Religion & Jewish Life

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 »

Mariano Rivera is a big supporter of Israel

(JTA) — The usual bio for Mariano Rivera includes retired New York Yankees relief pitcher, all-time saves leader, first player voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 13-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion. Add that he’s a staunch supporter of Israel. Rivera, 49, spoke this week at the… Read more »

Get ready for the new wave: Young, passionately Jewish — and anti-Zionist

A Jewish woman holding a candle, with a "We Will Outlive Them" banner in the background, at a New York vigil for the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. (Gili Getz)

NEW YORK (JTA) – In 2019, there are more haters than lovers of the Jewish Left. Especially in the United States, the mainstream Jewish community reviles left-wing Jews who embrace anti-Zionism. Meanwhile, the Jewish Left itself is split. On one side are the “Left Zionists” who support a two-state… Read more »

The Chabad Rebbe died 25 years ago. Here’s how his movement has survived.

Hands reach out to touch the casket of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as his funeral procession prepares to leave the world headquarters of the Lubavitch Hasidim in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, June 12, 1994. (Mark Phillips/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) –Twenty-five years ago, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 92-year-old Lubavitcher Rebbe, succumbed to his many ailments and died, to the horror of his Hasidim. Since suffering the first of several devastating strokes on March 2, 1992, while visiting the grave of his late father-in-law and predecessor Rabbi Yosef… Read more »

Anti-Semitism is strengthening the Jewish identity of young people. Why haven’t our organizations embraced them?

Young Jewish adults from all over the world participate in the Birthright Israel program in Jerusalem, Jan. 14, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (JTA) – The year was 2000, and Michael Steinhardt had just dropped a bombshell that nearly brought an otherwise dignified conference to blows. “I tend, in my dourest moments, to consider both the Reform and Conservative Jews as historic accidents in the 21st century and suspect,… Read more »

Synagogues are now conducting active shooter drills during services

Avi Abraham, a Krav Maga instructor who teaches self-defense classes to synagogue-goers, shows how to combat an attacker in a promotional video. (Screenshot from YouTube)

(JTA) — When the ushers locked the door to the sanctuary, and the congregants prepared to flee the synagogue in preparation for a mass shooting, Rabbi Neil Cooper made sure it all happened before they had to take the Torahs out of the ark. Ten minutes later the worshippers… Read more »

What preparing a Jewish body for burial is really like

Hundreds attend the funeral of former Israeli army's chief rabbi, Avihai Ronsky, in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, April 1, 2018. In Jewish tradition, the body must undergo a series of rituals after death and before burial known as tahara, performed by a chevra kadisha, a holy society of volunteers. (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

(JTA) — In Jewish communities around the world, there is a little known group of men and women dedicated to performing the mitzvah of preparing a body for burial, a ritual called tahara. The group is called the chevra kadisha, the holy society. The chevra kadisha isn’t a secret… Read more »

Jared Kushner’s peace conference brings a minyan to 19th-century Bahrain synagogue

Jason Greenblatt, the top White House Middle East peace negotiator, second from left, organizes shacharit services at Bahrain's synagogue on June 26, 2019. (Jason Greenblatt Twitter feed)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s top Middle East negotiator, led Jewish prayer services at a synagogue in Bahrain this week, during the conference there that rolled out the economic portion of the Trump administration’s peace plan. Greenblatt mustered an Orthodox minyan — a quorum of 10 adult… Read more »

Boston museum pays $500K for rare Torah ornaments

BOSTON (JTA) — The Museum of Fine Arts bought two pairs of rare Torah finials, bidding $500,000 for the 17th-century German silver set. The set is considered among the earliest surviving examples of the ritual Torah ornaments. The final sale price exceeded the pre-auction estimate of between $300,000 and $400,000.… Read more »

Drowning out jeers, Polish soccer fans applaud Israeli anthem

(JTA) — Thousands of Polish soccer fans attending a match in Warsaw between their national team and Israel’s applauded during the playing of the Jewish state’s anthem. “Hatikvah” was played just before “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” on Tuesday ahead of the match, which ended with Poland winning 4-0. When some fans… Read more »

7 Jewish fun facts about the 2019 Women’s World Cup

HARRISON, NJ - MAY 26: The full roster for the United States Women's National Team that is heading to France for the 2019 World Cup just after the International Friendly match the U.S. Women's National Team and Mexico as part of the Send Off Series prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup at Red Bull Arena on May 26 2019 in Harrison, NJ,USA. The United States won the match with a score of 3 to 0. USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

(JTA) — There aren’t any Jewish players that we know of at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which runs from June 7 to July 7 in France. The top-ranked U.S. team is looking to win its second Cup in a row and fourth all time. But there are… Read more »

CAI to energize youth, family education program

Congregation Anshei Israel's B'Yachad students will participate in experiential activities with Nichole Chorney, cantorial soloist.

Congregation Anshei Israel is revamping its youth and family education models, tearing down silos, and merging them into a new program, aptly called B’Yachad (together). This new name builds on the synagogue’s tagline and vision: “Living Y/Our Judaism Together.” Religious school programs evolved post-World War II in America’s suburban… Read more »