Judaism

Jewish Songwriter Offers An Indie Take On Genesis

Wailing Wall’s Jesse Rifkin reimagines, and personalizes, the biblical story.

05/25/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Jesse Rifkin is remembering his childhood in Annapolis, Md. He began writing songs when he was 4. At that age, he loved the Beatles. He was already thinking of himself as a career musician.

“Sometimes you just know,” he says firmly.

It all came true; he has recorded an EP and two CDs with his Wailing Wall band, with the latter recordings being released through JDub Records. He will be launching his new album, “The Low Hanging Fruit,” with a gig in New York on June 4.

Songwriter Jesse Rifkin’s “Low-Hanging Fruit” CD bridges the Bible and the economic downturn.

Humility And Prophecy: Hearing the Word of God

05/25/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat candles: 7:59 p.m.
Torah reading: Numbers 8:1-12:16
Haftara: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Sabbath ends: 9:07 p.m.

Bad Blogger, Good Jew?

I’ve been a very bad blogger recently (a whole week without posting), but a very good Jew: in the past 10 days, I’ve gone to services at three congregations, and attended a Storahtelling event. Plus, this Saturday morning I’ll be in shul (a fourth one!) yet again, for my niece’s bat mitzvah.

Those who pray three times a day, or are at least weekly shul-goers, may laugh at such modest accomplishments. Indeed, I’m sure someone will send me a nasty e-mail or post a comment saying this (along with being intermarried) is further evidence of my moral laxity. Nonetheless, for me, four synagogues in two weeks — not during the High Holidays — is something of a record.

Who Was – And, More Disturbingly, Wasn’t – At The Israel Day Parade

Walking along the route of the Israel Day Parade yesterday, from 72nd Street down to 59th Street along Fifth Avenue, I was reminded once again, and in dramatic fashion, how the expression of Zionism in American has become increasingly the purview of the Modern Orthodox community.

The crowd appeared to be made up primarily of relatives and friends of the marchers – many of the large contingents were day school children – and other observant Jews.

Being Our Own Masters

05/21/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In the religious world, there has been much discussion over the past few years, and rightly so, of the struggle between what sociologists like to call the “commanding presence” and the “sovereign self.” The “commanding presence” is an outside source of authority- in the larger religious sense, God, or in a lesser religious sense, rabbis. The “sovereign self” is the autonomous individual, who chafes at being told what to do.

Germany’s First Post-war Reform Synagogue Breaks Ground

05/21/2010

(JTA) -- The Reform community of Hameln, Germany has begun building what it says will be Germany’s first post-war Reform synagogue.

Jüdische Gemeinde Hameln broke ground earlier this month for its new synagogue and community center. It will stand on the site of the former Buerenstrasse synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht in November 1938.

Pumping Iron For The Payes Set

In Williamsburg, chasids and hipsters
are increasingly working out alongside
one another.

05/18/2010
Staff Writer

Taking a mid-afternoon break from running his busy Williamsburg restaurant, David Lowey hustled over to a new Bushwick gym and hopped on an elliptical machine, pedaling vigorously in his full Satmar regalia.

Tzitzit dangling from his black pants and payes swinging over his ears, the 290-pound 26-year-old breathed heavily, as he scrolled through the day’s Daf Yomi Talmud page online, from a touch-screen computer panel in front of him.

David  Lowey hits the elliptical and studies the Talmud at Green Fitness. Sharon Udasin

The Ethics of Giving: Jewish vs. Non-Jewish?

05/18/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: My wife and I disagree about charitable giving. I believe most of our charitable dollars should go to helping our own Jewish people; she wants to give to local non-Jewish groups, like the homeless shelter and food bank. What's the magic formula about Jewish v. non-Jewish giving, according to Jewish law?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Shavuot: Cracked Eggs, A Gradual Convert And A Supportive Jewish Mother-in-Law

Last night, in anticipation of Shavuot, which starts Tuesday night, my daughters and I made noodle kugel.

Yes, I know blintzes and cheesecake are more typical fare for this holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah, but noodle pudding shares their status as dairy-laden traditional Jewish food — and it’s considerably easier to prepare.

Appreciation: Rabbi David Forman - An Orthodox Reform Jew

Although best known for founding the left-wing Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi David Forman defied ideological pigeonholing.

05/12/2010
Staff Writer

Over lunch several years ago, across a table at a Manhattan kosher restaurant from a middle-aged rabbi with a graying beard, large knit kipa and critical opinions about the spiritual life of most American Jews, I told my guest to ‘fess up.

“You can tell me the truth,” I said to Rabbi David Forman. “You’re really an Orthodox rabbi.”

Rabbi David Forman
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