Religion & Jewish Life

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 »

Letter to Editor: Thankful JFSA hosted ‘The Connection’

Regarding the letter in the June 29 edition, “Connection doesn’t give women equal access,” I hope the Jewish Federation continues to host events like ‘The Connection.’ As a transgender Jewish woman, I am not always allowed to attend women’s events in the Orthodox world. When such events are held… Read more »

Between jihadists, neo-Nazis, Swedish Jews fear future

arinne Sjoberg peels off a sticker that neo-Nazis left on the door of what used to be the Jewish community center of Umea, Sweden. (Photo courtesy Carinne Sjoberg)

When Carinne Sjoberg dissolved the Jewish Community of Umea in northern Sweden, she knew it would send shockwaves far beyond the small congregation that she had spent decades building. The move in May owed to intimidation by neo-Nazis, making it the first time in decades that a Jewish organization… Read more »

Out & About connects Handmaker residents with Tucson’s cultural scene

Out & About participants on a recent trip, starting with front row, (L-R): Ethel Weissman, Ramon Cruz (driver), Carol Zuckert; Debbie Smolen (volunteer), Betty Light, Leah Casey, Doris Wochley; MaryJane Gibson (volunteer); Lois Waldman, Les Waldman, Mort Edberg, Elaine McLain

Elaine McLain, a Handmaker resident for two and a half years, is delighted Handmaker recently created an Out & About program for residents, a series of trips to cultural sites similar to Handmaker’s popular Adventure Bus program, which is for people experiencing the early stages of memory loss. “It’s… Read more »

Childhood vision inspires Tucsonan to be voice for peace

Even as a child, Hana Ripp felt that she had a mission in life. She wanted to be a voice for those who couldn’t speak. Intuition guided her over decades to follow her vision of world peace and harmony through the best vehicles she knew — arts and education.… Read more »

An Israeli wrestler calls himself ‘The Chutzpah,’ and Europe loves to hate him

Lior Brooks, left, during a match in Greece, Nov. 22, 2017. (Courtesy of ZMAK)

(JTA) — Like many Israelis visiting Europe, Lior Brooks is keenly aware of his compatriots’ reputation abroad for rudeness. The boorish stereotype is so well known that it has its own term there – “the ugly Israeli” – and been the subject of many an awareness-raising campaign. There’s even… Read more »

Why synagogues started putting American flags in the sanctuary

American, Canadian and Israeli flags are displayed in the S.H. and Helen R. Scheuer Chapel on the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. (Ady Manory)

(JTA) — Jewish tourists from North America are likely to notice one big difference when visiting synagogues around the world. Though a plethora of symbols, such as stars of David and menorahs, may be displayed, national flags are rare inside the sanctuary. Meanwhile, in the United States and Canada,… Read more »

Grilled Eggplant with Chermoula recipe

(The Nosher via JTA) – From bulbous and egg-shaped to small and thin, the eggplant (or if you’re British like me, the aubergine) is a staple fruit within Sephardic Jewish cooking. Originating in India or perhaps even China, eggplant seeds are thought to have traveled along the Silk Road… Read more »

This woman is studying to be the first female rabbi from Uganda

Shoshanna Nambi wants to teach her rabbinical school colleagues about Ugandan Jewish traditions. (Courtesy of Nambi)

(JTA) — Growing up in Uganda, Shoshanna Nambi was active in her small Jewish community. She taught songs and the Torah portion to younger children and was a member of her community’s youth group. Learning Hebrew also seemed to come easily. So it seemed obvious to her that she… Read more »