When Joe and I got engaged 13 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich., I was sure we’d have trouble finding a rabbi to perform our wedding.
As it turned out, the rabbi at the local Reform temple was willing and available. When we arrived for our first meeting, I came expecting a lengthy interrogation about exactly how we planned to raise our children. I was prepared to commit to taking an Intro to Judaism class together and ready to solemnly pledge we would hand over our future children to The Jewish People, never ever have a Christmas tree in the house and so on.
The other day I received a call from a reporter at the Detroit News. She was just about to submit a story about a motorized scooter that can be used by observant Jews on Shabbat, but she wanted a local rabbi's comments first. It was fortuitous that she contacted me since I am already familiar with the Israeli-based Zomet Institute, which partnered with the scooter company, but I have also seen this Sabbath-acceptable scooter in action since I know Michael Balkin, who owns one of these scooters and was interviewed for the article.
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor last week announced the creation of an institute for advanced Judaic studies, made possible by a $20 million gift from Samuel and Jean Frankel, two UM alumni. It is believed to be the largest gift ever earmarked for Jewish studies at any university, and the most sizeable donation ever given to UM’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts.When it opens in the fall of 2007, the institute, to be housed in the existing Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, will bring together 14 international Jewish studies scholars.
There were a thousand women, and they were on their feet, swaying to a klezmer beat. The place was the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, the most successful of the many all-women’s music events that are held all summer across the United States. Isle of Klezbos was playing on the “night stage,” the primo venue at the festival, “the culmination of the whole event,” says Eve Sicular, the band’s leader and drummer. “ People told me later about how this was unlike any experience they had there.
"It’s not an easy thing being a leader,” said Niemat Adam Ahmadi, coordinator of the Darfur Diaspora Association of East Africa, a coalition of organizations that are trying to aid refugees from Darfur and are hoping to take an active role in rebuilding the war-torn province. At times, said Ahmadi, 37, the members and staff of any group could pin their hopes on a particular leader but wind up disappointed — one of her biggest fears.
Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books" by Ilana M. Blumberg is a slim volume, published by the University of Nebraska Press. It’s a quiet type of book, not one that shouts for attention — a book that could easily be missed among the thousands of new titles published each year.
As we near the end of the first decade of the new century, I wonder which books we’ll later look back on as best capturing our present time.
This season, several new books are fine period pieces, conjuring other eras. Non-fiction narratives depict a particular time and place through research and documentation; novels do so through invention, embellishing actual events.
It started as a joke. After a tap show in early 2008, Shelby Kaufman and some other dancers were out celebrating. When they counted the number of Jewish tappers among their ranks, they started referring to themselves as “choofers” a play on “hoofer,” a common term for the style of dance Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers made famous, and more contemporary icons like Gregory Hines and Savion Glover carried into subsequent generations.
Jacob Strumwasser, 24
Young hedge funder who grants micro-loans to Jewish Argentineans
For Jacob Strumwasser, it all began with a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip when he was studying at the University of Michigan. The trip helped him connect with his Jewish past and inspired him to take an active role in building the Jewish future in Argentina.