Religion & Jewish Life

From cowboy hats to black hats

NEW YORK (Forward) — Imagine the scene: Four bearded rabbis sit for hours around a table, swaying before their open volumes of the Talmud, debating whether a Jew who owns a gate tower near the entrance to his mansion is required to hang a mezuzah on it. A synagogue… Read more »

Will the Giving Pledge affect Jewish causes?

Larry Lokey has pledged to give away all of his $700 million, with the next $60 million going to Israel. (Photo courtesy The Giving Pledge)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The philanthropic world got a happy jolt when 40 members of the world’s wealthy elite — including 13 Jews — announced that they would give away more than half their money before they died. The participating philanthropists were responding to a challenge issued earlier this… Read more »

Facing confrontation on Israel, Presbyterian Church manages compromise

Katharine Henderson, president of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church USA)

U.S. Jews and Presbyterians say they have salvaged a fragile unity of purpose from an assembly that was poised to create a rift between the two faiths. The outcome of last month’s General Assembly in Minneapolis of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was remarkable in that all sides in the… Read more »

Ritual Cleansing of the dead is the ultimate kindness

To describe the dead body that lay before me at my first tahara, the simple word “real” seems most appropriate. A tahara is the traditional Jewish cleansing performed on a body before burial. At my recent first tahara, none of the cliches occurred. I did not feel scared or… Read more »

Inaugural LGBT Jewish movement conference inspires Tucson delegates

Ari Ginsburg, a member of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona's LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project steering committee, left, with Marc Paley, project coordinator, in Berkeley at the 2010 LGBT Jewish Movement-Building Convening(Bynna Fish)

Who are we? Where did we come from? How do we get started? Where do we want to go and how are we a part of our Jewish community? While these questions ring true for everyone, they’re especially true for members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community looking… Read more »

Orthodox debate homosexuality: Outreach vs. ‘cure’

NEW YORK (Forward) — On a single week in late July, a major flashpoint in the internal culture wars of the Orthodox world erupted in two unrelated but connected incidents. The issue was homosexuality. A group of nearly 90 Orthodox rabbis chose July 22 to release its “Statement of… Read more »

Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding raises questions about intermarriage

Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton during their wedding ceremony, July 31, 2010 (Genevieve de Manio)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Is it possible that the first iconic Jewish picture of the decade is of an interfaith marriage? Photographs taken Saturday show the Jewish groom wearing a yarmulke and a crumpled tallit staring into the eyes of his giddy bride under a traditional Jewish wedding canopy… Read more »

Can Kutsher’s, the Catskills’ last kosher resort, be saved?

The lake at Kutcher's offers boating and fishing. (Uriel Heilman)

MONTICELLO, N.Y. (JTA) — For Yossi Zablocki, it was the phone call of a lifetime. Last February, the manager at Kutsher’s Country Club, the last kosher resort hotel in the Catskill Mountains, called him in a panic with news that owner Mark Kutsher was thinking of retiring and closing… Read more »

Riding the French countryside in the Jewish-Muslim friendship bus

The Jewish-Muslim friendship bus team talks to a Muslim activist in the central square of Besancon, France, June 10, 2010. (Sue Fishkoff)

BESANCON, France (JTA) — On a hot afternoon in early June, an unusual looking bus is parked in the central square of this historic city in eastern France. Passers-by cast sidelong glances at the brightly colored portraits on its side accompanied by such slogans as “Jews and Muslims say… Read more »

Lamenting the gulf on Tisha B’Av

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Alas, this year on the Ninth of Av, Tisha B’Av, when we darken our mood and grieve our losses, should we add a lament for what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico? On a day when we acknowledge by chanting kinot, laments, the Jews… Read more »

Chabad schools, gets schooled in diplomacy at D.C. confab

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Chabad emissaries usually associate Washington with their emphasis on education, but this year they got a taste of foreign policy suasion while handing out some, too. Hundreds of emissaries from across the United States and the world descended on the U.S. capital for two days last… Read more »

Jewish sparklers light up the Fourth

Bruce Zoldan standing in the Youngstown, Ohio, retail showroom of his fireworks company. (B. J. Alan company of Youngstown)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Millions of Fourth of July fuses waiting to be lit are a good sign for Bruce Zoldan and his family business, the B.J. Alan Company, the second largest importer and wholesaler of consumer fireworks in the United States. But it’s already been a pretty hectic… Read more »

Grant pushes historic partnership of seminaries

NEW YORK (JTA) — Spurred by a major grant from one of the largest Jewish foundations, the rabbinical seminaries of three major synagogue movements are forging a groundbreaking partnership to train Jewish educators. The Jim Joseph Foundation announced May 24 that it was giving a combined $33 million to the… Read more »