Religion & Jewish Life

Squeezed for burial space, Jerusalem prepares to open an underground city of the dead

At capacity, a new tunnel network will hold some 23,000 bodies and is expected to be filled within a decade. (Sam Sokol)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Carved into the rock on the side of a mountain directly under the Har HaMenuchot cemetery here lies the entrance to Jerusalem’s newest necropolis, a city of the dead that its designers hope will relieve a shortage of burial space in the capital. A local engineering… Read more »

A Rosh Hashanah ritual — in space

Daniel Shorr, far right, and other members of Stanford’s Student Space Initiative escort a rocket he built. (Courtesy of Shorr)

SAN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Typically, Jews gather after Rosh Hashanah services to recite a brief prayer and then symbolically cast away their sins by tossing breadcrumbs into a body of water. The ritual, called tashlich, isn’t mandated by Jewish law — it’s just… Read more »

Tucson teens’ b’nai mitzvah projects celebrate community, giving

The b’nai mitzvah project has become an important part of the traditional coming of age ritual for many Jewish teens. Whether they volunteer in the local community or raise funds for a worthy cause, it’s a chance to exercise compassion and responsibility. Sometimes, it’s also a lesson in flexibility,… Read more »

America’s 7.5 million Jews: older, whiter, more liberal than U.S. as a whole

A senior couple and young girl preparing food for the Mitzvah Weekend at Temple Beth Sholom. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In the past seven years, the American Jewish population has grown 10 percent. It remains a population that is mostly liberal, college-educated, and overwhelmingly white. And it’s not getting any younger. This is all according to a new American Jewish population estimate of the 48 contiguous U.S. states put… Read more »

Rabbi’s Corner: Sukkot — A holiday of joy and unity

Joy Often repeated during the High Holiday season: “What are you celebrating now?” “Who cares? We Jews always pray, eat, and are merry!” During prayers on every Jewish holiday, we mention “Mo’adim L’Simcha,” a holiday to rejoice. Yet, on Sukkot there is an extra emphasis on being happy and… Read more »

Lithuanian descendants return for dedication

Tucsonans Joel Alpert and Nancy Lefkowitz attended the Synagogue Square Memorial dedication in Yurburg, Lithuania, on July 19. (Courtesy Joel Alpert)

The town of Yurburg, Lithuania, dedicated a new Synagogue Square Memorial on July 19. Tucson genealogist and author Joel Alpert and his wife, Nancy Lefkowitz along with 10 of his relatives from Israel, Canada, and the United States, represented the descendants of emigres from the once-thriving Jewish community. “It… Read more »

JFSA NW center reaches out to young families

Rabbi Batsheva Appel and kids enjoy Shabbat Shabang at the Ruth & Irving Olson Center for Jewish Life, Sept. 13./Ariel Miklofsky/JFSA

On Friday, Sept. 13, 12 children and their families joined Rabbi Batsheva Appel of Temple Emanu-El and PJ Library at the Ruth & Irving Olson Center for Jewish Life for the Northwest Family Shabbat Shabang. The rabbi led a service full of songs, prayers, and storytelling while teaching the… Read more »

Documents about Holocaust survivors online

After Hitler’s regime was defeated, many Holocaust survivors and liberated forced laborers wanted to leave Europe. Along with the United States, the most desirable emigration destinations included Canada and Australia. Most of the emigrants were carried by nearly 400 ships the Allies supplied for this mass migration movement; some… Read more »

Amar’e Stoudemire is now an undergrad, goes to his campus Hillel and wants to boost black-Jewish relations

Amar'e Stoudemire is leading an initiative to connect Jewish and African-American students at Florida International University. (Courtesy of FIU Hillel)

(JTA) — Despite his serious thoughts about an NBA comeback, Amar’e Stoudemire is taking a little break from basketball to go to school. The former six-time NBA All-Star, who had never attended college, started this fall as a freshman at Florida International University in Miami. Though the semester just… Read more »

By chilling out on Rosh Hashanah, I made my Judaism truly meaningful

Julie Matlin (Courtesy of Matlin)

MONTREAL (JTA) — Picking through gefilte fish in the kosher department, searching for the freshest packages, I think of my Grandma Fanny. She made her gefilte fish from scratch, lovingly combining the cod, whitefish, pike and whatever other secret ingredients she threw in that made it so good. “This… Read more »

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Yiddish makes a match

(JTA) — It’s life imitating art over at New York City’s Off-Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish. Stephanie Lynne Mason and Drew Seigla, who play the young couple Hodl and Perchik in the production, are engaged, the show announced Sunday on its Twitter feed. “We’re KVELLING!… Read more »

My congregation prays at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Here’s how we are coping this Rosh Hashanah.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, right, holds hands with Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who survived the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue, at Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church during a service for victims of the mass shooting, Oct. 31, 2018, Perlman's wife, the author Beth Kissileff, is seated to his left. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images/JTA Photo Service)

PITTSBURGH (JTA) — Our sages teach us that kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are difficult. This phrase feels especially resonant this Rosh Hashanah. The man who blew the shofar last year at my Pittsburgh synagogue, New Light, is not here to blow it now. He was murdered on Oct. 27… Read more »

‘We feel like we failed’: How one Jewish school is processing the arrest of a teacher who preyed on children

A view outside the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Google Street View/JTA Photo Service)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at the front of a large room lined floor to ceiling with Jewish holy books, Rabbi Joseph Beyda’s voice broke as he processed, seemingly in real time, the idea that a trusted teacher had preyed on his students. “I think the overarching feeling of… Read more »

Grounds of Boston-area synagogue vandalized

BOSTON (JTA) — The grounds of a suburban Boston synagogue were vandalized. Congregants of Temple Sinai in Sharon, about 25 miles south of Boston, discovered graffiti of unidentifiable defacing symbols splashed over the large Star of David in the pavement near the synagogue’s front entryway as they arrived for… Read more »

United Arab Emirates will build its first official synagogue

(JTA) — Construction on the first official synagogue in the United Arab Emirates will begin in several months. The synagogue, slated to be completed by 2022, will be part of a multi-faith complex called the Abrahamic Family House in the capital Abu Dhabi, Reuters reported, citing the Abu Dhabi-based… Read more »