Devout Jews and Muslims here, particularly in Queens and Brooklyn, are like next-door neighbors who see each other every day yet remain strangers. But for a quick hello as they enter the same apartment building or rub elbows at the local fruit stand or discount store, most members of these communities have virtually nothing to do with one another.
It is only a few miles from Crown Heights to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but in some respects, the asphalt avenues linking them bridge entirely disparate worlds.
Matisyahu Miller — known to his legions of fans by his first name, and to his friends simply as Matis — makes the trip almost daily. He bikes from the Crown Heights apartment he shares with his wife and two young sons to the loft space he’s just rented in the old industrial neighborhood, giving him a place to write and rehearse his next album.
Thanksgiving leftovers are still in most of our refrigerators, but Benny Wechsler is already worrying about Passover.
Months before the first seder, Wechsler is usually squirreling away funding from state and city sources for his program, the Kosher Food Network of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, so that when he has to buy the holiday provisions that his program distributes to more than 50,000 families for Passover, he has the money saved up.
This year, though, for the first time, Wechsler isn’t able to put that money aside.
Julie Sandorf, on the cusp of turning 50, is also on the cusp of starting a big new job. In January she becomes president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Revson, with $165 million in assets, according to 2005 tax records (the most recent publicly available), is a major player in both New York and Jewish affairs, two areas that get much of its focus and funding. Recipients of major gifts in the Jewish realm include the Jewish Theological Seminary, for a fellowship in advanced Jewish studies, the Jewish Media Fund, Hillel and the American Jewish World Service.
Walking into a room where the women’s prayer group meets at the Ramaz School, a board member of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance saw about a dozen copies of “Ohel Sarah: Women’s Siddur,” by the ArtScroll imprint of Mesorah Publications.
At a time when the Conservative movement is struggling to define its goals and message, the new chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Arnold Eisen, appears set to empower the members themselves to determine its identity.
Even “the rabbis are asking me, ‘what does it mean to be a Conservative Jew?’” Eisen told The Jewish Week on the eve of his inauguration this week as the seventh chancellor of JTS, the movement’s anchor institution.
When John Ruskay met with a major donor to UJA-Federation of New York Monday in the man’s Midtown office, multiple screens on his desk flashed with stock prices and minute-by-minute financial updates. Their first order of business was to talk about the volatility currently wreaking havoc in the hedge fund, credit and mortgage markets.
For a long time, Danielle Durchslag had absolutely no interest in anything Jewish. The 25-year-old Soho resident hated Hebrew school, despised the Jewish overnight camps she was sent to and describes the trip she took to Israel when she was a teenager as “an utter disaster.”
Entering a Borough Park public school early Tuesday, David Tilis was emphatic about his pick for president.
“I’m Jewish, so it has to be [George W.] Bush,” said Tilis, 21, a mortgage broker en route to casting his vote for the Republican incumbent. “I don’t understand how any Jew could vote for [Sen. John] Kerry. Yasir Arafat is for him.”