When I was a kid, I'd often spend the Sunday before Passover with other yeshiva kids packing up boxes full of matzah, eggs, grape, juice, gefilte fish and other staples to help the needy observe Passover.
Yeshiva and day school administrators who gathered at the Board of Jewish Education on the eve of Yom Kippur voiced their displeasure with a change in funding that will end basic grants to their institutions and instead provide health care coverage and life insurance to additional teachers.
The mood was tense and the discussion spirited as representatives from more than 50 New York-area Jewish schools, spanning the ideological gamut, spoke out against a recent decision by the Fund for Jewish Education to cut about $2.2 million in school grants.
Camp Ziouani, Golan Heights — It started last spring when grazing sheep crossed to the Israeli side of the invisible Golan Heights disengagement border, bringing Syrian herdsman face to face with IDF soldiers on heightened alert after the Lebanon war.
Tekoa, West Bank — For the people who live here, the Jewish settlement of Tekoa is something akin to paradise. Built atop a mountain in the starkly beautiful Judean Desert, its comfortable homes afford a breathtaking view of the camel-colored cliffs that extend in all directions. Here and there Arab villages, as well as the nearby settlement of El David, dot the parched mountainsides, adding a bit of color to the desert landscape.
Just after Yom Kippur, I sat down with acclaimed storyteller Joel ben Izzy to talk about his new memoir, "The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness" (Algonquin). At the heart of his riveting book is the story of how he lost his voice due to complications from throat surgery. Assuming his muteness to be permanent, ben Izzy sees his life's work coming to an end, and visits his mentor, Lenny, a cantankerous recluse, to find some answers. Lenny, to ben Izzy's astonishment, sees his affliction as a blessing.
The six-hour drive from Abeche, in the middle of Chad, to Chad's eastern border with Darfur is a "treacherous" one, says Rabbi Lee Bycel, who has made the trip three times in a caravan of all-terrain vehicles.
"I’m really, really Jewish, and what’s happening in Darfur hurts me so, so much,” said Jessica Jacobs, a student at the Maimonides Jewish day school in Brookline, Mass., as she stood near the edge of the “Save Darfur” rally Sunday in Central Park.
As the military government in Myanmar continued its crackdown on pro-democracy activists, a Burmese Jew now living in the United States expressed his sorrow over the killing of civilians — a number that could be as low as the 10 acknowledged by the government or as high as the hundreds claimed by human-rights advocates.
Sammy Samuels, a New York-based employee of American Jewish Congress, also said he witnessed one of the largest demonstrations preceding the crackdown while visiting his family in Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, for the High Holy Days.