Lens

02/28/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

Purim, which starts next Wednesday night, is a reminder of the importance of humor in Jewish life — the holiday is traditionally a time of pranks and frivolity. A new book, “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life” (HarperOne, $25.99), by James Martin, a Jesuit priest who works as culture editor at “America,” a prominent Catholic magazine, is a reminder that humor plays a part in other religions.

02/21/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

During a recent educational tour in Canada, Noam Bedein, director of the Sderot Media Center, an independent advocacy organization in the Negev, encountered a surprising amount of support for Israel among the members of the First Nations — the country’s indigenous people, like the Native Americans here — he met. As often-displaced groups, they told Bedein, a Sabra, they understood Israelis’ love for their land.

02/14/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

For several weeks each winter, between Chanukah and Purim, the Weissberg Commons area of Yeshiva University’s Belfer Hall becomes an enormous book fair. More than 15,000 people — families and singles, children and seniors, Orthodox and non-Orthodox — browse through tables and shelves crammed with discounted books and DVDs and educational software offered for sale during The Seforim Sale sponsored by the Students of Yeshiva (SOY).

02/07/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

The headline writers are calling the cold spell across Europe in recent weeks a new “Ice Age.”

01/31/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish new year of trees, a minor holiday on the Hebrew calendar, is traditionally celebrated in Israeli forests with mass tree-plantings, and in some diaspora communities with kabbalistic seders and the eating of symbolic Israeli fruits, right.

One local couple has its own Tu b’Shvat custom.

01/24/2012 | | Staff Writer | Lens

While the last several thousand Falash Mura — Ethiopians with Jewish roots — in Africa await entry into the Promised Land, Ethiopian Jews already in Israel took to the country’s streets last week to protest what they consider growing signs of racism.