Religion & Jewish Life

Extreme Jewish religious sect Lev Tahor requested political asylum from Iran

(JTA) — Lev Tahor, a fringe haredi Orthodox sect, requested political asylum from the Iranian government. In its request, the group “declared their loyalty and submission to the Supreme Leader and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It asks for “asylum, protection and religious freedom of the families… Read more »

Annual Project Isaiah food drive to help the hungry

A food drive collection box is available in the lobby of the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy, home of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, at 3718 E. River Road. (Phyllis Braun/AJP)

Project Isaiah, the Jewish community’s annual High Holidays food drive benefiting the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, begins Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15. When asked why we fast on Yom Kippur, the prophet Isaiah responded, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?” (Isaiah… Read more »

In Israel’s south, English classes give kids a leg up

Tucsonan Aimee Katz (front right) with third-grade students at the Alfassi school in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. Katz taught English in Mitzpe Ramon during the 2018-19 school year. (Courtesy Aimee Katz)

Leaving home is difficult, especially since I had lived nowhere else besides Tucson, except for sleepaway camp and teaching in Israel for short stints during the summers. A year ago, however, I traded in the Arizona desert for Mitzpe Ramon, a small southern Israeli desert town in the middle… Read more »

Growth at Chabad Oro Valley inspires new facility, more leaders

Adeli and Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman, with son Mendel, join the leadership team at Chabad Oro Valley. (Courtesy Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman)

Since opening in 2012, Chabad Oro Valley, led by Rabbi Ephraim and Mushkie Zimmerman, has grown its roster of participants to about 500 — and outgrown its current space. For the High Holidays, Chabad Oro Valley will celebrate in a new 3,388-square-foot home in Sun City’s Mountain View Plaza,… Read more »

In new book, Obama speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz goes on a Jewish journey

For Sarah Hurwitz, an introductory course launched an exploration of Judaism. (Random House)

When Sarah Hurwitz was working as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama, and later as head speechwriter for Michelle Obama, she often was assumed to be a good source of knowledge about Judaism. Except Hurwitz wasn’t. She had grown up nominally Reform. And after her bat mitzvah, Hurwitz… Read more »

Annual book brunch to highlight women’s prayers

Esther Becker will explore “Conversations with G-d” at the annual Women’s Academy of Jewish Studies Women’s Book Brunch, Sunday, Sept. 15 at Congregation Chofetz Chayim. “We live in an era when we all have our challenges to deal with and no one goes unscathed,” says Becker.  “I wanted to… Read more »

Classes offer free ‘Taste of Judaism’

The Union for Reform Judaism’s Taste of Judaism classes, taught by Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Batsheva Appel, will be offered at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Sundays, Sept. 8, 15, and 22 from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and at Temple Emanu-El on Thursdays, Sept. 12, 19, and 26, from 6-8 p.m.… Read more »

BYOB bash to celebrate babies and books

Parents and siblings can read to babies early in life. (Courtesy PJ

Babies and reading are the focus of a lighthearted BYOB (bring your own baby) event coming up at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Early Childhood Education Center next month. “It’s an opportunity to meet other Jewish families with babies,” says Mary Ellen Loebl, coordinator for Southern Arizona’s PJ Library… Read more »

Sisterhood high tea will focus on fashion, fund-raising

Fashions by LuLaRoe will be among those modeled by synagogue members at the Congregation Or Chadash/Temple Emanu-El high tea, Sept. 15. (Photo courtesy Congregation Or Chadash Sisterhood)

Congregation Or Chadash Sisterhood and Temple Emanu-El Women of Reform Judaism will hold their first major collaboration, a fashion show high tea, on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 2-4 p.m. The event will be catered by L’Chaim Catering and fashions provided by Clique and LuLaRoe will be modeled by members… Read more »

Tucson teens make friends and win big at JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta

With a cowboy as their logo for the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games, Team Tucson galloped out at the July 28 opening ceremonies in Atlanta to the song “Old Town Road.” From left: Grant Cohen (front), Gabe Green, Pasha Maher (basketball coach), Elijah Nogales,Josh Shenker (delegation head), and Gianna Miltenberger

