Religion & Jewish Life

Six decades on, American olim — some American again — reunite on kibbutz

Members of an aliyah group from the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement from Toronto, Montreal and Detroit at a summer camp in 1949, not long before many of them would immigrate to Israel. (Courtesy of Ted Friedgut)

KIBBUTZ GALON, Israel (JTA) – In 1952, a 20-year-old with bright blue eyes who had never seen much of life outside of the Bronx, N.Y., mounted a kibbutz tractor armed with a rifle to plow wheat and sorghum fields bordering the Gaza Strip. Saul Adelson would live in Israel… Read more »

Federations, JCPA teaming to fight delegitimization of Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are launching a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns. The JFNA and the rest of the Jewish federation system have agreed to invest $6 million over the… Read more »

At San Diego Jewish school, snacks must be kosher — pigskin allowed

San Diego Jewish Academy helmets feature the Hebrew letter lamed-shaped L for Lions. (Edmon J. Rodman)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (JTA) — The snack bar is always kosher and the games are never on Friday night. The roster is packed with names like Adam, Isaac, Benjamin and Micah, with an Ori, Ethan, Yuval and Noam thrown in. The players huddle to say the Sh’ma before taking… Read more »

Orthodox unsure how to react to anti-gay violence, discrimination

Meeting with an Orthodox group in Brooklyn, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, seated, saw an audience receptive to his message that children shouldn't be "brainwashed" into thinking being gay is OK, Oct. 10, 2010. (Creative Commons/azipaybarah

NEW YORK (JTA) — When the Republican candidate for New York governor, Carl Paladino, addressed an Orthodox crowd on Sunday about his opposition to gay pride parades and how children shouldn’t be “brainwashed” into thinking being gay is OK, he clearly thought he’d find a receptive audience. He was… Read more »

Westboro case poses dilemma for Jewish groups

A girl affiliated with the Westboro Baptist Church pickets the offices of the Anti-Defamation League in the Pacific Southwest region, June 19, 2009. Creative Commons/k763)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish defense organizations long — and proudly — have upheld a delicate principle in defending the First Amendment: Hate the speech, defend the speaker. But a Supreme Court case whose arguments were scheduled for Wednesday have put that precept to the test: A Maryland family is… Read more »

U.S. colleges with few Jews building facilities to draw more

Dean Hank Dobin of Washington and Lee University dedicates the school's new Hillel house, a $4 million, 7,000-square-foot facility funded by private gifts, in September 2010. (Kevin Remington/Washington and Lee)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Last year, 19-year-old Max Chapnick ate plenty of vegetables. Chapnick, who comes from a kosher home in White Plains, N.Y., is a sophomore at Washington and Lee University, a small liberal arts school in Lexington, Va. His freshman year he ate in the dining hall… Read more »

Imaginative NYC sukkah contest to go nationwide

‘Fractured Bubble’ by Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan won the Sukkah City architectural competition in Manhattan. (Courtesy of Reboot)

It was a surprise hit on the cultural roster of a city that may be the most culturally busy city in the nation. And even though the Sukkah City architectural competition in New York was being dismantled this week, look for Sukkah City next year in a town near… Read more »

European Conservatives, the new kids on the block, making strides

A recent survey of British Jewry showed a decline in every Jewish denomination since 1990 except for two groups: the strictly Orthodox haredi and the Masorti, or Conservative movement. Over those 20 years, both have nearly doubled. Researchers behind the report, published in May by the Board of Deputies… Read more »

In awe of Schach: Searching for the perfect sukkah covering

Palm fronds are a favorite form of schach for sukkahs in the Los Angeles area. (Edmon Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — His 14-foot-long pole saw in hand, Paul Nisenbaum is ready to head out into the great urban forest in a search for schach. The Los Angeles teacher and small businessman is among the many Jews throughout North America who will search their neighborhoods, from wilderness… Read more »

Just desserts in the sukkah

NEW YORK (JTA) — While most people equate Sukkot with autumn vegetables, I picture the holiday as a tea party. Among Jews who build sukkahs, the evening meal is the most popular time to gather inside these modern-day harvest huts. Because temperatures often dip at night, I much prefer… Read more »

Using private eyes to fight the problem of ‘chained wives’

Ariella Dadon, who obtained a divorce from her husband with the help of a private investigator after a four-year battle, sits outside the nursery school where she works in Netivot, Israel. (Dina Kraft)

NETIVOT, Israel (JTA) — Ariella Dadon still marvels at being free. For more than 2 1/2 years she was married to a man she describes as unfaithful, physically violent and emotionally abusive. For four years she struggled to get a divorce. But the rabbinical court ruled repeatedly that she… Read more »

Sermon spurred Soviet Jewry movement

NEW YORK (JTA) — On a fall day in 1963, Abraham Joshua Heschel unburdened his soul. Speaking the truth without regard for whether it scandalized or hurt was something he would do fairly often in that decade of social upheaval. Already branded as an eccentric and an outsider, that… Read more »

Keeping kosher — but just on holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — When I’m invited to a Shabbat or holiday meal in a Jewish home, I always bring kosher wine. Not just that, I try to make it Israeli. It’s not because I keep kosher. And it’s not because the people I’m visiting necessarily keep kosher either.… Read more »

High Holidays are free at some shuls, and worshippers flock

WASHINGTON (Forward) — When the waiting list for High Holidays tickets reached 700, leaders of the downtown Sixth and I Historic Synagogue decided to look outside the box — in their case, to the Chinese Community Church across the street. The church was a perfect match for the needs… Read more »

Rumors sully Jewish response to imams’ trip to Auschwitz

Rumors surrounded a trip by a delegation of U.S. Muslim leaders to Auschwitz and Dachau in mid-August 2010 (no credit)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eight imams bowed in prayer before a sculpture at Dachau vividly representing the Jewish dead of Europe. It’s a picture worth a thousand words of reconciliation and understanding. Yet even before its appearance in the Jewish media — on the front page of the Forward for… Read more »

In teaching Holocaust, educators focus on prewar lives, not just camps

Guide with Holocaust educators on Centropa trip outside the entrance to Theresienstadt, a former concentration camp outside of Prague, July 2010 (Centropa)

PRAGUE (JTA) — Educators who teach Holocaust history face the same challenge every year: how to get students interested in one of history’s greatest tragedies more than 65 years removed from World War II. In the old days, the formula was straightforward. “You show kids horrifying pictures, scare them,… Read more »

It’s all relative: You say Einstein is ‘Jewish science,’ I say ‘liberal conspiracy’

Conservative blogger Andrew Schlafly says Albert Einstein's scientific theories are bad science and part of a "liberal conspiracy." (JTA graphic/Library of Congress)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — More than a half-century ago, the Nazis dismissed Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking theories as “Jewish science”; in recent years Holocaust revisionists have taken up the anti-Einstein cause. Now, the legendary physicist is facing a new wave of attacks — this time from conservative bloggers who say that… Read more »