Fifteen months ago, with Lower Manhattan engulfed in ashes, the idea of building a Jewish community center here might have seemed like a bizarre joke.
Jewish parenting classes, arts programming (maybe even a swimming pool) within blocks of the most horrific scene of Islamic fundamentalist-inspired destruction?
But, ironically, momentum is now building for a Jewish center below Canal Street: and it is because of, rather than in spite of, the Sept. 11 attacks.
After years of chafing under the rule of their university's strongly pro-Palestinian student union, Hillel members at Montreal's Concordia University are venting their frustrations (10 pages worth) in court.
For years, soft-drink magnate Coca-Cola (in its efforts to create a world of soda drinkers) has blanketed the globe with images linking its fizzy drink to fun, happiness and romantic satisfaction.
But now Coke is coming up against a tiny rival with a decidedly different marketing strategy. Instead of blitzing the public with lighthearted pictures or appeals to its flavor, newcomer Mecca Cola (launched last month) is marketing itself with images from the intifada.
Demanding a formal apology, an unconditional reinstatement and independent access to its funds, the Hillel at Concordia University in Montreal is continuing its legal battle against a suspension by the student government.
Hillel was expected to file an official complaint in Quebec Superior Court in the coming week. It was not clear when hearings would begin.
The Concordia Student Union on Dec. 2 voted to suspend Hillel and freeze its funds. The move was believed to be the first time in history that a Hillel was barred from a North American campus.
The phones are ringing. But will anyone answer? A long-awaited comprehensive survey of American Jews began dialing up households around the country late last month to find out such things as what percentage of Jews marry non-Jews, what childhood experiences foster Jewish identity and how Jews differ from other Americans.
The National Jewish Population Survey, sponsored by the national federation umbrella organization, the United Jewish Communities, is expected to influence funding and policy decisions of Jewish organizations for the next decade.
It's hard to develop a budget when you don't know exactly what you'll be doing with the money. But without a budget, it's impossible to do anything. That's the Catch-22 the new national umbrella organization for Jewish federations (the product of the merger between the United Jewish Appeal and the Council of Jewish Federations) faces as it struggles to get off the ground.
Last year's creation of the United Jewish Communities was spurred by a desire by federations to get services delivered more efficiently and to have a greater say in national decision-making.
When I was a small child in Houston, my mother would come to school every year to teach about Chanukah.
Armed with her guitar, wax-encrusted menorah, dreidels and box of latkes mix, my mother (laying her New York accent on a little thicker than usual) gave my Christian classmates a brief recap of the Maccabee story before launching into some songs. A blonde girl once requested "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer." The teacher looked embarrassed, but my mother laughed and said, "Why not?"
For a year and a half, Shane Wamsley returned to his Salt Lake City home from his day job as a financial controller and began another one: eight hours of data entry at his computer. On weekends, he'd log even longer hours.
Wamsley, working as a volunteer, was compiling a database of burial records for Bayside Cemetery, which dates back to 1842 and has approximately 35,000 graves.