First Person

I am buying homeless signs for Sukkot this year

LOS ANGELES (Jewish Journal) — I started building my sukkah in December. To those of you who are sukkah DIYers, you know how ridiculous this sounds. A sukkah is the ritual hut that Jews build each year on the holiday of Sukkot, which begins this year on the evening… Read more »

Coming out, a young gay man finds self-acceptance

Isaac Lobel

NEW YORK (JTA) — For my Bar Mitzvah, my parents got me a laptop. For what I searched for on it, they got me a shrink. CyberSitter informed my computer-savvy parents that their son was searching gay porn. On the ride to my first therapy session, I stuck my… Read more »

Loving the storm: lessons from my father

Miriam “Mimi” Furst, age 4, with her father, Irving Boruchow

Crack! Boom! The sound of big fat pebbles pounding the roof and rattling windows. Maybe it’s the Nazis coming to get us! That afternoon my brother Stan and I saw a war movie at a theatre near our home in the Bronx, N.Y. We watched as mighty John Wayne,… Read more »

The healing power of neighbors and pastry

Wendy Wiener

Like any longstand­­ing havurah, or Jewish friendship group, my neighborhood has celebrated the cycle of Jewish holidays together for 20 years. We laugh, bake, eat and recount tales of past holiday celebrations. There’s no worrying about whether the house is clean or how many people are coming, when the… Read more »

ISRAEL AT 65: Despite challenges, after many visits, Israel still inspires

(L-R) Nancy Mellan, Diane Weintraub, Israeli artist Tzameret Zamir, Stuart Mellan and Ron Weintraub at Zamir’s mosaic of peace project on the anti-sniper wall at Netiv Ha’asara. The mosaic will spell the world ‘shalom.’

At my age (closing in on 60), I often tell myself, in a reassuring tone, that “age is just a state of mind.” Now that the State of Israel is turning a ripe old 65, I wonder, what is Israel’s state of mind? And how do we, American Jews,… Read more »

Stumbling Stones ceremony in Germany is link not only to past but to future

Stumbling stones honoring Jill Ranucci's great-grandparents, Rudolf and Laura Lowenthal, who died in the Sobibor death camp. (Courtesy Jill Ranucci)

In October, I attended a Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) ceremony in Magdeburg, in the former East Germany, to honor my great-grandparents, Rudolph and Laura Lowenthal, who died in the Holocaust. My sister and two cousins, the other surviving family members, accompanied me. The first Stolpersteine were created by German artist… Read more »

Seeking Lithuanian roots, finding insight

Old Town in Kaunas, Lithuania (Courtesy Sandra Katz)

The iron curtain has risen, but it has left behind a thick and dirty rust ring. My paternal grandparents, Sol and Helen Katz, left Lithuania in 1905 and 1910. They never talked about their lives there and I have always been curious about my roots. Recently, I decided to… Read more »

First Person: Sometimes our kids make a point we didn’t think of first

Michal Kohane with her sons Ohr Taylor, right, and Yonatan during West Point Acceptance Day, Aug. 18, 2012. (Courtesy Michal Kohane)

SAN FRANCISCO (j weekly) — “You don’t mind me applying to West Point Military Academy, Mom, do you?” “West Point?” I thought, surprised. But it was fall. Graduation seemed like light years away. “Go ahead,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Let me know if you need anything,” I… Read more »

First Person: Sixty years later, recalling the historic agreement for German restitution

Saul Kagan, founding executive direcor of the Claims Conference, right, talking to Nahum Goldmann, founder and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, 1958. (Courtesy Claims Conference)

NEW YORK (JTA) — As the founding executive director of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, I remember just how difficult the issue of negotiating with Germany was within the Jewish world 60 years ago. In Israel in particular, it was a subject of enormous controversy, political and… Read more »

Dinner with Ahmadinejad

NEW YORK (JTA) – We could have been in Tehran. Men in dark suits and earpieces stood outside the doors of the hotel, keeping watch for protesters and anybody else who didn’t belong. Inside, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to meet a group of university students. Except this was… Read more »

Past, present and future mix on mission to Odessa and Israel

(L-R) Tucsonans Donna Moser, Audrey Brooks, Marlyne Freedman and Deanna Evenchik at the Birthright Israel Mega Event at Haifa Naval Base July 12

The faces of our grandparents are with me in early July as I leave for the Jewish Federations of North America Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission to Odessa and Israel with my sister, Donna Moser. Grandpa Nathan and Grandma Sadie came to the United States in 1899 from Odessa;… Read more »

TISHA B’AV FEATURE: Where are the Munich elegies?

May their memory be a blessing: A list of the fallen Munich Olympics Israeli team members to read during the Summer Olympics and at Tisha b'Av. (Photo via Just One Minute)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — This year, Tisha b’Av marks not only the destruction of both Temples, but with the opening ceremony of the London Olympics just a night earlier, the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre. On this day of mourning and fasting, which begins at sundown on Saturday,… Read more »

“Rabbi, Matisyahu shaved off his beard! Should I shave off mine?”

NEW YORK (JTA) — As if the Jewish world doesn’t have enough problems with Iran on the brink of starting a nuclear war and the radical Muslim Brotherhood making gains in Egypt’s phased elections. This week we were rocked by another close shave with disaster: “Chasidic reggae superstar” Matisyahu… Read more »

Jewish women can build homes — literally

Nancy Mellan

As Jewish wom­en, we come from a tradition that honors our role in home, family and community. In the Eshet Chayil Shabbat blessing recited by husbands to their wives, we are honored: “A good woman, who can find. She reaches her hand out to those in need. She is… Read more »

After the fire: A Torah’s trip to a secular kibbutz

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (JTA) — We land at Ben Gurion Airport in the heat of winter, on the first day of Chanukah.  At 11 a.m. Dec. 2, already it is 82 degrees in Tel Aviv — unusual weather for the rainy season in Israel. And it will get hotter. Much… Read more »

How a new Israeli attache renounced his U.S. citizenship

Eric Groner says he revoked his U.S. citizenship with a "heavy heart" when he became Israel's minister for economic affairs to the United States.

TEL AVIV (JTA) — After being named Israel’s minister for economic affairs to the United States, Eli Groner was required by U.S. law to revoke his U.S. citizenship. The following is the statement he submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv upon his renunciation. Because I love America,… Read more »