Human Interest

Giving The Rebbe A Biography

‘The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson’
humanizes the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but is its premise flawed?

05/11/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

‘The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson” by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman (Princeton University Press) fills a considerable void in the biography of one of the towering religious figures of the 20th century. But on reading it, one wonders whether the object of the biography is the same Lubavitcher Rebbe the world came to know and admire for pioneering Jewish outreach in the modern age and for being arguably the figure most responsible for the global resurgence in Jewish affiliation.

The authors of a biography of late leader of the Lubavitch movement make no effort to explain his scholarly works.

Bye Bye Boobies

05/11/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

When the going gets tough, DJ Jensen throws parties.

And so, on the eve of DJ’s prophylactic double mastectomy to ward off breast cancer last year, she could be found grinning in a room festooned with padded bras and balloon bouquets, savoring a breast-shaped red velvet cake, surrounded by women she loved. Like the guests, DJ wore pink. Her T-shirt read, “Shh. Don’t Say Anything. They Don’t Know Yet.”

Love And Theft

Donald Margulies’
‘Collected Stories’ gets a revival.

05/11/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Every piece of writing is, according to the literary critic Harold Bloom, a mixture of homage and betrayal, an attempt by the writer to be freed from the long shadow of the writers of the past. What Bloom famously dubbed the “anxiety of influence” is one of the most salient themes of Donald Margulies’ “Collected Stories,” now receiving a solid revival at the Manhattan Theatre Club starring Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson.

Linda Lavin,  left, and Sarah Paulson as mentor and student in “Collected Stories.”

A Conversation With Hila Ratzabi

Twenty-eight-year-old poet Hila Ratzabi has the kind of credentials Jewish leaders like to tout as the surefire antidote to intermarriage: 12 years of Jewish day school followed by four years in the Jewish Theological Seminary/Barnard College undergraduate double-degree program.

The daughter of an Israeli father and American Jewish mom, Ratzabi always assumed she would marry a Jewish man. But in the year and a half since she met her Mexican-American (Baptist-raised) atheist boyfriend José, a grad student in chemistry, Ratzabi, who has an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College, has been questioning her long-held assumptions about intermarriage and eagerly reading stories of how other people have negotiated interfaith relationships.

Gag Rule For Gentiles

Interfaithfamily.com has published a very disturbing personal essay by a mom who wasn’t allowed to speak from the bima at her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

The essay by Debbie Burton doesn’t say how long ago the incident occurred, but the gag rule for gentiles remains in place at her Chicago congregation, which she describes as an independent lay-led minyan that relies on “Conservative legal opinions.” (To learn more about independent minyanim, which vary tremendously in their overall outlooks as well as their approaches toward interfaith families, read my colleague Rivka Oppenheim's excellent recent article or go to the Mechon Hadar Web site.)

Rage At Brandeis Over Invite To Israel’s Oren

Lookstein calls protests ‘nothing less than evil.’

05/05/2010
Associate Editor

Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren, though no longer in the Israel Defense Forces, might feel like he deserves combat pay for all the fury he’s generating on American campuses.

Most dramatically, 11 Muslim students were arrested in February for disrupting the ambassador’s talk at the University of California-Irvine, and now hundreds of students at  Brandeis University, many of whom are Jewish, are campaigning to have Brandeis rescind its invitation for Oren to speak at graduation ceremonies May 23.

Why Nervous People Gain Weight

Staff Writer
05/05/2010

 Researchers at the Weizmann Institute have discovered a genetic explanation for a phenomenon usually considered psychological — obesity — and such side effects as type 2 diabetes and arteriosclerosis, among people subject to stress.

While individuals with depression are known to overeat to relieve their stress, Dr. Alon Chen’s research team at Weizmann’s department of neurobiology have shown that changes in the activity of a single gene of mice brains leads to metabolic changes that cause symptoms associated with diabetes.

Vacation In Israel, Come Home Cured

Low-cost, quality care — and possibly
U.S. health reforms — seen leading more
Western patients to seek out procedures in Israel.

Staff Writer
05/05/2010

 Rachel and her partner had been contemplating artificial insemination for years, but they didn’t actually go ahead with the process until Rachel came to Jerusalem from New York for a one-year teaching fellowship. After some encouragement from another couple that had gone through the process, the decision was clear: they would create their child in Israel, at Hadassah Medical Center in Mount Scopus.

Patients consult with a doctor in the waiting room of Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, which has become one of many Israeli hu
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