Special Sections

Shining Stars: Russell Wiener

(Courtesy Russell Wiener)

Musician, performer, producer, engineer, director, band member, recording artist … Russell Wiener wears a lot of hats, on stage and behind the scenes, but he seems to like it that way. With 20 years in the Los Angeles music industry under his belt, he’s got a lot to show… Read more »

Shining Stars: Rhonda Karson

Rhonda Karson ended up in Hollywood because she thought she wanted to work in film. But she always had a calling for the stage, and that’s where she has found her muse. Born and raised in Tucson, Karson, the 27-year-old daughter of Cathy and Mitch Karson, got her first… Read more »

Shining Stars: Suki-Rose Simakis

(Courtesy Suki-Rose Simakis)

A winding road led Suki-Rose Simakis to the place she is meant to be and it is literally a world of horror — cinematic horror, that is. She says she has always been a film person, spending lots of time at The Loft Cinema and Catalina Theatre growing up in… Read more »

Shining Stars: Alex Caine

Directly out of college, Alex Caine had a great public relations job that he wound up hating. “I realized I missed performing,” he says. He took a risk, quit that job and headed to Los Angeles three years ago to make a name for himself in comedy. While most… Read more »

Shining Stars: Rachel Saul

(Roy Nuesca)

Some of violinist Rachel Saul’s best memories are of playing classical music at Tucson’s 4th Avenue Street Fair when she was in high school or home visiting from college, with her younger sister, Rebecca, accompanying her on viola. “What a great time that was, just performing together on the… Read more »

Shining Stars: Michael Cooper

(Courtesy Michael Cooper)

Michael Cooper describes Nogales, Arizona, as a small, multicultural melting pot. Nevertheless, he felt like an outsider growing up there. He carries that with him every day as he approaches life in the world’s largest melting pot, New York City. He says the border town lessons about inclusion vs.… Read more »

On summer travels in Israel, Tucsonans delight in people, places, studies

(L-R): Garrett Fenton, Matt Landau, Sophia Yatsenko, Monica Montes, and Linnea Dawson in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Western Wall

This summer season marked the 18th anniversary of Birthright Israel, the program that brings Diaspora Jews, ages 18-26, on a free trip to Israel. From May 24-June 4, Bus #1545 carried University of Arizona students along with participants from the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and San… Read more »

HIGH HOLIDAY FEATURES: Dipping apples in honey problem for vegans

The Rosh Hashanah custom of dipping apples in honey had its start among Ashkenazi Jews. (Liron Almog/Flash90)

The truth is, there is no commandment in Judaism to dip an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah. But what would the Jewish New Year be without the custom? It’s a question that bedevils vegans, many of whom won’t eat honey because it’s an animal product. So what’s a… Read more »

Community takes Homer Davis school to heart

Volunteers from Roche Tissue Diagnostics (Ventana Medical Systems, Inc), including Jennifer Miller Grant (foreground) and Ianna Brugal, pack food boxes for Homer Davis Elementary School on Dec. 15, 2017. The food boxes are part of ‘Making a Difference Every Day: The Homer Davis Project,’ coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Jewish Community Relations Council. (JFSA)

In Tucson, 21 percent of children live below the poverty level. It makes a difference when children study on empty stomachs. It makes a difference when they have no food to eat when they get home. It makes a difference in their ability to grow, learn and succeed. “Making… Read more »

HIGH HOLIDAYS FEATURE: Must-know High Holidays words and phrases

Here are some important Hebrew words and terms you may encounter over the High Holiday season. Akedah  — Pronounced ah-keh-DAH. Literally “binding,” the Akedah refers to the biblical story of the binding of Isaac, which is traditionally read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Chag sameach — Pronounced KHAG sah-MAY-akh. Literally “happy… Read more »

Mitzvah Magic celebrating 10th anniversary

Mitzvah Magic circle captains and co-chairs celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary, Aug. 5. Standing (L-R): Fran Katz (Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona senior vice president), Andra Karnofsky (co-chair), Linda Tumarkin, Wendy Weiss, Claudia Oreck-Teplitsky, Donna Moser, Iris Posin (co-chair); seated, Elena Boskoff, Trudy Haggard, Anne Lowe (JFSA)

Mitzvah Magic, a program that provides baskets of Jewish holiday goods and everyday basics three times a year for local Jewish families in need, is a win-win, says longtime volunteer Iris Posin, who is co-chairing the program this year with Andra Karnofsky. Not only do families receive items that… Read more »

For Handmaker resident, conversion to Judaism is part of full life

Elaine McLain displays her certificate of conversion on Aug. 9, 2017, with the members of the rabbinic beit din, from left: Rabbi Dr. Howard Schwartz, Rabbi Avraham Alpert, Rabbi Dr. Bennett Blum.

Before moving to Handmaker in 2015, Elaine McLain lived all over the country, and “did everything imaginable,” she says, including marrying and being widowed twice, raising three children — and, on Aug. 9, converting to Judaism. (See related story, page 7.) Jewish ethics were the first thing that attracted… Read more »

PJ Library offers prizes for summer reading program

PJ Library invites kids up to age 8 to join the “Dive into Reading This Summer” program, which runs through July 31. Kids need to read nine books and complete nine activities from the PJ Library calendar, such as “eat some challah” and “compliment someone.” Print a calendar at… Read more »

Language classes at J can keep brain sharp

There are many benefits to learning a foreign language, such as boosting brain power, enhanced memory, and even stalling the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. A 2012 study by Swedish and German researchers shows that the language centers of the brain actually grow as a result of learning a… Read more »