Each day this week, Rabbi Jacob Goldstein of Brooklyn, chief chaplain of the New York National Guard, recited morning prayers at a sukkah erected in the plaza facing the main doors of Saddam Husseinís main presidential palace in Baghdad.
"It's a six by eight sukkah and it is there for all to see," he said by phone from Baghdad. "So there I am every morning, benching lulav and esrog," he added referring to the ritual objects used in prayers during Sukkot.
For Jewish soldiers in the combat zone, the Days of Awe have replaced shock and awe.
Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, chief chaplain of the New York National Guard, arrived in Kuwait from New York this week bringing with him four Torahs, five lulav and etrog sets for Sukkot, challahs, honey cake and other supplies to enhance the High Holy Days that begin this weekend.
Chances are you don’t associate your local synagogue sisterhood with “the edge of town,” but as money, politics, academics and religious power increasingly intrigue us, the women who simply love their shul, and want only love back, have moved to the periphery.
Oh, sisterhoods are on the edge, all right, if not on the border of oblivion, or so it seems.
There are more than 700 synagogues within the orbit of the Orthodox Union, and only about a third have a sisterhood anymore.
Eight years ago, when Rabbi Anthony Fratello became the spiritual leader of Temple Shaarei Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Boynton Beach, the congregation had 100 households — and the youngest member was 75.
Since then, its membership has grown six fold, 250 children have enrolled in the religious school and the congregation is almost doubling its 10,000-square-foot building.
Dr. Matthew Shatzer and his wife, Hania, moved into their Dix Hills home last week with their two young sons after house-hunting in several Long Island communities.
“We looked in Roslyn and Syosset and we thought we could get a lot more [for the money] in Dix Hills,” he said. “I have a sister who lives [nearby] in Melville, and we liked the school district here — Half Hollow Hills No. 5.”
Another chapter in the Bernard Madoff saga has closed, with a federal judge this week condemning as “extraordinarily evil” the crimes of the once prominent businessman, and imposing on him the maximum sentence of 150 years.
The contrast between the American spectacle of celebrity death worship and the Jewish tradition of mourning has rarely been as sharply defined as it is this week.
I write these words 12 days after Michael Jackson died, his funeral arrangements and burial site still undecided. The star’s death has become as big a phenomenon as his troubled life. His family members hold press conferences, appear at music awards ceremonies and allow tickets to be distributed through a lottery for a huge, public memorial ceremony.
There is plenty of commentary to be offered on the obsessive response of America’s media to the death of Michael Jackson. You have to hand it to Congressman Peter King, who, albeit it in a very undiplomatic way, expressed what many are feeling. At the very least, Michael Jackson was an accused pedophile, a bizarre caricature of a self-loathing Black man whose hatred of his own skin and features led him to multiple acts of self-mutilation, a serious substance abuser
A recent opinion piece in The Jewish Week by three doctors expressing alarm about so-called kiddush clubs, a phenomenon mostly found in Modern Orthodox shuls, was bound to generate some controversy.
Check next week’s letters page for some pro and con responses.
Whether or not rabbis should allow shul members to step out of services, usually during the Torah reading, to enjoy a private kiddush of mostly liquor and some snacks is a question that probably dates back through generations.