Religion & Jewish Life

Robert Kraft brings football Hall of Famers to Israel

Robert Kraft, in black shirt, with Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk, right, and, in rear, from left, Ron Yary, Roger Staubach and Dave Casper in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, June 15, 2017. (Hillel Kuttler)

RAMAT HASHARON, Israel (JTA) – An Israeli soldier clapped football great and Vietnam War veteran Roger Staubach on the shoulder at a soccer field here, telling the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner and U.S. Naval Academy grad that he and his brother serve in the paratroopers. The introduction Thursday evening prompted… Read more »

ANALYSIS ‘Jewish spouses matter,’ says a new demographic study. Let the battle begin.

Adam and Eve depicted on a 19th-century ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, from the Norsa-Torrazzo Synagogue in Mantua, Italy. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — One of the wisest things ever said about intermarriage came from former Atlantic sports columnist Jake Simpson: “No stat could have predicted … the wonder that was David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII.” Granted, Simpson wasn’t writing about the high rates of Jews marrying non-Jews.… Read more »

There’s an Orthodox version of ‘Shark Tank’

BizTank, a haredi Orthodox version of "Shark Tank," brings together a panel of mostly Orthodox Jewish investors to hear pitches from entrepreneurs. (Ben Sales)

NEW YORK (JTA) — At the opening of the most recent season finale of “Shark Tank,” the ABC reality show about startup entrepreneurs, a male model stripped and posed in front of a group of investors, showcasing a business that combines drinking wine and painting pictures. At the beginning… Read more »

A Jewish hipster haven in the heart of Chabad’s Brooklyn territory

Nechama Levy, who participates in a few Crown Heights independent prayer groups, is involved in another Brooklyn trend: Her bike shop, Bicycle Roots, is also in the neighborhood. (Courtesy of Levy)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Soon after Nechama Levy moved to Brooklyn five years ago, she opened a bicycle repair shop. The spacious, high-ceilinged store was just down the street from a new pub with exposed brick walls. Like many who have moved recently to the rapidly gentrifying borough, Levy, 33,… Read more »

Orthodox Union asks women clergy to change their titles

The Orthodox Union is asking Maharat Ruth Friedman, left, shown at her graduation from Yeshivat Maharat in 2013, to change her title in order to comply with a rabbinic ruling that bars female clergy. (Joe Winkler)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Following its rabbinic ruling prohibiting synagogues from hiring female clergy, the Orthodox Union is pressuring synagogues that have hired the women to change their titles. In February, the Orthodox Union, an umbrella Orthodox Jewish group, issued a Jewish legal ruling by seven rabbis that bars women… Read more »

5 ways to celebrate Shavuot — without (necessarily) studying Torah

Participants in a past Shavuot program at JCC Manhattan gather on the JCC's roof. The JCC's annual event lasts all night and features an array of classes and workshops. (Courtesy of JCC Manhattan)

  NEW YORK (JTA) — Shavuot is the “Rodney Dangerfield of Jewish holidays,” says Rabbi Shira Stutman of Washington, D.C.’s Sixth and I synagogue. Meaning: It gets no respect. Considered by Jewish tradition to be on par with the fall and spring festivals of Sukkot and Passover, Shavuot is sometimes… Read more »

These 7 smartphone apps make life easier for religious Jews

Smartphone apps can help with everything from putting on tefillin correctly to finding a minyan to locating a kosher restaurant. (Lior Zaltzman)

(JTA) — These days there are smartphone applications for pretty much anything, from ordering food to finding a date to reporting anti-Semitic incidents. But what about tools for living a religious Jewish life? Well, there are apps for that, too. Whereas in the time before smartphones, observant Jews may have… Read more »

Progressive Jewish Latina embraces community with gusto

Alma Hernandez at her bat mitzvah party in the Holocaust History Center garden, April 8 (Courtesy Hernandez)

Alma Hernandez is passionate and strives every day to make a difference. People say her values and actions represent the core of Judaism, which is noteworthy because Hernandez didn’t grow up Jewish. At age 24, she has been active in the Jewish community for several years, even before she… Read more »

‘Recovered atheist’ and future rabbi speaks from heart on Jewish identity, healthy homes

(L-R): Linda Behr, Congregation Bet Shalom Cantor Avraham Alpert, Eileen Weizenbaum and Andrea Siemens, LMSW, at the Tucson Jewish Community Center April 23. Behr and Weizenbaum are Jewish Family & Children's Services Shalom in Every Home Healthy Family program board members. (Korene Charnofsky Cohen)

Avraham “Avi” Alpert’s spiritual journey has led him from Judaism to atheism to being an observant Jew. Now he wants to help other Jews find their own path to Jewish traditions, values and celebrations that bring families closer together. His April 23 talk at the Tucson Jewish Community Center,… Read more »

Three Tucsonans to compete on Team USA at Maccabiah Games in Israel

Sam Beskind of Catalina Foothills High School drives to the basket against Walden Grove High School, Jan. 12, 2017. [Courtesy Beskind)

Three young Jewish athletes from Tucson will compete in the elite Maccabiah Games in Israel. Held every four years, the games are the world’s third-largest international sporting event, with more than 9,000 athletes from over 80 countries. Sam Beskind, Tamara Statman and Brett Miller will be part of Team… Read more »

Three rabbis to explore ‘Finding G-d’ in Handmaker talk

(L-R) Rabbi Yossie Shemtov, Rabbi Thomas Louchheim and Rabbi Robert Eisen

Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging will continue its Rabbi Lecture Series with “Finding G-d (in the) Every Day,” featuring Rabbis Yossie Shemtov, Robert Eisen and Thomas Louchheim, on Sunday, May 21 at 3:30 p.m. “The Baal Shem Tov taught us that everything you see or hear can serve… Read more »

The 5 (or so) habits of successful seder leaders

(Lior Zaltzman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — What kind of leadership style works best for a seder? During a period when we are experiencing a shake-up in national leadership, you may want to re-examine the relationship that exists between leader and participants at the Passover meal. Though seder leaders and participants are… Read more »

Rare Judaica part of auction

 Everything But The House, an online estate sale marketplace, is auctioning a variety of rare, Judaica items from the 19th–mid 20th centuries. Items include: The Torah Crown – an early 20th century Sefer Torah crown that was made during one of the first years of the Bezalel School of Arts… Read more »

These two non-Jews are stars of Yiddish theater

Shane Baker, left, and Caraid O'Brien in the New Yiddish Rep's current production of "God of Vengeance." (Ronald L. Glassman)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Veteran actor Shane Baker has performed in three productions of “God of Vengeance,” Sholem Asch’s Yiddish classic about a brothel-owning family and their daughter’s lesbian relationship. Currently playing to sold-out audiences at New York’s Theatre at St. Clement’s Church, the play — which was first… Read more »

This Sephardi studies scholar sees preserving Ladino as an ‘act of resistance’ against Trump

Devin Naar says Ladino connects Jews with Latinos and Muslims, two communities he considers marginalized in Trump’s America. (Meryl Schenker Photography/The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at Washington University)

(JTA) — One-year-old Vidal doesn’t know the significance behind the lullaby his father sings him at bedtime. He knows it helps him fall asleep, but not that the Ladino song is part of an effort to teach him what served as the lingua franca of Sephardi Jews of the Ottoman Empire for… Read more »