Mayim Bialik’s reflections on the Paris attacks

Actress Mayim bialik reflects on what it means to be Jewish today and is grateful for the existence of Israel. (Shutterstock)

(KVELLER/JTA) — I grew up in a public school that had enough Jewish kids that I felt represented. I went to Hebrew school twice a week and had a chavurah, or fellowship, through my Reform synagogue with kids my age. A portion of my family was Orthodox. I was… Read more »

At White House Chanukah party, Obama emphasizes freedom and food

President Obama speaking at the first of two White House Chanukah parties in Washington, D.C., dec. 17, 2014. (Steve Sheffey)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — I’ve been JTA’s Washington bureau chief for 11 years, but this was the first time I scored a coveted invitation to the annual White House Chanukah  party. A Washington tradition started by President George W. Bush, the party has actually expanded (to meet demand) to two:… Read more »

At Chanukah, kashrut reminder of miracles

Rabbi Israel Becker

There is a specific kosher law pertaining to sirloin steak and filet mignon that contains a hidden message about miracles and survival. This law actually dates back to a dramatic episode recorded in the Torah, when our patriarch Jacob, returning to Israel with his young and large family, was… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas 12.19.14

Jewish travel abroad In their travels, Marcia and Michael Zaccaria seek out Jewish venues, observances and connections. In 2010, it was Turkey; in 2011, India; and 2013, Morocco. From Aug. 26-Oct. 14, the couple flew to South Asia to visit Ladakh (India), Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet (China). The Zaccarias… Read more »

Two writers’ views of Israel and a sad goodbye

Oshrat Barel

  Israeli culture Every year there is an Israeli book or two that tries to shed new light on the complicated situation in Israel. I found two recent books very interesting and in a way even complementary.  “The Industry of Lies” by Ben-Dror Yemini explores the mechanism that causes… Read more »

Bring your light into the world at Chanukah

Amy Hirshberg Lederman

Chanukah is a holiday with many names. Some call it the Festival of Lights, while others refer to it as the Feast of Rededication or the Holiday of Miracles. Its multiplicity of names suggests a variety meanings. The historical version of Chanukah, recorded in the Book of Maccabees, chronicles… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas – 11.7.14

Bill and Wendy Fishkind with the Cessna 182 at Lanseria Airport in South Africa

Bucket list check-off For Bill and Wendy Fishkind, African travel has always been on their radar; however, for two weeks in September, they traveled on the African continent without radar. Bill and Wendy are both licensed pilots. They flew commercially from the United States to Johannesburg. Once there, they… Read more »

Terror demands appropriate, careful response

Oshrat Barel

Terror in Israel, again Since the recent escalation of terror in Israel, I have been asked about one of the latest incidents in which a young Israeli Arab from Kafr Kana ran toward an Israeli police car and stabbed at the car. Several policemen stepped out of the car… Read more »

At Thanksgiving time, an exercise in mindfulness

Cindy Sher

CHICAGO (JTA) — Last year, for a month before Thanksgiving I jotted down one thing for which I was grateful every night before I went to bed. Here are some of the 30 blessings I recorded: • A warm bed. • Airplanes that fly me to visit my family… Read more »

At Thanksgiving time, making a leap to feed the needy

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — As we prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts, a 90-year-old Jewish man named Arnold Abbott is stirring the pot in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., about hunger and homelessness in America. Or is it that Abbott, who in defiance of a controversial new city ordinance has been cited… Read more »

Taking a cue from the midterm elections

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

By the time you read this column, results of the 2014 midterm elections in the United States will already be announced, reported, chewed over and, depending on your political affiliation, celebrated or bemoaned. “Every single thing that a person sees or hears, is an instruction to him in his… Read more »

For mom, now is always the perfect time

Amy Hirshberg Lederman

My mother called last night when I was out. Her voice on the answering machine sounded somewhat depressed but the message belied her tone. “Hello darling, this is mom.  I’m calling with some good news.  We’ve turned the clocks back an hour, so there’s only a two-hour time difference… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas – 10.24.14

A “throwback” photo of Marlyne Freedman from her Omaha days

Omaha Jewish Reunion A reunion usually refers to a high school, college, or family gathering. From Sept. 12-14, Marlyne Freedman attended the first-ever Omaha Jewish Reunion. Born and bred in the “Gateway to the West,” Marlyne took this three-day trip down memory lane. The weekend included social, educational, and… Read more »

Exodus to Berlin, Rabbi Akiva and a kind family

Oshrat Barel

Current Israel “I have a dream,” wrote a young Israeli, Naor Narkis, several years ago, describing the life he would love to have. Now the 25-year-old is leading a social protest that is making him a role model for many young Israelis, even though for weeks he kept his… Read more »

Letting the land and people rest and grow

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Can a land require a Sabbath, too? The Jewish answer is yes. This calendar year of 5775 is a special time in our tradition: it marks the sabbatical year, the shmittah. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy we are commanded to harvest crops only for the first six years of… Read more »

Naivety lost, but hope for peace must always remain

Oshrat Barel

Current Israel So much has already been written about the past summer in Israel, the kidnap and murder of our three teens, nonstop missiles firing into Israel, tunnels, terrorism and the double standards of the international media. It is almost four months since it began. Only last week, while… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas – 9.12.14

Simon Esbit at Yad Vashem

Israel summer travel 2014 In addition to synagogue summer missions, which have been covered in AJP first-person accounts, Tucsonans traveled to Israel for diverse reasons. Here are highlights of some of their sojourns: From the end of January through the beginning of June, Simon Esbit, 17, participated in Tichon… Read more »

React or respond? A lesson for the New Year

Rabbi Robert Eisen

What a summer this has been! It began with an unprecedented number of congregations sponsoring missions to Israel, and then spent most of its days holding us captive to the news, wondering just what might be. Thoughts of falafel, shawarma and coffee like no other in the world gave… Read more »

Rabbi’s corner: Reevaluating the youth sports juggernaut

Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Participating in sports is an important part of our children’s lives. When Bruce Feiler recently wrote in The New York Times about how the “youth sports juggernaut” is taking over the lives of families, I think he touched a nerve. His article, “There’s No Off in This Season,”  shares… Read more »

In Israel, keeping an appointment made 80 years ago

Rabbi Israel Becker of Tucson (left) and former Chief Rabbi of Israel Meir Lau in Tel Aviv in May

One winter night in the mid-1960s, when I was a young teenager, the stage was set for a very important meeting in Israel this past May. Unbeknownst to me, the true genesis for this meeting had begun some 80 years ago. On that winter night, a man arrived at… Read more »