Kentucky

Lessons From My Kentucky Derby

With the Kentucky Derby in the news this weekend (not that I, a sports-phobe, will be watching), I can’t help reflecting more on my recent visit to Louisville and Congregation Keneseth Israel.

I was really struck by how different things can look from the “inside” versus the “outside” of a congregation.  "Sara," a Catholic woman who attends services regularly with her Jewish husband and children, was one of the volunteers who helped plan my visit. When we first spoke over the phone, she marveled, “This is the first time they’ve ever invited me to get involved on a project!”

When Intermarriages Get 'Hit By A Bus'

My friend Laurel Snyder, editor of “Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes” and author of numerous children’s books, has a thoughtful piece out this week on Killing The Buddha about intermarriage, divorce and the Reyes case. 

Laurel who, like me, has divorced parents and is herself intermarried, explores a lot of the same issues I’ve been thinking about (some elaborated on a column to be published in next week’s Jewish Week), vis a vis how interfaith issues play out when marriages implode. In emphasizing how she advises interfaith couples to discuss their differences before they become problems, she writes

Southern Hospitality

 Still basking in the warmth from my weekend in Kentucky.

The weather was perfect, with blossoms at their peak of loveliness and wildflowers everywhere. And the folks at Keneseth Israel outdid themselves with their Southern hospitality — lavishing attention upon me, putting me up in a luxurious bed and breakfast, serving a home-cooked Shabbat dinner and Kiddush lunch, taking me out on Saturday night and giving me a full tour of Louisville on Sunday. One congregant even bought me a lottery ticket (I’ll find out if I win on Wednesday)!

Conservative Judaism And Kentucky

 This weekend I am heading south to Louisville, Ky., where I will be the Dave and Reva Kahn scholar-in-residence at Keneseth Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue.

It’s my first “scholar-in-residence” gig, and the fact that a Conservative shul sought me out for this honor is significant. While the Reform movement has for decades promoted outreach to interfaith families, the Conservative movement long held to a traditional, anti-intermarriage stance. As recently as two years ago, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism had a policy barring intermarried Jews and their spouses from publicly addressing its conventions.

The Pursuits of Maira Kalman

From Obama to Tel Aviv to the New Yorker’s legendary ‘New Yorkistan’ cover,
the brainy Israeli-born painter/writer/blogger explores modern life.

04/07/2010
Staff Writer

When Barack Obama won the presidency, Maira Kalman was thrilled. It was not only a fresh start for America, she thought, but one for her own work as well: The New York Times was looking for another assignment for Kalman after her wildly successful illustrated blog, “The Principles of Uncertainty,” which documented her own life, debuted in 2006.

An gouache painting by Maira Kalman, titled  “Israel Bed” (2008).

Feds Briefed On In-Flight Tefillin

03/24/2010

 Two months after a Jewish teen from White Plains was detained and briefly handcuffed after wearing his tefillin during morning prayers on a Kentucky-bound flight, the Transportation Security Administration has added information about the leather boxes and straps to briefing materials for security officials across the country.

From The Soviet Union To Salomon Brothers

06/21/1999
Jewish Week Book Critic

The copy of Leon Uris’ “Exodus” that Mark Tsesarsky read as a teenager was fragile, having passed through many hands before his. This was a samizdat copy, published underground and secretly circulated among Jews in the former Soviet Union. In the 1970s, reading it could have gotten Tsesarsky arrested, but, as he told Uris many years later as a new citizen of the United States, it made him “a Zionist in hiding.”

Phylactery Phobia

Plane grounded after flight crew
mistakes davening teen for a terrorist.

01/28/2010
Philadelphia Exponent

Philadelphia — If there’s any upshot to the misunderstanding that grounded a small aircraft last week in Philadelphia — and scared the wits out of two Jewish teenagers — it’s that the general public might now know a bit more about tefillin.

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Romance Of A Horse Thief

Friday, May 1st, 2009 Forget the Kentucky Derby. If you’re young and in love, or are romantically inclined, check out Ketubah, a filly running in the sixth race at Belmont.   If after that race you’re still feeling lucky, check out this Ketubah from an Ohio horse farm.  

Fenway, Crosley And 770

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

For a number of years, cynics would get a good laugh out of the fact that Kfar Chabad, the Lubavitch town in Israel, built a duplicate of the rebbe’s headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway .

The duplicate 770 was said to be indicative of how crazy and messianist the Chabadniks were, they must have been expecting the rebbe to drop in, pretty funny. Only a chasid could be so nuts, right?

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