Religion & Jewish Life

A new Torah scroll symbolizes a Liberal Jewish revival in the Czech Republic

David Maxa delivers a sermon during Shabbat services at Prague's Spanish Synagogue during the European Union of Progressive Judaism's biennial, April 2018. (Courtesy of Maxa)

PRAGUE (JTA) — A new Torah scroll is being used in this historic city by one of its two Reform Jewish congregations to welcome the High Holidays and the series of solemn and joyous celebrations that conclude with, what else, Simchat Torah — the rejoicing of the Torah. But it’s… Read more »

Why Stephen Miller’s childhood rabbi singled him out in his Rosh Hashanah sermon

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - APRIL 18: White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller arrives before the start of a news conference by President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a news conference at Mar-a-Lago resort on April 18, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The two leaders are meeting for a multi-day working meeting where they are discussing world events. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels didn’t mince words when he criticized Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump and a former congregant of his Southern California synagogue, in his Rosh Hashanah sermon. “Honestly, Mr. Miller, you’ve set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole… Read more »

At L.A. games, Maccabi USA team taps local youth for 2019 Pan Am Games

Tucsonan Cody Blumenthal heads for the basket in a tied match at the Maccabi Games in Los Angeles in August.

Cody Blumenthal and Gabe Green were among 2,600 athletes at the largest annual JCC Maccabi Games this summer, representing the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Blumenthal participated in 16 and under basketball while Green vied in 14 and under soccer at the Aug. 5-10 games in Orange County, California. Josh… Read more »

Former Eagle to share journey from football to faith

Calvin ‘Yosef’ Murray and his wife, Emunah, on a Judean Desert Jeep tour in Israel December 2017.

Legendary all-star Rose Bowl running back Calvin Murray played football for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early ’80s. Yet he says his greatest touchdown was converting to Orthodox Judaism five years ago, and with his wife, Emunah, preparing to make aliyah. Murray, who now goes by the name Yosef,… Read more »

On summer travels in Israel, Tucsonans delight in people, places, studies

(L-R): Garrett Fenton, Matt Landau, Sophia Yatsenko, Monica Montes, and Linnea Dawson in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Western Wall

This summer season marked the 18th anniversary of Birthright Israel, the program that brings Diaspora Jews, ages 18-26, on a free trip to Israel. From May 24-June 4, Bus #1545 carried University of Arizona students along with participants from the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and San… Read more »

HIGH HOLIDAY FEATURES: Dipping apples in honey problem for vegans

The Rosh Hashanah custom of dipping apples in honey had its start among Ashkenazi Jews. (Liron Almog/Flash90)

The truth is, there is no commandment in Judaism to dip an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah. But what would the Jewish New Year be without the custom? It’s a question that bedevils vegans, many of whom won’t eat honey because it’s an animal product. So what’s a… Read more »

Torah scroll makes its way from Iowa to Paraguay, telling story about modern Judaism

Most of Paraguay’s 1,000 Jews live in Asuncion, where B’nai Jacob’s Torah has found a new home. (Erin Jones-Avni)

One family after another hurried through Erin Jones-Avni’s front door, anxious to get their first glimpse of the new arrival — to admire its ornate silver breastplate and touch its satiny mantle. “People just kept coming, and they’d make a beeline for the Torah,” she told JTA from her… Read more »

From darkness to light: Berlin-Budapest trip reveals a new Jewish generation

(L-R) Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Board Chair Shelly Silverman, JFSA 2019 Campaign Chair Melissa Goldfinger, JFSA Senior Vice President Fran Katz, and JFSA Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Chair Leslie Glaze visit the Berlin Wall, July 15. (Melissa Goldfinger)

Each year, the Jewish Federations of North America invites professionals and lay leaders to participate in a mission that highlights the unique challenges, programs and impact of federations’ overseas funding. In mid-July, Melissa Goldfinger, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona 2019 Campaign chair; Leslie Glaze, JFSA Women’s Philanthropy Campaign chair;… Read more »

A kosher cheeseburger is now possible. Well, almost.

The Impossible Burger is served at Shelly's Cafe in Teaneck, N.J., with cheddar, avocado, tomato, lettuce, sriracha mayonnaise and a side of homemade potato chips. (Josefin Dolsten)

TEANECK, N.J. (JTA) — For many Americans, no hamburger is complete without cheese. Whether a slice of no-fuss American or something fancier, the cheese melds the beef patty with the bun into umami-laden perfection. Until now, the cheeseburger was the stuff of daydreams for Jews observing kosher dietary laws that… Read more »

These Jews are running summer camps for refugee children

The kids at the St. Louis camp spend most of their time playing soccer or doing arts and crafts. (Courtesy of St. Louis JCRC)

(JTA) — When he signed up to be a counselor at a Jewish-run summer camp for refugee children, Isaac Eastlund expected to confront trauma. Instead, when he would come up to his campers, a couple months or years removed from fleeing Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo,… Read more »

Gay and African-American rabbi wants to shatter stereotypes of what a Jew looks like

Rabbi Georgette Kennebrae grew up in a military family that moved between Japan and Oklahoma. (Josefin Dolsten)

NEW YORK (JTA) — As a Jew of color, Rabbi Georgette Kennebrae has had her fair share of experiences that have made her feel less than welcome in the Jewish community. People sometimes assume that she is a member of the synagogue janitorial staff rather than the rabbi. Sometimes when… Read more »

ANALYSIS Draymond Green says his trip to Israel wasn’t about politics. Here’s why Israel’s critics won’t accept that.

Draymond Green, right, shown before a playoff game between his Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, May 28, 2018. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

NBA star Draymond Green on his recent visit to Israel got to meet the nation’s president and take some shooting practice — with guns, not basketballs — on a military base. Green’s visit, particularly his jovial use of Israeli military weaponry, prompted criticism from notable figures on the American… Read more »