Religion & Jewish Life

Netflix included her in a documentary about leaving Orthodox Judaism. They didn’t say she was gay.

Etty Ausch said her sexuality was cut from Netflix's "One of Us." (Courtesy of Ausch) --

  NEW YORK (JTA) — A woman who was featured in a hit Netflix documentary about former Orthodox Jews says the fact that she was openly lesbian was cut from the film. Etty Ausch, 33, is one of three people who tell their stories of leaving the Brooklyn Hasidic… Read more »

Only 6 percent of Washington DC’s Jewish community identify as Republican

The U.S. Capitol building shown on Feb. 9, 2018. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Jews in and around the nation’s capital do plenty of Jewish things. Many of them just don’t do those things as members of Jewish institutions. That’s one of the main takeaways from a wide-ranging survey of Washington, D.C.-area Jews published this week by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.… Read more »

The youngest Schindler’s list survivor is still telling her story

Eva Lavi, who was 2 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland, addressing the United Nations last week. (Courtesy of the Israeli mission to the U.N.)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Eva Lavi’s earliest memories are of the Holocaust. She remembers how her mother made her hide outside in below-zero weather, clutching a standing pipe, as Nazis searched her home in Poland. She remembers her father telling her to swallow a spoonful of cyanide — better… Read more »

Winter Olympics 2018: 5 Jewish storylines to watch

Short track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, lower left, leading the Israeli Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7, 2014. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The world is about to revolve around Pyeongchang, a mountainous county in the northern half of South Korea, for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Jewish fans won’t have quite as many standout athletes to cheer for this year as they did in 2016, when multiple American members of the… Read more »

In the #MeToo era, these synagogues are banning Shlomo Carlebach

NEW YORK (JTA) — When Rabbi Angela Buchdahl announced how her synagogue would respond to the #MeToo moment, she singled out a man. But he wasn’t one of her congregants, synagogue clergy or staff members. He was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, perhaps the most prominent 20th-century composer of American Jewish… Read more »

Poland wants to ban the term ‘Polish death camps.’ There are historical inaccuracies on both sides of the debate.

The main gate of the former Auschwitz extermination camp in Oswiecim, Poland. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The Polish parliament’s bill to criminalize the use of the term “Polish death camps” prompted an avalanche of criticism in Israel by officials and individuals who warned that it is excessive and risks stifling research on the Holocaust. Following the bill’s passing Friday in the Sejm, or the lower… Read more »

UA Hillel alumni plan pre-game dinner

Lorenzo Romar.

The University of Arizona Hillel Foundation will host its annual alumni and friends basketball event on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 5:15 p.m. The pre-game dinner will feature Lorenzo Romar, UA associate head basketball coach under Coach Sean Miller, who will brief attendees on this year’s Wildcat team. A silent… Read more »

Each under their own fig tree … easy to grow in Tucson

Figs ripen slowly over many weeks, so there is not a mad scramble to harvest and eat them all at once.

Tu B’Shevat is almost here, the “Jewish New Year for the Trees,” also called “Jewish Arbor Day.” Last year I discussed planting almond trees, and this year I’d like to suggest a fig tree. Figs are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow in our area (far easier… Read more »

A Rust Belt synagogue ‘runs out of people’ and gathers to bury its past

Congregants from Temple Hadar Israel in New Castle, Pa., gather at the local Tifereth Israel cemetery to bury ritual objects from their defunct synagogue, Dec. 31, 2017. (Alanna E. Cooper)

  NEW CASTLE, Pa. (JTA) — It was a frigid 10 degrees on Sunday, the last day of 2017, but some 20 people gathered at Congregation Tifereth Israel’s cemetery in this city of 22,000 on the Ohio border. A blue tent and folding chairs had been set up for… Read more »

Everyone on Google was searching for Gal Gadot this year

Gal Gadot was the sixth most searched person on Google in 2017. Here, the actress attends an event at the 92nd Street Y on October 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Is Gal Gadot the most famous Israeli ever? Judging by 2017’s top Google searches, the answer might be yes. Gadot was the sixth-most searched person worldwide, and the third-most searched actor. The 32-year-old, who was born and raised in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces, starred… Read more »

This rabbinical student is explaining Judaism to Muslims — in Arabic

Elhanan Miller, a journalist and rabbinical student who speaks fluent Arabic, sees his videos as a way to bridge a religious divide. (Bruria Hammer)

(JTA) — Is it true that Judaism doesn’t accept converts? Is it true that Jews have to wash their hands before they pray? Is it true that Jews have historically killed their prophets? These are just a few of the questions Elhanan Miller has heard over the years. A… Read more »

Mormons are baptizing Holocaust victims, Lubavitcher rebbe and celebrities, researcher says

The historic Salt Lake Temple and the world headquarters of the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 14, 2015. (George Frey/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A researcher says Mormons have posthumously baptized the late Lubavitcher rebbe, the grandparents of Carrie Fisher and Steven Spielberg, and hundreds of Holocaust victims, violating an agreement to halt the practice. Helen Radkey, a Salt Lake City-based independent researcher who has been looking into the Mormon practice… Read more »

Israelis are flocking to this Silicon Valley community center

Children participate in a Yom Kippur event at the Palo Alto JCC, October 2017. (Ilyanne Photographic Art)

PALO ALTO, Calif. (JTA) — With a foot in the tech world and another in Jewish culture, the JCC in Palo Alto has transformed itself into a hub for local Israeli expatriates. Located on a sprawling 8.5-acre campus, the place known formally as the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center… Read more »

In the shadow of Wrigley, Chicago’s newest kosher deli pitches cured meats and good deeds

An exhibit at the Jewish baseball museum at Milt's Extra Innings in Chicago. At left is deli worker Zahava Auerbach. (Ellen Braunstein)

CHICAGO (JTA) — Baseball gloves and caricatures of famous ballplayers adorn the walls of Milt’s Extra Innings — no surprise for a deli that’s a short drive from Wrigley Field, the fabled home of the Chicago Cubs. But look closely and the picture becomes a little more unexpected: The… Read more »

Reform rabbis are finding it tough to love Israel

Members of the Reform movement and Hebrew Union College reading from the Torah at the public square in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Nov. 16, 2017. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

(JTA) — When Israeli security guards roughed up the head rabbi of the Reform movement at the Western Wall, ripping his suit jacket and shoving a can of mace in his face, Rabbi Jen Lader had a dilemma: How could she talk about the violence without being boring? Lader,… Read more »