Columns

Gifts from the heart

Rabbi Helen T. Cohn

Tzedakah is usually translated as “charity” but a distinction is often made between the meanings of these two words. “Tzedakah” comes from the Hebrew root that means righteousness or justice.  “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” — “Justice, justice you shall pursue” — is often quoted in support of financial contributions that… Read more »

Mount Sinai: revelation or inspiration?

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

It was the greatest moment in our people’s entire history. But what the heck actually happened? This week we read the Torah portion of Yitro, including the revelation at Mount Sinai. This climactic section includes the enormous experience of receiving the Ten Commandments through the theophany at Sinai, the… Read more »

Three crack, eight bam, seven dot … mah jongg!

A mojito toast from Young Women’s Cabinet members (L-R) Simone Krame, Jennifer Selco, Kathy Gerst, Jenny Rothschild, Katie Stellitano-Rosen, Rachel Jarrett

Mah jongg, the centuries-old tile game of Chinese origin, is a favorite pastime for American Jewish women. A fad in the United States in the 1920s, it regained popularity in 1937 when a group of Jewish women formed the National Mah Jongg League based in New York City. Each… Read more »

In 1944, she performed an opera at a concentration camp. 70 years later, I got to meet her.

Annie Cohen, right, met Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger when the teen appeared in a New Orleans production of "Brundibar" in 2016. The children's opera by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása was performed by the children of the Theresienstadt concentration camp, including Weissberger. (Courtesy of Cohen)

NEW ORLEANS (JTA) — Ela Weissberger, though tiny and elderly when I met her, was the strongest woman I have ever known. Her energy was indefatigable, her personality vibrant and sunny, her wit sharp and charming. Her magical rapport with children was undeniable. Ela was a Holocaust survivor, sent… Read more »

Whether in U.S. or Israel, voting is vital duty

Amir Eden

Some of our community members and lay leaders are involved in the Nov. 6 elections. As an American citizen, I plan to cast my ballot, as voting, in my eyes, is one of our important civic duties. I had my first political experience in the Israeli general elections campaign… Read more »

Israel travels, fantasy camp, Sukkah squads and sisterhood inspire Tucsonans

A special Israel visitor From Aug. 9-Sept. 3, Linda and Shelby Silverman traveled to Europe and Israel. They saved the best for last, spending two weeks with their four Israeli grandchildren and their parents. Three generations of the Silverman-Levin family enjoyed a delightful surprise when they visited Rishon LeZion,… Read more »

NY meeting not chance but divine providence

Some people believe we live in a world where everything can be seen and touched. They buy into scientific explanations and find it hard to believe we live in a complex world where there’s much we can’t explain. Here is a true story of divine providence or in Hebrew,… Read more »

Fifth annual Ride for the Living affirms Jewish vitality today — in Poland

Tucsonans Boaz Cohon (front left) and Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon at the Ride for the Living in Krakow, Poland, June 29 (Rabbi Samuel Cohon)

This summer my son Boaz and I traveled to Poland for the great pleasure and privilege of participating in the Ride for the Living, a 55-mile bicycle ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, Poland, from the scene of the greatest destruction of our people to… Read more »

Ready or not, here life comes

The email was waiting in my inbox. My column was due. “What column?” I asked myself. I did not remember that it was my turn. What could I possibly write about on short notice at this time of year with four funerals over the next few days, and the… Read more »

In 21st century, could Tevye change his tune?

In 1966, when I was just 13 years old, my parents surprised me by taking me to New York City to see Zero Mostel star as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” I was enchanted by Shalom Aleichem’s inspiration, “Tevye the Dairyman,” which was written in Yiddish in 1894.… Read more »

On the Day of Atonement, let us cry for the suffering of all

A couple of years ago I was standing in the lobby of a Jewish Community Center in California, admiring the artwork of Shlomo Katz. The JCC had just opened an unusual display of hand-knotted Persian rugs featuring Jewish and biblical themes, and I found myself entirely lost in the rug… Read more »

On summer travels in Israel, Tucsonans delight in people, places, studies

(L-R): Garrett Fenton, Matt Landau, Sophia Yatsenko, Monica Montes, and Linnea Dawson in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Western Wall

This summer season marked the 18th anniversary of Birthright Israel, the program that brings Diaspora Jews, ages 18-26, on a free trip to Israel. From May 24-June 4, Bus #1545 carried University of Arizona students along with participants from the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and San… Read more »

From darkness to light: Berlin-Budapest trip reveals a new Jewish generation

(L-R) Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Board Chair Shelly Silverman, JFSA 2019 Campaign Chair Melissa Goldfinger, JFSA Senior Vice President Fran Katz, and JFSA Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Chair Leslie Glaze visit the Berlin Wall, July 15. (Melissa Goldfinger)

Each year, the Jewish Federations of North America invites professionals and lay leaders to participate in a mission that highlights the unique challenges, programs and impact of federations’ overseas funding. In mid-July, Melissa Goldfinger, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona 2019 Campaign chair; Leslie Glaze, JFSA Women’s Philanthropy Campaign chair;… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: In modern times, is peace and harmony possible?

Benzion Shemtov

Many times we wonder: What is happening with the tranquility of this world? Where has it gone? Do peace and harmony reside in the spiritual realms while our world is destined to live with hardships and troubles? The fifth Chabad Rebbe lived in the early 1900s. One of his… Read more »

Students seek answers in Middle East; centenarian gets encore celebration

Building Bridges spring break Sarah Cassius, finishing her junior year at George Washington University with a dual major in international affairs and geography with a concentration in sustainability, traveled on a Building Bridges trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories over spring break. The trip was sponsored by GWU’s… Read more »