Special Sections

Books that made a difference — Steven Freedman

Steven Freedman

When I was a young boy, I would go camping with my parents, older brother and younger sister. My mother would read a book aloud as my father drove the station wagon with the camping gear neatly stowed on top. On one trip, mom read short stories by Sholom… Read more »

Books that made a difference — Rebecca Kunsberg

Rebecca Kunsberg

A friend loaned me “The History of Love,” by Nicole Krauss, and it sat on my night stand for two months. I was in grad school at the time, and didn’t have time to read a book for leisure. I finally had time between semesters, and to this day,… Read more »

Books that made a difference — Penelope Starr

Penelope Starr

“The Penelopeiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus” by Margaret Atwood is a book that confirmed what I already believed, an excellent way for a book to get your attention. Atwood was asked to reinterpret an ancient myth as part of the Canongate Myth Series. She takes the story… Read more »

Books that made a difference — Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford

Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford

I grew up in a Jewish family in Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexican border, in a predominantly Mexican-Catholic community.  Since the early ’60s, I have been on a rich journey of embracing interracial/interfaith friendships and marriage.   The wisdom and maturity I gained along the way have served as a… Read more »

Books that made a difference — Beth Alpert Nakhai

Beth Alpert Nakhai

“A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a memoir by Amos Oz (Harcourt, 2003; translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange) is among the most gorgeous books I have ever read. Oz is a master of words and in this book he crafts them to create the story of… Read more »

Books that made a difference –Tom Miller

Tom Miller

In recent years I have become obsessed with “Don Quixote de La Mancha.” The book, published in two parts some 400 years ago, follows the exploits of Alonso Quijano, who imagines himself a knight-errant dedicated to acts of chivalry and takes on the name Don Quixote as well as… Read more »

Books that made a difference — Arthur Yavelberg

Arthur Yavelberg

Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” came to me at an important time. I already had a passion for baseball— how I wanted the ball hit to ME when it really counted. So when the Hasidic yeshiva student, Danny—at that time the menacing, Darth Vader-like Danny—recognized the spin in Reuven’s curve… Read more »

Books that made a difference – introduction

We call ourselves “People of the Book” because of the commandment that every Jew study Torah. Over generations, this moniker has also come to signify a more general esteem for books and learning.  The metaphor of the book so permeates our identity that during this High Holiday season, we… 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 »

Inspired by the GPS

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov

An 82-year-old Jewish man was recently marveling to me about the wonders of the Global Positioning System, otherwise known as the GPS satellite-based global navigation system. An observation of his got me thinking. “You see,” he said, “a person can go anywhere but if he doesn’t have a destination… Read more »

Rosh Hashanah reminds us that we have the power to change

Amy Hirshberg Lederman

It’s that time of year again. Backpacks and school binders tumble off the shelves at local stores, crossing guards in bright orange vests patrol the roads and parents are bemoaning the frenzied schedules that “back to school” requires. But there’s a positive energy in the air as kids, tanned… Read more »

Apples add sweet meaning to holiday fare

Joan Elder (left) serves ‘Gorgeous Beet and Apple Salad’ to Ester Leutenberg at the Northwest Rosh Chodesh group’s apples and honey potluck last month.

The Northwest Rosh Chodesh group, a program of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Northwest Division Jewish Connections, met Aug. 9 at the Oro Valley home of Ester Leu­tenberg. Seventeen wom­en, ranging in age from a middle school student to women in their 70s, came together to greet the… Read more »

Unique device aids in shofar mitzvah

Tucsonan Peter Ruiz, who has cerebral palsy, with the mechanical device that will allow him to sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

Blowing a shofar via a mechanical device? When 23-year-old Peter Ruiz, who has cerebral palsy, presses a touch screen at Congregation Or Chadash’s contemporary Rosh Hashanah service on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8:30 a.m., he will remarkably do just that. “This may be the first time this has been… 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 »

Understanding the lost art of repentence and its urgency

Louis E. Newman (Courtesy of Jewish Lights Publishing)

NORTHFIELD, Minn. (JTA) — In the past several months I have had some version of the following exchange several times. I tell a friend that I’ve just finished a book on repentance, and they respond that they find the subject of forgiveness very interesting. It’s psychologically so much healthier… Read more »

Op-Ed: Holidays remind us of what we still need to do in Haiti

American Jewish World Servce President Ruth Messinger, shown here on a visit to Chad, says it's time to step up what we're doing in Haiti (Mia Farrow)

NEW YORK (JTA) — On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many of us are haunted by the ubiquitous liturgical refrain asking “Who shall live and who shall die?” As I sit in synagogue and hear these words chanted over and over again, I can’t help but question whether the… Read more »

Mitzvah projects empower teens — and provide food, enrichment for others

Koby Shochat wears the tallit his father wore at his Bar Mitzvah. Koby’s mitzvah project involved donations of used tallitot.

One of the explicit and implicit tenets of Judaism is that we are supposed to live our lives doing mitzvot, literally translated as “commandments” but informally known as “good deeds.” In addition to the usual whirlwind of activity associated with B’nai Mitzvah preparation, such as learning Torah, attending services,… Read more »

Ask the Expert: High Holidays tickets

Question: My wife and I decided not to buy High Holidays tickets this year because they’re so expensive. What can we do to mark the holidays at home on our own? –Norman, Chicago Answer: Every year as the High Holidays approach I hear people grumbling about the price of… Read more »