes outside for Chanukah latkes. (Anthony Weiss)
Sarabel Eisenfeld, the founder of Gan shalom, and her Portland Jewish preschoolers grating potatoes outside for Chanukah latkes. (Anthony Weiss)

Portland preschool pushes boundaries of Jewish outdoors education

PORTLAND, Ore. (JTA) — Even on a cold, gray and rainy morning, the children from the Gan Shalom Collaborative School are outside, seated under a wood-framed shelter topped by corrugated plastic. With their teacher, Sarabel Eisenfeld, they grate potatoes for latkes, then cup their hands beside their heads to put on their “Shema ears for […]

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Children playing a baseball game in the streets of Havana. "For the baseball purists, those who love to go to Cuba, it's a unique culture," Kit Krieger says. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Children playing a baseball game in the streets of Havana. "For the baseball purists, those who love to go to Cuba, it's a unique culture," Kit Krieger says. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For a Jewish baseball purist, Cuba beckons

(JTA) – To the dismay of baseball fan Kit Krieger, future travels to Cuba will no longer include get-togethers with ex-Washington Senators pitcher Connie Marrero. Marrero, who played for Washington from 1950 to 1954, died in Havana last April at age 102, a few months after Krieger’s last visit and three years after Krieger helped […]

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At United Synagogue Youth's 2014 convention being held in Atlanta, the board voted to relax the youth organization's ban on interfaith dating. (Courtesy of United synagogue Youth)
At United Synagogue Youth's 2014 convention being held in Atlanta, the board voted to relax the youth organization's ban on interfaith dating. (Courtesy of United synagogue Youth)

USY reverses interfaith dating ban

NEW YORK (JTA) – United Synagogue Youth voted to relax its rules barring its teenage board members from dating non-Jews. The amendment was adopted Monday in Atlanta at the annual international convention of the Conservative movement’s youth group. The change affects the 100 or so teen officers who serve on USY’s national board and 17 […]

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Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein arriving in Israel with the first group of immigrants brought by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Dec. 22, 2014. (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein arriving in Israel with the first group of immigrants brought by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Dec. 22, 2014. (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)

Seeing need, Yechiel Eckstein’s Jewish-Christian fellowship gets into aliyah game

(JTA) — Citing failures by the organization traditionally responsible for bringing Jews to Israel, the founder of a Jerusalem-based interfaith charity said his organization would begin bringing more Jews to Israel from Europe — starting with Ukraine. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, accused the Jewish Agency for […]

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