12/07/2010 | | Lens

Throughout Jewish history various numbers have played important symbolic roles — the Three Patriarchs, the Four Matriarchs, the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and so on.

The big numbers this week were 618 and 2,197,813.

Those are, respectively, the numbers of people who took part in a dreidel-spinning event at Yeshiva University that set a Guinness-certified world record, and the number of times a Chanukah video by the school’s Maccabeats a capella group was viewed on YouTube since it was posted last month.

11/30/2010 | | Lens

In Israel, where Chanukah in a Christmas-less society is a minor holiday, it’s still a major presence.
First, there’s the sufganiyot. That’s Hebrew for doughnuts.

11/23/2010 | | Lens

The Abraham Geiger College, Germany’s Reform rabbinical school, ordained three rabbis recently. All three, like most of the 100,000-plus Jews who have come to Germany in the last 30 years, are from the former Soviet Union, but one garnered most of the attention.

Ukraine-born Alina Treiger is the first female rabbi ordained in Germany since before the Holocaust.

The last one, Regina Jonas, died in Auschwitz in 1944. She was the first woman known to be ordained as a rabbi in modern times.

11/16/2010 | | Lens

On Shemini Atzeret last month, traditional Jews recited Tefilat Geshem, the prayer for rain, asking heaven to send clouds to the Holy Land.

Last week, some Jews — and other monotheists — prayed for rain again.

In the midst of a dry autumn that threatens to stretch into a dry winter, a group of rabbis, imams and member of the Christian clergy gathered in Walajeh, a small Arab village between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, to communally pray for rain.

11/09/2010 | | Lens

It is a marriage with a 123-year age difference.

The famed Eldridge Street Synagogue, built in 1887, unveiled its new stained-glass window last month, as the culmination of a 24-year restoration of the once-abandoned building on the Lower East Side.

Artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans were commissioned to create the circular glass mosaic, which consists of over 1,200 pieces of glass. No documentation remains of the original window, which was damaged over time and ultimately replaced in 1944 with clear glass blocks.

11/02/2010 | | Lens

When word began to spread that she was organizing a workshop involving snakes, tolerance and Jewish values, the idea sounded wonderful to some people and terrible to others, says Vivian Stadlin, whose event took place Sunday at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.

“Snakes play a role in many of our stories,” beginning with Genesis, she notes, adding that they’re often the source of trouble and symbolize evil speech.