Religion & Jewish Life

By chilling out on Rosh Hashanah, I made my Judaism truly meaningful

Julie Matlin (Courtesy of Matlin)

MONTREAL (JTA) — Picking through gefilte fish in the kosher department, searching for the freshest packages, I think of my Grandma Fanny. She made her gefilte fish from scratch, lovingly combining the cod, whitefish, pike and whatever other secret ingredients she threw in that made it so good. “This… Read more »

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Yiddish makes a match

(JTA) — It’s life imitating art over at New York City’s Off-Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish. Stephanie Lynne Mason and Drew Seigla, who play the young couple Hodl and Perchik in the production, are engaged, the show announced Sunday on its Twitter feed. “We’re KVELLING!… Read more »

My congregation prays at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Here’s how we are coping this Rosh Hashanah.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, right, holds hands with Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who survived the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue, at Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church during a service for victims of the mass shooting, Oct. 31, 2018, Perlman's wife, the author Beth Kissileff, is seated to his left. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images/JTA Photo Service)

PITTSBURGH (JTA) — Our sages teach us that kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are difficult. This phrase feels especially resonant this Rosh Hashanah. The man who blew the shofar last year at my Pittsburgh synagogue, New Light, is not here to blow it now. He was murdered on Oct. 27… Read more »

‘We feel like we failed’: How one Jewish school is processing the arrest of a teacher who preyed on children

A view outside the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Google Street View/JTA Photo Service)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at the front of a large room lined floor to ceiling with Jewish holy books, Rabbi Joseph Beyda’s voice broke as he processed, seemingly in real time, the idea that a trusted teacher had preyed on his students. “I think the overarching feeling of… Read more »

Grounds of Boston-area synagogue vandalized

BOSTON (JTA) — The grounds of a suburban Boston synagogue were vandalized. Congregants of Temple Sinai in Sharon, about 25 miles south of Boston, discovered graffiti of unidentifiable defacing symbols splashed over the large Star of David in the pavement near the synagogue’s front entryway as they arrived for… Read more »

United Arab Emirates will build its first official synagogue

(JTA) — Construction on the first official synagogue in the United Arab Emirates will begin in several months. The synagogue, slated to be completed by 2022, will be part of a multi-faith complex called the Abrahamic Family House in the capital Abu Dhabi, Reuters reported, citing the Abu Dhabi-based… Read more »

Extreme Jewish religious sect Lev Tahor requested political asylum from Iran

(JTA) — Lev Tahor, a fringe haredi Orthodox sect, requested political asylum from the Iranian government. In its request, the group “declared their loyalty and submission to the Supreme Leader and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It asks for “asylum, protection and religious freedom of the families… Read more »

Annual Project Isaiah food drive to help the hungry

A food drive collection box is available in the lobby of the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy, home of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, at 3718 E. River Road. (Phyllis Braun/AJP)

Project Isaiah, the Jewish community’s annual High Holidays food drive benefiting the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, begins Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15. When asked why we fast on Yom Kippur, the prophet Isaiah responded, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?” (Isaiah… Read more »

In Israel’s south, English classes give kids a leg up

Tucsonan Aimee Katz (front right) with third-grade students at the Alfassi school in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. Katz taught English in Mitzpe Ramon during the 2018-19 school year. (Courtesy Aimee Katz)

Leaving home is difficult, especially since I had lived nowhere else besides Tucson, except for sleepaway camp and teaching in Israel for short stints during the summers. A year ago, however, I traded in the Arizona desert for Mitzpe Ramon, a small southern Israeli desert town in the middle… Read more »

Growth at Chabad Oro Valley inspires new facility, more leaders

Adeli and Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman, with son Mendel, join the leadership team at Chabad Oro Valley. (Courtesy Rabbi Boruch Zimmerman)

Since opening in 2012, Chabad Oro Valley, led by Rabbi Ephraim and Mushkie Zimmerman, has grown its roster of participants to about 500 — and outgrown its current space. For the High Holidays, Chabad Oro Valley will celebrate in a new 3,388-square-foot home in Sun City’s Mountain View Plaza,… Read more »

In new book, Obama speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz goes on a Jewish journey

For Sarah Hurwitz, an introductory course launched an exploration of Judaism. (Random House)

When Sarah Hurwitz was working as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama, and later as head speechwriter for Michelle Obama, she often was assumed to be a good source of knowledge about Judaism. Except Hurwitz wasn’t. She had grown up nominally Reform. And after her bat mitzvah, Hurwitz… Read more »

Annual book brunch to highlight women’s prayers

Esther Becker will explore “Conversations with G-d” at the annual Women’s Academy of Jewish Studies Women’s Book Brunch, Sunday, Sept. 15 at Congregation Chofetz Chayim. “We live in an era when we all have our challenges to deal with and no one goes unscathed,” says Becker.  “I wanted to… Read more »

Classes offer free ‘Taste of Judaism’

The Union for Reform Judaism’s Taste of Judaism classes, taught by Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Batsheva Appel, will be offered at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Sundays, Sept. 8, 15, and 22 from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and at Temple Emanu-El on Thursdays, Sept. 12, 19, and 26, from 6-8 p.m.… Read more »

BYOB bash to celebrate babies and books

Parents and siblings can read to babies early in life. (Courtesy PJ

Babies and reading are the focus of a lighthearted BYOB (bring your own baby) event coming up at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Early Childhood Education Center next month. “It’s an opportunity to meet other Jewish families with babies,” says Mary Ellen Loebl, coordinator for Southern Arizona’s PJ Library… Read more »

Sisterhood high tea will focus on fashion, fund-raising

Fashions by LuLaRoe will be among those modeled by synagogue members at the Congregation Or Chadash/Temple Emanu-El high tea, Sept. 15. (Photo courtesy Congregation Or Chadash Sisterhood)

Congregation Or Chadash Sisterhood and Temple Emanu-El Women of Reform Judaism will hold their first major collaboration, a fashion show high tea, on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 2-4 p.m. The event will be catered by L’Chaim Catering and fashions provided by Clique and LuLaRoe will be modeled by members… Read more »

Tucson teens make friends and win big at JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta

With a cowboy as their logo for the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games, Team Tucson galloped out at the July 28 opening ceremonies in Atlanta to the song “Old Town Road.” From left: Grant Cohen (front), Gabe Green, Pasha Maher (basketball coach), Elijah Nogales,Josh Shenker (delegation head), and Gianna Miltenberger

Tucson’s team for the annual JCC Maccabi Games for Jewish teens, held July 28-Aug. 2 in Atlanta, was “small but mighty” with four athletes, says Josh Shenker, delegation head and director of children, youth and camping services at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. “Though we were the smallest delegation… Read more »

Local player helps Team USA bring home Maccabi gold

Cody Blumenthal (back row, center, in white) played point guard for Team USA at the July Maccabi Pan American games in Mexico City. Team USA won gold over Team Israel (in blue) by 20 points.

Cody Blumenthal brought home a gold medal from his participation on the age 18 and under Team USA basketball team at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City, July 5-15. “Winning gold with my new best friends was the best feeling in the world,” he says. Every… Read more »