Before a crowd of 400 at a Brooklyn catering hall last week, Assemblyman Dov Hikind had difficulty staying off the podium.
Presiding over a fund-raiser for his newly minted political club, Hikind often upstaged the emcee and, during his own speech, lingered for more than 20 minutes, covering everything from local judgeship races to his own political ambitions.
"We have a lot of important things coming up," Hikind told the crowd of club members and local elected officials, citing upcoming elections. "All of us are going to work together."
When Fan Wiener read in her local daily newspaper that the nation's Reform rabbis had voted to push for more Jewish tradition (including eating kosher) the 79-year-old Dallas grandmother thought of bolting Reform Judaism.
"She called me and threatened to quit the two major Reform temples she belongs to," says her son Thomas, a Philadelphia attorney. "She said she didn't intend to become a Conservative or Orthodox Jew."
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses |
It was 8:15 on Saturday morning, and Rabbis Shmuel Fuerst and Moshe Unger of Chicago were dressed in their Sabbath best: beaver-pelt shtreimels, or Polish-style hats on their heads; long black silk caftans draping their bodies; and thin white socks over their black knickers.
But last Saturday morning, these two bearded, ultra-traditional Orthodox Jews were not walking to synagogue on the city's heavily white North Side; they were riding in a car driven by a non-Jewish friend to meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson on the city's mostly black South Side.
One man spent two years as a slave laborer in Nazi Germany, working for a company whose profits were deposited in a Swiss bank.
A woman died of starvation in another factory but her son, who now lives in New York, does not know if Swiss banks profited from her work.
The Nazis seized another man's home, but he managed to escape to the United States with just the shirt on his back. He does not know if any of his assets found their way to a Swiss bank.
Standing with as many as 180 other Orthodox Jews in a Long Island Rail Road car en route to Manhattan, Michael Markovitch of Lawrence shook his head. “This is a phenomenal experience,” he said. “Only in New York could you experience something like this.”