Religion & Jewish Life

Finding Grace: A lifelong journey to discovering what is meant to be

Interfaith minister Grace Hartman blesses pets (Courtesy Grace Hartman)

Growing up in a Conservative Jewish home in Newton, Massachusetts, with her parents and brother, Lois Gail Esterman did all the right things. She attended Hebrew school through eighth grade, became a bat mitzvah, went to Hebrew high school and a Hebrew teacher’s college. She started her career as… Read more »

Find hidden treasures in synagogue gift shops

Tammy Strobel stands before colorful gift items on display at Congregation Anshei Israel’s gift shop. (Yvonne Ethier)

A few years back, my good friend Fran was giving me details on her upcoming adult bat mitzvah. “No gifts,” she said emphatically. As I smiled and nodded, inwardly my mind was abuzz — where could I find the perfect present? I didn’t have to look far. In what… Read more »

Since Pittsburgh, my Friday nights are no longer the same

A memorial for the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. (Hane Grace Yagel)

This article originally appeared on Alma. A typical Friday night for me used to consist of cooking myself a nicer than usual dinner and lighting the Shabbat candles alone before proceeding on as if it were any other night. Maybe I would relax by re-watching “Broad City” or going out… Read more »

CAI gala to celebrate 50 years on 5th Street

Rabbi Marcus Breger (left) and Morris ‘Mac’ Benisch at Anshei Israel’s 1968 groundbreaking (Congregation Anshei Israel)

Congregation Anshei Israel will hold a “L’Door V’Dor: 50 years on 5th Street” gala next month. Organizers dubbed the event the “L’Door V’Dor,”  a play on l’dor v’dor, the Hebrew phrase for “from generation to generation,” because it is a chance to honor those who helped open the doors… Read more »

Mount Sinai: revelation or inspiration?

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

It was the greatest moment in our people’s entire history. But what the heck actually happened? This week we read the Torah portion of Yitro, including the revelation at Mount Sinai. This climactic section includes the enormous experience of receiving the Ten Commandments through the theophany at Sinai, the… Read more »

PJ Library ‘Shabbat Adventure’ to link families

A kit from PJ Library guides the adventure as families host others in the “My Shabbat Adventure with Friends” program. (Debe Campbell/AJP)

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s PJ Library program is launching “My Shabbat Adventure with Friends,” a new program to help PJ Library families to reach out to other families in the local Jewish community. Host families will commit to holding three Shabbat dinners for two to four families,… Read more »

Tucson rabbi hosts dinner for Jewish educators visiting border

(L-R): Rabbi Emeritus Ed Stafman of Congregation Beth Shalom in Bozeman, Montana; Rabbi Ethan Seidel of Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.; Olivia Rocamora, dean of Spanish at The Weber School in Atlanta, Georgia; Rabbi Julia Andelman, director of community engagement at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York; Rabbi Pamela Jay Gottfried, dean of Jewish studies at The Weber School; Stella Stanway, direct of education at Temple Beth Miriam in Elberon, New Jersey; Rabbi Charles Arian of Kehilat Shalom in Gaithersburg, Maryland; and Rabbi Michael Bernstein of Gesher L’Torah in Alpharetta, Georgia. Ruven Barkan)

Rabbi Ruven Barkan and his wife, Adina Weber, hosted a dinner at their home on Wednesday, Dec. 19 for rabbis and educators who participated in a three-day border immersion program in Nogales, sponsored by the Kino Border Initiative. Rabbi Thomas Louchheim of Tucson’s Congregation Or Chadash called in to… Read more »

‘Game of Thrones’ creator George R.R. Martin discovers he’s nearly a quarter Jewish on ‘Finding Your Roots’

George R.R. Martin, left, shown with "Finding Your Roots" host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was shocked by his DNA test. (Courtesy of McGee Media/Ark Media)

(JTA) — PBS’ celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots” has had plenty of Jewish guests — Bernie Sanders, Larry David, Paul Rudd and Scarlett Johansson — and the occasional guest, like Paul Ryan, who learn they have a Jewish ancestor on their family tree. But the season five premiere, which airs… Read more »

A millionaire’s plan to rebuild an Alabama Jewish community may be going south

Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith, center, who retired as rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, Ga., in 2017, speaks on a local interfaith panel in 2014. (Bob Howard/The Village Square/Flickr)

(JTA) — Seven years ago, Lisa and Kenny Priddle left New York to help build up the Jewish community of the small Alabama town of Dothan. They were attracted by the idea of shoring up the Jewish community in the South and also by the offer of a $50,000… Read more »

CAI rabbi in residence to focus on heart of Torah

Rabbi Shai Held, Ph. D.

Rabbi Shai Held, Ph.D. — one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America, according to Newsweek — will be the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Anshei Israel on Jan. 11 and 12. His overall theme for the weekend will be “The Heart of Jewish Spirituality.” A theologian, scholar and educator,… Read more »

The Pittsburgh shooting caught the US Jewish community off guard. Can they catch up?

Mourners embrace during a processional outside of Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh for the funeral of Joyce Fienberg, who was killed at the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, Oct. 31, 2018. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eliot Engel, a Democrat who reviles President Donald Trump, and Lee Zeldin, a Republican who eagerly embraces the president, happen to have plenty in common. They are Jewish congressman from New York known for their pro-Israel leadership, and they share a distant relative. They were also… Read more »

The unexpected upside of caring for a sick baby

(Kveller via JTA) – “Winter is coming.” These three words have hung over mothers like dark clouds for decades, long before “Game of Thrones” came along. For we all know what that short, ominous phrase means: months of interminable sickness in the house. As the days shorten, germs will… Read more »

New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck draws on the light and shadows of her Jewish upbringing

Liana Finck attends an event at the Milk Gallery in New York City, Feb. 22, 2018. (Sean Zanni/Getty Images for Moleskine)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Liana Finck is in the eating area of a grocery store in Southampton, New York, and I’ve interrupted her beach excursion. Once a week, the Brooklyn-based illustrator rides a train to the east end of Long Island to channel her creative energy. She wakes up… Read more »