Lens

11/29/2011 | | Staff Writer | Lens

Its official name is the Forest Hills Spa, but to most of the people who come to the small building on a Corona side street for a massage or a shvitz, it’s the Russian banya.

That’s Russian for steam bath.

The spa, one of a half-dozen such vestiges of the former Soviet Union in New York City, is a reminder of home for the émigrés who grew up with frequent visits to a banya, where they would lie on wooden benches while steam rose from water poured over hot rocks and a masseuse would flay away with leafy branches.

11/22/2011 | | Staff Writer | Lens

Murray Koppelman, a money manager who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, visited the Iranian city of Isfahan recently on a “pleasure trip,” went to the city’s main synagogue for Friday night Shabbat services and photographed this scene of Iranian Jewish life shortly before sundown.

At the bima, in the traditional Iranian sanctuary of the Yaakov Synagogue, one of three Jewish houses of worship he visited in Isfahan, stands a young member of the congregation.

11/15/2011 | | Staff Writer | Lens

A college town/industrial city in western Germany, Speyer has a Jewish history that is about a thousand years old. Its Jewish community, one of the primary sites of Jewish settlement during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, experienced pogroms and expulsions, refuge and rebirth.

Last week Speyer Jewry made history again.

With the president of Germany in attendance, the city’s small Jewish community of a few score people inaugurated a new synagogue, replacing a building destroyed on Kristallnacht 73 years ago.

11/08/2011 | | Staff Writer | Lens

The students of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester typically excel in such intellectual areas as chess, Moot Beit Din (a program in which students adjudicate legal cases using Jewish texts) and the National Merit competition. This week the school went high-tech, conducting its first Robotic Competition. Under the leadership of teacher Daniel Aviv, teams of students in the Westchester School designed and built small robots that can perform a specific task. The creations can move and turn — but they have not yet learned to play chess or argue a legal case.

11/01/2011 | | Lens

Twenty centuries after they were written in near-isolation, by unknown authors, in the Judean desert, the Dead Sea Scrolls are being seen by millions of people.

A new exhibition named “Dead Sea Scrolls” opened last week in the Discovery Times Square center (discoverytsx.com), but the true nature of the show is found in its subtitle: “Life and Faith in Biblical Times.”

10/25/2011 | | Staff Writer | Lens

In Berlin, Gleis 17 (railroad platform 17) means more than a transportation site.

It’s where part of the Final Solution began.

The first deportations of Jews from the capital of the Third Reich started 70 years ago last week on Track 17 of the Berlin Grunewald station, with 1,000 people bound for the Lodz ghetto in Poland. The date was commemorated with a ceremony in which Holocaust survivors, leaders of the current Jewish community and German politicians took part.