Lens

02/08/2011 | | Lens

In the old days of mah jongg — in the 1920s, when the game became a craze in the United States, not when it originated in China centuries ago — the pastime was often used as a fundraiser by Jewish women, who quickly embraced the game.

On Sunday, the game returned to its roots.

02/01/2011 | | Lens

Rabbi Aaron Lichter never doubted what his life’s work would be.

“My father was a sofer,” a Torah scribe, he says. “My grandfather was a sofer.” And his great-grandfather. They all plied their trade in Tomaszew, Poland, a town in the west-central part of the country.

So Rabbi Lichter, who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and works on the Lower East Side, became a Torah scribe three decades ago, after training with his father for three years.

His sofer’s business is called A-1 Sofrim.

01/25/2011 | | Lens

Alex Rabinovich says there were about 50 gymnastics clubs in his native Kiev, 10 alone in his neighborhood, when his family left Ukraine for the United States two decades ago. His father’s club, Spartak, was one of Kiev’s top gymnastics training facilities, he says.

01/18/2011 | | Lens

For 10 years, like a child of divorce whose parents share custody, Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan Head Steven Lorch, top right, was constantly shuttling back and forth from one home to another, crossing Central Park at least once, often twice, a day.

Now, with the Conservative day school’s nine grades finally united in one permanent space, on the sunny second floor of a brand-new building at Columbus Avenue and 100th Street, Lorch says he can “do the job I was hired to do: be a principal.”

01/11/2011 | | Lens

About 300 residents of Israel gathered in Tel Aviv to support a political election 1,200 miles away.

The natives of southern Sudan, who have found refuge — both legal and illegal — from their war-ravaged African nation in recent years in Israel, sang and danced in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park to celebrate the start of a week-long independence referendum in their homeland. If the referendum passes, the largely Christian part of Africa’s largest country will secede from mostly Muslim northern Sudan.

Which will probably be good news for Israel.

01/04/2011 | | Lens

The wall at their back is about 2,000 years old; the documents in their hands are brand new.

Hours after they arrived in Israel as part of 2010’s last group of immigrants, this group of the country’s newest citizens celebrated at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, flashing their Israeli ID cards.

Last year was a good year for aliyah — more than 19,000 Jews from around the world became olim chadashim, or new immigrants. It marked the second consecutive year of an increase in aliyah, after a previous decade of decreases.