Religion & Jewish Life

As men fade from Jewish communal life, men’s clubs push for revival

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — When Mitchell Ross was a boy, he remembers his grandfather hanging out with the men’s club at his Conservative synagogue. “I always felt it was something older Jewish men were involved in, the over-60s club,” said Ross, a 39-year-old cardiologist in Phoenix, Ariz. Today, Ross… Read more »

Would Youkilis play on Yom Kippur?

Kevin Youkilis

PHILADELPHIA (Jewish Exponent) — Kevin Youkilis says he truly doesn’t know what he would do if faced with the same dilemma as Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and Shawn Green. What if the Boston Red Sox are scheduled for a post-season game on Yom Kippur, which begins on Friday night,… Read more »

Israeli ex-pats flocking to Berlin for the culture and the passport

BERLIN (JTA) — Aviv Russ stands behind a console with his headphones on and speaks into a large microphone. “We’re here: ‘Kol Berlin,’ the German-Israeli radio program. Shabbat shalom!” says Russ, 34, an Israeli expatriate. Russ has been on the radio in Berlin nearly every Friday for about three… Read more »

After ruinous tornado, rabbis head to Joplin to help

Trees left standing by Joplin High School following the May 22, 2011 tornado collected debris from the heavily damaged school, June 4, 2011. [John Daves/U.S. Army via Creative Commons]

NEW YORK (JTA) – When a tornado devastated the small city of Joplin, Mo., in late May, the city’s lone synagogue was left untouched — at least, physically. Bu tthen came the flood. Not as water, but in the form of phone calls from across the United States from… Read more »

In summer, Jewish studies flowers in Eastern Europe

KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) — In Austria and Poland recently, I couldn’t seem to get away from students, scholars and just plain interested folks who were taking or teaching summer programs in Jewish studies. I myself spoke at a three-day “summer academy” in Vienna where more than 100 members of… Read more »

A Pennsylvania coal-mining town rediscovers its abandoned shul

PITTSBURGH ( The Jewish Chronicle) — The students of Northern Cambria High School often walked by the 85-year-old deserted synagogue, but never paid it much attention. Some did not even know what it was. But all that has changed. And in a big way. For the past year, 15… Read more »

In California farming town, a Latino congregation commits to Judaism

LOS ANGELES (The Jewish Journal) — Located in the northern part of Santa Barbara County, but as distant from chic Santa Barbara as one can imagine, Santa Maria is a blue-collar town dotted with fast-food and barbecue joints. In recent years its population, at least half of which is… Read more »

Meshugah for Zumba

Zumba instructors, including Shelley Engel, center, and Esther Goldberg, right, join the Phillie Phanatic in a performance for a charity fundraiser last summer. (Julia Elkin)

PHILADELPHIA (Jewish Exponent) — At age 54, Esther Goldberg has danced in front of 46,000 people at a sold-out Phillies game and behind a casino bar wearing little more than a see-through mesh shirt over a sparkly bra. This is what Zumba can do to an otherwise mild-mannered masseuse… Read more »

Oswiecim, the city of Auschwitz, wrestles with whether the past must be part of its future

A local woman wheels her baby in front of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, in the heart of Oswiecim. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

OSWIECIM, Poland (JTA) — Can a town that exists in the shadow of death transform itself into a place of normalcy? The question long has vexed Oswiecim, the town of 40,000 in southern Poland where the notorious Auschwitz death camp is located. For decades, residents and city leaders have… Read more »

Chabad royal wedding in Moscow

MOSCOW (Tablet) — Blumi Lazar’s wedding was not an intimate affair. A thick white dek tichel completely covering her face, Blumi stood under a massive raised chuppah of indigo velvet and gold fringe, swaying ever so slightly next to her groom, Isaac Rosenfeld, before some 1,500 invited guests. Among… Read more »

As Moishe Houses catch on, Jewish orgs see new model for engaging 20-somethings

Moishe House Baltimore residents Jen Posner, left, and Mickey Rubin, wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap, host a rooftop barbecue for other young Baltimore Jews, May 19, 2011. (Moishe House Baltimore)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Ben Levinson, 28, was born and raised in St. Louis. He returned after college to find most of the Jewish friends he grew up with had moved away. That’s not unusual: St. Louis is one of many U.S. cities with shrinking Jewish populations and, as… Read more »

Jews on motorcycles? Yes, and they’re Ridin’ Chai!

