News

The Trusted Outsider

04/23/1999
Staff Writer
Rabbi Hertz Frankel, a Galitzianer by birth and Litvak by training, has served as administrator and spokesman for the Satmar chasidim for four decades. As the highest-ranking non-Satmar in a group whose doors are usually closed to outsiders, he has served as interpreter at communal functions and liaison with public officials. But until his guilty plea in the public schools fund-diversion scheme made the front page of The New York Times last week, he was probably better known in some foreign corridors of power than in most parts of New York City outside of Williamsburg.

A Joyful Noise At Hofstra

05/21/2008
Staff Writer
The Web site for Hofstra Hillel lists a wide range of social, educational and religious activities that the Jewish student organization at Hofstra University offers. It doesn’t mention organizing impromptu choruses. Which Hofstra Hillel did one recent night.

In The Cyclone’s Wake

05/21/2008
Staff Writer
A veteran of international relief work for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Amos Avgar has a set routine when he leaves for points overseas. He gets a visa, makes his hotel reservations, checks that his inoculations are up to date, does some research and puts a "Lonely Planet" travel guide in his suitcase. And, if the country where he is headed may pose some dangers, he kisses the front-door mezuzah on his apartment in southern Jerusalem. Two weeks ago Avgar kissed his mezuzah.

Suspicious Fire Strikes New Shul

10/24/2003
Staff Writer
On the day before Rosh HaShanah last month, the newest synagogue in Far Rockaway was dedicated. Two members of the building committee of Agudath Israel of Bayswater affixed a mezuzah in a bronze case to the front door, Rabbi Menachem Feifer said some words of Torah, and nearly 200 members of the Jewish community sang and danced in joy. The event culminated a three-year fund-raising campaign for the synagogue, whose members had been meeting for a decade in members' homes and rented space in the Queens neighborhood. This week they have to start over.

Fruits Of Their Labor

10/17/2003
Staff Writer
On Sunday the rabbis kept the prime minister waiting. In 1997, during the height of the debate in Israel over the "Who is a Jew?" issue (which religious standards would determine converts' status as Jews) Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch led a delegation of American Reform rabbis to Jerusalem "literally overnight." The rabbis' plane landed five hours late. Whisked from the airport to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late at night, they found the Israeli leader still working. "He waited for us five hours," Rabbi Hirsch said.

Saturday, The Rabbis Marched

10/10/2003
Staff Writer
Shabbat Shuvah, the Saturday between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, traditionally presents rabbis the opportunity to sermonize before a packed congregation about problems in the Jewish community. This year Shabbat Shuvah presented some rabbis with a problem. Should they encourage members of the Jewish community to attend a rally promoting economic and civil rights for immigrants in the United States, but which took place on Shabbat?

The Good Life In Kiwi Country

10/10/2003
Staff Writer
Auckland, New Zealand: Roy Netzer first came here as a backpacker, after finishing his five years in the Israeli army and university studies, because he wanted to "experience another country." He liked what he saw. Netzer married and worked for a year in Israel, then returned here eight years ago with his wife and without a job lined up. "I got the 'New Zealand bug,' " he says. "We came with four suitcases."

Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, 89; Wrote Holocaust Responsa

10/10/2003
Staff Writer
At 19, Rabbi Ephraim Oshry wrote a book on Talmud. He was recognized as a posek, an expert on Jewish law, in Kovno, the second-largest city in Lithuania. Within a decade, his knowledge would be tested in a way he never foresaw. During the three years of German occupation, as one of the few remaining rabbis in the Kovno ghetto, he would answer questions that had life-and-death implications: Was suicide permissible? Could a woman who had become pregnant in the ghetto undergo an abortion? Could a Caesarean section be performed on a dead woman?

Befriending The Native Aussies

10/03/2003
Staff Writer
Sydney: A nearly capacity crowd filled the sanctuary of North Shore Temple Emanuel on a recent weeknight. In the seats were Jews, Christians and "a few Aborigines," said Rabbi Allison Conyer. As part of a forum, "The Aboriginal Challenge: Where To Now?" sponsored by the congregation's Social Action Group, a series of Aboriginal speakers discussed the native Australians' history and current social problems, and the event's Jewish moderator urged the Jewish community to get involved.

Edward Said, 67, Columbia Professor Recalled As 'Cultured' Israel Critic

10/03/2003
Staff Writer
Rabbi Charles Sheer doesn't recall many details about a program sponsored by a Jewish organization that he attended at Columbia University about 20 years ago: its date or location or theme. But he remembers that Edward Said was one of the panelists. "He said that after the Holocaust, Jews didn't have a place to go to other than their [spiritual] homeland," Rabbi Sheer recalled. "He said he understood the need for a homeland."
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