Rivka Oppenheim

Aliyah Journal: Two Second Acts In Full Swing In Israel

A musician and a tour guide, both with N.Y. ties, are overcoming odds to rewrite their life scripts in Jewish state.

06/29/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: With the numbers of those making aliyah from North America on the rise, much of the attention has been focused on Orthodox families making the move. Last week, we reported on a pilot program for college students and recent graduates considering moving to Israel. This week, meet two people — both young singles — who each left New York to move to Israel alone.

Ben Soloway is persevering as a tour guide despite walking with difficulty. Rivka Oppenheim

Dreams Confront Reality On Pilot Israel Campus Trip

College students, recent grads hopeful and fearful about taking Israel plunge.

06/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

They came from all over the United States and Canada — college and graduate students, ready to embark on a whirlwind tour of Israel.

This wasn’t a Birthright trip, though. The 33 students who participated in the Jewish Agency’s Campus Aliyah Fellowship pilot trip had all been to Israel before. Now, they came with practical goals — and big dreams.

Syosset, L.I., native Brooke Katz shows off her Israeli passport. Jewish Agency

Students On Aliyah Trip Face Gaza Flotilla Mess

Politics intrudes on area college students thinking of moving to Israel.

06/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Zichron Yaakov, Israel — They came to learn about moving to Israel —  and immediately got a lesson in the harsh realities of Israeli life.

Conversation here among the students on the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Aliyah Pilot Trip has been dominated by talk of the Gaza flotilla crisis.

Small-Scale Death Camp: Holocaust Portrayed Through Puppetry

05/25/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Susan Feldman has been to Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. But when the artistic director of St. Ann’s Warehouse traveled to the small Dutch city of Leeuwarden, she saw the concentration camps again — in miniature.

There, the theater group Hotel Modern was performing “Kamp,” an installation using thousands of three-inch tall, handcrafted puppets to re-enact life — and death — in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz in miniature: The puppet play "kamp."

Ethical Kosher Seal Nearing Marketplace for Conservative Jews

Conservative movement’s ambitious ‘Magen Tzedek’ in testing stages, hoping to have certified products on store shelves within year.

05/25/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

With the trials of Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, still looming large over the kosher food industry, the Conservative movement is ready to make its mark on a field that is dominated by Orthodox companies.

After years of discussion and planning, the “Magen Tzedek” — which the Conservative movement calls the world’s first Jewish ethical certification seal — will complete beta testing with two food companies by the end of 2010.

Rabbi Morris Allen heads up the Conservative movement’s Hekhsher Tzedek commission.

Piping Up For Israel

05/18/2010

What’s that sound coming from the courtyard? 

Bagpipes? No, it can’t be. It’s not even St. Patrick’s Day.

And yet, there they are, standing near the patchy lawn behind their Washington Heights apartment building — an Orthodox Jewish couple, playing the bagpipes.

Sam and Sandy Benson usually practice their unusual instrument in Fort Tryon Park, but on Fridays, when time is short and the food is in the oven, they just come downstairs to play. 

“Shabbos siren”: The bagpipe sounds of Sandy and Sam Benson announce coming of Shabbat in Washington Heights. Yoni Oppenheim

Minyans, Synagogues In New Dynamic

Once at odds, the two groups now seen reinforcing each other.

04/27/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

His students have left, and Steven Exler is taking a moment to reflect. He’s just finished his session, presented to representatives of independent prayer minyanim, on how to comfort mourners. It’s a pastoral role that Exler, associate rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has performed countless times.

Now, he wonders what’s next.

“There’s sort of a moment of fear,” said Exler, 29. “Am I teaching people to make myself obsolete? I struggle with that question.”

Hadar’s Elie Kaunfer: Cross-fertilization with synagogues.

A Hot Date With ‘Srugim’

Modern Orthodox here flocking to Israeli singles show, now in second season. Can you believe what Nati did?

01/21/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

They’re discussing it on the Upper West Side. They’re watching it in Washington Heights. They’re dissecting it on Facebook and on their blogs.
And it’s a television show that hasn’t yet aired in America.
“It” is “Srugim,” the Israeli show that’s a hit in its home country. Critics there also love the show, which was named Best Drama by the Israeli Film and Television Academy last year.

The cast of “Srugim”: Kosher romance.
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