Religion & Jewish Life

Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak will hold swim clinic

Jason Lezak takes the U.S. to gold with a record-breaking 4 x 100 medley anchor leg at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Courtesy Tucson Jewish Community Center)

Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak will present a Mutual of Omaha BREAKOUT! swim clinic on Sunday, Nov. 12, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. A total-person approach to swimming, the clinic can help swimmers break bad habits, build new skills, and uncover hidden talent. The clinic will… Read more »

How this pristine 15th-century Hebrew Bible survived the Inquisition

The 15th-century Abravanel Hebrew Bible at Portugal's Coimbra University (Cnaan Liphshiz)

COIMBRA, Portugal (JTA) — From its mountaintop perch, the University of Coimbra towers majestically over the downtown square that used to be the regional headquarters of the Portuguese Inquisition. It’s a fitting location for the 737-year-old university, the seventh oldest in the world, which outsmarted and outlived the campaign… Read more »

If you’re burdened by ‘the mental load,’ speak up and ask for help

(Kveller via JTA) —  In the past two weeks, I’ve read two incredibly relatable pieces of writing that take to task the never-ending extra labor mothers inevitably carry on behalf of our families. The first is a beautiful Facebook post that went viral (again) called “I Am The Keeper,” which… Read more »

Figuring out what Shemini Atzeret is. Finally.

I know something about most Jewish holidays. I can tell you that Hanukkah is about miracles, Passover is about slavery and freedom, and Shavuot is about cheesecake. (I have no idea why, but when it comes to matters of cheesecake, it is not mine to question.) The one holiday… Read more »

In the Ukrainian city of Uman, businesses and mobsters follow the Jewish pilgrims

Pilgrims to Uman praying at the grave of Rebbe Nachman, Sept. 7, 2013. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

UMAN, Ukraine (JTA) — By selling coffee to Jewish tourists, 18-year-old Yuri Breskov can earn in a week more than his teachers from high school make annually in this provincial city. His revenues peak at $3,000 on the week of Rosh Hashanah, when some 30,000 Israelis and other Jews visit… Read more »

OP-ED Billy Joel wore a yellow Jewish star. Thanks, but the trend should stop there.

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Aug. 21, 2017. (Myrna M. Suarez/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Few artifacts of the Holocaust move me like the yellow star. Homely and seemingly innocuous, they sit in museum cases either by themselves or still attached to a jacket or blouse, the stitching rough and the lettering surprisingly crude. They are almost comically, cartoonishly blunt,… Read more »

Rabbi leads a team of spiritual first responders in storm-tossed Texas

Rabbi Shira Stern of Marlboro, N.J., is a disaster spiritual care provider for the American Red Cross. (Courtesy of Stern)

(JTA) — It was a day before Hurricane Harvey was due to make landfall, and Rabbi Shira Stern knew she was headed for Texas. As a director of Disaster Spiritual Care for the American Red Cross, she knew there would be people who would have other needs beyond shelter,… Read more »

New York’s Orthodox Jews are expanding into these towns, and some residents aren’t happy

A synagogue in Airmont, N.Y., a town that has seen its haredi population boom in recent months as families seek larger houses at a more affordable price. (Ben Sales)

AIRMONT, N.Y. (JTA) — When Moshe Pinkasovits walks with his kids down the street on Saturdays in his new town, he has to watch out for drivers shouting anti-Semitic slurs. The Pinkasovits family didn’t face this problem in the neighboring town of Monsey, a heavily haredi Orthodox enclave in… Read more »

Why I kept my daughters at camp after tragedy

The summer before she entered first grade, my oldest daughter asked me when she was going to go to sleepaway camp. I was stunned; she was too young. And why the heck would she ever want to leave us, her family? I blew off the question until the next… Read more »

Harissa Honey Roast Chicken Recipe

Harissa Honey Roast Chicken (Shannon Sarna)

There’s a reason chicken is a bit of a Friday night staple: Before Jews came to America, red meat simply wasn’t abundantly available and therefore saved for special occasions. But also, chicken is a relatively easy dinner to prepare, especially when you roast a whole chicken. This honey harissa and lemon… Read more »

Why you might find bacon flavors next time you go to a kosher restaurant

Chef Michael Gershkovich uses the skills and flavor knowledge he gleaned from years of study in the non-kosher world to infuse the kosher cuisine at his New York restaurant, Mike's Bistro. (Courtesy of Gershkovich)

NEW YORK – Tuna poke nachos marinated Hawaiian style. Lightly smoked duck breasts with quinoa and turnips. Hormone- and antibiotic-free USDA prime angus steaks. The kosher restaurant scene today has come a long way from the pastrami sandwiches and matzah ball soups of old (though you can still get… Read more »

Secular young Jews come here for drinks, socializing — and Torah learning

Participants at a Wednesday night event hosted by Meor Manhattan. (Josefin Dolsten)

  NEW YORK (JTA) — The scene inside the brick-walled locale minutes from Union Square has the typical trappings of a New York hangout. On a recent Wednesday, 20-somethings in jeans and button-downs crowd around tables, raising their voices to be heard over the loud pop music. The bar is… Read more »

This kippah could save the lives of kids with allergies

The "Allergy Alert" kippah is designed to alert adults who might not be aware of a child's allergies. (iKippah)

(JTA) — At 3 1/2, Peretz Apfelbaum may not completely understand it yet, but some kitchens can put his life in danger. The Brooklyn boy is allergic to peanuts, cashews, pistachios, flax seeds, mustard seeds, coconut, peas, eggs and beef. Some of the foods give him hives, but the nuts can… Read more »

How this 650-year-old French synagogue withstood centuries of anti-Semitism

Women from the Jewish community of Carpentras chatting while preparing for Shabbat at the town's synagogue, July 7, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

CARPENTRAS, France (JTA) — The synagogue in this Provence town is Western Europe’s oldest functioning Jewish house of worship — and one of the prettiest on the continent. The Synagogue of Carpentras, which this year is celebrating its 650th anniversary, has a Baroque-style interior and a gold-ornamented hall with a blue… Read more »

How a Korean-Jewish entrepreneur uses food to empower immigrants

Jeanette Chawki, far right, teaches League of Kitchens workshop participants how to cook Lebanese food. (Josefin Dolsten)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Several times a month Jeanette Chawki welcomes a handful of strangers into her Brooklyn home. There, the visitors learn about life in her native Lebanon, talk about their own backgrounds, and eat food — lots of it. Among the dishes visitors tried on a recent… Read more »

I gave my child the Jewiest name

(Kveller via JTA) — I took a poll of my friends when I was pregnant. We run in an observant crowd in Manhattan, and most of our friends have the kinds of names you’d find multiple times over at your Jewish summer camp: Adams and Davids, Elianas and Yaels. My… Read more »

How a Chinese-Jewish chef finds inspiration on a North Dakota farm

Molly Yeh has taken the food blogging world by storm with her bubbly personality and creative recipes. (Chantell Quernemoen)

(JTA) — Not much could have prepared Molly Yeh for moving from New York City to Grand Forks, North Dakota — a city of a little over 50,000 residents near the state’s eastern border with Minnesota. At the time of her move in 2013, Yeh (pronounced “yay,” as her… Read more »