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 »

Greece, Israel mission sparks visions of future

Holocaust memorial stars on the railroad tracks at Salonika, Greece

We sang “Happy Birthday” in Hebrew to 9-year-old Miriam in the Athens Jewish Community School;  we talked with teenagers Gala and Tal at a summer camp near Salonika;  we listened in Tel Aviv as Yuval who lost both arms and Tzipi who was paralyzed told us how they used their abilities… Read more »

Praying for three boys whose plight hits close to home

Racheli Frenkel, center, mother of kidnapped teenager Naftali Frenkel, stands with the mothers of the other abducted teens, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaar, outside her home in Nof Ayalon in central Israel, June 17, 2014. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90)

KARNEI SHOMRON, West Bank (JTA) — Four days into the search for three kidnapped Israeli teens, I attended a group prayer session dedicated to their safe return. Dozens of women gathered together to read responsively psalms seeking God’s mercy and intervention before the start of our morning Jewish studies… Read more »

At prayer vigils, Israelis gather in moment of unity over kidnapping

Israelis at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv praying for the release of three kidnapped Jewish teenagers, June 15, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90)

GIVAT SHMUEL, Israel (JTA) — On the rolling green fields of a suburban Tel Aviv park, hundreds gathered to pray for the imminent rescue of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. Rabbis delivered speeches, singer Yonatan Razel performed two pieces based on liturgical invocations of God’s mercy, and a prayer was… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas 6.6.14

TribeFest 2014 From March 16-18, six Tucsonans — Pamela Epstein, Dave Hausler, Marina Kandova, Ari Magill, and Amy and Ben Pozez, accompanied by Sarah Langert, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona leadership development and public relations director, traveled to New Orleans for TribeFest 2014. This biennial national event, organized by… Read more »

In Tucson, as in Jewish tradition, everyone counts

Rabbi Ben Herman

We have now reached the series of Torah portions that is a mathe­matician’s dream. After all, this section of the Torah is called Numbers! In Parshat B’midbar, a census is taken of the Israelite men of military age who would later conquer the Land of Canaan. The total count… Read more »

At Shavuot, celebrating the giving of the law — and the mother-in-law?

What does my mother-in-law have to do with my married life, columnist Edmon J. Rodman recalls foolishly asking soon after he was married 32 years ago. (Edmon J. Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — In the Ten Commandments, the Torah tells us to “Honor your father and your mother,” but on mothers-in-law, it’s mum. That is until we come to the two-day holiday of Shavuot and read the Book of Ruth, which records the relationship between Ruth and her… Read more »

Restoring my German roots

Gabrielle Selz

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (JTA) — Four years ago, I applied to re-obtain German citizenship on behalf of my son and myself. Neither of us was born in Germany. I was born in sunny California and my son on Long Island. But I had learned that under the German Constitution, “Former… Read more »

Sacrifices add to the power of Israel’s Independence Day

From Commemoration to Celebration The uniqueness and in a way, also the beauty, of Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut) is that it doesn’t stand on its own. Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah) and the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror (Yom Hazikaron) serve as the buildup,… Read more »

Outreach to ‘fifth son’ vital beyond Passover

Rabbi Yossi Winner and his wife, Naomi, set up a Chabad tent on the University of Arizona mall each week.

Every Tuesday, my wife, Naomi, and I sit on campus under a tent meeting with students as they pass by in between their classes. One such Tuesday, a few weeks ago, I encountered an individual holding a big sign that read, “You all deserve hell.” After about an hour,… Read more »

P.S. Local people, places, travels and simchas – 3.28.14

Lara and Kim Gould

Troop appreciation On Jan. 8, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Young Women’s Cabinet hosted its second annual Mahj and Mitzvahs event at the Tucson Hebrew Academy. With 55 in attendance, including YWC co-chairs Dana Goldstein and Sarah Singer, the group played the Chinese tile game and assembled care… Read more »

Visiting Kiev’s wounded in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Artem Zaptotski, from Lutsk, in western Ukraine, sits in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, sharing his room with a French Hasid. Seeing that I speak Hebrew and wear a kippah, the Hasid asks if he should encourage Zaptotski to put on tefillin. No, I tell him. Zaptotski… Read more »