Tucson’s team for the annual JCC Maccabi Games for Jewish teens, held July 28-Aug. 2 in Atlanta, was “small but mighty” with four athletes, says Josh Shenker, delegation head and director of children, youth and camping services at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. “Though we were the smallest delegation… Read more »

Local player helps Team USA bring home Maccabi gold

Cody Blumenthal (back row, center, in white) played point guard for Team USA at the July Maccabi Pan American games in Mexico City. Team USA won gold over Team Israel (in blue) by 20 points.

Cody Blumenthal brought home a gold medal from his participation on the age 18 and under Team USA basketball team at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City, July 5-15. “Winning gold with my new best friends was the best feeling in the world,” he says. Every… Read more »

Arizonan earns pride in grueling Maccabi competition

David Tannenbaum approaches the finish line at about 28 MPH at the Maccabi Pan American Games in Mexico City. (Michelle [email protected])

David Tannenbaum of Hereford, Arizona, was the sole bicycling competitor in Team USA’s Master Division at the 2019 Maccabi Pan American Games in Mexico City, July 5-15.  He finished in eighth-place in the 55-59 year age group, receiving a medal for completing all three races. “That makes me the… Read more »

Jackie Tohn tells us all about that seder scene in ‘GLOW’

Jackie Tohn recalls her family's Holocaust past in an extraordinary scene on her Netflix show. (Sela Shiloni)

This article originally appeared on Alma. In the sixth episode of the newly released third season of “GLOW,” there’s an unconventional seder in the Nevada desert. It’s led by Melrose — played by Jackie Tohn — the Jewish party girl who talks the group through the 10 plagues, the… Read more »

Gymnast Agnes Keleti survived the Holocaust to win 10 Olympic medals. At 98, she’s as feisty as ever.

Agnes Keleti, in her mid-90s, performs a split in front of young Hungarian gymnasts in Budapest, Jan. 16, 2016. (Peter Kohalmi/AFP/Getty Images)

BUDAPEST (JTA) — When journalists ask Agnes Keleti about her health, she gently smiles and slowly extends her right hand in apparent gratitude for the question. Keleti yanks anyone who is foolish enough to grasp her hand with enough force to throw them off their balance. Then she replies:… Read more »

He posed as a righteous Jewish convert for 19 years. Then he wrote a 2,000-page anti-Semitic screed.

Johann Andreas Eisenmenger published “Judaism Unmasked,” one of the most noxious and highly influential anti-Semitic works ever written. (Wikimedia Commons/JTA Montage)

NEW YORK (JTA) — “Eisenmenger belonged to the class of insects which sucks poison even out of flowers,” the 19th-century Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz wrote. Graetz was referring to Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, a young 17th-century scholar from Mannheim, Germany, who dedicated some 19 years of his life to mastering… Read more »

3 participants share what they learned on J Street’s first alternative to Birthright trip

A Palestinian shepherd uses a bucket to get water from a well in the village of Susya south of the West Bank city of Hebron on August 19, 2017. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Editor’s Note: In March, the the liberal Israel policy group J Street announced that it would be creating a 10-day free trip to Israel, designed to provide students with both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the conflict. Many interpreted the announcement as a move to compete with… Read more »

PJ Library connects local families to Jewish life

PJ Library events and activities, such as building model Seder plates with Legos, often draw large crowds. (Debe Campbell/AJP)

PJ Library is a national program that encourages local Jewish families with young children to explore Jewish values and culture through books. Coordinated by Mary Ellen Loebl at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, the free program sends an age-appropriate Jewish-content book monthly to 740 children between the ages… Read more »

California bill will ensure the right to hang mezuzahs

Jewish religious law and customs require that mezuzahs be affixed to doorframes. (Zeevveez/Flickr)

SAN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — A bill to ensure the right of Californians bill to hang mezuzahs on their door frames is moving through the state legislature, and is on its way to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 652 bars landlords and… Read more »