The World Of Purim

Staff Writer
Around the world Jews read from the same scroll on Purim — Megillat Esther — but there, similarities between the celebrations often end. From Algeria to Zimbabwe, Jews have some uniquely indigenous Purim traditions. They’ve been collected by the Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women in a new volume, “Esther’s Legacy,” which includes recipes, poems and songs.

Trading Terrorists

Staff Writer
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? There’s no Cal Ripkin, Jr. card, either, in the latest trading card set to hit the market. Instead, Terrorist Trading Cards tout the likes of Osama bin Laden, Yasir Arafat, Saddam Hussein and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s No. 2. Bordered in funereal black, the cards picture the terrorist in question on the front and, on the reverse, list stats including height, weight and languages spoken. A précis of the terrorist’s career focuses on his American targets.

Panel: Offending Rabbis Must Pay The Price

Staff Writer
Richard Joel was unequivocal: one strike and you should be out. The head of the Jewish campus organization Hillel, and chairman of the commission convened to look into the Orthodox Union’s mishandling of the misdeeds of former youth leader Rabbi Baruch Lanner, said any religious leader behaving in a sexually or physically abusive manner should be kicked out of whatever position he inhabits. “It’s a no-brainer,” said Joel. “Leadership is a right, not a privilege.”

After The Fall

Staff Writer
When John Ruskay met with a major donor to UJA-Federation of New York Monday in the man’s Midtown office, multiple screens on his desk flashed with stock prices and minute-by-minute financial updates. Their first order of business was to talk about the volatility currently wreaking havoc in the hedge fund, credit and mortgage markets.

Matisyahu: Sitting Here In Limbo?

Staff Writer
Could it be that Matisyahu — the genre-bending poster boy for all that is cool and kosher — is off the derech? At least the Chabad derech? It sure looks that way after the chasidic reggae star told the Miami New Times last week before a concert, “I felt boxed in.”

West Side’s Luxury Mikveh

Staff Writer
After six months of delays and three years of construction, a luxuriously modern new mikveh opened last Sunday on the Upper West Side, a far cry from the funky but soulful ritual bath that served the neighborhood for years. Located on 74th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, the mikveh has three immersion pools and 13 preparation rooms for women, as well as a men’s mikveh with its own entrance, and a mikveh to immerse new pots and pans in order to make them fit for use by those who keep strictly kosher.

From Birthright To Genomics

Staff Writers
The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies foundation is known for funding innovative Jewish projects like the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education and birthright israel. Now, Bronfman is making his first major gift in a different realm, hoping to further a developing field called genomics-based, or personalized medicine, with a $12.5 million gift to New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.

On Again, Off Again Conversion Agreement

Staff Writer and Israel Correspondent
A long-awaited agreement between America’s centrist Orthodox rabbinical group and Israel’s chief rabbinate on standards for conversion to Judaism remains fragile and may still be scuttled. Even the leading players involved contradict each other as they dispute the exclusive right to certify rabbis as fit to perform conversions in the U.S.

Opening Habitat’s Doors

Staff Writer
This is the first in an occasional series of Q&As with Jewish influentials in the world of philanthropy.

An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

Staff Writer
In the deepest early morning of March 7, on California’s Pacific Coast Highway, a gold Cadillac driven by a drunk ran a red light, hit a bus and then spun around until it smacked into a white rental car driven by a man named Gedaliah Shaffer. Shaffer had flown into California from Brooklyn that evening, and as an inveterate traveler began the journey to a professional conference with a little sightseeing on one of the country’s more scenic drives. But when the Cadillac hit him, Shaffer was instantly killed.
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