Religion & Jewish Life

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 »

At Utah’s on-slope Shabbat service, ski boots required

An Israeli flag is posted at Deer Valley's Sunset Cabin every Friday afternoon to alert skiers to the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. (Uriel Heilman)An Israeli flag is posted at Deer Valley's Sunset Cabin every Friday afternoon to alert skiers to the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. (Uriel Heilman)

PARK CITY, Utah (JTA) – It may be the most elevated Shabbat service in the country, and not just because of the spirited singing. Held in a rustic cabin in the woods off a ski slope at Deer Valley resort, the service is situated at about 8,800 feet above sea level,… Read more »

APPRECIATION Eugene Borowitz, teacher to generations of rabbis, defined dilemma of the modern Jew

Rabbis David Ellenson, left, and Eugene Borowitz in 2009, on the occasion of the latter's 85th birthday. (Courtesy of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)Rabbis David Ellenson, left, and Eugene Borowitz in 2009, on the occasion of the latter's 85th birthday. (Courtesy of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

WALTHAM, Mass. (JTA) — In Ethics of the Fathers, the rabbis teach that we must grant respect and honor to an individual who teaches us even the smallest bit of knowledge. For those of us who were the students of Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, who died last week at the… Read more »

Jewish transgender man gives birth and embraces life as a single ‘abba’

Rafi holds his daughter, Ettie, at her simchat bat Jewish welcoming ceremony in October. (Amy Ashford)Rafi holds his daughter, Ettie, at her simchat bat Jewish welcoming ceremony in October. (Amy Ashford)

(JTA) — When Rafi Daugherty went to the hospital for the birth of his first child, he posted a sign on the delivery room door. “I am a single transgender man having my first baby,” it read. “I use he/him/his pronouns and will be called ‘Abba’ (Hebrew for father)… Read more »

Op-Ed: Conservative Judaism has just 2 viable options

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CHICAGO (JTA) — The Conservative movement was once the very embodiment of what it meant to be an “American Jew.” As the 130th anniversary of the founding of its flagship Jewish Theological Seminary approaches in 2016, the centrist movement that historically straddled the polarities of Reform and Orthodox is struggling… Read more »

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK How a Jewish reporter celebrated Chanukah at the Kremlin

Rabbi Berel Lazar speaking at the Kremlin, Dec. 8, 2015. (Courtesy of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia)Rabbi Berel Lazar speaking at the Kremlin, Dec. 8, 2015. (Courtesy of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia)

MOSCOW (JTA) — Like many tourists in Red Square, I have often wondered what lies beyond the tall walls that separate this Moscow attraction from the Kremlin, the official residence of Russia’s president and the nerve center of the state. As a journalist long obsessed with Russia, I’ve wanted… Read more »

How ‘Transparent’ is reshaping views of transgender Jews

Jeffrey Tambor, right, with Judith Light in the second season of "Transparent." (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)Jeffrey Tambor, right, with Judith Light in the second season of "Transparent." (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The prevalence of transgender issues in pop culture seems to have reached a pinnacle this year. Caitlyn – nee Bruce – Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. The movie “Tangerine,” which stars transgender actors, took film critics by storm. Director Tom Hooper’s “The… Read more »

Barry Freundel’s former DC synagogue trying to move past mikvah trauma

Rabbi Avidan Milevsky, gesturing, leads a Sunday morning Talmud class after services at Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2015. (Uriel Heilman)Rabbi Avidan Milevsky, gesturing, leads a Sunday morning Talmud class after services at Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2015. (Uriel Heilman)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Though it’s been more than a year since Rabbi Barry Freundel was hauled away in handcuffs for installing secret cameras at his synagogue’s mikvah, his crime still casts a shadow over his longtime Orthodox congregation, Kesher Israel. Three civil lawsuits are pending against Kesher by women… Read more »

Jewish foundation seeks to convert gentiles, saying ‘We all want Judaism to grow’

Ellen Gerecht, executive director of the National Center to Encourage Judaism, at her office in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dec. 29, 2015. (Suzanne Pollak/Washington Jewish Week)Ellen Gerecht, executive director of the National Center to Encourage Judaism, at her office in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dec. 29, 2015. (Suzanne Pollak/Washington Jewish Week)

(Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Maybe it’s the centuries of living under Christian and Muslim rule. Maybe it’s the history of forced conversion. Maybe it’s that there’s no religion requirement for the Jewish afterlife. Whatever the reasons, Jews have traditionally been uncomfortable proselytizing. But a Maryland foundation is flouting… Read more »

Inspiring Jews we lost in 2015

Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards in New York City, May 23, 2010. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards in New York City, May 23, 2010. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

(JTA) — As 2015 winds to a close, we’d like to take a moment to honor the memories of those who we lost over the past 12 months. From remembering lives cut short by senseless, dark tragedies to tributes to revered icons who lived life to the fullest, here are some Jews… Read more »

For ex-baseball players, Israel a place to learn and teach

Nate Fish, director of the Israel Association of Baseball, demonstrating pitching to Israeli kids. (Margo Sugarman/IAB)Nate Fish, director of the Israel Association of Baseball, demonstrating pitching to Israeli kids. (Margo Sugarman/IAB)

  (JTA) – Out of baseball after four years playing in the minor leagues, Brent Powers, a Christian from Texas, took a tour of Israel last year with his wife. He was smitten with the country and considered how to return. The Masa Israel Journey will provide his path.… Read more »

Berlin and Omaha’s incredible new synagogue-mosque-church

From left, Pastor Gregor Hohberg, Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. (Courtesy of the House of One)From left, Pastor Gregor Hohberg, Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. (Courtesy of the House of One)

 A priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar… Actually, this isn’t a joke or a bar. It’s an extraordinary new building called the House of One, which will combine a mosque, a synagogue and a church in Petriplatz, also known as “the medieval birthplace of Berlin.” Yes,… Read more »

How to not spoil your interfaith kids during the holiday season

Susan Katz MillerSusan Katz Miller

(Kveller via JTA) — “We get twice the presents!” Most interfaith kids will utter this classic, and rather obnoxious, boast at some point during childhood. And I have to admit, it makes me wince and grit my teeth a little. As an interfaith child myself, I understand all too… Read more »

SEEKING KIN Joan Nathan cookbook brings families together

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. (JTA) – When Brazil native Fabio Rosenfeld brought up launching a search for his grandfather’s sister who had survived the Holocaust, I opened my “National Geographic Atlas of the World” to locate her hometown of Reghin. A… Read more »

Amid identity crisis, Conservative Jews pay for rebranding

More than 200 members of United Synagogue Youth came to the opening session of the conference of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Schaumburg, Ill., Nov. 15, 2013. (Courtesy of USCJ)More than 200 members of United Synagogue Youth came to the opening session of the conference of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Schaumburg, Ill., Nov. 15, 2013. (Courtesy of USCJ)

NEWS ANALYSIS SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (JTA) – Conservative Judaism is at a crossroads. The movement’s constituents increasingly are leading lives at odds with the core values and rules of Conservative Judaism, especially when it comes to intermarriage. The number of Conservative Jews has shrunk by one-third over the last 25 years. And even some… Read more »