12/24/2014 | | Staff Writer | Lens
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An anniversary marking an act of extraordinary horror in India was observed recently with ordinary kindness.

12/23/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | The JW Q&A
Shavit: “Step-by-step” approach to peace. Sharon Bareket

In the wake of the synagogue attack last month in Har Nof that left four rabbis and a Druze police officer dead, author Ari Shavit jumped into the peace-plan fray.

12/23/2014 | | Travel Writer | Travel
El Ghirba Synagogue, the oldest temple in North Africa, with its cerulean arches and intricate tile work. Wikimedia Commons

Why do we pack up our suitcases, head to the airport and leave the familiar behind? Leisure and recreation are important, sure, but for most of us, travel is essential for the fresh perspective it offers — on our fellow humans, on Jewish communities throughout the world, and on cultures and lifestyles that may seem alien but that force us to reconsider our own points of view.

12/23/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View
Ted Merwin

By the time young Jews from my hometown of Harrisburg, Pa., marry and have children, most have already relocated to larger urban areas and joined other Jewish communities. So it was with particular pride and pleasure that I recently attended the bris of the son of one of my former students who grew up in my neighborhood and has now settled just a few houses away from me. Representatives of all the local synagogues were there, the buffet tables groaned with food, and the mood was joyful and uplifting. There was only one thing missing; the mohel, who was imported from Baltimore for the occasion, missed almost every opportunity for humor.

12/18/2014 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | A Rabbi's World
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

It is difficult, if not impossible, to walk into a store at this time of year without being subjected to mind-numbing Christmas Musack playing in the background, just soft enough that you can speak over it, but also just loud enough that you can’t help but hear it. I assume that the intention is to put shoppers in the “Christmas spirit,” and make them spend more. I doubt that it has any positive effect in that regard. The message, though, comes through loud and clear in ways both liminal and subliminal: “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

12/16/2014 | | Staff Writer | Lens
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Chanukah, which began at sundown on Dec. 16, is considered a minor holiday in Judaism, but Israelis have adopted several traditions to make sure it is observed.

12/16/2014 | | Staff Writer | The JW Q&A
Itamar Marcus: Monitoring the Palestinian media indicates what will happen on the Palestinian “street.”

Itamar Marcus is director of Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that examines Palestinian ideology and policy. He founded it in 1996, and three years later the Israeli government appointed him its representative in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on incitement. Born in New York and now a resident of Efrat on the West Bank, he was interviewed here while on a speaking tour for the pro-Israel group StandWithUs. This is an edited transcript.

12/16/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | All She Wrote
Elicia Brown

I can’t quite recall what I expected of middle age, but it didn’t involve endless worry: The precarious health of beloved relatives; the anxiety of maintaining our financial well being; the challenge of bringing shalom bayit to our nuclear family.

12/16/2014 | | Travel Writer | Travel
The red rocks of the Senoran desert loom over Sedona.  Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, when a series of health crises sent me into a whirl of alternative-medicine panaceas — meditation, chi gong, hypnosis — a friend laughed and told me, “Sounds like soon you will be living in Sedona.”

12/15/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person
Merri Ukraincik

Halloween was the furthest thing from my mind when I scheduled an appointment with the banjo repair guy for Oct. 31. As usual in our observant Jewish neighborhood, there was not a pumpkin or goblin in sight when the day arrived. No costumed revelers rang our bell in search of treats. But of course, I knew.