Religion & Jewish Life

Fifth annual Ride for the Living affirms Jewish vitality today — in Poland

Tucsonans Boaz Cohon (front left) and Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon at the Ride for the Living in Krakow, Poland, June 29 (Rabbi Samuel Cohon)

This summer my son Boaz and I traveled to Poland for the great pleasure and privilege of participating in the Ride for the Living, a 55-mile bicycle ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, Poland, from the scene of the greatest destruction of our people to… Read more »

The ‘best football player who grew up in Israel’ seeks a spot at US college

Yuval Fenta plays running back for the Tel Aviv Pioneers. (Hillel Kuttler)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – In the summer of 2011, Yuval Fenta saw two guys tossing a football on the beach in Herzliya. He asked to participate. “You’re too small,” they responded. A dejected Fenta retreated, but not before hearing them mention an American football league that played in Israel.… Read more »

This is the difference between parenting preschoolers and teens

(Kveller via JTA) — I’m starting a new year in which my oldest is in high school (!) and my youngest is in Pull-Ups. Repeating the mantra, “No one goes to college in diapers,” I have decided that the latter issue will work itself out somehow, sometime. (After six… Read more »

NJ store to close after a century of suiting up bar mitzvah boys — and the occasional mobster

Sam’s storefront, circa 1968. (Courtesy of Jeffrey Cohen)

WHIPPANY, N.J. (New Jersey Jewish News via JTA) — When Clifford Kulwin celebrated his 13th anniversary as rabbi at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey, he knew he had to mention another local institution. “I understand there are some present who do not consider this a ‘real’ bar… Read more »

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 »