When a board member of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island died 10 years ago, people were told that the cause was cancer. But not until her husband died a year or so later were people told the real cause of their deaths: AIDS.
"Their son became the poster boy for the necessity of having education about AIDS," said Scott Feldman, the former program director of the JCC. "He was involved in the leadership group at the JCC, and he and his brothers and sisters made a family decision to reveal what their parents had died of."
Since Jews believe in the spiritual inevitability of bashert rather than the random chance of coincidence, perhaps there is something to the fact that on the final Shabbat morning of the two Christian millenniums, in 999 and 1999, the Torah reading was the same, Vayihi, with its implicit warning about apocalyptic speculation. Rashi writes that the patriarch Jacob wanted to reveal his vision about the end of days, but his prophetic portal was suddenly closed.
The apparent drug overdose of a chasidic teenager in Brooklyn two weeks ago has sent shockwaves through the small but growing community of at-risk Orthodox youth, their families and the network of organizations struggling to aid them.
Moshe Feiner, 19, was found dead in a Borough Park apartment on Dec. 15, the victim of a suspected heroin overdose. Sources say Feiner had undergone drug rehabilitation as many as seven times, and was well known to Jewish anti-drug programs.
by Daniel Schifrin |
Special To The Jewish Week
So much happens in the course of the riveting if somewhat jarring new production of Sholom Asch's "God of Vengeance," newly translated from the Yiddish by Caraid O'Brien, that it's hard to take it all in during one sitting. The tale of a Jewish pimp and a former prostitute who run a shtetl whorehouse while raising a perfectly respectable girl in the house upstairs is extraordinarily rich, the variety and tragedy of the characters suggesting, both in theme and quality, the novels of Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.
It was 22 years ago that Chava Katz and 12 other young Jewish women were permitted by the Syria government to leave their homeland and travel to the United States to find a Jewish husband. Now, with Israel and Syria talking peace, she has mixed emotions.
"I hope they do it," she said of the peace negotiations. "But I don't trust any Arab countries. Would I ever go back? Never! Even my husband asks me that. But I would never return because times there were very tough."
In what observers see as a challenge to Yeshiva University's hegemony over the Modern Orthodox rabbinate, Rabbis Avi Weiss and Saul Berman are launching a new Modern Orthodox rabbinical school in Manhattan.
The founders are pledging ìrespectful interactionî with all Jewish movements while ìexpanding the role of women in religious life and leadership.