Houston — Just released from the hospital and too weak to attend High Holy Days services at her synagogue four years ago, Pearl Altman listened on the telephone. The congregation of Mrs. Altman, a retired teacher and investment banker, had made that arrangement for homebound members like her.
But the audio-only broadcast could not duplicate the in-shul experience, she says. Too much dead time, extended minutes of silence or of prayerbook pages rustling.
There must be a better way, said Mrs. Altman and her husband Sig.
Just outside the city of Shiraz, in Iran’s stark and arid south, lies the gravesite of Cyrus the Great, founder of the first empire in human history to declare religious tolerance for all its peoples. Cyrus, acclaimed in the Bible for allowing the Jews exiled by Babylonia to return to their homeland and rebuild their Temple in 538 BCE, lies in an unadorned and simple stone tomb, a reflection, historians say, of the man’s humble character.
Implicitly rebutting several senior government authorities, the Central Jewish Committee of Iran last week publicly asserted for the first time that 13 Iranian Jews currently imprisoned on suspicion of spying for Israel and the United States are innocent.
Putting its own resources on the line, the committee, which serves as the umbrella group for Iran’s 25,000 Jews, also announced it was prepared to raise money for attorneys to defend the imprisoned Jews.
Inside a Kew Gardens Hills spa that pampers its customers with manicures and facials, only a few women are having their nails done this morning. “Customers are not coming as often,” says the owner, a middle-aged woman with a Russian accent, declining to give her name. A year ago, she says, “there was always a waiting line.”
New York City area clergy are in danger of burning out as they try to keep up with the unprecedented demand for spiritual counsel from hundreds of thousands of residents traumatized from Sept. 11.
And the mental health of both clergy and 9-11 survivors is expected to worsen in the coming months from the continued stress and delayed emotional reactions.
While recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month, Cardinal John O'Connor composed his annual New Year's letter to his many friends in the New York Jewish community.
In fact, the 79-year-old leader of New York City Catholics has been sending heartfelt holiday greetings twice a year (on Rosh HaShanah and Passover) to Jewish leaders for at least 10 years.
The New York Jets home season will start off poorly this year for some Jewish fans. And at least one of them insists that the Jets knew about a scheduling conflict with the Jewish calendar and did not take action until now.
America's largest Christian evangelical group has launched a national prayer campaign to get Jews to accept Jesus during the High Holy Days. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board, which coordinates proselytization activities, issued a prayer pamphlet last week to guide its members on how to pray to God so that Jews will convert during the 10 days of reflection between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
Randy Sprinkle, director of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board's prayer strategy office, denied the campaign was hostile to Jews.
Like the biblical prophets Samuel and Nathan, who admonished their kings for sinning, the spiritual head of the Conservative movement found himself a lone Jewish voice in the nation this week following his daring call for President Clinton to resign.
Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, last week thus became the first national Jewish religious figure to urge Clinton to quit because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He said the president’s moral authority has been “destroyed” and in effect cannot be recovered.
In the lobby of the Coffey Community Center on Manhattan’s East Side, Judy Klemperer gingerly picked up a black prayerbook from a large pile lying in a laundry bin and wiped off the ashes.
“It’s all wet and warped,” she said, shaking her head sadly. “It won’t be used again.”
She then placed it into a large plastic garbage bag. Someone wrote down the dedication on the inside cover for future reference.