Columns

Preparing for elections, for the third time

As I go around the community in Tucson, many people ask me what I think about Israeli politics. Who is going to “win,” what will the future look like, plus questions about how our political system with its many parties works and how it relates to the world and… Read more »

Fresh from visit home, teens to bring ‘spice’

Hello Friends, We have just returned from our vacation at home, in Israel. Our vacation was great, but it’s good to be back! We are excited to start again and see all of our friends. In this second half of our year in Tucson, we have so many fun… Read more »

Tu B’Shevat should cultivate responsibility to sustain world

I am not a fan of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, although I used it in my teaching for years around Tu B’Shevat, needing a story that features trees. Every time I taught with the book, it made me uncomfortable. Designated the birthday of the trees, Tu B’Shevat… Read more »

I’m done passing as a matrilineal Jew

(We Are via Getty Images)

This story originally appeared on Alma. “Your Hebrew name?” the head of the yeshiva asked, pencil and paper poised to take it down for my aliyah, the honor of reciting Torah blessings. It was my third week at his school, a place where I’d reluctantly agreed to study for… Read more »

An integrated approach to charitable giving

Graham Hoffman

Donor centrism has become a rallying cry in the Jewish philanthropic giving space. For many modern donors, the ability to see the impact of their funds is essential to their charitable involvement. This results-driven mindset marks a shift from the more hands-off approach taken by prior generations, in which… Read more »

‘Shtisel’ watch party, lecture to give insight into Israel’s ultra-Orthodox

The ultra-Orthodox make up some 13% of Israel’s population. The main cities in which this largely secluded population lives are Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, with large ultra-Orthodox communities in Elad, Betar Illit, and Modi’in Illit. There also are ultra-Orthodox communities in mixed cities such as Sefad, Ashdod, and Tiberius.… Read more »

Winter trips take locals to Israel, Poland — and fur babies bring Jewish joy

Thomas Sayler-Brown and John Linder at the Bahai Gardens in Haifa

Destination: Israel From Nov. 20-Dec. 5, Thomas Sayler-Brown and his husband, John Linder, traveled as first-timers to Israel. Sayler-Brown, chair of the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation board, planned their itinerary, and did research for a future JPride group trip. The pair are drawn to urban settings, with Thomas… Read more »

On Hanukkah, like a moth to the flame

Amy Hirshberg Lederman

It began as a typical Jewish Christmas Eve. To borrow a quote from Elana Kagan: “Like most Jews, I was at a Chinese restaurant.” As I walked through the restaurant, I passed table after table of Jewish friends and acquaintances happily sharing fried rice and eggrolls with family and… Read more »

Four steps to tackle our biggest issue now, starting with building bridges

The emergence of violent anti-Semitism as a widespread American scourge can leave no Jews with warm thoughts about the year that just passed. Until October 2018, just 15 months ago, there had never been a fatal attack on a synagogue in the United States. Now there have been two… Read more »

Tucsonans make the most of New York, Israel, longtime friendship

BFFs Susan Weinstein (left) and Hedy Feuer

Childhood friends re-connect In August, AJP Executive Editor Phyllis Braun received an email from a “Susan Weinstein” who had searched online to locate her childhood friend Hedy Feuer. Susan saw an AJP article about Hedy, a breast cancer survivor, and realizing this was indeed her long-lost friend, asked Phyllis… Read more »

Maximizing philanthropic impact: Why capacity building and unrestricted giving matter most

Graham Hoffman

Philanthropy is increasingly a hands-on endeavor. Donors, particularly in making sizeable philanthropic investments, want to understand the impact of their donations on the causes they support. This approach has influenced the philanthropic landscape, resulting in many nonprofits soliciting program-designated or restricted donations rather than unrestricted support in an attempt… Read more »

On visit to migrant detention center, recognizing our collective responsibility

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron

I was humbled and inspired to travel Nov. 3-6 with other rabbis and cantors to El Paso and Juarez, along with staff from HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and T’ruah, a rabbinic organization for human rights, to visit detained immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border. These are my… Read more »

Gaza clash evokes painful memories of rockets, shelters

As these words are being written, an Israel-Gaza truce has been already achieved, after 48 hours of intensive fighting. The attack from Gaza — retaliation for an Israeli action against an Islamic Jihad leader — included over 300 rockets fired at Israeli communities near and far. Eighty Israelis were… Read more »

Israel is a nuanced, complicated country, as JFSA interfaith trip affirms

Amy Hirshberg Lederman

I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Israel — an interfaith delegation sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. Our group consisted of 28 dynamic and open-minded people — a vibrant and deeply engaged mix of faiths, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds. Together we walked, climbed, and explored… Read more »

‘Greetings’ and mazel tov — why a nice Jewish boy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969

Bob Kovitz during his U.S. Army basic training at Fort Ord in Monterey, California, in 1969. Courtesy Bob Kovitz

Fifty years ago, I reported to the U.S. Army induction center in Los Angeles. My father, who was a World War II veteran, later described the experience of driving me to the center as the worst day of his life. Why was a Jewish graduate student from the University… Read more »

After the High Holy Days, what is our focus?

Rabbi Robert Eisen

Finish the sentence: “If not now, _____” I would venture to guess that most of us would immediately call to mind the famous passage attributed to Hillel the Elder (Pirkei Avot 1:14): If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself, what am… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Sukkot — A holiday of joy and unity

Joy Often repeated during the High Holiday season: “What are you celebrating now?” “Who cares? We Jews always pray, eat, and are merry!” During prayers on every Jewish holiday, we mention “Mo’adim L’Simcha,” a holiday to rejoice. Yet, on Sukkot there is an extra emphasis on being happy and… Read more »

Kindness, generosity, and caring: Celebrating our past in pursuit of our future

Graham Hoffman

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is viewed as the birthday of the world. We find ourselves now, in the days beforehand, at the culmination of the month of Elul, a time when we, both individually and collectively, take account of the year that has passed and look ahead, celebrating the opportunity… Read more »