09/21/2010 | | Staff Writer | Lens

No, those aren’t watermelons that the couple at the Western Wall plaza are shlepping.

They’re etrogs, and the man and woman are among thousands of Israelis who flock to the Western Wall — the Kotel in Hebrew — at Sukkot each year. One of the shalosh regalim, the trio of biblical pilgrimage holidays, the Jewish harvest festival still attracts visitors and worshippers.

09/14/2010 | | Staff Writer | Lens

As in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the Four Species of Sukkot were often a rare, and valued, item in the Jewish communities of Northern Africa. Often several families would share a lulav and etrog. As recently as the middle of the last century, when the Jewish population of Morocco had started to decline, there was one lulav per synagogue.

09/07/2010 | | Lens

Depending how you look at it, the fish off the coast of Israel are the world’s best fed, or the most sin-bearing, this time of year.

On Rosh HaShanah, the start of the Jewish Year, one of the most-observed traditions, next to hearing the shofar and eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, is Tashlich, the symbolic throwing away of one’s sins.

On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh HaShanah — day two if day one is Shabbat — Jews head to the nearest body of water, carrying small pieces of bread that are thrown into the water.

08/31/2010 | | Lens

Musician-songwriter Phillip Namanworth has performed on Broadway, in concerts, in nightclubs.

During these weeks before Rosh HaShanah, he does a gig each morning for an audience of two — himself and God. During the month of Elul, which precedes the holiday-laden month of Tishri, he blows the shofar every weekday morning in his Manhattan apartment.

In many Jewish communities, shofar blasts come before the Days of Repentance, as a spiritual wake-up call.

Last week Namanworth tried out another horn.

08/24/2010 | | Lens

The Amsterdam tree that reminded Anne Frank of life ended its life on Monday.

The 150-year-old, 65-foot-high horse chestnut, which was rotted and weakened by moths and a fungus for more than a decade, collapsed in heavy wind and rain.

“It broke off like a match,” a spokesman for the Anne Frank House, in whose hidden annex the young writer hid for 25 months, told Reuters. The Anne Frank House, now a museum, was not touched, but the tree crashed through several gardens, damaging a brick wall and several sheds.

08/17/2010 | | Lens

 Raphael Luzon was bar-mitzvah age when he left his home and his homeland. Along with most of Libya’s 7,000 remaining Jews, Luzon’s family fled, virtually empty-handed in 1967, after anti-Jewish riots threatened the Jewish community following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War.

Luzon settled in England, but his heart stayed in Libya.