A different kind of settlement activity took place Sunday outside Rishon Lezion, Israel's fourth-largest city. June 1 marked the groundbreaking for the Shtetl, the latest project by Holocaust survivor and historian Yaffa Eliach.
Seven miles southeast of Tel Aviv, in the heart of the Jewish homeland, Eliach plans to recreate her Lithuanian hometown of Eishyshok.
For two decades Miriam and Yona Baumel have suffered while they held onto the belief that their son was alive. Zachary Baumel, a member of an Israeli tank crew, disappeared during a 1982 battle against the Syrian army in Lebanon.
Last week that belief was reinforced when the Baumels received information from a "top-notch" source that Zachary indeed was alive and transferred from Damascus to Lebanon.
"He said it was recent information," Yona Baumel said of the source, adding that the transfer was believed to have been made within the last three weeks.
The shop down the block from the Eldridge Street Synagogue specializes in fish balls, not matzah balls, and the closest house of worship is the Pechau Buddhist temple. But the Lower East Side still reverberates with the energy and concerns of a century ago, when Russian Jewish immigrants built the neighborhood synagogue.
"That's pretty much the nature of a city," says filmmaker Pearl Gluck. "The identity of a space changes, but its history stays. There's always a remnant."
A gala concert in Washington marking Israel's 55th anniversary, which was to feature several prominent entertainers but apparently not the leaders of the American and Israeli governments, has been postponed.
The Spirit of Israel Concert, sponsored by the newly formed Israel Forever Foundation, had been scheduled for Monday, May 19, in the capital's 21,000-seat MCI Center. It will be held Thursday, Dec. 18, the night before Chanukah starts.
A middle-aged woman walked into J. Levine Judaica, a Midtown bookstore, one recent afternoon, looking for an inspirational gift for a friend with cancer. Owner Danny Levine pointed her to the self-help section. The customer chose one of the "Small Miracles" books, with many Jewish stories, by Brooklyn authors Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal.
The woman said someone profiled in one of the books reminded her of her friend.
The woman, Levine says, spent "a good 15, 20 minutes" reading many stories in many books.
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel this week joined the campaign to oust New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka, who has come under fire for implying that Israel had advance knowledge of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"I think a man who writes such things should not be a literary voice for New Jersey or any other group in the United States or any civilized society," Wiesel told The Jewish Week.