SAN FRANCISCO (j weekly) — It’s a warm Sunday afternoon in the Berkeley hills, and if you look west from the road that abuts Tilden Park, the San Francisco skyline is about as clear as it gets. As with most nice days, the park is full of people —… Read more »

Study: Young Jews volunteer, but don’t connect to Judaism

Participants in a 2011 Yeshiva University Alternative Break program in Nicaragua, run throught he American Jewish World Service, learn to connect volunteer service to their Jewish values. (American Jewish World)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Most young Jews do some kind of volunteer service, but few do it through Jewish agencies or connect it to Jewish values. Poverty, the environment, education and illiteracy are the areas that draw most young Jewish volunteers, with Israel-related work at the bottom of the… Read more »

‘Never Better’ in Krakow?

A DJ samples Jewish music from the Bimah as, at about 1 a.m., crowds visit an exhibit in the Old Synagogue on the Night of the synagogues. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) — Jews in Krakow have a new slogan — “Never Better.” The catchphrase is deliberately provocative, a blatant rejoinder to “Never Again,” the slogan long associated with Holocaust memory and the fight against anti-Semitic prejudice. It may be counterintuitive, acknowledges Jonathan Ornstein, the American-born director of… Read more »

A new generation of Jewish delis embraces sustainability

Peter Levitt, co-owner of Sual's Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley, Calif., serving up some of the deli's grass-fed, sustainably produced meat. (Saul's Restaurant and Deli)

BERKELEY, Calif. (JTA) — Can a Jewish deli be a Jewish deli without pastrami? That’s the question Saul’s Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley is facing after refusing the delivery of a truckload of pastrami because it did not meet the deli’s sustainability standards. “We found out it is no… Read more »

Meet Australia’s Aborigine who is president of her Orthodox shul

Lisa Jackson Pulver, a Jewish member of the Aboriginal tribe called the Wiradjuri. (From "Hand and Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together" by Anne Sarzin and Lisa Miranda Sarzin.)

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Lisa Jackson Pulver is not your average Australian Jew. Yes, she is one of this country’s 110,000 or so Members of the Tribe, but she is also a member of another tribe: an Aboriginal clan called the Wiradjuri. Jackson Pulver says she’s not the only… Read more »

Member of two tribes: Aussie Aborigine is Orthodox shul president

Lisa Jackson Pulver, a Jewish member of the Aboriginal tribe called the Wiradjuri. (From "Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous People Working Together" by Anne Sarzin and Lisa Miranda Sarzin)

      SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Lisa Jackson Pulver is not your average Australian Jew. Yes, she is one of this country’s 110,000 or so Members of the Tribe, but she is also a member of another tribe: an Aboriginal clan called the Wiradjuri. Jackson Pulver says she’s… Read more »

Shuttering of Yale program on anti-Semitism raises hackles

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Did Yale’s program on anti-Semitism die a natural death from lack of academic vigor, as the university says? Should it have been saved, as two major Jewish groups are arguing? Or was it killed for being politically incorrect about Muslim anti-Semitism, as alleged by others? The… Read more »

With increasingly particular eaters, Shabbat meals get tough

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — There’s a scene in the 1991 film “L.A. Story” where a waiter in a trendy eatery takes increasingly complex coffee orders from a table of Hollywood types, ending with the sublimely ridiculous “half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.” What caused a guffaw… Read more »